Drivers of Industry in 4 different places and Reflections closer to home #SticklepathOPS #Sticklepath #OnePlaceWednesday #OnePlaceStudies

What a fantastic webinar with the Society for One-Place studies last night.  4 eloquent speakers and respected researchers presented different aspects with thought provoking case studies. All to an audience of only 30, it merited far more.  Here are my very brief notes which do not do it justice, with apologies for any errors. 

Dr Sadie McMullon started with the brick works in Fletton Parish OPS near Peterborough.  Much it seems is owed to the then Bishop of Peterborough who refused to have railways on his land.  East station therefore had to be sited on the outskirts at Fletton, which meant the brick industry there could thrive.  Another factor was the local clay.  This clay powders when dry so the Fletton brick-making process involves compressing that powder 4 times.  Saving valuable time drying bricks prior to firing.  Having seen piles of mud bricks drying by the Nile or in Malawi I was aware the impact this industry could have on the environment, but in Fletton it was perhaps more industrial buildings and firing the bricks that impacted the locality. With a booming industry and plenty of employment there were likely few complaints!  

M.Diane Rogers talked about the establishment of Newdale, Manitoba, Canada, her One-Place study. On the flat prairies with no trees or stone they too needed a brick industry.  The main drivers for settlement were Government initiatives for settlers, and the Railways.  Small railway companies were given incentives (money and land) to take the railway to small places, essentially colonisation railway lines.  In fact Newdale moved in 1885, leaving “Olddale” and establishing a new Newdale close by.  As well as incentives to move there were reasons why 40,000 or so folk moved from Ontario to Manitoba.  Ontario had little land left to buy or for families to inherit.  Often successful settlers moved with families , and good contacts were essential.  A local who would share with you how to survive the harsh winters, which were many in the first decades.  Of course services such as retail shops, pharmacies etc were needed and Newdale supplied almost 200 small settlements close by, again ensuring success.  For individuals such as a blacksmith harsh weather necessitating more frequent changes of horseshoes was beneficial.  So some elements of success, drivers of industry, were down to luck too.

Jude Rhodes talked about a West Yorkshire coal miner Joseph Hemingway who somehow, though time spent in America perhaps in a ‘Land Grant College’ was able to return home as a Flock Manufacturer and Mill Owner.  This mill was renowned for belching horrendous smoke, and sadly he became bankrupt 1881 when a fire left it uneconomic.  However, by 1890 he had bounced back and was a Professor and Mine Superintendent of a coal mine, and highly regarded as a mining engineer.  His personal drive seems to have been insurmountable!

Jane Barton talked about agricultural workers in the Boltons of Cumberland.  I always talk about farm work as being by far the most common work in 1851 in Sticklepath when you include farmers, their families and the farm servants and agricultural labourers.  Jane pointed out, quite rightly, that by 1911 getting farm work was very difficult.  With increasing mechanisation it was not the farmers or their families that missed out initially, but the employees.  The Great War compounded this and on returning from military service many soldiers found it impossible to regain work as Ag. Labs. It was therefore important to diversify, and what people did depended on the generation, timing, and opportunities that presented themselves.  This was well illustrated by a family case study. 

So lots of challenges and thoughts arise:

Don’t assume all clay or all bricks are the same.  My own family had connections with the Cornish China Clay industry so this should not have been a surprise! (For more examples See UKnamedBricks).  Whatever the industry, ask lots and lots of questions to understand why this was a success or failure at this time and place. 

Always consider the surroundings, the landscape (opportunities and impact of the industry)  Transport links too, bringing workers, as well as transporting supplies and manufactured goods.  Does a change in transport mirror the success or failure of an industry?  Perhaps it is mechanisation or other new development?  Mechanisation saw the downfall of handmade edge tools as in Sticklepath. 

Sources include business records, advertisements, sales and bankruptcies, directories, retirements and celebrations as well as accidents, health problems arising, and court cases (often disputes over land or lack of employee well-being).

