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The Broadway Connection

Anne-Marie Ford    -    3 January 2015

The pretty village of Wrington was on Monday the scene of a wedding which, through its singularity, attracted many visitors to witness its celebrations. The happy couple are both Gypsies of very pure descent . . . Mr Valentine Stanley, the bridegroom, a handsome young fellow of about 30 and Miss Misella Cooper, a very pretty girl, 22 years of age and of slight and elegant figure, walked from the encampment towards the church a little after 11 . . . The bride, who was given away by her uncle . . . was habited in a rich blue dress with embroidered chemisette, a white tarlatan bonnet, lined with pink, and having a wreath of flowers inside. (Royal Cornwall Gazette 19th May 1854.)

Misella Cooper was the daughter of Nelson Cooper, a horse dealer, and she was to claim birth, in one record at least, in London. It is surely likely, then, that she is the daughter of Nelson and Isabella Cooper(daughter of Elijah Smith and Sophia Lee), who also baptised a daughter, Britannia, at St Mary’s in Putney on 13th January 1833 a “travelling tinker,” and as late as 1853 were found baptising a Mary, aged 7 years, on 22nd March 1853 at Downside, Somerset, “daughter of an itinerant horse dealer/rat catcher,” (who was, incidentally, to form a union with a Henry Stanley) and Notavina (?) at Ruishton, in the same county, on 3rd July 1855.

Other children of Nelson and Isabella include a son, James, born about 1828; Dangerfield, baptised on 7th June 1835 at Epsom, Surrey, son of a “tinman of Reading, Berkshire,” who was buried at Cobham, Surrey on 9th January 1840 “aged 4 years.” A George, who may also have been called Walter, was baptised at Old Windsor, Berkshire on 23rd December 1840, and there was alsoa Sampson Cooper, born about 1847.

The fact that Britannia, who formed a union with Noah Palmer, named two of her daughters Lydia Isabella, b.10th September 1856 and Mosella, b. 13th September 1858, baptising them both in Kensington, London in 1863,daughters of Noah Palmer and Britannia Cooper, seems to confirm this family structure. There is also a record for a son, Charles, baptised the following year, on 10th January, at St Pancras, Middlesex, the son of Noah and Britannia Palmer. It seems, too, that Misella and Valentine were to return the favour, naming one of their daughters Britannia.

The wedding between Valentine and Misella clearly attracted considerable attention and details of the marriage were recorded in several newspapers. The Worcester Journal of 20th May 1854 also described the outfit of the bridegroom with almost as much attention to detail as the Royal Cornwall Gazette had bestowed upon the bride:

First came the bridegroom, Mr Valentine Stanley, who was attired in a green frock coat with gilt buttons, drab trousers and long loose gaiters, a purple velvet waistcoat, in front of which was festooned a large gilt or gold chain, with a fistful of seals, lockets, amulets etc. . . On his breast coat was a large wedding favour, composed of silver lace, satin ribbon and fine flowers; a bright spotted neckcloth and a black hat completed his apparel.

The uncle who gave away the bride, Misella, and was credited with bestowing a substantial dowry upon her, was named as a Broadway. The families were clearly well-to-do, working as horse dealers and travelling the Southern counties; eventually many, including Valentine’s family, would settle in America. Valentine was the son of Joseph/Joshua Stanley, a horse dealer, and Rhoda, formerly a Cooper, so it is hardly surprising to find Valentine marrying into his mother’s tribe; however, it is his brother Matthew’s marriage, ten years prior to this, that offers the best clue as to the identity of the uncle who gave Misella away.

In Axbridge, Somerset Matthew Stanley, son of Joseph/Joshua and Rhoda Stanley, married a Martha Broadway, the daughter of John, with hardly less fanfare than Valentine and Misella’s union. The Bath Journal remarked of the marriage, which took place on 17th September 1844, that “Matthew, son of Joshua Stanley, King of the Gypsies,” was united with “Martha, second daughter of John Broadway of the same tribe,” adding that after the ceremony “they returned to the Seymour’s Arms, where the wedding dinner was provided . . . in the best style, and spent the remainder of the day, [at last] returning to their camp on Blagdon Hill about 12 o’clock in the evening. It is estimated that not less than 400 persons assembled to witness the ceremony and the bells have been set ringing, and the Blagdon band engaged, for the union.”

