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Don’t get me wrong, anaesthesia and lectures on the subject usually send me to sleep (haha), but a lecture this week (1) gave me a whole new perspective on my career. Was it a dynamic ‘change your life’ title? No. Essentially the history of anaesthesia – I certainly learned some history too: The first ‘Anaesthesia’ Journal was published in October 1946, 75 years ago. It was delayed due to the paper shortage during WW 2 – I didn’t know about that!
We heard how the filth and horrors of the barber surgeon’s operation was transformed to the oblivious patient in the clinical cleanliness of a modern ‘chamber of sleep’. Anaesthetists now are highly skilled in providing cocktails of drugs to make us sleep, forget the experience and keep us pain free during surgical procedures. But back then the introduction of ether and chloroform revolutionised the patient experience. Previously Mesmerism – the attempt to induce a trance-like state through processes similar to hypnosis, alcohol and something to bite down on, combined with ropes and strong bystanders were the only options. Actually there did need to be some patient collaboration, usually in the context of highly persuasive factors such as severe pain or disabilities (eg vision loss or bladder dysfunction), or the threat of imminent death.
There was not a straight forward transition to modern anaesthetics, I feel incredibly grateful to those early pioneering patients who enabled me to have practically painless key hole surgery for my gallbladder whilst blissfully unaware, far better even than my training days when cholecystectomy was a major operation routinely requiring morphine in hospital for some time.
My experience of surgery is only as a medical student, 6 months 1984-5 as a surgical house officer, and more recently as patient and relative. The first operation I witnessed was insertion of gold wires into someone’s brain, with the patient awake to state the effects of the insertion. Rather a surreal experience for me let alone the patient – perhaps akin to the heady effects of morphine!
As a junior doctor, the consultant turned to me one day and insisted that I must do an above knee amputation, so that in an emergency situation, if I saw someone trapped under a tram, I could do it. One of the nurses did point out to him there were no trams left in the area, but whilst that surprised him, it did not deflect him from his intent. Fortunately I have never needed to invoke that skill since!
One of the first operations under anaesthesia is said to be the amputation of Frederick Churchill’s leg by Robert Liston 21 Dec 1846 (2). Ahead of his time, Liston removed his frock coat, washed his hands and donned a clean apron before each operation. Study of 66 of his amputations 1835-1840 showed only 10 patients died, <1 in 6, whereas other eminent London hospitals boasted only losing 1 in 4 amputees to the mortuary.
That first anaesthetic experience, Frederick Churchill’s silence and stillness initially dumbfounded Liston. So dramatic. A sleeping patient not only allows quiet for the surgeon to concentrate, but the stillness makes the technical process easier, allowing much more precision and finer work. General anaesthesia allowed surgeons to start abdominal and even chest operations that could not have been contemplated before. Surgical mortality therefore increased initially, until techniques developed, hygiene and infection prevention methods were understood, and the era of antibiotics dawned.
Before anaesthesia, speed was Liston’s main weapon. He aimed to complete the amputation (from first cut to last stitch) in 30 seconds. Hardly surprising that occasionally things got in the way – one poor patient’s testicles and an assistant’s fingers!
I witnessed rapid female sterilisations in 1984 during my student elective in India. Picture simple operating tables set up as the sides of a square amidst power cuts in very basic village surroundings. The surgeon in the centre. Four women, one on each table. The tables were then positioned at 45 degrees, with heads down, so that the women’s bent knees dangling over the higher end held them in place. Gravity kept bowels out of the surgeon’s target area. It was a quick in and out job. 2 minutes per person. As he finished each one, the table was lowered, the patient went home, and another took her turn. How would you compare 2 minutes of terror and agony with the months of rising angst and concerns about infections patients face here today?
John Bonica’s visionary book on multidisciplinary pain control was published 1953. He apparently paid his way through medical school by wrestling professionally – perhaps inflicting and experiencing pain led to him recognise the multifaceted causes and treatments for pain?
Some developments catch on quickly – perhaps microwave ovens in the 1970 are an example. Mobile phones have had more of a gradual development from the ‘original ‘bricks’ of the wealthy to the near universal coverage, hands free watches and ear pieces of today. Good pain management has certainly had a slow trajectory. Clearly people have always suffered pain. Herbal approaches with willow bark and poppies have been around for centuries, yet we are far from the ideal solution still. Expert pain control requires delicately nuanced care. (From a medicines perspective we have not moved far, using aspirin and morphine – derivatives of the herbal remedies along with old fashioned nerve calming agents originally used for depression).
