Emma Wonnacott

This is one of my first excursions into family trees for Sticklepath folk who are not my direct ancestors.  It is exciting to find Harvey, Stanbury, Counter and Wonnacott all ‘tied together’ in one tree. I do know we each have 4 grandparents who often have different surnames, but linking well known families together is awesome.  Slightly awesome in the sense of how am I going to keep track of 500 inhabitants and their intermarrying too!

Also spotted a skill I need – drawing family pedigree charts – this gives an idea:

We first met Emma as the mother of Gertie Harvey, now she is the focus. 

When Emma Wonnacott was born on 11 December 1869 in South Tawton, Devon, her father, James, was 38, and her mother, Maria, was 34. In 1871 James was a lime quarry labourer* and he and Maria had 3 other children at home with them in South Zeal – Ellen aged 14y, Joseph 12y, Anna Maria aged 4  as well as 1 year old Emma. 

Emma’s mother Maria died in about 1877, aged 42 after 23 years of marriage. In 1881 Father James is an invalid.  He and the now 11 year old Emma are living in Spreyton village with sister Ellen and her husband James Powlesland an ag.lab aged 23 years.  Ellen is working as a dressmaker to help make ends meet.  Emma is a scholar. 

In 1891 Father James is working again as an ag lab and is now living in the middle of Sticklepath near the chapel.  Emma was a house and parlour maid (sounds a bit posh! Most local census entries just say servant.)  She worked for Francis Budd, retired barrister, at Batworthy, Gidleigh.

Emma married William Henry Stanbury Harvey in April 1894, registered  in Okehampton, Devon (I am not sure where they married). I wonder if they met when she was visiting her father perhaps? The 1901 census shows them living in Sticklepath at No 1 Taw River Cottages.  I wonder if she moved there when she married?  They had two children during their marriage. Gertie was born 1 Jun 1895 and Willie 21 May 1898.

By 1911 the family had moved to Tawside, and now sister Ellen and daughter Ada were living with them or at least staying on the census night. We also learn that Ellen had lost a child.  They took paying guests.

The 1939 register helpfully confirms the dates of birth for the family, who are still living at Tawside. William Henry describes himself as an old age pensioner and his son William James is now the farmer.  Emma died in July 1943 at the age of 73, the death was registered in Okehampton.

*South Tawton Lime Quarrying started in the 16th century, peaking in the early 1800s, and closed 1906.  These were difficult times for labourers locally as Ramsley Mine closed in 1909, farming was in recession and, as we now know, war was just around the corner. 

As always lots of questions arise. Where were No 1 and No 2 Taw River Cottages? How did the family afford to move to Tawside? What happened to Emma’s father James Wonnacott for him to be called an invalid? I wonder why he moved to the middle of Sticklepath? How did the war affect them – I have so far not found a military record for William James Harvey, perhaps he avoided it in a protected profession of farmer?

I would love to hear any more information, or perhaps add a photo?

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