Saturday, 8 April 2017

A Lady of Letters

I know quite a bit about Elizabeth Harvie McDonald* and her family because she kept many letters sent to her and her family.  I am lucky enough to have copies of these letters.
Public domain photo of some old letters.
Elizabeth Harvie McDonald was born 21 May 1825 in Tradestown in Glasgow, Scotland, the daughter of William McDonald, a cloth lapper, and Margaret Bowie.  Cloth lapping was a stage in weaving, so William would have been a mill worker.  Elizabeth was named after her grandmother, Elizabeth Harvie, who would have been about 95 when Elizabeth Harvie McDonald was born and was said to have reached 100**.  Elizabeth Harvie McDonald was baptised at Gorbals church on 5 June 1825.

Elizabeth Harvie McDonald was the oldest of three siblings.  Her brother was Salis Schwabe McDonald, definitely a black sheep of the family with a criminal record.  As an adult, Elizabeth seems to have lost touch with her sister Margaret McDonald, with a letter from a relative saying that they didn’t know where she was either.  The three children lost their mother, Margaret Bowie, sometime between Margaret’s birth in 1833 and 1839, when their father married his second wife, Grace Davies.  Scottish burial records are patchy and I haven’t found one for Margaret.  Elizabeth’s Bowie correspondents didn’t seem to think much of Grace but maybe that was because she replaced their sister.

I haven’t yet identified Elizabeth Harvie McDonald in the 1841 Scottish Census.  She wasn’t living with her parents and there are several possible Elizabeth McDonald’s working in the Glasgow as servants and my ancestor may have been one of them.  Even though Elizabeth had a disrupted childhood and was probably working by the time she was 15, she had somehow managed to get enough of an education to be a letter writer.

On 31 Dec 1846, Elizabeth Harvie Macdonald married Malcolm Macdonald, a shipping clerk.  Both gave their residence as Anderston, an area of Glasgow.

By the time of the 1851 Scottish Census, on 30 March that year, Elizabeth and Malcolm had two children, Malcolm Kay Macdonald and William Bowie Macdonald, plus a third, James Gordon Macdonald (my ancestor) well on the way.  James was born in May 1851.  Sadly, Malcolm Kay Macdonald died sometime in the early 1850s, probably before 1854.  Elizabeth and Malcolm did not have any more children that I know of.

By July 1854, according to a letter from her Aunt, Elizabeth and her young family were settling in Liverpool, England, which was where Malcolm’s father’s family lived.  Elizabeth and Malcolm appear to have stayed in Liverpool until 1858, when they migrated to Victoria Australia.  

The family travelled on the ship “Monsoon”, which departed London on 11 March 1858 and arrived in Hobson’s Bay, Melbourne 9 Jun 1858***; three months on a ship with two lively young boys.  They went to live in Ballarat, in the heart of the gold fields of Victoria.  A letter sent to Elizabeth in 1859 from her Aunt Elizabeth Bowie, indicates that Malcolm may have been strongly encouraged to migrate to Victoria due to some (unspecified) bad behaviour on his part.  The Aunt suggests that Elizabeth and her boys should have stayed with her in Glasgow and left Malcolm to his own devices.  I wish the Aunt has been more specific about Malcolm’s wrong doing; all I know is that an old Scottish spinster thought he was an evil doer.  Perhaps Elizabeth and Malcolm did not have a very happy marriage.

Elizabeth and Malcolm stayed in Ballarat.  Members of Malcolm’s family followed him out to Australia, including his father, also Malcolm, and his only surviving brother, Charles.  His uncle, the brother of Malcom snr, a sailor named Angus, visited Australia on at least on occasion.  So in spite of the spinster Aunt’s fears, the boys (William and James) did not grow up not knowing their family.  In addition, plenty of correspondence seems to have been exchanged with both Elizabeth’s and Malcolm’s extended families, in spite of the distance and time it took letters to travel between Britain and Australia.