I realised pain control was an issue through an interest in cancer and palliative care. I approached Macmillan to set up some GP posts (one day per week) and took up one of the posts in 2000 for 9 years, telling anyone that would listen about the WHO pain ladder, the patient centred approach, good communication, considering social psychological and spiritual aspects in addition to physical, promoting ‘Gold Standards’ of palliative care and active care of the dying. I helped write a local booklet with a CD on pain management. There was a very real need for education but I didn’t have a sense of history and our place in the learning curve, until this lecture.
I was much more aware of surfing at the forefront of the wave of change during my two years in Malawi 2010-12, treating Kaposi’s sarcoma patients and those with various other untreatable cancers. Liquid morphine had only just been approved for use in the country. I was lucky to be involved in an education program promoting safe and effective use of liquid morphine, as part of pain control using the WHO ladder. Dispensing it largely in drinking bottles, we added green or red colouring to stop the clear liquid being mistaken for water.
As genealogists we are encouraged to write our own life story. Many of us know where we were when the twin towers were hit or when Princess Diana died. The Covid crisis and death of Prince Philip are perhaps noteworthy moments in our history. But my question is more about changes that have happened in your lifetime. Things that you are or have been part of or that affect your daily life. I am no pioneer, following on behind, but still seeing and making changes. What changes have you been part of that mark your place in history?
(1) Constructing the Chamber of Sleep: Emotions and Early Anaesthesia The Evolution of Pain Management Lecture given 16 April 2021 by Drs Michael Brown and Douglas Justins for the Association of Anaesthetists.
This month’s blogging prompt for #OnePlaceStudies Society and #SticklepathOne.
The advice for any genealogical project is to start with what you know. Those bits of ‘knowledge’ can then be explored, facts confirmed and expanded.
What do I know about the two longstanding Public Houses in #Sticklepath – The Taw River and The Devonshire? (There was also The Rising Sun up the hill towards Exeter, but that is probably outside my remit.)
My parents enjoyed curry nights at the Devonshire Inn. The leat runs close behind. Their car park is one the opposite side of the road, next to the old ‘candle factory’ with notices about Trafalgar Way on it. I believe the foundry men were mainly in the Devonshire Inn at the time that business literally collapsed and came to a grinding halt in 1960.
The Taw River Inn, known previously as the Taw River Hotel and prior to that The Cornish Inn, has two plaques built into the walls giving the Hole surname and dates. I know there was a devastating fire at the Taw River.
In the 1960s there were children from both attending Sticklepath school so I remember that the Devonshire was run by the Jamiesons and the Taw River by the Hawleys. Entering either building still evokes a strong emotional response in me that says ‘children are not allowed in here’ and prompts me to think more of the Methodist background and temperance tendencies of many Sticklepath folk! Yet for many villagers these institutions were the centre of their social life, a hub of village life, with many of life’s celebrations births, marriages and also deaths ending with drink at the pub. Many friends met there at the end of a hard day’s labour, to chill, for company, for fun, or to commiserate and cheer each other up.
Having worked in Wigan as a casualty officer in the later 1980s when fun theme pubs were in their heyday, I perhaps know better than most of the injuries, brawls and accidents that can result from over-indulgence!
We all recognise Pubs by their signs, usually swinging above the door.
Advertising was important and having postcards made was one option. The line drawing of The Devonshire on this postcard seems to me to suit very well the ‘under-stated’ nature of this cosy institution. Perhaps from the 1960s, it also reminds us how phone numbers increased dramatically over the years! If the artist turned his head to the right there was the Post Office and shop run by Miss Gladys Ogilvie in Eddington Cottage, or turning to the left he would have seen the Foundry. The Smiths lived in the house we see here on the right, the Strattons in the house on the left. The thatched roof and window boxes make it stand out and look attractive. The often open door invites us to step inside. (Note it displays one of Sticklepath’s unusual architecture features – gutters on a thatched roof).
From reading about Sticklepath history it is clear the Taw River Inn was where coroner’s inquests were held, the November 5th bonfire was at one time held in the street outside, and the Hunt often met there. Sticklepath Revels saw sweet fruity buns and biscuits on sale from both pubs. At least the Taw River, perhaps both, were coaching Inns. Prior to the Village Hall being built, the Pubs would have been the largest meeting places apart from Church or Chapel (which were not likely to accommodate the full range of activities). Later, catering for Village Hall events was often done from the pub kitchens.
