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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #85

Dear Reader,

Philosophical joke…

A new species discovered in 2020. As mankind goes backwards, the world continues to evolve.

A special week for Eve. Operation Zigzag is #1 while Operation Treasure, published 30 January, is #11 on the hot new releases chart 🙂

You make some interesting discoveries when you delve into the past…

15 August 1944, Allied troops landing in Provence. Colourised.

My 11 x great grandfather, William Hodsoll, was born in Ash by Wrotham, Kent in 1560. A gentleman farmer, William married Ellenor Dudley in Ash in 1587.

Ellenor was a widow. Born in Ash in 1562, she married Henry Parker in 1580 and gave birth to their son, Richard, a year later. Two years after that, Henry died and four years later Ellenor married William Hodsoll. 

South Ash Manor House, the Hodsoll home. From the Kent Archeology website.

In his Will, dated 30 September 1616, William left his wife, Ellenor, a yearly rent of £50 plus his lands, tenements and inherited items.

William also deferred a loan to his wife, a debt accrued by his stepson, Richard Parker. The loan totalled £27 2s 6d, which Richard had to pay to Ellenor, his mother.

William was buried on 5 October 1616, so this Will was just about the last act of his life.

William’s horses also found they way to Ellenor along with his riding furniture. The Will strongly suggests that Ellenor was fond of riding, “furniture wch my sayd wyfe doth vse when shee rydeth or iornyth abroad.” 

Ellenor probably rode sidesaddle, a form of horse riding that developed in Europe in the Middle Ages. Sidesaddle allowed a woman to ride a horse in modest fashion while also wearing fine clothing.

William instructed Ellenor to offer board and lodgings to their son, William, my direct ancestor, and to give their other son, John, £300 “upon condition that, at or on the Feast of St. Michael 1618, he makes release by sufficient conveyance to said “sonne William” of all right and title “of & in all my Mannors, messuages, etc.”

A third son, Hewe, received £300 “at or on” 29 September 1620. While the executor was to pay “my sayd sonne Henry” £10 a year upon his making similar release to “my sayd sonne William”. Daughters Hester and Ellenor, at age 24, were to receive £100 each. 

Much of William’s original Will is damaged, but the pages that remain ofter an insight into his life. Although not as wealthy as his father, John, who outlived him by two years, William was still an extremely rich man who could afford a comfortable lifestyle.

William was a contemporary of William Shakespeare (both died in 1616) and it’s possible that he saw the original performances of the Bard’s plays. Certainly, he was aware of them.

Ellenor’s name is recorded in various forms across a range of documents, including Elianora, but in his Will, William writes her name as Ellenor. She died in Ash on 29 July 1631, aged 69 and survived at least three of her daughters.

– o –

My 10 x great grandfather, William Hodsoll, was baptised on 21 July 1588 in Ash by Wrotham, Kent. A gentleman farmer, he married Hester Seyliard in 1609, in Ash, Kent.

The Seyliards were a noble family that arrived in Britain from Normandy about a hundred years after the Norman Conquest and prospered through to the age of the Hanoverian succession.

Portrait of a Lady, c1600. Emilian School, artist unknown.

William and Hester produced four children, possibly five, before Hester’s premature death in 1623, aged 33. Their eldest son, Captain John Hodsoll, my direct ancestor, inherited the estate.

From 8 May 1598 in nearby Ightham, an example of the incidents that troubled the local court. “William Willmott, yoman, on 7 May, 1598, broke the head of Richard Austin with his dagger and drew blood. Fined 5s.—remitted because he is in the service of the lord.”

The remission of Willmott’s fine looks generous. However, on the same day the court heard that, “Richard Austin, labourer, attached to himself five other armed persons in the night of Saturday, 6 May, 1598, and they assaulted William Willmott in the mansion house called ‘Ightam Courtlodg’, and with an iron-shod stick which he held in his hands he broke the head of William Willmot, and drew blood, against the peace of our Lady the Queen and to the alarm of her people. Fined 5s.”

