frederick george noble wellington

This post is follow-up research on Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON (1824-1887), Chemist of South Petherton. You may like to read some of my earlier posts:

Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON (1824-1887). Chemist of South Petherton, Somerset, England

Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON (1824-1887). Chemist of South Petherton, Somerset, England

As Susanah WELLINGTON notes in her journal, her younger brother Frederick went to boarding school at Sherborne in July 1836, a few months before his 12th birthday.

Frederick was 15 years old when he left school in 1839 and went to work as a chemist’s apprentice. Frederick took over the chemist business in St. James Street, South Petherton after his half-brother William Edwards WELLINGTON‘s death in 1850.

Frederick married Mary ADAMS in 1850 and he became an active and valued member of the South Petherton community. He sat on many parish committees and was a churchwarden for many years.

I made contact with Liz Randall of the South Petherton Local History Group which holds the archive of White’s pharmacy and general store. Liz was very helpful and sent me a copy of a bill of sale which dates back to the 1880s then Frederick WELLINGTON owned the business.

The old stationery appears to have been reused as scrap paper or as a sales journal by the White family in September 1918, during WWI, when paper was scarce in England.

Invoice stationery of FGN Wellington, Chemist of South Petherton between 1850 and 1887.

Bill of Sale header of FGN Wellington, Pharmaceutical Chemist of South Petherton between 1850 and 1887. [photo source South Petherton Local History Group]

Frederick WELLINGTON sold the business to William Charles WHITE in late 1886 or early 1887. I found a news article dated April 1887 which mentioned Frederick had recently left South Petherton so they held an election for a new churchwarden.

News report from the South Petherton Church vestry meeting notes that Frederick Welligntong had recently left town. [Western Gazette, 22 April 1887]

News report from the South Petherton Church vestry meeting notes that Frederick Wellignton had recently left the town. [Western Gazette, 22 April 1887]

Declining health may have been the reason Frederick retired and sold the business. The Western Gazette reported the sudden death of FGN Wellington on Wednesday 25 May 1887 at the age of 62, in Bristol.

Notice of the sudden death of Frederick GN Wellington in Bristol. [Western Gazette, 27 May 1887]

Notice of the sudden death of Frederick GN Wellington in Bristol. [Western Gazette, 27 May 1887]

The following article is a very detailed account of the funeral of Mr WELLINGTON in South Petherton. It appears he was very well respected and much loved by the people of the town. Among the family mourners were his children: Louisa Mary WELLINGTON (1851); Rev George WELLINGTON (1852), Assistant Curate of Whitechurch Canonicorum, Dorset; and Frederick WELLINGTON (1857), Chemist of Taunton, Somerset.

1887-06-03_Western Flying Post_Wellington FGN_Funeral

Account of the funeral of Frederick George Noble Wellington held in South Petherton on Saturday 28 May 1887. [Western Flying Post, 3 June, 1887]

The report mentions that Frederick was buried in the grounds at the north-east side of the chapel, close to his wife Mary who died 6 June 1884. Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON has a memorial in one of the beautiful stained glass windows of South Petherton Church, Somerset, England.

Thank you to Liz Randall and the South Petherton Local History Group for the wonderful work you are doing to bring the history and heritage of your town to life.

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Sources: Petherton Local History GroupBritish Newspaper ArchiveWellingtonia, The History of the Wellington Family, by John Evelyn; GRO Indexes and documents, Pigot’s Directories of Somerset and Dorset 1830 to 1885.


WYONG – the passenger ferry

I found a better quality image of the passenger ferry Wyong which was built, owned and operated by my great-grandfather Thomas GASCOIGNE (1856-1923). You can read more about the Gascoigne family in my post The Gascoignes of Wyong Shire.

The Wyong_Gascoigne

The passenger ferry ‘Wyong’ was built, owned and operated on Tuggerah Lakes by Thomas Gascoigne. [Photo circa 1915: Miss Dorothy Garratt, Epping]

The picture shows the pleasure boat, the ‘Wyong‘, moored on the bank of Tuggerah Lake and loaded with passengers and holiday-makers from Sydney. The ‘Wyong‘ was one of several launches that could be hired by picnicking parties for transport down the Wyong River and across the water to The Entrance and other parts of the lake.

The ‘Wyong’ was designed to carry about fifty passengers and had a draught shallow enough to negotiate the sand bar at the mouth of the Wyong River and the sea grass beds of the lake. At first it was fitted with a single cylinder, long stroke 8 horse-power petrol motor which was not powerful enough to give a good performance when fully-loaded. About 1915 a much more powerful six cylinder Hercules engine was fitted.

About 1918 it was sold and taken north and used on the Myall Lakes and in the Tea Gardens–Port Stephens area. It was last seen as derelict – lying in the mud bank at Tea Gardens about 1936 – a most undignified end to the beautiful craft that had given great pleasure to many happy picnickers.

The ‘Wyong’ was usually moored inside the breakwater at Pipeclay Point, Gorokan near Thomas GASCOIGNE’s home. The old rusting anchor chain could still be seen moored to the big rocks during the 1980s.

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Sources: Gascoigne: an English-Australian Family History by Robert Mortimer GASCOIGNE; A Pictorial History of Wyong Shire, Vol I by Edward STINSON.

anzac – lest we forget

Today, 25 April 2013 is the ninety-eighth anniversary of the landing of the allied forces at Gallipoli on the Turkish peninsula in WWI. It is a time for us to reflect on the sacrifice of the men and women who have served in our armed forces and who have fought on foreign soil to ensure our safety and protect our shores.

Private Ernest Clive Buck, 1914

Private Ernest Clive Buck (AIF Service No. 571).

My granddad, Ernest Clive BUCK enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) when he was 19 years and 5 months old, on 22 August 1914  – less than three weeks after the British Commonwealth of nations entered the war. Ernest was posted to the 1st Battalion, 1st Infantry Brigade.

Ern Buck took part in the Allies landing at Gallipoli, coming ashore with the second and third waves on 25 April 1915 and was wounded in the head by a bullet receiving a slight scalp wound in 21 May 1915. Ern was shot in the abdomen and bayoneted in the chest by the enemy and left for dead during trench fighting about 5 June 1915. Thankfully he was found and evacuated from ANZAC Cove to the military hospital on the island of Malta, then by ship to the base hospital in Manchester UK.

After the withdrawal from Gallipoli in December 1915, the 1st Battalion returned to Egypt. Ern was admitted to hospital in Tel el Kebir at the end of February 1916 when his chest wound became badly infected and he was evacuated by train to Cairo and later to hospital in Mudros. Private E C BUCK returned to Australia on the hospital ship HMAS Kanowna which left Suez 11 May 1916, he suffered from an irritable heart due to wounds received.

You can read more about his service in my post private ernest buck – anzac.

Tom Basil ‘Gunner’ Gascoigne – 1914 was a gunner on the Navy on HMAS Sydney

Thomas Basil ‘Gunner’ GASCOIGNE, AB, of the Royal Australian Navy on HMAS Sydney.

