Wednesday, 29 May 2013

From Yeoman to Customs Officer: the first part of John Elstob's story (with a Brewing Empire to come)

John Elstob's story is very much a work in progress, writing his story will hopefully fix some of the facts I have about him in my mind and enable me to search more purposefully for further information.  In proper family history research style we will begin with what I know about his daughter, Ann, my 4x great grandmother and then work backwards.
A newspaper cutting stating that on Sunday Mr George Donkin, Ironmonger married Miss Elstob, daughter of Mr Elstob, Brewer.
Newcastle Courant 16 April 1791 (from the British Newspaper Archive)

Ann Elstob was married twice, firstly to George Donkin, an Ironmonger, in April 1791 in Sunderland.  On the index entry to their marriage bond, available on Family Search, a handwritten note indicates that she is the daughter of Mr Elstob, brewer in Sunderland.  This is supported by a marriage report in the Newcastle Courant of 16 April 1791.  One of the witnesses to this marriage is a Reuben Elstob.  George Donkin dies in April 1795 and Ann, who has had no children with George, remarries two years later in January 1797.  Her second husband is Robert Hutton, a Ropemaker and he is my 4x great grandfather.  This time a Thos Elstob is one of the witnesses.

At the baptism of her fourth child with Robert Hutton, William James Hutton, at Bishopwearmouth in 1812, Ann is noted as "his wife Ann late Donkin (native of Bishopton)" (Durham Records Online).
Newspaper cutting stating that Mrs Hutton, wife of Mr Robert Hutton, rope-maker had died aged 59 in Sunderland on the 15th inst
Newcastle Courant 20 October 1827 (from the British Newspaper Archive)

When Ann dies in 1827 her burial entry at Sunderland, Holy Trinity and a newspaper cutting from the Newcastle Courant 20 October 1827 both give her age as 59.  This means she was born around 1768.

Searching in the baptism records on Find My Past I found that an Anne Elstob was baptised on 27th December 1768 in Bishopton, Durham, parents noted as John and Eliz, living at Pitfield.  Widening the search to any Elstob's baptised in Bishopton around that date I got listings for Thomas, John and Reubin all with the same parents at either the same address or nearby and within three years of Anne's birth.  These names match the names of John's sons who are listed in his will in 1816; I mentioned his will yesterday in my post about Thomas Elstob, a Master Mariner.  Unfortunately the Bishopton parish records are not included in the Bishop's Transcripts on Family Search and have not been indexed by Durham Records online so I have no further details nor actual images of these baptisms.
Ordnance Survey map snip showing Bishopton centre with Pitfield Farm south, Little Stainton and Elstob north, Redmarshall and Stockton on Tees east.
Bishopton and surrounds (from Bing Maps)

At the bottom of this map snip which centres around Bishopton is a Pitfield Farm, about one and half miles as the crow flies from Bishopton.  The baptisms I found state that John and Elizabeth Elstob were living at Little Stainton when Thomas was baptised in 1767 and Pitfield for both Anne and John.  Interestingly, look in the top left hand corner of the map - there is a place called Elstob!

We know from John's will that when he died his wife was called Mary, so Elizabeth must have been a previous wife who died.  We also know that John was 78 when he died in 1816, so he was born around 1738. 

On Family Search there are two marriages for a John Elstob and an Elizabeth.  One to Elizabeth Thompson on 30th Aug 1763 at Bishop Middleham, John would have been about 25 years old - and one to Elizabeth Rippon on 2nd November 1766 at Aycliffe, John would have been about 28. 

Typed Index Entry for the Marriage Allegation and Bond on 30th Oct 1766 for John Elstob and Elizabeth Rippon.  George Rippon stands surety.  A handwritten note adds that they married on 2 Nov at Aycliffe.
Marriage Bond Calendar Entry for 1766 - Elstob and Rippon (from Family Search)
We can investigate both of these marriages further by finding them in the Marriage Bonds and Allegations, which are also on Family Search.  When John Elstob from Bishopton married Elizabeth Rippon from Aycliffe, at Aycliffe in 1766 he is a widower and a yeoman. 

Another calendar entry, for the marriage allegation of a Thomas Elstob from Redmarshall (which is to the east of Bishopton) in 1765 lists John Elstob of Mount Pleasure (sic), Bishopton, yeoman as the surety for the bond. There is a Mount Pleasant Farm just appearing on the left hand side of my map snip ... very near to Little Stainton, where we know our John was living in 1767.  Maybe this Thomas is John's brother?  John's eldest son is called Thomas so it does appear to be a family name.