The Inns were important for the tourist trade too, as attractive places both to visit and to stay. People let rooms or their entire house to tourists, often ‘for the season’, and the names of new guests were printed:
Near the bottom of the article we see that Mrs Brady and family, Miss Broome, Miss Walter and Mr J.E. Monk had all arrived to stay at the Taw River Hotel that week. Day trippers too took advantage of the scenery and enjoyed a rest and refreshment in the pub:
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette Daily Telegrams Wednesday 30 July 1884 tells us that Exeter’s St Sidwell’s and St Catherine’s Choirs along with the organist, clergy and Sunday school teachers – over 60 people, enjoyed their annual outing, this time a visit to Belstone and Sticklepath. Some of the visitors had:
“ascended Cawsand Beacon. After dinner some wandered along the picturesque vale of the Taw, while others walked over Belstone Tor. At Sticklepath Mr Knapman, of the Taw River Hotel, provided an excellent tea, after which there was a pleasant drive home.”
The court (quarter sessions or petty sessions) often have renewal or handover of Victualler’s licenses, permissions for extended opening, and information about brawls and unrest. These are not accessible to me at present, but much of this was reported in the newspapers. This transcript concerns the early days of the Flower Show:
At Oke Petty Sessions on Wednesday 12 Aug 1891 Mr C.B. Woollcombe and Mr. W. H. Holley granted extension of three hours to Mr. Richard Knapman, of tbe Taw River Hotel, and Mr. Partridge, of the Devonshire Inn, Sticklepath, on account of the Cottage Garden Show and Athletic Sports.
Here we see the license changing hands and the magistrates ‘rules’ on an extension:
We can also catch glimpses of the lives of those running the pubs as with this sad ‘In Memoriam’ notice:
Descriptions of events can tell us more about the premises, here mentioning a skittles alley:
The Western Times Tuesday 19 August 1879 tells us “This little village was more than usually astir on Monday, when the greater portion of the working classes were to be seen in holiday attire on the occasion of a dinner being given by W.W.Symington Esq., to all who had taken part in the erection of his new residence, laying out the grounds &c.” Contractors are listed including: “the decorations by Mr Emanuel Tucker junr., of Sticklepath”. Details of the event follow “On Monday all who had worked on the buildings or premises assembled at “Rockside” (the name given to Mr Symington’s residence), where a procession was formed, which, headed by the Sticklepath Band, marched to the “Taw River Hotel”, Sticklepath, where a substantial dinner of good old English fare was provided by Mr Knapman, and laid out in the skittle-alley, which was tastefully decorated with evergreens and mottoes; there were also several fine bouquets of flowers on the tables. Dinner was served in good style and the viands were of first quality and well cooked. Mr. Symington took the chair, with Mr John Cook as vice-chairman. The company numbered between 90 and 100 persons”. Toasts were proposed. “songs were sung by the company, many in the old rustic style, and the Sticklepath Band played selections of music during the evening. A very pleasant and agreeable time was spent.”
Such reports are ‘name rich’ both inhabitants generally in the village but also the licensees which should allow a list to be created… another ‘little’ project begins!
Amy Johnson Crow’s #52Ancestors aims to help us write something about an ancestor each week, with topic suggestions. My metronome timing has slipped somewhat, too busy with other projects! Music played a huge part in Charles Roger Finch Bowden’s life. Roger was a tenor soloist. When he realised his children were learning violin, clarinet and viola he took the hint and started to learn to play ‘cello to complete the quartet. We even gave a family concert in Sticklepath Methodist Chapel with wife Ann doing short readings and poems to keep everyone entertained. Perhaps 1978?
On 24th December 1927 Maria Palmer bought No. 2 Ska View Cottages Sticklepath. The previous owner, her father, Mr James Neill had died in February. Sadly his other daughter Beatrice had died in the interim. (Will dated 7 April 1927, she died on 26 May 1927). Frank Richards, her husband, was the sole Executor and Beatrice left her estate (which included a half share of No 2 Ska View) to her nephew Bernard William Palmer aged 13y, the son of Maria and John Palmer. The conveyance therefore became a little complex legally, with John Palmer representing the ‘infant’ son Bernard in the transaction.
Frank Richards was the headmaster of Sticklepath School and his wife’s death is noted in the school records, just to say that he took a half day because of her death!
No.2 was valued by Mr Arthur John Powlesland of Okehampton, a duly qualified valuer, who fixed the price as £320. The current tenant was a Miss Cann.
