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Thomas Bettelley, Governor of Gnosall Workhouse 1823-1836


Thomas   Bettelley,   1773-1859,   was   the   last   governor   of   Gnosall   Workhouse   before the   Newport   Union   took   it   over   in   1836. A   chest   tomb,   no. A-34,   on   the   north   side   of St   Lawrence’s   commemorates   “the   memory   of   Thomas   Bettelley,   for   many   years Govenor [sic] of Gnosall Workhouse …”  Thomas   Bettelley   was   born   at   Church   Eaton   to   parents   William   and   Margaret Bettelley and christened 26 th   October 1773. 1   On   15   January   1798   he   married Ann   Martin   at   Chebsey,   witness   Joseph   Sedgeley. Both Thomas and Ann could sign their names. Ann Martin was “of Chebsey”. 2   Several    children    are    recorded    as    born    to    the    Bettelleys    at    Seighford:    James christened   at   St   Chad's,   Seighford,   3   March   1799; 3    Ann   christened   28   February 1802   at   Seighford; 4    and   Elizabeth,   25   September   1803. 5    A   John   Bettelley   is   shown   on   the   1851   census   as   born   at Seighford  in 1805. In   1807   a   Thomas   Bettelley   of   Oldford   (a   farm   near   Seighford)   was   a   member   of   the   Seighford   Association   for   the Prosecution of Felons. 6   In   1823   Thomas   Bettelley   was   elected   Governor   of   Gnosall   Workhouse,   then   under   the   control   of   the   local   parish,   and agreed      “to   Farm   the   poor   finding   every   necessary   at   2/6   per   head   per   week   excepting   clothing   and   carriage   of   coals   for the   use   of   the   Poorhouse.” 7    He   is   shown   as   present,   or   mentioned,   in   a   number   of   the   Gnosall   Minutes   dealing   with   the workhouse.   Examples   of   his   duties   from   the   Minutes   include   collecting   Bastardy   money   (from   the   fathers),   sorting   out clothing   for   Sarah   Buckley   and   somewhere   to   live   for   James   Titley   (1834),   and   buying   smock   frocks   for   three   men   in   the Workhouse and one man living outside. On   20   November   1825,   a   child   born   to   “Elizabeth   Bettelley,   Single   Woman,   Gnosall”   was   baptised   as   “Elizabeth   Meeson”.   It seems   likely   the   mother   was   Thomas   Bettelley’s   daughter,   born   in   1803   –   and   the   father   presumably   a   Meeson.   Elizabeth Bettelley,   aged   25,   was   buried   at   Gnosall   in   1829.   The   1841   census   shows   a   15-year-old   girl   called      Elizabeth   Bettelley living   with Thomas,   relationship   unstated   but   probably Thomas’s   illegitimate   granddaughter.   [In   1836   he   proposed   a   motion to   the   Board   of   Governors   that   no   relief   should   be   given   “to   bastards   of   able-bodied   single   women   unless   they   both   go   in the Workhouse”.] Ann Bettelley, Thomas’s wife, died in July 1826 and was buried in the churchyard. 8   In   March   1835 9    Thomas’s   eldest   son   James   was   working   as   a   clerk   for   Newport   solicitor   Henry   Heane,   who   was   soon   to become Clerk to the Workhouse Guardians.  Later   that   year   in   his   capacity   as   Assistant   Overseer,   Thomas   Bettelley   advertised   a   reward   for   the   apprehension   of   two absconding labourers, William Dyke and Edward Dyke. 10     In December, and then January 1836, he advertised for Land Surveyers and Land Valuers – “for making a new Survey, Map and Field Book, of the parish of Gnosall in the County of Stafford; ... and making a new Valuation to be founded on such a survey and to prepare a Poor Rate assessment”. They were to send in their tenders and a surveyor and valuer decided at a Vestry Meeting on 27th January. He states “The parish of Gnosall contains between ten and eleven thousand acres, chiefly divided into large farms, and rather more than 3000 inhabitants, and is intersected by the Birmingham and Liverpool Canal about two miles.”11 This   information   will   have   been   for   the   benefit   of   the   new   Poor   Law   Union   centred   on   Newport.   