Thursday, 12 August 2010

Bastards, bigamy and bankruptcies.

LEFT: A typical Devon farmhouse  from the 19th century. However, I suspect the Mashfords lived in something far more humble.

In the 18th and 19th centuries and even through much of the 20th century, being illegitimate was a cause for shame and such 'truths' were generally kept in the family's 'secrets' cupboard. There was only one reason to ever 'air' such a truth and that was when the father, because it was usually the father, was notable in some way. In other words, it was worthwhile admitting to one's parentage because the benefits might well outweigh the disadvantages.

And, there is no denying, that illegitimacy was common for the times with the Royal and noble families generally setting a 'cracking pace' for producing bastards. There was no loss of face for the parent with noble blood and ignoble habits as there was for the parent with 'ignoble blood' and possibly, noble tendencies.

 And while the child would have to carry the 'shame' of his or her birth, if the link to nobility, or, even better, royalty, could be confirmed then a little bit of 'glory' could be seen at the side of shame. If the bastard child was truly fortunate there would also be some money, or, as was the case with Royal bastards, often a lot of money and a substantial 'leg-up' in the world.

The irony of the concept of nobility and of royalty for that matter, is that those who 'inherited' such mantles were by their very nature, descended from those who had been powerful enough, aggressive enough, manipulative enough, dishonest enough, sycophantic enough and/or fortunate enough to take or be given the land, money and titles which made them what they were.  Or rather, what they were seen to be.  It was, as always, about money and power not any nobility of spirit. Noble blood was never earned, nor was it a reality in any sense that those who supposedly possessed it, were any different to or better than, anyone else. It was simply the way of the world until recent times. At least in the developed world. Sadly, such classifications still exist in the less developed world and the English still grapple with the residue of their class system.

But in 18th and 19th century England, the class system was absolute and our Mashford family were a long way down the ladder of society. As poor as church mice it would seem.

So, for the stories of Elizabeth Mashford (Lewis) Atkin's 'illegitimacy' to be discussed, and handed down, in our family, there's a good chance that there is some element of truth to the 'noble connections.' Does it matter? Only in the sense that tracing the family line back as far as possible is the goal with ancestry research and 'noble' families tend to have better records.... even at times for their bastards. If for no other reason than that they could write and they could afford the pen (or quill) and ink.

With more research coming to light recently in regard to what looks like a Cann-Mashford marriage (but the Mashford has been written as Mackford) which makes sense of the middle name of John Cann Mashford, either a brother or cousin to Elizabeth Mashford, I am thinking that pursuing the Haynes name is the way to go.

What makes it even more complicated is that a search of birth records has brought up an Elizabeth Mashford, born December 5, 1819 Winkleigh Devon, to Elizabeth Mashford and father, 'Partridg.' One presumes the correct name is Partridge. What is curious of course is that  the father has only one name when it is more common for this to be the case with mother and the child has taken the mother's surname. And, given that single names for mothers is always the christian name, it's possible that Partridge was the father's christian name but more likely that it was the surname given the importance of fathers passing their name to their children. Perhaps Partridge Haynes is the full name. Or perhaps it is simply Partridge as surname and Haynes is a name that Edward Atkins brought to the family. Time and research will tell.

PHOTO: A grand house in Devon.

Elizabeth Mashford may have worked in a house like this and met the man who would be the father of her child, Elizabeth Mashford (Lewis) Atkins, during this time. He may have been one of the sons of the house or he may have been a visitor.

Or, given how poor the family was she may well have been a servant to those with less substance; farmers or professionals ... people with far more money than the Mashfords could ever dream of having. When you are at the bottom of the social ladder then the use of the term 'noble' as has come down through the family, may simply mean 'wealthy' and that may be a judgement made on a purely comparative basis. And it probably was.

In one 'name register' I found both Mashford and Haynes families living in the same area of Devon. I am not sure yet, exactly where, but the two surnames appear on the same record which is a possible, rather than conjecture, but not yet a likely!

The village of Winkleigh was known in Norman times as Wincheleie. It is one of Devon's most ancient villages. Devon's history is said to go back to 6,000BC when the first hunter-gatherers set up 'cave' near Torquay. With numerous invaders wandering in and out of what we now call Devon and the local people calling themselves Cimri or Celts the first official record for the village, where it is called Colerige, can  be found in the Domesday Book:

WINCHELEIE T.R.E. it paid geld for 5½ hides. There is land for 40 ploughs. In demesne are 8 ploughs, and 16 slaves; and 60 villans with 40 ploughs, and 10 swineherds. There are 80 acres of meadow, and 500 acres of woodland, pasture 1 league long and another broad, and a park for beasts. It renders 30l by tale. Of this land Norman holds 1½ virgates of land. They are worth 12s6d.

Winkleigh is still a small place, sandwiched between Dartmoor and Exmoor but these days the 'invaders' are city dwellers looking for country homes, tourists or family ancestry researchers. 

