Monday, 24 August 2015

A Continuing Tale of Rectory Folk

So, back to my detective work on the Rowden family.  We left them in 1841, having identified the eight year old Ellen as being the Reverend Edward Rowden’s daughter from his second marriage to Ellen Trenchard, but still musing on the others listed as being resident on the day of the census return: the seven year old Elizabeth, six month old Margaret and 25 year old John Rowden.

It turns out that you can’t always trust online census material.  I can’t be sure as some of the facts don’t quite tally but it seems likely that the names are incorrect, that it was not Elizabeth, Margaret and John Rowden, but rather Elizabeth, Margaret and Sophia Robinson who were staying in the Old Rectory on that day.  

Sophia was the eldest daughter of the Reverend Edward and his first wife, Elizabeth. She was married at 19 to the Reverend Francis Robinson, Rector of Little Staughton in Bedfordshire. The wedding took place in H________ on 10th September, 1831.  Her new husband, Francis, was the son of Thomas Robinson, who was Mayor of Oxford between 1817 and 1818 and, rather remarkably, he went to Corpus Christi College in 1819 at the tender age of 14.  It’s a story that would make the tabloids nowadays (and, come to think of it, probably the broadsheets as well!) but I’m not sure if it was a more commonplace event in the nineteenth century – yet another fact to check. 

The large family thing was obviously in the genes as Sophia and Francis lost no time in having numerous children:

Francis Edward was born at Begbroke in Oxfordshire in either 1832 or 1833.
Sophia Elizabeth Rowden (who is the Elizabeth of the 1841 census) was born in 1834 at Stonesfield in Oxfordshire, where her father was the Rector from 1834 to 1882.
Thomas Auriol was born at Stonesfield on Christmas Day, 1835.
Georgina Margaret was born at Begbroke in 1837.
Walter Croke was born at Stonesfield in 1839.
Margaret Maria (who is the Margaret of the 1841 census) was born at Stonesfield on 3 December 1840.
William Henry Carns was born at Stonesfield in 1842 and died one year and five months later in 1844.
Ellis Ashton was born at Stonesfield in 1845.
Ellen Mary was born at Stonesfield in 1846.
Charlotte Barbara Spooner was born at Stonesfield in 1850.
Ellen Trenchard Goodenough was born at Stonesfield in 1856.

This is a picture of Francis, the eldest son, who took over as rector of Stonesfield from his father, just as his uncle, Edward, took over from his father in H_______.

This family don't seem to have been very imaginative with regards to names.  A mother and daughter with the same name is not that unusual but it’s a bit odd, having two daughters called Ellen.  Sophia obviously had a good relationship with her stepmother! And, of course, she also had a sister called Frances and a brother called Francis so could probably see nothing confusing about having two daughters with the same name.  Names seem to have been a bit limited in those days.  Had no one thought of Chardonnay or Troy?  But it was OK because the first Ellen was handily known by her middle name of Mary. Which begs the question why not just call her Mary in the first place?  And similarly with regards to the daughter named Sophie but apparently called Elizabeth.  So, a grand total of eleven children for  Sophia, beating her mother’s record by one and, moreover, managing to stay alive during the process! 

At the time of the 1841 census, the Reverend Francis (the father, not the son depicted above) is registered as being at Stonesfield with Thomas, then aged five, Georgina, three, and Walter, aged two.  The family moved to 24 Beaumont Street in Oxford, shown below, around 1881 where Francis died in 1886 at the age of 82.  Sophia died in the same house four years later on 7 December 1890.  She was 78.

Oh, and I should point out that there were also seven servants listed for the Old Rectory on that day in 1841.  They were Mary Knitts, aged 20, Sarah Barrett, 35, Ann Poole, 25, Sarah Morse, 20, Mary Peopall, 15, Daniel Bond, aged 30 and Frederick Green, aged 15.  And I should point this out because we somehow manage with no servants.  And when I say 'manage'...