Caroline Lumley was Ari’s 4x great-grandmother, born in 1834 in Rous Lench, Worcestershire. According to my tree, she was the third daughter of John Lumley, a farm labourer, and Ann Loyd, a “field woman”.
The 1841 census shows the family living at Rous Lench, where John is an agricultural labourer.
In 1851, Caroline is sixteen and working as a glover. Caroline’s grandfather, Thomas Wright, is living with the family in Rous Lench. He is described as a pauper (labourer):
But if he is Ann’s father, why was her name Loyd? Had she been married before?
I turned to TheGenealogist website, which is very good for Worcestershire parish records, and found the marriage of Thomas Wright and Mary Loyd in 1803, plus two more of their children, John and Sarah. So it looks as though Ann Loyd was actually Ann Wright. I will come back to her another day.
Caroline didn’t get married until October 1861, so she should have appeared in the 1861 census under her maiden name. By this time her father had died and her two sisters had married, so Caroline was on her own. I looked for any Carolines of the right age living in Rous Lench. Neither Findmypast nor Ancestry could find her (and other people’s family trees also had a gap for her in 1861). Then I tried the FamilySearch website, with no surname and just Rous Lench as place of birth. Success! She appeared as Caroline Langley, about nine miles away in Hanbury, where she was working as a dairymaid for a farmer called Samuel Willson.
This is where she met Robert Butler, who was working as a cowman at a farm nearby.
They married at St Peter’s Church in Rous Lench on 27 October 1861.
Caroline, Robert, and their three daughters were living in Huddington in 1871. Caroline was listed in the census as a gloveress. By 1881 they were at Lower Crowle, and in 1891 Caroline was listed as a laundress.
We know how Caroline died because it was reported in the local papers in December 1895:
Caroline was buried on 14 December at the church of St John the Baptist in Crowle.
Florence was one of Ari’s great-great-grandmothers, born in 1900 in the village of Himbleton, Worcestershire.
Her father was George Thomas Waters, and her mother was Mary James. Florence was their youngest child, and she can be seen in the 1901 census with her parents, two brothers and three sisters, living in Himbleton:
The 1911 census shows that she was at school, aged 11.
In 1918 Florence married Alfred John Sheppard, a railway labourer. They had six children: Eileen Florence in 1918, Percival Alfred in 1920, Betty in 1921, Derek William George in 1923, James in 1926 and Kenneth in 1928.
Florence was only thirty when she died in Himbleton. The cause of death was cardiac failure and pneumonia. Her husband was present at her death.
I wondered what had happened to the children, as Alfred wouldn’t have been able to look after them while working, and the oldest, Eileen, had only just turned twelve. Unfortunately, the 1931 census was destroyed by fire in 1942, so it’s not possible to glimpse the family in that year. By the time of the Second World War, only Eileen was living at home with her father in Huddington:
I haven’t been able to find any of the other children in the 1939 Register. Percival, aged nine, had been sent to an orphanage in Bristol, according to his grandson, Barry. At some point Betty emigrated to New Zealand, where she died in 2014. (No passenger records have been found.) Derek married twice and had a son. He died in Lincolnshire in 2001. James also went to New Zealand, showing up in the Electoral Rolls there as a driver, living at 99 Warspite Avenue, Porirua, in 1969 with his wife Joyce. (I haven’t found the passenger records for him either.) The youngest, Kenneth, has also been hard to trace as there were several people with the same name born in that year.
I am hoping to hear from any descendants of Florence who read this, and would especially love to know if a photo of her and her children exists anywhere.
So Ari now has a new baby sister, Eva Rose Gwendoline, and of course all of these people are her ancestors too. I think she is going to have her own blog, once I’ve found an alliterative name for it 🙂
One of Ari and Eva’s 7x great-grandfathers was a yeoman, Francis Poole, born in Oddingley, Worcestershire in about 1745, the father of Betty. I haven’t found his baptism yet, but he had a brother John (baptised in 1741) and a sister Mary (baptised in 1745), both in Oddingley.
Francis married twice. The first marriage was to Frances Hardwick, who died in May 1769. Unfortunately the marriage record only gives the day and month, not the year.
The second time was on 18 September 1770, to Elizabeth Colley, at St James in Oddingley.
Francis died in Oddingley in 1802, and left a will (proved 14 August 1802) which I obtained from the Worcestershire Archives. This helped me piece together lots of family information.
He mentions the cottage, land and orchard that he is leaving to his son John. He mentions his daughters, Ann (the widow of Thomas Garfield), and Sarah (the wife of Thomas Trimnell). He also mentions his wife Elizabeth.
He mentions Betty in three places:
One of the executors of the will was the vicar, George Parker, first victim of the Oddingley Murders.
Ari, this is how you are related to Francis Poole:
John Perkins was Ari’s 6x great-grandfather, born in about 1772 (according to his burial record). He was a farmer, living in Oddingley, Worcestershire, and married to Betty Pool.
