Wednesday, 26 September 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 40, Prompt: ‘Ten'

Week 40 – ‘Ten’

I had no ancestors with anything happening on the  10.10 of any year ending in 10, or even just on the 10 October, so I looked for a mother who was strong enough to have had ten births.

The first one I found was Sarah CLARK who is my great grandmother. 

Sarah was born between Jul-Aug 1839 in Doddington, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England as the second child of William CLARKE and Alice EDGLEY. 
Sarah CLARK was baptized on 04 Aug 1839 in St Mary's Parish Church, Doddington, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England.

St Mary's Parish Church, Doddington, Cambridgeshire. 1.

So, where and what is this place with the funny name – Doddington? 

Some old time history - Doddington was one of the principal centres of population in the Isle of Ely, sitting as it does on one of the few ridges in this part of the fens.  
"The Isle of Ely is so called becuse it was only accessible by boat until the waterlogged fens were drained in the 17th Century.  It is still susceptible to flooding today.  It was these watery surrounds that gave Ely its original name the 'Isle of Eels' a translation of the Anglo Saxon word 'Eilig'. 2.

In 970, when the abbey at Ely was restored after having been destroyed by the Vikings a century earlier, Doddington was one of the manors with which the new foundation was endowed. It is mentioned at Domesday, and the bishops of Ely even had a palace here.
The medieval parish of Doddington was one of the largest in England due to the combination of a decent population and extreme isolation.  It covered nearly thirty-eight thousand acres.  This included other little settlements on the same ridge, such as Benwick and March, and these were eventually separated off as distinct parishes in 1847, leaving Doddington itself with a much-shrunken territory.
All of this implies that there must have been a Saxon church in Doddington, once upon a time. What we see now though is rather younger. The oldest parts of the church were started in the middle of the 13th century.  About a hundred years later there was a big reconstruction in which the nave arcades, the tower, the south aisle and the western end of the north aisle were built. The fifteenth century added a south porch and fitted out the chancel with some very nice tall three-light Perpendicular windows. 3.. 
In the centre of the village is a clock tower built in 1897 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.  The village has almost 1000 dwellings.  
This large important place is now something of a backwater, bypassed to the east by the busy A141 from Chatteris to March. (Poor Doddington)

Map of Doddington, in Cambridgeshire, and inset in England. 4.

Back to Sarah Clark – 

Sarah had six siblings, namely: Mary Ann, Susanna, Alice, George, William, and Joseph. 

When she was 26, she married William (Will) PEARCE, son of Richard PEARCE and Ann NYE, on 08 Jul 1865 in 26 Weston Lee Cottages, Dumbarton, Scotland.

Now I am wondering how this came about - that a young lady from Cambridgeshire is marrying a fellow from Scotland and in Scotland ???
                                Well, guess what - I did some more research and have come up with an answer.  In the 1861 Census, Sarah is not included with her family in Cambridgeshire.  Instead, I have found her in Brighton living at 19 East Street, only 2 blocks from Brighton Beach.  It seems she has moved away to find employment.  

However, that doesn't help me at all in linking her up with William.  
So next,  checking on William - I find that he is also not at home, but living with his young brother Albert, at his married sister's home in - GUESS WHERE ??? 

Yes -  Brighton at 9 Jubilee Place, only a 9-minute walk from where Sarah is living !!  5.   

"Can you picture William going for an evening walk on the promenade at the beach with his family, and setting eyes on Sarah, who is also out that evening.  They manage to chat for a moment and organize to meet that weekend when Sarah is free. Magically they fall in love and William vows he will come back for Sarah to marry."

Four years later they do marry in the Pearce family home in Scotland.
Thus we have the next quandary:
Why do they marry in Scotland and not in England in the bride's hometown as is customary?

                     This is a harder one to establish and I haven't been able to verify anything as yet.  However there is mention in some family historians' trees, that Sarah's father William died in 1862 and his wife Alice not that long after.  This would certainly account for the marriage being held in Scotland.  
I will continue researching this.

Sarah and William lived at Dumbarton for about four years and then spent the rest of their lives at Innerleithen, Peeblesshire.

Photo of Sarah and William Pearce, Innerleithen, later in life. 6.

Sarah Pearce delivered the following ten children at regular birth intervals, apart from Joseph the last baby who was 5 years younger than James, so I guess there is the possibility of her having lost at least one child in that period.

1.   Frederick William PEARCE was born on 29 Sep 1866 in Dumbarton. He died on 11 Dec 1924 in 28 Princes Street, Innerleithen.  (High blood pressure reg. by son Henry A Pearce). He married Margaret (Maggie) JOHNSTON on 10 Mar 1891 in Innerleithen.