Ern’s future brother-in-law Thomas Basil GASCOIGNE joined the Australian Navy in 1912 at the age of 21. Tom was a gunner on HMAS Sydney and was wounded, losing an eye, in the Sydney’s celebrated victory over the German light cruiser Emden in the Indian Ocean in November 1914, soon after the beginning of WWI.

Tom also claimed to be the first, or among the first, Australian servicemen to set foot on enemy territory. This was immediately after the outbreak of war when a party from HMAS Sydney landed near Rabaul, the capital of the German colony of New Guinea, in order to destroy the radio station there.

When he returned home wounded in March 1915 he was given a hero’s welcome and presented with an illuminated address and a purse of sovereigns by the Wyong town leaders.


Private Roy Everett GASCOIGNE (AIF Service No. 7731A)

Tom’s younger brother Roy Everett GASCOIGNE joined the army on 13 December 1917, near the end of WWI. He sailed for England in February 1918 and spent several months training there before transferring to the 34th Battalion reinforcements. When the German Army launched its last great offensive in the spring of 1918, the 34th Battalion was part of the force deployed to defend the approach to the city of Amiens around Villers-Bretonneux.

Roy arrived in France in mid-August with the 34th reinforcements to aid in the Allies’ rapid advance, and he fought in the battle of St Quentin Canal – the operation that breached the Hindenburg Line at the end of September, and sealing Germany’s defeat. Roy remained with 34th Battalion until the Armistice on 11 November 1918 and disembarked in Sydney on 19 August 1919.

Roy GASCOIGNE joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1920 and served through the inter-war years at naval base HMAS Cerberas, as well as on board HMAS Marguerite. At the outbreak of WWII Roy served on HMAS Perth – thankfully he was transferred to another post before the ship was torpedoed and sunk at the Battle of Sunda Strait. You can read more about the Gascoigne family in my post the gascoignes of wyong shire.


RSM Harold Charles VENESS (AIF Service No. 3286)

Tom and Roy’s sister Muriel GASCOIGNE married Harold Charles VENESS. Harold was a 2nd Boer War veteran and served as Staff Sergeant Major for nine years training the 5th Australian Light Horse before he enlisted in the AIF on 16 February 1917.

Harold was appointed a Sergeant of the 1st Light Horse Brigade which was raised in response to a promise from the Australian Government to supply a division of 20,000 Australians comprising infantry, artillery and cavalry to be used at the discretion of Britain. The Brigade was recruited exclusively from the various New South Wales militia regiments including the 5th Australian Light Horse.

The 1st Light Horse Brigade reinforcements sailed on HMAT Port Sydney on 9 May 1917 for Suez and the troop bases in Egypt. Harold was promoted to Regimental Sergeant Major and trained and led mounted troops in fighting to advance on Turkish outposts on the Palastine frontier. With the fall of Gaza on 7 November 1917 the regiments participated in the advance to Jaffa that followed and the operations to clear and occupy the west bank of the Jordan River. Harold was involved in the battle for Amman in late February 1918, and the raids on Es Salt from 30 April to 4 May, as well as the repulse of a major German and Turkish attack on 14 July 1918.

Harold contracted Malaria while in Africa during the Boer War. He suffered another severe case in mid-September 1918 and spent a month recuperating at the base hospital at Port Said, Egypt before returning to the field in Jordon just after the Turkish surrendered on 30 October 1918. The 1st Light Horse Regiment sailed for Australia in March 1919 without their horses, which were either transferred to Indian cavalry units or shot. Harold was discharged on 24 May 1919.

Halifax harbour on Dec. 6, 1917 shortly after massive explosion leveled much of the city. [Photo: Canadian Press]

Halifax harbour on 6 December 1917 shortly after the massive explosion leveled much of the city. [Photo: Canadian Press]

Richard Lionel PICKERING was a cousin of my grandad Ernest BUCK. Richard was the 2nd Officer on the British merchant SS Curaca. Richard died tragically from shock due to massive injuries sustained in an explosion of ships in Halifax harbour.

The cataclysmic explosion occurred on 6 December, 1917, when the city of Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada was devastated by the detonation of the SS Mont-Blanc, a french cargo ship that was fully loaded with wartime munitions. The Mont-Blanc caught fire and exploded after colliding with the Norwegian SS Imo in a part of Halifax harbour called The Narrows. About 2,000 people were killed by the force of the blast and flying debris, or in fires and collapsing buildings. It is estimated that around 9,000 others were injured.

SS Curaca was docked at Pier 8 loading horses bound for the war in Europe. The force of the blast was so great the ship was blown across the harbour by the tidal wave and sank with the loss of forty-five of its crew. Until the test explosions of the atomic bombs, this was the largest man-made explosion in recorded history.


Pilot Officer Donald BUCK (CFA Service No. 79168)

Donald BUCK was born in Catford, Lewisham, England and emigrated to Canada as a young man. Donald joined the cavalry in Edmonton on 16 November, 1914 as a dragoon in the Alberta 19th Horse. He then went to Calgary to join and train with the 31st Battalion.

Donald saw action with the 31st in many battles including St Eloi, Ypres, 1st battle of the Somme, Neuville St Vaast, Passchendaele as well as the battle of Vimy Ridge. The brutal nature of the fighting is shown by the statistics – 941 fatal casualties in the 31st Battalion over the duration of the war (including death of replacements).

A friend in the British Flying Corps told Donald that they would be recruiting for a new air force. Donald joined the Flying Corps as a student pilot late in 1917 and trained in Sopwith Pup, Dolphin and Avro fighter biplanes. On 2 May, 1918 he resigned as a Sergeant of the 31st to join the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a Pilot Officer where he took further training in an SE5a, a single-seater fighter aircraft. He saw action in France and at the end of the war was flying close air support out of a field in Belgium.

After the war Donald stayed on as part of the Ruhr occupation force and flew out of a field near Cologne. He was very lucky to survive so much action with only relatively minor wounds to his neck and back. He was exposed to gas whilst in the cavalry, but was not hospitalised for it. Donald was demobbed on 4 December 1920.

Harold BUCK

Sergeant Harold Lambert BUCK, MM & Bar (CFA Service No. 86016)

Donald’s younger brother Harold Lambert BUCK was a Canadian National who enlisted on 8 December 1914 in Winnepeg. He was 21 years old and was assigned the rank of Corporal with the 2nd Divisional Signal Company, Canadian Engineers.

Harold quickly proved himself to be a brave and trusted soldier in battle and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant of the Signal Section of 5th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery (CFA).

The Canadian Corps participated in many battles and engagements against German forces throughout France and Flanders between 1915–1918. The 5th Brigade made a name for itself in the battle of Vimy Ridge which began at dawn on 9 April 1917. All four divisions of the Canadian Corps were ordered to seize the heavily-fortified seven kilometre ridge above the Douai Plain in France. The ridge was held by the German 6th Army and had a commanding view over the Allied lines.

To capture this difficult position, the Canadians carefully planned and rehearsed their attack. To provide greater flexibility and firepower in battle, the infantry were given specialist roles as machine-gunners, rifle-men and grenade-throwers. Soldiers underwent weeks of training behind the lines using models to represent the battlefield, and new maps crafted from aerial photographs to guide their way. Engineers dug deep tunnels from the rear to the front, in order to bring the men forward in safety for the assault.