A document titled “Worcester Cathedral Muniments B Class leases and charters” (held at Worcester Cathedral Library) contains the following details about the land leased by John Perkins (spelling as original):
While researching Betty last week, I discovered a possible link to the Oddingley Murders. The first victim, Reverend George Parker, was the new local clergyman, and a dispute had arisen with the farmers over the paying of tithes.
“The tithe dispute deepened as the years passed, and by September 1805 of the seven ratepayers in Oddingley parish only two of them – Old Mr Hardcourt and John Perkins – could still sustain a conversation with Parker” (Peter Moore, Damn His Blood, p. 28).
The book Damn His Blood by Peter Moore contains plenty of references to John and Betty, supported by evidence from newspaper reports, court reports and witness testimony. The book is well worth reading, even if you’re not related to the people in it! It was very exciting to find that one of Ari’s ancestors had played a role in these events and that it had been recorded in this way. (See also The Trial of Thomas Clewes, Farmer, Charged with the Murder of Richard Heming, at Oddingley, Worcestershire, in June, 1806, Etc, printed by Edwin Lees, 1830, and A full and accurate account of the inquest held upon the remains of R. H., lately discovered in a barn at Oddingley … including particulars of the murder … of … G. Parker … 1806, printed by T. Eaton, 1830 on Google Books.)
I haven’t found John’s baptism or parents yet, so the first we know of him is the marriage to Betty in 1803, which is mentioned in Moore’s book.
“John Perkins, an impetuous single-minded man in his twenties, had lived in the village for the past decade and had recently assumed control of Oddingley Lane Farm” (p. 39).
These men “were tenant farmers who paid annual rent to Lord Foley in exchange for their houses and the right to farm the attached land on leases of eight years. … Tenancies were rarely available and hard to win, with aspiring farmers needing to be diplomatic, forceful, well connected and hard-working to succeed” (p. 39).
On 22 June, two days before the first of the two murders, “John and Betty Perkins would have been among the congregation at Parker’s final service … where there had been disquieting whisperings in the pews” (p. 94).
The murder took place on 24 June 1806 (Midsummer Day). Peter Moore describes the village that day, with “… scores of parishioners at work in the meadows. Most were preparing for the clover harvest or hacking at thistles and weeds. … John Perkins, another farmer, was tending a bonfire outside Oddingley Lane Farm” (p. 8). The farm was “a quarter of a mile south of the village crossroads” (p. 93). “Perkins had decided not to travel to Bromsgrove for the annual fair” (p. 93). “One of his meadows had been blighted by an outbreak of a weed known as cammock or rest harrow. … From the middle of the afternoon onwards, he busied himself in the field, hacking at the plant” (p. 95).
“At around four thirty in the afternoon Perkins gathered the cammock into a heap, and at five o’clock he set his little bonfire alight. He did not hear anything unusual. There was just the dim rustle of a harvest scythe, the occasional sweep or creak of a wheelbarrow, and the gentle sound of birdsong. … Unlike James Tustin and the two butchers half a mile away at Pound Farm, he did not hear the blast of a shotgun or Reverend Parker’s piercing, desperate cry of murder” (p. 95).
“John Perkins learnt of the murder at about half past five … when ‘a little girl’ appeared in his field. She told Perkins that the Reverend had been shot and Mrs Parker would like to see him ‘directly’. Perkins threw down his tools and ran into the lane, leaving the bonfire burning behind him” (p. 99).
“At the rectory Perkins found Mary Parker in the garden. She was leaning against a set of milk pails in the yard. ‘For God’s sake!’ she cried when she saw Perkins. ‘Go to Mr Pyndar [a justice of the peace] directly, for I have no friend but you and him” (p. 99).
John did this.
“Betty Perkins had learnt the news of the murder at the same time as her husband and at about 5.30 p.m. had set off for the glebe fields to see Parker’s body” (p. 102). Betty lent James Tustin a horse to go after the murderer, but his mistress, Mrs Barnett, had prevented him from going. (Betty told Rev. Reginald Pyndar this on 29 June, when he was collecting evidence in the case.)
At seven o’clock that evening, Thomas Colwell, a carpenter, “called at the rectory and found John Perkins comforting Mary Parker. Colwell told them both that he thought Richard Heming was Reverend Parker’s murderer” (p. 113).
“In mid-May John Perkins had noticed Heming pacing back and forth in Barnett’s fields, where a faggot of thorns and a bolting of straw had been thrown down into the ditch adjoining the glebe meadows. Parker had also seen Heming nearby and had asked Perkins if he knew what the man was doing. The farmer had been unable to supply an answer” (p. 116).
