Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Little Sufferer

RMS Bavarian
Old newspapers are an important resource for the family historian as they provide "colour" to what otherwise might be a dry recitation of names and dates. As the volunteer Online Parish Clerk (OPC) for the North Devon parishes of St Giles in the Wood, High Bickington, Atherington, Tawstock and Yarnscombe, I have a particular interest in the historical issues of The North Devon Journal available online through The British Newspaper Archive.

While browsing through articles that mention Yarnscombe, I came across this piece:

North Devon Journal, Thursday, October 4, 1860

CAUTION TO MOTHERS.—On Saturday last, a melancholy occurrence took place at Yarnscombe. The wife of a man named Thomas Moore, residing at Delly, in the above parish, placed her infant child, a girl aged 5 months, into the cradle, in the kitchen. Shortly afterwards the mother had occasion to leave the house for a short time, and, during her absence, a large pig found its way into the kitchen where the child was sleeping, seized the infant by the right hand and dragged it from the cradle, crushing and fracturing the bones of the hand and arm, with fearful lacerations, and was only rescued just in time by the horror-stricken mother from further injuries. Doctor Jones and his assistant (Mr. Barr) were immediately in attendance, when it was found necessary at once to amputate one finger. It is doubtful whether the little sufferer will survive the injuries it received from this brutal attack.
Curious as to whether "the little sufferer" had survived the "melancholy occurrence," I checked the 1861 Census. Rebecca Moore, daughter of Thomas Moore and Harriet Hellings, was eleven months old and living with her parents and four siblings at East Delly. Her father was an agricultural labourer who later became a road contractor. Further research showed that Rebecca's mother died in 1874, and that in 1879 her father married Mary Ann Mansfield, a woman only nine years older than Rebecca. By 1881, Thomas had moved his family to the neighbouring parish of Alverdiscott where he continued working as a road contractor. Thomas died in 1915.

In 1882, Rebecca married Frank Braunton, an agricultural labourer from Huntshaw, Devon. Her son Francis John was born in 1883, her daughter Alice Gertrude in 1886, and her daughter Annie in 1891. They lived in Alverdiscott until 1905 when they emigrated to Canada on board the RMS Bavarian and settled in North Dorchester, Middlesex. Ontario. Frank died in 1929. Rebecca died at the age of 76 in 1932. Both were buried at Dorchester Union Cemetery, however, no grave marker exists.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Neglect and Horrible Wickedness

The North Devon Journal
The Victorian appetite for gossip and scandal is clearly reflected in 19th century newspapers. A primary source were the inquests held whenever a suspicious death occurred. Journalists delighted in reporting all the lurid details, and were not above embellishing the story with rumour, innuendo and calumny.

The death of an illegitimate child in Victorian England often led to an inquest. This was a reflection of how births of out wedlock were viewed, and the belief that unwed mothers were not capable of properly caring for their children.

Once a death had been reported to the coroner, he would summon a jury, and investigate how the child died by interviewing the mother, the attending doctor, and any witnesses, as well as viewing the child's body. In rural areas these inquests were often held in public houses. Not surprisingly the jurors were often familiar with the situation of the child's mother.

Consider this article on the inquest that was held when three year old Eliza Pethebridge, the illegitimate daughter of Maria Pethebridge, died of the measles.