Historians attribute the success of the Canadian victory in capturing the ridge to a mixture of technical and tactical innovation, meticulous planning, powerful artillery support and extensive training. The Canadians earned a reputation as formidable, effective troops because of this victory. Harold won the first of his two Military Medals (MM) for acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire during the four days it took to capture Vimy Ridge.

Harold died in Arras, France on 21 September 1918 during military operations near Marquion, when he was hit in the chest by a fragment of bursting shell and seriously wounded. He was attended by a medic in the field and evacuated to a casualty clearing station where he died. Harold was buried at Duisans Military Cemetery, Etrun, France, he was 24 years old.

The following is an extract from a letter to Harold’s mother from his commanding officer, dated 5 October, 1918:

Your son was a very fine chap and was one of my most valuable and trusted men. He was an exceptionally brave man and one whom no danger stopped him from doing his duty. I had recommended him for a commission and he was about to receive it. His loss is indeed a grief to me for many reasons, being one of my original men, I had got to know him personally and truly loved him for his own sake.

Sergeant Harold BUCK was the recipient of the Military Medal as well as a silver, laurelled Bar for subsequent acts of bravery and devotion under fire.

Marry Maxwell Clark's casualty record.

Private Harry Maxwell Clark’s casualty record. (AIF Service No. 1002)

Donald and Harold’s cousin Harry Maxwell CLARK was born in London, England but enlisted on 26 August 1914 in Sydney, Australia – just three weeks after Britain declared war on Germany. Harry was 38 years old when he landed at Gallipoli with the 2nd Battalion AIF as part of the second and third waves between 25 April and 2 May in what is known as the Battle of the Landing. Harry was reported wounded and missing in action on 2 May 1915 during heavy fighting to gain Quinn’s Post. His body was never found and he was finally pronounced killed in action by a Court of Inquiry ten months later. Harry is remembered with honour on the Lone Pine Memorial at Anzac Cove at Gallipoli.

The traditional recitation of the Ode on Anzac Day is taken from the fourth stanza of the poem For the fallen by Laurence Binyon (1869–1943).

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

In Flanders fields, by the Canadian officer Lieutenant Colonel J.M. McCrae (1872–1918), is another popular recitation. McCrae was a professor of medicine at McGill University before the war. He served as medical officer with the first Canadian contingent in WWI and wrote this poem at the second battle of Ypres in 1915. It was published anonymously in Punch. McCrae was wounded in May 1918 and died three days later.

Lest we forget.

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Sources: Australian War Memorial; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; National Archives of Australia; Nova Scotia Archives – Halifax Remembrance Book; The Regimental Rogue – Canadian battle honours; and thank you Geoffrey BUCK for providing his research on his father Donald and his uncle Harold.

billy was a boxer

As a true-blue Aussie kid I grew up listening to stories of family overseas told by my mum and grandma, both born and bred Yorkshire lasses.

One particular great uncle was larger than life and his story always fascinated me. The narration always began with . . . {in your best Yorkshire accent}

“Our Billy was a boxer.”

My mum’s uncle and grandma’s eldest brother, Billy MATTICK was born in Featherstone, West Yorkshire in 1903. His father Robert was a deputy at Featherstone Colliery. You can read more about the MATTICK family in my post the four yorkshiremen.

As a child Billy liked to ‘scrap’ with other boys, and as he grew up he became a confident and charismatic young man. He began working in the coal mines with his father in Pontefract but it was a hard life for little reward. Billy decided to put his pugilist’s prowess to good use in order to pull in some serious money.

Billy Mattick (Castleford) Welterweight.

Billy Mattick (Castleford), Welterweight 1921-1929.

Billy MATTICK of Castleford started his professional boxing career in 1921 when he was 18 years and 11 months old. He had 96 recorded contests and quite a successful and lucrative career. He won 56 of his fights, lost 30, and drew 10.

Billy was crowned the North’s professional welterweight champion at the peak of his career and he became a top-of-the-bill draw for fight fans, who flocked to see his silky-smooth skills and gutsy performances.

More than once Billy had three fights within a fortnight and he got paid the same – win, lose or draw. In one notable week he KO’d a Scottish champion in the eleventh round, put away a fairground champion in the sixth and travelled to Lincoln to knock out a Midlands bill-topper.

Billy fought many notable opponents over eight years, taking on boxers from the UK, Belguim, France, Holland and USA.

The Scottish champion he knocked out in the eleventh round was Tommy MILLIGAN in a bout on 29 October 1923 at St James Hall in Newcastle. Milligan went on to become the British and British Empire Welterweight Champion 1924-25; European Middleweight Champion 1925; and British and British Empire Middleweight Champion 1926-28.

Billy continued to have success in the ring and in the first half of 1924 he won six and drew one in a total of nine fights at Pudley Street Stadium, Liverpool; St James Hall, Newcastle; and The Ring, Blackfriers. Some of the notable fighters he beat were: Frances DESPREY (France); Sonny BIRD (Chelsea); Gaston PAUMELLE (France); Joe ROLFE (Bermondsey); Pat McALLISTER (Belfast); and George CARNEY (Bermondsey).

Billy MATTICK and Tommy MILLIGAN had a second fight on 12 July 1924 in Celtic Park, Belfast, Ireland. In this return bout Billy was KO’d by Tommy in the fifth round.


Tommy Milligan (Hamilton) and Billy Mattick (Castleford) square up for a media photo at the weigh-in before their 12 July 1924 fight in Celtic Park, Belfast.

On 19 March 1925, Tommy MILLIGAN and Ted ‘Kid’ LEWIS were the top-of-the-bill fight at Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London. Castleford’s Billy MATTICK and Simon ROSMAN of Holland were also on the bill that night.

The fighters were fairly evenly matched with MATTICK weighing in at 10st 8lbs and ROSMAN at 10st 7lbs. The ten round match was a draw and appears to have overshadowed the main event of the night, as you can see in this cartoon by Tom WEBSTER published in The Daily Mail two days later.


I found this well-worn newspaper clipping in my grandma’s keepsakes. It is Billy’s account of his bouts with Tommy MILLIGAN. I have included a transcript below.

Billy's report of his fights with Tommy Milligan [circa June 1927]

Billy gives his account of his fights with Tommy MILLIGAN in an unknown British newspaper article, circa June 1927.


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Popular Boxer in His Fight With Tommy Milligan.

In dealing with the chances of Tommy Milligan against Mickey Walker our boxing writer “Sirius” mentioned that Tommy had only once suffered a technical knock-out and that was against Billy Mattick, although he was not “out” and could have continued.

Billy, who is a constant reader of “Reynolds’s,” writing from Tredegar House, Glasshoughton, Castleford, says:–

Since I have been boxing five and a half years, I have always been told that if a boxer is knocked down and fails to rise to continue to box at the end of ten seconds, he is out.

I don’t doubt Tommy Milligan could have continued after he had risen to his feet, but he had been counted out, and when he did arise after “out” had been called, he fell down again.


Tommy Milligan is a great fighter and I have nothing to say about him, apart from him being a great fighter. He is a clean fighter, too, one of the cleanest I ever had the good fortune to meet.

