Peasants to Puddles
My Family History - By Nicky Rowberry

The Rowberrys

Page 2

George Rowberry was born in Thornbury in 1751. He worked for a few years as a covenanted servant in Chaddesley Corbett, before moving across to the far side of Herefordshire. He settled in Orcop, where he remained until his death in 1837. For a man to move parish in those days, he needed to establish his place of settlement to be entitled to poor relief should he need it. This is George's examination of settlement from 1794, with a transcription beneath it.

County of Hereford. The examination of George Robery taken upon his oath this 27th day of March 1794 before us two of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace in and for the said County touching the place of his last Legal Settlement Who saith that he was born as he hath been informed in the parish of Thornbury in the said county That about Twenty years ago he hired himself as a Covenant Servant by the year with Randal Bagley of the parish of Chadsley in the County of Worcester with whome he lived in the said parish of Chadsley for two years and ceased his wages for the same he further saith that he hath not gained any other Settlement Since by Service or otherwise. X The mark of George Robery. Taken and sworn before us this day and year first above written. J Scudamore.

George married Elizabeth Williams in Llanrothal in 1788 and so far 4 children have been found, all baptised in Orcop. Elizabeth died in 1839 and is also buried in Orcop. George may not have been very wealthy when he moved to Orcop, but at some point he seems to have acquired property. In 1836 George put his mark to an Indenture selling two pieces of land (partly arable and partly pasture) to John Pritchard - his daughter Mary Rowberry's husband.

George's first son, another George Rowberry, was born in 1789 in Orcop. In 1817 this George Rowberry married Sarah Ruck in Orcop, Herefordshire. George & Sarah had 5 known children together between 1817 and 1827. George then seems to have disappeared, presumed died, for in 1829 Sarah had another son James Rowberry, my great great grandfather, and was described as a singlewoman at his baptism. A George of the right age did die in 1828 in the Infirmary in Hereford, but his surname was recorded as Rowlan. However, since I can find no trace of a George Rowlan born in Herefordshire in the right period, I am reasonably happy that this is in fact my George Rowberry, mis-recorded as George Rowlan.

So Sarah Rowberry (nee Ruck) had her son James baptised in Much Dewchurch in 1829, some 11 months after her husband George died. If James was a few months old at baptism, George could possibly be the father. In later years, James always named his father as William Rowberry, presumably because his mother's second husband was William Rowberry and this would have been who James remembered as a small child. This William Rowberry just happened to be the first George Rowberry's second son. In 1832 he married a Sarah Rowberry, nee Ruck, a widow, at Hereford St Nicholas church. Sarah Ruck was therefore marrying her dead husband's brother! It was illegal in those days to marry your dead brother's wife, so it seems they went into Hereford, where no-one would know them, to do the deed.

James Rowberry gave his father's name as William Rowberry on both his marriage certificates. I had always assumed I would never know for sure whether James was fathered by one of the Rowberry brothers or whether Sarah Ruck had a bit of a fling between husbands with someone else, in which case James wouldn't really have been a biological Rowberry and neither would I! However, thanks to the wonders of y-chromosomal DNA testing we have recently been able to prove that my Rowberry line shares the same male DNA as distantly related Rowburys, Ruberys and Rowborys. The male y chromosome DNA would be the same from either brother, so I'll probably never know for sure, but as least I know almost certainly that one of them was the father and so I really am a Rowberry!

William Rowberry & Sarah Ruck had 3 children in wedlock, but there was a further child, Elijah Rowberry, born about 1830, also between Sarah's first two marriages, who may or may not be another son to William Rowberry. William died in 1837 in Kilpeck, aged only 42 and leaving Sarah with a young family again. So Sarah had outlived the two Rowberry brothers. She must have been quite a character, as she went on to have 2 further husbands after William died. For further information on Sarah, please follow this link:

In 1841 Sarah was living at Pentwine Common in Kilpeck with five of her children. With her were two children from her first marriage, William & Mary, and three from her second marriage, Hannah, Eliza & Emma. Sarah was described as a shopkeeper at the time, aged 40. It is important to remember that in the 1841 census, for adults at least, ages were rounded up or down to the nearest 5. Thus Sarah's was rounded down to 40, but her son William's was rounded up to 25. The table below gives the details from the 1841 census (HO 107/432/12 page 7).

City or Borough of
Parish or Township of Kilpeck
Place Names of each Person who abode therein the preceding NightAgeProfession, Trade, Employment or of Independent MeansWhere Born in Same County
Pentwine Common Sarah Rowbrey40ShopkeeperYes
  William Rowbrey25Ag LabYes
  Mary Rowbrey15 Yes
  Hannah Rowbrey7 Yes
  Eliza Rowbrey5 Yes
  Emma Rowbrey3 Yes

For more information on the subsequent lives of Sarah's children, and indeed of Sarah herself, please click on one of the links below.

The family tree below summarises what I know about the above generations of my Rowberry family. It is hopefully reasonably accurate, but if you spot any errors, or any relatives, please feel free to E-mail me

Please click on one of the red links on the tree to move to a different page.

If any of the above is of further interest, please feel free to contact me at: n.rowberry@btinternet.com

Nicky Rowberry 2017

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Peasants to Puddles - My Family History. By Nicky Rowberry