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-?).

The migration of Matthew Grose (1788 – 1849)

Leaving the south west and heading north.

Matthew Grose, born in 1788, is the Adventurous Ancestor who left the mines of Cornwall and Somerset in England.

Around 1828 he was seeking new opportunities in the mines of Foxdale in the Isle of Man.

Moving with his wife, children, other family members, friends and mining / engineering colleagues from Cornwall  – they all headed across the breezy Irish Sea.

Upon arrival in the Isle of Man, his community-minded wife, Mrs Mary Grose (nee Wearn), would have noticed the hustle and bustle in the town of Douglas.

“Women often with round hats, like the Welsh, and girls without shoes and stockings, though otherwise not ill dressed..”

 

 (Extract from a visitor’s diary in 1828)

Bringing mining expertise to the island

Matthew Grose came from a renowned family of mining captains and engineers. Like other Cornishmen migrating to the Isle of Man, he brought with him specialised skills and direct experience of new technologies that were revolutionising mining at that time.

Previously we’ve read about his father, Matthew Grose (1760 – 1824) and uncle, Samuel Grose senior  (1764 – 1825) who were mining captains in Cornwall and Somerset.

Captain Matthew Grose (1788 – 1849) was a first cousin to Captain Samuel Grose junior (1791 – 1866), who was a pupil of Richard Trevithick. Samuel Grose junior was called the ‘most scientific engineer in Cornwall’.


Many of Matthew Grose’s sons became mine captains, agents and engineers. His sisters and daughters married into families of other Cornish mine captains and engineers.

Timeline for Matthew Grose (1788 – 1849)

1788 Matthew Grose is baptised at the parish church of St Andrew, Loxton, Somerset. His father, Matthew Grose and uncle, Samuel Grose are likely in Loxton with other Cornish miners on an expedition to explore the green veins that have been found in the caves there. Unfortunately these contain no copper and the venture is abandoned.

1789 (likely earlier) – 1800 His father, Matthew and uncle, Samuel are mine captains at the Dodington copper mines.

  • 1793? His brother John baptised in ? 
  • 1797? His sister, Elizabeth baptised in Somerset? (Wife of Obadiah Ash?).

1801 Dodington copper mine in Somerset closes when unable to raise capital to buy a steam pumping engine.

  • 1801 His brother William and sister Grace are baptised in Gwinear.
  • 1807 His sister Elizabeth (Eliza) is baptised in Gwinear
  • 1809 His sister, Mary, marries Henry Francis in Gwinear.

1809 Aged 21, he marries Mary Vivian Wearn in Phillack.

1810 His uncle, Samuel Grose snr and cousin, Samuel Grose jnr, puts their names to a ‘protest of miners’ at Wheal Alfred in the Royal Cornwall Gazette. They are distancing themselves from political reformist, Edward Budd who was establishing a new newspaper (the West Briton or Miners Journal). A ‘Matthew Grose’ signs the petition too – likely him (or father).

  • 1812 His daughter, Emma is baptised in Phillack.
  • 1814 His daughter Jane is baptised in Phillack. On one census she describes herself as from Relubbus. Perhaps her father worked at mines near there.
  • 1817 His daughter Mary is baptised in Phillack

1817 Dodington Copper mines in Somerset reopen when a steam pumping engine is installed.

  • 1819 His son, Matthew is baptised in Phillack.
  • 1821 His son, Thomas is baptised in Dodington, Somerset

1821 Dodington mines in Somerset close after heavy losses.

1824 His father, Matthew Grose, is buried in Dodington, Somerset

  • 1826 His son John is born in England. (No baptism record found yet). John is husband of Charlotte Clucas.
  • 1826 His daughter Mary is baptised in Phillack.

1828 Isle of Man mining company formed by investors from Liverpool, Chester and Flintshire and lease Foxdale mines.

  • 1831 His daughter Eliza Grace is baptised in Marown, Isle of Man
  • 1832 His son Edwin William Wearn Grose is baptised in Marown, Isle of Man
  • 1833 His daughter Lavinia is baptised in Marown, Isle of Man
  • 1835 His eldest daughter, Emma, marries Captain Jonathan Harrison (both ‘of Foxdale Mines’) at Kirk Patrick, Isle of Man. The couple move to Llanidloes in Wales, then onto Meadowtown, Westcott and Snailbeach mines in Shropshire.
  • 1835 His son, Samuel Grose is baptised in Marown, Isle of Man
  • 1837 His sister, Eliza, marries Captain Absalom Francis in Shrewsbury, Shropshire and then to the mines of Halkyn, Flintshire.

1839 His wife Mary Wearn passes away at Foxdale Mines, Isle of Man. Her obituary in the West Briton newspaper, Jan 25, 1839 reads 

“On Tuesday, the 8th instant, at Foxdale Mines, Isle of Man, Mary, the beloved wife of Captain Matthew Grose, aged 49 years, deeply regretted by all her family and friends. Her charities and benevolence had endeared her to all classes, and in her the poor of the surrounding district have lost a kind benefactor and adviser.



Manks Advertiser, Tuesday, January 08, 1839; Page: 3, Courtesy of Manx National Heritage

1839 Aged 51, He marries his second wife, Mary Tregonning in Holywell, Flintshire

  • 1840 His daughter, Jane, marries Richard Powning in Marown, Isle of Man. The witness to their marriage is Foxdale Mine Captain Edward Bawden.

1841 He appears on the 1841 census at Foxdale Mines, Isle of Man as a Mine Agent along with his children Matthew (miner), Thomas (engineer), John (engineer), Mary, Eliza, Edward, Lavinia and Samuel.

1844 Examines lead ore in Castletown


Manx Sun, Saturday, May 04, 1844; Page: 4, Courtesy of Manx National Heritage

  • 1841 His son, Captain Matthew Grose, marries Anne Weston Read in Kirk German, Isle of Man.

1841 His mother, Jane/Jennifer passes away in Goldsithney, Perranuthnoe, Cornwall. Her 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.”

 

1846

Dramatically dismissed (see separate blog post) from the Isle of Man Mining Company


Manx Sun, Saturday, January 10, 1846; Page: 8, Courtesy of Manx National Heritage

1846

Opens stone quarry to send granite to Birkenhead for building docks.

1849 

Matthew Grose passes away.


Manx Sun, Wednesday, June 27, 1849; Page: 5

He is buried at Marown, Isle of Man


Resources and further reading:

http://www.manxmines.com/manx__mines__history.htm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/domesday/dblock/GB-226000-476000/page/10

http://www.nmrs.org.uk/assets/pdf/BM3/BM3-34-42-introduction.pdf

https://www.gov.im/lib/docs/mnh/education/trb/mining/teachersresourcebkpt2thestoryofmi.pdf

http://www.cornish-mining.org.uk/delving-deeper/cornish-mining-isle-man

Please contact if you spot any errors, or have additional information to improve this post!