Marriage witnesses: Mary and William Davey… and the mystery of Jane Grose

Recap:

A few weeks ago we looked at the Marriage Record in 1839 (in Halkyn, Flintshire, Wales) for Matthew Grose senior (1788-1849) and his second wife, Mary Tregonning.

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Initially, we wondered what he was doing in Flintshire if he lived in Foxdale, Isle of Man. Then we figured out there was a family connection to the particular location, Halkyn…

Matthew Grose’s younger sister, Eliza lived there with her husband, Absalom Francis who was the Mine Agent at Halkyn lead mines.

via Matthew Grose and Mary Tregonning, married 1839 in Halkyn, Flintshire – Adventurous Ancestors

One of the remaining mysteries were the marriage witnesses…

The witnesses are Mary and William Davy (or Davey?)
I think their surname looks like ‘Davy‘ – what do others think?
These witnesses need further research to see if there is any family connection. Matthew Grose’s grandmother’s maiden name was ‘Davy/Davey’. Also, his sister’s (Eliza’s) mother-in-law’s maiden name was ‘Davy/Davey’.

via Matthew Grose and Mary Tregonning, married 1839 in Halkyn, Flintshire – Adventurous Ancestors

One mystery solved… & another ‘can of worms’ opened!

From further research of the Grose and Francis family connections in Halkyn, Flintshire it has been possible to identify these witnesses. As suspected there is a family connection, but not one that was expected!

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Before we look at the marriage witnesses – a reminder of the parents & siblings of Matthew Grose (1788-1849) is useful:

Parents:

Matthew Grose (1761-1824) and *Jane/Jennifer (nee Williams) (1762-1841).

*The mother, Jane, is recorded as ‘Jennifer’ on some of the children’s baptisms. Note that on the following list of their children, there is no daughter called Jane (or Jennifer) which is unusual as it was traditional naming convention to name a daughter after the mother… (We’ll come back to this point shortly!)

Their children (those in bold are discussed in this post):

  • Mary Grose (1784-likely died as infant before 1786)
  • Mary Grose (1786-1847) married Henry Francis
  • Matthew Grose (1788-1849) married Mary Wearn & Mary Tregonning
  • John Grose (1793-1842) married Jane Jennings
  • Elizabeth Grose (1797-) married Obadiah Ash
  • William Grose (1801-1818)
  • Grace Grose (1801-1818)
  • Eliza Grose (1807-1864) married Absalom Francis (1792-1860) 

What’s this got to do with the witnesses?

The marriage record and further research shows the marriage witnesses are Mary Davey (nee Francis) and her husband, William Davey. Research shows that they resided in Halkyn, Flintshire and several records show them baptising their children there.

This witness, Mary Davey (nee Francis), is the daughter of Absalom Francis (1792-1860) and his first wife, Jane (nee Grose) (1790-1829). Absalom and Jane married in Gwinear, Cornwall on 23rd January, 1812.

Their daughter, Mary Davey (nee Francis) was baptised in Gwinear, Cornwall on 17th May 1812.

This makes Mary Davey (nee Francis), the step-daughter of Eliza Francis (nee Grose) (Matthew’s sister). Eliza was Absalom Francis’s second wife.

So the marriage witness, Mary Davey (nee Francis) is the step-niece of the groom, Matthew Grose (1788-1849).

Straightforward? Not quite!

It is interesting to note that Absalom Francis’s first wife, Jane Grose (1790-1829), is possibly a sister of Eliza Grose (1807-1864) and Matthew Grose (1788-1849)!

On the 1812 marriage entry for Jane Grose and Absalom Francis in Gwinear, the witnesses are a Matw (Matthew) Grose and Henry Francis.

The signature closely matches that of the witness Matw (Matthew) Grose on the 1809 marriage record of Mary Grose and Henry Francis.

It is slightly different to the groom’s signature on the 1809 marriage record of Matthew Grose and Mary Wearn, so possibly the signature of their father, Matthew Grose (1761-1824).

What about the 1835 Marriage Act?

Absalom Francis married his second wife, Eliza Grose, on 6th June 1837.

