Saturday, 19 October 2019

The Chamberlain family of Broadclyst

The Chamberlain family of Broadclyst

Using Neville Randall’s reconstruction of the population of Broadclyst when the 1841 census was taken, we can now explore Charlotte Chamberlain’s family. In another post, we will also try to find their place in the ‘great conflagration’ that destroyed almost all the village in half an hour on 27 April 1871. Charlotte was of course by that time in Pwill-y-Pant and very newly widowed (James Lawrie Monfries having died three months before), but several of the Chamberlains still living in Broadclyst were caught up in the disaster.

Charlotte’s father, John, and her mother, Sarah (b. Willey), were both born in the village in 1796; they married in 1818 and, like Charlotte in the 1850s, had at least nine children. Apart from John and Sarah, both 45 in 1841, there were Susanna (20, b. 1822), already supporting the family by her work as a Dress Maker; Mary (17, b. 1824); John (15, b. 1826, d. aged 34 in 1860); James (13, b. 1828); Emma (11, b. 1830); Martha (9, b. 1832); Ann (7, b. 1834); George (5, b. 1836); and Joshua (2, b. 1839). Since the marriage was in 1818, it is possible that there were up to three older children (b. 1819, 1820 and 1821) who had left home by 1841: the Broadclyst baptism records have a Sally, b. 1821. There are no records for a Susanna baptised/born in 1822, but there are for Charlotte, and since she made her living as a milliner and dressmaker after she was widowed, ‘Susanna’ seems to be an error for her in the census record. This means, of course, that Sarah had one child every two years, apart from the three-year gap between George and Joshua, from 1820/1821 to 1839!

Among the Chamberlain dead in St John the Baptist churchyard in the village is another John (b. 1852, d. 1869 at 17), who could be one of Charlotte’s brothers’ sons. A further possible son is Richard (b. 1857), who emigrated to Toronto, died at an unknown date but has a memorial in the churchyard. The real puzzle is the final John buried there. His grave has him married to Mary (b. 1818) and 56 on his death in 1876; Mary lived on to 1900 and was buried with him. His birth in 1820 would make him Charlotte’s eldest brother, but that does not explain the younger John born in 1826.

Charlotte’s father, even if he was also a master carpenter, would have been hard pressed to feed so large a family, and one reason that Charlotte seems to have married only around 1852, when she was already 30, may have been that she was an important breadwinner for the family: it would have been the late 1840s before her six younger siblings were of working age. All the children seem to have survived into at least their teenage years, and this may be because Broadclyst, although deep in the country on the floodplain of the River Clyst 5 miles northeast of Exeter, was a relatively wealthy village. Most of the agricultural labouring families were tenants of the Aclands on the Killerton estate on a steady if low wage, but there were also a large number of small tradesmen and craftsmen. Compared with impoverished Kent villages such as Boughton under Blean and Chilham where the Coulsons (Alice Edith Vlieland’s family) had their mills and which were at the mercy of every farming depression, East Devon was prosperous. If we look at the small tradesmen and mechanics who were wiped out in the 1871 fire, we have a saddler, grocer/baker, builder, several carpenters, market gardener, boot/shoemaker, plumber/glazier, master mason, butcher and stock breeder, as well as government employees such as the postmistress, police sergeant and relieving officer tasked with providing places in the workhouse for the indigent.

In the census, Sarah Chamberlain seems to have a brother, Henry Willey, an agricultural labourer, b. 1801. His wife, Mary, is b. 1806, and must have married about 1830; their three children are Sarah (9, b. 1832); Elizabeth (7, b. 1834); and Anne (2, b. 1839): the gaps imply some infant deaths, and at that point there are no sons. The baptism records list a John and a Henry John Willey (b. 1864 and 1866) who could be Sarah’s great-nephews and, more sadly, a John Henry Willey, of the 15th Battalion the Hampshire Regiment, who was born in 1899 and listed missing, aged 19, on 9 August 1918, in the Battle of Amiens that ended the First World War.