2.  Alice Annie (Elsie) PEARCE was born on 03 Jul 1868 in Dumbarton. She died on 04 Mar 1958 in 26 Waverley Road, Innerleithen. (Cerebral haemorrhage reg. by William Clapperton, son). She married Thomas George CLAPPERTON in the USA.

3.  Francis George (Geordie) PEARCE was born on 08 Mar 1870 in Innerleithen. He died on 30 Jun 1922 in Shepparton, Victoria, Australia. He married Isabella McIntosh LUMSDEN on 30 Dec 1898 in Winton Cottage, Princes St, Innerleithen. (According to the banns of the Church of Scotland).

4. Winfred (Fred) Stuart PEARCE was born on 12 Dec 1871 in Innerleithen. He died on 12 Mar 1926 in Innerleithen. He married Margaret (Maggie) Jenkins LAMONT on 12 Oct 1900 in Miller Street, Innerleithen. He later married Mary Stobie STEVENSON after 1926 in Scotland.

5.  Richard (Dick) PEARCE was born on 05 Nov 1873 in Innerleithen. He died on 02 Oct 1909 in Port Arthur, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada (Age: 35 although death says 39). He married Janet BRUCE on 18 Jan 1901 in Innerleithen.

6.  Edward (Ned) John PEARCE was born between 1875-1876 in Innerleithen. He died in Tisdale, Canada. He married Sarah (Sally - Aunt Lally) BICKERTON in London, England.

7.   Mary Elizabeth PEARCE was born on 29 Jan 1878 in Innerleithen. Sadly little Mary was unwell and died only 8 months old on 02 Oct 1878 in Miller Street, Innerleithen. (Meningitis reg. by father).

8.  Charles Albert PEARCE was born on 26 Jul 1879 in Miller St, Innerleithen. He died on 27 Oct 1947 in Berwick, on Tweed, Northumberland North First. (16 North Road.). He married Jessie JENKINS on 25 Jul 1906 in Loch Ryan Cottage, High Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland.

9.  James (Jim) Arthur PEARCE was born on 04 Sep 1881 in Innerleithen. He died on 04 Jun 1967 in Saskatchewan, Canada. He married Margaret Helen MANN in Canada.

10. Joseph Henry PEARCE was born on 16 Feb 1886 in High St, Montgomery cottages, Innerleithen, Peeblesshire. He died on 05 Dec 1912 in Kilsyth, Forth Bridge, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

Sarah Pearce nee Clark was 73 years old when she died at 5.30pm on 29 May 1912 in 22 Waverley Rd, Innerleithen, Peeblesshire, Scotland. She suffered Enteritis and Heart Failure.  (The 29th May is the same day as my father’s birthday – her grandson.)

Gravestone for Sarah Pearce, her husband William and three children
 - Richard 39, Joseph 26, and baby Mary Elizabeth.  7.


1.   Flickr Images Internet.
2.  The History of Ely, Cambridgeshire - Historic UK.
3.  Ben Colburn & Mark Ynys-Mon
4.  C Can: Cambridgeshire Community Archive Network.
5. Google Map.
6.  Family Photo.  
7.  Photo from 2015 when I visited Innerleithen and paid my 

Thursday, 20 September 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 39, Prompt: ‘On the Farm'

Week 39: ’On the Farm’ - Historical Fiction

My Great Grandfather, James Cottam laboured on his father’s farms in Lancashire. His younger brother John was a railways worker at Sheffield. Once James migrated to Australia they never met up again.  Both died in accidents.  James was forty-four when killed in a rockslide.  He had arrived in Victoria in 1852 and married eight years later. He left a wife in-child and six children.
John, twenty-nine, was killed in a railways shunting accident. He left Rebecca and five young children.

I wish I’d known them and that they had managed to come together again.  
I decided to bring them to life in my story. 


“You finished eating, James?  Well then boy - get out there to work again, there’ll be no slacking here,” stepmother Elizabeth yelled out.

“Aye Elizabeth - I’ll be off now. Thanks for my lunch,” James replied.

As he shuts the back door to the farmhouse he mulls over his predicament, once again:

Why is she so tough on me?  she’s never liked me since she married Dad, but after Mary Ann was born she can't abide me at all.   I only come in for a meal on a Thursday and she treats it as a burden.  Well, I’d much rather be outside working on the farm than in here being ridiculed.  Brother John is so lucky he’s away and happy working on the railways.