Since John Broadway already had one Stanley brother as a son-in-law, it is probable that he is the uncle whose niece unites with another; what makes this even more likely, however, is the fact that John Broadway’s wife, Amy, was a Cooper, so it seems that John Broadway was indeed the bride’s uncle, through marriage with her aunt. (Perhaps, too, he is the John Broadwell (sic), horse dealer, aged 30, claiming to come from Tewkesbury, who is found in Gloucestershire gaol on 31st July 1837.)

Matthew and Martha Stanley also chose to emigrate to America; they had a son, John, baptised at Broadwindsor, Dorset on 7th May 1848 “Gypsies”; Betsy, baptised at Aylesbeare, Devon 21st April 1850;Thomas, born about 1852; Wellington, born about 1855; James, born about 1857; Nelson, who was born in America in about 1865. Valentine, meanwhile, is known to have had a daughter, Delia, who married Morris Hicks, and the Britannia, named for his sister-in-law, who married Esau Cooper, the son of Richard Cooper and Celia Williams. Valentine also had a daughter, Julia, who contracted a cousin marriage, for her husband, Samuel Stanley, was the son of William Stanley and Trezia Broadway, Martha’s sister.

In the 1851 English census John Broadway is recorded as a widower, aged 47 years, a horse dealer, having been born at West Tisted, Hampshire. This makes it probable that the death registered at Bridgwater, Somerset in 1848 of an Amy Broadway is indeed his wife. He can be found in the census with daughters Trisia, (sic) aged 20, Elizabeth, aged 16, who claimed birth at Edgarley, Somerset, and a niece, Victoria Cooper, born at Crockerton in Wiltshire. Elizabeth had indeed been born in Somerset; her baptism at the church of St Nicholas, West Pennard, on 18th May 1834, records her as the daughter of “John and Emma Broadway, horse dealer, travelling from Warminster.”

The age John Broadway offers at this census is very unlikely, as his first known child, Talenta, was baptised at Cliffe-Pypard, Wiltshire on 19th September 1819, the daughter of John and Amy Broadway, Gypsies from Hampshire. Other known baptisms for this couple are those of Trezia, who was baptised at St Andrew’s Cheddar, Somerset, on 26th February 1832, daughter of John and Amy Broadway, a dealer in horses and Phoebe, baptised on 1st February 1829 at Horningsham, Wiltshire, daughter of John and Amie (sic) Broadway.

What does seem more reliable than his age is the location he gives as his birthplace. Certainly a John Broadway, son of Jane, was baptised at West Tisted, Hampshire on 14th October 1798, and a sister, Martha, daughter of Jane, was also baptised there on 25th October 1800. This birthdate would make John about 21 years of age when Talenta was born, which is much more plausible and the baptism of Jane Broadway’s daughter two years after that of her son would also explain why the name Martha, the name of a sibling, was chosen for one of his own daughters.

Following the emigration of many of these families to the United States, a daughter of Noah Palmer and Britannia Cooper, Cassie Palmer, married a Leonard Stanley in Massachusetts on 22nd January 1891. Leonard’s parents are William Stanley and Phoebe Broadway, and their union had been celebrated at a double wedding in Boston, Massachusetts, on 24th February 1874, when William Stanley, son of Joshua/Joseph Stanley and Rhoda, married a Phoebe Broadway, daughter of John Broadway and Emma Cooper, together with Betsy Stanley, daughter of Joshua/Joseph Stanley and Rhoda, who married James Stanley, son of Anslow and Trinity Stanley (nee Oliver).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, too, the two daughters with John Broadway in the 1851 census had married into the Stanley tribe, Trezia Broadway, daughter of John and Amy, as mentioned earlier, married William Stanley, son of Thomas and Sarah and a Richard Stanley married Elizabeth Broadway, just 16 in the census records, the daughter of John Broadway and Emma (formerly Cooper).

Copyright © 2015 Anne-Marie Ford