The theme this week for #52Ancestors is Gone too soon and I decided to write about Mary Rusbridge my 2x great grandmother who died after giving birth at the age of 28. I have many occurrences on my tree of young women dying early in childbirth and much has been written about the reasons why families in the Victorian period had big families and young women died so often in childbirth which I will not repeat here but I will retell Mary’s story as a testament to those young women so that they won’t be forgotten.
Mary was born on 21 October 1854 in Godstone in Surrey to John Rusbridge and his wife, Ann formerly Roffey. She had seven younger siblings, Ann born 1859, Emily born 1862, John born 1865, William born 1866, Thomas born 1869, Robert born 1872 and Edith born 1875. The family lived at Blindley Heath where on the 19 November 1854, Mary was baptised.
The family appear on the 1861 census at Hollands Farm in Godstone, John was a Farm Carter and Mary was a scholar. Ann was 2 years old. Lodging with the family was James Payne aged 52, a Bricklayer’s labourer and William Quickenden aged 25, a Carpenter’s apprentice. The Payne family later became connected through the marriage of Mary’s son Albert and Emily Payne, my great grandmother. I believe that the families all knew each other because they belonged to a non conformist chapel but that has not been proved.
By the time of the 1871 census Mary had left home and was a servant at High Trees, in Reigate. She was a kitchenmaid. I have yet to investigate High Trees.
She married William Andrew Terry on 21 October 1879 at Blindley Heath. His father was Thomas Terry, a labourer, probably agricultural. The two witnesses to the marriage were Thomas Terry, possibly William’s father and Ruth Roffey, probably a relative of her mothers.
In 1881, she was at Old Park Farm Cottage, Bletchingley with William who was an Agricultural Labourer and Albert John, my great grandfather was 11 months old. Also living with the family were William Rusbridge aged 14 and William Roffey aged 17. Both were agricultural labourers. William Rusbridge was one of her younger brothers and William Roffey could well be a cousin.
On the 30 March 1883 Mary gave birth to a daughter, Ethel Mary at Anchor Field Cottages in Godstone and unfortunately by 4 April she had died from a Phlegmasia dolens thrombosis, better known as a deep vein thrombosis today. The risk of DVT can be increased during pregnancy but today mothers to be are checked if likely to be at risk and measures can be put in place to mitigate against it. Sadly for Mary in 1883 this was not the case. The witness to both the birth of Ethel and the death of her mother was M Winchester who on the death certificate was described as Aunt. At the moment I am not sure who she was. Mary was buried at Blindley Heath on 7 April 1883. Poor William was left with two young children but as was quite common in those days, he married again in April 1885 to Edith Knight and they had 11 children. Albert became the Postmaster at Lingfield. I have not managed to find any information after her birth about Ethel Mary yet.
This week’s #52 Ancestors theme is ‘I can identify’ I thought I would write about my Grandad, Ron Pilbeam. It was his influence that encouraged me in my love of bird watching.
I have written in my blogs before about Ronald Pilbeam, he was born on 17 March 1912 in Three Cups, a tiny hamlet on the edge of Punnetts Town near Heathfield in Sussex. He had one brother, Sydney, older than him and 3 sisters, Phillis, Gwen and Joan. He grew up on the farm at Rushford Farm and when my mum was a child, had a dairy herd which were milked and the milk sold daily to the locals around Punnetts Town and Heathfield.
Growing up in the countryside as he did he could identify a number of the farmland and garden birds he saw daily around and about and at some point he joined the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. When I was 10 years old in the hot summer of 1976, he built a large fish pond in the front garden and he had a whole load of fish in there which all seemed to be named after his grandchildren, I remember him showing me Kerry! That summer I stayed, as I often did, for a week or two with my grandparents and remember the pond developing. It was large, square with a rim of paving slabs. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any photos of it amongst my collection. When the hole had been dug and the liner put in, all that remained was the pouring in of the water and stamping down of the liner and Grandad asked me to get into the pond to push the liner down with my feet while he poured in the water with a hose.
In return for this most important job, he would buy me a member to the Young Ornithologists Club (YOC) the young arm of the RSPB. Well how could I refuse? the pond was filled with water, and I joined the YOC. He paid for my membership every year until after my 18th birthday when I graduated up to the RSPB and some point he stopped paying and I gave up birdwatching for a while.
As a child I became fascinated by birds and bird watching and even now I get excited by some of the birds I attract into my small back garden on my feeders. In my 20s I became more attracted to boys than birds and gave up the birdwatching for a while, which is extremely annoying because I remember on a coach trip in Turkey with a friend, the coach driver stopped to let people get off and watch some Lammergeiers (bearded vulture) that I would kill to see now. I think I did vaguely see them but wasn’t really that excited. It wasn’t until I met my other half, Pete that I once again became a member of the RSPB and have been ever since. When my sister’s three children were young I bought them YOC membership too until they became 18 and I hope one day at least one of them will again become enthusiastic about birdwatching just like I did. Pete and I have travelled around many parts of Britain over the years and seen many different birds that we could identify with the help of various books and sometimes other birders. We’ve been to Scotland to see Divers and Skuas and Osprey, oh and a sudden stop along the road to watch a Golden Eagle. We turned the corner at the cliffs in Yorkshire called Bempton Cliffs and had 5 new birds in five minutes and I’ve had nuthatch, treecreeper and a grey wagtail in my garden amongst a lot more common ones. If it hadn’t have been for Grandad starting me off at the age of 10 I don’t suppose I would ever have become quite so excited about birds as I am. Just one of those special Grandparent/Grandchild moments!
This week’s #52Ancestors theme is Outcast. I couldn’t think of anyone on my tree that was an Outcast so the link here is a bit tenuous but I am going to write about John Thorp, my Great x11 Grandfather and his will of 1607.
John and his wife Alice had 8 children that are known, all baptised in East Grinstead:
John, the eldest born 1560
Richard born 1562 and died in 1585
Marie born 1564
Thomas born 1567
Mercy born 1569
Giles born 1577
Rachel born 1579
According to the rule of primogeniture, the eldest son would normally inherit his father’s landed property and the purpose of the will was to provide for younger children, and to provide for a widow into her old age, ensuring any titles or properties were not passed by her to any subsequent husbands. There were often legacies to ensure the education of any grandchildren too. Normally an eldest son would not be mentioned in the will because the estate and title would have automatically passed to him, often before death.
In the case of John Thorp there is an interesting clue to his relationship with his eldest son, John. He was an Ironmaster of Hedgecourt in Horne, Surrey which he rented from the Gage family. He also held lands at Cudworth in Newdigate and in Ifield and Hurstpierpoint in Sussex which are said to be part of his wife, Alice Bowett’s inheritance from her father, Richard. At the time of John’s death in 1607 he was living in Worth, Sussex. I have already written about the iron forges and furnaces managed by John in a previous blog.
John left the lease of Hedgecourt to his second living son, Thomas and the lands that went with it. This included Warren Furnace and presumably Woodcock Hammer. The will mentions money to be given to various grandchildren and he mentions a number of different servants of his own as well as servants of his son Thomas. He leaves his grandson, Richard, son of his eldest son, John £300 and he mentions the use of Cudworth at Newdigate where I assume John, the eldest son was living and this was part of John’s inheritance. Indeed his first two sons John and Richard were baptised 1595 and 1597 in Newdigate.
However the really interesting bit is:
Item I give to my sonne John Thorpe although his behaviour unto me hitherto hath deserved noe remembrance of him at all the some of one hundred pounds which my will is shall not be paid or delivered unto himself but shall be delivered and paid unto my good friends aforesaid John Delathamber, George Turner, Anthony Linton and Richard Heath or the survivor of them within five years after decease, by them to be disposed for his maintenance at their good directions.
It will never be known what it was that John the son had done to upset his father but it must have been important enough to be written into the will. I do wonder if he had been careless with money hence the leaving of a legacy to friends to administer instead of simply handing it over directly.
A number of contacts over the years who are researching the Thorp family have imagined that John was written out of his father’s will but I do not believe this is the case, because of the fact that properties etc went automatically to the eldest son. Cudworth went to John, but Hedgecourt was given to Thomas, his brother to set him up presumably close by the furnaces he was running and which he left to his son, Richard after his death in 1608. I need to carry out more research around the eldest son, John which has not been my focus so far as he neither was an Ironmaster or on my direct line. I would like to know more about what, if anything he did.
This week’s #52Ancestors theme is Social Media and I thought I would update one of last year’s blogs as I now have the last photo.
Newspapers were very much the social media of their day, before Facebook, Twitter and the like and I wrote last year about my grandfather Ronald Pilbeam and 3 of his siblings, Phyllis, Gwen and Sidney’s weddings in the 1930s. I found all four of the weddings reported in the local papers which gave long lists of gifts and who attended as well as what the bride and bridesmaids were wearing and the flowers they had. At the time I did not have a photo of Gwen’s wedding to Edward Cottingham but the blog was read by a distant cousin who sent me a copy of a photo of the wedding. So now I can complete the blog. Social Media can be very useful sometimes!
The first to marry was Phyllis Naomi, the oldest child, born in 1907 to George and Nahomi Pilbeam of Rushford Farm, Three Cups, Punnetts Town. She married Percy Thomas Cottingham, second son of Mr C E Cottingham of Warren Farm, Halland on 22 July 1933 at The New Gospel Hall, Maynards Green. Mr W Payne from Lingfield officiated, who I need to research as I am thinking he could be related to my Grandmother, Edith Terry. Her mother was a Payne from Lingfield. The bride wore a dress of white satin and an embroidered net veil surmounted by a coronet of orange blossom. There were three bridesmaids, Joan Pilbeam, the bride’s sister and Ruth and Winnie Cottingham, sisters of the bridegroom. Edward Cottingham, brother of the groom was the best man. The report in the local newspaper has an extremely long list of people who gave presents.
The second pair to marry was Sidney George, the first son of George and Nahomi Pilbeam born in 1909 and he married Eva Edith Delves, eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs William Delves of Lynton, Maynards Green on 21 August 1935, again at Maynards Green. The newspaper announced that Punnetts Town Teacher weds. Eva was a teacher and then headmistress at Punnetts Town for many years and is remembered by many past pupils. The bride wore a simple gown of white crepe de chine, embroidered net veil, wreath of orange blossom, white kid shoes and carried a shower bouquet of white carnations and ferns. She had two bridesmaids, her sister Vera Delves and Joan Pilbeam, groom’s sister. The best man was Ron Pilbeam, groom’s brother. The couple were to live at Beech Croft, Punnetts Town, newly built. Again there was a long list of presents including many family members.
Only a few weeks later, second daughter, Gwendoline born 1908 married Edward Charles Cottingham, brother of Percy Cottingham at Maynards Green Gospel Hall. The bride wore a dress of white satin, with embroidered veil and coronet of orange blossom and white satin shoes. Her bouquet was of bronze chrysanthemums. Bridesmaids were Joan Pilbeam, the bride’s sister and Ruth and Winnie Cottingham, groom’s sisters. The best man was Leslie Cottingham, groom’s brother. The couple were reported to be going to live at Ash Grove, Shortgate, Laughton and they received many useful presents, not listed this time.
The last wedding was that of my grandparents Ronald and Edith on 7 August 1937 at Lingfield Mission Room. The service was again conducted by William Payne. The bride wore a long white dress and veil trimmed with orange blossom. She carried a shower bouquet of pink and white carnations and her only jewellery was a string of pearls. She had two bridesmaids, her sister Winifred and Joan Pilbeam, groom’s sister. Sidney Pilbeam was the best man. They left the reception bound for their reception in Worthing.