CHAPTER THREE Lincolnshire:- Origins of the Featherbys
Almost five years before James Bond left England, an agricultural labourer from Lincolnshire named William Featherby landed at Portland Bay accompanied by his wife and family. The date was August 18th 1852.1 Probably similar reasons to the ones that later motivated James Bond led to his decision to migrate. William had been born at Caenby some 39 years before (April 21st 1812) and was the son of a farmer named David Featherby, and Elizabeth Hewitt.2 He married Jane Coupland (or Copland or Copeland - various spellings have been used in the different documents I have seen) at Tathwell in Lincolnshire on April 24th 1836. Jane had been born near Haugham in Lincolnshire and baptised there on Sept 10th 1815. She was the daughter of Abraham Coupland and Frances Thacker.3
Although she was born at Haugham, seven of Jane's brothers and sisters were born at Tathwell (the two are neighbouring parishes) where her parents were married, where her mother was also born and where her grandparents were married. Tathwell was (and still is) a small farming village near Louth in the Lincolnshire Wolds. The name Tathwell means "frog stream". In the Domesday Book it was written as Taddewell making its derivation more obvious. The stream in question is a tributary of the River Lud and flows through a private pond; down a man made brick waterfall and then trickles beside the village's main street. The village contains a church (St Vedast) dating from medieval times but which was largely rebuilt probably in the late eighteenth century. Until recently there was a village shop but there has been no public house for a long time. In the nineteenth century most of the land was owned by the Chaplin family. Henry Chaplin rebuilt Tathwell House in 1842 and two years later erected a school for the local children; probably it was attended by some of the children of William and Jane. The school operated until 1974 when it closed due to declining enrolment. It is interesting to note the comment of the local vicar about the Tathwell school made in 1855. In his report to the Bishop of Lincoln he wrote: - "It is to be lamented that in agricultural districts both boys and girls are withdrawn from school at so early an age as to preclude any extension or improvement".
The Methodist chapel built in 1867 has also since closed (July 1978). A map of the village in 1846 is included in this history. (See "Maps" on "Contents" page). It shows allotments 113 and 108 which were leased by William Featherby and those numbered 121 and 122 which were leased by Edward Thacker, an uncle of Jane. Most of the features including the church and pond were still to be seen on my visit in 1988. 4
Church and graveyard at Tathwell. The graves of Abraham Copland and his wife Frances (Thacker), the parents of Jane Copland, are located close to the door of the church
The families of William and Jane have roots in Lincolnshire that stretch back many centuries. To attempt to record the various ancestral branches and links for the reader in the main narrative is likely to result only in a bewildering succession of names, dates and places that is more likely to confuse than enlighten. The information is summarised elsewhere (see "List of Individuals" on the "Contents" page).
Of particular interest is that Jane has a royal ancestry that can be traced back to King Edward I of England and from there through a succession of English rulers (Henry III, King John, Henry II and Henry I) to William of Normandy (William the Conquerer). 5 Her descent from these monarchs and their queens means that her ancestry includes most of the royal houses of Europe. Other famous figures from whom Jane is descended include the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles the Great, (Charlemagne); Robert II, King of France; Malcolm III, King of Scotland and his Queen, St Margaret of Scotland among others.
Most ancestors of course were not members of the nobility. Some of these more recent ancestors include the Hewitts of Waddingham, the Cades, the Littells, the Fosters, the Rhodes of Horsington, the Richmonds, the Allenbys (Viscount Edmund Allenby the General who commanded the British Forces in Palestine during World War I is a descendant of John Allenby and Ann Green who were married in 1650. Jane Coupland is also a descendant of the couple), the Thackers, the Johnsons and many more. Most of these families seemed to have lived in the Lincolnshire area for successive generations and some families have members who can be traced back to the end of the sixteenth century.
