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blue border top letf GREAT-GRANDFATHER'S GRANDFATHER CLOCK blue border top right

Family History

William Marfleet (1818-1911)
Photograph: James of Louth

Original drawing by James Roberts 1980.
Great-grandfather William Marfleet was not a happy man. After all, he had little cause for rejoicing. Maria, his wife, had met a tragic end, drowned while collecting water at the stream at Withcall, and he had been left with five children, the youngest only three months.

After a hard time, acting as father and mother, here he was. With the family scattered around Lincolnshire and he obliged to stay with his eldest son John William at Driby near Spilsby. To make matters worse, the house was small and the family large, three girls and two boys, who considered him a 'Nasty Old Man', and did their best to tease and torment him.

It did not help that his daughter-in-law had a sharp tongue. No doubt he was glad when the weather allowed him to get out of the house. There was little room for personal possessions, but at least he had been able to bring the clock to keep him company.

A wedding present in 1843, bought in Louth from a Mr. John Pearson (Clockmaker), it had stood in the house at Withcall, and was a most prized possession. Inevitably came the day when things came to a head. The full story we will never know, only that Great-grandfather was accused of striking his daughter-in-law, and was banished from Driby. Where he went no one knows, perhaps, to one of his other children? The clock was left behind. Tradition decreed that it whould be left to the eldest son, so it was in the right place anyhow.

In 1906 Grandfather John William died, and Grandmother came to live at Aby, bringing the clock of course, and still there in the Family House it ticks the time away. The routine task of winding 'Grandfather', every Sunday morning, is still carried out and apart from the dramatic moment some 60 years ago, when the heavy weight fell to the bottom of the case, in the middle of the night, causing great consternation, the old clock has never failed.

Many tales can be told about our 'Grandfather', how it became the hiding place for birthday and Christmas presents, the day the cat was trapped inside while chasing a mouse, but the comforting chimes on the hour, while sleepless at night, was perhaps my fondest memory of the oldest, and most respected member of our Family Marfleet. Long may he chime and bring happiness to future generations.
This story, written by George Askey Marfleet (1913-1992) first appeared in the MARFLEET Society Newsletter, Vol.2. No.3 (January 1980) page 78, under the title of 'The Family Clock'.

John William Marfleet and his wife Sarah Ann Elliss
Click for Family Tree

Photograph: James of Louth

Although George does not give many dates in the above article, I have attempted to flesh out the events portrayed with more pertinent evidence.

Suffering and hardship was never far away from William who was born on the 27th September 1818. His father, also named William, died and was buried on the 12th August 1818, seven weeks before William was born and his mother, Charlotte, with no other income or support, pregnant, and with a young family to look after, became chargeable on the Parish of Wainfleet All Saints - a Pauper. An Examination into her circumstances was held on the 28th September 1816 by the Justices of the Peace (E. Dretwell and Joseph Walls), on the complaint of the Overseers of the Poor, and it was determined that the family did not have proof of, and had not gained, legal Settlement in the Parish and further that their Parish of legal Settlement was the town of Louth. A Removal Order requiring that the distraught family, a young widow and her six children, be conveyed to within the Parish of Louth and left there, was made and signed. Due to Charlotte's 'delicate' condition (having given birth the day before) a doctor was called and he decided that Charlotte was in no fit condition to be summarily removed. A further order was made to the effect that:-
Whereas it doth appear unto us the Justices within named that Charlotte Marfleet, the Pauper within Ordered to be removed is at present unable to travel by reason of confinement after child birth. We do therefore hereby suspend the execution of the within Order of Removal, until it shall be made appear unto us that the same may safely be executed without danger - Given under our Hands the Day and Year within written -
E. Dretwell, Joseph Walls.

During the period of this stay of execution of the Removal Order, an account of expenses was ordered to be kept and this was to be ultimately presented to the Overseers of the Poor for the Parish of Louth. William was baptised at Wainfleet All Saints on the 4th October 1818. A further order was made by the Justices seven weeks after the postponement:-
Whereas it is now made appear unto us the Justices above named and we are fully satisfied by virtue of a certificate dated 16th November 1818, under the Hand of E. Dawson Surgeon, that the within Order of Removal may be executed without danger - we do therefore hereby order the same to be forthwith put in execution accordingly - And whereas it is duly proved to us upon oath that the sum of eight pounds and two shillings hath been incurred by the suspension of the within Order of Removal - we do therefore order and direct the Churchwardens or Overseers of the Poor of the Town and Parish of Louth to which place the said Charlotte Marfleet is ordered to be removed to pay the said sum of eight pounds and two shillings - to George Booth one of the Overseers of Wainfleet All Saints upon demand given under our Hands the Sixteenth Day of November 1818 -
E. Dretwell, Joseph Walls.

It would seem that due to this traumatic start to his life, William was never really quite sure about his origins. He names two different fathers on each of his two marriage certificates and is not consistent in the place of his birth given to the census enumerators.

By the time of the 1841 census William is working as a wheelwright for the estate of Richard Dawson, farmer of Withcall and it was at Withcall that, on the 9th November 1843, William married Maria Metcalf. Neither William or Maria could write, they both signed the register by making a mark. Richard Dawson was a man of folk-lore and legend throughout the whole county and beyond, his migrant Irish harvesters carrying the fame of Withcall across the Atlantic. Known as 'Dicky Dawson' his influence on Withcall was total, the whole village functioning as one large farm. Although Richard Dawson died in 1838 the estate was not sold until 28th June 1842. The estate was described in the bill of sale when sold by a Mr. Rainey as the 'entire parish of Withcall (except a few acres of glebe land) now in the occupation of Richard Dawson (actually his executors) under an old lease expiring 12th of May 1848'.