North Devon Journal, Thursday, November 28, 1878

DEATH OF AN ILLEGITIMATE CHILD.—NEGLECT OF THE MOTHER AND HORRIBLE WICKEDNESS.—An inquest was held at the Hunter's Inn, in this parish, on Wednesday (yesterday), before John Henry Toller, Esq., on of the coroners for the county, and a respectable jury, on view of the body of Eliza Pethebridge, aged three years and ten months, daughter of Maria Pethebridge, single woman, who lives in the house of her brother, Emanuel Pethebridge, labourer.—The first witness was Elizabeth Ballment, wife of the county policeman stationed in the village, who deposed that she knew the deceased very well, who was a healthy and well-nourished child, and did not appear to want for anything. On the evening of Friday last the child's mother came to her and told her the child was ill, and asked her to call and see her, which she did about five o'clock the same evening, and found the deceased in the arms of the mother's brother, Emanuel Pethebridge, who was nursing her by the fire. The child was dressed, but appeared very ill, and witness persuaded the mother to send for the doctor. She did not remember whether Emanuel Pethebridge made any reply, but the mother said she did not know how she would get the doctor, as she had no one to send for him. Witness saw that the child had the measles, and thought they were "going back." Had been in the habit of seeing the child daily, but not since she had had the measles, and had never heard that the mother ill-treated her in any way.—Dr. John Day Jones, physician and surgeon, of Torrington, who is the parish doctor of Yarnscombe, deposed that about half-past eight o'clock on the morning of last Saturday, the 23rd, Emanuel Pethebridge came to his house with an order from Mr. Thorne, the overseer, to give attendance to the children of Maria Pethebridge, sick with measles. He asked the man how long the children had been ill, and why he had not been sent for before; and he replied that they had been ill for a week, but the mother did not think it necessary to have the doctor. He went as soon as he could, and arrived at Yarnscombe between nine and ten o'clock. When he came to the house he found the child was dead. He saw on the body a few faint marks which resembled measles. Asked the mother why she had not sent for him earlier as he was the parish doctor, and she answered that "she knew nothing about the parish doctor," and that it was a long way to send. He told her is was a case of great neglect, and that he should not give a certificate to bury the corpse. Death had resulted from inflammation arising from partially suppressed measles. The child was well nourished, and appear to have been properly taken care of. Of course he could not say the child would have lived if he had been called in earlier, but she would have had a great chance of living.—The mother, Maria Pethebridge gave evidence that the deceased was her base child. She was taken ill on Saturday the 16th, but witness thought that she was sickening for the measles, and that a doctor was not necessary. Her neighbours told her that other children in the village had recovered from measles without the doctor, and they did not see why hers should not. The child went on from day to day, sometimes better and sometimes worse, until Friday evening, when she seemed to get worse, and witness went to the first witness (Mrs. Ballment) and asked her to come and see her, which she did. Mrs. Ballment said the child was very ill, when the witness rose up and said she would go for a doctor, but Mrs. Ballment said she would leave it until the morning. The child seemed afterwards to get a little better, but at about four o'clock next morning she became much worse, and at witness's request her brother, Emanuel Pethebridge, got up at five o'clock and went for the doctor, but at nine o'clock, before the doctor arrived, the child died.—Having heard the evidence, the jury returned a verdict that deceased had died from measles, and that the mother was neglectful in not having medical assistance earlier.—In announcing the verdict to her, the Coroner severely rebuked her for her neglect of her child; and said also that, although it was not within his province officially, he considered it a duty he owed to the public to censure her for living in the disreputable way she was known to be.—The only reply of the woman was that she did not care what people said of her.—The allusion made in the latter remark of the coroner was to the horrible fact that the woman and her brother are, and for many years have been, living together as man and wife, and that several children, some dead and some living, have been born of this incestuous intercourse!
Maria Pethebridge was baptised at Yarnscombe on 1 Oct 1837. She was the youngest daughter of Isaac Pethebridge (1782-1853) and Ann Pett (1792-1862). Maria's older brother, Emanuel, was baptised at Yarnscombe on 13 May 1827. Maria had been living with her brother in Yarnscombe since the death of their mother, and had borne at least three illegitimate children.

There appears to have been considerable friction between Maria and her neighbours. In 1868, William Cooke (no relation), had been charged with assaulting Emanuel Pethebridge. Emanuel had intervened when Maria was being "served rather roughly" by Cooke and members of his family. Ten years later another neighbour, Betsy Waldron, had been charged with assaulting Maria. The incident began with an exchange of "rough and abusive language" initiated by Waldron, and ended with Maria receiving a black eye.

It is interesting to note that incest was not a criminal offence England until 1908.

Emanuel died in 1880. Maria was still living in Yarnscombe with her eleven-year-old daughter Elizabeth in 1881. In 1884 Maria married Robert Slooman, a widower from the neighbouring parish of Atherington, and perhaps at last found a measure of respectability. She died in 1925.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Roof Bosses of South Tawton

One of the more remarkable architectural features of many churches in Devon are the roof bosses. Carved of oak in the 14th and 15th centuries, they survived not only the widespread destruction of images during the English Reformation of the 16th century, but also the "restoration" of many churches by the Victorians in the 19th.

Two of the five North Devon churches which I have "adopted" as part of the Devon OPC project have good collections of roof bosses: St Peter's, Tawstock and St Mary's, Atherington. One of the more interesting collections, however, is found further south at St Andrews, South Tawton, on the northern edge of Dartmoor. During my recent trip to England I made a point to visit South Tawton.

The paired male and female heads at the top of the page represent idle talk or gossip. "Sinful speech" was a serious concern of the late medieval church , and complaints about gossip were a recurring feature of Middle English literature.

The foliate head or "green man" is found in many Devon churches. The carvings tend to be both beautiful and sinister. South Tawton has several including the one above. The symbolism of the foliate head is a topic of some debate. The green man is commonly thought to be a pagan symbol of fertility. Another interpretation, more in line with Christian teaching, is that the green man is a symbol of rebirth or resurrection.

The meaning of the three hares is uncertain. A modern myth is that the three hares are "Tinner's Rabbits" and represent an association with Dartmoor's medieval tinners. The South Tawton church guide states that the three hares represents the Trinity, although this is unlikely to be a medieval interpretation. Another theory associates the three hares with the Virgin Mary as hares were thought capable of virgin birth.

The hares may have have a negative connotation. The Middle English poem The Names of the Hare lists many disparaging names: the lurker in ditches, the filthy beast, the coward, the traitor, the friendless one, the one who makes you shudder, the covenant-breaker, the animal that all men scorn, the animal that no one dares name. It is also possible that the three hares represent the three  temptations of the flesh, the world, and the devil.