The names of the people, the dates of significant events in their lives such as their own baptism or those of their offspring, marriages and of course deaths and burials, and the names of the villages and towns where they lived tell us little of what they or their lives were like. Occasionally one catches a glimpse of tragedy in the form of a death at a very young age, or of the deaths of children or a spouse, or a sense that some were people of some substance. For example William Hewitt of Snitterby (1726-1787) had his own family crest on which three sheaves and a chevron were displayed on a shield. He made a will in which his land was left to his son William (1750-1798). Upon the death of the latter, the land passed to his second wife Margaret Atkinson, who herself later remarried and thus the property probably passed from the hands of the Hewitt branch of the family. Additional detail such as this, scanty though it be, proves infinitely more satisfying and interesting than a mere record of names and dates.6
The Waldegrave family for example definitely seems to have been of some substance. Rebecca Waldegrave (1694-1764) who married Thomas Allenby (1688-1729) in 1713 was the daughter of Daniel Waldegrave (1659-1732) and Rebecca Mamby (d1732). The Waldegrave family were significant landowners. Daniel left a will (1732) which makes reference to "lands and tenements at Fotherby" as well as apportioning various sums of money to his relatives and descendants. 7
Daniel's grandfather, also named Daniel Waldegrave, appears to have married into an even more prominent family. His wife Bridget Hutchinson (c1590-1653) was a grand-daughter of William Hutchinson (1512-1556) who was a mayor of Lincoln in 1552. William's younger brother John (1515-1565) was also later mayor of Lincoln in 1556 and was the ancestor of three American Presidents (Franklin D Rooseveldt, George Bush Sr and George Bush Jr). 8
Daniel left a detailed will (proved in 1651) 9 which suggests he was also quite well off although not nearly as wealthy as his grandfather. His grandfather John (d 1580) was Lord of the manor of Monkslande at Partney in Lincolnshire. This land seems to have once belonged to the monastery of Bardenay, which was suppressed during the reign of Henry VIII (1509-1547). Indeed one wonders to what extent John, apparently a staunch Catholic, managed to preserve his wealth and position while living through what was a tumultuous period in English history. A time that saw the Protestant son of Henry reign as Edward VI (1547-1553) following the death of his father, only to be followed by his half sister Mary (1553-1558) who made a determined effort to restore the Catholic religion. Mary in turn was succeeded in 1558 by Elizabeth, another of Henry's daughters, who pursued policies that severely discriminated against Catholics. 10
Bridget's maternal ancestry is of particular interest. Her grandfather Thomas Palfreyman was Lord of the manor of Lusby was married to Katherine Goodrich (Goodricke) a member of another prominent family. Her uncle was Thomas Goodricke, Bishop of Ely, and her mother was a grand-daughter of Sir Thomas Dymoke. The Dymoke family held the traditional title and role of the Kings Champion and it is the Dymoke family that claims royal descent. (see link to 'My Royal Descent'in the Contents page. 11
Brass memorial to Sir Lionel Dymoke (1464-1519) in St Mary's church, Horncastle. He was Kings Champion and knighted at the battle of Tournai by Henry VIII and was later Sheriff of Lincolnshire. He is shown kneeling on a cushion with a scroll with the words 'Sancta Trinitas, unus Deus, miserere nobis' (Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us)
The possible effect of the Reformation in England on John Waldegrave has already been noted. Given that we have a record of the names of people covering a period of three hundred years of English history, one wonders if, or in what way they may have been affected by the sweep of great events that occurred during this time. Were any such as William Hutchinson (1512-1556) or Thomas Palfreyman supporters of the Lincolnshire revolt in 1536, which was centred on Louth and arose in opposition to the religious reforms instigated by Henry VIII? Did any participate in the 'Pilgrimage of Grace', the major uprising that followed and which was ruthlessly suppressed a few months later? How many clung to the old Catholic faith despite the increasing pressure and discrimination introduced during the reign of Elizabeth I?