James sets off to where his father is busy in the fields.  Looking around the undulating and arable farmland that he has grown up with, his heart sinks.  This could all have been his one day, but that day is just too far away for him.  As he walks he holds a handful of soil up to take in the rich smell that he loves.   A smile spreads across his face.  He knows that farming is his life. He thinks of the hay, the oats and the potatoes and the moment when the shoots push their way up through the ground. Three of the seasons he is alive with happiness but not when winter arrives bringing the freezing cold and snow. 

On Sunday he attends his local church. After the sermon and the neighbours are all chatting outside he meets up with a friend Thomas who he hasn’t seen for a while.  

“Look at you Thomas - your hair is down to your shoulders and your beard hangs right down your chest. Where have you been?’” James asks him 

“Australia - a world away,” Thomas says, “and I can tell you I can’t wait to return.  I’m only staying back home here for the summer. I could never stay here permanently now. Australia is far more healthy with clear air, not the thick fogs that we have. Where I was in Victoria there is plenty of sun and no snow at all.“

James is taken in by this meeting and can see how well Thomas looks.  He writes to his brother John, telling him of his news.  He has decided that he is going to travel to Australia where there is so much opportunity for a young man.  He mentions his friend Thomas and his first-rate account.  He told me ‘that a man may very soon get his independence if he will be steady and not ramble about but fix himself down to farming.’
James writes that he will call on John in the next week to say farewell.


On arrival in Melbourne and attending the Work Depot, James was quickly hired by a farmer, Mr Young. Agricultural labourers were highly sought after.  He spent the next few years working on the Young property in Gippsland getting used to the Australian life and saving every penny he could. 

Finally, James received a land grant for an area in Chintin, north-west of Melbourne. 
When he arrives, he admires the scene before him, the gentle rolling slopes and the sweeping view to the  Macedon Ranges.  He decides to name his property ‘Fairview'

James bows down and offers prayers “Thank you God for providing this beautiful land. My prayers are answered. As it says in Proverbs: ‘He who tills his land will have plenty of bread.’  I shall work my land the very best I can and offer great thanks in receiving your blessings.”
He runs a handful of the soil through his fingers, admiring the orange coloured loam.

He wonders: what would father think of this?

Each Sunday he attended the Church of England in Kilmore and there he met Eliza Shanks a young lady emigrant from Co Down in Northern Ireland. A few years later James married Eliza at their church in Kilmore.

James writes to his brother join in England telling of all his news. He is full of excitement as he dips his pen in the ink. 

“Brother, I cannot wait for Eliza and I to start a family -  I was envious of your young family, but now Eliza and I are so happy.  The farm is doing splendidly and we grow all our own vegetables.  God has been good to me.  I read the Bible each night, the one you gave to me when I left England. One day I hope we will be together again. Eliza is keen to travel too, and meet everyone.”

Sadly there is misfortune ahead and they had only thirteen years together.  James was killed in a road-making accident in 1873, leaving his wife Eliza with three girls and 3 boys, and due to have another child in a months time.

Eliza and her children stay on the farm and James brothers George and James help out as much as they can until Eliza hires a man. As soon as the girls and boys are old enough they help with the farming jobs.  Joseph the youngest and George the oldest boy were natural young farmers.  James, the middle boy, was more interested in playing with timber and later became a builder and carpenter. As adults, George and Joseph ran the farm. 

Joseph was like his father in that he would love to have his own farm.  Eventually, he was able to purchase land in Jindivick, Gippsland.  The first day he took ownership he reached down to the soil to feel it in his hands. He takes in the satisfying earthy smell and a smile stretches across his face.  

One day my own children will farm this land: Joseph thinks.

Farming land near where Joseph owned his farm in Jindivick

Not long after, at Sunday church he meets Violet Palmer - history is repeated. They married in January 1904 at the Church of England.  Violet and Joseph had a family of six, including four boys, over the next fourteen years, who were all happily involved in the farm work, except on the mornings they had to milk the cows before riding their horses to school. (Joseph's famiy in photo below)



Proverbs 12: 11

Monday, 17 September 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 38, Prompt: 'Unusual Source'

Week 38:  'Unusual Source' - The Hearth Tax.

I hadn’t looked at this type of source before.  
I was glad I did as I found on ‘The Burgh Hearth Tax Roll of 1694’ that James Dewar had to pay tax on 1 fire hearth in Dunfermline, Fife.   
James is a 6th Great Uncle on my Paternal line.  He was born about 1635 in Dunfermline and married Margaret Hunter in Edinburgh on 25 July 1672.

This source tells me that he was possibly a labourer with little income and living in a 1 or 2 room dwelling as a tenant of Mr. Henry Davidson.  It would have been a hardship I imagine to pay the 14 shillings. 

