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The Many Marriages of Moses Stanley

Anne-Marie Ford    -    3 October 2015

On 17th November1822, at the Church of Lady St Mary, Wareham, Dorset, Moses Stanley, a razor grinder, married Ann Dory. The following year they baptised their first-born child, Rachael, on 1st August, and there followed a large family: Richard was baptised on 17th July 1825; Eliza was baptised on 12th December 1829; Sarah was born about 1830; after this came George, born around 1831; Alfred, who was baptised on 8th September 1833; Frances, baptised on 29th November 1835; Francis Dory, baptised 15th April 1838; Henry, baptised 21st June 1840; Jane, baptised 3rd September 1843. Whilst Moses first appears in the records of Wareham as a razor grinder, over the years he is recorded as “a cordwainer,” a “shoemaker” and a “journeyman cordwainer,” and later census records find him semi-settled in Frickers Alley, in the parish of St James, Poole. He claims to be the son of a Richard Stanley, and whilst there are more than enough Richard Stanleys to go around, it is likely that he is the son of the Richard, baptised in Wareham in 1775, son of William and Ann (nee Gillingham), although just possible that he is a son of Richard and Frances Stanley; the dates make it possible and he does use both names for his children. Anyone glancing through the census records for Wareham might be surprised and perhaps confused by those for Moses, given that he appears to have four different wives over time, with very different ages. Whilst such errors regularly occurred and, anyway, Travellers sometimes used different forenames on different occasions, none of these many wives attributed to Moses are incorrect. Moses and Ann Stanley appear in the 1841 census, at Roper’s Lane, in the parish of Lady St Mary, Wareham, with all their children, except for the eldest, Rachael. She can be found on the census, but is working as a draper’s apprentice and therefore living in. Jane, the youngest child, was of course not yet born, arriving two years after the census. Ann appears to have died around the early 1850s, hers may be the burial recorded in the spring of 1852, in Wareham; at any rate, Moses remarried in the autumn of 1852 to an Emily Churchouse, daughter of John, who was considerably younger than he was. Emily can be found in the 1851 census with parents John and Amy, and her two young sons, Alfred, 4, and Edmund, 2. It seems that she and her sons joined Moses’ family and in the census for 1861 she is with Edmund/Edwin and young Walter, the son Emily and Moses had together in 1857, living in Frickers Alley. His eldest daughter, Rachael, is also living in Wareham; she had married Humphrey Wilcoxin Wareham in 1856 and can be found settled in West Street in the parish of Holy Trinity for the remainder of her life. Rachael and her husband were witnesses at the Wareham wedding of her sister, Eliza when, on 31st May 1860 Eliza Amey, 32, a widow, daughter of Moses, cordwainer, married William Blandamer, 32, a builder, the son of Robert. Her first union, with Antony Amey, a woodman, son of James, had taken place at Dorchester Holy Trinity, on 1st April 1852, where Moses is described as a shoemaker, and siblings Rachael and George Stanley acted as witnesses. It is clear that Moses’ family are becoming part of a settled community, and he, it seems, has been semi-settled for most of his life. This movement is typical of the social change that saw so many Romanies and Travellers beginning to settle into established communities and marry local men and women. Some of Moses’ children were to settle further afield, however, and a number of marriages can be found in London during the second half of the nineteenth century. Frances Stanley, daughter of Moses Stanley, cordwainer, was married to George Cook, a gardener, son of Joseph, at St James Islington on 22nd March 1865. Richard Stevens, her brother-in-law, the husband of Sarah Stanley, was a witness. Henry Stanley, boot maker, son of Moses, a boot maker, also married in London, at St James the Great in Bethnal Green, his bride, Ann Page, was daughter of Richard, another boot maker. Moses’ youngest daughter, Jane, was also to marry in London; she can be found in the 1861 census in Islington, London, staying with her married sister, Sarah, and her husband, Richard Stevens, a grocer, and children George, Walter, Arthur, Jessie, Rose and Jane. On 23rd October 1864 Jane Stanley, 21, daughter of Moses, cordwainer, married William Leander, 21, a packer, son of William, a carpenter, at St Leonard’s, Shoreditch. One of the witnesses at this wedding was Emma Stanley, is this Emily Stanley, Jane’s step-mother? Sometime in the 1860s Emily seems to have died, but perhaps she was present at her step-daughter’s wedding, a girl she had been a mother to since she was nine years of age. Certainly by 1869 Moses is once more a widower. This time he marries a Catherine Tubb, who claims to have been born in Gloucestershire, in 1804. Sadly, Catherine died after just three years of marriage, and her death is recorded in Wareham in May 1872 as Catherine Stanley, wife of Moses, aged 72. Moses appears to have remained a widower for some years, but in 1877 he married for a fourth and final time – he was 75 years old and his new wife was less than half his age. The union of Harriet Maria Davis and Moses Stanley took place in the registration district of Poole and the 1881 census therefore records Moses with yet another wife, a son (actually a step-son, son of Emily), listed as Edward Stanley, and a daughter, Mary Ann Stanley, aged 9 years. Surely this is the Mary Ann Davis whose birth was recorded in 1872, and is the daughter of Harriet. Together Moses and his first wife, Ann, had ten children, a further child, a son, Walter, was the result of his union with Emily, and three step-children also appear to have been absorbed into the extended and extensive family. Moses was to die in 1882, his death is recorded in the September quarter of that year in the registration district of Poole, “aged 83,” outlived by Harriet Maria, but only just. In 1884, in the registration district of Poole, the death is recorded of Harriet Maria Stanley, 41 years of age.

Copyright © 2015 Anne-Marie Ford