An Elizabeth Mashford was born November 11, 1798, Winkleigh, Devon to a John and Elizabeth Mashford. This makes it likely that she is the mother of the 1819 Elizabeth fathered by Partridge (Haynes). A John Mashford married Elizabeth Lewis on May 22, 1791 in Winkleigh, Devon which makes them likely parents for the Elizabeth born in 1798. It is also possible that Peter Lewis, the man our Elizabeth Mashford married, may have been a relation given that her grandmother may have been Elizabeth Lewis. There is no doubt that family connections were close in times past and that it was common for cousins, even first cousins, to marry.

So, to clarify, because it all gets so confusing, Elizabeth Mashford (Lewis) Atkins may have been the illegitimate daughter of Partridge (Haynes) and Elizabeth Mashford with grandparents John Mashford and Elizabeth Lewis Mashford.

The year 1819 could fit our Elizabeth although  there could be a hiccup. Another birth record shows an Elizabeth Mashford born October 21, 1820 in Coldridge, Devon to John and Mary Mashford. When Elizabeth married Edward Atkins she put her father's name as John. However, she did not include her father's name when she married Peter Lewis which seems odd given that this was her first marriage and there seems no reason to not list her father in 1843 when she was prepared to do it in 1857. Perhaps she was older and wiser and wanted to honour the grandfather who had been a father to her, instead of thinking about the father she had never known and was too frightened to name on a wedding certificate at the age of twenty-something.

With ancestry research many things begin as conjecture and move onto possible and then likely. If one is lucky they ultimately become fact but likely is often as good as it gets and often good enough.

A John Cann Mashford was born March 23, 1823, Coldridge, Devon and this time-frame would fit our boy of the same name. In addition, John Mackford (Mashford) married Mary Cann on May 29, 1818, Coldridge, Devon and according to Kylie Nott, who did the research, there are no other Mackford's listed on the parish register so the 'c' being an 's' is very likely.

So, another possible scenario is - just to confuse things even more - that Elizabeth Lewis Mashford died and John Mashford married again... this time to Mary Cann ... and moved to Coldridge. His daughter, Elizabeth, would have been twenty in 1818 and certainly working; possibly in one of the grand homes where her path crossed that of Partridge Haynes. And perhaps she also died and our Elizabeth went to live with her grandfather and his new wife, Mary Cann Mashford,  in Coldridge, Devon.

It is four miles east from Winkleigh to Coldridge... a distance which people easily walked at the time. And it is ten miles south from Coldridge to Crediton, where records are now held and which can be seen on the map above.

Coldridge, or Colerige as it was known up until about 1900 is situated on the River Taw and, like Winkleigh, is also a small and somewhat forgotten village. No main road runs through the village even now apparently which must certainly add to its charm. Clearly there was never any great reason to go to Coldridge or a main road would have been hewed through the heart of it just like most other ancient English villages. It's name is thought to come from 'the ridge where charcoal is made,' which is logical when you think about it. This area, like all of Devon and much of England, was once covered in mighty oak forests which the settlers systematically felled, century by century, to create the quintessential English landscape we all recognise today.

According to one story, Queen Elizabeth 1 did her bit to 'open up' the wilds of Devon. When she came to the Throne in 1558 she was seriously short of funds, thanks to the free-spending of her father and his generosity to his wives ... at least until they lost their heads... and the need to bribe various members of the nobility to support his new religion. In order to pay off the debts she had, it is said, the Parks of Coldridge, ploughed up and then:

...on January 26, 1562 she sold, 'in fee simple to John Waldron of Tiverton and Robert Northcote, the elder of Crediton (the ancient market town ten miles from Coldridge) the rectory of Colrige, Devon, to hold in free issue from All Saints last, the avowed sons of the Vicarage reserved.'

Coldridge's other claim to fame, beyond the fact that it came to the notice of Good Queen Bess looking to get cashed up and the fact that some of our ancestors lived there, was that it sent forth hundreds of pioneers to 'the far side of the world'; including the family of the late Western Australian mining magnate, Lang Hancock. One presumes that if no-one cared enough about getting to Coldridge to put a main road through it, then many of those who lived there would have had compelling reasons to leave it as and when they could.

It looks like our Mashford's moved from Winkleigh to Coldridge and while they may have felt they were moving up in the world it is clear they were not moving far 'up.'

With two Elizabeth Mashford's born around the same time, there is every chance it may be two separate families. Or not. Winkleigh and Coldridge are not far from each other and  while it may be conjecture, it is strong conjecture, to think that the same John Mashford fathered both.

The other substantiating factor is the naming traditions of the time. It is more likely that our Elizabeth was named after her mother. This assumption is made more credible by the fact that Elizabeth Mashford (Lewis) Atkins named her first daughter, Elizabeth.