Had I had the luck to beat him the second time I fought him, things would have been totally different. I had him down in the second round, and I fell for the crowd, and didn’t keep my head long enough to hit hard again. Anyhow, he won in the seventh round I think, a punch to the mark.

Some boxers are lucky and some are unlucky. I think I am one of the latter. It is no use taking it to heart, or I would have given it up long ago.


Some people say I am an old hand, and think I should give it up. But I was eighteen years and eleven months old when I had my first fight, and that was in York, November 17, 1921 and the following April I fought and knocked out Frank Fowler at York.

You will see that I am not so old as some people imagine, and I think I have still a few more years of boxing to do, if I am lucky to get contracts, which I sincerely hope I may, if not in England, in the States.

At the age of 25 Billy was definitely not old, but he had sustained a few serious injuries including damage to his left eye from a left hook by Dixie BROWN of Bristol in their fight at The Ring, Blackfriers on 21 January 1926. This match was an example of Billy’s never-say-die spirit when he was tested to his limit.

In their fifteen round match Billy was knocked down four times but refused to give in. It was a hard-fought battle by both fighters, and at the final bell Billy was awarded the decision by the narrowest of margins due to his good work early in the bout.

Billy was not a slugger, he was a very skilful and classy boxer and a favourite with fight fans and boxers alike. I met him once, in the late 1970s when my mum took my sister and I on a trip to visit our grandma in England. By that time great uncle Billy was an old man in his 70s, but he still looked after himself and walked tall as those who are disciplined athletes often do.

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Sources: Photos are from the BUCK and MATTICK family collection. Copies of newspaper clippings are from Billy MATTICK’s personal collection and were kindly shared with me by his children Pat and Terry and his grandson Jon HARRIS. Thank you to Chris Walsh for sending me newspaper clippings of fights relating to his grandfather Gentleman Joe ROLFE. Alex DALEY and Miles TEMPLETON at have been very helpful in providing a comprehensive record of Billy MATTICK’s fighting career. You can find more on the fight records of the boxers mentioned in this article at the BoxRec website.

the chemist shop that time forgot

There has been a chemist shop at South Petherton, Somerset since the early 1800s. It belonged to an apothecary and grocer named John Wellington (1774-1845), son of John WELLINGTON (1747-1827), chemist of Chard, and a brother of my great-great-great-grandfather George WELLINGTON (1781-1847), chemist of Yeovil.

John WELLINGTON Jnr married Ann MARTIN in 1807 and had four children. Their three daughters Mary, Sarah Jane and Ann; and a son George William who also became a chemist in Taunton. John was a member of the South Petherton town council and ran a successful business until his death in 1845 at the age of 71.

The business in St. James Street, South Petherton passed to John’s brother George’s son William Edwards WELLINGTON (1813-1850) and then to another son Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON (1824-1887). They were qualified druggists and apothecaries and also sold groceries, tea, wine and spirits in their shop. They had a second business in the nearby town of Martock.

Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON (1824-1887). Chemist of South Petherton, Somerset, England

Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON (1824-1887). Chemist of South Petherton, Somerset, England

When Frederick retired he sold the shop and all its stock to William Charles WHITE in about 1887. W. C. WHITE practiced as a chemist until 1909 and when he died the business passed to his son Charles Edger who was a grocer but not qualified to dispense medicines. The chemist department was abandoned and boarded up behind a locked door, complete with the dispensary and its contents.

Charles WHITE continued as a grocer for several decades, the business then passed to his unmarried daughters Margaret and Eveline who, with the change to decimal currency in 1971, gave up the struggle and upon the death of the surviving sister in 1987 the whole shop came up for sale.

When the door was unlocked an amazing time capsule was discovered. The dispensary, complete with its old balances and scales, medicine jars, bottles and ancient cures, gave a unique glimpse into the life of a Victorian pharmacy.

Mr White's chemist shop as it was found when the door was unlocked in 1987.

White’s chemist shop in South Petherton, as it was found when the door was unlocked in 1987.

The complete contents and fittings of the apothecaries shop was purchased at auction by Flambards Amusement Park in Cornwall and re-assembled in their Victorian Village as close as possible to how it appeared 70 years earlier – with the dust and cobwebs, but without the poisons and more dangerous compounds which were confiscated by the British Home Office.

W. C. Whites Chemist Shop recreated in the Victorian Village at Fambard's Amusement Park in Cornwall.

W. C. White’s chemist shop recreated in the Victorian Village at Flambards Amusement Park in Helston, Cornwall. Photo by John King on

The South Petherton Local History Group owns the archive of accounts and records of White’s pharmacy and general store. I have written to the group asking if they have any documents dating back to when the WELLINGTON family owned the business.

ADDENDUM: I have made contact with the South Petherton Local History Group – you can read more about the life of chemist Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON here.

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Notes: William Edwards WELLINGTON and Frederick George Noble WELLINGTON were the sons of George WELLINGTON, chemist of Yeovil; and brothers to Jane and Susanah WELLINGTON.

Sources:, South Petherton Local History Group, Wellingtonia, The History of the Wellington Family, by John Evelyn; GRO Indexes and documents, Pigot’s Directories of Somerset and Dorset 1830 to 1885. Flambards Amusement Park. You can see and listen to the story of apothecary William White’s lost time capsule at Flambards at this Youtube link.

the four yorkshiremen

As a child growing up in outback Australia, I addressed my cards and letters to my grandma Gwen at “Tredegar”, Front Street, Glasshoughton, via Castleford, Yorkshire. When I asked my mum about this strange word she told me, “Tredegar is the name of grandma’s house”. I thought this was an odd name for a home, but if my mum elaborated on the reason behind it I do not remember.

About thirteen years ago my sister and I were listening to our mother José and her cousin Paul reminiscing on their family stories over dinner at a restaurant. Tales of rationing during the war; having to carry their gas masks to school; their granddad and uncles coming home from the colliery black from head to foot, coal dust everywhere; how the kids of today wouldn’t believe you if you told ’em. This was all sounding too much like Monty Python’s Four Yorkshiremen Sketch, and we told them so.

Well, this only encouraged them, and they told us the tale of their granddad Robert MATTICK who after marrying Mary PRICE in 1900, “walked all the way from Tredegar in Wales to Featherstone Colliery in Yorkshire to take up a position of Colliery Deputy”.

That’s a hard slog on foot, especially if you have to deal with temperamental English weather. The distance between Tredegar and Featherstone is about 250 km (156 miles), “as the crow flys”. The estimated road distance can be around 290 km to 315 km (180-195 miles) depending on the route taken.

Robert Mattick's walk_1900

Mum and her cousin Paul could not recall how Robert’s wife Mary arrived in Featherstone. Did she also walk, or did he send for her later and she made the journey by train?

The MATTICK family came from Longbridge Deverill, Wiltshire before they moved to Monmouthshire in the mid-1800s. There were several large coal mines opening in and around Tredegar and Bedwelty at this time. The shafts of the New Tredegar Colliery were sunk in 1854 and Elliot‘s Colliery was sunk in 1888.