Two people were ordered to ride to Worcester to get a handbill printed with the murderer’s description, and “John Perkins and Thomas Colwell were ordered to take the road south, accompanied by George Day, Parker’s servant” (p. 123). Acting as deputised constables, they rode to Bredon’s Norton, home of Heming’s parents, and searched the house but found nothing. Pyndar asked John to lie in wait on the road between Droitwich and Oddingley, so that he could seize Heming if he came that way. Pyndar had also sent John to Droitwich to fetch a man called Baker, who was a professional thief taker.
Parker’s funeral took place on Friday 27 June, and John was in attendance.
“John and Betty Perkins were among the Parkers’ closest friends in the parish. Parker had officiated at their wedding, on 16 October 1803, at which Mary Parker had taken the unusual step of signing the register instead of Pardoe, the parish clerk. As Mary was illiterate she could only manage a dog-legged cross in the gap her husband left for her signature, but it was a symbolic act and enough to demonstrate the depth of trust and friendship between the couples” (p. 94).
Before the murder
In January 1806, Captain Samuel Evans, a retired military officer who leased Church Farm, had said to John Perkins: “Mr Parker is a very bad man. Nobody in the parish agrees with him.” Perkins didn’t agree and the Captain swore “Damn him! There is no more harm in shooting him than a mad dog” (p. 54).
On 7 April 1806 (Easter Monday) the annual vestry meeting had taken place. After an argument, the meeting “descended into chaos. The farmers stalked out, abandoning an event intended to bring parishioners together. John Perkins was the only one who stayed to speak to Parker, perhaps the only farmer he could still count as a friend” (p. 43).
That evening, the farmers were dining and drinking in God Speed the Plough in Tibberton (Oddingley had no pub of its own).
Various accounts of the evening were given by witnesses, mentioning John Perkins. According to Moore, Perkins “had only opted to join the dinner a few hours earlier at the insistence of Parker himself, who, anticipating intemperate words or scenes, had urged him to attend to defend his name” (p. 57).
The second murder
In January 1830 a second inquest was held, after the discovery of a body in a barn. The coroner, William Smith, invited John Perkins to this inquest. This is where John was able to give his account of what had happened in 1806.
According to Peter Moore, John Perkins was in debt by 1815 and had lost his farm. This advert had appeared in the Worcester Journal in 1811:
John died in Feb 1837 and was buried at Oddingley on 12 Feb.
Elizabeth (Betty) Pool was one of Ari’s 6x great-grandmothers. She was born in about 1774 in Oddingley, Worcestershire, which is “pleasantly situated about 3½ miles to the south-east of Droitwich on the slopes of a valley through which run the Worcester and Birmingham Canal and the Bristol and Birmingham branch of the Midland railway” (https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/worcs/vol3/pp456-460).
Betty married a farmer called John Perkins. Searching for the marriage on TheGenealogist website, I have just found two children I didn’t know about. Mary Perkins was born in 1807 in Oddingley, and John in 1809. The website also offered this possible marriage:
So now we have her surname, Pool, and I can try to find her parents.
There were three more children: Jane in 1814, Sarah in 1816, and Anne in 1821.
(Confirmation will need to wait until I write about John!) I have just ordered the book Damn His Blood: Being a True and Detailed History of the Most Barbarous and Inhumane Murder at Oddingley and the Quick and Awful Retribution (by Peter Moore) so will find out more!
After Betty’s husband John died in 1837 I think she went to live in Sale Green with her daughter Sarah, who had married John Tyler. This is where she was in the 1841 census:
Betty died at Crowle two years later, on 13 January 1843, from breast cancer.
The death was announced in the Worcester Journal.
She was buried in the churchyard at Oddingley on January 19th.
Ari’s 5x great-grandfather, John Tyler, was born in Huddington, Worcestershire, in 1811. I haven’t found his baptism or parents yet.
On 25 Nov 1833, he married Sarah Perkins at St John the Baptist in Crowle.
The first record we can actually see is the 1841 census. This shows the family in Sale Green, with a daughter Mary (born in 1839), Sarah’s mother Elizabeth (Betty), and a ten-year-old, Mary Hughes.
John is working as an agricultural labourer. (It’s possible that they had a son, William, in 1836, baptised in Upton Snodsbury which is close by, and is also where Mary was baptised. If so, I am not sure what happened to William, but a later son was given William as a middle name.)
By the time of the next census, in 1851, two more children have been born, Ann (Angelina) and James. John is working as a carpenter, and they are still in Sale Green. By 1861 two more sons have been born, Frederick William and Caleb. (In 1871 we see that Frederick, now 19, is also a carpenter.) In 1881, the family is living next door to daughter Angelina, and two of her children (Fanny and Elizabeth Sheppard, age 12 and 10) are at John’s house. Two of John and Sarah’s sons, James and Caleb, are still at home and working as agricultural labourers.
The 1891 census shows John all alone, at the age of 79, and described as a retired carpenter. His death certificate shows that he died aged 84, on 26 May 1894. His son James was present at the death.
He was buried at the church in Crowle on 31 May, and an announcement was placed in the Worcestershire Chronicle on 2 June.