“Desperate People in Desperate Times”: Christian Grose and Richard Angove

The Younger Sister:

Christian Grose (1773-?) was the younger sister of Cornish Mine Captains, Matthew Grose (1761-1824) and Samuel Grose (1764-1825).

Her brothers worked at mines in Somerset and Cornwall and have already been written about on the ‘Adventurous Ancestors’ blog here and (in more detail) here.

Christian Grose was baptised at St. Uny in Redruth, Cornwall on 12th April 1773 to parents Matthew Grose and his wife Mary (nee Davey).

At the age of nineteen, Christian Grose married Richard Angove (1772-) on 15th October 1792 at St. Uny, Redruth. Both were likely illiterate as they marked (did not sign) the marriage register. The witnesses of their marriage were John Angove and Benjamin Davey (likely relatives of the bride and groom).

Interesting that, (unlike Christian Grose), her brothers had been educated as both signed their marriage registers, (Matthew in 1783 and Samuel in 1786).

After marriage, Christian (nee Grose) and Richard Angove encountered drama and troubles in 1795. I contacted their descendant, Peter Gardner, about the incidents I’d read about in his fantastic essay “A Convict in the Family”:

Peter commented that Christian and Richard Angove were…

“Desperate people in desperate times.”

This moving and meaningful interpretation inspired me to share their story here (mainly extracts from Peter’s essay and other sources).

1795 certainly epitomised  “desperate people in desperate times”. It was the year of bread riots across England – wheat shortages meant starving people and a country on the brink of famine.

The Angoves of Plain-an-Gwarry:

Richard Angove was baptised in Redruth, Cornwall on 22nd March 1772 to parents John Angove and his wife Elizabeth (nee Launder).

Richard Angove (1772-?) and his ancestors hailed from Plain-an-Gwarry, near Redruth

“Plain-an-Gwarry (Cornish: Plen an Gwari) is a hamlet in the west of Redruth, Cornwall… It is entirely surrounded by the town of Redruth… The name derives from Cornish plen an gwari (meaning “playing place”), an open-air performance area used historically for entertainment and instruction.”

via Plain-an-Gwarry – Wikipedia

In this case, Plain-an-Gwarry is a residential hamlet, but elsewhere in Cornwall the term refers more generically to an outdoor entertainment space…

A plen-an-gwary, also known as a playing place or round (Cornish: Plen an Gwari), is a medieval Cornish amphitheatre. A circular outdoor space used for plays, sports, and public events, the plen-an-gwary was a Cornish variant of a construction style found across Great Britain. Formerly common across Cornwall, only two survive nearly complete today…

The theatre area could be used for local gatherings, sports events, and production of plays. Cornwall culture had a type of play called miracle plays, written in the Cornish language, that would were meant to spread Christianity. To capture the attention of the audience, “the plays were often noisy, bawdy and entertaining.”

via Plen-an-gwary – Wikipedia

Peter Gardner writes about Plain-an-Gwarry in his essay:

“Plain An Gwarry was built early in the Eighteenth Century to house miners for the nearby North Downs tin and copper mines. The conditions in this and other similar villages by today’s standards were appalling. In 1833 when Plain An Gwarry was over 100 years old it was reported that there were just 11 privies for over 130 dwellings. These houses were overcrowded with large, extended families and lodgers being taken in to supplement incomes. Streets were given names like Dirty Court and Poverty Court.”

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Christian’s ‘ill-behaved husband’:

Mining Consultant, William Jenkin wrote a letter to Samuel Grose (Christian’s ‘Mine Captain’ brother) on 21st March 1795 which mentions Christian and other relations:

Thy Aunt Kate has behaved unkind to the little Alice Richards whom I have this day fixed with thy Uncle Richard Nicholls of Michell -who has taken her home with him and promised to take good care of her, and I believe he will do so. I am pleased with him from the little I have seen of him. Little Mary still lies on hands – but as she seems a well behaved industrious girl, and is in constant employ, I hope she will not stand in need of much assistance.

All these family members require further research. The letter continues about Christian…

Thy sister Kitty [Christian] and her ill-behaved Husband [Richard Angove] vexed me much one day this week by laying wait at thy Father’s door in the morning, and as the little girl opened it, they rushed in and seized the bed and bolster which he lay on while he lived, and carried it away, and then brought back an old bed of theirs in it’s stead. The little Girl [Mary] came up to me in a great surprise to tell me of it. I immediately went down, and by threatening them got back the Bed and bolster again–and I think it will be well, if I don’t hear from thee soon, to take all the goods to my House

Via ‘News From Cornwall’, by A.K. Hamiliton Jenkin

Severe Whipping:

Another letter followed from William Jenkin to Samuel Grose, on 16th October 1795

A strong rumour prevailed here yesterday that Kitty’s [Christian’s] husband [Richard Angove] was dead, and that Dug [Launder – a relative] was dying – and the Hill [A poor quarter of Redruth, near Plain-an-Gwarry] was in an uproar. It was asserted that their death was owing to the severe whipping they had last week. But on enquiry today I find it was a false report. I believe they had a pretty close trimming. I am sorry for thy sister [Christian] who I understand is far gone with child, and must unavoidably suffer by her husband’s misbehaviour.

Via ‘News From Cornwall’, by A.K. Hamiliton Jenkin

Peter Gardner writes more about this event in his essay :

In 1795 Richard Angove… was sentenced, with a relative, to 2 years in Bodmin prison for the theft of 4 pence worth of tin ore. His young wife Christian (nee Grose) was pregnant.