I have at this time no evidence to suggest Maria Palmer ever lived in Ska View Cottages. She wrote her Will 12 June 1958. Her son Bernard became a Chartered Accountant, and at the time of Maria’s death lived at 22 Mill Lane Felixstowe, Suffolk. Maria was said to be of the same address and formerly of ‘Kolar’ Okehampton. Maria died at The East Suffolk Hospital, Ipswich on 24th October 1958. She left everything to her son, Probate was granted in Exeter to him 9th January 1959. Assent to the vesting of Number 2 Ska View Cottages from Mrs M Palmer deceased to Bernard William Palmer is dated 22nd April 1959.
At some point Bernard moved to 19 Goyfield Avenue, Felixstowe. 11 December 1959 the cottage was sold again to Mr Charles Bowden, haulage contractor of Cleave House Sticklepath for £550. Witness to the signature was RK Barron of Foundry House Sticklepath, Tool Maker. In March 1965 a further valuation, by Anthony Wonnacott, likely for re-mortgaging purposes shows the property to be valued at £1,500.
A Memorandum appended to the conveyance shows that 26th October 1992 Charles Bowden gave the garden by Deed of Gift to Charles Roger Finch Bowden (his son) in fee simple. Charles died 20 March 1994 and Probate was granted (Bristol) 16 Nov 1995. The property assented to Charles Roger Finch Bowden and his wife Ann Rosalie Lloyd Bowden 28 January 1997. Land Registry Official Copy of Register of Title in 2008 valuation was £140,000 (without the detached garden). The type of joint ownership was amended 12 Dec 2012. Marketing websites show it sold in 2018 for £150,000.
In 1975 plans were submitted to make an interconnecting doorway between No.1 and No.2 Ska View Cottages. At that time Miss Phyllis Finch lived in No. 2 and the doorway and firecheck door enabled her to visit her sister in No.1 without venturing outdoors in the final weeks of her life. Planning was approved 17 October 1975. She died in March 1976. The doorway has since been blocked up.
I have not included much detail of the owners themselves, and even less of other occupiers. Perhaps another time. I am also aware that there may be other connections – I spent many hours in the Ska View Cottages as a child, visiting relatives or with my ‘child-minder’ after school, which is of course not documented. Nor do the papers survive to tell us how the houses were financed, how much mortgage was payable. I do not have any insurance documents for No. 2. ‘Official searches’ in 1959 do not add anything specific. Several documents declare no land tax was payable on these small properties.
It is interesting to see the increasing valuation or sale prices:
1890. £100. Sale
1924. £380 Sale
1927. £320 Valuation/Assent
1959. £550 Sale
1965. £1,500 Valuation
2008. £140,000. Valuation
2018. £150,000 Sale
One might surmise that the assent value in 1927 was on the low side but market fluctuations may mean it was accurate, and there was a tenant in situ.
Perhaps equally interesting is to understand the size and type of housing of a headmaster and mine manager in the 1920s, perhaps some of the better off villagers, with a total floor area of 56.5 sq m . The plan prepared for Stags estate agent Okehampton 2017 shows there were two downstairs rooms and two upstairs.
There was no bathroom in their time. It is not clear when a bathroom was added to No. 2, planning was sought for indoor bathrooms in other cottages in 1972. The outdoor toilet across the yard was certainly in regular use in 1960s. They did not have covered sewerage or electiricity, so no electrical appliances. (Details of how the drains were ‘flushed ‘ see Ladywell).
The detached garden was a small allotment used to grow vegetables, a necessity not a hobby. Compare that to expectations of families today both in terms of space, amenities and services.
Sticklepath has several small terraces of houses running parallel to the road. The cottages are well built of solid masonary. Originally they had a shared roof space – as with many old rural houses this has provided a roost for bats (myotis sp.).
During renovation work in 2017 a small Victorian range was found in No. 2 kitchen. The plaque above suggests it was made or at least sold by an Okehampton firm. It was in a poor state and Okehampton Museum were not interested in preserving the remains. It seems very likely Captain Neill and his family would have benefitted from food cooked in such an oven, on the hob, a fire in the grate and bread from the bread oven. A family with these facilities may have made extra to sell to other villagers.
Times change and No.2 is now a holiday cottage, no longer accomodation for local residents. The railings and matching porches (also seem on Farley Cottage and previously on Effra, opposite the Methodist Chapel) give some character and unity to this row of cottages.
I have been contacted by a number of people who are asking about their #Sticklepath House. I recommend the book “Tracing Your House History: A Guide For Family Historians” (Tracing Your Ancestors) by @GillBlanchard
For those willing to splash out a bit more there is the Zoom House History Show and follow up lectures (it looks like the 15th May show will be recorded for those signing up who can’t make it on the day). Watch out for free zoom lectures too! IF you are on Twitter join #househistoryhour on Thursdays 7-8pm.