The 1851 census shows William, Maria and their three children as being in residence at Redwells, Welton le Wold, a few miles away from Withcall. In the household were William, a 33 year-old master carpenter, Maria his 30 year-old wife, his wife's mother Charlotte Holloway a 62 year-old Ag Lab's (agricultural labourer's) wife, Mary J. (6), John (3) and Eliza (1). It is believed this stay in Welton was only a temporary measure - all the children (with the exception of Mary Jane) were born in Withcall.

White's Directory of Lincolnshire for the year 1856 records on page 239:
WITHCALL parish, 3 miles S.W. of Louth, has 117 souls, and about 2700 acres of land, all in one farm, belonging to G. Tomline, Esq., and occupied by John Sowerby, Esq., of Withcall House, a handsome mansion, which has lately been much improved. The church (St. Martin) is a small fabric, and the living is a rectory valued in K.B. at 11. 6s. 10d., and now at 516. The Lord Chancellor is patron, and the Hon. and Rev. Annesley Henry Gore is the incumbent, and has a neat Rectory House, erected a few years ago, in the Tudor style.

William and Maria were blessed with seven children, two girls and five boys. Mary Jane was the eldest, born in 1844, and John William the eldest son, born on the 4th September 1847. The other children being Eliza (1849), Henry (1850), William Michael (1851), George (1852) and the youngest, Samuel who was born on the 22nd February 1859.

The family were back at Withcall when tragedy struck again. Maria, still weak and suffering from the effects of the birth of Samuel, picked up a yoke and two buckets intending to draw water from the stream. Stooping down to fill the buckets, she found the additional weight of water was too great for her emasculated body. Toppling forward, Maria fell into the water and was drowned. She was buried 'against the church door' in Withcall churchyard.

The 1861 census shows that William was living in Withcall with his four sons and his youngest daughter. At 13 years of age John William, the eldest was described as Ag Lab (agricultural labourer). Eliza was 11 years. William Michael (9) and George (8) are both described as scholars. Samuel was 2 years of age.

After facing the devastation of the untimely death of his young wife, William struggled to bring up his young family, and it was not until 1864 when the youngest was five years of age that William remarried. This second marriage was to a 33 year-old widow, Jane Susan Hinchcliff, who was some thirteen years younger than William. Jane had at least one son who was about nine years of age and how they adapted to a larger ready-made growning-up family one can only speculate. It is almost certain that there would be friction although it was another seventeen years before the youngest, Samuel, who was the last to leave home, married.

The 1871 census shows William and Jane living in Lodge House, Withcall in the registration district of Louth. The records show that William was a 50 year-old carpenter who was born at Wainfleet, Lincolnshire, and Jane was 41 years of age and born in Louth. Also living with them was their son Samuel Marfleet, a 12 year-old domestic servant and also Charles W. Hincliff described as a step-son (Jane's son from her previous marriage?), a 16 year-old domestic servant.

The Post Office Directory of Lincolnshire for 1876 records on page 391:
WITHCALL is a parish, in the Northern division of the county, parts of Lindsey, Wold division of the hundred and petty sessional division of Louth Esk, Louth union and county court district, rural deanery of Louth Esk and Ludborough No. 3, archdeaconry of Stow, and diocese of Lincoln, 4 miles south-west from Louth, and 2 west from Hallington station on the Louth and Lincoln railway. The church of St. Martin is a small building, with a turret and 1 bell. The register dates from the year 1577. The living is a rectory, yearly value 436, with a handsome residence and 26 acres of glebe, in the gift of the Lord Chancellor, and held by the Rev. Henry Morris, M.A., of Trinity Hall, Cambridge. A school to hold 50 children is in the course of erection. N. Clayton, esq., is lord of the manor and sole landowner. The soil is loam and chalk; subsoil, chalk. The chief crops are wheat, barley, oats and turnips. The area is 2,650 acres; rateable value, 3,135; and the population in 1871 was 168.
Letters through Louth, the nearest money order office.
Morris Rev. Henry, M.A. [rector]
Sowerby John & Thomas, farmers, The Hall

By the time of the 1881 census William and Jane were on their own and had moved into Rectory House, (did the Rector supplement his income by taking in lodgers?) Withcall. The records show that William was a 61 year-old carpenter who was born at Alford in Lincolnshire and Jane was 50 years of age and born in Louth. A new Gothic style church, also dedicated to St. Martin, was erected near the site of the old one in 1883.

At the time of the 1891 census William and Jane were living at 18 Holmes Lane, Louth, which was in the parish of St. James. According to the records, William was a 70 year-old carpenter whose place of birth was Partney, Lincolnshire, and Jane was 66 years of age and born at Louth Park.

Jane died in 1903 leaving William an 85 year-old widower. Could this be when he went to live at Driby? By this time John William and his wife Sarah Ann had been married for 31 years and of their five children, one had died and one had married but the other three, whose ages ranged from 28 to 17, were still at home. It would seem history was about to repeat itself! Having been 'removed' when 53 days old he now finds himself 'banished' at 85+ years of age. The death of William was registered in the district of Louth during the first quarter of 1911. He was 90 years of age.

Lincoln Archives Office Ref: LQS 1819 Spilsby Epiphany
Marfleet Family History 2001
John's Homepage
William Marfleet (1818-1911)
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