Saturday, November 24, 2012

Jane gets all the letters now

Castle Square
Feb. 26th 1880

My Dear Brother

 I was very sorry to hear that you were down in the scarlet fever and hope that you are well and strong again and all the others.  I have been to Jane’s this evening and she told me to say that she had been in Swansea a month and you had not written to her yet.  We have been very busy in the shop this week taking down stock we have been in until 12pm every night and I have got very tired at it and am very Glad its over.  When will you be out of your apprentice and will you come home before you begin to work as an assistant.  I wrote to you about 3 weeks ago but I suppose you were too Ill to answer my letter.  I have not Heard from Home for the Last fortnight.  Jane gets all the letters now and I have to go out there to get all the news.  I have no more news now.

                              From your
                                        F. Bevan

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Robert Polhill Bevan

Silvanus and Ann's family ancestry can be traced back to Jenkins Bevan and his wife Elizabeth After who married at St Mary's Church, Rhossili c1620. And so can founding member of the Camden Town Group of artists Robert Polhill Bevan.

Silvanus and Ann descend from Jenkins' son Francis Bevan who remained in Gower farming, albeit prosperously. Robert's ancestor was Francis' brother William Bevan who moved to Swansea where he refused to pay church rates and tithes and was imprisoned for two years for his Quaker beliefs.

From this line comes the descent of some very entrepreneurial Bevan family members including Silvanus, founder of the Plough Court Pharmacy. Robert Polhill Bevan's great great grandfather Timothy was partner and brother of Silvanus and it is Timothy who connects the Bevan family to new business opportunities with his two influential marriages. The first one was to Elizabeth, daughter of linendraper and banker David Barclay by whom he had three surviving children, Silvanus, Timothy and Priscilla. His second marriage was to Hannah Gurney, daughter of the philanthropic Gurney Quaker family from Norwich of whom the prison reformer Elizabeth Fry nee Gurney was a descendant.

Born in Hove on August 5, 1865 Robert Polhill Bevan was the son of Richard Alexander Bevan and Laura Maria Polhill. He studied art at the Westminster School of Art, later moving to the Academie Julian in Paris.

Described as a modest man, many of his works were unsold at the time of his death in 1925 and remained in the possession of his family. In 1961 his son and daughter presented a number of his paintings, drawings and lithographs and 27 of his sketchbooks to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

Patrick Baty, British historical paint consultant, is Robert's great grandson.

A Small Southdown Farm

A Sale at Tattersalls

Back of the Granary, Poland.

Patrick Baty

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Taken from Harriet George's notebooks

That such a cache of mundane and some might say, pedestrian letters should survive so many years continues to amaze and delight me.  The earliest ones date from the 1830s and were exchanged between members of the George family, Ann's mother Jane's side of the family.

James George, Ann’s grandfather, originally came from Horningsham, a small village four miles from Warminster in Wiltshire.   He was employed for sixty years as a land agent for the wealthy Talbot family, responsible for collecting rents from the tenants of the extensive Penrice estate.

The George family lived at Nicholaston Hall in a village of the same name overlooking Oxwich Bay.  The family must have been on the move at the time of Jane’s birth as she was baptised on May 13, 1802 at Dailly in Ayrshire.  The other six children were all baptised at St. Andrew’s Church, Penrice – Thomas in 1788; Hannah 1790; John 1791; Harriet 1795; James 1797; Mary 1793 and Robert in 1799.

Harriet George married Samuel Gibbs, a seaman from Porteynon, at St Nicholas Church, Nicholaston on January 30, 1816. The couple set up home in the village of Porteynon where their nine children were baptised at the parish church of St. Cattwg.

Perhaps this inclination to preserve family letters and ephemera was a George characteristic. Harriet kept a series of little notebooks in which she recorded family events. In 1854 there is a reference to her sister Jane. Bevan. She notes that the family at Oxwich Castle "are quite well and they have had an abundant harvest.  It has been a fine time on the farm, the live and dead stock fetching such high prices owing to the Russian War, which is not likely to terminate soon." She also kept a batch of letters received from her scattered family over the years, which she read on her regular walks along the cliffs. 

One of Harriet's sons, George, was appointed Lloyd's Agent in Gower in 1864 and in one of her several notebooks Harriet records some of the shipwrecks George attends.

February 10, 1864.
A brigatin got ashore out by Skysie and became a total wreck, she belonged to Port Talbot, came from Plymouth with limestone ballast, her name "The Perie," 200 tons, all saved their lives, 5 of the crew lodged a J. bevan and boarded till Friday the following, the 12th. The Captain lodged at our house until the Wednesday and he left. We charged him nothing for his board. He was a quiet, inoffensive man, not married, a Capt. Gidies. Their board at "The Ship" came to £1.0.0.

September, 19, 1864.

A large brig, name "Industry," came out from LLanelly with coals and sprung a leak. They run her in on the sand at Nackershole, and there she is and will not likely to be got off, they were bound to Malta.

September 20, 1864.
The cargo is insured in Loyd's and George Gibbs being the agent, he had to discharge it and save all he can and sell it.

February 6, 1867.
The French lugger came ashore on Brufton sand called the "Fortuna," laden with cotton and a few barrels of sugar.

March 10, 1867
Sunday night, at 1 o'clock a large brig, 300 tons, stuck on Porteynon point and became a total wreck, in ballast, bound to Cardiff for Coal from Whitstable, name Amininoe. There was at this time a fall of snow and East wind, and the Captain and crew, 7 men, had to stay in the place until 14th, when they all went in Grove's bus, and G. Gibbs with them being Loyd's agent.

