Peasants to Puddles
My Family History - By Nicky Rowberry

The Rowberrys

Page 3

James Rowberry was one of my great great grandfathers. He was born in Much Dewchurch in 1829, the son of Sarah Rowberry, who at the time was a "Single Woman". After many years of research, it was learnt that she was Sarah Rowberry, nee Ruck, and that she was between marriages at the time of James's birth. For more information on Sarah and her marriages, click the following link:

James Rowberry's birth occurred between Sarah Ruck's first marriage to George Rowberry and her second marriage to his brother William Rowberry. In later life, James always named William as his father. For many years I had assumed I'd never really know if this was true, i.e. whether James was biologically the son of one of the Rowberry brothers and consequently whether I was really a Rowberry too! 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, indicating that he must have been fathered by one of the Rowberry brothers. I don't have a definite death for George Rowberry, Sarah's first husband, so it is just possible he was the father. Or it could be that his brother William took a shine to George's widow soon after his death and that he is James's father. 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!

Either way, William died in 1837, leaving James fatherless again. By the time of the 1841 census, James was living at The Orchards, Kentchurch, working as an agricultural labourer, although he would have been only 12. In 1851 he was found in Orcop, living with his aunt & uncle Edward & Ann Niblett and his sister Hannah. His mother Sarah had by this time married Thomas Nations. In 1856, James Rowberry married his step-sister, Ellen Nations. Sadly, this marriage was not to last long, as Ellen died only a few years later in 1858.

In the 1861 census, the widowed James can be found living at Kenderchurch, working as a railway labourer. Hereford was only connected to the rail network in 1852, so James must have been one of the early labourers on the lines. James married again in 1865 at Hereford Registry Office, to Jane Probert. Their first child James Probert Rowberry was born soon after. In 1871 the family were living at Ox Cottage, White Cross Street, Hereford, with 5 small children. James was described this time as just an ordinary labourer. James had called his eldest daughter Ellen, presumably after his deceased first wife. Below is a transcription of the 1871 census return for the family. (RG10/2697 folio 48 page 37)

The undermentioned Houses are situated within the Boundaries of the
Civil Parish [or Township] of City or Municipal Borough of Municipal Ward of Parliamentary Borough ofTownship ofVillage or Hamlet of Ecclesiastical District of
All Saints Hereford Leominster     All Saints Hereford
No. of Schedule Road, Street and Name of HouseName and Surname of each personRelation to Head of FamilyCondition AgeRank, Profession or OccupationWhere Born
185 White Cross Street, Ox CottageJames RowberryHeadMarried 40LabourerH'fdshire, Much Dewchurch
   Jane RowberryWifeMarried 28 H'frdshire, Weobley
   James P RowberrySonUnmar 6ScholarHereford
   Ellen RowberryDau-5ScholarHereford
   Alice RowberryDau- 3ScholarHereford
   Alfred G RowberrySon- 2 Hereford
   Nora J RowberryDau- < 6 mos Hereford

My great grandfather Albert Edward Rowberry was born in 1873 at White Cross Road, the youngest child of James & Jane. Jane died the following year, aged only 31, and was buried at Hereford All Saints. James was left with 7 children under the age of 10. He seems to have coped somehow and in 1881 he was still living in Hereford with 5 of the children at 9 Lawns Terrace, Whitecross. His occupation was again given as Railway labourer. The table below gives a transcription from the 1881 census for Hereford. (RG11/2593 folio 117 page 25)

The undermentioned Houses are situated within the Boundaries of theFolio 117Page 25
Civil Parish [or Township] of City or Municipal Borough of Municipal Ward of Parliamentary Borough ofTown or Village ofUrban Sanitary District of Ecclesiastical District of
All Saints Hereford Leominster Hereford Hereford All Saints
No. of Schedule Road, Street and Name of HouseName and Surname of each personRelation to Head of FamilyCondition AgeRank, Profession or OccupationWhere Born
121 9 Lawns TerraceJames RowberryHeadMarried 48Railway LabourerH'fdshire, Dewchurch
   James RowberrySonUnmarried 16Errand BoyHereford
   Ellen RowberryDau- 15House KeeperHereford
   Norah RowberryDau-10ScholarHereford
   Charles RowberrySon-9ScholarHereford
   Albert RowberrySon- 7scholarHereford

Unfortunately James died in 1883 leaving the children parentless, although the older ones were at least able to fend for themselves by then. However, the youngest daughter Nora Jane seems to have been taken in by the Dr Barnardo children's charity. In 1886, aged 15, she was sent to Canada to begin a new life along with 176 other girls. She subsequently married John H Allan and raised children there, never returning home as far as we can tell. Barnardo's took photos of the children and the one below shows young Nora Rowberry aged about 15.