During William’s lifetime, the Hodsolls ceased to be the only manorial family resident in the parish. Although the family still enjoyed great wealth, there is a sense of slow decline, as a result of turbulent times and the number of progeny produced by each generation.

William lived through the English Civil War (1642–1651) also known as the English Revolution. The war pitted Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads, the Parliamentarians, against Charles I’s Royalists, the Cavaliers, which ended with a Parliamentarian victory at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651, and the beheading of Charles I.

The Battle of Marston Moor, 1644. Artist, John Barker.

The Hodsolls could trace their family’s roots back to the English royal family, moved in royal circles and later served in Charles II’s navy, therefore it is fair to assume that they supported the Royalist cause. William was probably too old to participate in the Battle of Maidstone on 1 June 1648, but a victory for the attacking Parliamentarians meant that he had to tread carefully.

The Hodsolls did not lose their lands during the English Civil War and therefore it’s possible that they accommodated, and adjusted to, Cromwell’s victory.

St Peter and St Paul, Ash near Wrotham. Picture: John Salmon.

After Esther’s death, William married Elizabeth Gratwick and produced a second family with her. William died on 31 December 1663, aged 75. He was buried not with his predecessors in the nave of the parish church of St Peter and St Paul, but in the former Lady Chapel. This chapel became the Hodsoll chancel and many later generations of the family were also buried there.

This week, I added a Canadian branch to my family tree. Meet Elizabeth Dent and family, c1885. More about the Dents in future posts.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #78

Dear Reader,

Delighted that my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE series will now be translated into Portuguese, as well as Spanish and German.

27 October 1865. My 3 x great uncle, Thomas Reynolds, made the newspapers in a bastardy case, which wasn’t proved. Maybe it was coincidence, but after this incident he married two other Mary’s, in 1867 and 1875.

The perfect job for the dentophobic.

Byline Times intends to publish Byline Wales. Very excited to be in discussions with their editor about playing a role.

https://bylinetimes.com/

29 May 1858. Some things are timeless. The issue of vaccination.

Smallpox was a common killer in nineteenth century Britain. It spread rapidly and killed around 30% of those who contracted it and left many survivors blinded or scarred. In the 1850s, the government passed a series of laws that made vaccination against smallpox compulsory.

Ancestry

Mary Hopkin, born in 1818, my 3 x great grandmother, gave birth to five children: Thomas Reynolds born 1842, Margaret Howe born 1851, Hopkin Howe born 1853, William Howe born 1855, and Mary Ann Howe born 1858. However, only one of her offspring, my direct ancestor William, survived her.

Margaret Howe was born on 23 January 1851 in South Corneli, Glamorgan. Sadly, she died of ‘brain fever’ on 30 December 1853 in St Brides, Glamorgan. Through her husband, William, Mary had a number of relatives in St Brides, but it’s not clear why Margaret was there and why Mary wasn’t with her. Did Mary have the fever too and was too ill to look after her child? Whatever the reason for Mary’s absence, Margaret’s death was a deviating blow for the family.

Mary Ann was born on 20 June 1858 in South Corneli, Glamorgan. Like her mother, Mary, Mary Ann was a dressmaker. Amazingly, a letter written by Mary Ann in 1877 survives. 

As well as sentimental value, the letter is interesting in that it is written in English by a native Welsh speaker, it mentions using the recently installed railway network and, more poignantly, Mary Ann states that she is well ‘at present’. Mary Ann endured poor health throughout her short life and died on 21 January 1886, aged twenty-seven.

South Corneli, October 3, 1877

Dear Cousin,

I have taken the pleasure of writing these few lines to you in hopes to find you well as I am at present. Dear Cousin I could understand in Mary David’s letter the note you sent me that you was greatly offended to me and I don’t know the cause of you being so offended to me unless it is the cause of not sending your hat. The reason I did not send it because you told me you was coming to the tea party. You said that nothing would not keep you from not coming and I have not had no chance of sending it after unless I send it by train. Please write and let me know for what you are offended to me for. I am very uneasy ever since I did receive the note and I do think you don’t care much about me ever since you went away. I do only wish for you to write to me to tell me the reason by return.