John states he is a widower in 1766 therefore it is possible that the earlier marriage, in 1763 is also his. That John Elstob says he is a yeoman from Hurworth on the Marriage Allegation, which is about nine miles south of Bishopton.  Certainly the signatures on the Allegations look similar and one of the witnesses is a Thomas Elstob. 

The Marriage Allegations have a further mystery for us as in 1761 Thomas Elstob, gentleman of Bishopton, late of the parish of Hurworth obtains a licence to marry a Rebecca Musgrave, who is 19 years old, and even has the signed consent of her father on the paperwork - then the marriage does not go ahead.  This non-event links Hurworth, Bishopton and the name Elstob, sure enough, but does make me wonder what happened next ... did Rebecca change her mind? 

John and Elizabeth's fourth child, Reubin (Reuben) is baptised in 1771 at Bishopton but no place of residence is mentioned in the entry I found on Find My Past.  We can only assume that Elizabeth (nee Rippon) dies at some point between 1771 and 1778 as our next sighting of John is at yet another marriage.
Newcastle Courant 30 May 1778 (from the British Newspaper Archive)
John Elstob has arrived in Sunderland by 1778 (or thereabouts) when his marriage to Miss Henrietta Brown is announced in the Newcastle Courant.  

"Last week at Sunderland, Mr John Elstob, a Landwaiter in the Customs  there, to Miss Hen. Brown, daughter of Mr Nicholas Brown of the Customhouse in that port; a young Lady possessed of many valuable accomplishments, with a handsome fortune."

As a Landwaiter, his occupation in the cutting, his duties were to watch over landed goods, taking taxes as appropriate and ensuring goods for export had the necessary paperwork.  Oddly in the Marriage Allegation that goes with this event he still states his occupation as yeoman. Again the signature looks comparable to that on the Allegations from 1763 and 1766.

There is a second John Elstob marrying in Sunderland around the same time (1775 & 1782), however checking those Marriage Allegations we can see he is younger than our John, and a butcher by trade.

Poor John isn't very lucky with his wives - the accomplished Henrietta gives him a son, Nicholas, named after her father we assume, the following spring but then in 1780 first Henrietta dies in May and then little Nicholas follows her in December.  This seems fairly straightforward, based on the records on the National Burial Index (NBI  - I have the disk) and Durham Records Online.  Unfortunately on Find My Past there are two listings for Henrietta's burial, one the same as the NBI and the second a little different - saying that her husband was a Thomas Elstob!  I currently have no way of checking this, there are no images for that year on the Family Search Bishop's Transcripts for Durham.

It seems very likely she does die as in December 1781 John marries again, this time to a widow, Mary Swinburn.  In her will written in 1818 she mentions an indenture drawn up just before they marry.

"the trusts and powers contained and reserved in and by a certain Indenture bearing date twenty ninth day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty one and made between my late husband John Elstob by the description John Elstob of Sunderland near the sea in the County of Durham one his Majesty’s Officers of the Customs of the one part and Thomas Langstaff of Sunderland aforesaid Surveyor of Excise and George Thompson of the same place Surveyor of Customs of the other part being the settlement made previous to and in Consideration of my marriage with my late husband the said John Elstob"

Mary appears to have been protecting her own interests by this indenture - maybe she had some property or money left to her by her previous husband or from her own family that she wished to keep separate from John's.  She also mentions a niece, Elizabeth Thompson, daughter of James Thompson of Islington in Middlesex.  I have found a marriage of a Mary Tomson or Thompson (depending on which transcription you read) to a John Swinburn in 1776 in Sunderland and a John Swinburn dying in Sunderland in 1779.  So that fits nicely. 

Mary's will confirms that John was, in 1781, unmistakeably a Customs Officer, however on their Marriage Allegation he describes himself as a Gentleman.

So far we have established that John Elstob was a yeoman, from Little Stainton, and possibly prior to that from Hurworth.  He may have had a brother called Thomas who also lived in Hurworth, Bishopton and later Redmarshall.  John was married at least four times, firstly possibly to Elizabeth Thompson, then definitely to Elizabeth Rippon, mother his four children, Thomas, Ann, John and Reuben.  His third marriage was to Henrietta Brown in Sunderland, she bore him one son, Nicholas then both wife and son died within a year or so.  His fourth marriage was to Mary Thompson, a widow previously married to Swinburn, who survived John by eleven years.  At the time of his marriage to Henrietta in 1778 he is a Landwaiter in Customs or a yeoman, or both.  By 1781 he is a Customs Officer and feels he can now describe himself as a Gentleman rather than a yeoman when he marries Mary.

Next time, the Brewing empire of Elstob and Co.

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