“Most of the [Scottish farming] population was housed in small hamlets and isolated dwellings. The most common form of dwelling throughout Scotland was the longhouse, shared by humans and animals. Vernacular architecture made use of local materials such as stone, turf and, where available, wood. About ten percent of the population lived in the burghs, in a mixture of half-timbered and stone houses.”

A Scottish Lowland farm from John Slezer's Prospect of Dunfermline, 
published in the Theatrum Scotiae, 1693. 


The Hearth Tax
“It was introduced in England and Wales by the government of Charles II in 1662 at a time of serious fiscal emergency. The original Act of Parliament was revised in 1663 and 1664, and collection continued until the tax was finally repealed by William and Mary in 1689. Under the terms of the grant, each liable householder was to pay one shilling for each hearth within their property for each collection of the tax. Payments were due twice annually, at Michaelmas (29 September) and Lady Day (25 March), starting at Michaelmas 1662.

It was introduced in Scotland in 1690 by the Scottish Parliament in a one-off attempt to pay off its debts to the Shires and Burghs and reduce the arrears of army pay. 
It was payable at Candlemas - February 2nd, 1691, by both landowners and tenants, and the rate was 14s per hearth. Only hospitals (almshouses) and the poor living on charity from the parish were exempt. 
The principal collector for Scotland was James Melville of Cassingray and sub-collectors were responsible to him for compiling lists in their areas.

There were huge difficulties in collecting the tax, particularly in highland or remote areas. Collection dragged on for several years until August 1694 when a proclamation called for all hearth lists to be sent to the treasury before 1 October. 
Some lists give the names of the exempt poor, but unfortunately, Dunfermline's is not among them.

Dunfermline's list is arranged under the names of the heritors of property, some of whom owned several tenements. The names of their tenants are listed with the numbers of hearths in each 'house'. A dwelling house for most people at that time consisted of just one or two rooms, so tenants with more than two hearths were doing well for themselves. Not all rooms were heated so a tenant with only one hearth may have been living in more than one room. The rate of 14s per hearth was a lot of money for some people to find and in some cases, they would not tell the collector how many hearths they had. The number was only obtained 'after search', as is noted in the list.

The names have been modernised and the information tabulated.”

Name No of Hearths.
Henry Davidson’s Lands:

Henry Davidson

Robert Stewart
John Main
John Christie
John Main
James Aitken
David Main
John Lyon
John Brown
James Dewar      1


Information in Wikipedia tells about farming in the 17th century:

“Famine was relatively common, with four periods of famine prices between 1620 and 1625. The English invasions of the 1640s had a profound impact on the Scottish economy, with the destruction of crops and the disruption of markets resulting in some of the most rapid price rises of the century.

Under the Commonwealth, the country was relatively highly taxed but gained access to English markets. After the Restoration, the formal frontier with England was re-established, along with its customs duties. Economic conditions were generally favourable from 1660 to 1688, as landowners promoted better tillage and cattle-raising.
Arable farming grew in the Lowlands, particularly around the growing urban centres like Edinburgh. 

Agricultural improvement began in the late seventeenth century in the Lothians and central Scotland, with the use of lime to combat the acidity of the soil, trees were planted, new crops introduced including sown grass and the rotation of crops. Three acts of parliament passed in 1695 allowed the consolidation of run-rigs and the division of commonties and common pasture and small-scale enclosures began to be carried out.
(Run-rig was a system of land tenure comprising an area of cultivable "in-bye" land and a larger area of pasture and rough grazing.)

Highlanders had been droving cattle on the hoof to the Lowlands since at least the sixteenth century. By the 1680s the trade had expanded to the larger English markets.
Cattle were crossed with larger Irish breeds and large parks were constructed by Galloway landholders to hold and fatten cattle. By the end of the century, the drovers' roads had become established, stretching down from the Highlands through south-west Scotland to north-east England. From there some were driven to Norfolk to be fattened before being slaughtered in Smithfield for the London population. 

Specialisation continued, with the increasing commercialization of sheep farming in the Borders as English markets opened up after the Union of Crowns in 1603 and dairy becoming a feature of farming in the Western Lowlands.

The closing decade of the seventeenth century saw the generally favourable economic conditions that had dominated since the Restoration come to an end. There was a slump in trade with the Baltic and France from 1689–91, caused by French protectionism and changes in the Scottish cattle trade, followed by four years of failed harvests (1695, 1696 and 1698-9), known as the "seven ill years". The result was severe famine and depopulation, particularly in the North. 

The famines of the 1690s were seen as particularly severe, partly because famine had become relatively rare in the second half of the seventeenth century, with only one year of dearth (in 1674) and the shortages of the 1690s would be the last of their kind.


National Archives of Scotland ref E69/10/1  : The Burgh Hearth Tax Roll 1694,