January 23, 1868.
At 2 o'clock in the morning, George Gibbs was sent for to Rosilly, a vessel ashore and all perished. It was an awful gale, and sea running mountains. There was a heart-rending scene to look at, 11 vessels all to pieces, having come out of Lanelly in the evening and the wind died away, the sea mad and they all got ashore on Rosilly sand and Llangenny, Brufton and the banks. The shore was all strewed with the wrecks, 15 tun vessells came out and 11 can be seen the remains; the others are supposed to be gone and the crews of them as they left the vessels and some of them got to the hulk. How many poor fellows is gone, the account is not known. This is the most distressing wreck that was ever heard of on this coast."

Harriet's story is told in an article written by Michael Gibbs entitled "Dear Stay At Home," published in the Gower Journal Vol 34 in 1983.  He concludes:

"Harriet survived her husband by more than eleven years.  She died on the 13th November, 1881. When the time came to sort out her personal effects, her daughter Lizzie carefully packed together the letters and the little notebooks which Harriet had kept, and preserved them.  If she had consigned them to the fire, as many people would have done, none of this could have been written."

When Dr Mary Bevan died in 2004 in Mildura, Western Australia this bundle of Bevan family letters could also so easily have ended up on a fire with a whole family history lost.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The clock has warned for eleven

Some of the most evocative letters are those written by Anne.  Imagine her sitting at the kitchen table, writing by lamplight, probably the only one still up so late at night.  She recalls those in the village she knows to be ill and warns her son, recovering from scarlet fever, to take good care of himself.  A mention of the movements of other members of the family and then a glance at the clock, with an early start the next morning she sends her love and prayers to the son she sees so seldom.

Febry 26 1880

Dear George

We have not heard from Llandudno this week & I have got anxious about you but I hope no news is good news & that you are all nearly well again you must take care of yourself & not take cold it is very dangerous after Fever there has been some case of Scarlet Fever at Burry & Mr Thomas’es son of Lake is ill with it.  I hope we shall escape it this time we have had bad colds.  I have made Sill some Gruel & given him a cough mixture to night Elizzie is not very well your Father is very well & very busy he has been out at some Job or another every day during the week. 

I heard from Jane she wants to know how you are we shall be glad to hear from you we are thinking to go to Swansea on Saturday & Jane is coming home for a few days.  Frank is quite well we are very busy when the weather is fine & food is very short for the Sheep.  Father says we shall have hard work to keep them alive until the Spring as the Sweeds are nearly done.  I have no news to tell you.  

Poor old John Bevan is very Poorly keeping his Bed the other neebours are pretty well the clock has warned for eleven & we are going to kill two Pigs tomorrow morning for the Butcher so I must conclud with kind love to you & all & may God bless & keep you from all evil

from your affectionate
Mother A. Bevan

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

From Edmund and Robert

February 18th 1880

Dear Brother

I am very sorry that you Were very ill but We hope you Will Be well by this time.  We Got five young chicken and We got a young calf.  We have a fine young horse For you to Ride when you Come home it is very Quiet and george can ride him to Moors.  We Are going to put a Wire Fence Round the Feilds on the burrows.  I Remain your Brother

Robert Bevan

Feb 18th 1880
My dear Brother

We have sold our fat cattle. Frank is going to give a penny to the one that sees the first lamb first but we have not one yet one of the geese has laid one egg.  We have twenty fat sheep to sell.  It is very wet here now and we have not finished sowing wheat.  Mother have a bad cold we others are all quite well and I hope you are well too.

          I remain your
          loving Brother

Edmund was approximately seven years old when he wrote this letter – note – no spelling mistakes

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Scarlet Fever is very bad in Swansea

Feb 16th/80

Dear Brother

We were glad to hear by Uncles letter which we received to day that you are all getting better and hope you will soon be able to resume your usual duties.  We have nearly all bad colds at home.  Sill has a swelled face with the toothache.  The scarlet fever is very bad in Swansea.  One of Margaret little boys has died in it.  He was buried in Port Eynon today.  Margaret was up here she inquired kindly after you and was sorry to hear you had been so ill. 

We heard from Frank yesterday he seems to be getting on pretty well.

I suppose you have heard that Jane has left us.  She is getting on very well but misses the noise and row at home.  Mary Gibbs has run away from home again her son has been brought up to Overton to save expense and Mary did not like it and so she went away.  Miss N. Beynon of hills has also started.  She has got a situation in London.  So we are two less in the village.

The weather has been very wet and stormy here.  Sill went away to day with two cattle to Parkmill he got a thorough wetting.  Hannah had a valentine on Saturday from Rowland.  We havent seen or heard of him for a long time.

Mr Ellis is the Editor of a circuit Magazine of which I enclose you a copy.  It may drive away a weary hour.  I must now conclude with love from all.

I remain Your affecte. Sister E. Bevan.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

William Steven's buss

Feby 10th 1880

Dear Brother

I hope you are getting better and all at Landudno too.  Father has got a bad cold, he went to Swansea on Saturday in William Steven’s buss.  Father and mother intended going in the trap only the weather was too bad.  

We had a calf on Sunday morning.  Our feeding cattle is going away on Monday morning Mr. W. Abraham bought them.  Sil is taming in the colt.  I have been collecting for the Missionary Society and have got 14/- must less than Hannah gathered last year.  

Father saw Jane on Saturday they were very well.  They live in 22 George St. Swansea.  Mother says she hope you will be able to write soon and let us all know how you are.  We are all very well at home.  So now I must conclude.

                    I remain
                    Your affectionate sister
                    Harriet A. Bevan

Morgan and Jane's home in Swansea today