Wheeley Interesting

Researching the children of Thomas Henry WHEELEY led me to a few interesting discoveries this morning – particularly to do with his eldest daughters.

His first born daughter, Gertrude Annie Wheeley married a Thomas Fox in 1900 at St Andrews Church, Walsall. His second born daughter, Blanche Emma Wheeley was there and signed as a witness to the marriage along with possibly their younger brother, Thomas (presuming that the father would have signed his name as Thomas Henry as recorded above).

Marriage entry of Gertrude Annie Wheeley & Thomas Fox

The next year, Gertrude Annie married a man called William Henry Marston.  William was Roman Catholic and I was surprised to see the marriage entry recorded in latin (this is the first instance of Catholic records in my research).

Marriage entry of Blanche Emma Wheeley & William Henry Marston

Checking the census, I was pleased to find the sisters together – Blanche was visiting Gertrude at their Inn in Darlaston – the Britannia. Blanche had also brought along their 5 year old sister, Hilda.

1901 census showing Wheeley siblings staying with Gertrude Annie and her husband Thomas

I always love finding entries like these as it shows how the families were still in touch throughout the years but it turns out this was not such a happy story. Blanche was in fact staying with her sister after an altercation with her new husband and his mother.

In an article headed, ‘SOON TIRED OF MATRIMONIAL LIFE’, it outlined how the relationship soured after only 5 weeks (!) of marriage:

The parties were only married in January this year, and went to live defendant’s mother in Lumley Road, Walsall. Unpleasantness seemed to have arisen through the defendant’s mother, and the defendant always appeared to side with his mother. Five weeks after the marriage the defendant ordered his wife to leave the house on two occasions. On March 26th a dispute arose between the complainant and the defendant’s mother, and the defendant then practically turned his wife out of the house. The following day complainant went with her own mother to defendant to see what he was going to do. Defendant declined to have her back again and told her that if she wanted anything from him for her maintenance she would have to go to law to get it.

Sounds like William tried to make out it was because she was running him into debt but it seems like this was untrue as their was only a small amount owing for groceries. William was ordered to pay Blanche 12s 6d a week (approximately £48 in today’s money – worth about a day’s wages at the time).

Walsall Advertiser 20 April 1901 p8 c7

The address given by Blanche was her sister’s residence – the Brittania Inn. Another interesting point was that this incident happened only 5 days before the census evening (31 March 1901).

Hopefully, Blanche had a happy ending…

Curious George

I have returned from my holiday/family history mission in Devon. While there, I located the homes and farms of my ancestors, visited their churches and in some cases burial grounds and generally got a feel for the layout of the places they lived.
I also got to spend some time in the West Country Studies Library in Exeter – 4 and a half hours worth of time to be precise! I looked through parish records to firm up some sources and dates and browsed through some microfiche of the Exeter Flying Post to get a bit more detail.
I’ll be posting my findings over the next few days to help me collect all my information and thoughts. To start, I think I’ll flesh out the story of my bankrupt ancestor George WREFORD.

Exeter Prison (August 2009)
George may have been an inmate here in 1861

Last month, I discovered my 3rd great grandfather, George, was not found in the 1861 census partly because he was in jail for bankruptcy. You can read the story so far in my post Ancestor Found (almost).

Unfortunately, I have still not been able to locate him on the 1861 census. After eventually finding Exeter Gaol in the census records, I also found the prisoners were listed by initials only. ‘A-ha!’ I thought, ‘That explains why I couldn’t find him through a name search’ – but I couldn’t find any prisoner with the initials G.W. Not to be deterred, I then combed the entire list of prisoners by their age and birthplace looking for suitable or even approximate matches but I have still not found George WREFORD.

I am aware there was a debtor’s prison in Cowick Street but I learned on the Exeter Memories site that “the last prisoners were moved to the County Gaol in January 1855 and the facility was closed” – 5 years before George was held.

 

But I did find some nuggets of information in the Exeter Flying Post.

Exeter Flying Post – 10 April 1861

Another reference to his upcoming hearing at the county court at first seemed identical to the notice in the London Gazette EXCEPT, it claims he was a journeyman baker in Chulmleigh – this may be another lead or a Victorian typo. (The London Gazette referred to him as ‘Journey-man Butcher’, which is more likely).

More importantly, upon rereading, I noticed that it mentioned George was “to be holden at the Castle of Exeter”. This could explain why he was not in the County Gaol on the 1861 census! Census night was 7 April 1861 – this excerpt was from the 10 April 1861 edition of the newspaper.

The next ‘clipping’ concluded what must have been a very difficult time in my ancestor’s life.

The insolvent was supported by Mr. Laidman, and, being unopposed, he was declared entitled to the benefit of the act, and ordered to be discharged.

I am aware that the laws surrounding bankruptcy changed in 1861 but if anyone can explain simply to me what the change was, I would love to know. I would also like to know what being supported by someone meant. I have a feeling, old George was quite lucky to have his case heard in this particular year.

Exeter Flying Post – 24 April 1861

Next steps:

  • Search the 1861 census for ‘the Castle’ and its inmates
  • Find a simple explanation for the Bankruptcy Act