Tombstone of Ann Margetson in the Churchyard at Great Ellingham
An elaborate tombstone for Ann Margetson lies in Great Ellingham churchyard. The inscription on the tomb states that Ann Margetson was the widow of Abraham Downes of Attleborough. It also states that Ann was born on March 4th, 1828 and died on August 30th, 1919.
The tombstone is further inscribed with some of the lyrics from a Gospel Hymn of William Cowper (1731-1800)
|“Then in a nobler sweeter song I’ll sing Thy power to save |
When this poor lisping stammering tongue lies silent in the grave”
These words may have had some meaning to Ann and, perhaps, brought some comfort to the family.
Who was Ann Margetson and why does the tombstone not mention a “Mr Margetson”?
In working out the who Ann Margeteson and Abraham Downes were, I came across many marriages and burials!
I began the search by looking at the 1871 census, which captures both Abraham and Ann Downes.
71 year old farmer, Abraham Downes is with wife Ann aged 41 and daughters 8 year old Martha and 6 year old Jemima living in Attleborough. The family have a lodger 22 year old journeyman miller, Charles Hazell.
The census also tells us that Abraham and the two children were born in Attleborough and Ann in Little Ellingham. Working back from the age given on the census, Abraham was born around 1800 and Ann around 1830.
Abraham Downes and Ann Hall married in 1862.
Ann Hall the daughter of Thomas and Mary Ann Halls was baptised in the parish church of Little Ellingham on May 3rd, 1829.
In 1841, 12 year old Ann Hall is with her parents and siblings in Church Green, Little Ellingham. The census lists her parents as 50 year old Thomas Halls and 35 year old Mary Ann. There were 11 children in the household (including Ann) with ages ranging from 20 to two months.
By 1851, the Hall family moved to Anchor Corner, Little Ellingham. The census shows Ann’s mother 45 year old widow, Mary Ann Halls as the head of the household. Ann’s father Thomas died in 1843. Eight children are now listed in the household including 22 year old Ann, who is described as a house servant. It is not clear whether Ann is keeping house for her mother or whether she was a servant in another household. However, I think it more likely the former.
The 1861 census finds 31 year old Ann Hall living in Goose Common, Little Ellingham. Ann is described as the head of a household comprising herself and her six month old daughter Charlotte. Ann is unmarried and is working as a shirt maker.
Charlotte the daughter of Ann Hall, a spinster of Little Ellingham, was baptised at Little Ellingham on October 28th, 1860. Sadly, the death of a Charlotte Hall aged one year was registered in the Wayland District between July and September 1861, within a short time of the census.
Marriage to Widower Abraham Downes
The following year, Ann Hall married Abraham Downes. Ann was around the age of 34 and Abraham approximately 62. With such a difference in their ages, it is no surprise that Abraham had been married before.
Abraham Downes’s Three Marriages
Marriage to Elizabeth Lighten in 1819
On June 27th, 1819, Abraham Downes married Elizabeth Lighten in Besthorpe.
The 1841 census shows agricultural labourer Abraham Downes the head of a household in Besthorpe. The household comprises Abraham aged 40, Elizabeth (also 40) and children Hannah aged 9, Martha 7, Emaley (Emily?) 5 and three year old Robert.
10 years later, the 1851 census captures 50 year old farmer, Abraham Downes with his wife Elizabeth and 14 year old son Robert living in Norwich Road, Attleborough. The family have three lodgers.
Elizabeth Downes died between the census of 1851 and the next census of 1861, as the census (of 1861) reveals Abraham with new wife Maria living in Mill Lane, Attleborough.
Marriage to Maria Fisher in 1860
Following Elizabeth’s death, Abraham married widow Maria Fisher in the Parish Church at Attleborough on June 24th, 1860. Maria was the daughter of John Riches.
Marriage to Ann Hall in 1862
The marriage to Maria was short as Maria Downes died just two years later in 1862, leaving Abraham once again a widower. Abraham married Ann Hall the same year.
Death of Abraham Downes in 1877
Abraham and Ann had been married for some 17 years when Abraham died c.1877. A death of an Abraham Downes aged 78 was registered in the Wayland District between January and March of that year. It is possible that Abraham died late in December 1876, and his death registered just into the following year.
Widow Ann Downes
In 1881, 48 year old widow and nurse Ann Downes is living with her two daughters, Martha aged 18 and Jemima 16, in Bow Street, Great Ellingham. Both girls are described as dressmakers.
