Framing History- Elizabeth McArthur, Descendant of Devonshire Landed Gentry-3.

Here we continue the story of Elizabeth Veale, born 1766, and a descendant of Devonshire Gentry. She later married John McArthur and emigrated to Australia on the Second Fleet in 1790.

Elizabeth Veale was about 12 years of age when her mother remarried and moved away from Bridgerule.

It is believed that it was at this time, she moved into the household of the Rev John Kingdon. Although John and Jane Kingdon had several sons, they only had one daughter at this time.

The Rev John Kingdon was also from a landed family of Holsworthy. He was born in 1735, the eldest son of  Roger and Judith Kingdon. He began his education at Holsworthy and later is believed to have attended a Grammar School in Exeter, before going to Exeter College, at Oxford University. In later years, he was well known for his great scholarship.

John Kingdon was appointed Vicar of Bridgerule in 1765 but lived at nearby Holsworthy.

On 25 June 1766, the Rev John Kingdon married, Jane Hockin, of Okehampton, Devonshire.

Bridget Kingdon, their eldest child was born at Holsworthy in 1767 and was baptized there on 21 July.  The family moved into the Bridgerule vicarage, known as East Park, soon afterward. All their subsequent children were born there and baptized at St Bridget’s.

Elizabeth Veale had grown up in the village with Bridget Kingdon, and she was welcomed into the household as a suitable companion.

St_Bridget's_Church_-_geograph.org.uk_-_253382

St Bridget’s Bridgerule, Devon

John Kingdon also believed that girls should be well educated to run the family estates, while their husbands were absent, and so privately tutored his daughter, Bridget, and Elizabeth Veale. Not only to read and write well but also to study literature and sciences. She lived there several years before returning to the Hatherly home.

John Hatherly, Elizabeth Veale’s grandfather is known to have doted on his granddaughter and was preparing her for a ‘good’ marriage. Although Lodgeworthy in Bridgerule, was now in the hands of Edmund Leach, it had prospered and was intended for Elizabeth Veale’s dowry. Life was good on those Devonshire farms as Elizabeth Veale grew into womanhood.

Meanwhile down in Stoke Climsland, Edmund and Grace Leach had also prospered and they had had a daughter, Mary Isabella. She had been born in late 1780 and was baptized at All Saints Parish Church, Stoke Climsland on 14 January 1781.

However, when the American War of Independence ended in 1782, it changed life everywhere including those farming communities in Devon. Depression hit Britain quickly and severely with few markets, failing crops and increasing population by migration and immigration. Over the next five years disaster was to slowly engulf many families in that part of the country.

The result was that Edmund Leach gradually sank into bankruptcy, and had to sell all his property, including Lodgeworthy at Bridgerule, leaving Elizabeth Veale without any means for a dowry.

Elizabeth’s mother, Grace Leach, along with her youngest daughter Mary Isabella, returned to her father, John Hatherly’s home at Bridgerule, on the death of her mother, Grace Hatherly, in 1785. Her husband Edmund Leach remained at Stoke Climsland, where he died a pauper and was buried in All Saints Churchyard on 1 April 1791. His grave is unmarked.

In 1787, Elizabeth Veale was just 21 years of age when she met the dashing John McArthur. He was a tutor at the school where the young Thomas Hockin, a son of the Rev John and Jane Kingdon, was a pupil. He was invited by Thomas’s parents, to visit them at the Bridgerule vicarage. Thomas’s sister, Bridget was a close friend of Elizabeth Veale, and she too was invited to the vicarage to meet the charming young man.

Elizabeth Veale married John McArthur the following year at St Bridget’s, Bridgerule. The McArthurs left the parish soon afterward, and within a short time emigrated to the other side of the world.

Bridgerule Parish

Bridgerule, Devon. St Bridget’s on the hill with Vicarage.

In 1792,  shortly before her father’s death, Grace Leach married on 27 March, John Bond, a friend of her father, who had known Grace all her life.  Her father was ill and wanted someone, who could take care of her after he died. He died at Bridgerule and was buried in St Bridget’s Churchyard on 16 August 1792.

Elizabeth McArthur, when she heard her mother had married him, made a comment that leads us to believe that she thought him not socially acceptable, and her mother had married beneath her. Something Elizabeth’s mother thought Elizabeth had done when she married John McArthur.

Elizabeth, by this time, was in New South Wales far away, and no comfort or help to her mother.