YOUR HOUSE – There is so much to explore. What can you learn from the construction – bricks and mortar, granite, or wattle and daub. What are the windows like? Some old ones in Sticklepath slide sideways to open. Thatch or slate? What gutters are there? (It is unusual to have gutters with thatch but several Sticklepath houses have them). What evidence is there of extensions or other changes? Can you find old photographs or postcards showing your house? Are there some in your family album if you have lived there for a while, that show old decor or changes to the rooms? What are the names of people who have lived in the house? What can you find out about them? Is your house shown on old maps or can you start to date when the house was built from maps?
Trying to find your house site on old maps is a good place to start – try the National Library of Scotland Ordnance survey 25 inch to mile and other maps on that site. They make great illustrations for your file too:
Satellite images too can be useful, from the same website or Google maps etc.
Try a simple Google search using your house name and Sticklepath. You may be lucky! If your house is listed some details will be found online. In any case reading about those listed houses (the ones in our Sticklepath!) and the conservation area character appraisal 2017 can add other background.
Do you have your house deeds? If so go through each document to see what names and dates and changes to the building/garden you can find. If you don’t have the deeds, try to locate them, ask the previous owners. Try putting your house name into Devon Archive search or The National Archive Discovery search – you never know if something might pop up. A key part of deeds are the Wills or administration of those owners who died and state in their Will what is to happen to the property. IF you don’t have access to the deeds but have names of owners, search the above archives online or Gov.uk for the Wills and Probate of known owners Note there are tabs for different dates and for soldier’s wills (small charge).
You can research previous owners or occupiers lives through the census records or newspapers. What was their occupation? Did they have servants? Reports of funerals or obituaries can be especially helpful. There are many free genealogy sites, see Cyndi’s list for example. Some allow you to see there is a document but charge for seeing them. Make a note of the reference. Libraries often have free access to subscription genealogy websites. (During lockdown some were giving access at home if you had a library card).
House sale details – modern ones may still be found online. Again photos and plans can be useful images in your ‘report’. Auction details in old newspapers may be found, both for the building and lists of furniture for example. Planning documents can also be interesting and provide more details.
The Experts recommend starting from today and documenting who lives there now. Perhaps make a note of who was there on census night 2021! How long have you lived there? Where did you or your family come from and why? Are there any particular features of your house? Photograph and explain them. Or make a note to try to find out about them later if you are not sure what their origins were – showing photographs to interested people might get you answers. Photos of your rooms and garden today will certainly be interesting in 5, 10, 50, 100 years! Perhaps keep a piece of wallpaper if you change it or make a note of any structural changes you make or have made for future reference.
You can work backwards through the 1939 register and census records 1911 backwards every 10 years. (Check for the 1921 census in a year’s time!) The house may not be named though so occupier’s names may be needed. You also need to know which Parish to search, and can find helpful links on Genuki – Sampford Courtenay for most of Sticklepath, South Tawton for those on the Exeter side of the bridge, Belstone Parish for those up Skaigh Valley. The Sampford Courtenay enumerator for Sticklepath seems to have largely kept his papers in the order he visited the houses. This is not true for all. Trade Directories can also state names and addresses (look under Sampford Courtenay or the Parish as above).
Chat to current neighbours and long standing members of the community. Do they know who lived there before you? What do they remember about them? Would your close neighbours be willing to let you look at their house deeds? Deeds often note information about party walls, access rights and names of then current neighbours.
After lockdown, chat to members of Sticklepath Heritage Group who may have more ideas. Many Sticklepath houses were photographed in 1983 and the photos are in the Village Hall archive. There is also a roll of wallpaper on which most house names were written in that year, with a list of who people at that time remembered to have lived there.
Searching Google for ‘How to’ and ‘House History’ reveals many websites. For example:
I have a number of documents concerning Number 2. Notes with them suggest they were for a long time stored by Lloyd’s Bank for safe-keeping and from time to time transferred to solicitors as different things happened eg transfer of the garden and shed to different ownership.
Key documents include:
26 Dec 1890
Mr & Mrs Mew and and Mrs Bissett (beneficiaries of Thomas Lethbridge) to Mrs Mary Richards
From these it should be straight forward to build a list of owners. Of course they were not necessarily the occupiers, and deeds don’t mention many other family members. The Census and possibly directories can help with occupiers. Though often specific addresses are not stated in the census we can sometimes make an educated guess knowing who their neighbours were. For Sticklepath it seems the enumerator often did put entries in order. Just ‘The Old Cottage’ lies between the terrace and the village hall, which is also mentioned on the census helps.
