|Industrial Revolution in South Wales - The Nantyglo Ironworks|
There are also scans of baptismal records of the children of their son, John Tilley, and Hester Knight at the Independent congregation of Kingswood, Wiltshire. They are:
Date Baptized Name Place/date of birth Parents Abode Occupation
Oct 6  Mary In the parish of Kingsd Jno & Hester Tilley Kingswood Weaver
on the 2 day of formerly Hester Knight
Jany 18  Lewellyn In the parish of Kingsd Jno & Hester Tilley Kingswood Weaver
on the 21st day of formerly Hester Knight
Augt 13  Daniell In the parish of Kingsd Jno & Hester Tilley Kingswood Weaver
on the 22 day of formerly Hester Knight
I have previously hypothesized that John and Hester moved out of Kingswood (and baptized more children elsewhere), largely because I am accustomed to seeing large families. It is of course possible that they stayed put, but were unable to have more children. I believe this 1841 census record is for the same John and Hester as the baptisms. There is currently no evidence to suggest they had moved between 1826 and 1841.
By 1851, however, I am fairly sure that they had moved to Bedwellty, Monmouthshire. The next part of this post explains why I believe this is so.
Bedwellty lies in South Wales, one of its chapelries in 1868 being Tredegar. During the late 18th and early 19th centuries the Industrial Revolution came to South Wales. The presence of coal, iron ore and water power prompted several enterprises to develop the green valleys for the large-scale industrial production of iron. According to wikipedia, Tredegar's population grew from 1,132 in 1801 to 34,685 in 1881. The South Wales valleys would be a natural place for workers migrating from Gloucestershire, in search of work in coal mines, ironworks or the shops serving the growing community. The picture above of the Nantyglo Ironworks (situated in a neighboring valley) depicts the pollution that came with this kind of development. The human cost would also be high.
Among search results for John Tilley in the 1851 census, I came across one from Cardiff gaol:
John Tilley Prisoner for Debt Mar 52 Linen Draper Gloucester, Dursley
Meanwhile, in the same census at 41 Charles Street, Bedwellty is the following household:
Hester Tilley Head U 55 Grocer and Draper Gloucestersh, Berkeley
Elizabeth Davies Grand daughter 7 Scholar at home Gloucestersh, Woottonunderedge
Eliza White Visitor 19 Gloucestersh, Kingswood
That same month, the London Gazette of 29 April 1851 reports an impending hearing for discharge from bankruptcy at the County Court of Glamorganshire for three people including:
John Tilley, late of the Tredegar Iron-works, in the county of Monmouth, Grocer, Tea Dealer, Draper, and Dealer in Furniture.
These last three records would appear to be related. I can at least relate the Hester Tilley 1851 census return to our Tilleys. In 1850, Llewellyn Tilley married Elizabeth Vivian in Rhymney. The BMD Marriage Index for this couple is: Dec1850 Abergavenny 26 29. The marriage registration, which I have in hand, reports:
19 October 1850 at Rhymney Church
Groom: Llewellyn Tilley Full Age Bachelor Shopkeeper Rhymney
father: John Tilley Shopkeeper
Bride: Elizabeth Vivian Full Age Spinster Rhymney
father: John Vivian Confectioner
signed: Llewellyn Tilley and Elizabeth Vivian
witnessed: John Tilley and Eliza White
This second witness, Eliza White, is also the visitor on Hester's 1851 census return. Her presence at the wedding and in Hester's household the following year connects the Jno and Hester Tilley of Llewellyn Tilley's baptism and Hester Tilley, Grocer and Draper in Bedwellty. This makes it highly likely that the debtor in Cardiff Gaol is Hester's husband. In the absence of further entries in the London Gazette, presumably John's discharge from bankruptcy went smoothly.
Continuing from here, the 1861 Census at Bradley Street, Wotton under Edge, the first household of District 1 has:
John Tilley Head Mar 61 Grocer Gloucestershire, Kingswood
Hester Do Wife Mar 65 Gloucestershire, Berkeley
This indicates that by this time they had returned to Wotton under Edge.
For the 1871 Census, the best I can find is this one at Eglantine Place, Wotton under Edge:
Esther Tilley Head Widow 78 Pauper Glocshire, Woodford
The age is a little high, but Woodford is an outlying settlement of Berkley, Gloucs.
There are two BMD Death Index entries for Hester Tilley that make sense, given age at death:
Hester Tilley Jun1874 Dursley 6a 141 Age:79
Hester Tilley Sep1881 Dursley 6a 128 Age:85
In additon to the Death Index, census returns also show two Hester Tilleys living in the Dursley area by 1861. One is the wife of our John Tilley and the other is the wife of Charles Tilley. In 1871, Charles and Hester are living at Whites Row, Cam, Gloucestershire. Curiously, in 1871 both Hesters are reported as Esther, but in other respects are consistent with other records reporting the name as Hester:
Charles Tilley Head Mar 74 Gen Lab [Glos] Wottonunderedge
Esther Do Wife Mar 74 Do Do
The BMD Death Index has:
Charles Tilley Mar1881 Dursley 6a 170 Age:85
While the 1881 England Census for the Workhouse in Dursley has:
Hester Tilley Inmate 85 [Glos] Wotton
And this, I believe is the Hester who dies later that year. Therefore I would conclude that Hester the wife of John Tilley dies in the second quarter of 1874. Given that Hester is a widow in 1871, but not in 1861, her husband must have died during that interval. The BMD Death Index has:
John Tilley Jun1864 Dursley 6a 142
No age given on the earlier index entries, but this is one of only two John Tilleys in the index for Dursley between 1861 and 1891; the other dies aged 60 in 1873, and is thus too late and too young to be our John Tilley.
Looking for a Hester Knight born in Berkley, Gloucestershire about 1796, England Births and Christenings 1538-1975 have Hester Winterbottom Knight, the daughter of Daniel and Phebe. Indeed Hester is one of several siblings baptized to parents of those names in that area:
Hannah Knight 10 Feb 1788 Stone, Gloucs.
Edmond Knight 30 May 1790 Stone, Gloucs.
Danl Knight 21 Apr 1793 Stone, Gloucs.
Hester Winterbottom Knight
3 Jan 1796 Berkeley, Gloucs.
Jonah Knight 24 Apr 1798 Thornbury, Gloucs.
Joseph Knight 3 Aug 1800 Thornbury, Gloucs.
The last two are from the Register Book of the Presbyterian Meeting House at Thornbury. Both were born in the Parish of Berkeley, while the record for Joseph adds that this was in the Tything of Stone, and that he was baptized in Newport.
The appearance of Jonah among these baptismal records recalls John and Hester's next-door neighbors for the 1841 England Census, and adds to the evidence that perhaps we are on the right track.
In summary, we have some evidence pointing to John's wife being Hester Winterbottom Knight, the daughter of Daniel and Phebe Knight, resident in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. Whoever she is, John and Hester appear together in Wotton under Edge, Gloucestershire from 1822 until 1841 or later. John's occupation is Weaver. We next see them in Tredegar in 1851 (John, at least, is there by October 1850 to sign his son's marriage certificate) as grocers, drapers, etc., and by this time John has suffered a bankruptcy. They have returned to Gloucestershire, still grocers, by 1861, when they live until their deaths in 1864 (John) and 1874 (Hester) respectively. A brief window into the lives of two of my 3xgreat step-grandparents.