Particular thanks are due to Neville Randall for his reconstruction of the 1841 census, and the Exeter Flying Post of 4 May 1870 for the local press account ‘Conflagration at Broadclyst’, from which much of the detail on the fire is taken.
and thanks to Barbara.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Margery Mary Morgan

Name: Margery Mary Morgan
Event Type: Birth Registration
Registration Quarter: Apr-May-Jun
Registration Year: 1889
Registration District: Cardiff
County: Glamorganshire
Event Place: Cardiff, Glamorganshire, Wales

Daughter of Richard Morgan and Annie Chamberlain

Friday, 4 October 2019


LIFE IN THE "CITY OF GOLD." EXPERIENCES OF AN OLD CAER- PHILIAN. A letter dated April 14, 1895, bearing the Johannesburg postmark, has been received by Mr. Lascelles Carr from Mr. William Edwards, formerly of Caerphilly, who some time ago sailed to the Cape with the object of making his fortune. After sending greet- ing, Mr. Edwards goes on to narrate how he was, enabled to obtain employment. His experiences mey prove interesting to intend- ing fortune-hunters at the Cape. He says: "I am pleased to state that the height of my ambition has been reached long before I had anticipated it would—that is, of getting suitable employment in the 'City of Gold,' and although it was a very expensive trip, I shall, hewever, soon right myself here. An advertisement appeared in the 'Cape Times' on Tuesday, the 25th ult. :XV,,nted, a smart man to travel Johannesburg (town only).—Apply, between ten and eleven a.m., at wine merchants, Cape Town.' I called, and found the passage and stair- case well lined with applicants of all ages, some unmistakably wearing the trade colour, waiting their turn to be interviewed by Mr. I could not afford time to wait my turn, so I asked them to allow me to go in, explaining my reasons, and remarkisg that my going in would not in any way- enhance my chance amongst so many, and that it would most likely end in a 'shake in the hat.' I saw him for a few minutes, and went away, finding applicants were still 0 coming. A day or two later I was sent for, being one out of three. I was engaged con- ditionally on my leaving on the following even- ing. I telephoned my employer from the spot. He consented. I agreed. Mr. advanced me £10 on account of my salary, without any security whatever. I left next evening, my Cardiff and Cape friends seeing me off with a true British 'three times three. Continuing, Mr. Edwards says:—"I am delighted with the place: the air is simply perfect, and in the suburbs it feels as bracing as if I were walking on top of Cefn On, one of the range of Caerphilly Mountains. The gardens are so home-like (flowers only; I have not seen a vegetable of any kind growing here yet), with their daiy and violet borders, pinks, carnations, verbenas, nasturtiums, splendid show of dahlias and chrysanthemums, honey- suckle, roses, &c. in fact, it does my heart good to have a look at them. Such a glorious change compared with Cape Town and its surroundings, where everything looks so parched! "My first evening here I was curious to find how many Welsh names I could find in the Directory. I commenced with the Joneses, and one of the first I saw was an Edward Jones, consulting engineer, 'a Caer- phillian,' who knows both myself and my wife from our childhood. He is a man of great influence here, and has been in Africa upwards of fifteen years. For years before that he was chief engineer to the De Beers Company, Kimberley, one of the best berths in the Colony. He is now managing-director to the Great Eastern Collieries at Springs, about twenty miles from this place, and which is turniiu- out a 'big thing.' He was the first to introduce deep levels into the gold mines here. He was living at. his old home in Caerphilly for a short time some fifteen years ago In cros ing Commissioner- street a few days ago someone shouted out, 'Hallo, Mr. William Edwards, Caerphilly, how are you ?' It was the son of Mr. Williams, who built Treharris. Brewery, and is now. I believe, a lime merchant at Penarth, living at Park-place, Cardiff. The same evening, in perusing one of the papers, I saw a report of a presentation of plate to a Mr. Begbie on the occasion of his marriage, coupled with the name of J. Monfries, of a certain engineering works, who made the presentation. I walked to the works before breakfast next morning, and found out that he was the J. Monfries who was working at Pwllypant Quarries under his uncle, the late Mr. Monfries, 27 years ago. He now holds a first-class position, being foreman of the smiths and boilermakers. I left his cousin, Mr. J. L. Monfries who used to be at the Cardiff Bute Docks Office, at Cape Town. He is engaged as clerk at a builder's office there." Mr Edwards concludes by saying that lie is certain there is a large fortune to be made by anyone enterprising enough to form a syndicate to start a steam laundry, as this business is practically unknown "and un- worked at Johannesburg. For washing one white shirt, five collars, two pairs of cuffs, and five white pocket handkerchiefs he was charged 4s. 9d.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Charlotte Laura Monfries in 1891 and 1901