The Influence of landowners – I will come back to this – or the prospect of owning land.

Don’t assume low class villagers won’t make something of themselves!  Many failed when settling in a foreign land but others thrived.  Similarly those changing their life situation in whatever way, or when disaster struck. Some are in a position to flourish.

So what of Sticklepath, my own One-Place study?  In the middle of Devon, a largely agricultural area on the geological ‘Sticklepath Fault’, most villagers found employment either on farms or in the mines and quarries. (Of course there were also more than our fair share of millers and blacksmiths as discussed previously).  Sticklepath is surrounded by mines and quarries which have come and gone over time.  Mines at both Greenhill (Belstone Parish) and Ramsley (South Zeal, South Tawton Parish) employed Sticklepath men and produced high grade copper ore from at least the mid 19th century into the early 20th century. 

Quarry workers Sticklepath

Much of the following information comes from <a href="http://&lt;!– wp:paragraph –> <p><a href=""></a></p&gt; South Tawton and District Local History Group, work by Gerald Bastable “Ramsey Mine”

Industry could influence development of transport links:

“A railway is projected from this station to Okehampton, which, if carried out will be of vast benefit to the locality. A few good mines opening will undoubtedly be a great stimulus towards its being made, as the carriage of their ores and materials must necessarily form a considerable item in their returns.” (Source unclear, c1860)

Census records our for local villages, 1851—81, show various miners. Sadly they don’t tell us where they worked. Others may have been working away on census night, Sticklepath workers are known to have walked across Dartmoor to Princeton, on a Sunday, perhaps to quarry granite or mine tin at Whiteworks, returning home the following Saturday. 

This seriously under-estimates the impact of the mines and quarries on employment. Many other tradesmen worked at the mine, masons, smiths and carpenters. I am not sure how the copper mines were constructed but certainly the Forestry Commission, which had a big impact on the environment with quicker growing conifers, produced pit props for constructing coal mines.  (The coroner’s case below also refers to timber supports at Ramsley.) 

Bowden’s Haulage, Sticklepath, Lorry carrying Pit Props.

Mines and quarries of course leave scars in the landscape, spoil heaps and the noise of machinery mining, crushing and processing stone or ores. Many remain unsuitable for housing and are developed as wildlife areas.

 Ramsley Hill Copper Mine changed hands and therefore name frequently. In 1825 there is possible evidence of mining activities, and it is said rich ores were found when constructing the new road 1829.

Name changes:

1850  Fursdon Mine. Adit opened 1850. 

1851 Exploratory adit. Local syndicate 

1851-1856 Fursdon Mine, listed as Manor Mine 1854 (Lead)

1852-1853 Lease sold to London Co. in another part of sett. 

1856-1857 Devon Copper and Silver Lead Mine. 

1857-1859 Ramsley Hill Mining Company Ltd. Formed to take over Manor Mine, liquidated 1858.

1859  Fursdon Mining Company Ltd. 

1860 George Fursdon – Lord of the Manor. Celebration of new 50’x4′ wheel for shaft “Ellen” 

1862 – 45 employed.

1870-1883. Fursdon Great Consolidated Mining Company Ltd. M. E. Jobling Manager 1876 title changed to Wheal Emily. 

1881 Sett taken over by Emily Copper Mines aka Wheal Emily. 

M.E. Jobling and friends spent considerable money on the mine. 

1882-1888 Emily Copper Mines Ltd. Jobling was manager and vendor.

1888 became South Tawton Copper Mines Ltd. (Emily Copper Mines Ltd. adjoined Ramsley Hill Mines.)

1900-1912. Ramsley Exploration Company.

You may think it strange I only mention Mr Jobling by name, but I have met him before and he perhaps demonstrates how individual factors can influence the industry chosen.

Mark Ernest Jobling was born on 21 July 1844 in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland. He married Emily Cross on 7 April 1868. They had four children during their marriage. He lived at Cleave House Sticklepath June 1901, as he gives this address when signing a lease for a Manganese Mine in Milton Abbot (Held in Plymouth Archive). He died on 12 September 1921 at the age of 77, his residence at the time was Ramsley House, South Tawton.