Elizabeth Harvie McDonald outlived her troublesome husband by over 10 years, dying 16 Jan 1892, in Ballarat.  By this time, she had several grandchildren and hopefully this made up for having been shipped away from her family under less than ideal circumstances.  I imagine that having had to move a 3 month voyage away from her family, their letter’s must have been precious, as Elizabeth’s only connection with her now distant family and friends, and that is why she kept them, for which I am grateful.


Notes on lineage: Me > Mum > John Macdonald Charley > Constance Mary Macdonald > James Gordon Macdonald > Elizabeth Harvie Mcdonald

*There are various spellings of both Harvie and McDonald.  Harvie and Mcdonald are the spellings used in Elizabeth’s baptism record.  Macdonald is the spelling used by the living descendants of Malcolm.

**According to the book:  The Bowies and their kindred: a genealogical and biographical history, available on Google books and other archive web sites.

***The Age, 15 Jun 1858


Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Two Many Names

Jehu Briggs was born sometime between May and September in 1750, the oldest child of Timothy Briggs and Lettice Preston. Timothy and Lettice were apparently respectable landed gentry.  They married on 5 May 1750. Jehu Briggs was baptised 28 September 1750 in Elswick Independent or Congregational Chapel, Lancashire.  I will leave the reader to do the maths.

In the baptism register, his name was originally written as John Briggs, but the John is crossed out and Jehu written above.  This confusion between the two names continued for his entire life.  It is an additional challenge in family history research to be hunting for someone known by two names.  While Jehu Briggs is a good name to research, as every reference to the name I have found in the time period refers to my ancestor, there are many more John Briggs’s.  In addition, when hand written, the names look similar and Jehu is sometimes wrongly transcribed as John.

 Jehu had at least two brothers, one who died in infancy, and one sister. The Briggs family lived in Thurnham in the parish of Cockerham, Lancashire.  They were yeomen and non-conformists.  Timothy Briggs died in 1762, leaving a young family.  Lettice’s family had very little money and appear to have been supported by a distant noble relative, at least until her mother died in 1765.

According to the Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices' Indentures, 1710-1811 - in 1764, a John Briggs was apprenticed to Thomas Hall, a cooper and citizen of London.  I think this might be Jehu.  I wonder if he was apprenticed as soon as he was old enough due to his family’s circumstances rather than following in his father’s footsteps as yeoman.  Jehu Briggs later took on apprentices as a cooper or at least as a member of the Coopers Guild, Thomas Swanton in 1785 and Thomas Patrick in 1790.  Members of a guild did not always practice the trade in the guild’s name.

From 1781, there are land tax records showing that Jehu Briggs was living in St John Street, St Sepulchre (Farringdon area), in London, initially as a tenant and later as a property owner.  St John Street is still lined with Georgian terrace houses, so it is easy to picture the world he lived in.  In fact, here is me looking at some houses in the area that may be very like what the Briggs family lived in (photo taken by my mother), although I think where the Briggs family actually lived is now Smithfield’s Markets.  Their address is sometimes given as Smithfield Barrs.  Jehu lived in St John Street for the rest of his life.
Somehow, Jehu met a young lady from Suffolk, Susan (or Susanna) Mumford, daughter of Robert.  They married in Action, Suffolk by Licence, on 14 Oct 1784*.  Jehu and Susan had at least seven children, four girls and three boys: Elizabeth, Charles Jehu, Mary Ann, Sarah, Louisa, George Mumford and Henry Sparrow, all baptised in St Sepulchre parish church.  Curiously, in the parish registers, the father’s name is given as Jehu for the boys and John for the girls.

Sometime in the 1790’s Jehu changed trades from cooper to pawnbroker, with a shop in St John Street, possibly under the family residence.  In 1797, one Hannah Wright stole 5 yards of cotton material from his shop.  The trial took place in the Old Bailey and Jehu Briggs gave evidence in court, so I have a transcript of words he actually spoke.  Hannah was found guilty and sentence to 6 months confinement.

In addition to working, Jehu Briggs supported the Finsbury Dispensary benevolent charity, which provided medicines for those who couldn’t afford them.  A book about the dispensary says that in 1797, Mr Jehu Briggs was a steward of the charity.

