The Past Revealed

Ancestor Of The Month Blog

Each month one of my ancestors will feature here, with a brief story about their life.
December 2022

Kate Pheasant 1860-1888

Born to Thomas and Elizabeth in Leighton Buzzard, Buckinghamshire, Kate was the second youngest of their eight children. At the age of 21, Kate was working as a cook at Southcott Farm in Linslade. She married Robert Eggelton in 1883 and they had two children; Ada and William. Sadly, when Kate was just 27 she died of meningitis. Her headstone features a line from a hymn- "There I shall bathe my weary soul in seas of heavenly rest, and not a wave of trouble roll across my peaceful breast"'. 

Kate Pheasant
Kate's headstone at Linslade, Buckinghamshire

November 2022

Alexander Brown 1813-1879

Alexander was born in Scotland, the son of a weaver. For much of his life he was a Master Mariner, a job which saw him travel both nationally and internationally. He married Jane Simpson in Liverpool in 1840 and they had five children.  They remained based in Liverpool until 1851 when they moved to the Isle of Man and Alexander changed his occupation to working as the Innkeeper of The Shore Inn in Douglas.  He remained there until his death.

Alexander Brown
The signatures of Alexander and Jane from the marriage register

October 2022

Jacob Neil 1762 - 1839

Jacob was born in Toller Porcorum, Dorset to father Jacob and mother Elizabeth. He was the fourth of their nine children. He married Ann Dowle in 1787 and they had seven children, all in Toller Porcorum. Jacob was imprisoned for one month in 1789 after standing trial at Dorchester for 'assaulting and wounding'. The prisoner register shows Jacob had grey eyes and 'light' hair. After this he lived a quiet life as a labourer appearing in few records until his death in Fordington workhouse aged 77. His cause of death is given simply as 'decay of nature'.

Jacob Neil
An extract from Jacob's death certificate

September 2022

Elizabeth Doe 1760 – 1821

Elizabeth spent her whole life residing in Sutton Poyntz, Dorset with her baptism, marriages and burial occurring at neighbouring Preston, the nearest village with a church. She initially married Thomas Osment aged 24 and they had five children, two of whom died young. Thomas died in 1794. Elizabeth then married 54-year-old Thomas Horsey when she was aged 37 but they had no further children. She died in 1821 aged 61, the year before her second husband.

Elizabeth Doe
The signature of Thomas Osment and Elizabeth Doe
from Preston's marriage register

August 2022

Charles Bowler 1792 – 1826

Born in Bletchley to parents Barnard and Ann, Charles remained local to the area for the entirety of his short life. His father died when Charles was eleven and times must have been hard for Charles and his seven siblings as his mother did not remarry. He trained as a blacksmith like his father, working in Water Eaton. At the age of 26, he married Mary Janes and they had two sons. At the age of just 34 his health began to fail and he wrote his will, making his colleague his sole executor. He was buried on 10th January 1826 in Bletchley.

Charles Bowler
The signature of Charles Bowler

July 2022

John Wayman Keep 1873 – 1966

My great-great-grandfather John was born illegitimately to mother Sarah Wayman/Wayment in Steeple Morden, Cambridgeshire. Sarah married John's father, John Alfred Keep, shortly after his birth but she died when John was just 7, leaving him an only child. In 1888 at the age of 15 John started working at the Weedon railway station from it's opening. He had a long career on the rails, working as both a Railway Porter and a Railway Signalman. He married Rosabella Mary Barlow in 1896 and they had four children. He spent most of his life in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire and died there at the great age of 93.

John Wayman Keep
John Wayman Keep

June 2022

Francis Pinney 1722 – 1790

Francis was born in Somerset in 1722 and was named after his father. He married Margaret Webb by Licence in 1748 in Poole, Dorset. Their only child, a daughter named Susannah was born the following year. Francis was a very successful merchant, based in Poole. He qualified to appear in the Poll Book in 1779 due to his property ownership in Portsea- he voted for the local Whig candidate. Francis passed his wealth to his daughter Susannah who, at the time of his death, was widowed with six children. He died in Poole in 1790, with local title deeds and probate records giving detail as to his property ownership and lifetime success.

Francis Pinney
Crop from Francis' will dated 1790

May 2022

Jeremiah Stanbridge 1777 – 1839

Jeremiah spent his whole life residing in Edlesborough, Buckinghamshire. Born in 1777, he can be seen in the Posse Comitatus militia listing of 1798 where it is stated he worked as a farmer. He married Mary Gray, also of Edlesborough, in 1799 and they had five children. Jeremiah died at the age of 61. His death was commented upon in the local newspaper where it is stated he died 'suddenly while sitting in his chair by the fire-side'. An inquest concluded he died by 'visitation of God'.

Jeremiah Stanbridge
Newspaper article noting Jeremiah's death

April 2022

Edward Bodger 1720 – 1778

In 1734, at the age of 14, Edward was apprenticed as a tailor in Bourn, Cambridgeshire. He married Sarah Peppercorn in 1741 and they had two children before her death in 1750. Edward then remarried to Ann Jackson in 1751 and they had a further four children together. Edward spent most of his life in Bourn, being buried there at the age of 58 in 1778, with the burial register noting he was a pauper.

Edward Bodger
Bourn, Cambridgeshire

March 2022

Caleb Angel 1684 – 1774

Whilst Caleb was born around 1684, he was not baptised until 1716 when he was around the age of 32. This may point towards nonconformity, however no proof of this has been found from other sources. Caleb married a month after his baptism to Elizabeth Cake in Winterborne Came, Dorset and they had five daughters and one son. He died in Osmington on 12th November 1774 with the burial register stating he was aged 90. This is hard to prove due to the lack of a baptism entry.

Caleb Angel
Caleb's mark on his will

February 2022

Mary Ann Dormer 1844 – 1886

My second great-grandmother Mary Ann was born in St Pancras to parents James and Sarah. Somewhere between the census returns of 1851 and 1861 they relocated to Buckinghamshire. Mary can be seen in the 1861 census working as a bonnet sewer and living one house away from Charles William Bowler, who would become her husband in 1866 when she was aged 22. Appearing to suffer with fertility issues, Mary appears in the newspapers in 1883 having given birth to a stillborn daughter, when she was aged 38. Mary’s story ends tragically. She passed away on 25th March 1886, aged 41, six days after giving birth to her only child, my great-grandmother Sophia. Her cause of death was given simply as ‘childbirth’.

Mary Ann Dormer Birth Certificate 1844
An extract from Mary Ann's birth certificate

January 2022

Alexander Taylor 1865 – 1920

My great-great grandfather Alexander spent his life in Maidstone and, thanks to his regular criminal activity, appears in plenty of historic records. The eldest child of John and Mary Jane, Alexander first appears in the criminal records aged 15 when he was fined 5 shillings for theft. At age 19, he married Alice Rosa Colyer and they went on to have eight children. Unfortunately the rest of his life is marred by criminal activity. His crimes included assaulting a police officer, assaulting his rent collector, further thefts, drunkenness, poaching, refusal to pay for beer, obscene language and failing to pay fees for his son who was at reformatory school. He is described in local newspapers as being idle, disorderly and a nuisance to police. He died aged 55 after falling from a lorry on his commute home from work. His long suffering wife remarried just 41 days after his death.

Property of Alexander Taylor in 1891 in Maidstone
Alexander's house in Maidstone in 1891