Grace Bond’s youngest daughter Mary Isabella Leach, was only eleven years of age when her mother remarried. John Bond died on 16 July 1824 and Grace Bond died 22 June 1836 aged 89 years.

Mary Isabella Leach married Thomas Hacker on 22 January 1801 at Poundstock (Cornwall) and had a family of seven daughters. She later emigrated with some of her children and their families in 1852, to Prince Edward Island, Canada, where she died in 1858.

Advertisements

Framing History- Elizabeth McArthur, Descendant of Devonshire Landed Gentry-2.

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 with 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.

St_Bridget's_Church_-_geograph.org.uk_-_253382

St Bridget’s Bridgerule, Devon

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.

Stoke Climsland,Cornwall

All Saints, Stoke Climsland, Cornwall

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).

Framing History-Elizabeth McArthur and Harriet Hodgetts

When we are writing our family’s history we need not only the specific facts of their lives but also to put them into the context, of the time and place. That is when, where and how they lived.

However, “All history is conjecture. All of it. It is the height of folly and arrogance for anyone to say that he or she knows definitely what happened in the past. We piece together the story as best we can, with the shreds of evidence that exist. When we are very lucky the pieces come together to form a beautiful and cohesive collage”….[from The Book of Love, Kathleen McGowan]

I am interested specifically in the Second Fleet story, because one of my husband’s ancestors, Harriet Hodgetts, is believed to have arrived in Australia, as a free woman, on the Second Fleet.

When we are writing about specific events, such as the “Second Fleet”,  we need to dig deep into a whole range of records. We have to study them carefully if we are to get the most out of them.

The following blogs are my interpretation of the documents and information I have found, and my version of what happened all those years ago, and why. How close it is to the ‘real thing’ I do not know, but believe it is a possible explanation of the events of that time.

The only surviving personal record of the Second Fleet is part of a Journal written by Elizabeth McArthur, the wife of John McArthur, a Lieutenant in the Marines. They embarked on the ‘Neptune’ in London. It is a personal record of some of her experiences, and what she thought about some of the things, going on about her. It only covers a few weeks of the voyage, on board the Neptune, not the whole seven months at sea. Much has been written and inferred by these few pages. Many historians have studied them, and written whole books on their interpretation of that collection of remarks and musings.

For the First Fleet there are more than twenty accounts of the voyage out, and indeed even the return voyage. It is hard to believe Elizabeth McArthur was the only person recording that voyage. True, a few letters written about the arrival of the Second Fleet in Sydney have survived, but no other records of personal experiences on board the ship itself. It was a popular thing for, particularly educated men to record their experiences, and publish them in book form, usually in their life-time. There also would have been the Captain’s Log, the Surgeon Superintendent’s and the Naval Agents reports, of the day to day running of each of the ships in the Fleet. However, these have not survived, possibly destroyed to avoid blame and recrimination, after such a disastrous voyage.

I have been studying the Elizabeth McArthur story, so I can better understand our Harriet Hodgetts. She had been born in the same year as Elizabeth, and faced many of the same challenges, as their parallel lives stretched well into the 19th Century. They both died in Australia in the same year. There are very few records that even mention Harriet ‘Hodgetts’ by name, and absolutely none in the way of family stories, letters, diaries, or journals, telling of her thoughts, attitudes, and her victories and sorrows over the 83 years, of her long and eventful life.

As I have studied the life of Elizabeth McArthur and this specific part of our history, I see a different interpretation of what was going on around Elizabeth, than is recorded in her Journal.  Her reaction to things she had no former experience of. The things she was not a witness to, but only heard second or third hand. Finally, of things, that were specifically kept from her, particularly by her husband, John McArthur.

Let me say at the outset I have great admiration for Elizabeth McArthur and Harriet Hodgetts, and as women, how they met the day to day challenges, not only of the voyage but in the infant colony at the edge of the known world.

View_of_Sydney_Cove_1792

View of Sydney Cove-1792

To really understand Elizabeth McArthur and Harriet Hodgetts, I believe I needed to go right back to the beginning, and study their ancestors and families. I wanted to  find not only where and how they lived, but how they may have influenced the women’s outlook on life.  I wanted to find some possible explanations, not only for some of their decisions and indomitable faith, but how they managed to live in a male dominated society and world, so far away from their ‘roots’, with no family support.

Who was the real Elizabeth McArthur? Who was the real Harriet Hodgetts?

Harriet Hodgetts and Elizabeth McArthur -Interesting Coincidences and Parallel Lives.