The horned headdress depicted in this roof boss was frequently condemned in religious tracts of the late medieval period because of its associations with the devil and with the sin of pride. A confessor's manual from the 15th century instructs the confessor to ask woman if they "go about wearing horns and looking outlandish, which is a category of pride."

This owl wearing a horned headdress is quite unique. In the late medieval period, screech owls in particular were used to represent sinners. The Alberdeen Bestiary, a early 13th century illuminated manuscript, describes the owl as:
...a filthy bird, because it fouls its nest with its droppings, as the sinner dishonours those with whom he lives, by the example of his evil ways.
The roof boss therefore likely represents the connection between sinners and one those are guilty of pride when they wear "extravagant, vainglorious, outlandish and inordinate apparel" on their heads.

Finally, we have this "charming" example of the late medieval woodcutter's craft. The figure appears to be a winged female demon displaying its genitalia, and most certainly represents the sin of lust. The figure is also similar in appearance to stone carvings known as sheela na gigs which typically depict a naked female pulling apart her vulva. Not surprisingly, postcards of this particular roof boss are not for sale inside the church.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Churchcrawling and Cheese

A selection of English cheeses

It sometimes seems that I spent my entire summer vacation visiting cemeteries and photographing gravestones. Of course this summer, quite a few of the gravestones were in England.

England was a somewhat unusual experience for me this time around. As usual, I was met by my brother who has lived in England for the past forty years. This time, however, I flew into Gatwick (south of London) instead of Exeter (southwest England). Instead of two weeks in Devon, we spent one week in North Devon and one week in the Cotswolds. And instead of the usual cool temperatures and frequent showers, it was clear skies and warm temperatures. Ironically, I had packed an umbrella but had forgotten to pack a hat.

North Devon


My focus in North Devon was once again on the five parishes for which I am the volunteer Online Parish Clerk. I finally was able to view the interiors of St Mary's, Atherington and St Mary's High Bickington. Both churches were closed for roof repairs the last time I was in England.
Rood screen and loft
at Atherington, Devon
Of the two churches, Atherington is the most interesting. While High Bickington has carved bench ends, Atherington has roof bosses, a rood screen and loft, effigies, brasses, mural monuments, ledger stones, old stained glass, as well as unusual crocketed bench-ends. Needless to say we spent a lot of time at Atherington, and not as much time at High Bickington. Tawstock, Yarnscombe, and St Giles in the Wood were also visited, as were a number of parishes further south. And of course there were also several trips to Barnstaple to visit the North Devon Record Office.

Devon cream tea
No trip to Devon is complete without a Devon cream tea, but this time around I made my own. I also sampled and purchased a variety of local cheeses available at the West Country Cheese Company in Barnstaple, as well as a variety of Sheppy's ciders. July is also the perfect time to feast on English strawberries and raspberries.

The Cotswolds

On the drive from North Devon to the Cotswolds we stopped in Bath, and also spent a hour or so in the "quaint" Cotswold village of Lower Slaughter. Incidently "Slaughter" has nothing to do with killing. It's derived from the Old English word slothre meaning "muddy place."

Gravestone at Duns Tew
Finally we headed to Lyneham, our base for the second week.

The focus now was tourism rather than family history. Still, we spent one day churchcrawling around Banbury trying to locate gravestones for some of our Lymath ancestors. We did find quite a few, but unfortunately are still no closer to solving the mystery of my great-great-grandfather George Lymath. I also learned that Cotswold stone makes for picturesque cottages but hard to read gravestones.

Tourist destinations included Blenheim Palace, Gloucester Cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, the Rollright Stones, Sudeley Castle, White Horse Hill and Chastleton House.

Then it was back to Gatwick for the return flight to Canada.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Cornelius Lambert (1758-1818)

I recently had the opportunity to revisit Homer Cemetery near St Catharines, Ontario. I photographed this cemetery for CanadaGenWeb's Cemetery Project last summer, and wrote about its neglected state on this blog.

Not much has changed. The grass is mowed but continues to encroach on the many gravestones that lie flat on the ground. The trunks of two fallen trees continues to obscure several gravestones at the rear of the cemetery.

I spent a few minutes carefully clearing the grass and soil from a gravestone that I had neglected to clean last summer. Here is the result:

Little is known about Elizabeth (1767-1845), and not much more is known about her husband Cornelius Lambert (1758-1818). Cornelius was born in New Jersey and was a Loyalist during the American Revolution. He served with Butler's Rangers for six years during the Revolution, was promoted to Corporal, and was discharged in 1784. As a Loyalist he was granted Lots 144, 145 and 146 in Niagara Township. By 1787 he was married and had two children. In 1796 he petitioned the crown for additional land, stating that he had five sons, and consequently received 250 acres in Beverley Township. Elizabeth was likely the daughter of another Loyalist refugee family.

After the War of 1812, Cornelius made a claim for losses that occurred during the fighting. In the summer of 1813, Native allies of the British had taken two "fat hogs" and one "young ox" as well as a saddle, two bridles, and a pair of boots. In November of 1813, American troops took from Cornelius a horse and steer, as well as a quantity of oats, wheat, and hay. In his claim, Cornelius also noted that the traitor Joseph Willcocks had seized 17 1/2 pounds of beef. 

