Robert Preece was born c 1810 in Bridgwater, Somerset. He was born towards the end of the reign of George III, 5 years before Wellington defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, my my!
He and his wife are my first relatives found to have lived all their lives in that county; they don’t even seem to have lived outside Bridgwater. It is a very old settlement, with its existence recorded in Anglo-Saxon times and only a couple of miles north of Athelney where Alfred the Great is said to have burnt his cakes nearly a thousand years earlier. But given Robert’s life based in one village I’m starting to wonder if he ever got even that far!
Robert, my G-G-G-Great Grandfather, was a bricklayer and later a mason. I think he may have had a brother called George whose children were baptised the same year and non-conformist chapel as Robert’s children: Sion Chapel in Tuam Street, Bridgewater.
He married Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Wall on 24 July 1831, both were aged about 20 at that time. They appear to have had a daughter called Hannah, who died in infancy the previous year, but went ahead and got married anyway.
Their next 3 children (Emma, Abraham and another Hannah) arrived around 1836, Elizabeth in 1838 and Samuel, my ancestor, in summer 1840. [Samuel moved away from Bridgewater to the sea, becoming a mariner and settling down with Mary Ann Tope in Oreston, Devon].
Robert and Betsy had two more children: Eliza bapt in 1847 and James, bapt in 1852. They had no chance to have further children or so see their grandchildren as Betsy died in the spring of 1856 aged 45.
Robert’s story goes quiet for a while, then in 1861 we find him listed again in the Bridgewater census as a mason. He died in September 1866 in, of course, Bridgewater. He must have contributed to a serious proportion of their houses and walls by then!
I’d like to find out about his parents next, but this will be a case of waiting until more records are online, subscribing to a different website, or of taking out a subscription to a local FHS once I’ve finished work in other parts of the country where the majority of my ancestors lived.
© Text copyright Lynne Black 11 June 2014
Photo from Bridgwater Blake Museum.