Digging a little deeper into his background, his brother James A Jobling took over a failing glassworks in Sunderland. When his nephew, Ernest Purser, became the manager in 1902 the company started to make major investments, moving towards a profit. They soon become very well known as manufacturers of Pyrex in Great Britain and the Empire (excluding Canada). The workforce increased from about 100 in 1900 to over 1000 in 1930.  Glass manufacture requires minerals such as manganese.  So I surmise there was a family link that meant Mark Jobling was encouraged to pursue a mining career. 

There were other mining activities in the area of Sticklepath:

1844 Ford Farm Arsenic and Copper Works. Shaft in wood 150 yds SW of farm. 1900 and 1910 local company ran out of money.

1869 Cawsand Vale Mining Company Ltd. 

1853 South Tawton Consols.

1856 Zeal Manor Mine. 

1859 Zeal Manor Mining Company Ltd.

1862-1873 West Fursdon aka Owlsfoot.1873

Greenhill too.  The Quarry seen on The Mount in Sticklepath produced Blue Elvin stone, highly regarded for road building.  However, ours was too tough, too hard to crush to a suitable size so was soon abandoned.  

There were many accidents (See this report from a coroner’s case in Sticklepath, quite graphic) and various mining and quarrying industries had an impact on health.  

 St John’s ambulance started their famous First Aid Courses with mining companies.  As Sticklepath had several mines and quarries which would have taken part, so Albany Finch would likely have joined their workers, doing a first aid course to keep his Finch Foundry workers safe. They did, of course, supply specialist tools and other supplies to various mining and quarrying concerns. This is his certificate 1896:

Sticklepath’s mining and quarrying industries deserve far more research – when time allows!  But I finish with this quote hinting at the thrill of prospecting (gambling!) and some of the barriers presented by, often powerful, landlords.

“A strong prejudice against mining operations is entertained by certain landlords who have properties here, induced in some degree by the gross mis-management hitherto practised. This will, however, be soon dispelled if a good mine or two be opened; nothing has a greater tendency to do so. The desire for increase of riches from beneath the soil is very infectious; it not only enriches the proprietor, but confers a benefit on the entire population. it is money found.”  (Source not clear, perhaps c1860, <a href="http://&lt;!– wp:paragraph –> <p><a href=""></a></p&gt; South Tawton and District Local History Group, work by Gerald Bastable “Ramsey Mine”)

Methodist Marriages and Sticklepath

With grateful thanks to Anthony Marr (@ChalfontR) and Rebecca Probert (@ProfProbert), gurus on marriage registration and law, from whom I have learnt most of this. I strongly recommend attending their lectures and reading Prof Probert’s books given a chance. Pharos also run helpful courses eg regards non-conformity

(The photo above is the wedding of Fred Taylor and Nell Bowden 1913, note it includes the minister, and next to him the only photo I have of Emanuel Bowden my great grandfather. )

1920 Ralph Finch married “Lynette” (Violet Maude Lucy Shaw)

Many of us are aware of changes in the marriage laws which have taken place in our own lifetime – it is only since 1994 that a wide variety of wedding venues could be licensed. In 2005 Civil Partnerships became legal, followed in 2014 by Same Sex Marriages.  Most recently, in 2021 there were changes to the information on the marriage certificate, including the mothers’ names for example and changes to the system of recording.  Additionally certificates are now printed, unlike the handwritten copies our parents and ancestors received.

Look at all the details on this certificate.

Understanding some of the history can help us make the most of marriage records, understand and take note of all the details, and help us understand our ancestors marriage experience.  Historically in England the Church governed marriage through ‘Canon law’ from 1700 until parliament stepped in with Hardwicke’s Marriage Act 1753.  This stated that, with the exception of Jews and Quakers, marriages had to be within the Church of England, in the parish of residence.  (The Clandestine Marriages Act 1753 etc etc are beyond this brief summary). 

