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Sunday, 17 June 2018

Research Trip 2018 (6)

Today's the day I start to make my way home; I'm heading back southwards and eastwards to Lincolnshire (I came northwards and westwards) so I'm taking the A44 towards Leominster to start. This will take me very near to New Radnor.

Why New Radnor? Well, I've been aware that Sarah Mantle Lewis, my great grandmother, while she lived in Llandewi Ystradenny, had an illegitimate child, Ethel. Ethel's birth certifcate doesn't name the father but the birth took place at the Smith Shop where Richard Jones was the blacksmith. Known alternatively as Ethel Lewis and later, Ethel Jones, she spent much of her life 'in service'. As I knew her birth date, I was able to find her in the 1939 Register in New Radnor. I've also obtained a copy of her will. I'd checked the MIs for New Radnor at Powys Archives and so I was able to 'visit'.

St Mary's Church in New Radnor looks rather forlorn - I wonder how large the current congregation is as it doesn't look very used. Still, it's kept open for visitors and that's a good thing.

Great Aunt Ethel's grave is quite a long way  from the church itself but a rose has been planted on it and it does look cared for. Her will has given me some clues as to other relatives as she bequeathed sums to three sets of great nieces and nephews. Robert Jones and John Jones (who I believe to be the sons of her brother Walter Jones, the younger brother of my grandfather Pryce), Bryan Thomas and Janet Thomas (the son and daughter of Florence Mantle - the daughter of Edward Davies Mantle, the child of my great great grandmother, Eliza Rees - I'm not exactly sure of the relationship here but Edward Davies Mantle was the half brother of Sarah Mantle Lewis) and Mervyn Hart and Christine Hart (I've yet to work out the relationship for this set). 

So, having paid my respects to Great Aunt Ethel I continued my journey; through Leominster and off towards Ludlow to stop at Berrington Hall, a National Trust property. I thoroughly enjoyed this stop; the house is unprepossessing on the outside but well proportioned on the inside. 

There was a fascinating 'event' taking place: . In brief, an 18th century dress belonging to the mistress of Berrington had been found at auction and it was being studied and preserved when I visited. The conservator was on the premises and came to talk to a few us visitors about the dress and how it had been made, the material etc etc. It was fascinating - silk fabric (probably produced in Spitalfields) with gold thread (not silver gilt and so still as bright as when it was made). They hope to preserve the original and make a plain duplicate to have more understanding of how court mantuas were made and worn. 

I ended the day at Hinckley, Leicestershire. Onward to Bosworth Field tomorrow!

Research Trip 2018 (5)

The morning was set aside to visit a friend (from my days as the non-residential administrator at St Michael's Theological College,Cardiff) in Newbridge-on-Wye but I managed to drop into a church on the way! This time it was St Gwrthwl's, Llanwrthwl - where 3x great grandfather, James Price was baptised on 10 Sept 1786. 

I think this has to be my favourite church of the ones I've visited on this trip. The church gate is incredibly stiff and I couldn't open it from the outside. Fortunately, there are steps!

It's a little more precarious on the downward side! I loved the interior of this church; it's carpeted throughout and I was particularly taken with the natural stone of the west end wall.

Tucked away down there are tea and coffee making facilities for the many walkers that pass through the village. Judging by the comment in the visitors' book, it's much appreciated. I did manage to push open the gate from the church side which saved climbing back over the wall!

Onto Powys Archives which is now located on the Ddole Road Industrial Estate; purpose built facilities for the preservation of the archives. Could I find it? I knew it was Unit 29 but the road markings leave a lot to be desired. The sign that read 'Units 23 and upward' was badly worn and impossible to read from the road. Anyway, I found it eventually and was made welcome. 

I confined myself mainly to the parish records that aren't available on findmypast; Llanbister and Llananno which are available as scanned copies (so no having to struggle with microfilm!) in the office. I've verified some baptisms for the Woodside, Llananno Joneses and some Reeses and realised I had driven past Great Meadows, the address given for Sarah Mantle and Richard Benbo (for the baptism of Richard, Sarah and John Benbo in 1867 although this is awkward because Richard Benbo married Adeliza Mantle and died in 1862!) on the mini-adventure!

I've also gleaned more information from the records for Llanbadarn Fynydd for the family of great uncle James Jones which brings me a bit more up-to-date with them.

I think the most interesting things on this visit were the Memorial Inscriptions and we have to be grateful to volunteers who record the position of, and details on, headstones in church yards.

