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

Friday, 27 August 2021

Private Robert John Ridgeway

When we first visited St Peter’s Church, Uplowman, back in 2016, I'd noticed this cross in remembrance of Private Robert John Ridgeway and took the photo as a reminder to research him to see how we might be related.

Many of my Ridgeway ancestors had ended up in Uplowman: my 2x great-grandmother, Mary Stone née Ridgeway, daughter of James Ridgway, was born in Ashbrittle and is buried in Uplowman churchyard. Mary's brother, Thomas Ridgway, also came to Uplowman and had no less than ten children there. Perhaps, I thought, Robert John Ridgeway will have 'belonged' to one of them. Now that I've worked my way through them, however, I discover he does not and actually exists in a parallel universe: 

Private Robert John Ridgeway, Royal Army Ordnance Corps, the parish website informs us, "... died in November 1945, after the war in Europe had ended, in a road accident when the armoured Ford Lynx scout car that he was a passenger in, tried to overtake another vehicle in a convoy and left the road striking a tree on Watling Street, Shenstone in Staffordshire." 

Robert John Ridgeway died on 6 Nov 1945, is buried in Uplowman churchyard and is remembered inside the church. 

Robert John Ridgeway was born on 18 Mar 1927, and is found at home with his family in 1939, at Uplowman Cross Cottage, Uplowman. Is that the same as 1 Crosses Cottage, Uplowman, where my relative, Frederick John Ponsford, son of Charles Ponsford and Bessie Ann Stone, was living in 1970? Or 2 Crosses Cottages, Uplowman, where Elsie Tremlett, daughter of William Ridgeway and Florence Louise Finnimore, was living in 1979? Or even Lowman Cross, Uplowman where Thomas and Ann Ridgway were living in 1871?

The parish website also says that "Robert lived a large part of his life at Wallflower Cottages, Uplowman." Several of my relatives have been residents at Wallflower Cottages, UplowmanWilliam and Florence Ridgeway and George and Ellen Norman in 1911, and Herbert Ridgeway in 1988. These are most likely to have been tied cottages, so it suggests they were all working for the same farms, but is no particular indication that they're related. 

Sarah Ridgway 
John Ridgway bap. 27 Nov 1825 - Mary Parker b. 1831
James Ridgway bap. 25  Apr 1858 - Eliza Vickery b. 1861
Robert John Ridgeway b. 7 Sep 1898 - Louisa Baker b. 10 Dec 1899
Robert John Ridgeway b. 18 Mar 1927 - d. 6 Nov 1945

Robert John Ridgeway's parents were Robert John Ridgeway (b. 7 Sep 1898) and Louisa Baker (b. 10 Dec 1899), who had married, in Tiverton, in 1924. 

In 1911, Robert John Ridgeway Snr (12), born in Holcombe Rogus, was living with his widowed mother, Eliza (48), sister Florence Alice (9) and brother, Herbert Percy (6) at Passmore's Court, Halberton. 

In 1910, this Robert John Ridgeway had attended Halberton School. 

In 1901, living at Ford, 90, Holcombe Rogus, were James Ridgway (43) Cattleman on farm, from Stawley, Somerset, wife Eliza (39), Beatrice (13), Edith (11), Eliza (9), William (7), Lillie (5) and Robert John, listed simply as John (3).

Records suggest that James Ridgeway had married Eliza Vickery in the second quarter of 1887, in the Wellington, Somerset registration district. 

The baptism for James Ridgway on 25 Apr 1858, in Stawley, Somerset, suggests that his parents were James and Mary Ridgway, however, in 1861, we find the 3 yr old, living at Parkley, Stawley, Wellington as the son of John Ridgway (33) Agricultural Labourer, with wife Mary (30) and John (8), Mary Ann (6), Sarah Jane (4), James (3), Charles (1) and Mary Cotter (12) Housemaid. In 1871, John Ridgeway (46) and wife Mary (40) were living at Stones Cottage, Stawley, Wellington, with John (18), Mary Ann (16), Sarah (14), James (13), Elizabeth (10), Emily (8), Thomas (6), Edwin (4) and William Henry (2).

John Ridgway had married Mary Parker, on 18 Apr 1851, at St Michael & All Angels church, Stawley. One of their witnesses was a William Vickery. Mary Parker's father is listed as James Parker, while the name of John Ridgeway's father isn't listed ...

... which stacks up with the record listed here of the baptism of John Ridgway in Ashbrittle, on 27 Nov 1825, son of Sarah Ridgway, described as 'single - base'.

These earliest records of Baptisms, Burials & Marriages, were transcribed from the "Bishop's Transcripts", which were in poor condition. There aren't currently, any further records that can be accessed online, so I can't [yet] get back further to prove if there is a common ancestor. But, to be having an illegitimate child in 1825, there's a fair chance that Sarah Ridgway was born around 1805, give or take. My 3x great-grandfather, James Ridgway was born around 1806. They are from the same hamlet - the village population in 2014 was only 225 - with the same surname. Their descendants all turn up in the same locations. They could be siblings. They could be first cousins. It would be much more difficult to accept that they were not at all related.

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If you're related to any of the people written about, I'm guessing you'll recognise them from the surnames. If you are, do please get in touch.