Mayoral Connections

St Andrew’s Street, Tiverton (date unknown) – Harriotte STILING lived here in 1841 

Before Harriotte STILING married George WREFORD, she was living in Tiverton with Thomas & Sarah LEAMAN.  As she was recorded in the 1841 census as a female servant (‘F.S.’), I presumed she was the LEAMAN’s live-in maid.  This may still be true but somehow suspected there was more to this relationship.

(I can’t remember exactly how this suspicion came about but I recently rediscovered a note on my ancestry ‘TO DO’ list to investigate the relationship.)

Harriotte STILING on 1841 census living with Thomas & Sarah LEAMAN

It turns out that Mrs LEAMAN was actually Harriotte’s sister, Sarah STILING who married the widower, Thomas LEAMAN, Esquire (!) in 1840.

1840 marriage record of Sarah STILING & Thomas Leaman, Esquire

My reasons for accepting this:

  1. John Stiling, yeoman is recorded as father (same as Harriotte’s marriage certificate in 1845)
  2. Edward & Charlotte STILING are witnesses at the marriage – her siblings’ names
  3. A Sarah Stiling was born to John & Grace of West Barton in Tiverton, yeoman (West Barton was Stiling residence for 60 years)
Sarah Stiling’s baptism 1815 – Bishop’s Transcripts

Sadly, the marriage was very short – Thomas died only 3 years later.  I was unable to find the couple on the 1851 census but instead came across a mention in The Gentleman’s Magazine that Thomas died June 15, 1843 and had also been the mayor of Tiverton!

The Gentleman’s Magazine, Vol 20, p171

Strangely, I have not yet found any other information about this man, other than a note in the next volume of The Gentleman’s Magazine that his sister’s son would change his name as heir of Thomas’ apparent fortune:

The Gentleman’s Magazine, Vol 21, p193

I had learnt via the works of Jane Austen that women usually didn’t inherit from their husbands – but it still seemed a little harsh for this young bride.  Sarah managed to get back on her feet with a later marriage to Richard BRANSCOMBE in 1849 and was visiting her mother and brother on the night of the 1871 census (retired farmer’s wife). It’s always nice to find evidence that families stayed in each other’s lives.

Next Steps: 

  • Find out more about Mayor Thomas Leaman and his premature death
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Double Marriage Entry

Came across something very curious last night…

The marriage of George WREFORD and Harriet STILING (for which I have both the original parish entry AND official copy of entry, as well as the record of banns) was recorded twice in the registers – same parish, church, year and even volume – within pages of each other.

Jan-Mar Quarter 1845, Volume 10 page 407
April-Jun Quarter 1845, Volume 10 page 431

At first I thought it may be a different George Wreford since Wrefords abound in Devonshire, but Harriet is mentioned in both entries (albeit with different spelling).

Perhaps the clue lies with the only other name from both entries – Elizabeth Galliford recorded as marrying George Marley/George Manby.  Perhaps it was just recorded twice to clear up the spelling mistakes but that also doesn’t make sense as the parish records show both marriages actually took place in the April Quarter.

Marriage of George Marley to Elizabeth Galliford
Marriage of George Wreford to Harriotte Stiling

I have tried searching for a second ceremony in the Tiverton area via the Devon Parish Registers on findmypast but there doesn’t appear to be any.

Why would the marriage which took place in May be initially recorded in the previous quarter?  I guess the next step is to order the record from page 407 although I don’t want to spend more money just to get the exact same copy sent to me.

Notes:

  1. I will now begin spelling Miss Stiling’s name as Harriotte as that is how she signed the register herself.
  2. I found out while researching this that Phillip Chave, who appears in both entries as witness and several times in the Cove registers was actually the assistant to Mr William North Row of Cove House – magistrate for Devon.  I presume this meant he often ‘sat in’ as witness for these smaller ceremonies where required.  I had originally thought he may have been a friend or relative.

Next Steps:

  • Order Jan qtr marriage certificate
  • Revisit Harriet STILING to find connection to Cove area
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Blind Leading the Blind

At the top of my ancestry ‘To Do’ list for many years now has been ‘Find out who Blind Wreford is’.

Today I’ve finally found out…

I’m not even sure where I first heard of Blind Wreford but I’ve kept an eye out for any mention of him.  Finally I found mention of him in obituary for another old wrestler, John Bolt.

 

He was full of anecdotes of “Blind Wreford,” a wealthy farmer of Cheriton, whodied in 1835 at a very advanced age, and who, notwithstanding his blindness, was a renowned wrestler, often followed the hounds without sustaining severe falls, and was an excellent judge of the weight and general qualities of cattle.”

 

According to this, he had been totally blind since he was 8. “He was a strongly limbed, well grown and powerful man, about 5 feet 10 in. in height, and was usually led into the ring by a boy, as a guide, and indulged with the privilege of taking hold of his antagonist by the collar…”

I’m really surprised that it’s been so hard to find mention of this guy as he really does seem quite extraordinary.

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Book ’em Once More, Danno

I wrote in a previous post about pinpointing Thomas PALMER’s premises using a newspaper report of his being robbed.  Living by a police station didn’t seem to give the security you’d think it would, as Palmer was robbed again in 1869:

Portsmouth Times and Naval Gazette 27 November 1869, p5 c5

A certain Henry Baker stole two books from him at the value of 4 shillings, as well as a pot of cold cream from a nearby chemist, Charles Mumby.  Funnily enough a little research shows this chemist was actually the founder of Mumby’s Mineral Waters. (Read a little more about him here.)  He also stole a letter stamp from a Mr Loveder but for some reason this wasn’t investigated.

Portsmouth Times and Naval Gazette 11 December 1869, p3 c3

As the ‘well-known character‘ had been convicted of a felony twice before this incident, Henry Baker was sentenced to twelve months hard labour.  Out of curiosity, I found his record of conviction for his crime against Thomas Palmer in the Southampton Assizes records.

Henry Baker’s conviction at the Southampton Assizes 1869

I’m curious as to what Thomas’ ‘private mark’ looked like.  Was his private mark different to his store mark? Did it look anything like this…?

 

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Girls, girls, girls

 

Form VI A 1938, Otago Girls High School

Recently, I rediscovered a photo of my grandmother and her classmates in 1938, hidden in one of my family history books. On the reverse, in my grandmother’s scrawl, are written the names of her fellow schoolgirls.

As I recognise my grandmother, Gwen and her best friend, Daphne in the front row of the picture, I believe the girls in the photo are as follows (L-R):

BACK: Phyllis Jones, Joyce Clayton, Kay Bell, Pat Johnson

FRONT: Daphne Morrison, Pauline Gapper, Merle Wildey, Gwen Buchan, Molly Spackman

Phyllis Jones, Joyce Clayton, Kay Bell, Pat Johnson, Daphne Morrison, Pauline Gapper, Merle Wildey, Gwen Buchan, Molly Spackman

The photo seems to have been taken on the main entrance steps of the building as seen here in a more recent photo on the Otago Girls High School website:

Otago Girls High School via school site

Hopefully, some of these girls’ family members will see this photo here one day.

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