Charlotte Laura Monfries in 1891 and 1901

Charlotte Laura Monfries, the second daughter of Charlotte Monfries and James Laurie Monfries, was as we know born at her mother’s family home in Broadclyst in Devon in 1857, while her father was still probably working on Alderney. In 1880 she married the man we know as ‘Ernest Hall of Shimla’ in Calcutta. In the 1891 census she is on furlough from India, living in Cardiff with her mother and with a daughter, Charlotte H. Hall, born in 1888 in India. Like Francis and Clifford Peel, it was common for the wives of British India officials to come home for a birth; as we know, Francis returned to Bombay with his mother Frances Maude, and died there aged nine months in 1908; Clifford (Nicholas) remained in Exeter with his grandparents Charles James and Alice Edith Vlieland. The 1901 census tells us that Charlotte Laura had a second daughter, Margaret Laura, born in Cardiff in 1890 (presumably at Charlotte’s home), and a son, Ernest William, born in India in 1892, whose life at Exeter School and Exeter College Oxford, and death at Krithia in May 1915, we know about. Charlotte Laura is still alive in 1901, but the documentation of Ernest William’s death in 1915 mentions neither her nor her two daughters.

Thanks to Barbara for this update

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Charlotte Monfries in 1871

We now have the 1871 census, made just after Charlotte’s husband James Laurie Monfries, died, and this fills in many of the gaps in her life we wondered about, and also clears up some confusions!

We know that James Laurie’s obituary on the blog says that he left ‘a numerous family, some of whom are very young’ and the 1871 census shows how true this is. It gives Charlotte’s age as 47, but gets her birth year wrong: this was 1824 not 1822, confirmed by the fact that she died at 80 in 1904.

What we did not know was that her nine surviving children (Merival is still to be found, but we now have Jessie’s place in the family) ranged in age from 18 (John McConnochie, b. 1853) to Elizabeth 3 (b. 1868). In between are Jessie Thomson 17 (b. 1854), Charlotte Laura 14 (called Laura Charlotte on the census, b. 1857), James Alexander 13 (b. 1858, d. 1875), Marion 11 (b. 1860), William Jeffrey 10 (b. 1861), Ann 8 (b. 1863) and Margaret 6 (b. 1865). John and Jessie were born on Alderney, Marion and Margaret on Guernsey; James Alexander as we know was born in Cherbourg in France, but Charlotte Laura was born in Broadclyst in Devon, presumably at Charlotte’s own parents’ home, and Elizabeth in Cardiff. Why this is so is not quite clear, unless she and/or James Laurie had a home there: certainly it was in Cardiff that she set up her millinery and dressmaking business after James Laurie died. William and Ann are missing from the census, presumably because they were away from home when it was taken: we know that Ann lived on to marry Richard Morgan. If William died in the meantime, we have no record of a grave – James Laurie, James Alexander and Charlotte are all buried in the same grave in Capel Martin (now St Martin’s Church) in Caerphilly. Charlotte must have married James in 1852 at the latest, probably on Alderney and certainly not in Calcutta, a confusion that arose because that is where her daughter, Charlotte Laura, married Ernest Hall in 1880; some records further confuse this marriage with an earlier one for Charlotte herself, but she was ‘Charlotte Chamberlain’ and unmarried when, aged 26, she married James Laurie Monfries.

Thanks to Barbara for this update

Tuesday, 1 October 2019


ECCLESIASTICAL. PREFERMENTS AND APPOINTMENTS. The Rev J. F. J. Hcrchell; Chaplain of the Union, Clan, Herefordshire. Rev F. C. Hingeston, M A; Perpetual Curate of Hamp- ton, Oxoii. Patron, C. Venables, Esq. The Rev J. Lindsay; Curate of West Horslcy, Surrey. The Rev R. Turnbiil, B A; Vicar of Wybunbery, Cheshire. The Rev J. N. Vlieland; Vicar of Stalisfield, Kent. Patron, Archbishop of Canterbury. We are informed on good authority that the Iley Charles Collins, formerly of this city, who seceded to the Church of lmnc, has, from sober conviction, re-em- braced the Protestant faith.—Exeter Gazette,