Just to re-cap: It seems Mr Thomas Lethbridge had the terrace of 4 Ska View Cottages built, which may or may not have been completed in his lifetime. The New cottages were sold at auction 1890 by his daughters and son-in-law who had inherited the properties. There is no suggestion they were lived in at the time. Mrs Mary Richards, widow of William Richards formerly of Ball Farm, Sampford Courtenay, bought the property in 1890. Her will states her address as Ska View Cottages, good evidence she lived in No.2. She made a number of interesting bequests (lots of extra people named), but left the main part of her £561 8s 11d estate to her niece Elizabeth Brady wife of John Brady, gentleman of Barnstaple in 1900.
10 June 1909 Elizabeth Brady died intestate (no will). Mr James Brady her son of St.Paul-des-metis in the Province of Alberta, Canada, gave the property to his father, husband of Elizabeth, in a Conveyance dated 13 April 1910 for his use on the understanding it was passed back to himself on the death of the father. “In consideration of natural love and affection”. This conveyance notes that a stable and coach house had recently been erected on the garden plot.
The newspaper report of her funeral as well as knowing she is the niece of Mary Richards, would allow a basic family tree to be drawn up. It does not look like either Elizabeth or her husband actually lived in the property at No 2 Ska View.
18 May 1915 John Brady made his Will. 1 July 1924 he died. Probate granted 24 Sept 1924. His executors were another son Bernard Brady and solicitor William Edwin Pitts Tucker. There is no mention of James Brady the son in Canada in the conveyance. On 27 Sept 1924 No. 2 Ska View Cottages was sold to James Neill of No. 3 Ska View Cottages for £380. (His son-in-law Frank Richards and daughter Beatrice lived in No. 4). The property at No.2 was occupied by Mrs Portrey (Portsey/Portrey).
The documents jump from one owner’s death to the next. James Neill wrote his Will on 2 Oct 1926. He died 26 Feb 1927 at No.3 Ska View Cottages. Estate valued at £4313 19s 1d Probate was granted. No. 2 passed to his daughter Maria Palmer 24th December 1927.
At first glance No. 2 passing from father to daughter looks straight forward. However the conveyance adds a further sad part to the story. Tomorrow is another day and another installment!
Exploration of Ska View Cottages continues with a detailed look at the first indenture or conveyance document, written in 1890.
This row of cottages is not listed although both Cleave House and The Old Cottage on either side are. From the 1890 auction notice (accessed through the British Newspaper Archive ) we know Ska View Cottages were Freehold and Newly Built. The auction was due 27 August 1890, and if the 4 cottages were not sold in one lot they would be separately auctioned. It seems no one was interested in all four. Luckily I have the deeds – indentures, conveyances and will extracts, that allow a picture of the ownership of No 2 Ska View Cottages to be built up.
At first sight Indentures are rather intimidating, however after finding your way around one or two, the mysteries seem to unfold rather more easily! This one is almost a metre square, dated 26 December 1890, the Conveyance of a dwelling house. It includes a garden a short way distant (in the allotments still in existence on Back Lane). It dates from the time when ‘Indentures’, though still known by this name, did not any longer have a zig zag cut edge to show they were matching other copies of the same agreement.
Payment of the taxes due, £2 10/- is shown by the attachment of two embossed stamps, firmly glued in place with something on the rear as well as shown below. There is also a green ribbon woven through the parchment on which the solicitor has placed his wax seal 4 times to confirm the signatories.
It appears that Mr Thomas Lethbridge of Sticklepath had had the cottages built, or at least had started building them, but then died. His daughters, Rebecca, wife of John Mew, draper of Barnstaple, and Dinah Bissett, widow of Dolton, inherited them and were selling the properties, along with the son-in-law, John Mew.
Indentures are legal documents covering a range of situations, mortgage or conveyance, apprenticeship etc etc. Early ones are on parchment. They are written in ‘secretary hand’ which probably took about 3 years to fully master but which means standard script is used across England for all such legal documents. Where a property is conveyed in ‘fee simple’ this is the freehold given in perpetuity. For more information about deeds including much older ones see Nottingham University.
All Indentures start with “This Indenture dated XXXX” and then state the parties involved in the contract. Words in ‘bold’ then go on to note the start of each new point. (Overall sections are known as: the Testatum or what the contract concerns; the Hebendum which is the legal provisos usually ignored by genealogists; and the Testimonium, the signatures and seals). My summary interpretation follows, with CAPITALS to indicate new sections (though not using the same words as the original):
THIS INDENTURE dated 26 December 1890
BETWEEN the three people mentioned above and Mary Richards of 29 Port Street Barnstaple, widow.