The mines were beset with geological problems, mainly landslips and flooding. Early in December 1875 a minor gas explosion occurred near to the coalface of New Tredegar, badly injuring two men. The mine shafts were inspected and found to be free of gas. However, the manager decided, as a precaution, that no men should enter the pit for at least 24 hours. His orders were disregarded and the next morning, under the instructions of the overman, the hewers descended the pit as usual. At 8.00 am a major explosion occurred and twenty men were killed instantaneously, with another two dying later from their injuries. The dead included six young boys who were working down the mine.

The Bedwelty Colliery, Tredegar, Monmouthshire. Funerals of the colliers killed in the late fatal explosion.

Bedwelty Colliery, Tredegar, Monmouthshire. Funerals of the colliers killed in the explosion.

All the miners employed at the South Wales and Monmouthshire collieries received a 2½ per cent reduction in their wages on 1 September 1892. The reduction, affecting about 100,000 workers, was made because of the continued depression in the coal trade. The Welsh miners’ wages had been reduced 20 per cent, during the previous two years.

It was more than likely the depressed and dangerous state of the coal industry in Wales that induced Robert MATTICK to take the risk and relocate to West Yorkshire.

Coal had been mined at Featherstone since the 13th century. Ackton Hall and its Featherstone estates were sold in 1865 and from that time mining developments were rapid, and the population boomed. The new town of Featherstone was developed in the field near Ackton and provided the miners and their families with good quality housing and social services.

The Durham Mining Museum website has a list of mining occupations and describes the role of the Colliery Deputy in 1892:

The deputies go to work two hours before the hewers. Each deputy, during the absence of the back-overman, is responsible for the management of the district of the pit over which he is appointed. Their work also includes that of supporting the mine roof with props or wood, removing props from old workings, changing the air currents when necessary, and clearing away any sudden eruption of gas or fall of stone that might impede the work of the hewer, or in delegating these duties to others. 

Mattick_Robert_Deputy Ticket_1912

Robert worked as a deputy at the Featherstone Main Colliery and several other mines in the area including the Haigh Moor Mine and the Silkstone Pit at Flockton. In 1901, the average wage of the West Yorkshire miner (according to a writer in the Colliery Guardian) was £6,10s per calendar month; giving an average rate of £78 per annum. A colliery deputy would have received maybe a pound or two more per month.

It doesn’t sound like enough to support a growing family, but they weren’t so hard up as to live in a “shoe box in middle o’ road”.  Robert secured a job as deputy at the new Glasshoughton Colliery near Castleford. In 1917 he paid a £50 deposit on a house and shop at Front Street, Glasshoughton. The family settled in and named their home “Tredegar” after the town in Wales.

So far this story has been about Welshmen not Yorkshiremen. Well, Robert and Mary had six children – four Yorkshire lads and two Yorkshire lasses:

  • Laura (1901-1989) married Walter ALLSOPP and had one son: Paul ALLSOPP
  • Billy’ William Hugh (1903-1991) married Caroline BRADBURN and had two children: Patricia and Terry MATTICK
  • Bobby’ Robert (1904-1986) married Beatrice STARKEY and had two children: Mary and Billy MATTICK
  • Gwen’ Annie Gwendoline (1907-1992) married Frank ATKINSON and had one daughter: José Mattick ATKINSON
  • Jack’ John (1908-1983) served in WW2 and was briefly married to Sylvia MILLAR
  • Joe’ Joseph (1910-1985) married Lilian BURROWS and had two children: Megan and John MATTICK.
Robert MATTICK and his four sons, in order of age, Billy, Bob, Jack and Joe.

Robert MATTICK and his sons. Four Yorkshiremen in order of age, Billy, Bobby, Jack and Joe. The dog’s name was Lady.

The above photo is of Robert and his four young sons. The family grew up in “Tredegar” house at Glasshoughton, they married and worked hard in the pits or in industries that supported the collieries in West Yorkshire. They were a close family and raised the next generation to be educated so they wouldn’t have to work down the mines.

Mattick cousins – three of Robert and Mary's grandchildren - Paul, Pat and José.

Mattick cousins – three of Robert and Mary’s grandchildren, Paul, Patricia and José.

Robert and Mary MATTICK were fine, upstanding folks – though not very tall in stature, as the photo below illustrates. Their son-in-law Frank was 6 feet tall, and seven-year-old José was already head-height with her grandparent’s chins.

Mary and Robert Mattick in 1943, with their son-in-law Frank Atkinson and their granddaughter José.

Mary and Robert Mattick in 1943, with their son-in-law Frank Atkinson and their granddaughter José.

My mother grew up in “Tredegar” house and was very close to her grandparents and her mother and father. She remembers being at school during WW2 and having to practice air-raid drills, and carry her gas mask around with her where ever she went. She used to tell us of the hard times of food rationing and how she would be lucky to get one orange a year – usually in her Christmas stocking. She remembers her grandma on her hands and knees each day, with a bucket of water and carbolic soap, scrubbing the coal dust off the front stoop.

Life was often hard, and some weeks they would have been glad of the price of a cup of tea. But you know they were happy in those days. And you try and tell the young people of today that – and they won’t believe you.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sources: Durham Mining Museum website; Welsh Coal Mines WebsiteTroveThe Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser, Thursday 29 September 1892; Australian Town and Country Journal, Saturday 5 January 1901;

susanah’s journal – somerset to sydney

Susanah WELLINGTON's beautifully neat copperplate writing is still readable after 180 years.

Susanah WELLINGTON’s beautifully neat copperplate writing is still readable after 180 years.

The notebook of Susanah WELLINGTON began as a diary and record of lessons kept in the early nineteenth century by a twelve-year-old girl from Yeovil, Somersetshire. The first page identifies the volume’s original owner with the name ‘Miss Susanah Wellington’ in Susanah’s neat copperplate, while the accompanying date ‘February 5th. 1832’ determines a probable beginning of the entries. The subsequent fifty-one pages are a miscellany of transcribed letters, family chronology, notes of lessons and even ‘a very nice Receipt for Rock Cakes given me by Elizabeth Neal, March 16th. 1837.’

When turned upside down and reversed, the book begins again from the back as a personal diary and family record. For reasons that will become obvious, Susanah did not write the diary’s last paragraph.

Susanah included a list of her family births, deaths and marriages in her journal.

Susanah included a list of her family’s births, deaths and marriages in her journal.

Throughout the 180 years since the notebook was first inscribed, additions in various hands have recorded family births, deaths and marriages. However, the primary interest is the extensive entries between 1832-1839. As records of middle-class life in Georgian England they are far from comprehensive but can best be described as honest, charming, and often sad fragments.

The language and tone of the diary conjures up thoughts of the novels of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters. There are references to teachers and school days which remind us of the boarding school in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. There is a walk home from a country manor house in the cold and wet which illustrates the very real danger to a young lady’s health, as suffered by the eldest Miss Bennett in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and to a greater degree by Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility.

There are journeys in coaches to stay with aunts and uncles in London; holidays to the coast and spa towns of Weymouth, Bath and Bristol; and church sermons, charity and large parties of visitors for Christmas dinner.