All family historians are aware that civil registration became a legal requirement for marriages from 1 July 1837. The 1836 Act also stated who could marry a couple, and that marriages could be outside the Anglican Church, but had to be in ‘a registered place of worship’.  To apply to be registered, dissenting churches had to worship in ‘a separate building’, and needed 20 householders to state this was their regular place of worship.

Ideally a couple would be married in their usual place of worship.  If that was not registered they could get married in a different church in the same district (from 1840 it could be a different district but was then required to be the usual place of worship of the couple). Alternatively a registered church of a different denomination could be used. So you could, for example, find baptists being married in a Methodist chapel or vice versa. 

Marriages were only allowed between 8am and 12 noon, which is why some registers state the time. A minister was not legally required, but the presence of a Registrar was.  

The marriage register, held by the local Registration Office, had to be completed in special non-fading Registrar’s blue/black ink, and a copy sent to the General Register Office. A copy of the entry was given to the couple and that is what we think of as the marriage certificate. 

Tom Hill and Elsie May Bowden 1923

For a marriage to be valid the couple had to both be of age, or have parents consent and be above the minimum age. They each had to freely consent to the marriage.  They should not already be married to each other or anyone else, and should not be too closely related (e.g. siblings).  Notice was to be given, banns read or a licence purchased.

The initial declaratory vow the bride and groom make during the wedding ceremony states that they fulfil these criteria “I know of no lawful impediment why I (name) may not be joined in matrimony to (name)”. 

The second vow is the contract – “I take thee to be my lawful wedded husband or wife”, which must be formally witnessed by at least 2 people.  These witnesses may have been members of the church, perhaps strangers at times, but often were relatives of those getting married, so genealogists ignore the witness names at their peril.  The Minister or even the registrar may also have been well known to our ancestors, as many people’s social life centred around their church or chapel. 

So, after lengthy discussion and numerous re-wordings of the Act, when parliament did finally agreed to legalise non-conformist marriages, we might expect to find the Methodists rushing to register their chapels so they could perform their own marriage ceremonies.  But this did not happen. By 1851 only about 1 in 20 was registered. Why? Methodism’s founders including John Wesley (1703-1791), did not see themselves as a dissenting group, they were within the Anglican Church.  By 1837 Methodism had broken away, but perhaps still did not really consider themselves to be true dissenters. They did not have any specific theological differences regards marriage, so had not actively campaigned for the law to be changed, unlike other dissenting groups. Whatever the reason, the Methodist Conference (the hierarchy) was happy for marriages to continue to take place in the Anglican Church.  

Couples also had the option of a Registry Office wedding, and for the first two decades religious statements were allowed in those ceremonies, unlike today. 

The “First Annual Report of the Registrar-General on Births, Deaths, and Marriages in England, in 1837-8″ published in the Journal of the Statistical Society of London tells us that 11,481 marriages were registered in that first year (1st July 1837 – 30th June 1838) and gives an idea of the proportions of marriages in different places.

(Jul., 1839, Vol. 2, No. 4, pp. 269-274, published online by Wiley for the Royal Statistical Society Stable URL:

107,201 Anglican marriages

    4,280 Other marriages, of which:

    2,976 in a Registered Place of Worship

    1,093 in the Office of a Superintendent Registrar

        76 were Quaker ceremonies

      135 were Jewish ceremonies.


The Anglican marriages are further subdivided:

9 by Special License

13,677 by License

68,410 by Banns

493 by Certificate from a Superintendent Registrar

(24,612 not stated)


The initial annual report (accessed ) only included 82 Methodist registered places of worship out of 1,257 registered buildings, although Methodists were about 50% of dissenters by that time.  

