Sunday, 14 June 2015

More on the Rowdens

We left the story of the Rowdens unresolved, wondering what had happened to Mrs Rowden and curious about why the Reverend Edward Rowden was living in the Old Rectory in 1841 with six month old Margaret, seven year old Elizabeth, eight year old Ellen and 25 year old John.  So what else can we find out about them?  It's amazing how much you can find out from just a few searches on Google...

Edward's father, Francis, married Sophia Goodenough in 1774.  She was from Buckland, which is now in Oxfordshire but was then in Berkshire. Edward, their first child, was born in 1781. He married Elizabeth Wetherall on 29th August, 1811.  He was 30 and had been the Vicar here for seven years.  Elizabeth was 28 and the youngest daughter of Dr Wetherall, Dean of Hereford and Master of University College, Oxford.

They wasted no time in having children.  One year later, in 1812, their first daughter, Sophia Elizabeth, was born.  Poor Elizabeth then went on to have a baby just about every year thereafter: Frances in 1813; Edward Wetherall in 1814; twins, Francis Marmaduke and Maria, in 1815; Harriet, who was born and died in 1817, George Croke in 1820, Jane Margaret in 1821 and Charles Wetherall in 1825.  Nine children in 13 years.  And how strange to have a female Frances and a male Francis? Was this not very confusing for all concerned?  Sadly, Elizabeth died aged only 45 on 9th September, 1825.  It may be that this was related to the birth of Charles, her fourth son and ninth child.

Six years later, in 1831, the Reverend Edward married again.  The bride was Ellen Frances, the eldest daughter of the Reverend Dr Ashfordby Trenchard of Stanton House, Stanford Fitzwarren.  Tragically, Ellen died just three years later in Cheltenham and, rather weirdly, on 8th September, the day before the anniversary of Elizabeth's death.  She was only 38 years old.  She left just one daughter, Ellen Trenchard, who was born in 1832.  This then is the eight year old Ellen who appears in the 1841 census.  But this still leaves unanswered the question of who are the seven year old Elizabeth, the six month old Margaret and the 25 year old John Rowden who were resident at the Old Rectory on the day of that census?  None of these appear to be Edward's children.  The search continues...

Ellen Trenchard Rowden, Daughter of Edward Rowden
I came across this photograph of Ellen, the daughter, whilst searching on the Internet.  It is captioned as follows:

A carte-de-visite portrait of Ellen Trenchard Rowden (1832-1918), photographed by 'Merrick' at Joseph Langridge's photographic studio, 33 Western Road, Brighton, 1862.  Inscribed in ink on the reverse 'Miss Rowden, 1862' and in pencil 'Oct 16th 1862'.  A modern hand has added 'Mrs R.E. Davies'.  Ellen Trenchard was the daughter of Rev Edward Rowden (1780-1869) and his second wife Ellen Ashfordby Trenchard (1796-1834).  Ellen Trenchard Rowden married Richard Edward Elkings Davies on 5th April 1864.

According to Wikipedia, the carte de visite was a type of small photograph, patented in Paris in 1854.  It was usually made of an albumen print, a thin paper photograph mounted on a thicker paper card.  It didn't gain widespread use until 1859 when Emperor Napoleon III's photograph was published in this format.  This made it an overnight success, resulting in 'cardomania' - the trend spread throughout Europe, America and then the rest of the world.

Each photo was the size of a visiting card and they were traded among friends and visitors.  Albums for the collection and display of cards became a common feature of the Victorian parlour.  Their immense popularity led to the publication and collection of photographs of prominent persons - or celebreties as we would call them today.  The cartes de visites lasted until the early 1870s when they were supplanted by cabinet cards, larger and mounted on cardboard backs, which remained popular until the early 20th Century, when the introduction of the Brownie camera meant that anyone could take a snapshot.

So, the history of photography and some history on the Rowdens.  But there is still more to be unearthed about Edward Rowden and the years when he was both vicar of H.... and resident of this house.

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