My great grandfather Albert Edward remained in Hereford and in 1891 he and his brother Charles were boarding at 66 East Street, Charles working as a shoemaker and Albert as an ironworker. At some point over the next few years, Albert must have met Annie Puddle, who was eventually to become his wife. For more information on Annie Puddle please click here:

Albert & Annie had their first child Eleanor Elizabeth Rowberry in 1896 at 61 Catherine Street. Albert was described as a mason's labourer. They went on to have 3 further children out of wedlock (including my grandfather Alfred), before they finally married on 17th October 1903 at Hereford St Peter. Their next child Edward James Rowberry was born in November 1903, so Annie must have been 8 months pregnant when she married. Why they chose to marry then, after 4 children, with the fifth one well on the way, is a mystery! It took me many years to find Albert & Annie's marriage, as I had been mistakenly looking for a date before (or at least around) the date of their first child. It was only when one of my Dad's cousins kindly lent me a family bible that I tracked it down. Jotted amongst the dates of birth of their children was the mention of a marriage in 1903, although even then it did not say who'd married! Here is the page from the bible.

In the 1901 census, the family were living at 43 Blue School Street, with Albert being described as a Plasterer. From my father's recollections, plasterer seems to have been the job that Albert stuck at for the rest of his working life. After Edward James, they went on to have several more children, the youngest, Arthur David being born in 1919. Sadly Arthur died young in 1942 of TB.

Arthur David Rowberry 1919-1942 Alfred Rowberry 1899-1964

My grandfather Alfred Rowberry was born in 1899 at 43 Blue School Street. He was known as Fred, and in fact on the 1901 census, he appears as Frederick - the census enumerator must have thought Fred stood for Frederick rather than Alfred. Heightwise, Fred was a small man (4ft 9 3/4 inches) as his certificate of discharge from military service shows.

Alfred Rowberry's Military Certificate

The table below shows the extract from the 1911 census, showing the family living at 80 Bath Street, Hereford. Interestingly Annie claims they'd been married 15 years, presumably for appearances sake, but in fact of course they had only been married 7 years at that point.

Census of England and Wales, 1911Number of Schedule: 163
Name and Surname of every person in this dwelling on Sunday April 2nd 1911Relation to Head of FamilyAge Single, Married or WidowedCompleted years of present marriage Total children born aliveChildren still livingChildren who have diedRank, Profession or OccupationWhere Born
Albert RowberryHead37 Married    PlastererHereford
Annie RowberryWife35 Married15 years853 Hereford
Charles RowberrySon13       PorterHereford
Alfred RowberrySon11      SchoolHereford
Albert RowberrySon10      SchoolHereford
Norah RowberryDau4        Hereford
Wyndham RowberrySon7 mon        Hereford
 Number of rooms in this dwelling: 4Signature: Albert Rowberry

Alfred ran a china stall in Hereford's Butter Market for many years, trading under the name of Fred "Tich" Rowberry. In the early 1930's though, he became landlord of the Lichfield Vaults pub in Church Street, Hereford. He & his wife Ethel Brookes ran the "Litch" until their retirement in the 1960s. My father grew up living above the pub - not a bad place to grow up! The Lichfield Vaults is still there in Church Street, much changed since my Dad's days, but still recognisable from the outside at least. The following photo of my Mum, Dad and husband Chris, was taken in December 2002 enjoying the refreshments inside the Lichfield Vaults. The picture below was painted by a Belgian who lived across the road from the pub during the war. He painted the pub scene and presented the picture to my grandfather. In the top right hand window you can even see Dad's toy castle and soldiers!

My Dad was born in Hereford in 1932, Alfred and Ethel's only child. He met my mother Pam James in the late 1950s and after a whirlwind romance (of only 5 years!) they married in 1963 in Stockport.

Brian Timothy Rowberry & Pamela Lesley James - 1963

The family tree below summarises what I know about the above generations of the 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.

Rowberry Page 2 Rowberry Page 4 Nations Puddle Brookes Proberts James

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

Nicky Rowberry 2012

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Peasants to Puddles - My Family History. By Nicky Rowberry