As the county of Lincolnshire was almost evenly divided between Royalist and Parliamentarian sympathisers during the English Civil War (1642-1649) one wonders to what extent the lives of John Cade (1606-1678) and his wife Rebecca Mason (1608-1682) were touched, or those of John Rhodes (d.1685) and his wife Mary Raye (1621-1678). How did they react to the Puritan suppression of amusements and imposition of strict standards of conduct and morality? Did they welcome the restoration of Charles II in 1660? Were any such as John Thacker (b 1634) or Thomas Cade (1655-1709) caught up in the hysteria of the "Popish Plot" of 1678? Did they welcome the news of the accession of William and Mary to the throne in 1689, which effectively excluded any possibility of a future Catholic monarch? Or did any such as Patrick Richmond (1710-1766) continue to harbour sympathy for the Stuart cause or express any support for Bonnie Prince Charlie in his invasion of England in 1745?
Did any members of these families serve in the British Army or take part in any famous battles of this period? Did any serve in the North Lincolnshire Regiment, the 10th Regiment of Foot for example? A regiment that fought in France with John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough and which was later the first British Army unit to see action in the American War of lndependence. 12 To what extent might Elizabeth Booth (1753-1795) or Joseph Thacker (1704-1777) or Mary Allenby (1715-1785) have been aware of the voyage of Captain James Cook from the neighbouring county of Yorkshire in 1770 that resulted in the discovery of the eastern coast of Australia and paved the way for the settlement of the country that was eventually to be the home of many of their descendants?
The most likely answer to this speculation of course is that these events would have had little, if any, impact on the lives of people whose concerns would have centred on their own struggle to make a living as agricultural workers or perhaps as small farmers, and whose horizons would seldom have extended beyond their own families or the neighbouring villages. Unless directly affected by some of the events listed above, the chances are that they did not impact very much at all. Nevertheless, whether people understood the causes or not, the effects of changes in agriculture, in transport and in the development of industry was eventually felt in even the most remote rural areas and altered the lives for ever of those who lived there and the lives of their descendants.
The century 1750-1850 saw enormous changes to the pattern of life in Lincolnshire. In the eighteenth century the district was largely devoted to the raising of sheep. As the import of cotton into England lessened the demand for home produced wool, and as the growth of the industrial towns in neighbouring Yorkshire and the nearby Midlands saw an increased demand for wheat, cereal and food crops, much of what had been pasture land for sheep was ploughed up for the planting of crops. Improvement in fertilizers and farming techniques also enabled much of the poorer upland soils that had previously been used for grazing to also be converted to the cultivation of grain crops. There was also a population drift to the industrial towns as workers were attracted by the higher wages and the whole face of the landscape was also changed with the old open-field and small strip farming system giving way to large enclosed fields which allowed for more efficient and larger scale holdings. Ownership of land became more concentrated and progressive farmers were able to introduce new and improved techniques.
As an agricultural labourer William Featherby would probably have not owned or even leased any land of his own, but would have attended the local fairs hoping to be hired by one of the landowners - an increasingly uncertain way to seek to make a livelihood. The fact that his children were christened in a variety of locations within the same general area, tends to confirm that this was most likely his situation. As he witnessed the changes occurring around him and knowing it was an impossible dream for him to ever own his own land, William must have came to the realization that the prospects of building a happy and prosperous future for himself and his family in England were very bleak. It is perhaps not surprising then that he began to consider the possibility of emigration. Tales of the new land on the other side of the world would have filtered back to even the most isolated parts of the country and at different times the various colonial governments had embarked on advertising campaigns in a bid to attract new settlers. It is interesting to speculate when and how William or Jane first heard of Australia, to what extent they were driven by the desperation of their circumstances, by a spirit of adventure or ambition for a better life and when they finally formed the intention to emigrate, but we will never know.
What is known is that William and Jane together with their seven children, sailed for Australia aboard the "Flora McDonald", a vessel of 674 tons which left Liverpool on April 21st 1852 and arrived at Portland on August 14th of that year. Although Jane's parents were both dead by this time such was not the case for William, and one can only begin to imagine how hard it must have been for him especially, to bid farewell to family, friends and all that was familiar in the knowledge that there would be little possibility of ever returning.
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