However, she did name her second daughter Mary so it all remains more a close fit than a tight one.  However, both Elizabeth and Mary were common names at the time and it's a good bet that when her first daughter was born, she named her after her mother. But ... the inevitable but ... she did not give the name 'Cann' to her son, as one would have expected if her mother was Mary Cann. Because, of this and the fact that her choice for her first daughter, was Elizabeth, I am willing to take a punt on the Winkleigh birth records being our Elizabeth Mashford.

A Mary Mashford is listed in the 1841 Census as working as a publican and living in Coldridge, Devon. Her age is given as 48.  If she is listed as a publican, with no record for  her husband, John Mashford, as was the case, there is a good chance she is a widow. Also listed is Josiah Mashford, aged12, Coldridge. And there was a Josiah Mashford listed along with Elizabeth and George on the Princess Royal Passenger list arriving Port Adelaide in 1847. The John Mashford listed  is no doubt the John Cann Mashford we have found and may well have been a son or a cousin; as might Mary Mashford and child. The Mary Ann Mashford listed on the Princess Royal could be our Mary  Ann (Cann) Mashford. She would have been 54 at the time and  one would not have thought she would have a child but in truth there is no reason why not. She could have had a child in her forties as many women still do.

And I have since found a listing in the Devon Records for a Mary Ann Mashford, age 10, apprenticed to William Buckingham, yeoman, in 1828. This would have her born in 1819, a year after our Elizabeth Mashford may have been born.  Mary Ann Mashford was a witness at the marriage of Elizabeth Mashford to Peter Lewis. The other witness was James Mills. There is a greater chance that she was a sister than a step-mother.

And there is a good chance that this Josiah is the one later found running the Southern Cross Hotel, At Sandy Creek, in the Tarnagulla region of Victoria. Or rather, not running it but listed as a bankrupt in the Victoria Gazette. With his mother a publican he would have learned the skills at an early age. However, given that his family were clearly poor when they set sail for Australia, Mary Mashford may not have been very skilled at all as a publican. And given that her son went bankrupt doing the same thing there is a good chance that what he learned from her was not 'good business'.

There were more than a dozen publs in the Tarnagulla area so competition would have been stiff. This hotel was near to the goldfields and was operating prior to December, 1857, with Josiah Mashford as the licensee. On the 22nd June, 1859, the licence was renewed by Captain Murray, Police Magistrate at the Sandy Creek Court, to David Jones with J. P. Grey and John Beynon as sureties.

In the Victoria Government Gazette of September 5, 1879, Josiah Mashford is listed as insolvent and profession, farmer. In the same Gazette in 1880 he is looking for a certificate of discharge from the original 1857 insolvency. Clearly he was a slow learner.

ABOVE: The  Southern Cross Hotel at Sandy Creek was likely to be typical of the times and not particularly grand. Even more so given the fact that Josiah Mashford went bankrupt.

There's also a good chance, if we have the right Josiah (Joseph) Mashford that he may have been a bigamist with one wedding for a Josiah (Tebbot???) Mashford recorded at Holy Trinity Church, Adelaide in 1852 to a Fanny Hayward and another to a Bridget O'Neill in Richmond, Victoria in 1885.  And then in 1890, a Josiah (Joseph) Mashford is charged with bigamy:

At the Brunswick Police Court on Monday, an elderly man named Joseph Mashford, alias Maxwell, appeared on a charge of deserting his wife. From the particulars given by Sergeant Brown, it appeared that the accused formerly lived with his wife at Boort, but deserted her about six yeara ago Mrs. Mashford recently issued a warrant for his arrest on a charge of desertion, and this was executed by Senior constable Jackson, of Brunswick, who lound him living in Charles Street with a woman whom it is alleged that he married at Richmond in 1885 Under these circumstances it was probable that proceed ings would also be instituted against him for bigamy. The accused, who volunteered the statement that he was never married to the woman who had taken the warrant out against him, was remanded to appear at Boort.

Which may account for a piece of information which Kylie Nott found - a notice in the South Australian Police Gazette, dated October 15, 1884: 

Information is requested of Josiah Mashford, last heard of about three months since in Melbourne. Description:- Age 53 years, height 5 ft, 10in., fair complexion, auburn hair, whiskers, beard, &c., grey eyes, small nose.

It is likely that this Josiah (Joseph) Mashford is related to our Elizabeth Mashford (Lewis) Atkins and may prove to be a 'link' which draws in more information about the family.

Returning to the Haynes mystery.  It is however a little curious that, as far as we can tell from records, Elizabeth did not name any of her Lewis children, Haynes. It could be that Peter Lewis did not like the 'shame' proclaimed,  perhaps because of a family connection, whereas Edward Atkins was more liberal; or it could be that the name Haynes comes from the Atkins side of the family. Instinct tells me that Haynes comes from the Mashford side although I have been wrong before... and no doubt will be again.

I may be completely on the wrong track. But it is all fascinating and clearly the more information which goes up onto the internet the greater the chance that a Partridge, Haynes or Cann will find us.

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