In   late   1836   Thomas’s   son James   Bettelley   became   Governor   of   Gnosall   Workhouse,   with   his   wife   Susanna   acting   as   Matron. They   were   dismissed   in December   1838   following   a   disagreement   and   some   errors   in   the   accounts,   and   James   evidently   returned   to   his   occupation of solicitor’s clerk. 12    On   25 th     March   1837   “a   genteel   house   ...   situate   in   the   centre   of   the   village   of   Gnosall,   now   in   the   occupation   of   Mr Thomas Bettelley”   was   advertised   to   let   with   immediate   possession.   It   had   a   “parlour,   three   bedrooms,   brewhouse   and   excellent garden”. 13   The Tithe Awards (1838) show him with a house and property at Coton End. On   6 th    April   1840   in   Gnosall   at   the   age   of   67,   Thomas ,    now   publican   at   The   Duke’s   Head 14 ,       married   again,   to   Sarah   Day from   Horsebrook,   Brewood ,   aged   about   27,   daughter   of Thomas   Day. The   1841   census   shows   the   family   living   living   at   the Duke's   Head   on   Gnosall   High   Street   w ith   the   Elizabeth   mentioned   above,   aged   15,   a   baby   daughter   Sarah Ann,   said   to   be seven   months   old   (born   November   1840,   baptised   25 th     Jan.   1842),   Sarah’s   70-year-old   father   Thomas,   and   two   servants, Sarah   Williams   and   Martha   Roschel.   Thomas   was   listed   as   a   publican   and   on   the   1842   baptism,   he   was   listed   as   a victualler. The Duke’s Head was a venue for furniture auctions in the 1840s. On   13 th    August   1843   Joseph   Betteley,   son   of   Gnosall   single   woman   Elizabeth   Betteley   was   baptised   at   St   Lawrence.   The Bettelley   family   bible,   held   by   a   descendant,   gives   his   date   of   birth   as   10th   July   1843.   The   mother   is   likely   to   have   been Elizabeth   Meeson   Bettelley,   who   would   have   been   aged   17   or   18.      Family   sources   show   her   marrying   John Astbury,   a   silk hatter, in Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1850 and living there with him, along with son/stepson Joseph in 1851 and 1861.    The   1851   census   has   Thomas   now   aged   77,   as   an   annuitant,   with   wife   Sarah   and   daughter   Sarah   Ann,   and   3-year-old “nurse child” (foster child) called John Williams.  The family are still living on the High Street though not at the Duke’s Head. On   27 th     July   1857   Sarah   Ann   died,   aged   17   and   was   buried   at   St   Lawrence   with   Thomas’s   first   wife   Ann. 15        An   Australian family history site says she died of typhus fever. 16    Thomas died at Plardiwick 31 st   January 1859 and was buried in the same grave. Within   a   few   months   his   widow   married   a   farmer   from   Plardiwick   called   David   Machin   (April-June   quarter   1859). 17     Sarah died   in   1873   (the Australian   source   says   she   had   a   stroke)   and   is   buried   in   churchyard   plot, A20.   David   Machin   left   £1500 when he died  in 1877. He is buried in churchyard plot A23. 18    Felicity Potter                                                                                                                 1 Familysearch. 2 Marriage records, Staffordshire Record Office. 3 Familysearch, Freereg 4 Familysearch 5 Ibid 6 Stafford Advertiser 26 December 1807. 7 Gnosall Workhouse Minutes, Staffordshire Record Office 8 Inscription on Bettelley grave. 9 London Gazette, 19248, p. 497. 10 Stafford Advertiser, 4 and 11 July 1835 11 Stafford Advertiser, 26 December 1835, 18 January 1836 12 1841 census; London Gazette 20235, p. 2076, 1843; National Archives Honington Hall Estate 8 April 1844. 13 Stafford Advertiser, 25 March 1837. 14 Wolverhampton Chronicle, 12 February 1840 15 Grave inscription 16 http://www.mundia.com/au/Person/2235732/-1228119584 17 Bob Johnson 18 Ibid.
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