  • Wendy Angove in her history of the Angove family wrote:
    “William Launder of Redruth, tinner, and Richard Angove of Redruth, tinner, were convicted of taking 20lbs of ore, value 2d, 20lbs of tin stuff, value 2d, the property of Sir John St Aubyn and others, adventurers of Wheal Peevor. Sentenced to hard labour for 2 years, and to be publicly whipped until their backs are bloody, in Bodmin, at the beginning and end of their punishment.” [Angove, Wendy. The Jigsaw Puzzle Tree, The Author, Brigend Wales, 2003 p.78]

This was an extremely severe punishment in troubled times. Launder and Angove were either cousins or uncle and nephew and appear to have been ‘tributers’ (contract miners) in Wheel Peevor.

An estimate of the theft in today’s values (2015) is difficult and the 4d could have been as low as $40. Estimates of earnings of tributers about this time averaged from £2 to £3 per month so 4d would equal at least 1/120th of a monthly wage. However if their pitch (contracted area of the mine) turned poor or they had a poor contract they may have earned very little or nothing. Some prices of foodstuffs about this time (1801) included butter at 8d per pound, bacon 8d per pound and barley 6s bushel.

The crime almost certainly was one of ‘kitting’ – taking ore from another part of the mine away from their own ‘pitch’ or designated place and presenting it at as their own. This practice was generally frowned upon by miners and definitely so if the ore was stolen from another group of tributers’ pitch – in other words stealing from mates. However in this instance it appears that the ore was removed from a part of the mine not being worked by their fellows – in other words they were stealing from the company.

This and the harshness of the punishment meant they had strong support amongst the community

Peter also writes insightfully about the riot:

The riot that followed this cruel punishment was typical Cornish behaviour to injustice and in desperate times. It followed on from food riots in Redruth at the market earlier in the year. From this behaviour we can conclude that those being punished had the support of the community and that the spirit of revolt was very strong.

Children of Christian (nee Grose) and Richard Angove:

On 6th October, 1793, a daughter, Alice Angove was baptised at St Uny, Redruth.

In October 1795, Christian was pregnant when her husband was whipped (no baptism record found yet).

A son, Richard Angove baptised on 21st October, 1798 at St Uny, Redruth who likely died as an infant.

On 26th April, 1801, they baptised another son, Richard Angove at St Uny, Redruth.

Conclusion and Further research:

These letters of William Jenkin again show the close association that he had with the extended Grose family.

Other family members are mentioned in ‘News from Cornwall’ by A.K. Hamilton Jenkin who can be researched:

  • Assuming ‘Aunt Kate’ is an aunt of Matthew, Samuel and Christian Grose – she is either a sister (or sister-in-law) of their parents Matthew Grose (1732) and Mary Davey.
  • The same theory can be applied for ‘Uncle Richard Nicholls’ meaning he’s likely a brother-in-law of Matthew Grose (1732) or Mary Davey.
  • It is unknown whether Alice Richards is a family member, or perhaps a servant. The Richards/Grose family connections have been mentioned in other letters of William Jenkin and these will be looked at on another post.
  • Mary is likely a younger sister, cousin or niece of Matthew, Samuel and Christian Grose.

Further research is required for Christian (nee Grose) and Richard Angove and their descendants. Currently have not found a death or burial record for them.

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Resources and ‘Thanks’:

Sincere thanks to Peter Gardner for giving permission to use extracts of his essay on the blog.

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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.

P253/A/3/8

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-?).

Matthew Grose and Mary Tregonning, married 1839 in Halkyn, Flintshire

Another little diversion of sorts…

From census and obituary records we know that Matthew Grose (1788 – 1849) was married twice.

Firstly to Mary Wearn (1790-1839) who he married 6th June 1809 in Phillack, Cornwall.

This Mary died at Foxdale Mines, Isle of Man on 8th January 1839.

Secondly to another Mary – who (from marriage index records and discussing with others over the years) we’ve worked out was most likely Mary Tregonning (1796-1864).

According to the England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915, Mary Tregonning and Matthew Grose both married in Quarter 3 (July-Aug-Sept), 1839 in Holywell, Flintshire.

If this is the right person, Matthew Grose married Mary Tregonning seven months after his first wife, (Mary Wearn) died.

The big questions have always been:

Why did Matthew Grose get married in Flintshire if he lived in the Isle of Man? Was his new wife living there?

If he remarried in 1839, where is his new spouse (now, Mary Grose) on the 1841 census, which was taken on the evening of 6th June 1841? She is on the Isle of Man as his widow in the 1851 and 1861 censuses.


It was worthwhile obtaining their marriage record to look for more clues:

From the marriage record we find the following additional information:

Date of Marriage: 12th August, 1839

Place of Marriage: Parish Church of Halkin (Halkyn), Flintshire

To see they married in Halkyn is very interesting because Matthew Grose’s younger sister, Eliza lived there with her husband, Absalom Francis who was the Mine Agent at Halkyn lead mines.

The groom, Matthew Grose, is a widower and mine agent. His father is Matthew Grose, a mine agent.

This information helps confirm that we’ve got the ‘right’ Matthew Grose here!

The bride, Mary Tregonning, is a spinster. Her father is James Tregonning, a mine agent.

This is interesting as we didn’t know if Mary was a spinster or a widow. Also we haven’t had her father’s name or occupation before seeing this record.

Residence at time of marriage: Llan Township

Were they both really ‘living’ there, or just visiting?

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’.

Just to go off on another tangent – one day we’ll figure out where Sir Humphry Davy – the famous Cornish chemist and inventor – fits into this family tree.

Undoubtedly information from this marriage record will form the basis of further research and likely another genealogical rabbit warren  to lose ourselves in!