Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Tragic Life of Samuel Slooman

Slooman Gravestone at Tawstock, Devon
The above gravestone reflects just two of the tragedies that afflicted Samuel Slooman of Tawstock, Devon. Samuel was born at Tawstock on 25 Oct 1784, the son of George Slooman (1749-1816) and Ann Searle (1756-1835), and was baptised two months later.

In 1805, 21-year-old Samuel married 25-year-old Mary Pearce, daughter of John and Mary Pearce. Their first child, William Pearce Slooman, was born in 1806. Three years later, George Searle Slooman was born. Unfortunately, George died at the age of ten months and was buried in the Tawstock churchyard.
The date recorded for George Searle Slooman's death on his gravestone is incorrect as the Tawstock parish register records his baptism on 29 Jun 1809 and his burial on 24 Feb 1810.

Unusually, there were then no more Slooman children until the birth of Mary Ann Pearce Slooman in 1819.

Roodge, Tawstock, Devon
Samuel farmed Roodge, an estate of 51 acres near the hamlet of Harracott, which he leased from Sir Bourchier Palk Wrey, 8th Baronet. The rendered cob and stone farmhouse still exists. Most of the Grade II listed building dates from the 17th century, however, the description of the property notes that a significant part of the roof was replaced in the 19th century.

In the summer of 1829, Samuel's surviving son, William, died at the age of 22. William was buried in the Tawstock churchyard and a gravestone was erected to commemorate him and his brother.  The inscription reads:

Sacred to the Memory of
of this Parish who Departed this
Life the 28th day of February
1809 Aged 10 Months
ALSO to the Memory of
Son of the Above Samuel & Mary
Slooman who Departed this Life
the 7th day of July 1829 Aged 22 Years
In Blooming days it pleased God
By death to smite us with his Rod
Therefore dear friends Content with rest
And hope in Christ we're every bless
Farewell dear Parents & Sister too,
For now we must depart from you.
Christ's Blessing now with you Remain
We hope in Heaven to meet again.
Less than two years later, tragedy struck again when in March of 1831 Devon was hit by a severe storm. The winds caused part of the farmhouse roof to collapse, severely injuring Samuel, and killing Samuel's wife and eleven-year-old daughter as they lay in their beds.

Samuel recovered but his life would have been empty. Just over a year later he was dead. The coroner's inquest concluded that Samuel died on his way home from a public house when he was thrown from his horse. It was a tragic end to a tragic life.


North Devon Journal, Thursday, March 17, 1831
North Devon Journal, Thursday, May 31, 1832

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