So no more at present. From your cousin,

Mary Ann Howe

Mary Ann Howe died of ‘cardiac syncope’ or heart failure. Her brother, Hopkin, a Methodist Minister, was at her side. She died at Alexandria Road in Pontycymer, fourteen miles north of Corneli. What was she doing there? 

In 1882, the people of Pontycymer built the Bethel Methodist Chapel (pictured) with modifications added in 1885. The design incorporated a Romanesque style with two storeys, a gable-entry plan and round-headed windows. It seems highly likely that Hopkin was visiting the chapel, accompanied by his sister, Mary Ann. Mary Ann fell ill and was taken around the corner to a house in Alexandria Road where she died. 

Because of her letter, I feel close to Mary Ann as an ancestor and remain grateful for her words and the insight into her life.

My 3 x great grandmother, Mary Hopkin, gave birth to Thomas Reynolds on 15 January 1842 in South Corneli, Glamorgan. Thomas’ father, also Thomas, died three years later.

In 1851, Thomas was living with his mother and stepfather, William Howe, and attending the local school. At nineteen he was a carter on a local farm, Morfa Mawr, and in 1867 he married Mary Rees who gave birth to a son, Edward, eighteen months later.

Mary died soon after the birth and while Thomas worked on a farm closer to his mother’s home, Edward lived with his grandmother.

Thomas married Mary Morgan on 15 May 1875 in their local church at Mawdlam. Three children arrived in four years: William 1876, Jenkin 1877 and Catherine 1880. Thomas was a railway packer at this time, living on Heol Las in North Corneli.

Mary died on 13 October 1886 and Thomas died five years later, on 11 March 1891. He was 49.

Thomas left a will bequeathing £79 7s 0d to his son Edward, the equivalent of two horses, eight cows or 242 days pay for a skilled tradesman.

For my 3 x great grandmother, Mary Hopkin, now aged 72, this was a bitter blow, the loss of her third child. Sadly, more tragedy was to follow.

In regard to family life, Mary Hopkin’s second son, Hopkin Howe, followed a similar path to his half-brother, Thomas Reynolds.

Born on 16 June 1853 in South Corneli, Hopkin lived with his parents, siblings and cousin, Anne Price. Anne married David John, who joined them in the family home in South Corneli. This was a significant event for Hopkin because David John was a blacksmith and he taught him the skills of his trade.

In 1871, Hopkin was living with a Welsh family in Stockton, Durham while he plied his trade as a blacksmith. Stockton was the home of the railway and Hopkin’s skills were in great demand.

When Hopkin returned to Wales he changed career. He became a Methodist Minister. The chapel had always been central to the Howe family and it was Hopkin’s great ambition to become a minister. Having saved enough money to finance his training, Hopkin toured South Wales as a preacher of the gospel. 

26 March 1891. A happy occasion for my 3 x great uncle, Methodist minister Hopkin Howe, marrying David Morris and Mary Jane John.

Hopkin married Elizabeth Jones in 1884. This event brought great pleasure and tragedy. Elizabeth gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth May Gwendoline Howe, on 27 November 1885, but died in childbirth. Deprived of her mother, baby Elizabeth died in infancy. One can only imagine how these events tested Hopkin’s faith.

Hopkin married again, Sarah Ann Jones, in December 1890 and he continued to tour South Wales preaching the gospel. However, he died four years later, of a lumber abscess, an infection in his spinal cord, on 19 February 1894. He left a will bequeathing £119 to Sarah Ann, the equivalent of a year’s wages. 

My 3 x great grandmother, Mary Hopkin, was 75 at this time. She still had her husband, William, at her side and her only surviving son, also William, lived with his family next door to her.