WHEREAS – Mr Thomas Lethbridge was “seized of the hereditaments and premises” (owned the property) at the time of his death and “hereby granted for an estate of inheritance in fee simple” (gave the freehold) in
HIS WILL dated 10 November 1873 (lots of details given) which came into effect when he
DIED 12 March 1876 and the Will was proved 12 April 1876. The property was inherited in by his two daughters.
THE SALE of 2 Ska View to Mary Richards is now agreed by the vendors in Fee Simple for £100.
THIS INDENTURE witnesses this sale and that the sellers acknowledge receipt of the £100.
EACH seller agrees
ALL “that Messuage or dwelling house being Number 2 Ska View Cottages in the Village of Sticklepath in the County of Devon with the outhouse held therewith all which premises are now in the occupation of “ (here a large blank space is left, suggesting to me it was unoccupied)
AND ALSO the garden area, to both of which Mary Richards and her “heirs or assigns” can take vehicles or animals as they wish.
ALLOWING access by the other cottage owners as needed
PARTY walls explained and current owners of neighbouring properties named.
SIGNATURES AND WITNESSES of the sellers and their solicitors.
If you picture the document folded in half with the fold to your left. The front ‘page’ and second page are taken up with the statement as summarised so far (Images as shown above). On the front page there are some pencil marks in the margins and a small purple stamp mark which do not have any meaning for me.
The third ‘page’ is divided into two with the plan at the top and an interesting statement on the lower part.
Thomas Lethbridge had left the property to his daughters solely, free from husbands wishes or debts, a statement therefore was needed to clarify that Rebecca was completing the sale “freely and voluntarily”. She had to discuss this with the solicitor without her husband present. This is signed by “A Perpetual Commissioner for taking acknowledgements of Deeds by married women”. This statement was completed 17 Dec 1890.
The final quarter of the document is blank other than the labelling of the document when folded up.
Looking at this legal document in some detail has been a learning process. I now feel more confident to look at others, perhaps even older ones if the chance arises. Next time a brief overview of No 2 owners from 1890 – 2015.
#OnePlaceStudies #SticklepathOne #Sticklepath #House history
Three things have happened in this last week: while preparing for #OnePlacePubs I spotted an auction for the new Ska View cottages in Sticklepath (1890 advert image below); I heard a Zoom talk by Ivan Bunn at The Voice Cloud helpfully going through house deeds in some detail; and yesterday’s @househistoryhour with the amazing Steve Jackson @oneplacestudies – together these have spurred me on to consider the history of at least one house within that row of cottages.
Ska View Cottages (also known as Skaigh View Cottages) could have been built by one of the employers in Sticklepath to house their employees, perhaps Pearse to house some woollen mill workers or Finch for his Foundry workers. However, this theory does not seem to have any basis in fact. No mention within the traditional stories of either family handed down through the generations as far as I can see. Though more recently, 1960s-early 1970s, at least one was used as a ‘tied cottage’ for a long distance lorry driver working for Bowden’s Haulage.
Where to start? The best place is probably to speak to the current owners and work back. One cottage has been occupied by the same family for 60 years. If only I lived locally I would have started with an oral history. Sadly I am far away.
Another option is to study ‘The Deeds’. Unfortunately in recent times many sets of deeds have been lost. Since land registry became essential, the deeds and history of who has owned the property is no longer needed. House conveyancing has become slightly easier but so much history lost! Luckily, when clearing out a deep dark cupboard of Cleave House in 2015 some dusty deeds surfaced. They have sat in a box moving around the country with me ever since.
Time to blow away the cobwebs and take a step back into history…..
Up with the lark today. As a member of the Finch family I thought I should do a swift tweet about this on #OnePlaceWednesday – No need to get in a flap but the time for next month’s blogging prompt is nearly here…. research led me to find these eagle-eyed gun men of #Sticklepath at one of our local pubs. Not sure which Mr Partridge was involved, could it have been Robin? No pot shots here (ie shot at animal intended for the pot), no feathers ruffled, only clay pigeons. Some were out for a duck – or is that just cricket? (Did you know that expression is just based on the shape of a 0 duck egg!). So I invite all one-placers and friends to p-p-p-pick up a proverbial pen and have a flaming-go at more pecking puns, ornithological imagery and other avian wordplay. I can just hear my mother saying “Fool”, but that’s for tomorrow. Now for my swan song: Must fly … RSPB – whoop(er)s – RSVP!