 

I have said in former blogs I have been researching and writing Harriet Hodgetts story for some time now. In recent times I have been exploring and writing about four sea voyages she made in her life time. Her first voyage was in cramped quarters on a convict ship in the Second Fleet.

The only surviving written record of a personal experience of that voyage, is a few pages of a journal kept by Elizabeth McArthur, one of the marine’s wives.

To write Harriet’s story, I needed to explore and write Elizabeth’s story too. While doing this, I was completely blown away, with the unbelievable coincidences of the parallel lives, of these two incredible women.

  • Both were born and baptised in country parishes in England, within months of each other in 1766. Elizabeth in Devonshire and Harriet in Staffordshire.

  • Both were the eldest daughters in their family, who were effectively disinherited by the early deaths of their respective fathers.

  • Both came under the guardianship of their grandfathers. Elizabeth, her Maternal Grandfather and Harriet, her Paternal Grandfather.

  • Both fell in love, and let their heart rule their head. They ‘choose’ to accompany their ‘husbands’ on the Second Fleet, although by all the ‘rules’ and ‘social norms’ at the time, neither should have been on that voyage.

  • Both arrived in Sydney at the same time and lived near each other in the infant colony.

 

View_of_Sydney_Cove_1792
View of Sydney Cove-1792

  • Both moved to Parramatta and lived there for some time.

Lycett_Parramatta_02_Elizabeth-Farm_wr
Elizabeth Farm, Parramatta

 

  • Both settled on the land and became ‘farmer’s wives’.

  • Both became widowed, Elizabeth in 1834 and Harriet in 1823.

  • Both died in Australia in 1850, within a few months of each other, aged 83 years. Elizabeth in New South Wales, and Harriet in Tasmania.

Regardless of all these coincidences, I believe although they may have set eyes on each other, from time to time, they never met. Elizabeth McArthur, being  a Marine Captain’s wife, at the high end of the social scale of the colony, and Harriet Hodgetts being the wife a convict blacksmith, at the other end of the social scale.

 

Harriet Hodgett’s Journeys by Sea- Part 1

I have been researching and writing Harriet’s story for some time now. I knew it would not be easy, but the more I do, the more I need to do, to actually to do justice to the project. I have tried to ‘block- out’ the story, and arrange research to build the story in chunks.

In recent weeks I have been concentrating on researching and writing about Harriett’s sea voyages. Progress has been slow, but rewarding.

To my knowledge, in a time-span of thirty years, Harriet made four journeys by sea .

  • The first, London to Port Jackson in 1790 as a ‘free’ woman on the convict ship Neptune with a voyage of nearly 7 months.
  • The second, from Sydney to Norfolk Island in 1800, a voyage of several days.
  • The third, from Norfolk Island back to Sydney in 1805, also taking several days.
  • The fourth, from Sydney to Port Dalrymple in northern Tasmania in 1819, also taking about two weeks.

Each of these voyages would have been  a very different experience for Harriet. I need to take many things into account, as I ponder and write her story.

For instance, let us take the first voyage. I believe it is not enough to just say she got on board in London in 1789 and arrived in Port Jackson, several months later on 28 June 1790. There are no documents with Harriet’s name on it. In fact there are very few surviving documents about the voyage of the Second Fleet, even official ones.

How can I write up her ‘experience’ of the voyage itself? It may be fiction, but it needs to be credible fiction.

From the few scant reports of the voyage at the time, we know it was a horrendous journey, which led to much death and sickness.

When news finally filtered back to authorities in England, the captains and ship’s officers were blamed for the carnage. However was this really the case, or was there much more to the story?

To answer some of these questions  I need to track down every one of those surviving documents. I need to study the providence and assess the motivation for the creating of such documents.

I also need to consider, if there may have been documents, that for some reason have not survived. What might these reasons be?

Firstly, I needed to research the ships and boats of the era. How they were made, the parts there of, and how the ‘systems’ on board worked, involving the officers and crew.

Life on board ships was by necessity, very ordered. Everyone was under strict instructions and a rigid routine. It was not a holiday in any sense of the word, even for those ‘free’ passengers.

The Neptune was a large very crowded ship of nearly 800 tons. It has been difficult to clearly establish how many people were on-board, when she left England, but it is believed it totaled about six hundred and twenty. There was also a large quantity of  stores, both for the voyage, as well as for the colony.

Thomas Gilbert, had been appointed captain, as he had had experience, being captain of the Charlotte in the First Fleet. However, after the Macarthur fiasco, he was replaced by Donald Trail. Trail an experienced navy captain, and later in transporting slaves, had originally been appointed to the Surprize.