——-

Marie-Madeleine Fourcade led the French Resistance during the Second World War. This exchange of messages with British Intelligence (MI6) explains how she assumed command.

N1 = Georges Loustaunau-Lacau, founder of Alliance, the French Resistance network.

POZ 55 = Marie-Madeleine Fourcade.

“N1 arrested this morning STOP Network intact STOP Everything continuing STOP Best postpone parachuting next moon STOP Confidence unshakable STOP Regards STOP POZ 55”

From MI6: “Who’s taking over?”

“I am STOP POZ 55”

The Second World War. Inside an Anderson shelter on Christmas Eve.

In this month’s bumper issue of our Amazon #1 ranked magazine…

A Celtic Christmas, stories, articles and gift ideas based on a Celtic theme. Plus seasonal features to entertain you during the festive season and all your regular favorites.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #77

Dear Reader,

Published today, The Olive Tree Book Two: Branches.
Separately, young nurse Heini Hopkins and successful novelist Naomi Parker travel to Spain where they take opposing sides in the Spanish Civil War, learning life lessons about love and war.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08P3R6SF7/

An elf tells me that Santa will deliver a DNA kit at Christmas to help with my genealogical research. I expect to find Welsh, English, a bit of Scots and maybe a few Irish strands. The big question is, do I have any Scandinavian ancestors? Howe is Old Norse. Picture: Wikipedia.

Local gossip from 30 May 1868, which I’m sure would have reached the ears of my 3 x great grandmother Mary Hopkin. Two women fighting over chilblains.

Wales as seen from the international space station.

The USA team for the People’s Olympiad bound for Barcelona, July 1936. This was an anti-fascist response to the Nazi Olympics. The People’s Olympiad was due to begin on 19 July, but was cancelled because of a fascist coup attempt.

Two hundred athletes from around the world fought in the Spanish Civil War including Chick Chakin, fifth from right, who was shot by Franco’s fascist forces in 1938.

Campbell Pleasure Steamers at Cardiff Docks, 1910. 

From Victorian times well into the twentieth century my ancestors used to take day excursions on these paddle steamers with Ilfracombe being a popular destination.

Gloves say so much…

Delighted that Santiago will start work this week on the Spanish translation of Operation Broadsword, book three in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series. Meanwhile, here’s one we made earlier.

This probably means I have a minute left today 😉

On 25 November 1942, the SOE in cooperation with the Greek Resistance destroyed the heavily guarded Gorgopotamos viaduct. This was a major success for the SOE and their biggest operation to date.

To follow the crowd or take a moral stand?

Derby County players offering a Nazi salute during their 1934 tour of Nazi Germany.

Goalkeeper Jack Kirby, left, refused.

I’m Jack Kirby.


Ancestry

William Howe, my 3 x great grandfather, was born on 31 August 1823 and baptised on 14 September 1823 in Southerndown, St Brides, Glamorgan. His parents were John Howe 1786 – 1856 and Christiana John 1795 – 1874.

In 1841, William aged eighteen was working as an agricultural labourer on Cadogan Thomas’ farm in Merthyr Mawr. In common with all agricultural labourers he moved from farm to farm in search of work. In the late 1840s his travels took him five miles west to South Corneli where he met his future bride, my 3 x great grandmother, Mary Hopkin.

Mary had led an eventful life before she met William. Born on 27 August 1818 in South Corneli and baptised on 20 September 1818 in St James Church, Pyle, Mary was the daughter of Daniel Hopkin  1781 – 1864 and Anne Lewis 1783 – 1863, both agricultural labourers.

By 1841, Mary’s brother, Hopkin, had died aged twenty while her sister Anne had married David Price and moved to Neath. Along with her younger sister, Margaret, Mary lived at the family home in South Corneli. However, she was conducting an affair with a young agricultural labourer, Thomas Reynolds.

