December 22nd, 1924 Wedding of John Penson and Ellen Downes at Rockland All Saints. Photograph courtesy of Lucinda Bell-Tye
Although John Penson was born and raised in Willey, Shropshire, John’s maternal ancestors came from Norfolk. John, born in 1887, was one of four children of John Penson and his wife Lydia neé Matthews. He was known as ‘Jack’.
Lydia’s parents, James and Charlotte Matthews, and Charlotte’s father, Jeremiah Le Grice (also found as ‘Grice’), were living in Low Common, Great Ellingham at the time of the 1871 census. Although they were all born in Norfolk, none of them were born in Great Ellingham.
Jack Penson may well have visited his maternal family in Great Ellingham before moving to the village prior to his marriage to Ellen (Nellie) Downes.
The 1911 census finds 24 year old John (Jack) Penson with his parents, 55 year old John Penson and 53 year old mother Lydia living at the Head Gardener’s House, Willey, Shropshire. John Penson senior’s occupation is a domestic gardener and his son, Jack, a horseman on the farm. John and Lydia’s daughter Margaret, aged 22, is also living at home.
The year after the census of 1911, 25 year old Jack Penson travelled on the Mauretania to the United States arriving from Liverpool at Ellis Island, New York on March 29th, 1912. Jack’s elder brother George was already in the United States. After serving in the United States Army, Jack Penson came back to England. His brother George remained in the United States.
At some point before October, 1920, Tanyard Farm came into the ownership of Lydia Penson. By an Agreement dated 30th September, 1920, Lydia agreed to let Tanyard Farm (including the dwellinghouse, cottages, buildings and land comprising about 45 acres) to her son, Jack Penson, on 11th October, 1920 and on a yearly basis. Tanyard Farm had been let to William Harper.
I presume that Jack Penson moved into Tanyard Farm in the October of 1920 – four years before his marriage to Nellie Downes.
The 1911 census captures 15 year old Ellen Downes with her parents, George and Emma Downes, and brothers William 13, Sydney 11 and three year old Cecil, living in Rockland All Saints. Ellen’s father was a farmer.
Marriage, Baptism and Burial
37 year old John Penson (Jack) married 29 year old Ellen Beatrice Downes (Nellie) at Rockland All Saints on 22nd December 1924. The marriage certificate describes Jack as a farmer, and both he and Nellie signed the marriage register.
Jack and Nellie’s wedding cake which was made by Dove’s of Rocklands
Jack and Nellie’s son, Sidney John, was baptised on 2nd June, 1927 in the Parish Church at Great Ellingham. The family were living at Tanyard Farm.
Tragically, a year later Nellie became ill with tuberculosis. She spent some time in 1928 at Foxhall Road Sanatorium in Ipswich, but died on February 8th, 1929. Nellie was buried in Great Ellingham churchyard on February 13th.
Jack Penson with his young son Sidney John (known as John) continued to live at Tanyard Farm.
Headstone Ellen & John Penson. Great Ellingham Churchyard
https://www.libertyellisfoundation.org/passenger-details/czoxMjoiMTAwODcwMDEwMzk3Ijs=/czo5OiJwYXNzZW5nZXIiOw== accessed 11/11/2019
1911 census RG14/16040/14, RG14/11483/5
1871 census RG10/1841/93
Great Ellingham Parish Registers Norfolk Record Office PD/609
Penson Family Papers. Lucinda Bell-Tye