John Marshall was captain of the Scarborough. He had also been her master on the voyage of the First Fleet.

How was the voyage in the Second Fleet, so different to cause so much trouble, with horrendous consequences?

How did Harriet get that free passage in the first place? Where did she sleep on board and who were her friends?

It takes a lot of work to put together a possible story. Who, how, when, where, and why are always the questions I need to ask before setting down my thoughts.

I then need to visualize each section of the story as I put it down on paper. Here is a little taste of the first draft of the story, as Harriet sets out on her sea voyage in 1790.

Harriet lay awkwardly in the narrow bunk and watched the gimbal swing gently to and fro, making ghoulish shadows on the wall. She felt the slight warmth of the child huddled beside her, as it convulsed with heartbreaking sobs, even as it drifted off to a troubled sleep.

It had been a long and exhausting day and now stretched into a cold and numbing night, but sleep would not come to Harriet.

All around her there were unseen souls, coughing, snoring, groaning and crying, but it was difficult to place sounds in the shadowy darkness. Then there were the ship’s groans and creaks as it rocked on the rising tide. The occasional bell and muffled cry, somewhere out there in the moonless night.

Harriet still stared at the wall. Was it really little more than a day, since she had prepared for her daring adventure? As she contemplated what may lay ahead, her heart quickened and she began to feel fear rising in her stomach. Was fear and regret now stealing her heart as had been foretold?

She shut her eyes tight, covered her ears and willed herself to feel the warm sunshine, smell the scented meadows, and hear the twittering birds, with her beloved Tom beside her, in the Staffordshire countryside, far away. She was successful for just a brief moment, and then her fears engulfed her again. What if her ruse was discovered, her dreams dashed, and worst of all, actual imprisonment.

She clenched her jaw and pushed away those dark thoughts again. She finally began to relax and calm herself.

She gently stroked the brow of the sleeping child beside her and thought of the many times she had comforted the little ones, as terrifying nightmares had overtaken them while they slept in their tiny attic room. Someone else would have that duty now.

Her heart started to pound again as her thoughts drifted back to the daring plan Elizabeth and Ann had convinced her could be achieved.

On the docks this morning the damp sea air had smelt of salt and freedom, but tonight in the ship, it only smelt of fetid breath, coal tar, cheap wine and other more complicated smells.

There was still time to turn back. Tomorrow she could leave the ship and return to John, Ann and the little ones. They would be angry with her, but she could go back to her former life. A miserable life with no promise. A lonely existence, with her Tom, long gone to the other side of the world. With such difficult times, she now had no prospects of marriage. Only a slow creeping imprisonment, by family and society, in cold dark London.

She had had a home, true, but for how long? John and Ann, who were kin, had reluctantly taken her into their household some years ago, to help with their young children. It was just after her Tom had been sentenced to death. She could still recall in stark detail, that horrible day in the Staffordshire Court.

His sentence had later been changed to transportation and he had been sent to the hulks in Portsmouth Harbour. He had been working as a blacksmith on the harbour works. There had been some hope that he would complete his sentence on the hulks, and then return home. She could wait. However his petitions had been pushed aside, and he was to be transported to New South Wales. He was innocent, but that made no difference to those Judges! He was to be gone!

She looked across at the indistinct mound in the berth opposite, where Elizabeth lay with her youngest child. Was she having doubts too? No, thought Harriet, Elizabeth was resigned to her fate long ago. To go with her husband to faraway New South Wales. Harriet’s dream was only hours old, and still very fragile.

Harriet’s story is a different kind of writing to what I have done before in writing up our family history. Certainly a challenge and a steep learning curve, if I’m to be anyway successful. I still have to have an outline of facts to base the story on, but have to know so much more about life of those far off times, to put together the story.  I still have a long way to go, but day by day, I progress slowly.

 

The “Dash” of Thomas Hodgetts, Second Fleeter

Thomas Hodgetts, born 1763, Staffordshire, England, arrived in Sydney in 1790 aboard the Second Fleet. He died in Tasmania in 1823.

He is my husband’s ancestor and I have spent many years researching his life.

My challenge is now to get his story down on paper. I have spent the last few days collecting my notes, folders and computer files together to begin this task. Like all projects the hardest part is getting started.

While the research began at his death and progressed backwards through the surviving Tasmanian, Norfolk Island and New South Wales records to Staffordshire in England, the writing of the story is better explained from his birth through his youthful years, marriage, criminal records, transportation and life in New South Wales, Norfolk Island and Tasmania. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘dash’ in a person’s life.