The family home also contained Mary’s niece, Anne Price. Anne was born in 1839 and she lived with her grandparents, and later Mary, into adulthood. Then an orphan, fifteen-year-old Anne Beynon, joined the family. Anne was the daughter of John Beynon and Anne Nicholl, who owned a shop in Corneli. John died in 1837 and his wife Anne in 1832. With Anne Beynon facing destitution, it was generous of the Hopkin family to take her into their home.

Mary Hopkin’s relationship with Thomas Reynolds produced a son, also called Thomas, born in 1842. The couple did not marry and Thomas senior died in 1845.

So, when William Howe met Mary Hopkin in the late 1840s she was a single mother. Mary earned a living as a dress and hat maker. She used to walk fifteen miles from Corneli to the market at Neath to sell her wares. Her sister Anne probably walked with her to the market and there she met her husband, David Price.

The thirty mile round journey was obviously worth Mary’s while so it’s fair to assume that she was a talented dressmaker. She was also physically fit and one would imagine quite slender.

William Howe and Mary Hopkin married on the 24 August 1850 at St James’ Church in Pyle with Mary’s sister, Margaret, and Catherine Lewis as witnesses. William signed the marriage certificate with a cross, so was not as literate as his father or grandfather. Mary was pregnant when she married William. However, unlike her affair with Thomas Reynolds, she sustained this relationship for the rest of her life.

An exciting discovery, the family home of my 3 x great grandparents, William Howe and Mary Hopkin. They lived three doors down from Ty Maen, ’the big house’, which places them in plot 122. A small village. Everyone must have known everyone else. Image: National Library of Wales. Date: 1847.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #76

Dear Reader,

Fanning the flames of love…

Paul Robeson, singer, actor and activist, in Madrid, January 1938 in support of the Spanish anti-fascists during the Spanish Civil War. Picture: Yale Library.

In Operation Treasure, Eve discovers that Gestapo officer Hauptsturmführer Klaus Raab shares her love of painting. Raab enjoys crude nudes whereas Eve is a fan of the Barbizon School.

The Barbizon School of painters focused on Realism, which developed through the Romantic Movement. The School takes its name from the village of Barbizon, situated near the Forest of Fontainebleau where many of the artists gathered.

An example from the Barbizon School, Charles-Émile Jacque’s Shepherdess and Her Flock, 1878.

Today, 19 November 2020, would have been Gene Tierney’s 100th birthday. Here’s my article about the Hollywood star and mental health advocate.

https://hannah-howe.com/2017/09/13/gene-tierney/

On 20 November 1945, the Nuremberg trials began. Judges from America, Britain, France and the Soviet Union sought justice for millions killed during the Holocaust. Twenty-four Nazi political and military leaders stood trial and nineteen were found guilty when the tribunal concluded on 1 October 1946.

The phrase ¡No pasarán!, They shall not pass! is most closely associated with the Spanish Civil War. However, it was also used by a Frenchman, General Robert Nivelle, at the Battle of Verdun during the First World War, Ils ne passeront pas!

The art of cutting cheese.


My 4 x great grandfather, John Howe (yet another John), was baptised on 26 February 1786 in St Hilary, Glamorgan. Baptisms usually took place within a week of birth, so his birthday was around 19 February 1786. 

John’s parents were John Howe and Cecily Lewis, wealthy farmers. However, in 1799 the government introduced the first-ever income tax and that tax put a dent in the family’s finances. After over a hundred years of farming in St Hilary, they moved away. John moved ten miles west to St Brides.

A Victorian Gazetteer described St Brides as, ‘A parish in the Hundred of Ogmore, in the county of Glamorgan. It is situated on the coast of the Bristol Channel, at the mouth of the River Ogmore. A special interest attaches to it as one of the earliest seats of the native princes. It has still some vestiges of the ancient castle of Dyndryfan (Dunraven), the traditional residence of Caradoc (Caractacus), and considerable remains of Ogmore Castle, a fortress of equal antiquity. The church is ancient, and has some fine monuments of the Butler and Wyndham families. The Calvinistic Methodists have a chapel in the village. Along the coast are several large and curiously-formed caves, one of which, of great depth, is called the “Wind Hole.”’