George and Ann Margetson
The following year, Ann Downes married George Margetson. Their marriage was registered between October and December 1882.
However, the 1891 census captures the couple several miles apart: Ann (as Ann Margetstone) is at the home of her daughter Jemima (listed on the census as Emma J) and her husband John Pope in Upwell (Norfolk). 55 year old agricultural labourer George Margetson is around 50 miles away in Great Ellingham. George is described as a married man, but his wife (of course) is not listed as being at home on census night.
It is worth mentioning that the census records the persons in the household on the census night. Even if a person was just away from home and visiting family or friends, he or she would be listed in the household they were visiting and not their home (although it is not impossibe to find that a person is listed in both households).
It was also usual for a visitor to be noted on the census as just that i.e. ‘visitor’. However Ann is listed on the census as ‘step-mother’ to John Pope and is not noted as a visitor. This may suggest that Ann was staying with her daughter and son in law for more than a few nights. Was the marriage to George Margetson problematic?
Who was George Margetson?
Although there were two children named George Margetson baptised in the Parish Church at Great Ellingham in 1835, I believe the George who married Ann Margetson was the son of William and Ann Margetson who was baptised on 15 November 1835.
The 1851 census finds 15 year old George with his parents at ‘Stalling Common’ Great Ellingham. George’s father farm labourer William was aged 70 and born in Great Ellingham. His mother Ann was aged 54 and born in Attleborough.
Marriage to Elizabeth Marjoram
George Margetson also had three marriages. His first wife was Elizabeth Marjoram.
25 year old George Margetson married 21 year old Elizabeth Marjoram in the Parish Church at Great Ellingham on November 10th, 1859. Both were single and of Great Ellingham.
Six children of George and Elizabeth Margetson were baptised in the Parish Church: George on October 7th, 1860, followed by Hannah on January 12th, 1862, Sarah Ann two years later on 24th April, 1864, James William on January 5th, 1865, Susanna on 1st April, 1866, and finally Julia a year later on 12th December, 1867.
Sadly, burials appear in the Great Ellingham Parish Registers for three of the children. First-born George was buried on December 3rd, 1861 aged 18 months, James William was buried on June 1st, 1865 aged seven months, and Julia (also aged seven months) was buried on January 8th, 1868.
Tragically, Elizabeth Margetson was buried in the churchyard just a week after her daughter Julia. Elizabeth was 29 years old.
Two years later, George Margetson remarries.
Marriage to widow Hannah Neave
On the 16th January, 1870, widower George Margetson married widow Hannah Neave in the Church of St James, Great Ellingham.
George was 34 and, at 48, his bride Hannah was some fourteen years his senior. Hannah, who had been married twice before, was the daughter of Thomas Webster.
The 1871 census captures the couple living in Hingham Road, Great Ellingham. 35 year old George Margetson is the head of an extended household comprising his wife Hannah aged 50, Hannah’s four children from her previous two marriages – Thurston children Rebecca aged 19, Hannah 17, John 15 and 11 year old Constance Neave together with the surviving Margetson children from George’s marriage to Elizabeth – Hannah aged 9, Sarah Ann 7 and five year old Susan.
George Margetson Widowed Again
By 1881, George at 45 years of age is once again a widower.
The census finds him living at Brick Kiln House, Great Ellingham. With George is 29 year old Rebecca Thurston (the daughter of George’s late wife Hannah) who is described on the census as a ‘niece’ to George. Rebecca’s occupation is housekeeper. It is likely that Rebecca is keeping house for her step-father.
Also in the household are two of George’s daughters from his marriage to Elizabeth Marjoram – 17 year old Sarah Ann and 15 year old Susannah. Both girls are employed as field workers.
An eleven month old child John Thurston born in Great Ellingham completes the household. He is described as a boarder. I think it likely that baby John is Rebecca Thurston’s child.
Marriage to Ann Downes
A year later, George Margetson marries Ann Downes. As mentioned, the couple were captured in separate households by the 1891 census.
Death of George Margetson
Just over a year after the 1891 census was taken, George Margetson is dead. On the 3rd July, 1892, 56 year old George Margetson was buried in the churchyard at Great Ellingham.
Widow Ann Margetson
The 1901 census finds 70 year old widow Ann Margetson boarding with the Chilleystone family in Scoulton Road, Rockland St Peter.