In his will, Cornelius split the Niagara property amongst his five sons. Cornelius is also frequently mentioned in the journals of Francis Goring, and his son Robert Lambert (1795-1873) married Francis's daughter Lucretia Caroline Goring (1799-1872).

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Burford Tragedy

Seven children of Daniel and Julia Ann Utter
Losing a child to illness was a common occurrence in nineteenth century Ontario. Losing seven in 16 days, however, was a tragedy beyond imagination. I discovered this tragedy while photographing gravestones in Northfield Cemetery for CanadaGenWeb's Cemetery Project.

Daniel Utter was a blacksmith who lived in Burford Township southwest of Brantford, Ontario. Daniel was born in 1832 in Trafalgar Township, Halton County, the son of Daniel Utter and Elizabeth Kinder. Daniel and his brother David (1818-1903) moved west to Burford in the early 1850s. In 1855, Daniel married Julia Ann Hainer (1838-1899), daughter of John Hainer (1795-1860) and Nancy Bowman (1808-1892).

Large families were common in nineteenth century Ontario, and Daniel and Julia Ann followed this trend. Their first child, John, was born in 1859. By the time of the 1871 the family had grown to six children with the addition of Anna (1862), Melissa (1864), Mary (1866), Charles (1869) and Rosy Bell (1871). William (1873) and Nancy followed (1875). But in 1877 tragedy struck. One of the children, most likely 11-year-old Mary, contracted diphtheria just before Christmas.

Diphtheria is a high contagious and potentially fatal respiratory infection. Although it has been largely eradicated through routine immunization, it is still endemic in some parts of the world. Until the introduction of a vaccine in the 1920s, diphtheria was a common cause of child mortality in Canada and the United States.

Mary died first on December 24th. Melissa died on Christmas Day, followed by Annie, Charles and Nancy two days later. William died on the January 7th and Rose Bell succumbed the following day. The only child to survive was 18-year-old John, most likely because he working away from home at the time.

All seven children were buried in Northfield Cemetery in Burford Township. Daniel and Julia Ann eventually had three more children: Nancy (1880-1948), William (1882- ?) and Elroy (1886- ?). Daniel and Julia Ann remained in Burford Township for the rest of their lives and were buried with their children: Julia Ann in 1899 and Daniel in 1920. Their son John was buried at Northfield in 1928

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mount Pleasant Cemetery

Gravestones at Mount Pleasant Cemetery,
Nichol, Wellington, Ontario

Mount Pleasant is a small rural non-denominational cemetery located in what was once Nichol Township north of Guelph, Ontario. The hundred or so gravestones form a large horseshoe around a open grassed area. Gravestones on the east and north sides of the cemetery are in good condition and record deaths as early as 1861 and as late as 2012.

Abraham J. Flewwelling
The same is not true for gravestones on the west side of the cemetery, especially in the southwest corner. Whether because of vandalism or age, many of these stones are broken or toppled, and no attempt has been made to repair them. When I photographed the cemetery for the Canada Genweb Cemetery Project, I discovered a large number of headstones, footstones and pieces of headstones stacked against trees, other gravestones, and the corner post of the cemetery. Despite this I managed to locate and photograph all but one of the gravestones transcribed by the Ontario Genealogical Society in 1988.
The cemetery was originally part of the property of Abraham Jewel Flewwelling. Flewwelling was the first settler in the area, having arrived in Nichol Township in 1827 with his wife, Martha Livermore, and seven children. Flewwelling was born in New Brunswick in 1789, the son of an United Empire Loyalist of Welsh descent. Six additional children were born after the family came to Upper Canada (Ontario). Flewwelling died in 1849. His burial place is marked by a simple rectangular marble gravestone.
Jane Gaball (1843-1873)
The earliest gravestone in this cemetery is that of Henry Metcalf, who died in 1844 at the age of 46 years, having emigrated to Upper Canada in 1833. Henry was born in Yorkshire, England, and had lived near Buffalo, New York for three years prior to coming to Nichol Township.

Many of the older gravestones bear motifs and epitaphs. The gravestone of Jane Watt (1843-1873), wife of John Gaball, displays a clenched hand with one finger pointing upwards, indicating the pathway to heaven. Jane was born in Scotland, and died three days after giving birth to her fourth child. Her epitaph reads:

In death's cold arms lies sleeping here
A tender parent, a companion dear:
In love she lived, in peace she died,
Her life was asked, but was denied.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Moffat United Cemetery

Moffat United Cemetery, Nassagaweya, Halton, Ontario
Moffat United Cemetery is a small graveyard located in Nassagaweya Township southeast of Guelph, Ontario.  The 59 stones record deaths as early as 1855 and as late as 1990. The cemetery was originally the graveyard for the Bethany Methodist Episcopal Church (later Moffat United), however, the church was converted into a private home many years ago.