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Image courtesy of Shropshire Archives © via FindMyPast

This is two years after the 1835 Marriage Act. This legally prohibited a man from marrying his deceased wife’s sister. Prior to this, it was just the concern of ecclesiastical law:

Before 1835, the church would annul the marriage of a man with the sister of his late wife if reported, but if no one reported the situation, then the marriage was legal. It was a voidable marriage not a void one.

via A Voidable Marriage in History: Marrying the Sister of One’s Late Wife or the Brother of One’s Late Husband | ReginaJeffers’s Blog

If the deceased Jane Grose (1790-1829) was Eliza’s older sister, then Eliza Grose and Absalom Francis had married secretly and illegally in Shrewsbury in 1837, but then  announced it in a Cornish newspaper!

Lately, at Shrewsbury, Capt. Absalom Francis, of Halkin, in Flintshire, to Miss Grose, of Goldsithney, in this county.

West Briton newspaper, Friday 14th July 1837

Eliza Francis (nee Grose) is definitely the sister of Matthew Grose because they are both mentioned in the will of their brother from Goldsithney, John Grose (1793-1842).

“Mary, wife of Mine Agent, Henry Francis”…
“Elizabeth wife of Mine Agent, Obadiah Ash”…
Eliza, wife of Mine Agent, Absalom Francis.” …
“the children of my brother Captain Matthew Grose as shall be then living.”…

via Graves at St Gwinear: part 2: John Grose (1793 – 1842) – Adventurous Ancestors

Why would Eliza and Absalom have married?

Were there really so many brothers- and sisters-in-law who wanted to get married? Not really, but it was more common than it is now. Women often died in childbirth, and their unmarried sisters, who had few other options to support themselves besides marriage, would step in to care for the family. For convenience, and sometimes developing love, remarriage seemed like the thing to do.

via The 65 Year Battle over the Deceased Wife’s Sister’s Marriage Act | Mental Floss

Marrying the sister of the deceased wife remained illegal until 1907.

The Deceased Wife’s Sister’s Marriage Act finally passed in 1907. By that time, the prohibition had long been lifted in most of Europe, the United States and the colonies. At the same time, society was changing in a way that meant fewer women were dying in childbirth and single women had more opportunities to support themselves. Not as many people wanted to make this kind of marriage. But if they did, they finally had freedom to choose it.

via The 65 Year Battle over the Deceased Wife’s Sister’s Marriage Act | Mental Floss

Conclusion:

We’ve discovered that the marriage witnesses for Matthew Grose and Mary Tregonning in 1839 are Mary Davey (nee Francis) and William Davey. Mary Davey (nee Francis) is unquestionably the step-niece of the groom Matthew Grose because she is the step-daughter of his sister, Eliza Francis (nee Grose).

However, Mary Davey (nee Francis) is Matthew Grose’s actual niece, if her mother Jane Francis (nee Grose) is his sister.

Further research:

A matching signature of “Matw Grose” as marriage witness on Jane Grose and Absalom Francis’s 1812 marriage record (and Mary Grose and Henry Francis’s 1809 marriage record) gives circumstantial evidence, but not conclusive proof that he is the father of both brides.

A baptism record for Jane Grose (1790-1829) would be more useful to prove that she is the daughter of Matthew Grose (1761-1824) and Jane Williams (1762-1841).

However, in 1790, Matthew Grose (1761-1824) was working as Mine Captain in Loxton, Somerset and the church records are badly worn. We are still seeking the baptism records for two of his other children John Grose (1793-1842) and Elizabeth Grose (1797-?).

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Bonus! Family History Clues in “Two Men of Very Different Minds”

In the previous post, the mining careers of brothers, Matthew Grose (1761-1824) and Samuel Grose (1764-1825) were covered. Info was studied in four books containing extracts of their correspondence with William Jenkin (1738-1820).

All three men were from Redruth, Cornwall. Jenkin looked after mining interests for the Marquis of Buckingham. He appointed Matthew and Samuel Grose as Mine Captains in Cornwall and Somerset.

Family History Clues:

Mine Captain!

From Jenkin’s letters, we see Matthew Grose (1761-1824) was Mine Captain at Loxton, on the Mendip Hills in Somerset.

We’d previously discovered that his son (Matthew Grose 1788-1849) and niece, Mary (1788-?) were baptised here at the Parish Church of St. Andrew in Loxton:

 © Image courtesy of Somerset Heritage Service; Taunton, Somerset, England; Somerset Parish Records, 1538-1914; Reference Number: D\P\LOX/2/1/1 (Somerset, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1531-1812 via Ancestry.co.uk)

Initial research suggested it was a brief, unsuccessful copper mining venture, but Jenkin’s letters show it was a long captaincy.

