Inherited Craziness
A place to share all the nuts found on my family tree

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Jane Middleton

Knowstone: Beaple’s Moor
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Martin Bodman -

Jane Middleton, baptised on 15 Mar 1829 in Knowstone, Devon, daughter of Robert Middleton and Elizabeth Baker, was my 2x great-grandmother. 

By 1841, then aged around 12, Jane had already left home and was working as a farm labourer for John Bucknell at Beaple's Barton. The still-important farmhouse is about one mile south west of Knowstone village, bordered to the south by Beaple's Moor and to the north by Beaple's Wood. 

Listed among the workers at Beaple's Barton at the same time was Thomas Baker (20), who may well have been a relative of Jane's mother. 

South Molton: The Square from the SE corner
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Martin Tester -

In 1851, however, Jane (20), is a Pauper inmate of The Workhouse in Church Lane, South Molton, along with her son, Robert, aged 1. Presumably, this was the only place she could go as a single mother and clearly she was either still there or back there in 1853/4 when she had her second son, William.

Jane actually had 4 children out of wedlock. Only one survived.
  1. Robert Middleton, born 1850, baptised on 3 Mar 1854, record marked 'dead' (abode given as 'Union', i.e. Workhouse) and buried on 6 Mar 1854 in Knowstone, aged 4 years. 
  2. William Middleton, born 1853, baptised 9 Feb 1854, record marked 'dead' (abode given as 'Union', i.e. Workhouse), buried 5 Mar 1854 in Knowstone, aged 8 months.
  3. Frederic Middleton, born 1858 and baptised (posthumously) on 3 Oct 1858 in West Anstey, and buried 20 Jan 1858 at St Peter’s ChurchRose Ash, Devon, aged 2 months.
  4. Emma Middleton, born 6 Aug 1862, bap. 5 Oct 1865, in West Anstey.
In 1861 Jane Middleton (32), is a House Servant in the employ of John Micks at Woods, Hill, West Anstey. (Woods Farm?) And 10 years later, in 1871, Jane (34) is Housekeeper to William Short (66) at Rowry, Molland, South Molton, Devon, with her daughter Emma (8) listed as a Boarder. 

Molland Panorama (Lobsterthermidor (talk) 12:49, 8 May 2013 (UTC))

Jane Middleton later married William Flew, widower, who was then aged 38, back at her own parish of St Peter's, Knowstone on 2 Sep 1875. On the record of the marriage, Jane is said to be 30. She was actually 46. 

However, only one year into the marriage, William Flew died, aged 40. He was buried on 5 Mar 1876, at All Saints Church, Rackenford. William also left four children from his first marriage; Thomas, Jane, Sarah and William. 

Jane Flew then married John Howe (or How) in the first quarter of 1877.

St Margaret's Church, Stoodleigh
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Derek Harper
John How, born 12 Mar 1842 to John How and Mary Ann Broom (who married in 1837 in Oakford, Devon), was baptised on 3 Apr 1842 in Stoodleigh, Devon. 
In 1851, at Hasswells Cottage, Stoodleigh, John was the second of six children; Mary Ann (11), John (9), Matilda (7), Ellen (5), Robert (2) and William (0). John's maternal grandmother, Mary Broom, widow (78), born in 1773, lived with the family.
John How Sr had been baptised on 13 Mar 1810, in the wonderfully named village of Huish Champflower in Somerset, the son of Nathaniel Howe and Joan Rogers, who had married on 25 Mar 1805 in Chipstable.

In 1881, John and Jane How were living at Babcott Cottage on the Stoodleigh Estate, Stoodleigh. John, an Agricultural Labourer, was 38. It says 49, but Jane was 52. John's parents, John and Mary Ann How, also lived in Stoodleigh at 1, Little Coleford. (Perhaps a cottage on Little Coleford Farm?)

In 1891, living at Habridge Cottages, Steart Road, Stoodleigh, John How (49) and Jane How (49 again, really 62), are joined by John's mother, Mary Ann (76), widow - John's father had died in 1887 - and William Henry Middleton (2), described as 'Wife's Daughter's Son'. My dad just called him Uncle Bill.

When my father had hand drawn a family tree for me some years ago, he had added John and Jane Howe with some of their dates, unlinked, at the bottom of the page. Clearly he knew of them (he was a small boy when John died), but didn't know who they were: that Jane was his great-grandmother.

By 1901, John and Jane Howe had moved to Manley Cottage, 2, Halberton - near to the Manley Bridge on the Grand Western Canal (here's what the property at 1 Manley Cottages looks like). John was 59 and Jane had clearly become tired of lying about her age, as she's listed accurately at 71. 

Jane Howe died in November 1905, she will have been 76.

In 1911, John Howe (69), Widower, is a boarder in the household of George Cockram at Marsh Cottages, Bolham Road, Tiverton, close to where Jane's daughter was living. John Howe died on 31 Mar 1927 at the age of 85.

Manley Bridge, Grand Western Canal, from the west
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Christine Johnstone -

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