George Allison (1809-1885)
Unlike many of the cemeteries that I have photographed for the Canada GenWeb Cemetery Project, Moffat is very well kept. No pruning of bushes, no cutting back of encroaching grass, and no cleaning was needed in order to photograph all the stones. While some of the stones are in several pieces, they were at one point been restored, most often through the use of metal frames. Inscriptions for the most part are still quite readable, and only two stones have disappeared since the 1976 Ontario Genealogical Society transcription.

The most common surname is the graveyard is Allison. George Allison (1809-1885) emigrated from Yorkshire and settled in Nassagawaya in 1831, on land he purchased from the Canada Company. In 1877 his son Jacob sold part of his property to the Methodist Episcopal Church, and a red-brick building was erected soon after. The graveyard, however, had existed for a number of years prior to this sale.

Sarah King (1824-1858)
The most visually interesting gravestone in the graveyard is that of Sarah, the wife of Charles King, who died in 1858 at the age of 34. Unfortunately, nothing is known about Sarah, since Charles King was no longer living in the area at the time of the 1861 Census.

Nassagaweya Township was created in 1819, and is one of four historical townships in Halton County. The land for the township was purchased from the Mississauga First Nation, and its name is based on the Mississauga word meaning "river with two outlets."

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Peasant Girl Pick-Pocket

Ilfracombe, Devon in the 1890s
My great-great-grandmother Margaret Mock was born in Braunton, Devon in 1851. Margaret was the youngest of ten children born to James Mock (1804-1882)  and Catherine Thomas (1808- ?). It is not certain when Margaret's mother died. What is known is that by 1861, James was a widower living in Ilfracombe, Devon with his daughter Mary Ann, his son George (1849-1922), my great-great-grandmother Margaret, and Mary Ann's twin daughters, Caroline (1854-1908) and Selina (1854-1922).

Margaret eventually married a mariner, Joseph Snow Pittaway (1852-1927), and moved to Watchet, Somerset. Her story is not that unusual. What is somewhat unusual is the story of two of Margaret's sisters: Mary Ann and Elizabeth.

Mary Ann was born in Braunton in 1833. When she was twenty and unmarried, she became pregnant, and twin girls were born in January of 1854. Again, not all that unusual. However, starting in 1865, Mary Ann went on to have seven more illegitimate children.

In the 1871 Census, Mary Ann's occupation is listed as laundress, however, one cannot escape the conclusion that Mary Ann had become a prostitute. Ilfracombe was an important Bristol Channel port so demand for such services would have been significant. Poverty was certainly a factor as Mary Ann's father is listed as either a Greenwich pensioner or a labourer in census data.

Mary Ann and her children did eventually gain some respectability. When Mary Ann died in 1908, a death notice appeared in the North Devon Journal. Her son John Henry Mock (1866-1938) apprenticed as a plumber and according to his obituary in the North Devon Journal was "a familiar figure in Ilfracombe" and "well-known, especially among the older inhabitants of the town."

Mary Ann's sister Elizabeth Mock was born in Braunton in 1839 and was living there with her parents in 1851. In November 1856, however, Elizabeth was charged with picking pockets at the Barnstaple Market.

The North Devon Journal's account of Elizabeth's appearance before the Barnstaple Magistrates is quite lengthy. Elizabeth had been sent by her parents to Barnstaple to pawn some of her mother's dresses, as a consequence of "wages having not been paid for the last three weeks." Having received a half crown from the pawnbroker, Elizabeth then went to the market, picked the pocket of one woman, but was caught when she tried to pick the pocket of another.

The article describes in detail the fourteen stolen items recovered including a "pink lozenge" and "a piece of red sealing-wax. The stolen coin amount to 6¾ pence. Elizabeth herself is described as a "dextrous thief" and "a peasant girl pick-pocket." The author of the article adds, "From the dexterity show by the girl in the plundering art, it was conjectured that she much have been under instruction in that line at least." No evidence, however, was presented to support this opinion. Elizabeth was committed to trial, and at the next Quarter Sessions was sentenced to six weeks imprisonment.

Five years later Elizabeth was in trouble once again, this time for stealing a quantity of bacon. In October 1860, Elizabeth entered the Newport shop of George White and asked for a halfpenny worth of milk. While the shopkeeper's wife was occupied fetching the milk, Elizabeth concealed a 2¾ pound piece of bacon beneath her cape. The theft was discovered shortly after she left the shop, and the police arrested her a few hours later.

Elizabeth was "sentenced to imprisonment with hard labour for six calendar months," which she served in the Barnstaple Gaol.

After her release, Elizabeth joined her sister Mary Ann and her father in Ilfracombe.  Like her sister, Elizabeth may have turned to prostitution, as three illegitimate children were born to her over the next few years.

It should also be mentioned that Elizabeth's father James was himself known to the police. In 1849 he had been sentenced to one month imprisonment for larceny as a consequence for stealing "two ash boards."

Elizabeth died in Ilfracombe in 1887. She was 48.


