Thursday, 15 October 2009

Chapter Two: Newton Ferrers 1772 – 1847

"NEWTON FERRERS is a pleasant scattered village, on rising ground, at the head of a small creek from the estuary of the Yealm, 7 miles S.E. by E. of Plymouth, and 2 miles from the sea-coast. Its parish contains 778 souls, and 2991 acres of land, extending two miles northward along the east side of the estuary, and including the small hamlet of Torr, and a number of scattered farms. There are oyster-beds in the estuary, belonging to companies in London and Southampton; and a variety of other fish are taken here. The manor of Newton anciently belonged to the Ferrers family, whose co-heiress carried it in marriage to Lord St. John. It afterwards passed to the Bonville, Copleston, Hele, and other families. It now belongs in moieties to H.R. Roe and John Holberton, Esqrs., the latter of whom has a pleasant seat, called Torr House, where his family has resided for many generations. . . . The Church (Holy Cross,) is an ancient structure, with a tower and five bells, and was repaired and new seated about 60 years ago. Near Puslinch House stood the ancient chapel of St. Toly (Olave,) but its remains were removed some years ago. The rectory . . . is in the patronage and incumbency of the Rev. John Yonge, B.A., . . . " [From White's Devonshire Directory (1850)]

Nicholas became a labourer like his dad, but moved to Newton Ferrers. He married aged 20 to Elizabeth Lee in 1772 and proceeded to have a very large family.
The kids came thick and fast – Elizabeth in 1776; Thomas in 1787, William in 1789, Agnes in 1792, but died at only two months on 31st July 1792. a double tragedy as in 1793 the eldest son, Thomas kicked the bucket at six. James came in July. Jenny in 1799, John William in 1800.

Nicholas’s gravestone refers to another daughter named Jane Treble – the engraving reads that the stone was “erected as a grateful tribute of respect” by Jane.

Nicholas was now aged 48, and presumably Elizabeth who was around a similar age, just ran out of child-bearing years. This may have been a relief. Now she could concentrate on bringing up the young ones, with the older ones around to help. By then the first born, also Elizabeth, was 24 and ready for marrying. But she never did, instead had a couple of kids with a mystery man. In 1800 John William was born, and Eliza in 1802. Elizabeth died in 1802 – some months after giving birth, cause unknown. One can only wonder what happened to the kids…or do some research.

Britain was at war with France from 1803 – it is currently unknown what part, if any, the Gardiner family played in this important conflict.
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of conflicts involving Napoleon's French Empire and changing sets of European allies and opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionized European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to the application of modern mass conscription. French power rose quickly, conquering most of Europe, but collapsed rapidly after France's disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812. Napoleon's empire ultimately suffered complete military defeat resulting in the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in France. The wars resulted in the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. Meanwhile the Spanish Empire began to unravel as French occupation of Spain weakened Spain's hold over its colonies, providing an opening for nationalist revolutions in Latin America. As a direct result of the Napoleonic wars the British Empire became the foremost world power for the next century.
Bonaparte seized power in France; 18 May 1803, when a renewed declaration of war between Britain and France ended the only period of peace in Europe between 1792 and 1814; and 2 December 1804, when Bonaparte crowned himself Emperor.
The Napoleonic Wars ended following Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo (18 June 1815) and the Second Treaty of Paris.
Other major events included the Enclosure Acts 1750 to 1860 – research is needed to find out when they affected South Devon.

William had got work as a stonemason. Is this a skilled job? Don’t know. At 24 he felt sufficiently secure to take the responsibility of marriage. He married Mary in Newton Ferrers. At some point the stone masonry may have dried up as he was later described merely as a labourer.
Henry was born in September 1813 meaning that mary was knocked up before the marriage took place, although how far gone is not known.

William born in September 1816; Maria in 1817.

Nicholas, now aged 66, keeled over and died on the 2nd of May 1817. He was buried in Holbeton Church and his gravestone is still there to be seen to this day. Interestingly, although Nicholas died in Newton Ferrers, his body was taken back to Holbeton for burial.

In 1821 William’s sister, Jenny married John Treble, in Newton Ferrers, 02/08. Jenny too was pregnant although she’d had the kid before the wedding, as young John Gosling Treble’s christening took place three days after the wedding.

In 1821 Sarah was born at the end of October but died just two years later. James, the author’s Great Great Grandfather was born in 1827.

James did not stay in Noss/ Newton Ferrers, but a remnant of the family may have. James’s mother didn’t go anywhere, we know. Maria had married into the Lyndon family around 1839 - 41, and that’s where Mary went to live.
Maria had plenty of kids, all of them in Newton Ferrers – Philip born in 1841, William in 1843, Mary in 1847, Samuel in 1849, Emma J in 1854, John, in 1856, Edith in 1860. By then Maria would be 43, so it’s likely she had no more.

Henry, William, and Sarah’s whereabouts remain clouded in mystery, but you can speculate on whether any of these families were affected by the bad times about to come to Noss.

The mid-19th century was a time of tragedy for Noss when an outbreak of cholera swept through the village. Out of a population of just over six hundred more than two hundred were afflicted and at least fifty died of the dreadful disease. The names of seemingly entire families carved on the gravestones at St Peter's are a poignant reminder of this harrowing time.
Major changes came to Noss after 1877, the date of the purchase of Membland estate by Edward Baring, the 1st Lord Revelstoke.

Throughout all these years the River Yealm played a vital role in the life of both Newton and Noss, not only for the fishing industry but also for transport. The appalling state of the roads meant that any journey by land was a mammoth undertaking, encouraging the early provision of a ferry service. Lord Revelstoke had his own 44ft steam pinnace which he kept in a boathouse at Kiln Quay and used to convey his house guests and provisions from Plymouth. In 1898 a railway line was established from Plymouth to Yealmpton, and then a ferry service began which linked the villages with the station at Steerpoint via the steamboat Kitley Belle. By the 1930s the roads had improved and a bus service started, bringing the steamboat era to a close.

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