For #OnePlaceWednesday, #OnePlaceStudies, #Sticklepath, #SticklepathOne
Emma Powell was a twin born 2 Sep 1902 alongside Thomas, in Cross Houses, Berrington Shropshire. They were baptised on 5 Oct 1902 Berrington, Salop (Salop is an old name for Shropshire)
Her parents were John Richard Powell (1871 – 1904), a railway plate layer, and Ethel Jones (1877-1948)
In addition to her twin Tom, she had a brother John Richard Powell 6 apr 1904 – 6 May 1962. Her mother remarried and so she also had half-siblings Frederick Hill and Edward Hill, who were both born in Cound Shropshire
Sadly her mother was not able to keep both twins, so Thomas stayed with Mum and Emma went to her Aunt. She was brought up by the Lockley family, but kept in touch with others especially Tom.
Genealogists always hope their ancestors will marry someone with an unusual name. Morris son of John Jones, a village shop keeper in North Wales doesn’t quite fit the bill! From a young age Morris had wanted to work for a gentleman’s outfitters (Bradleys) because he admired the navy suit worn by their assistants. He eventually became the manager.
Morris and Emma both worked in Shrewsbury, where they met. Emma had trained to be a milliner, making hats and serving in the shop. AEma gentleman’s outfitter and ladies milliner seemed to be a perfect combination. Banns were read in Wotton Under Edge, Gloucestershire, Morris’s Parish of residence but they became Mr & Mrs Jones in Wellington, Wrockwardine, Shropshire, Emma’s Parish on 18 Jan 1928.
His middle name was Lloyd and Emma always wanted to be Mrs Lloyd-Jones, so much so that she changed her name by deed poll 16 March 1955, stating that she had used the new name for at least 10 years.
They moved to Wotton Under Edge, where daughter Ann Rosalie Lloyd Jones was born (later Bowden 1934 – 2015). When Ann was 3 years old they moved to Bristol (78 Northville Road, Sodbury) and Morris worked in the aircraft factory at Filton.
The 1939 Register shows them at this address with twin Tom, who was also working at the factory, and a lodger. Morris continued to work at Filton even when they moved to 210, Dovercourt Road to open a green grocer’s shop in Bristol later in 1939. During the war Ann was sent to Wotton Under Edge to family friends, the Beakes’, rather than join the mass evacuation. The war brought challenges for the grocery business but it survived.
Ann went to Exeter to study maths at university and just as she was coming home at the end of the year, Morris suddenly and unexpectedly died. In fact Ann thought for a few moments as she approached the house that day, 20 June 1954, that the crowd of people had gathered to welcome her home. Sadly not.
Ann met Roger Bowden at University, married and moved to Sticklepath. After the birth of her grand daughter Emma also moved to Sticklepath to be near to Ann and family. She lived in Bracon Cottage, in the centre of the village, opposite the Finch Foundry, with a good view of passers by. She had a dog Marcus and a budgie.
Her religion was Church of England, though when you know the details it makes you question what religious labels mean. She attended St Mary’s church on Sundays but I happened to be visiting her one day when she spotted the Vicar doing his rounds – we had to hide in the back toilet for a while, as she didn’t want him to know she was at home!
When we look at the facts, so much loss and emotion is hidden within the story. Although she was always supported by family, she never knew the love within her own nuclear family as a child. There was clearly a strong tie with her twin but she spent most of her childhood away from him. Marriage and a child meant loss of her role as a milliner and times were changing in terms of demand for hat-making. Her daughter had to move away in her early teens due to the war. Then soon after coming to terms with her daughter leaving for University, her husband died. Loss of health had another major impact.
It is not clear at which point Emma’s mental health first deteriorated. She suffered manic depression (now called bipolar disorder) and had several courses of ECT treatment and a number of admissions both in Bristol and Exminster. Ann’s letters to her future husband show the turmoil this caused her as a young adult, and we get some idea of the severity of Emma’s illness.
On a lighter note, on one of her manic spending sprees she booked to go on a long voyage, to visit New Zealand with stay with family. Unfortunately she suffered greatly from sea sickness and consequently lost her false teeth on the journey out, not replacing them until her return! She brought me two lovely Maori dolls on her return.
Old age brings more loss of health and friends, and I remember her telling me how unhappy she was at having to go to ‘the Workhouse’ for day care. The Okehampton Castle Hospital was previously the workhouse, though not during the time Emma had lived locally. Its reputation though continued for many years! Nevertheless she seemed to enjoy herself there. Emma died in Okehampton District Hospital in 1979.