From the National Library of Wales, the tithe map of St Mary Church Parish near St Hilary. During the nineteenth century the Howe family farmed thirty-three fields on this map, twenty-six arable and seven meadow. The fields were registered to Ann, who ran the estate as a widow. The green square is a marker from the search engine.
John Howe, my 6 x great grandfather, was baptised on 24 July 1726 in St Hilary, Glamorgan, probably a week after his birth. Sadly, many babies died within a week of their birth so baptisms were often swift affairs.
The son of Joseph and Elizabeth, John became a successful farmer. When Joseph died on 5 July 1742, sixteen-year-old John became the ‘man of the house’ and helped his mother to run the farm.
In 1753, John became a churchwarden, Petty Constable and Overseer of the Poor. Overseers of the Poor were chosen from the ‘substantial householders’ within the community and were elected at the annual vestry. Although elected for a year, they often served multiple terms over many years.
As Overseer of the Poor, John made a payment of £1 17s 6d for the making and binding of bibles, 1s for attending a coroner’s inquest and 7d for a pair of male stockings. He also awarded payments of a few pence to ‘the little boy of whom nothing else is known’.
This is John’s account of 1753, written in his own hand.
Just discovered these records from the 1700s confirming the birth of my 6 x great grandfather John Howe and the death of my 7 x great grandfather Joseph Howe. Amazing that these records survive.
Continuing the story of John Howe of St Hilary, my 6 x great-grandfather, a successful farmer, churchwarden, Petty Constable and Overseer of the Poor.
The pivotal period of John’s life arrived in April and May, 1761. On 3 April 1761 he married 39 year old Mary Williams, a widow, also of St Hilary. Then his first son, John, my 5 x great grandfather, was born on 28 April 1761. That’s right, Mary was eight months pregnant at the time of her marriage. On 1 May 1761 John’s mother, Elizabeth, died aged 62. A marriage, birth and death within four weeks. A very stressful time for John.
More children followed at regular intervals: Anne, born 17 March 1763, William, 25 November 1764 and Joseph, 12 October 1767.
William died on 20 April 1795, aged 19, and Mary followed him three years later, on 8 January 1798. Her burial record is the first entry on the parish register for 1798.
The parish register for marriages reveals that both John and Mary were literate and that John’s cousins, John and Margaret, witnessed the wedding. With his farm, community activities and mother at home, John was probably waiting for the right moment to marry. With his standing in the community, he was an eligible bachelor so Mary, four years older than John, must have been pleased with the match. Equally, she must have possessed qualities that set her apart from younger women. The couple spent 37 years together and I trust enriched each other’s lives.
John died on 23 February 1818, aged 91. For the time, he certainly led a privileged life. And through his family, farm and community activities I sense that it was a rewarding life.