St Brides was a larger parish than St Hilary and therefore offered John greater employment opportunities. However, the population of St Brides actually declined throughout the nineteenth century, from 914 in 1841 to 621 in 1891.

It’s interesting that this branch of my family, over hundreds of years, continued to move west, in John’s case six miles along the coast to Tythegston, where he met his bride-to-be, Christiana John, daughter of Evan John, 1755-1832 and Mary 1757-1837.

A topographical dictionary of 1833 stated that the population of Tythegston stood at 404. The parish contained good arable and pasture land along with coal, iron ore and clay for making bricks. The parish also contained a school for ‘the gratuitous instruction of poor children.’

Christiana was born on 31 December 1795 and baptised on 6 January 1796. Her name became popular in the Howe family and can be found in numerous generations. It would seem that unlike her husband, John, she did not receive a formal education because when the couple married she did not sign her name, applying an ‘x’ instead.

Christiana was pregnant when she married John on 17 April 1819, in Tythegston. She gave birth to Edward in St Brides on 22 July 1819. William, my 3 x great grandfather, followed on 14 September 1823, along with Mary in 1827, Evan in 1828, Thomas in 1831, Richard in 1833, Cecily in 1836 and, at the age of 43, John in 1839. Christiana’s husband, John, worked as a thatcher while she obviously had her hands full at home.

The introduction of the census in 1841 opened a window for genealogists by providing more details about our ancestors. That said, the 1841 census was basic with names, approximate ages and occupations. Places of birth were often confused or deliberately misrepresented (so a person could claim local poor relief) with places of residence. In contrast, the 1851 census was more detailed and reliable.

The 1841 census found John Howe in St Brides with his wife Christiana and three of their children, Thomas, Richard and John. 

In 1851, John was living in Ogmore in the parish of St Brides with Christiana and two of their children, Cecily and John. John senior was a thatcher, a decent trade that earned him £75 per annum, a good wage considering that labourers earned £40 and women £10 per annum. Living in Ogmore as a thatcher it’s almost certain that John worked on the roofs of these cottages in nearby Merthyr Mawr.

As we struggle with Covid, so our ancestors had to combat cholera. Between 1829 and 1851, cholera invaded many communities. The outbreak in 1848 claimed 52,000 lives in England and Wales. Over time, communities improved their sanitation, but the connection between good health and care of our environment is still a lesson we struggle to learn.

John died, aged 70 (some records incorrectly state 73) of ‘old age’ on 24 December 1856 and was buried two days later. His son, Richard, witnessed the death certificate with a cross. 

In 1861, Christiana was living with her daughter, Mary, also a widow, at the age of 34. Ten years later, Christiana was living alone next door to a miller, where her daughter Cecily was a servant. Her son, Evan, lived next door.

Christiana died on 10 July 1874 aged 78 of ‘cancer and general decay’. Her son Evan was present and he applied his mark on the death certificate. John and Christiana are buried together in St Brides churchyard. 

The Howe family, tight-knit and prosperous in St Brides and St Hilary, now dispersed to various parts of Glamorgan where they experienced mixed fortunes.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #75

Dear Reader,

My latest translated titles, Stardust, Sam Smith Mystery Series book ten, and Eve’s War, Operation Locksmith, both in Spanish.

The calm after the storm, Paris 1947.

An amazing week for my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series. Operation Zigzag is #1 while Operation Broadsword and Operation Treasure are top twenty hot new releases. This landmark is dedicated to all the remarkable men and women of the SOE.

So now we know…

An autumnal view of the Goylake River.

You thought that beautiful woman was holding her parasol in her left hand simply because she was left-handed. However, her actions might reveal something totally different…

Men and women of the French Resistance during the summer of 1944, probably after the liberation of Paris.

