My ancestor Arthur Iveson was born on 16 June 1772 in Hawes, Yorkshire to Thomas Iveson and Margaret Taylor. Maybe due to complications from the birth Margaret died in October 1772 while Thomas died in 1788. As the youngest child, Arthur followed a tradition common amongst well-to-do families – he entered the Church.
In 1793 the Bishop of Carlisle ordained Arthur as a deacon and a year later he became a priest in York. From York the Church sent Arthur to Nottinghamshire then to Norfolk where he established himself as Rector of East Bradenham.
In Norfolk, on 6 March 1797, Arthur married Martha English. Of course, as a rector Arthur could read and write, and he signed his name. Martha also signed her name, something not many women of the time could do, even women born into wealthy families.
Between 1798 and 1806 the couple produced six children: Ann, Thomas, born 18 March 1799, Arthur, Martha, Martha and Arthur. Martha #1 and Arthur #1 died in infancy.
Apart from the tragic infant deaths, everything was going well for Arthur. Between 1802 and 1817 he appeared on the Electoral Roll in Norfolk, which placed him in a privileged position, one of the elite in the country who could vote. In 1816 his son Thomas became a clerk to William James Murray in Kings Lynn and shortly after that he followed his father into the Church, becoming a vicar.
Arthur’s wife, Martha, died in 1828, and from that point events took a sinister turn.
At ten o’clock on the evening of 28 May 1832 Thomas entered Arthur’s rooms to talk with his father. The talk developed into an argument and Thomas produced a gun. He fired one shot, which entered Arthur’s heart.
With his father dying, Thomas ran next door to summon Captain Lake. He informed the captain of the shooting and Lake hastened to Arthur’s aid. The captain summoned two medical men, Mr Murlin, a surgeon, and Dr Tweedale, and they tended to Arthur, alas in vain, for he died within twenty minutes of the shooting.
The moment Arthur died, Thomas entered the kitchen and took a considerable amount of laudanum, which Mr Murlin promptly forced from his body. The Officers of Justice arrived and Thomas surrendered to them.
In July 1832 an inquest into the death of Arthur Iveson was held in a local public house, followed by a trial at the Quarter Sessions. During the inquest and trial it emerged that Thomas was ‘intelligent’ and a ‘gentleman’, although his behaviour of late had been eccentric.
The trial established that Thomas entered Arthur’s rooms with intent to shoot his father and that the bullet fired from his gun killed him. However, the jury acquitted Thomas on the grounds of insanity.
After the trial, Thomas entered a local infirmary and died there on 15 February 1836.
There is a postscript to this remarkable story. On 4 January 1848 in Hawes, Yorkshire, two cousins, John and Arthur Iveson, cousins of Arthur of Norfolk’s offspring, went drinking in a local pub, The Fountain Inn. They got drunk, argued, and engaged in a brawl. The brawl resulted in the death of Arthur Iveson.
The trail that followed delivered a verdict of manslaughter and John was sentenced to two months hard labour. After his prison sentence John resumed his role of local butcher. Twenty-two at the time of the manslaughter, he later married, raised a family and enjoyed a long life.
What to make of the Ivesons? Are they a violent branch of my family? I’m in touch with four first cousins, Iverson sisters, and no one would regard them as violent. Indeed, the opposite is true. It would appear that Thomas killed Arthur when in a troubled state of mind while John killed his cousin Arthur due to excessive alcohol consumption.
History repeats, so they say, but when it comes to family members killing each other maybe it’s better if it doesn’t.
To all current and future Ivesons, pax vobiscum – peace be with you.
The Iveson/Iverson branch of my family arrived in Britain with William the Conqueror in 1066 – the surname Iveson derives from Ives or Yves the French for yew or bow. Initially, they settled in the north of England, and Scotland. In Scotland they formed the Clan MacIver.
Born in 1586 in Edinburgh my ancestor Abraham Iveson migrated to Gloucester County, Virginia in 1636. He accompanied nineteen other settlers.
On 17 October 1636 Abraham was listed as a headright for James Vanerit who had acquired 1,000 acres of land in Elizabeth City County, Virginia from a Mr Stafferton. Stafferton was owed the land for providing the transportation of the twenty colonists, including Abraham.
Dated 26 April 1637, a bill of landing listing Joseph Clifton, a London merchant, showed goods conveyed on the Tristan and Jane of London to ‘Abraham Iveson, planter’, and several others. The settlers were in need of home comforts and supplies, which arrived on the trade ships from Britain. In return, those ships carried the planters crops, including tobacco.
The planers in Virginia were cultivating hay, cotton, wheat, peanuts, barely, but mainly tobacco. Captain Francis Willis owned 3,000 acres of land, four others including Abraham owned 1,000 acres, and fifty-five others owned smaller parcels.
A patent dated 10 June 1651 stated that Mr Abraham Iveson acquired 655 acres of land on the southwest side of the North River in Mobjack Bay, Gloucester County. As well as a landowner and planter Abraham was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, the elected lower house of the colonial Virginia General Assembly.
Abraham married twice, in Scotland Rebecca Gifford and later in Virginia (after Rebecca’s death), Joan Towson. He had six children: Hugh, Sarah, Richard, Lucy, Elizabeth and Abraham. He died in Virginia, in 1655.
After Abraham’s death, on 9 October 1677, his second wife Joan made a gift of an African slave girl to her grandson William, son of James Kay. William was to receive the slave girl when he came of age, and the children of this slave were to be bequeathed to James’ other children. Witnesses to this transaction were William Kay and Abraham’s son, also Abraham.
What to make of Abraham and his family?
At the beginning in the seventeenth century, many Scottish people emigrated to America, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa. These emigrants included freemen who left Scotland to promote trade or to set up military outposts and way stations for merchant ships. They also included people fleeing poverty and religious groups fleeing oppression. Abraham’s status in Virginia suggests that he was in the freeman category.
No surviving documents link Abraham to the tobacco trade, but given the size of his landholding and the fact that tobacco was the main crop cultivated in Virginia it seems fair to assume that he was involved in the tobacco trade. To make money from such a harmful drug is morally dubious, but maybe we can forgive Abraham in this instance because he was ‘of his time’.
You could also argue that his slave ownership was ‘of its time’, but I find that a flimsy argument. By ‘owning’ people and restricting their freedom he knew what he was doing. Maybe he was kind to his slaves – I hope so – nevertheless, he did own them.
Of my ancestors, Abraham is not alone in owning slaves in America and the West Indies. I will write about these ancestors in due course. Most of the ancestors I write about fill me with pride and I would love to have met them. Even though I’m not sure that I would have liked Abraham, I would have enjoyed talking with him too, if only to hear the moral defence of his position.