Exeter Flying Post, Thursday, 11 Jan 1849
North Devon Journal, Thursday, 29 Nov 1855
Western Times, Saturday, 19 Jan 1856
North Devon Journal, Thursday, 25 Oct 1860
North Devon Journal, Thursday, 10 Jan 1861

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Twice Emigrated: Henry Smith (1834-1903)

Elizabeth Tucker Budd (1836-1927) and her children. This
photograph likely dates from early in 1878.
In the nineteenth century, most emigrants to Canada would leave England never to return. My great-great-grandfather, however, left, returned, and then left again.

Henry Smith was born in the Dolton, a parish once described to me as being in "deepest, darkest Devon." An exaggeration perhaps, except the B3217 (the main road through the parish) is frequently a single paved lane with tall hedgerows on either side. Henry, the son of Thomas Smith (1807-1841) and Mary Field Bulleid (1809-1894) was baptised at St Edmund's in Dolton on 18 Feb 1835, having been born the previous December. According to a letter written many years ago by my great-grandmother, Thomas "was a cooper by trade, rather too fond of a good time for his own good." Shortly after Henry's seventh birthday, Thomas died, leaving Mary to raise Henry and his one year old brother alone.

Mary remarried in 1847. William Halls (1813-1893) was a building contractor and the cousin of Henry's father. The story goes that after her husband's death, Mary took in boarders including William. When William expressed romantic interest, Mary was shocked and insisted he move out and court her properly.

William Halls's five brothers had emigrated to Canada West (Ontario) in the 1840s and had settled in Westminster Township south of London. In 1851, one of the brothers, James (1830-1901), purchased and later cleared 100 acres of land in Usborne Township, southeast of Exeter. He was later joined by two of his brothers and a nephew.

Sometime in the late 1850s, James Halls was also joined by his step-nephew, Henry. Henry had learned masonry and plasterwork from his step-father, however, opportunities for employment were apparently much better in Canada. Henry worked for his step-uncle for several years and then returned to Dolton.

Back in Dolton, Henry married Elizabeth Tucker Budd, the daughter of a yeoman farmer who had fallen on difficult times. Four children were born in England: Polly, Edith, Kate and Fanny. At some point Henry became a Bible Christian. Although he married Elizabeth at the parish church, his daughters Edith and Kate were baptised at home by Bible Christian ministers, and he is listed as Bible Christian in both the 1861 and 1881 Canadian Censuses.

On 24 April 1873, Henry, Elizabeth and their four children boarded the North American, sailing from Liverpool to Quebec City. From Quebec City they would have taken a train to London, Ontario where they lived for a year and a half. Henry then moved his family to Usborne Township, joining his step-uncles in the small community of Elimville.

Henry and Elizabeth eventually had nine children that survived to adulthood. All but one were girls.

In 1888, Henry Smith left Elimville for Brandon, Manitoba, taking with him Elizabeth, Edith and his five youngest. Polly, Fanny and Kate stayed behind in Ontario. Henry worked in Brandon for a number of years, and Edith was married there in 1892. By this time Henry had likely developed silicosis although at the time it was called "plasterer's asthma."

In 1894, Henry homesteaded a quarter (160 acres) west of Hamiota, Manitoba. Nearby were his daughter Edith and her husband William Wesley Lewis. Henry received his patent in 1898 and he lived on the quarter until his death in 1903. His widow and son continued farming until 1905 but then moved to Hamiota. A number of descendants still live in the Hamiota district but others are scattered throughout Canada.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Granddaughter's Letter

Letter from Maria Lovenia Jarvis to Samuel Peters,
Oct 2, 1802. John Macintosh Duff Collection,
University of Guelph, XR1 MS A210031

Maria Lovenia Jarvis (1788-1829) was only three years old when she accompanied her parents and siblings to Upper Canada (Ontario). Maria, the oldest daughter of William Jarvis (1756-1817) and Hannah Peters (1762-1845), was born in London, England on 31 Dec 1788. In 1791, Mary's father, a Loyalist living in London, had been appointed Provincial Secretary of Upper Canada, a post he held until his death.

For the first few years Maria and her family lived at Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake), but in 1798 they moved across Lake Ontario to York (Toronto).

In 1802, Maria wrote the following letter to her grandfather, Reverend Samuel Peters (1735-1826). Samuel Peters has been born in Hebron, Connecticut, but at the start of the Revolutionary War had left for England. He was living in London at the time of this letter.

The letter forms part of the John Macintosh Duff Collection at the University of Guelph. A significant part of the collection consists of letters written to Reverend Peters by his daughter Hannah and his son-in-law William Jarvis. One of the recurring themes of the letters is the entreaties for Reverend Peters to visit his daughter's family. This is reflected in this letter from his granddaughter.

