Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Martha Wilton and James Pearce

Melbourn High Street
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © John Sutton - geograph.org.uk/p/6508075

In 1849, Martha Wilton (42), third daughter of Stephen Wilton and Elizabeth Hankin, married widower, James Pearce and gained a ready-made family. 

James Pearce, bap. 29 Apr 1804, son of William and Elizabeth Pearce, in the parish of Foulmire (Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire), had previously married Hannah Jackson, on 10 Nov 1829, in Guilden Morden, Cambridgeshire. In 1841, when Martha was looking after her sister Elizabeth's children, James and Hannah Pearce were living in Kneesworth Street, Royston. 

However, Hannah Pearce died in 1848, aged 42. 

In 1851, James and Martha Pearce are living in Melbourn, then in Hertfordshire, with James (47) who was a Wool-stapler (a wool-stapler buys wool from the producer, sorts and grades it, and sells it on to manufacturers), Martha (43), and James' six children: William Pearce (19) also a wool-stapler, Hannah Jackson Pearce (13) dressmaker, Mary (11), James (9), Samuel (7) and Thomas (5).

In 1861, living in Baldock Road, Bassingbourn, Royston, were James (57), Martha (53), with James (19), Samuel (17) and Thomas (15) still at home.

James Pearce died in 1868, aged 64.

James must have left Martha (62) and the children provided for, as in 1871, she is living, in West Terrace, Baldock Road, Bassingbourn, Royston, with step-sons James (29) and Samuel (26), but then in 1881, Martha Pearce (70), widow, annuitant, was living alone at Alms House, 8, Kneesworth Street, Royston. And in 1891, at Alms House, Kneesworth Road, Bassingbourne, Royston. Likewise, in 1901, Martha is at Mill Yard, Alms House, Kneesworth Street, Royston.

Alms houses in Kneesworth Street are mentioned (with photo) in Royston Register of Buildings of Local Interest (PDF), as a building of local architectural and historic interest, which clearly illustrates important aspects of the social history of the town:
Mrs. Barfield’s Almshouses, Kneesworth Street
Mrs. Barfield was the widow of Reverend Barfield and purchased the land on the west side of Kneesworth Street for 4 Almshouses. These were built in 1833 for poor windows. At a later date 3 others were built opposite from the accumulation of funds with the fourth funded by C. Beldam Esq. The Almshouses were built in 1858 and are constructed of gault brick in Flemish Bond with hip slate roofs. Tall gault brick chimneys project at intervals along the roof line and out of the end hips close to the eaves. The Almshouses are designed as two single storey elongated blocks situated parallel to each other and orientated to end onto the road. A lower central outhouse block is situated at a central point at right angles between the two rows of houses, creating an 'H' shaped layout. The balance and symmetry of the layout, form and design of the Almshouses are key to their local architectural and historic interest and their design contribution within the street scene.
Martha Pearce died in Royston in 1904, at the grand old age of 97. 

Royston: in Kneesworth Street
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © John Sutton - geograph.org.uk/p/4814367

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