Firstly, I decided to check the details for 3x great grandfather, Edward Thomas. Born in Welshpool in 1808, Edward lived to the ripe old age of 93, dying in 1903 in Newtown. I'd seen his burial record in the parish register some years before. It's really interesting as the minister had noted, in the margin: "used to tell everybody in his latter days that he had committed a 'great crime'. When asked what the event was, he would reply, 'too old to work' ". 
I knew he had a headstone at St David's Church, Newtown but had never found it so I wanted to re-check the details. Here's what is noted: "337 - composite headstone with slate plaque and urn. Urn: In memory of M Morris from friends and neighbours. Headstone: In loving memory of Edward Thomas, aged 93 years. Buried 22 Jan 1903. Also of Margaret Morris, granddaughter of the above. Died 30 Oct 1946 aged 67. "Fell from a railway compartment at Forden Station on to the rails and received severe injuries which proved fatal. Rest in Peace". 

I'd seen an entry for a Margaret Morris of about the right age in the 1939 Register at the Public Assistance Institution at Forden; a member of staff who was a seamstress and wondered whether it could be her. I would need to order a death certificate to confirm but it seemed very likely now. 

I also found out something else but I'm going to leave that until tomorrow...

Friday, 8 June 2018

Research Trip 2018 (4)

Today I had planned to visit Newtown's (in Powys) Textile Museum as I'd never been before and many of my family were involved in various aspects of the trade: woolsorter, wool stapler, hand loom weaver, weaver, tailoress etc. I thought I had correctly noted the opening days but no - I got there and it was closed. Ho hum -  another visit in the future?

All was not lost as, on another glorious day, I had dropped into the churches in the villages along the A483 where family members had lived in years gone by. 

 I started at Llanbister where my grandfather, Pryce Jones was born in 1899; I've been to Llanbister before and taken pictures of the war memorial where Pryce's elder brother, Thomas Jones is commemorated. He died in France in 1917 and has no known grave so is commemorated at Tyne Cot. I've tried to get into the church before and found it locked (or so I thought) but on this day, being rather blessed, I arrived about the same time as the curate (who explained that the church is usually open but the door is particularly stiff). It's a huge church (the cathedral of the Ithon Valley), has steps up to the front door, steps to the main body of the church, steps up to the altar. It also, most unusually, has a baptistry! 

On to Llananno, the parish church for the Joneses when they were the blacksmiths at Woodside, which has the most beautiful rood screen (most of these were destroyed at the Reformation)

Llananno is set very close to the Ithon River which you can hear as you approach ther church - a welcome change to the noise of the A483!

The next parish church is Llanbadarn Fynyddd where Richard and Eliza Mantle are buried (the headstone is right next to the church entrance) as well as Richard Jones and his first wife, Mary Crowther.

On the long drop down into Newtown, I stopped off at St Paul's Church, Dolfor to take a photo of the church there - sadly, it wasn't open so I've yet to see inside. The smithy, where Timothy Jones was the smith and where his widow, Hannah married the next smith, James Mills is just opposite the church. James and Hannah are buried here (Timothy is buried at Llandinam for reasons I have yet to discover). 

On the way back to Rhayader, I decided I'd have a mini-adventure and take the back road to Abbey Cwmhir. This was the birthplace f 3x great granny Sarah Richards who married the Richard Mantle born in 1787 (much like the Joneses, the Mantles favoured the name Richard and there are several of them). Adventure it was! It's pretty much a single tracked road with few passing places. Indeed at one point I had to reverse a long way to find room for a tractor to pass.

The church at Abbey Cwmhir was much embellished by the local landowners, the Phillips family;  a little too much for my taste

Back to Rhayader and just enough time to work out what I should be looking at when I visit Powys Archives in Llandrindod Wells tomorrow. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Research Trip 2018 (3)

Today was a dedicated shopping day with a trip over to West Wales and Carmarthen but I was able to return to Rhayader via a small place called Llys-Wen between Brecon and Builth Wells. As I arrived there, I realised I had been here before; always travelling through but never stopping. 

I wanted to call in here to see if I could find any confirmations about David Jones, my great great uncle and son of Richard (the first) Jones. The David Jones who lived at Llys-Wen married Louisa Newman, the postmistress in 1879. I'm presuming this is 'my' David as his profession is given as blacksmith and his father's name is given as Richard Jones, profession, blacksmith. On subsequent censuses he gives his place of birth as Llananno which also helps to confirm my thinking. 

My only misgivings are that later a second christian name appears- Timothy - although this is this paternal grandfather's name. Looking him up on findmypast led to reports in the Western Mail on 23 June 1915: Mr David Jones, Llyswen Breconshire, was found drowned in the River Wye early on Tuesday morning. He went to the river to bathe on the previous evening. The deceased was the village postman and smith and had lived in Llyswen over 40 years. He was 60 years.

