susanah’s journal – births, deaths and marriages

An extract from the journal of Miss Susanah WELLINGTON (1819-1838) of Yeovil, Somerset. Susanah was almost 14 years old when she transcribed the following family register into her notebook.

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Susanah's account of her family births, deaths and marriages was most likely transcribed from the front of a family bible.

Susanah’s account of her family births, deaths and marriages was most likely transcribed from the front of the family bible.

The family register begins with the birth dates of Susanah’s parents as well as the date of their marriage:

George Wellington born 26th Jany 1781.

Elizabeth Samson born 7th March 1794.

George Wellington & Elizabeth Samson married
22nd Septr 1817.

It is interesting to note that Susanah spells her mother’s maiden name SAMSON and not SAMPSON, which is the more common spelling I have found in the parish registers and GRO records. Presumably Susanah transcribed these word-for-word from a record her father and mother kept in their family bible.

Elizabeth SAMSON’s death on 28th June 1865, has been added at a later date by Susanah’s sister Jane Penelope WELLINGTON who is the first born child listed:

Jane Penelope Wellington born 6th July 1818,
½ past eight A.M.

Susanah Wellington born 20th Augt 1819,
20 minutes before 2 o’clock A.Noon.

Jane has also added the date she married William Henry SUTTON on 23rd December 1842.

The recorded entries follow with a son, Richard who was born to George and Elizabeth in 1820. Sadly he died three months after his first birthday.

Richard George Wellington born 30th Novr 1820,
¼ before 7 O’C A.M. and Died the 1st March 1822, at Eight O’C P.M.

The Wellington family register also includes the time of day of births and deaths.

The Wellington family register also includes the time of day of most births and deaths. A detail I have not seen before in the front of old family bibles.

The family continued to grow, year after year:

Frances Elizabeth Wellington born 28th Febr 1822, at 7 o’clock in the morning.

Rosa Wellington born 16th May 1823, 10 o’clock P.M.

Frederick George Noble Wellington born 30th Novr 1824, ¼ to 10 P.M.

Lucy Wellington born 13th May 1826, ¼ past six P.M.

And then, two more sons die in their infancy:

Richard Wellington born 2nd Augt 1827, ½ past 6 P.M. and died the 5th Jany 1828, at 5 O’C in the evening.

Alexander Samson Wellington born 24th Augt 1831,¼ past one A.Noon & died 10th May 1833, at a ¼ past five o’clock in the morning.

Little Alexander’s death in May 1833, at the age of 20 months, is the reason Susanah has taken the time to record these details. After Alexander’s funeral, the family would have added his date of death to the register in the front of their family bible and I can imagine Susanah would want to take a copy of her family tree to keep for herself and pass on to future generations.

Susanah left space between entries so she would have room to update the records in her journal with marriages and deaths. I think the entry of Rebecca’s birth was written by Susanah two years later, added to the bottom of the page.

Rebekah[cca] Wellington born August 11th 1834, 10 minutes after three P.M.

Ellen Marianna Wellington born Febry 1st 1840.

The correction to the spelling of Rebecca’s name and recording of Ellen’s birth was done by her sister Jane after the death of Susanah from consumption (pulmonary tuberculosis) on 6 June 1838, aged eighteen years and ten months. I find it strange that Jane did not add Susanah’s date of death to the journal as she did when her mother died.

This is not a very uplifting story – it’s quite tragic that Susanah did not live long enough to marry and have children of her own. But, she was loved by her family and friends, and her little journal is helping us to learn about her short life and the life and times of our ancestors.

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Sources: Susanah Wellington’s Journal, BUCK family collection. You can read more about it here: susanah’s journal – somerset to sydney. You can read other post on members of the WELLINGTON family here: george wellington’s lettersthe chemist shop that time forgot;

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: www.familysearch.org/Apprenticeship_in_EnglandApprenticeship 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].