You know when you see “Thomas Hodgetts, 1763 – 1823”, which refers to born 1763 and died 1823. The ‘dash’ years are their life story in between those dates. In Thomas’s case it spans 60 years.

I have now broken these 60 years into his life in England and his life in Australia. He was 27 years of age when he was transported in 1790, so that gives me 27 years in England and 33 years in Australia. In England it is the Georgian and early Regency period and in Australia early Colonial times, and all that implies in law and custom.

 We can piece the story through many records, but putting it all down in the historical and social context of the times without making some ‘gaff’ is the real challenge.

MALH0023509Above: One of the Petitions for Thomas Hodgetts [ Ref: Thomas Hodgetts Petition;1789,Home Office,HO13,Correspondence and Warrents,7/23,England and Wales; Crime, Prisons & Punishment,1770-1935,Institutions & Organizations, Prison Registers retrieved from Findmypast,15 May 2017 at http://search.findmypast.com.au/record?id=tna%2fccc%2f2a%2fho13%2f00006070 ]This is  also one of the documents I  photographed  when at the National Archives, London in 2014.

 Although I find it all most interesting, it is going to take some real discipline to sit at it day after day as ‘work’, especially with the busy life we lead.

The reason I am doing this project is for our children and grandchildren, but I know there are many thousands of descendants of Thomas Hodgetts in Australia, who are always keen to find out more on this ancestral line. Hopefully their interest will keep me on track with the project.

A Great Second Fleet Mystery-the Hodgetts Family

Our grandchildren are eighth generation born in Australia and are descendants of Thomas and Harriett Hodgetts, who arrived at Port Jackson on 28 June 1790 on board the Second Fleet.

I have been researching their ancestry on and off for over forty years, long before computers and the Internet, but it is only recently I have had the necessary time to devote to it again.

Originally back in the 1980’s, there was a small band of dedicated descendants of Thomas and Harriet Hodgetts, who searched the records in several libraries and archives throughout New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria. We corresponded and shared the information with each other. Several of us then contributed monies to have professional research done in Staffordshire, the native county of our Hodgetts ancestors.

Later other branches of the family became involved and this led to family reunions and the publication of the book, “The Brave Old Pioneers 1788-1988-A History of the Hodgetts,” by Richard J Hodgetts.

Much has been written about the Second Fleet and the Hodgetts in Australia in books such as the above mentioned, “ The Brave Old Pioneers” and “The Second Fleet- Britain’s Grim Convict Armada of 1790” by Michael Flynn. Several websites also tell much of the story on particular family lines.

On our Hodgetts ancestry I have collected many documents tracing the family back generation by generation in Australia, from Valerie Mary and James John Mackey (nee Hodgetts); Vernon Edward and Fedalis Hodgetts (nee Finlay); Edward and Jeanette Hodgetts (nee Wheeler); James and Mary Hodgetts (nee Fagan); John and Olivia Hodgetts (nee Lucas) to Thomas and Harriet Hodgetts. Over the last few months I checked and and reassessed all these documents.

Even though some research had been undertaken on the Hodgetts family in England many years ago, it was superficial and incomplete. I have turned my efforts to researching the family in Staffordshire, England. With the use of the Internet to search and identify documents in National and County Archives and Libraries throughout the world, and by using the facilities of the LDS to identify and order microfilms of many the parish records for Staffordshire and London, I have now been able to identify our Thomas Hodgetts. By purchasing documents and laying them out in time and context, I have been able to put together much of his life before he was transported.

Similiarly I have been able to identify his wife, Ann, and their reputed children. By tracing these forward in time, I found no evidence they emigrated to Australia at a later time. In fact they remained in their native place and some of them can be found in the census records, some sixty years later.

It has been suggested Thomas’s wife Ann, changed her name to ‘Harriet’ and came to Australia leaving the children behind. As I can now prove this was not the case, it raises the question, who was the woman who came on the Second Fleet, and later claimed to be ‘ Harriet Hodgetts’ the wife of Thomas Hodgetts?

As this woman is a direct ancestor of my husband’s family, I now need to concentrate on researching her story. A very challenging task indeed. However, I have found a woman I believe is a potential candidate and hope over the coming months with painstaking and in-depth research, I may find the documents to solve this enigma.

Meanwhile, I am writing the story of the Hodgett family in Staffordshire with references and notes to eventually share with the family, but I want to see what I can find on our ‘Harriet’ first.