From Maria Lovenia Jarvis
York 2nd October 1802

Honoured Grand Papa
    It is a long time since I have seen you. I have no remembrance of you but your name which is so often repeated that it would be rather hard if I forgot. Our expectations of seeing you in Upper Canada has been long and as yet in vain but hope that we shall be gratified when Mr. Mosely returns. The tall pines which surround us I believe have wafted away all my ideas for fun—not think of any thing to amuse you with. The Castles in this place are so numerous were I to undertake a description it would swell my letter to a greater size than would be pleasing to you. The one I have seen appears to me that the owner had some thoughts of looking over the trees at the time of building and after all forgot the trees grew as high on the hill as in the valley Castle Frank—the rest being inhabited by bears and wolves. I have not ventured as yet to take a view of then as yet. We have a tolerable house unfinished but can I hope make you very comfortable if you will come. I am almost as tall as Mama and I have learnt to nurse. It would give me much satisfaction to have it in my power to practice in some degree with my Grand Papa with or without sickness. My sister and self have been hard at work to send you a patchwork counterpane the which we request your acceptance. Mama sends you a lap, tippet, socks and gloves and believes you will wear them for her sake and is sure you will find comfort in them on your passage out to Canada and also a Bottle of Bear's Grease. I shall be very much obliged to you for some useful and entertaining books. It is very difficult to procure any here and those very indifferent print. Mama finds it so painful to write or read that she cannot write you at this time. Without a glass she cannot read at all and very little with.
    I am honoured Grand Papa your most dutiful Grand Daughter.
Castle Frank may refer to the now buried Castle Frank Brook or to the rustic lodge built in 1796 by John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. The word "castle" was used ironically by the early inhabitants of York. Maria's sister, Augusta Honoria Jarvis (1790-1848) was eleven when this letter was written.

Maria married George Hamilton (1788-1838) at York in 1812. After the War of 1812, George purchased land in Barton Township at the head of Lake Ontario. He developed a town site which grew to become the City of Hamilton. Maria's grandfather finally visited in 1818, and baptised his grandaughter, Maria Lavinia Hamilton.

Maria Lavinia Jarvis died in 1829, leaving behind her husband and eight children.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Gorringe Family: The Ones Left Behind

1792 Map of Part of St Martin in the Fields
London Lives asks, "What was it like to live in the first million person city in modern Western Europe. Crime, poverty, and illness; apprenticeship, work... all this and more can be found in these documents." The London Lives collection cover the period 1690 to 1800, and include Workhouse Admissions and Discharge Registers, Pauper Examinations, Coroner's Inquests, and Criminal Proceedings.

London Lives has been an invaluable resource in researching the family of Francis Goring (1755-1882). When Francis left England for Canada in 1776, he likely expected that he would not see his parents and sisters again. Still, he could look forward to occasional news from home. Unfortunately, the news he received was not good.

Francis Gorringe was born on 26 Aug 1755 in Westminster, Middlesex, the son of Abraham Gorringe, a bookseller, and Ann Lloyd. He was baptised twelve days later on 7 Sep 1755 at St Martin in the Fields. Abraham and Ann, "of St Bridget's, Fleet Street" were married at St. George's Chapel, May Fair on 19 Nov 1751. The Chapel, which was located at Hyde Park Corner, was established for those who wished to marry clandestinely, that is, without banns, a license, or the consent of parents.

It is likely that Abraham and Ann were married without the consent of Ann's parents. Ann, the daughter of William and Mary Lloyd, was baptised on 17 Dec 1734 at St Bridget's, Fleet Street, so she may have only been 17 at the time of her marriage. Ann would also have been pregnant when she married, as her first child, Mary, was born on 9 Jun 1752.

The parish register for St Martin in the Fields records the baptism of eight children of Abraham and Ann. Francis was the third oldest. Childhood illnesses took their tool. Francis's only brother, William, died at 23 months of age. Two of his sisters also died quite young: Ann (1753-1756) and Louisa (1770-1770).

There is evidence for another daughter named Elizabeth who was born about 1766 and buried at St Martin in the Fields on 16 Jun 1778, however, there is no record of her baptism at St Martin in the Fields.

Abraham's career as a bookseller was likely unremarkable. In the Old Bailey Proceedings for 7 Dec 1763, however, is recorded the indictment of Alexander Lowe for stealing two books from Abraham, one called The Travels of the Jesuits into Various Parts of the World, valued at two shillings, and the other The Complete London Songster valued at six pence. Ann Gorringe's testimony is also recorded:

I am wife to the prosecutor, he is a bookseller, and lives in May's Buildings. Last Monday, between three and four in the afternoon, the prisoner was looking at these books, and, as the window was open, he asked the price of two others, but we could not agree; he was going off, two of these volumes lay there five minutes before: I observed a book in his left-hand pocket, he was gone six or seven yards, I went and laid hold of him, and said, you thieving fellow, come back and give me the books out of your pocket; he had the two books, mentioned in the indictment, in his pockets; he insisted upon it, they were his own property, and talked of carrying me before a magistrate, the books produced, and deposed to.
Lowe's defence consisted of the statement, "I was in liquor. How they came into my pocket, I know not." Lowe was convicted and was "ordered to be branded in the hand and discharged."

