Saturday, September 6, 2014

An Ocean Apart: The Voddens of Esquesing

Gravestone of Thomas Vodden (1814-1815)
It is the quite the distance between the parish of St Giles in the Wood in Devon, England, and the hamlet of Walsh in Norfolk, Ontario. These two places, however, are linked by the gravestones of two brothers.

Thomas Vodden the son of Laurence Vodden (1783-1855) and Ann Manning (1781-1873), was baptised at Burrington, Devon on 9 Jun 1814. When Thomas died the following year he was buried at St Giles in the Wood. Why his parents choose to bury him there is unclear, as St Giles in the Wood is several kilometres from Week in Burrington where Thomas's father was a yeoman farmer. Thomas's father and grandfather had been born in Winkleigh. His great-grandfather, however, had been born in St Giles in the Wood, and his great-great-grandfather, Lawrence Vodden (? -1733), is the common ancestor of the numerous Vodden lines in North Devon.

Ann Manning (1781-1873)
Thomas's father, Laurence, son of Robert Vodden (1748- ?) and Prudence Pope, was born in 1783. He married Ann Manning at South Molton in 1808. Ann, the daughter of  Charles Manning and Elizabeth Hill, was born in Burrington in 1781.

It seems likely that Laurence and Ann had a child between the time of their marriage and the birth of their son Laurence in 1811, however, no record of this child has been found. Thomas was their second child, followed by Elizabeth in 1816, Ann in 1818, Grace in 1820, Rose in 1822, and Rebecca in 1825. All of these children were baptised at Burrington.

The 1838 Title Apportionment shows two farms with the name Week in Burrington: Higher Week and Week Park. Both farms are small: Week Park at 16 acres and Higher Week at 26 acres. In 1838 Higher Week was owned by Robert Chichester and occupied by John Manning, possibly the brother of Ann. The Higher Week farmhouse dates from about 1600 and is Grade II listed.

Higher Week Farmhouse, Burrington, Devon
According to an 1895 article in the Acton Free Press, written to celebrate their daughter Rebecca Vodden's fiftieth wedding anniversary, Laurence and Ann emigrated to Canada about 1829. After spending a few years in Miramachi, New Brunswick, they moved to Esquesing Township, Halton County to the west of Toronto.

Laurence Vodden
A few years after their arrival in Canada, their son Laurence married Mary Ann Hutchinson, the daughter of another English emigrant. The younger Laurence had ten children, five of whom were born in Esquesing. By 1852, Laurence had relocated to Walpole Township in Haldimand County. Between 1861 and 1871, he moved to Charlotteville Township in Norfolk. When he died in 1884, he was buried in the Walsh Cemetery.  Laurence has two grave markers: a plain slab with his name and dates as well as the name and dates of his wife and two of his children. Nearby is the original gravestone, broken into five pieces and lying flat on the ground.

Vodden-Kennedy Monument
Greenwood Cemetery, Georgetown
The older Laurence died in 1855. At the time of the 1861 and 1871 Censuses, his widow Ann was living with her daughter Ann and son-in-law John Kennedy (1821-1886) in Georgetown. Ann died in 1873. Laurence and Ann's names are inscribed on a monument in Greenwood Cemetery, although there is evidence that they were buried at the Wesleyan Methodist Cemetery, then moved to Greenwood in the 1890s.

John Kennedy was the son of land surveyor Charles Kennedy (1792-1854) who mapped out the north half of Esquesing in 1819, and built a sawmill on Silver Creek. Ann Street in Georgetown is named after his daughter-in-law, Ann Vodden. In 1845, John Kennedy built Cleave House, named after the subsequent owners. In 1871 he built and moved into a Victorian cottage now known as the John Kennedy House. Ann died in 1886, ten months after her husband.

Advertisement for the
Walter Sanitarium
Laurence and Ann's oldest daughter, Elizabeth Vodden, married George Walter. She died in Acton in 1884 at the age of 67. Their son Dr. Robert Walter (1841-1921) founded the Walter Sanitarium, a health resort, at Wernersville near Reading, Pennsylvania.

Rose Vodden may have married Samuel Snell of Chinguacousy. Like Rose, Samuel had been born in Burrington, Devon, and had emigrated to Upper Canada via Miramachi, along with his parents. According to an entry in the Wesleyan Methodist Baptismal Register held at the United Church of Canada Archives, Samuel and Rose had a daughter Mary born in Mar 1843. Rose, however, died later that year and was buried at the Zion Cemetery.

Rebecca Vodden
Laurence and Ann's youngest daughter, Rebecca, married Richard Hemstreet (1818-1908). Rebecca died in 1920 at the age of 95 and is buried in Milton. Richard was born in Pennsylvania but had come with his parents to Upper Canada at the age of three. At the time of his death, Richard and Rebecca had been married for 63 years.

What became of Grace, and whether Laurence and Ann had other children, has yet to be discovered.

1 comment:

  1. Found the link below for the Vooden family tree while researching my wife's family. My wife Laurence Vodden and Ann Manning are my wife's 4th great grand parents on her mother side. If you have any other information I would love to see it.