Missing baptisms, children John and Elizabeth Grose:

With baptism records missing for two of Matthew Grose’s children – John Grose (1793-1842) and Elizabeth (1797-?), we can check again for misspelled records – focusing on Loxton and surrounding area.

From Jenkin’s letters we know that Matthew Grose (1761-1824) was still in Loxton in 1794.

1794: Josiah Holdship comes to Somerset seeking the mineral ’emery’. He approaches Matthew Grose at Loxton first, who sends him on to Samuel Grose in Dodington.

via “Two Men of Very Different Minds”… – Adventurous Ancestors

This bodes well for finding John and Elizabeth Grose’s baptism records nearby… unless for some reason they were baptised elsewhere!

There is also the following challenge:

“The early Loxton parish registers were badly worn, thus many entries on the fiche are illegible and others are taking a considerable amount of time to transcribe…

…before 1800 many surnames of similar sound were spelt in a variety of ways, now referred to as variants. There was not the standardised spelling that we have today and few people could write. Many churchwardens couldn’t spell and educated clergyman had to enter a written name that best fitted the sound of the name. It was open to misinterpretation particularly when one considers the various dialects around the country.”

via Loxton Baptism Registers…. – Somerset Village of Loxton

 Son, Matthew Grose and grandson, Thomas Grose:

We know Matthew Grose (1761-1824) was back in Dodington, Somerset by 1820, installing a pumping engine in the Beech Grove House.

By 1821, his son, (Matthew Grose, 1788-1849) and daughter-in-law, Mary (nee Wearn) are with him. They baptise their son, Thomas Grose at Dodington, Somerset.

(© Image courtesy of Somerset Heritage Service; Taunton, Somerset, England; Somerset Parish Records, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1914 (via Ancestry.co.uk)

Matthew (1788-1849) is listed as a ‘Miner’ on son Thomas’s baptism. Was Matthew working in the Dodington area too, or visiting his bold father, or perhaps en-route to another mine?

Work ceased at the Dodington (Buckingham) mine in 1821 and equipment was sold off in 1822.

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20 July 1822 – Royal Cornwall Gazette – Truro, Cornwall, England (© Image courtesy of The British Library Board accessed via FindMyPast)

Grose family in Sticklepath, Devon?:

In the 1823 newspapers, at Okehampton, Devon, (approximately 50 miles southwest of Dodington, Somerset), we see a Mine Captain called Matthew Grose at the Sticklepath Copper Mine.

Could this be one of our Cornish Mine Captains – either Matthew Grose (1761-1824), or his son ‘Foxdale‘ Matthew Grose (1788-1849)?

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12 June 1823 – Exeter Flying Post – Exeter, Devon, England (© Image courtesy of The British Library Board accessed via FindMyPast)

Check for Clues!

Near to Sticklepath in Devon are the villages of South Zeal and Belstone.

We see Elizabeth Ash (nee Grose) (1797-?) and her miner husband Obadiah Ash in South Zeal around this time because there are baptism records for their children here.

eg, Obadiah Ash junior baptised in 1822.

obadiah-ash.jpg

 © Image courtesy of  The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; General Register Office: Birth Certificates from the Presbyterian, Independent and Baptist Registry & Wesleyan Methodist Metropolitan Registry; Class Number: RG 5; Piece Number: 172 England & Wales, Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1970 via Ancestry.com

The mother on the baptism record Elizabeth Ash (nee Grose) is the daughter of Matthew Grose (1761-1824), so the younger sister of Matthew Grose (1788-1849).

On 18th March 1824, we see a baptism in Belstone, Devon for a John Grose, son of Matthew and Mary Grose. Their abode is Sticklepath and the profession of the father is Miner.


 © Images courtesy of South West Heritage Trust and Parochial Church Council (Accessed via FindMyPast)

All this evidence points to the Mine Captain of Sticklepath, Devon being ‘Foxdale’ Matthew Grose (1788-1849).

This is just four years before he migrates to the Isle of Man.

There is a slim chance that his father is the Mine Captain at Sticklepath, with Matthew just a miner, but unlikely.

His father, Matthew (1761-1824), passes away this year in August 1824 and from extracts  in “Men & Mining on the Quantocks” (Second Edition, Hamilton & Lawrence, 2008) he stubbornly resided in Dodington, (trying to attract new investors for the Buckingham Mine) and died there in grinding poverty.