However, it was clear Methodist ministers did not have the same status or authority as Anglicans, and perhaps it was this that meant Methodists did become involved in subsequent campaigns to change the law. From 1898 non-conformist churches could apply to have their own “Authorised Person” to carry out marriage registration, so a registrar no longer needed to attend.  Unfortunately the law’s division into registration districts that meant each Methodist Minister, to be an authorised person in the churches across their area, would have had to become an “Authorised Person” with each registration district their circuit covered.

Sticklepath Wesleyan Methodist Chapel

Sticklepath Wesleyan Methodist Chapel registered in 1839, not among those first 82, but ahead of most.   When a place of worship was registered this was gazetted, published in The London Gazette, which can be freely searched online.

The London Gazette 26 February 1839. Issue:19710 Page:398

Notice is hereby given, that a separate building, named the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, situated at Sticklepath, in the parish of Sampford Courtenay, in the county of Devon, in the district of Okehampton, being a building certified according to law as a place of religious worship, was, on the 18th day of February 1839, duly registered for solemnizing marriages therein, pursuant to the act of 6th and 7th William 4, Chap 85. Witness my hand this 20th day of February 1839, Henry Hawkes, Superintendent Registrar.

The Chapel’s Register was duly started by the same Henry Hawkes 

(yes there are those who think this was the Harry Hawkes who went to Widecombe Fair… along with Tom Pearse who we will find on the next page…)

Scan of original document held by South West Heritage Trust Devon Archive in Exeter Ref 1812D/2/1 (extract) scanned 2021

The first marriage is documented on 9th July 1839, between Richard Jessop, ironmonger, and Elizabeth Malins, a spinster, both of Okehampton.  The service was led by Rev. James Stote and the Registrar in attendance was Henry Newton.  

Marriage Register of Sticklepath Wesleyan Chapel original held at South West Heritage Trust, Exeter Archive Ref 1812D/2/1 (extract) scanned 2021

 The Marriage was announced with no fuss in the Western Times on Saturday 13th July, just mentioning it was “in the presence of Mr Newton the Registrar and other respectable persons of the neighbourhood”.   

I note the first witness was Thomas Pearse, a woolen mill and serge factory owner in Sticklepath who by 1848 was himself a Registrar.  He perhaps wanted to relieve the burden on Henry Newton, and would have enjoyed an excuse to visit chapels around the circuit.

Look carefully at any marriage certificate and related register entries to understand exactly when (in relation to marriage laws) and where the couple were married and question why there.  This couple came from Okehampton, presumably because no Methodist Chapel was registered there at the time. This Chapel register does not include father’s names or occupations, but some have extra information or notes in the margin. For non-conformist weddings always check the wording on the certificate of the type of ceremony, where it took place and the name of the registrar or authorised person who made the ceremony legal.  Make a note of the witnesses and consider how they may have been chosen.  Glancing through the Chapel register you may see the names repeated if they were church members that were chosen, or repeated names may suggest links between family members.

Henry Newton attended all 26 weddings in Sticklepath from July 1839 – July 1848, and more after that too. An average of 3 weddings per year in the chapel.

Look again at all the details on this certificate.

13th May 1898 would be before there was an ‘Authorised person’ who could conduct marriages. So we can see Seth Harry Registrar was present. Thomas Trethewey conducted the service but was not a legally necessary person. He lived in Sticklepath with his daughters who ran a dame school and would have been very well known to Albany and Georgina who both attended Sticklepath Chapel regularly (when Albany, a local preacher was not preaching elsewhere).

Did you spot that they were married in Sticklepath Wesleyan chapel according to the rites and ceremonies of the Wesleyan Methodists, by certificate. Sticklepath, Sampford Courtenay (parish) and registration district Okehampton. The witnesses are siblings of the bride. This document is actually a later copy, written out 8th October 1898, by Deputy Superintendent Registrar S Hawkin, certified to be a true copy of the entry in the Register Book of Marriages. I wonder why they wanted a copy then?

There is much more history to learn, for example, there was also a time when divorced Anglicans got re-married in non-conformist chapels, but perhaps we’ll leave that for another day.