Susanah WELLINGTON was the second daughter of Yeovil ‘Chymist & Druggist’ George WELLINGTON and his second wife Elizabeth SAMPSON (SAMSON). Susanah and her family were Christians. They attended the parish church each Sunday and many of her diary entries reinforce Susanah’s belief that good deeds and words in this short life would be her salvation when she met her God in heaven. Susanah died of consumption (pulmonary tuberculosis) on 6 June 1838 at Glastonbury, aged eighteen years and ten months.

The notebook was inherited by Susanah’s elder sister Jane Penelope WELLINGTON. Jane married William Henry SUTTON a schoolmaster from Devon in 1842. With their six children, they emigrated to Sydney, Australia in 1854. This is apparently the way the journal arrived in Australia and it has now survived in the family for 180 years.

Australian families who can trace their ancestry to Jane Penelope WELLINGTON and William Henry SUTTON will find the information in the journal invaluable. Descendants include people with surnames of BUCK, CUNEO, HASTINGS, PICKERING, SUTTON and TAYLOR.

Susanah Wellington's little red journal.

Susanah Wellington’s little red journal.

 A note on provenance:

The notebook is a small (15 x 9.5 cm) volume with a scratched red leather cover. It was repaired in May 1995 because part of the spine had lifted and the original stitching no longer held pages intact.

Some leaves appear to have been torn out over the years. However, this has not destroyed the continuity of the letters or diary narrative. Sections of the old handwriting are faint, particularly on the first few pages, but the text is generally easy to follow.

The notebook was first owned by Susanah, and then by her elder sister Jane Penelope WELLINGTON. Jane’s daughter Rosa SUTTON became the next owner. She in turn, passed it to her daughters Winifred, Penelope and Gertrude PICKERING. The three sisters never married and in their later years they gave the notebook to cousins from the HASTINGS branch who are custodians of the notebook today.

The HASTINGS family are happy for extracts of Susanah’s journal to be published on our family history website. We hope you enjoy this little treasure.

If you subscribe to the Branches of Our Family website you will receive email updates when we publish extracts from Susanah’s journal as well as other family history articles.

Sources: Wellingtonia, The History of the Wellington Family, by John Evelyn; Death Certificate of Susanah Wellington, Pigot’s Directories of Somerset 1830 to 1840. I am especially grateful to Terry HASTINGS for his generosity in sharing Susanah’s journal with me. Terry has done a terrific job in transcribing the entries in the notebook and has provided his knowledge and insights into the life and times of Georgian England.

antonio cuneo – centenarian

The Advertiser, Saturday 19 January 1929, page 17


The death has occurred of a former resident of Binalong, Mr. Anthony Cuneo, aged 100, at his daughter’s residence at Marrickville. Coming to Australia when he was only 12 years old, he settled at Binalong in 1858. He met with many hardships and had encounters with the bush rangers, Dunn, Gilbert, and Ben Hall. He was also present at the Lambing Flat diggings. He started in business as a baker and fruiterer in Binalong in 1874, and carried on for nearly 40 years. Five sons and five daughters survive.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Anthony (Antonio) CUNEO died on 11 January 1929 at the home of his daughter in Illawarra Road, Marrickville, Sydney, Australia. He was buried the next day at the Waverley Roman Catholic Cemetery, on the cliffs of Sydney’s South Head, overlooking the ocean.

His death certificate states his age as 99 years, and his death in his 100th year is close enough to a century to be reported as such. Who among us would begrudge the honour to a true pioneer who arrived in Australia at the age of 12 when the colony was only a half-century old?

We do not know where Anthony (Antonio) sailed from and on what ship he arrived, but we are speculating he came with his father or an elder brother from northern Italy, via Scotland and England to Australia in about 1841-42.

They may have settled in Melbourne, Victoria during their first decade in Australia and then headed off to the Bendigo or Ballarat gold fields in 1851 in the hope of striking it rich. Or they could have travelled north and settled in New South Wales – we may never know.

Antonio CUNEO and John CUNEO are names on a list of unclaimed letters arriving on ships at Port Phillip, Melbourne and published in The Argus, Tuesday 27 November 1855. This usually meant letters from family overseas were addressed to the “Post Office, Melbourne” if the recipients had no permanent address. Highly likely if they had staked a claim in the bush somewhere and were living under canvas and digging for gold.

The obituary reports Anthony was present at the Lambing Flat gold diggings. Alluvial gold was discovered in 1860 at Lambing Flat (now the town of Young) in the south-west slopes and plains of New South Wales. The gold fields produced over 470,000 ounces of gold and up to 20,000 miners worked the fields including about 2,000 Chinese miners.

Australian gold fields 1850s

The Lambing Flat and Burrangong gold fields were the scene of a series of anti-Chinese demonstrations and riots between November 1860 and September 1861. An important aspect of the story is a contentious debate in the New South Wales parliament at that time over legislation to restrict Chinese immigration in the wake of similar Victorian and South Australian laws.

Trouble began late in 1860 with the formation of a Miners Protective League, followed by ‘roll-ups’ of European diggers evicting Chinese diggers from sections of the gold fields. After 10 months of unrest at Burrangong, the most infamous riot occurred on 30 June 1861 when a mob of about 2,000 drove the Chinese off the Lambing Flat gold field and then moved down to the Back Creek diggings, beating those fleeing, burning tents and looting their possessions. About 1,000 Chinese abandoned the fields and set up camp on a sheep station 20 km away.

The police arrived a few days later and identified and arrested the mob ring leaders. Approximately 1,000 European diggers launched an armed attack on the police camp on 14 July, which the police broke up with gunfire and mounted sabre attacks leaving one rioter dead and many wounded.

The police briefly abandoned the field, but then a detachment of 280 soldiers, sailors and police arrived from Sydney and stayed for about a year. The Chinese were reinstated on the segregated diggings and the ringleaders of the riots were tried and jailed. At the end of the affair Burrangong was quiet and the Chinese were still there, although subject to the new Chinese Immigration Restriction and Regulation Act that greatly restricted their rights.

Unfortunately, gold fever also increased the threat of robbery under arms. The local newspapers gave frequent reports of crimes on the gold fields and the activities of bushrangers. Many obituaries of early pioneers reported hardships in the diggings and brushes with outlaws, and it is to be believed that Anthony CUNEO would have had first hand experience with notorious bushrangers.


Between 1861 and 1865 Ben HALL and his gang, including John DUNN and Johnny GILBERT, robbed settlers, stores and mail coaches across the district. They ‘bailed up’ travellers on the roads between Bathurst, Young and Yass. With Binalong, Boorowa, Lambing Flat and the Burrangong gold fields all subject to their illegal activities.

All three were dangerous men who shot and killed settlers and police officers. HALL, GILBERT and DUNN were proclaimed outlaws in April 1865 under the Felons Apprehension Act, which meant any person was permitted to shoot them without warning. They each had a  £1000 reward on their heads. On 5 May 1865 HALL was ambushed and shot by police near Goobang Creek on the Lachlan plain. His body, riddled with bullet holes, was buried in the cemetery at Forbes. GILBERT was shot by Constable John BRIGHT on 13 May and his body was exhibited at Binalong police station for three days before being buried in the police paddock. DUNN managed to escape but was captured in January 1866, he was only 19 years old when hanged in Darlinghurst Gaol.

