• Sarah von Allmen

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 5.

Week 5 – Branching Out.


My 3x great-grandfather John Jones was born in Bath in 1791 and married Harriet Gibbs in 1813. They had five children, all born in Bath:


· Esther Gibbs Jones (1814)

· Frederick Jones (1815)

· Harriet Louisa Jones (1817)

· Emma Eliza Jones (1819)

· John Jones (1821)


John was a saddler with a business in Bridge Street and both his sons followed him into the same trade and worked with him for some time, although when John retired in the early 1850s neither took over the business – a minor family mystery.


Harriet died in 1864 and the following year John married Harriett Spillman, a widow twenty-five years his junior. What his children thought about that is open to conjecture, but when John himself died in 1870 and they discovered that he had left virtually everything in trust to Harriett for her lifetime and that they would inherit nothing until after her death, I very much doubt that they were particularly impressed.


Harriett died in 1902 at the age of 86 and the executors of John’s will were faced with a quandary: his children had all left Bath and contact with them had apparently been lost, with the result that they were forced to place newspaper advertisements asking them or their heirs to get in touch. So where were they all?


Esther Gibbs Jones

Esther married George Norman, a tailor, in 1844 and moved first to London and a little later to Oxford, where she died in 1870. In 1902 her two daughters were living in Portsmouth and her two surviving sons in the London area.


Frederick Jones

Frederick married Constantina Lear in 1838 and had a daughter with her (not necessarily in that order). The marriage broke down quickly and the couple moved separately to London. Their daughter, Mary Constantina, was brought up by Frederick’s parents and moved to London in the 1860s, marrying William John Higgs in Lambeth in 1866. She died in 1890 at the age of 52, while I have found no trace of her father Frederick after 1871.


Harriet Louisa Jones

I mentioned Harriet, whose “people came from Bath” in my first blog for 52 Ancestors. Although she never married, she had a discrete long-term liaison with a Bath solicitor named Edwyn Dowding. They had five children, one of whom died in infancy, and Harriet lived in Bath under the pseudonym “Mrs James” until the early 1880s when she and her oldest daughter moved to Manchester, where her other two daughters were already living. Harriet’s son Edwyn, however, remained in Bath, where he died in 1907.


Emma Eliza Jones

Emma married Edward Sylvanus Appleby, a bookseller, in 1855 and unlike John’s other children spent all her life in Bath. She had no children and died in 1883.


John Jones

John was living with his parents in 1841, and (probably) moved to London where there is a plausible census record for him in 1851 with his wife Maria. After that he disappears completely, but the newspaper appeal provides an intriguing explanation:


"The said John Jones deceased was it is believed married twice and had by his first wife five children one of whom namely John Jones is believed to have been a Saddler Serjeant in the Cape Mounted Rifles and at Cape Corps Camps Grahams Town Cape Colony South Africa in 1855."


Did any of the grandchildren or great-grandchildren claim their inheritance? Edwyn was the only one located in Bath and likely to hear about it, which is a little ironic given that he was the black sheep of Harriet’s family. (More on that perhaps in a later blog!) What is striking, though, is that in only two generations a family had branched out from its Bath roots to such an extent that contact with their origins had been effectively lost.

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