Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - Retired Barnsley Publican John Savage marries his Deceased Wife's Sister

I opened the page to write this blog about three hours ago and have been spinning around in circles on Ancestry ever since.  It seemed simple to begin with - write the story of a Barnsley publican whose wife's gravestone I found and photographed last week in Barnsley Cemetery.

A tall pillar style gravestone, square in section and made of white stone.  It rises from a tierd base to a square column with writing insised in an arched panel.  Upwards the column tapers to a plinth which is surmounted by a draped vase.
Mary Ann Savage's elaborate memorial

There aren't many gravestones in the OH's family, let alone ones so elaborate, although to be honest it is stretching a point to say these Savages are the OH's relatives.  His great-aunt married a Savage and a distant cousin married the grandson of another in a couple of those convoluted family relationships I'm finding after more than ten years of researching the OH's family in Barnsley. 

The Savage family in Barnsley seems to mostly descend from George Savage, born 1767, possibly in Nottinghamshire or Staffordshire, who moved to Barnsley, Yorkshire between 1815 and 1819, having already had a large family in Newark, Nottinghamshire.  The story of one branch of his family is told in 'Moving Lives' a book published by the Barnsley Family History Society some years ago which is still available from GenFair.

I only took a picture of this memorial on our way out of the cemetery last week because it caught my eye as we were leaving.  At that point I wasn't even sure that Mary Ann and John Savage were related to the rest of the family who are so tentatively linked to ours.  Checking the family tree the following day as I transcribed the stone for the Billion Graves website I soon tracked them down ...

The John Savage on the memorial is the grandson of the original George Savage by his youngest son, Joseph, the only one of George's children born in Barnsley.  His father was a weaver when John married Mary Ann Brown in 1869 at St John's church which lay in the middle of one of the poorest districts of Barnsley.  I wrote a blog post last year about Wilson's Piece as the area was called then.  So how did a man from a poor part of town, the son of a youngest son, so no family money to depend on in all likelihood, how did that man manage to succeed to the extent that he could afford such an elaborate memorial to his wife?

Newspaper Cutting: Savage - Brown - March 25 at St Johns' Church, Barnsley, by the Rev. W. J. Binder, Mr John Savage, tin plate worker, to Mary Ann, eldest daughter of Mr James Brown, Clarence Hotel, Sheffield Road, Barnsley
Sheffield Independent Saturday 27 March 1869 (from Find My Past - Newspapers)
The answer seems to lie with that very wife - Mary Ann Brown was born in 1850, the daughter of a coal miner in Worsborough - but when she married John Savage in 1869 her father's occupation is given as Victualler and the marriage is reported in the Sheffield Independent (see above) and by the time her sister marries Edward Patterson in 1879 James Brown has ascended to the heady accolade of Gentleman!  Now this might be because Edward Patterson was a Solicitor's Clerk himself - a good middle class job in those days and maybe James didn't want to embarrass his daughter by putting Publican on her marriage certificate.  However when James dies in 1881 he leaves £399 in his will, the equivalent of over £19,000 in today's money.  He has made a success of running various pubs around Barnsley including the 'Royal Arms Inn' at Smithies and the Clarence Hotel on Sheffield Road as noted in Mary Ann's marriage announcement. 

An old map snip, large scale showing the sizes of the pubs mentioned in the caption, they are all quite large.
The 1889 map of the junction of New Street and Sheffield Road
Showing the Black Moors Head, the Clarence Hotel and the Melbourne Hotel
John Savage must take a leaf out his father in law's book because in the 1881 census return he is running the 'Dog and Gun' on New Street.  The article in Moving Lives notes that he also ran the 'Tinner and Brazier', the 'Old Royal Oak' and the pub we find him in in the 1901 census return, the 'Black Moors Head' on Sheffield Road.  Barnsley Streets vol 1 places John Savage in the Black Moors Head between 1883 and 1918, the year he died, however he is no longer living over the shop - his address in 1911 and at his death is Myrtle Villa, 7 Huddersfield Road. 

Close up of the inscription: Loving Memory of Mary Ann, the beloved wife of John Savage who died June 12th 1908 aged 58 years.  She rests in peace. Also the above named John Savage who died August 10th 1918 aged 72 years.  Gone but not forgotten.
Close up of the Inscription on
Mary Ann and John's Gravestone

And the explanation for the title of this blog post ... Well, Mary Ann Savage dies in 1908 after 39 years of marriage - she has borne at least nine children  - those are the ones I've found in various census returns and the author of the family story in Moving Lives mentions John and Mary having TWELVE children!  So she had a long and busy life.

Her sister Elizabeth Patterson (remember, she married the solicitor's clerk in 1879) had been a widow for thirteen years at this point, her husband had died in 1896 and her only son was living away from home, managing a hotel (another member of the family in the pub trade) in Hoyland. 

We can only imagine that John and Elizabeth found comfort in each other after her sister's death.  A law had been passed in 1907 allowing a man to marry his deceased wife's sister - it had previously been prohibited for many years by the church and this prohibition had been carried forward into civil law.  There was no reason for them not to marry if they wanted to, so in 1909 they did - about a year after Mary Ann's death.  I can't find the marriage in the parish records on Ancestry, so I assume it was a quiet affair in the Register Office.

Elizabeth died in 1913 and was buried with her first husband.  John passed away in 1918, at the grand age of 72 years leaving £13,000 in his will which is about half a million pounds in today's money - his house on Huddersfield Road is probably worth that by now!   Given the number of children and grandchildren he had by then it was probably spread pretty thinly even so.

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