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The Stanley Connection

Anne-Marie Ford    -    2 April 2017

On 13th February 1832 the Sherborne Mercury reported on a case in which the authorities appear to victimise the miscreants for their own gain, confiscating all their possessions and, for the times, a considerable amount of gold, and sentencing them to imprisonment:

The following persons were committed as vagrants to the Devon County House of Correction last week for sleeping in tents in the open air, having no visible means of obtaining a livelihood and not giving a satisfactory account of themselves. Matthew Broadway, senior, for two months; Matthew Broadway, junior, his wife and child, for six weeks; Peter Hicks, his wife and six children, for one month. They were all of the Gypsy tribe. Peter Hicks had £81.10/- in gold in his possession, which was detained by order of the magistrates, for the purpose of defraying the expense of apprehension and maintenance in prison. The others had horses and other property, which will be sold to defray the expense of their apprehension and maintenance, unless they pay it from some other source. The wife of the senior Broadway escaped from the constable, and it is supposed she had considerable property in her possession.

This was just as well, as the authorities had taken everything else from the Gypsies whom they had in custody. It is an interesting group, and a connection between the Broadways and the Stanleys is recorded in the baptism of Matthew Stanley Broadway on 16th November 1806 at Wood Norton, Norfolk, son of Matthew Broadway and his wife, Theresa, late Stanley. Matthew Broadway is probably the son of John and Eleanor Broadway, who baptised their son Matthew on 18th February 1780, at Barnstaple, in Devon (and is also the Matthew Broadway buried on 18th April 1850 at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Croscombe, Somerset, “aged 71, Gypsy”). He is found as an inmate of Tewkesbury Gaol on 25th February 1818, “aged 39, from Barnstaple,” held on “suspicion of stealing a mare.” We have a brief description of this Matthew, who was 5’10” tall, a basket maker and Gypsy, with black hair and blue eyes. Fortunately, for him, the case was dismissed for want of evidence.

Theresa Stanley was baptised as Teressia at North Waltham, Berkshire on 30th November 1783, daughter of Richard and Elizabeth Stanley, Gypsies, and it is likely that it was she who escaped being convicted for vagrancy with the group in 1832, by which time she and her husband would have been in their fifties. Their son, presumably the Matthew Broadway, junior referred to in the newspaper report, was also married to a Stanley, probably a cousin, named Henrietta. We know, too, that Peter Hicks was married to an Elizabeth Cooper, whose sister, Rhoda, was the wife of Joseph/Joshua Stanley, the brother of Teressia. (Peter Hicks had married Elizabeth Cooper at the church of St John the Baptist, Bristol, Somerset, on 24th December 1828 and Joseph Stanley, Elizabeth’s brother-in-law, was a witness to the union.)

Less than a year earlier Peter Hicks had been one of a group of Gypsies brought before the magistrates at the Town Hall, Devonport, and Stanleys, as well as Belchers, were among the party. Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 23rd July 1831 reported:

They were living in a state of vagrancy in the parish of St Budeaux, and having in their possession twelve horses, a mule, and an ass, a silver ladle, and a large silver teapot, which they used as a tea-kettle. The party consisted of three men, five women, and thirteen children, the whole of whom travelled in a covered cart or caravan. They gave their names as Peter Hicks, of Brimpton, near Newbury, Berkshire, rat-catcher and horse-dealer; William Belcher, of Bristol, rat-catcher; Thomas Stanley, of Winterbourn, Wiltshire, Rebecca Belcher, Rhoda Stanley, Betsey Hicks, Betsey Stanley and Cecilia Belcher.

Peter Hicks’ wife, Elizabeth, is, presumably, the Betsey referred to in the list, formerly a Cooper; Rhoda Stanley probably her sister, married to Joshua/Joseph Stanley, although he is absent from the group. Joseph/Joshua and Rhoda had a son called Thomas, baptised in Froyle, Hampshire in 1808 and a daughter, Elizabeth, born in about 1821, so it is possible that these are their children. Rebecca Belcher is another Cooper who, with her previous partner, Richard Ayres, was the mother of the Cecilia listed, Rebecca’s partner at this time being William Williams, whose alias was William Belcher.