Walter and Pamela Chilleystone are in their late 20s and have a son, Walter, under a month old. Ann is described as a ‘monthly nurse’. I believe that Ann is with the family looking after the new mother and child (which is what a ‘monthly nurse’ did).
By the time Ann Margetson is 80 years of age, she is living in a four roomed dwelling in Goose Common, Little Ellingham. The census of 1911 lists Ann as the head of a household comprising herself and 16 year old Daisy Trollope who is described as Ann’s adopted daughter. Daisy was born in Attleborough.
The census also states that Ann had three children born alive – all of whom were still living. However, this conflicts with my theory that Ann’s daughter Charlotte born in 1860 prior to her marriage to Abraham Downes had died.
Nevertheless, given that the 1911 census lists Daisy as an ‘adopted daughter’, I am wondering whether Ann chose not to include Charlotte in the figures for the purpose of the census as she had been born out of wedlock some 40 years prior to the census, and instead, she included Daisy with Martha and Jemima?
6 year old Daisy Trollope is found to be a visitor at the household of Ephraim and Rebecca Doubleday at Turnpike Road, Besthorpe on the 1901 census.
Rebecca was formerly Rebecca Thurston, the step-daughter of George Margetson. Also in the Doubleday household is Rebecca’s son 20 year old John Thurston and another visitor, four month old Bertie Ayton.
I wonder whether Rebecca and her husband regularly looked after children. Ten years later, Daisy is living with Ann Margetson as her ‘adopted daughter’.
1911 Martha and Jemima
In 1911, Ann and Abraham’s daughter 47 year old Jemima (as Emma J) and her husband John Pope are living at Small Lode, Upwell. Jemima and John had been married for 29 years and had no children.
Jemima’s sister, 47 year old Martha, is with her husband William Reynolds, a Veterinary & Castrator, at Anchor Corner Little Ellingham. The couple had also been married for 29 years and had no children.
Ann Margetson, formerly the wife of Abraham Downes and the daughter of Thomas and Mary Ann Halls, died on August 30th, 1919 at the age of 91 years.
Why did the Tombstone not mention George Margetson?
Ann and George Margetson had been married about 10 years before George died. We can only speculate as to why George is not mentioned on Ann’s tombstone. Were there problems in the marriage? Did they live apart for most of their married life? Was there animosity in the extended family?
However, given that Ann’s daughters’ father was Abraham Downes (and not George Margetson) and one or both of them were likely to have organised and paid for the tombstone, this could be reason enough for George not to be mentioned on the tombstone.
1841 census HO107/785/18, HO107/781/2
1851 census HO107/1823/81, HO107/1823/41, HO107/1823/116
1861 census RG9/1237/106, RG91237/34, RG9/1237/97
1871 census RG10/1841/38, RG10/1841/81
1881 census RG11/1874/83, RG11/1974/85
1891 census RG12/1549/73, RG12/1309/105
1901 census RG13/1868/72, RG13/1867/63
1911 census RG14/11484/40, RG14/11484/32
https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/1006. Accessed 02.09.2019
Great Ellingham Parish Registers Norfolk Record Office PD/609. Also available at FamilySearch.org https://www.familysearch.org/search/image/index?owc=4J8C-CB7%3A29627201%3Fcc%3D1416598
Little Ellingham Parish Registers Norfolk Record Office PD/658. Transcription Norfolk Family History Society https://www.norfolkonlinerecordsearch.co.uk/search/Hall–Ann/3453-little-ellingham-baptisms/ Accessed 03.09.2019
https://www.norfolkonlinerecordsearch.co.uk/search/Hall–Ann/3453-little-ellingham-baptisms/ Accessed 03.09.2019
Besthorpe Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office PD/309. Transcription: Norfok Family History Society https://www.norfolkonlinerecordsearch.co.uk/search/Downes–Abraham/2068-besthorpe-marriages/2264046-27.06.1819/ accessed 03.09.2019
Attleborough Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office PD/438. Also available at FamilySearch.org https://www.familysearch.org/search/image/index?owc=4JZS-4D1%3A29358401%3Fcc%3D1416598
GRO https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/indexes_search.asp Accessed 04.09.2019
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https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?cite=8nMlpnrid1tgNPk5QPL7qQ&scan=1 Accessed 02.09.2019
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https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?cite=tndakTI%2Bfw6aZtQChf3rPw&scan=1 Accessed 02.9.2019