Jehu Briggs died in August 1821, age 71, and was buried 29 August 1821, at St Sepulchre in London.  In the burial register, he was original named as John Briggs.  His son-in-law, James Clark, the husband of Louisa, signed an affidavit, which was inserted into the parish register, to say that John was also known as Jehu.  So the man who started life with two names also ended with them.

I have yet to find a will but assume he must have had one, given that he was a successful business man.


*Sudbury Marriage Licence Allegations gives the year of marriage as 1782 but given the entry is in the 1784-1785 section, this appears to be a typo.


Notes on lineage: Me > Mum > Daphne Madge Smith > Esther Ilma Lees > Fanny Sarah Eliza Briggs > Frederick Henderson Briggs > Henry Sparrow Briggs > Jehu Briggs


Sunday, 8 January 2017

The Partridge Inheritance

When John Partridge was about 56 years old, in 1769, he inherited a manor house from his cousin Joseph.  Earlier in his life, John wouldn’t have expected this inheritance as he had various uncles and male cousins who should have inherited the property, and passed it onto their heirs, had they had any that survived long enough.

John Partridge was born in Miserden, Gloucestershire, around 1713 and baptised in Miserden parish church on 18 November 1713.  Miserden is a small picturesque village in the Cotswolds. At the time in that parish, the Rector only recorded the bare minimum amount of information, a name and a date, so John’s parents were not named.  However, based on a process of elimination using various Partridge family wills and a 1714 electoral roll, John’s father must have been Nathaniel Partridge and, therefore, his mother was Nathaniel’s wife, Ann Burrows. 

Nathaniel Partridge was the sixth son of Henry Partridge of Wishanger, so seemingly unlikely to inherit the family estate.  However, three of the older brothers, Henry, Robert and John, died without having children of their own.  Thomas Partridge, the brother who inherited Wishanger from father Henry, had one son who seems not to have survived childhood, so the property was left to his brother Henry’s oldest son, Freeman.  And yes, there were two (half) brothers both named Henry.  The two Henry’s can be clearly distinguished in their father’s will.   Freeman Partridge died relatively young and without having a son, so Wishanger went to his younger brother Joseph.  Their two other brothers, Thomas and John, must have died young as they were not mentioned in Freeman’s will.  Joseph did not marry, so Wishanger ultimately passed onto his cousin John, my ancestor.  Joseph Partridge left his other property to his sister’s son, Partridge Smith who married Freeman’s daughter Susanna.  Fortunately the family wills explain the various relationships in some detail.   As Joseph Partridge was only five years older than John, even when John because Joseph’s heir, John may have expected his son’s to inherit, rather than himself.

John Partridge had at least one sister, Rebecca, born about 1700; both are mentioned in their Uncle Thomas’ will of 1752 as siblings.  John Partridge lost his father in 1717 when he was about 4 years old.  Nathaniel died intestate (without a will), so there is no will to conveniently list family members. John’s mother, Ann, seems to have re-married in 1719 to Andrew Soul.  There may have been some half siblings but without parent’s names in the Miserden parish register, I can’t be sure.  Andrew Soul died in 1726, so John lost his stepfather, as well as his father, while still a child.

On 19 February 1734/5*, John Partridge married Ann Moss (or Morse) in Pitchcombe, Gloucestershire.  John and Ann had five children, Harry, Thomas (my ancestor), Ann, Sarah and John, all baptised in Miserden parish church.  Ann died in 1768.  John married his second wife, Sarah Herberts, at Stonehouse on 25 May 1771.

In additional the manor of Wishanger, John owned other land in the area around Miserden that he left to his children in his will.  He died in February 1785, having enjoyed his inheritance for nearly twenty years.

Wishanger is now a B&B and some pictures can be found here (I couldn’t find any that I was sure were public domain to include in this post).  It belonged to the Partridge family from the 1560’s until the early 1800s.



Notes on Lineage: Me > Dad > Helen Francis Ruth Akeroyd > Florence Ruth Kirby > Harriet Partridge > Thomas Partridge > Nathaniel Partridge > Thomas Partridge > John Partridge

*Prior to 1752 in England, New Year's day was 25 March so it is conventional to write dates from 1 Jan to 24 Mar like this.