Helen Bowden (soon to be Shields!) and Roger Bowden

How did your bride get to church? This one walked through Sticklepath in July 1986, while a policeman parted the heavy tourist traffic on its way to Cornwall to allow her across the road!

Signing the Register in Sticklepath Wesleyan Chapel 1986, this is the entrance between chapel and the Sunday school room.

Questions arising – When did taking a photograph of signing the register become a thing?

Sticklepath Chapel is now closed. Who were the last couple to get married there? and when?

2 ministers seems a little greedy! Rev Ian Young was the circuit minster, friend of the bride’s parents. The younger Rev Paul Martin a friend of the bride and groom.

Any questions, comments, notes of inaccuracies, or answers will be welcomed!

An Enumerator and a List of Houses – 1939 Register

As family historians we usually think of the census records and 1939 England and Wales Register as lists of people. However, several censuses and the 1939 register also give us a list of farms and houses – very useful for One-Place Studies and indeed house histories. The 1939 register is an unusual source in that changes have been made at a later date, usually to show a married name, as it was a working document for National Health Service registration. The enumerators varied in their knowledge of the local area and accuracy, so it can be useful to know a little more about them. Accuracy in terms of coverage can be considered by comparing the registers across the years and trying to explain any discrepancies.

1939 Register image accessed July 2022

Sticklepath in 1939 was part of 3 Parishes, this focuses on the Sampford Courtenay enumerator district. The man in charge on 5th October was Ralph Finch (1891-1979).

Ralph the middle of 3 sons to James and Ellen Finch, had two older sisters. Photo c1905 by Lugg & sons of Okehampton.

He was born and brought up in the village, spent most of his life here, and was the last ‘Finch’ to work at the Finch Foundry.

Finch Foundry Workers, Ralph with hand on hip, 4th from the left.

Ralph was the sort of person who was called upon to be the Presiding Officer in the Polling station for Parliamentary Elections too. Here seen in Sticklepath School polling station alongside the younger Roger Bowden his first cousin once removed.

Polling station at Sticklepath County Primary School 1950s or 60s? Who is casting their vote? (Do let me know!)

There were some new residents at the time of the 1939 Register, evacuees, and I think Ralph, who always had a twinkle in his eye and a kind word, will have used the opportunity to say hello and ask both the children and their host families how things were going. With so many families to visit in one day I don’t think he will have accepted many cups of tea on his was around though!

Ralph with Lynette (Violet) his first wife. ‘Tea’ in the 1960’s always included a saucer with the bone china cup and a teaspoon each with lumps (cubes)of sugar. Thinly sliced bread and butter too. I associate this gold hostess trolley with Auntie Lynette.

Whilst there are redactions in the 1939 register for people who may still be living, most heads of households in 1939 would be over 100 today, so it is likely the vast majority of house names will not be redacted. The Schedule helpfully numbers the houses and subjects (people) within so it is clear if a house is fully redacted or not legible. Note may have less redactions than

Example from Sticklepath village 1939 Register accessed via July 2022

Some houses have changed name (or numbering in areas elsewhere), and quite a few small houses have been incorporated into larger ones either with extensions, or two or more houses later made into one. Several of the larger houses in the 1911 census and 1939 register were split into several households. Unfortunately there is nothing about numbers of rooms like 1911 census, but together and alongside random addresses from records of life events, wills, directories, newspapers etc, we can start to create a database, a useful list of houses and their occupiers at various points in time. Deeds and newspaper reports of auctions etc. can help with names of owners.

The database of Sticklepath Houses is in its early stages, starting with a list created in 1983 from people’s memories (especially Muriel Ching Bowden nee Finch) now slowly adding the 1939 register houses to the database and the occupants to the SticklepathOne ‘forest’.

If anyone is willing to share any photographs or information about their Sticklepath house with the Sticklepath Heritage Group or on the website please contact us. Similarly if anyone would like to know if I have information about their sticklepath house, do ask.