Family History

John Howe, my 5 x great grandfather, was born on 28 April 1761 in St Hilary, Glamorgan. His parents, John and Mary, were successful farmers so it’s probable that John spent his formative years learning the business of farm management.

The parish register confirms John baptism. Note the small number of births, marriages and deaths in the parish between 1760 and 1762.

John married Cecily Lewis on 1 January 1785 in nearby Cowbridge, Glamorgan. The location is significant because for well over a hundred years all of the Howe’s activities, including births, marriages and deaths, had centred on St Hilary. The family was branching out, which ultimately would lead to mixed fortunes.

Cowbridge was a market town so it’s easy to imagine that John met Cecily there while on farm business. Cecily was born in Cowbridge in 1764 and the custom was that marriages took place in the bride’s parish.

Some genealogists list Cecily’s parents as John Lewis of Swansea and Elizabet Humphreys, but I have found no records to confirm that fact. Lewis is a very common surname and without cross-references it is difficult to identify the correct ancestor. 

The parish record reveals that John was literate, but Cicely signed her name with a cross. The witnesses were John’s younger brother, William, and John Jenkin, a ‘Gentleman’ of Cowbridge, which confirms that at this time the Howe family were still members of the gentry.

Continuing the story of my 5 x great grandparents, John Howe and Cecily Lewis. The couple married on 1 January 1785 in Cecily’s home parish, Cowbridge, Glamorgan. Five children followed: John (yet another one) my 4 x great grandfather, born 26 February 1786 in St Hilary, Glamorgan; Cecily, born 20 January 1789 in St Hilary; Priscilla, born 13 November 1793 in St Hilary; Richard, born 1 January 1797 in St Hilary – what a wonderful twelfth wedding anniversary present that was; and William, born on 1 February 1799 in St Hilary. Sadly, young Cecily died on 20 April 1798.

Well into the twentieth century, on average a couple produced a child every twenty-four months. However, John and Cecily’s children were born three or four years apart, hence ‘only’ five additions to the family.

Like his father before him, John was an Overseer of the Poor. In 1796-7, he paid 2s 6d to ‘Ten men in distress coming from the sea.’

In 1798, the Howe family featured in the Land Tax Redemption register twelve times, far more than any other family in St Hilary, which indicates that they were farming more land than anyone else in the parish.

Early in the nineteenth century, John and his family left St Hilary, moving ten miles west to Coity, breaking the family’s bond with the parish. Why did they leave? 

By 1799, the Napoleonic wars had taken their toll on Britain. The British royal treasury was running out of money to maintain the royal army and navy. Soldiers were starving and His Majesty’s navy had already mutinied. For Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, the solution was simple: impose an income tax. Under the Act of 1799, all citizens who earned above £60 were to pay a graduated tax of at least one percent. Those with an income of over £200 were taxed ten percent. Some people regarded the tax as a patriotic duty while others complained. I don’t know what John Howe thought of the taxes, but it seems they were the reason he moved his family to Coity.

The impressive nature of John and Cecily’s gravestone suggests that the couple lived in some style in Coity. By this stage the family had become scattered, living in various towns and villages throughout Glamorgan.

After 49 years of marriage, Cecily died  on 7 May 1834, aged 70 while John died on 4 February 1835, aged 73. The couple are buried together in Coity. 

Tugged away from their St Hilary roots, future generations of the Howe family lost their gentry status. Although a member of the family did become deputy prime minister of Britain in the 1980s, most branches led humbler lives, including John and Cecily’s son, John, my 4 x great grandfather.

Which classical composer are you? Apparently, I’m Schubert.

“You have a natural curiosity and enjoy finding out what makes people tick. You are a bit of an idealist who wants to make the world a better place, and you like to help others improve. You might sometimes appear stubborn, but you are only staying true to your values.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/what-classical-composer-are-you/zscrydm

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx