A transcript of sad correspondence from George WELLINGTON (1781-1847), Chemist of Yeovil to his eldest daughter Mrs Elizabeth Blackaller GROVES at Blandford Forum.
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1 – Bessie is Elizabeth Wellington GROVES, the eldest daughter of Elizabeth Blackaller WELLINGTON and Simon GROVES, Chemist of Blandford Forum, Dorset. Bessie died Tuesday, 30 April 1839, aged 12 years, cause of death ‘effusion of water on the brain’ or Hydrocephalus.
2 – Lucy is Lucy WELLINGTON the seventh child of George WELLINGTON and his second wife Elizabeth SAMSON. She was 13 years old in May 1839 and she may have been away at boarding school when she fell ill with seizures caused by ‘water on the brain’ and was brought home to her family in Yeovil.
3 – Leeches and blood-letting were common procedures in 19th Century medical care. The theory followed that fevers, apoplexy and headaches resulted from an excessive build-up of blood. As a chemist in 1839, George WELLINGTON would most likely have administered medicines and the two courses of leeches to his daughter. Remarkably, Lucy actually recovered, she remained single, worked as a fancy needleworker and a draper, lived a long life and died in 1899 aged 73.
4 & 7 – Mary’s dear babe is Mary Matilda VINING, the eldest daughter of Mary Webb WELLINGTON and James Tally VINING, Solicitor of Yeovil. Mary Matilda Vining died on 18 May 1839, aged 1 year. There is a large obelisk on a plinth in the grounds of Yeovil Parish Church of St John the Baptist with the inscriptions very worn. The monument was erected by James Tally VINING in memory of his wife Mary, the daughter of George WELLINGTON. She died 21 August 1842, aged 33 years. In the same vault are deposited the remains of Mary Matilda and William Richard, the infant children of James and Mary.
5 – Grandma would be Mary EDWARDS, the mother of George WELLINGTON’s first wife, Elizabeth EDWARDS who died in 1815. Grandma EDWARDS most likely travelled from her home in Shepton Mallet, Somerset to visit her family.
6 – George is George Edwards WELLINGTON, the eldest son of George WELLINGTON and Elizabeth EDWARDS. He was a Druggist and Chemist in Yeovil, in partnership with his father, and aged 31 at the time of these letters. George had married Sarah SANDER in May 1838, but fate dealt them a rotten hand, as they had only 5 years and 5 months together. George died of ‘heart disease’, most likely a heart attack, in 1843, aged 36 years at Creech St Michael, Somerset while travelling on business. Sarah died in 1852, aged 33 years. There is a monument to George and his wife Sarah inside the Yeovil Parish Church, you can view it here.
Sources: Wellingtonia, The History of the Wellington Family, by John Evelyn; GRO Indexes and documents, UK Census 1941 (HO107/0958 Folio 11/8 Page 8), Pigot’s Directories of Somerset and Dorset 1830 to 1840.