Was Matthew Grose (1761-1824) alone when he died a pauper in 1824? Were his wife (Jane/Jennifer nee Williams) and youngest daughter, Eliza (1807-1864) still in Somerset at that time too?

To be resnearched another time!

Mining Career Clues:

Only a few gaps remain in the career timelines for the Redruth brothers, Matthew and Samuel Grose. With further analysis of the information from Jenkin’s letters, this will now be easier to research.

CONCLUSION:

Found!

From reading a few books about mining and further online research, we’ve been able to solve other family history mysteries…

‘Foxdale’ Matthew Grose (1788-1849) was a miner at Dodington, Somerset in 1821 because he was baptising his son Thomas Grose (1821-1882) there.

This date ties ‘Foxdale’ Matthew to working in Dodington with his bold father, because Matthew Grose (1761-1824) is installing an engine at Beech Grove (and subsequently upsetting the Marquis by moving it to the Glebe House!).

Also, from connecting a random newspaper clipping about Sticklepath Copper Mines in Devon to the Grose family, we’ve discovered ‘Foxdale’ Matthew Grose (1788-1849) was likely Mine Captain there by 1823.

His abode was Sticklepath and he baptised his son John Grose at nearby Belstone in 1824.

Interesting to note that ‘Foxdale’ Matthew Grose (1788-1849) chooses a ‘Church of England’ church to baptise his son, John (1824-1888), in Devon.

His sister Elizabeth Ash (nee Grose) (1797-?) chooses the nearby Methodist Church to baptise Obadiah Ash junior (1822-?).

The connection between the siblings, Elizabeth Ash (nee Grose) and Matthew Grose,  is of particular interest because BOTH migrate to the Isle of Man.

This will be looked at more closely in a future post.

Still to find!

Be nice to find the baptisms for two children of Matthew Grose and Jane/Jennifer Williams:

Unless the Loxton Parish Registers are just too badly worn!

Thanks for reading. Please comment or contact if you’re enjoying the blog, or if you have any info or ideas that might help with some of the mysteries!

 

 

Desperately seeking… Samuel and John Grose

When researching family history it can be frustrating when records and documents that ‘should’ exist cannot be found.

I’m currently hunting for the baptism record of Captain Samuel Grose (1791 – 1866).

It is well documented that he was born in Dodington or Nether Stowey in Somerset to parents Samuel Grose and Eleanor (nee Giddy).

His census records and death records all indicate this too, but his actual baptism record remains elusive.

Perhaps he was born and/or lived there, but was baptised elsewhere?

The family had connections to Redruth, Hayle, Gwinear, Phillack and likely travelled elsewhere in Somerset and Cornwall.

Another record that I’m seeking is a baptism for Captain John Grose, son of Matthew Grose (1760-1824) and Jane/Jennifer (nee Williams).

He is mentioned in his mother’s obituary in 1841.

His siblings’ baptisms span 1784 – 1807, so he could have been baptised anywhere around there. Likely around 1793.

Once again the likely location is within Somerset or Cornwall.

Alternatively, there could be an error in the obituary and John is another relative – perhaps a nephew, rather than a son.

The obituary in the West Briton newspaper reads “At Goldsithney, in Perranuthnoe, on the 23rd instant, at the house of her son, Capt. John Grose, Mrs. Jane Grose, aged 80 years, relict of the late Capt. Matthew Grose, formerly of Gwinear, and of Dodington in Somerset, much regretted and respected by her numerous family and friends. Her end was peace.”


There can be many different reasons for ‘hard to find’ baptism records.

Misspelling of names is a common reason. The spelling of names was changeable, often recorded phonetically.

When researching the Grose family tree we encounter records with surname spelling variants like Grove, Groce, Groves, Gover, Gross, Grosse, Grace, Grasse, Gasse and Craze and Cross.

Forenames can cause problems too.

We can see the same person as Jane, Jenefer, Gennifer or Jennifer.

Eleanor, Elenor, Allnir, and Ellen.

Matthew, Matthias and Mathew.

Ann, Annie, Anne and Ellen.

Mary, Maria and May.

As well as the names differing on the actual records, transcription errors can add another level of confusion. eg, When Lisa becomes Jessie.

Often, with patience and sometimes years(!) of detective work these puzzles can be solved, either on our own, or with the help of others.

If anyone finds the ‘missing’ baptism records for Samuel and John Grose, please comment below, or contact here.

I’ll be happy to try and help out with your most puzzling puzzles!