Peasants to Puddles
My Family History - By Nicky Rowberry

Biography of William Thomas Morris

Almost all of the information given here is the work of Margaret Hatton. All I have done is take all her hard work and reproduce it here.

William was born in 1865 in Much Birch, Herefordshire. His mother was Hannah Bent, nee Rowberry and his father was William Morris, although this is not what his birth certificate says. He is recorded as Thomas William Bent after his mother's husband.

I do not know yet the full details of his birth but Hannah had been married to Thomas for ten years and produced several children who were certainly her husbands. All these children were born in either Much Dewchurch or Orcop but some time after the 1861 census, when the family are recorded in Orcop, she is in Much Birch where she produced Thomas William and Julia. Whether she was with Thomas Bent or William Morris is unknown.

In the 1871 census she is back in Orcop and living with most of her children at Old Orchard. Thomas was five years old then, his nominal father Thomas Bent is not with the family but staying as border in Madley several miles away. William Morris is with the family as a border and there he remained.

At which point Thomas William became William Thomas and took the Morris surname is again not known. It was the Morris name he used for his marriage so I expect it would have been after the death of Thomas Bent (1879) and his mother's remarriage to William Morris (1882).

On the 29th September 1889 William married Elizabeth Williams, a widow (her maiden name was Pulling). Witness to the wedding was George Griffin, husband of Ester Ellen Bent, his half sister and Amos Harris, husband of Elizabeth Bent - Morris, his full sister. They married in the registry office. Elizabeth had a son Arthur whom later died in the First World War. Their first son, another William (4) was born in 1890 to be followed by a daughter Alice and two more sons Henry Charles and Edwin.

According to his grandson, William was a gambler and he enjoyed a drink. He lived in Pen y fan Incline Cottages, Aberbeeg and his grandchildren visited him there. His eldest grandson, used to go to read him the Hereford Times - he could not read, but he had a good memory and would recall facts read to him months later.

Every Saturday he took a badger with him on his visit to the pub and challenged others to put their dogs in a barrel with the badger to see who would win. They always bet on the outcome, and the badger always won.

William was the proud owner of a horse and trap, which took him everywhere. He also went about on horseback. On one snowy day he returned from a visit to Orcop with a bundle. It was a baby boy he said he had rescued from the workhouse because he was 'family'. He adopted the boy (legally?), Thomas Pulling and in his will Thomas is described as 'nephew'. In fact he was Elizabeth's nephew born 15th March 1901 to her brother Thomas Pulling and his wife Alice (nee Warburton) who lived at the time of his birth at Kings Acre, Breinton. What happened to his parents is at this moment unknown or the date of his arrival with the family. His grandson remembers him arriving.

William was a coal miner and he worked in Red Ash, a level near Marine Colliery. He liked to mix with people who had money - the doctor and the mine manager, to name two. His daughter Alice married a mining engineer, which was considered a very good and important job.

William had four children: -

Henry Charles Morris who married Catherine J. In his will he left 8, 021 net a very large sum of money.

Alice who married Williams who managed a colliery in Crumlin. They had several children, one of whom was named man of the year for discovering a seam of coal.

William Thomas Morris who married Elizabeth Thomas and they lived in 80 King Street, Cwm, and produced 12 children one of which Hannah died in infancy.

Edward who married May Harris, his cousin, who was the daughter of Elizabeth Morris and Amos Harris. Theirs was a sad story and I don't yet know the order of events. They had one child, a girl who was scalded to death, when she pulled a kettle off the fire. 'Ted' was taken into hospital in Bristol for an operation on a tumour on his neck. He disappeared from the hospital and was found wandering around Orcop. He shot himself with a family gun. May lived with her mother in Elm Street, Cwm until her death.

William Thomas died on the 22nd October 1937 aged 73. His grandson remembers the funeral. The undertaker couldn't get to the house so they had to carry the coffin to the church. He was buried in Manmoel cemetery, there is no marker for his grave but his grandson said it was by the holly bush. He also left a will and substantial property some of which is still in the family today.

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