Abraham was also named as the executor of the will of his brother Richard. The will was dated 8 Jan 1768 and was proved at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury on 20 Aug 1770. Richard was a mariner and served on HMS Druid, a 10-gun sloop launched in 1761 and sunk as a breakwater in 1773. Ten years later administration was transferred to Abraham's daughter Ann, as Abraham had left the will "unadministered."

Abraham died several months after Francis had left for Canada. Less than two years later his mother was also dead, as was his sister Elizabeth. Francis received the news in a letter dated 28 Mar 1779 from James Crespel, the husband of his mother's sister:

I wrote you last year acquainting you of the death of your father. I now must acquaint you of the death of your Dear Mother, also your little sister, Betsy. Likewise your Aunt, my dear wife. All the rest of your family is well. Sally is in the Workhouse of St. Martins and is very well satisfied with her Situation. Nancy and Charlotte are in places and I hear no complaint.
James Crespel's letter is part of the Francis Goring Fonds at Brock University.

James and his brother Sebastian were silversmiths. A silver ewer (left) dated 1765 and bearing the makers' mark for Sebastian and James Crespel is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, while a tankard can be found at Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. James married Sarah Lloyd at St Botolph without Bishopsgate, London on 17 Jan 1768. Sarah's burial is not recorded at St Martins in the Fields, however, James was buried there on 10 May 1815, aged 79.

Shortly before her mother's death, Francis's sister Ann (Nancy) applied for poor relief on behalf of her family:

The Examination of Ann Gorringe lodging at No.4 in Lazenby Court in parish of St Martin in the Fields, taken this 18th Day of March in the Year 1778. This Examinant on her Oath saith That her mother Ann Gorringe now ill as aforesaid is the Widow of Abraham Gorringe (who died in August 1776) to whom she was married at May Fair Chapel about the year 1754, That her father was a Book seller and lived and Rented an House in Little Mays Building in the Parish afore said for the space of twenty six years at the yearly rent of twenty pounds besides taxes quitted the same about Christmas 1775, That her father never kept house rented a tenement of ten pounds by the year nor paid any parish taxes afterwards, That her mother hath not kept house rented a tenement of ten pounds by the year nor paid any parish taxes since the death of her said husband, That her Mother hath three children by her said husband to wit Sarah aged eighteen years (who is Blind) Charlotte aged 16 years (who is lame) and Elizabeth aged twelve years now in Hungerford School. Sworn the 18th Day of March 1778.
The most common form of relief available was the workhouse. Workhouses were institutions where the poor were given shelter, fed and put to work. The St Martin in the Fields Workhouse had been opened in 1725, and it was here that three of Francis's sisters became inmates.

Sir Frederick Morton Eden's 1797 State of the Poor provides a description of the St Martin Workhouse:

The Poor are partly relieved at home, and partly maintained in the Workhouse in Castle Street, Leicester Fields. There are about 240 out-pensioners, besides a considerable number on the casual list. There are 573 inmates (473 adults, 100 children). Their principal employment is spinning flax, picking hair, and carding wool. Their average earnings £150. It was once attempted to establish a manufacture, but the badness of the situation for business, the want of room for workshops, and the difficulty of compelling the able Poor to pay proper attention to work rendered it unsuccessful. Between 70 and 80 children are generally out at nurse in the Country, at a weekly allowance of 3s. (lately advanced to 3s. 6d.). At 7 or 8 they are taken into the house, taught a little reading, etc., for 3 or 4 years, and put out as apprentices. The bill of fare is as follows : Breakfast—bread and butter; Friday, water gruel sweetened and spiced; other days, milk pottage. Dinner—Sunday, 6oz. meat without bone; Monday, Wednesday, pease soup; Tuesday, Thursday, beef and greens; Friday, barley gruel with milk; Saturday, 1lb. plum pudding. Supper—every day, bread and cheese or butter. Fourteen oz. bread and 1 quart beer are allowed a day to each person; mutton and broth for the sick every day; to each married lying-in woman, one pot of porter for caudle the first 9 days and a pint for 7 days after; others half that quantity; boiled mutton with potatoes once in 6 weeks, pease and beans with bacon, and mackerel and salmon once in the season; grey pease and bacon on Shrove Tuesday; buns on Good Friday; roast beef on Christmas Day; pork and pease pudding on New Year's Day; plum cake on Holy Thursday.
Ann Gorringe was first admitted to the St Martin in the Fields workhouse on 8 Jun 1778. She was discharged, readmitted and discharged again. She was last admitted on 22 Dec 1789, and died while an inmate on 9 Jan 1790.

Charlotte Gorringe was not admitted to the workhouse until 6 Nov 1783. She was eight months pregnant at the time. Charlotte died while an inmate on 6 Jan 1784 shortly after the birth of her illegitimate son, Francis. Francis was born on 20 Dec 1783, baptised on 6 Jan 1784, died on 15 Jan 1784, and was buried on 17 Jan 1784.

Sarah (Sally) GORING was first admitted to the workhouse on 16 Apr 1778. She spent the next forty-two years in and out of the workhouse, and was last admitted (for the 17th time) on 3 Mar 1817. She died while an inmate on 2 Jan 1820, the last of Francis's sisters.