Life, how uncertain! Death, how sure!

This post will look at the ancient parish church of St Runius in Marown, Isle of Man… and an interesting grave marker for members of the Grose family in the churchyard there.

In the previous post we looked for the graves of the Mining Engineer, Matthew Grose junior (1819-1887) & his second wife, Elizabeth nee Qualtrough (1835-1918), both buried at Kirk Christ, Rushen, Isle of Man.

Some questions remain…

Where is his first wife (Anne Grose nee Read, 1818-1868) buried?

Where is his father (Matthew Grose senior, 1788-1849) buried?
marown sign

Photo © Phil Catterall (cc-by-sa/2.0)

old_mn

Sketch of 1834. Old Kirk Marown with seats for 250. Courtesy of A Manx Note Book

nave

Photo © Richard Hoare (cc-by-sa/2.0)

The Old Church:

The Old Church has been written about by many people, in the past and present day… with various versions of how it got it’s name:

St. Runius, also known as Old Kirk Marown, is a very quaint old church which still has candles for lights instead of electricity.

It is known as Old Kirk Marown because a new church was built in its place in 1853 on the main Douglas to Peel road.

St. Runius is a simple structure dating from the 12th century with alterations and extensions from 1750 to 1755 and in the late 1790’s.

It is called St. Runius as it is dedicated to St. Ronan of Lismore in Ireland and Marown also takes its name from this Saint “Ma-Ronan”, Marown.

From the IOM Photography website, 2014.

The original building was from approximately 1200 AD and was enlarged in 1754 AD.

Three bishops are possibly buried here; Lonnan, Connaghan, and Runius.

The old church was replaced around 1860, when a new church was opened. Old St Runius continued to be used occasionally for special services.

From the Isle of Man Guide website

According to a note by the late Professor Sir John Rhys, in “Mannin” (No. 2) :” the Parish Church of Marown, spelled variously Marown, Maronne, and Maroon. Skeeley Maroon is dedicated to a Saint called Maronog, in the Irish Calendar; and in the Scottish Calendar, Ronan.”

In the Manx Doomsday Book, or Manorial Rent Roll, of 1511, A.D. , the parish is styled St. Runii—St. Runy was evidently one of the Columban missionaries who came to the Isle of Man probably about the 7th Century, and it is in the Old Churchyard of Marown where his remains, with those of St. Lomanus and St. Onca are supposed to be buried, ” and these for ever lie un-molested.”

From A Manx Note Book

Why was a new church built?

With the improvement of the Douglas/Peel main road in the early 19th Century population growth focused on Crosby and the old church became too small and too far from the congregation.

In 1844 Phillip Killey, owner of a brewery in Douglas, gave land from his estate adjoining the main road between Crosby and Glen Vine for a new Church.

Tynwald approved the scheme in 1847, the foundation stone was laid by Bishop Auckland in 1849 and the Church consecrated in 1859.

From A Manx Note Book

Many years later on the 5th Oct., 1924, A.E. CLARKE wrote about this event at Marown Vicarage…

Needless to say that , this gift was accepted. and in a few years time from this date, the Old Church, so far as public worship was concerned, was forsaken for the new.

It was not so, however, with regard to burials.

The people of Marown still clung tenaciously to the old ground, where the remains of their forefathers lay for generations.

Marown Old Church - geograph.org.uk - 3125

Photo of Marown Old Church courtesy of Andy Stephenson [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The ‘Grose’ Obelisk:

In the churchyard of St Runius, Marown, Isle of Man there is a granite obelisk and two fallen headstones surrounded by railings. The granite is possibly from ‘the fine granite quarry’ that the Grose family opened at Foxdale.

2017-07-06 10.54.50

Photo © Robert Cannell


Over the years there have been discussions (and confusion!) about the individuals buried there.
By studying a combination of hard-to-read memorial inscriptions and incomplete burial records, this is our best interpretation of the burials. If any further information comes to light, then it will be corrected and shared on the blog.

 

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Photo © Richard Hoare (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Who is buried there?

The Grose family used St Runius as their main local church for baptising, marrying and burying for many years. There was a track from their home at Cornelly/Jones Mine (part of Foxdale Mines) to the church. Other churches were used too (eg, Patrick), but there is a lot of activity at St Runius.