What is fascinating is the connection, evident in the two arrests, of Hicks, Broadways, Coopers and Stanleys camping together, united by family ties. They were travelling the same parts of the country, Hampshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire, but particularly favouring Devon, Cornwall, and Somerset, where Peter and Betsey Hicks had married. This couple baptised a son, Joshua, at All Saints Church, Martock, Somerset, on 6th May 1818 (presumably one of the children with them at the time of one, perhaps both, arrests), saying they were of Colinbourne, Wiltshire, and that Peter’s occupation was that of rat catcher. John Cooper/Hicks was baptised at Patney in Wiltshire on 2nd May 1819, Betsy at Kentisbeare, Devon on 3rd October 1825; Cornelius was baptised in Dawlish, in Devon, son of a rat catcher on 27th April 1828; Talenta at Highweek, Devon on 14th March 1830.

In addition, a Hugh (?Uriah) Hicks, claiming birth in 1823, named Peter and Elizabeth Hicks as his parents, when he married Elizabeth Stanley, daughter of James and Margaret, in Massachusetts, USA, where, maintaining the Stanley connection, his brother, Cornelius Hicks, married Vashti Stanley, also a daughter of James and Margaret. (Vashti and Cornelius Hicks’ deaths are recorded in America in 1912 and 1905 respectively.)

Is Peter Hicks the son of John and Sarah, travellers, who was baptised at Kintbury, Berkshire on 25th October 1795, a brother, surely, of the Cornelius Hicks, married to Phoebe Cooper, who baptises a daughter, Louisa, at Hartley Wespall, Hampshire on 14th September 1823, a “travelling hawker and pedlar of Brimpton,” a location that Peter also names? The coincidences of time, place and names, (the name of one of Peter’s sons, Cornelius, would seem to be a family name), are persuasive. As is a reference to the baptism of a Joseph Hicks in Berkshire in 1811, son of John Hicks and Sarah Eyres/Ayres; other children of this couple include an Elijah, baptised at East Garston, Berkshire on 26th April 1801 and Angelo, baptised at Hungerford, Berkshire on 12th October 1808. When Clementina Eyres/Ayres, daughter of Reuben Eyres/Ayres and Jane/Jenny Stanley, married William Blackman on 27th May 1799 at Thatcham, Berkshire a John Hicks was a witness. Surely he was a brother-in-law, the partner of Clementina’s sister, Sarah, born in 1777, whose mother was a Stanley, and whom he married in 1794 in East Woodhay, Hampshire in 1794?

The younger Matthew Broadway’s union with Henrietta Stanley resulted in at least nine children, but given the gaps there may be more: Amy Broadway is my earliest recorded baptism for this couple, baptised on 9th May 1834 at Lamerton, Devon; James was born around 1835; Rhoda was baptised at the church of St Michael Creech, Somerset, on 25th Mary 1842, where her parents were described as “travellers,” and “Egyptians.” Samuel was baptised 31st December 1842, at the church of St Peter, Roborough, Devon, the son of “Egyptian wanderers.” Robert Charles was baptised at North Tawton, in Devon, on 25th October 1848; Richard about 1852; Thirsa about 1853, Matthew, baptised on 16th April 1854, at St Giles in the Wood, Devon and Mary’s birth on 21st February 1856 at Chipstable, was registered in the sub-district of Wiveliscombe, Somerset, just three days later, by her father, who is recorded as a basket maker and gives his wife’s maiden name as Stanley.

Matthew Broadway is also recorded as an inmate of Wilton Gaol on 28th January 1836 in Taunton, Somerset, aged 30, charged with a Thomas Stanley (perhaps a brother-in-law), as a rogues and vagabonds who “maliciously destroyed a sapling.”

The 1861 census finds the family in the parish of St Andrew, Devon, where Matthew Broadway claims to be 56 years of age, and a labourer. Henrietta’s name has been mis-transcribed as Harriet, but children Robert, aged 12; Richard, 9; Thirsa,7; Mary, 5, are with them. And this is the same parish in which Matthew and Henrietta Broadway can be found in the following census, staying in King Street, St Andrew, Plymouth. Matthew claims to be 70 years of age, Henrietta continues, fairly consistently in census records, to claim birth in 1812, making her about 59, and with them is their youngest known child, Mary, about 16 years of age, as well as a granddaughter, Caroline, aged three.

A few years earlier, on 21st September 1865, the North Devon Journal had mentioned Henrietta in a brief article regarding the local hospital:

On Friday night a Gypsy woman named Henrietta Broadway was admitted with a fracture of the thigh bone, received a few hours previously by slipping off her horse when on her way from the fair to the encampment of the party near Highbockington.

She clearly recovered, and lived on until the June quarter of 1875, when her death was recorded in the registration district of Plymouth, aged 69; her husband, Matthew, had died three years earlier in the same location, claiming to be 74 years of age.

Copyright © 2017 Anne-Marie Ford