On 24 June 1915: An inquiry was held in the parish hall. Miss Ophelia Jones, daughter, said that when he left the house Monday evening he told her he was going to the river to bathe. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

Two years later, tragedy again hit the family when David and Louisa's son, John Jones, serving with 11th Battalion South Wales Borderers was killed in action in France on 31 July 1917. He's commemorated on a panel at the Menin Gate, Ypres and the memorial in St Gwendoline's Church in Llys-wen. 

Monday, 4 June 2018

Research Trip 2018 (2)

Today I headed to Powis Castle (I've just got a National Trust membership so why not?) across rural Wales which brought me up short a couple of times - hills, sharp corners, in and out of tiny market towns - quite an adventure especially as I'm both driving and navigating. 

Anyway, first up was a stop at Nantmel. St Cynllo's , Nanmel is where my 4x great grandparents, Richard Evans and Mary Francis were married on 14 April 1800. I had hopes of maybe seeing a headstone in the churchyard with some family names but although there were several from that era, none were particularly legible. 

The interior of the church was rather odd - while the church remains open (and that's a great thing) I couldn't get the lights to go on so it all seemed rather gloomy and didn't really match the exterior - see what you think:

On to Powis Castle via Forden where my 3 x great grandfather, John Morris was.  born in the 'House of Industry' (workhouse, in other words) in 1821. Sadly, I didn't see the workhouse building; this was due to not doing my homework properly and checking where the building was actually located.

I'd last visited Powis Castle in the 1960s/1970s so this was a welcome re-visit. As with most National Trust Houses, the interiors are kept gloomy (curtains closed, blinds drawn) to preserve artifacts and materials. While this is understandable, it doesn't really give the visitor an accurate idea of what it was like to live there. 

The gardens, however, are a joy. I could upload a plethora of pictures but perhaps just one will suffice for now

Shopping trip tomorrow but maybe there'll be a family history sightseeing opportunity on the way 'home'....

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Research Trip 2018 (1)

So, now that I have retired, I have decided that I should have some research trips to further my researches. This first year, I have focussed on mid-Wales as the release of the 1939 Register in the UK has meant I've gained lots of extra information on both sides of the family. 

This week, I am in Rhayader, Powys - it's more or less central to the places I wish to visit; Newtown, Llandrindod Wells (location of Powys Archives), Llanbadarn Fynydd and so on. Since today is Sunday, I've been to church (St Clement's, Rhayader) and it's been a pleasure for me to take communion with the Church in Wales again after a break of about 3 years. The congregation was welcoming and interested to hear that I was on a family history research trip. After the service, I couldn't resist a mooch around the churchyard and was rewarded (I hope) to discover a headstone for Richard Oliver Jones, blacksmith. I think this is a son of James Jones (my great uncle who was the blacksmith at Llanbadarn Fynydd). I'll have to order a marriage certificate to confirm (or not) the details, of course. 

In the afternoon, I travelled over to Llanllwchaiarn, hoping that the church may be open - sadly not, but I did have a look around the churchyard again. I presume that quite a few of my forebears are buried here but either they haven't had headstones or they've long been overgrown and/or deteriorated. 

For example, I understand that my grandmother, Ethel (Morris) Jones is buried in a common grave in front of the headstone here. Born in Newtown, she died in Nuneaton, Warwickshire in 1927 after the birth of my Dad's younger brother. It's sad that a) she's buried in a common grave and b) that there's no marker. I shall have to look into what can be done to rectify this. 

While in Newtown (Llanllwchaiarn is essentially a part on Newtown these days, although a different parish) I went to the municipal cemetery. I have never been here before, despite having made several trips, so didn't know what to expect. I shall have to look at the Memorial Inscriptions held at Powys Archives (which I have booked to visit on Wednesday) so see if I need to make another visit before I go home. 

All in all, it's been a good day - the weather has been glorious and this is a lovely part of the world. Here's a picture of the view from my bedroom window in Rhayader:

More tomorrow

Monday, 12 December 2016

Jeremiah Owen - a long life

In 2005 I sent for the death certificate of who I thought was my 4th great grandfather, Jeremiah Owen(s) but it wasn't clear that it was the right one - the certificate said that he had died after an accident and that an inquest had been held but I hadn't been able to find evidence to back that up. Checking up recently on Findmypast,  I found the following from the Shrewsbury Chronicle of  22 Nov 1862 - it's his granddaughter's evidence that clinches it:

Fatal accident: On Saturday last, an inquest was held at the Bear Hotel, before Dr. Slyman, coroner, and a respectable jury, to inquire into the cause of the death of Jeremiah Owen, an old man, residing in the Pool Road, who had met with his death under circumstances which will be gathered from the following evidence.
Mr. W Baird said: I am Chief-constable of the county of Montgomery. Deceased had been in my employ for seventeen years. He was in his ninety-first year, and latterly he has been rather more frail than usual. No man could be more honest and straight forward than he was. On Sunday he was in his usual good health. I saw him on the street on Tuesday morning, but did not speak to him.
Harriet Jones said: the deceased was my grandfather. He lodged with my mother. He rose on Tuesday morning about eleven or twelve o’clock and had his breakfast as usual. He dressed himself to go to a funeral at the New Inn about one o’clock on that day. When he returned home about five o’clock he said he had had a very foul fall, and cut his eye-brow, and Mr. Hall had sewn it up. He went to bed without complaining much. Next day, he did not rise. His eye was much swollen, and he was very ill. Mr. Hall saw him on Wednesday morning. Finding he was not the club doctor, my mother sent for Mr. Owen, who is the club doctor.  On Thursday night he was very restless. I was up with him every night. He died on Friday afternoon at four o’clock.
John Evans said: I am one of the stewards of the Newtown Friendly United Society. The late Jeremiah Owen was a member of that society. He had been a member about thirty-five years. A rule of the club is to invite twenty-two members of the club, with two stewards, to attend the funerals of deceased members. Jeremiah Owen was one who was selected to attend the funeral of the late Richard Davies to the parish church of Llanllwchaiarn. I attended the funeral. The members started from the new Inn. They were all orderly and soberly. The allowance of drink is a pint for each man and deceased did not have more than a pint. I cannot say he was not the worse for liquor. I should say he was not drunk. He did not go further than the pump, next to the National Schools, near Severn side wall. There were several slides there, and they were dangerous. As I was appointing four to carry the coffin, the deceased fell just opposite the pump. He fell on one of the slides, in the middle of the road, which had been made by children. I and another steward assisted him up, and took him to Mr. Hall’s surgery. Mr. Hall dressed the wound which he had received in his fall. The wound was on the left eye, and he had a cut upon his cheek. I left the deceased at Mr. Hall’s surgery and did not see him afterwards.
Mr. Hall said: I am a surgeon residing in Newtown. I saw the deceased on the day of the accident at my surgery. I should think it was about four o’clock in the afternoon. He had a lacerated wound above the left eye, dividing the soft parts quite to the bone, of about two inches in extent. There was a slight bruise also upon the left cheek. I dressed the wound, and after having asked him whether he was capable of walking home, he left my surgery with that intention. I saw him next on Wednesday morning about ten o’clock when he appeared abut as well as I could expect. I directed his daughter to send for Mr. Jones, who was the medical officer of the district in which he resided. I saw him again on Thursday night, at the request of Mr. Baird, when he appeared feeble and rather drowsy, but he knew me, and answered my questions correctly. I did not give him any medicine, because I was informed that he had taken some from Mr. Owen. He appeared quite sober when he came to my surgery. I don’t think he had suffered much from loss of blood occasioned by the wound. My opinion is that he died from the combined effects of congestion of the brain and exhaustion, consequent upon injury to the head.
Mr. J. Owen said: I am engaged to attend the sick members of the Newtown Friendly United Society. I have attended the members about three years last July. I don’t know whether my name appears or not in the list of the Medical registers.
The Coroner then said he could not therefore receive any medical evidence from Mr. Owen. The Coroner then called Mr. Evans, the steward of the club, and told him that a recent Act of Parliament required that all medical practitioners should have their names registered on an authorised medical list. Mr. Owen, by practising, not having complied with this, rendered himself liable to a penalty; but the effect upon those who employed unregistered medical practitioners was, that no fees could be legally claimed from them by these practitioners. It was much to be regretted that a public body did not employ properly authorised medical men, and that they did not offer to pay them a sum which was worthy of their receiving; the labourer was worthy of his hire, and the contemptible small sums which were offered to medical men by these clubs was disgraceful. He then addressed the jury, and in referring to the cause of the death of the deceased, said, there was no doubt was traceable to the fall upon the slides. Those slides were made in the middle of the road by boys, who indulged in this dangerous and mischievous practice with impunity, and which he was sorry to say they were encouraged by their parents. He hoped an example might be made of some of them as that might have the effect of preventing its repetition. Mr. Hall had seen the deceased at first, immediately after the accident, and it would have been better in his opinion if Mr. Hall had continued his attendance; as it was the poor man seemed to have had both too little and too much medical advice. He was sorry that he was obliged to speak of Mr. Owen’s interference in the way he had, but it was his duty to do so, and he was anxious to take every public opportunity of protesting against the interference of unauthorised medical practitioners.

A verdict of ‘Accidental death’ was then returned.