It is likely that three generations of the Grose family are buried at St Runius, Marown… Matthew Grose senior (1788-1849) with both of his wives, his daughter-in-law and perhaps five of his grandchildren.
The first ‘Grose’ burial was likely Matthew Grose senior’s first wife, Mary Grose (nee Wearn) buried 1839. She doesn’t appear in the burial records, but the inscription on the headstone (see section below) and newspaper obituary indicates this.

mary wearn

Manks Advertiser, Tuesday, January 08, 1839; Page: 3 (Via iMusuem)


An infant, John Grose, was buried in Marown in 1845. This is likely, John Matthew Grose the son of John Grose and Charlotte (nee Clucas).

johnl grose

Via iMuseum


Matthew Grose senior was buried in 1849

matt

Manx Liberal, Saturday, June 23, 1849; Page: 3
(Via iMusuem)


Frederick William Grose (Matthew junior’s son) buried 1858

fred

Mona’s Herald, Wednesday, June 16, 1858; Page: 3
(Via iMusuem)

Matthew Grose senior’s second wife Mary Grose (nee Tregonning) buried 1864

mary treg

Mona’s Herald, Wednesday, November 23, 1864; Page: 3
(Via iMusuem)


Matthew Grose junior’s wife, Anne Weston Grose (nee Read) was buried 1868

annie weston

Mona’s Herald, Wednesday, May 13, 1868; Page: 7
(Via iMusuem)

list of burials marown

From Isle of Man, Burial Index, 1598-2003 via Ancestry UK

Additionally, 3 children of Matthew senior’s daughter, Jane Powning (nee Grose) are buried at Marown.

powning burials

From Isle of Man, Burial Index, 1598-2003 via Ancestry UK

In the Press…

The ‘Grose’ obelisk at Marown has been written about in the newspapers…

From the Isle of Man Weekly Times (1 Oct 1932)…

Comparatively few of the gravestones in Marown are used to point the moral of the shortness of life at its longest and the possible suddenness of death.
Captain Matthew Grose [junior] of the Ballacorkish mine, Rushen, erected a monument to his son [Frederick] in the form of an obelisk, bearing on its four sides the words,

Time, how short! 

Eternity, how long! 

Life, how uncertain!

Death, how sure!

http://www.isle-of-man.com/manxnotebook/gazateer/gyards/mn.htm


Analysing the Memorial inscriptions:

There are inscriptions on the fallen stones and obelisk.

From a long discussion on a Manx genealogy forum (from 2006) we can see the following incomplete inscriptions were recorded…

http://www.isle-of-man.com/genealogy/messageboard/index.pl/md/read/id/509238

In memory of Ann Mary Grose the beloved wife of Capt Matthew Grose …………….mines…………..January 8th 1839

Weep not for me my ………..

My children dear my ……………

Prepare yourselves………

also the above named capt Matthew Grose who died on the 19th Jun 1848 1849 aged 62 years

Thanks to Rob Cannell for cleaning the headstone, so the ‘Ann’ above could be corrected to ‘Mary’ which corresponds to Mary Grose (nee Wearn).

In memory of Frederick William son of Capt Matthew Grose [junior] and Ann Weston his wife of Ballacorkish Parish of Rushen

Born March 15th 1850 died June 2nd 1858

Conclusion:

Confusion reigned for a long time because there was an 1839 obituary for a Mary Grose, but it seemed her burial was recorded in 1864. Turns out they were both right – they’re two different people! Both wives of Matthew Grose senior and both called Mary!

Add to the mix a memorial inscription from 1839 transcribed as Ann Grose instead of Mary Grose! Then it turns out that there are actually two Mary Groses… and an Anne Grose buried there too! Anne being a wife of a Captain Matthew Grose too… no not that one – his son!

We got there in the end (hopefully!). It’s a reminder to check as many sources as possible and see the originals, not transcriptions where possible.

Originally erected by the mining engineer, Matthew Grose junior, mourning his young son Frederick, the granite obelisk is a fine monument to the generations of the Grose family buried at St Runius, Marown and elsewhere on the Isle of Man.

Matthew Grose junior may now be in an unmarked grave at Rushen, but the monument he created for others in his family has stood for almost 160 years.

Thanks and Further Reading:

I must thank Rob Cannell for providing plenty of information and some of the great photos for this post. Also for cleaning up that headstone!

A Manx Note Book

Ellan Vannin Volume 1

IOM Photography

Isle of Man Guide

 

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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.

img_4232-1

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!

can-2022623_640

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!