Here we continue the story of Elizabeth McArthur, a descendant of Devonshire landed gentry. She later emigrated to Australia in 1790, with her husband, John McArthur, on the Second Fleet.
After their marriage in 1764, Richard and Grace Veale (nee Hatherly) settled on Lodgeworthy Farm, on the edge of the village of Bridgerule in Devonshire.
Elizabeth, their eldest daughter, named for her Paternal Grandmother, was born there on 14 August and baptized at St Bridget’s on 1 October 1766.
When Elizabeth was two years of age her mother had another daughter, who was named Grace, for her Maternal Grandmother. She was baptized at St Bridget’s on 11 May 1769. Unfortunately, she died as an infant and was buried in St Bridget’s Churchyard on 24 January 1772.
A few months later Elizabeth’s father, Richard Veale, died and was buried on 22 May 1772, in the churchyard beside his infant daughter. A (Welsh) slate headstone was erected over their graves and is still in the churchyard today.
Grace Veale was devastated by losing her youngest daughter, and her husband within a few months. However, she had her parents close by. Her father, John Hatherly helped and supported her in every way he could, and she was able to continue farming the land. All the family hopes for continued prosperity lay with Elizabeth, aged about six years of age, at the time. It was imperative that she be educated, and make a suitable marriage for the support of her mother, and aged grandparents, and to safeguard the family land and social position.
Elizabeth remained an only child under the control of her mother and her Maternal Grandfather, John Hatherly. She was educated at the local school, which was under the tutorage of Rev John Kingdon, the Vicar of Bridgerule. He was a renowned scholar and a Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford.
Both boys and girls were educated to read, write, and other useful subjects such as basic mathematics and science.
The boys were expected to carry on farming on the family property or enter the Navy, Marines, or even the Anglican Church. The girls were expected to be able to overseer those properties when their husbands, fathers, or brothers were absent for any reason.
The ‘union’ of families was often arranged by parents and announced to the community by the calling of Banns on three consecutive Sundays before the wedding.
The Hardwick Marriage Act of 1754 was an Act of Parliament, which arose out of concern, of abuse of Marriage Licenses. This had become a major problem, particularly in large cities. Not so much in rural areas, where a Marriage Licence was obtained, in the rare case of a bride marrying outside the parish, or the groom was from a distant parish. The groom was expected to purchase the Licence from the local Bishop along with supplying the necessary fee and bondsman.
The matter of a Marriage Licence was so rare in the parish of Bridgerule that in the period of the fifty years after the Marriage Act came into force (1754-1804), when 132 marriages were entered in the specially printed parish register, there were only twelve marriages by Licence.
The first was in 1759, the second in 1774, and the third in 1778. This was the marriage of Grace Veale (Elizabeth Veale’s widowed mother), when she consented to marry, Edmund Leach, a widower of Stoke Climsland. This was a parish several miles away on the Cornish-Devon boarder. He also had land and was a successful farmer, especially since England was at war with the American Colonies.
The laws at the time stated that when a woman married, all her property became the property of her husband. So in 1778 Grace Leach moved to Stoke Climsland. Her new husband already had a family, and John Hatherly believed it was in Elizabeth’s best interest, that she should remain at Bridgerule, under his supervision.
In my next blog, I continue the story of Elizabeth McArthur (nee Veale).