Anthony CUNEO arrived in the Yass and Young district about 2 years before the gold rush hit the area. Anthony was 28 years old in 1858 when he married 16 year old Catherine BYE, the daughter of Irish immigrants John BYE (1819-?) and Margaret GOREMAN (1820-1903) who lived at Murrumburrah, about 30 km south of Young.

Anthony and Catherine had 10 children who survived (5 girls and 5 boys). The births are all registered in the Yass, Binalong and Boorowa districts between 1859 and 1881. Their descendants were:

  • William Albert CUNEO (1859-1942) married Rose Annie ?
  • Margaret Madeline CUNEO (1862-1949) married Frederick SUTTON (1851-1919). You can read more about Frederick SUTTON in this blog post. Their daughter Honor SUTTON (1894-1974) married Roland Cuthbert CLARK (1889-1973) the son of the Sydney department store founder Henry Marcus CLARK (1859-1913).
  • Mary Amelia CUNEO (1864-?) married Thomas Henry WATSON
  • Angelina Isabella CUNEO (1865-1951) married Lawrence MULLIGAN
  • Albert Antonio CUNEO (1867-1952) married Helena Gertrude ?
  • John F CUNEO (1869-?)
  • Emily Jane CUNEO (1871-1965) married Henry NEWTON
  • Catherine Maria CUNEO (1873-?) married William A R BRANDER
  • Frederick Joseph CUNEO (1878-1965) married Kate J COFFEY
  • Ronald Leslie A CUNEO (1881-1956) married Mary T GAMBETTA

Much of the above family research was shared with me by Liz BROWNE who is descended from the Marcus CLARK line. If anyone can shed light on where Anthony CUNEO emigrated from and his early life in Australia, we would be most grateful.

You can learn more about the Australian gold rush and bushrangers at the source links below. The SBS series Dirty Business: How Mining Made Australia is really worth watching. The first episode highlights the early settlement, migrations to the gold fields and the subsequent anti-Chinese race riots in Victoria and Lambing Flat.

Sources: Trove,,,
Australian Dictionary of Biography,, Wikipedia Lambing Flat riots, Visit Young website, Harden-Murrumburrah Online Genealogists website.

the runaway apprentice

Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury, dated 14 June 1773.

Richard Wellington - runaway apprentice

Ran away last Monday, from his master, Francis Pyle, of Tallerton, in the county of Devon, Richard Wellington, his apprentice. About nineteen years of age, five feet eight or ten inches high, in his walk stoops a little forward, and bends his knees inwards; straight black hair, and is of a tawney complexion. Carried off with him a light coloured drab coat, let out by the sides, very short, with yellow metal buttons, an old scarlet waistcoat, and a dark colour’d coat and waistcoat, with yellow buttons, figur’d; had in his shoes, when he went off, a pair of double ring’d brass buckles. – Whoever harbours or employs the said apprentice after this notice, shall be prosecuted as the law directs. Or whoever shall bring him to his said master, shall receive a Guinea reward.

Well I’m intrigued, and I bet you’re wondering where the rebellious, raven-haired and pigeon-toed Richard WELLINGTON fits into the family tree.

Richard’s parents were John WELLINGTON (1727-1759) and Sarah LEY (1729-?) who lived in Talaton, Devon in England. I don’t know what John did for a living, he may have been a farmer at Talaton – a small rural town about 20 kms north-east of the port of Exeter and approximately 10 kms west of Honiton.

John and Sarah WELLINGTON had 4 boys (John 12, William 10, Richard 5 and Simon 3) and Sarah was again “with child” when her husband died in early November 1759 at the age of 32. His death must have been a devastating blow to Sarah who gave birth to another son Michael in April 1760. With a family to support she would have found life difficult even if they had freehold land and John provided for her and the children in his will.

Their eldest son John was 12 and probably still at school. As first-born he may have been received a sum of money in his father’s will to secure an apprenticeship with an apothecary in one of the larger towns in Devon or Somerset.

Craftsmen usually took on apprentices at about 13 or 14 years of age, although it was not uncommon for children as young as 10 to be indentured in some trades and the term of the apprenticeship was commonly 7 years or until the child reached the age of 21. Masters required a premium to be paid by parents for securing their child’s livelihood. A father’s early death could mean a low premium and poor trade for a child of prosperous parents if provision was not made in the man’s will.

Premiums paid in trades in the mid 18th century varied greatly depending on where the business was – boys bound to London apothecaries had premiums of between £150 and £200 while provincial masters took £50 on average.
Examples of the range of premiums paid to various trades circa 1750:

  • £10-£100 – stationer, printer, bookmaker
  • £20-£200 – apothecary, attorney, hosier, jeweller, draper
  • £30-£100 – Ironmonger
  • £50-£100 – artist, coachmaker, conveyancer, sugar baker, timber merchant.

A high premium did not ensure comfortable living conditions for the child. It compensated the master for an apprentice’s errors made as a novice; it provided a child with food, room and basic board in the master’s house or workshop, instruction in a profitable livelihood, and established him in a prosperous career with appropriate marriage and social prospects. Apprentices weren’t paid for their work, except occasionally in the last years of their apprenticeship.

The following is an extract from a parish apprenticeship indenture dated 1 October 1694, at Stockleigh English, Devon. The apprentice could well be an earlier ancestor:

Between Richard Moorish, Churchwarden, Thomasine Bradford, Widow, and William Quicke, Overseer, of the one part, and Henry Bellow, Gent, of the other – binding Susannah Wellington apprentice to Henry Bellew to the age of twenty-one years, to be brought up in housewifry & found in meat, drink, apparel, lodging, hose, shooes & all things fit and necessary & at the end of term to discharge her well apparelled.

An indenture in the early 1700s had the Churchwarden Thomas WELLINGTON binding a poor parish apprentice until the age of twenty-one:

Indenture made on 6th June, eighth year of Queen Anne, A.D. 1709, between Thomas Wellington, Churchwarden, and Henry Bellow and William Morish, Overseers for Stockleigh English Parish, and Mary Pope, Widdow, have bound Joan Drew to Mary Pope till the age of twenty-one years to be brought up in huswifry.

Another indenture two years later, had Thomas WELLINGTON taking on a parish apprentice until the age of twenty-four. Joan and Elias DREW may have been from the same family and fell on hard times due to the death of a parent:

Indenture made 4th April 1711, tenth year of Queen Anne, A.D. 1711, between John Brown, Churchwarden, and John Bradford and William Blackmore, Overseers, Stockley English, and Thomas Wellington, Yeoman, of the said Parish and County (of Devon) have bound Elias Drew, Parish Apprentice, till the age of fower and twenty years in husbandry, Thomas Wellington providing for him and to discharge him at the end of term well apparelled.

