A tale of two granddads

The challenge to ‘Contrast lives of two very different ancestors who lived in the same time period and were contemporaries of each other‘ puzzled me for a while. So many to choose from -should I stick with direct ancestors, or spread wider afield? Eventually I narrowed this challenge down to William, born in Oswestry, Shropshire in 1798 and Francis, born just about 5 years later in East Yorkshire.

William was the son of a painter, and had two younger sisters, Ann and Mary. When he was eighteen years old he took himself off to serve in the Royal Marines at Plymouth 1820. He married Sarah in 1822in Plymouth, and by the time he transferred to Royal Marine Artillery 1827, had a daughter, Mary Ann, who died in infancy, and a second daughter, Caroline. By the time their third daughter was born in 1832, the family was living in Chatham, Kent.

It isn’t clear when William left the Marines, but when the 1851 census was taken, he was a boatman, in Wolverhampton. The couple had had three more daughters and two sons. Several of the children had been baptised at a church near the canalised at Hampton Bank in Shropshire. By the time the census was taken again, the family were still living in Wolverhampton; perhaps William was feeling his age, as he had stopped working on the canals, and was earning a living as a forge labourer, as were his two sons who were still living at home.  William died (cause of death given as asthma) the following year, aged 64.

In his 64 years William had served as a Royal Marine, worked the canals and laboured in a forge. He lived in Devon, Ken, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Hampshire and Cheshire. He fathered six daughters and two sons. Sarah lived for a further 14 years.

Francis was born just five years after William. He had four older sisters and six older brothers.  He was baptised in the village church, where he married Charlotte about thirty years later.

When the 1841 census was taken, Charlotte and Francis lived in the same village with their three children and Francis’ elderly mother. Francis gave his occupation as agricultural labourer.  1851 and 1861 census returns show the family still in the same village. By 1961 Francis was still an agricultural labourer and  Charlotte & the daughter who was still at home were working as field labourers.  It seems that this modest little family laboured on year after year eking out a living from the land in the village where they were all born.

Francis died at home in 1967 aged 64, and was buried in the village churchyard.  Charlotte lived another 16 years.

Neither of these families was wealthy; they did what they had to do to survive and feed their families. For William, this meant moving with the work, and trying his hand at different things as increasing age took some of his strength. For Francis this meant working the land in his little part of Yorkshire. There is no evidence to show that he ever left the village, though he might well have travelled locally.

Three generations later, Francis’ great great grandson married William’s great great granddaughter.  Then there was me…..


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