Still another contract in 1742, had a James WELLINGTON taking on an apprentice for the parsonage. This one was quite firm in its conditions that the poor lad should no longer be a financial burden on the parish:

Indenture made sixteenth day of September, sixteenth year of George II., King, etc., A.D. 1742, between William Wyat, Churchwarden of Stockley English, County Devon, and William Wyat, and Robert Avary, Overseers, etc., bound John Pomeroy, Apprentice to James Wellington, for the Parsonage, until the age of twenty four years, the Apprentice to do as Statute requires. James Wellington to instruct or cause to be instructed in Husbandry work, and find him the said Apprentice, competent and sufficient meat, drink and apparel, lodging, washing, and all other things necessary and fit for an Apprentice, he not to be any way a charge to said Parish, or Parishoners of the same, and to save the aforesaid harmless and indemnified during the said term. At the end of term to provide the said Apprentice double apparel of all sorts, good and new, one for the holy days and another for the working days.

We know that our John WELLINGTON from Talaton completed his apprenticeship and became a qualified apothecary and druggist. He set up a chemist shop in Chard in Somerset and married Molly BOWDEN in 1772 at the age of 25 years.

He appears to have over-extended himself, as I found a notice in the Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury of 10 May 1773. John WELLINGTON, druggist of Chard – bankrupt. This turn of events may have been a contributing factor in his younger brother Richard’s elopement from his master one month later.

From my research at Devon Records Office I found Francis PYLE was a gentleman freehold farmer in Talaton. He held deeds for land and estates within the Hayridge Hundred during the late 1700s. Richard WELLINGTON would have been apprenticed in a trade on the estate or farm such as blacksmithing or husbandry.

Richard was totally reliant on the good will of his master. Fellow workers or members of the master’s family may have bullied the young man. He could have been mistreated, become very unhappy or homesick and have only one means of escape which was to run away.

The Runaway Apprentice - copyright Susan Buck 2012

At the age of 19, Richard was not the only apprentice to feel the need to spread his wings and experience some of life’s temptations. The Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury was a regional newspaper published in Dorset whose readership also included the counties of Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. During 1773 there were at least 40 notices posted by masters whose apprentices had eloped or run away.

By 1773, Richard had already worked at least 5 or 6 years as a farm apprentice with still another 2 years left to serve. He would have toiled long hours and resented his lack of leisure and personal freedom. He probably read about his eldest brother’s bankruptcy and set off to walk the 30 km to Chard to visit him. Or Richard might have longed for more excitement in his life and headed to the busy port of Exeter in the hope of gaining paid employment on a ship or by joining the navy.

If Richard did run away to sea (which is the most likely scenario) he made sure he was going to be “well apparelled”. I can find no further records on Richard WELLINGTON’s life after this notice so I don’t know if he ended up a sailor or returned to farming.

There is better news on his brother John WELLINGTON, the apothecary and druggist of Chard. It appears he traded his way out of bankruptcy, as a notice in the Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury on 26 September 1774 announced payment of a dividend to his creditors.

In 1777, after 5 years as a bankrupt, John was expanding his business and advertising for journeyman coopers and cabinet makers. It appears he learned from his early mistakes and went on to become very successful. He was the founder of a family dynasty of pioneering chemists in Devon and Somerset.

John WELLINGTON died in Chard in 1827, at the age of 79. Three of his children (John, George and William) were druggists and grocers in South Petherton, Yeovil and Chard. They were also respectable civic leaders, each holding office on their town councils.

[Sources: in England, 1600-1914, Joan Lane;  Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury or Western Flying Post 1773-1778; index of adverts at this link]; Erskine-Risk, J. Apprenticeship indentures from Stockleigh English Parish Church. Trans. Devon. Assoc. vol. 33 (1901) pp.484-494. [Index].

trains, turkeys and tobacco – 1879

Letter from William Henry SUTTON to his son Frederick SUTTON – 4 April 1879

Letter from William Henry SUTTON to his son Frederick SUTTON – 4 April 1879

George St. Waterloo
4th April 1879

Dear Fred,

I have spoken to Mr Smith (head clerk in the manager’s office) respecting your leave of absence; and he promised me if you applied for it about a week before hand, he would arrange it. I forward a copy of application for your guidance, so that you have only to make a neatly written transcript, with no false spelling, and send it in due time, addressed as I have given.

I thought it better you should apply for a week’s leave at once, which of course will prevent your obtaining another week’s leave before the expiration of twelve months from the time of your getting it. We will make the best arrangements for yourself and Maggie that we can, George having Mr Saxon with him at present, and John and Mary having an old couple living with them.

The turkeys are splendid birds, especially the larger one; and if they get back in condition it will not be their fault, as they are famous gobblers. I expect one of them will be victimised when “the event” comes off (which I forgot to say is fixed for Wednesday the 23rd April), but as we shall be obliged to eat it cold, I fear we shall not have it in perfection.

There seems to have been some mistake about Mrs Cunio’s letter; Mary says she has received but one, which she has answered; and she means to rate you soundly for accusing her of neglect when she did not deserve it.

I propose forwarding your ring in a small package of tobacco by next Tuesday’s morning train – so look out for it. As you have so recently heard from your mother I suppose you know as much of the news as I can tell you. When you have obtained leave you had better let us know your intended movements.

With love to Maggie and kind regards to Mr and Mrs Cunio when you see them.

I am dear Fred,
Your affectionate father,
W H Sutton.

The Turkey Gobbler

A copy of this letter was given to me in about 2006 by Mrs Win BRANDER. Win’s late husband Robert BRANDER was a grandson of Frederick SUTTON (1851-1919), the person the letter was written to.

In 1879 Fred’s parents William Henry SUTTON and Jane Penelope WELLINGTON and his four youngest sisters were living at George Street, Waterloo – an inner suburb of Sydney, Australia. William Henry worked for the Great Southern Railway as a writing clerk in the parcels office of Central Station. His son Fred also worked for the railway and lived in southern NSW at Murrumburrah between Young and Yass.

Fred is applying for a week’s leave (the only leave he is entitled to within a twelve-month period) so he is able to attend “the event” – his sister Honor SUTTON’s marriage to Robert BUCK on 23 April 1879 at the Church of St Silas, Waterloo.

Fred’s father says; “We will make the best arrangements for yourself and Maggie that we can, George having Mr Saxon with him at present, and John and Mary having an old couple living with them.”

  • Maggie is Fred’s wife Margaret Madeline CUNIO (1862-1949).
  • George is Fred’s older brother George Wellington SUTTON (1846-1929) who was an engineer on the railways and lived in Union Street, Newtown.
  • John and Mary are John Simpson TAYLOR (1847-1927) the husband of Fred’s eldest sister Mary Jane SUTTON (1845-1928), they lived in Station Street, Newtown.
  • Mr and Mrs CUNIO are Fred’s wife’s parents, Antonio CUNIO (CUNEO) and Catherine BYE. They lived at Binalong between Murrumburrah and Yass.
  • Mr Saxon and the old couple are most likely renting rooms in the family homes.

Let us hope Fred’s ring arrived safe and sound in the tobacco pouch on Tuesday’s morning train and he enjoyed his one week leave with his family in Sydney.

The gobblers we can assume were fattened up and at least one of them graced the wedding banquet on the day.

This event would have been the last time Fred saw his father. William Henry SUTTON died less that four months later of disease of the heart and liver on 5 August 1879. He was 71 years old. You can read a little more about William Henry SUTTON in this post.