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Thomas and Ann Morgan in Herefordshire page 3

The Much Cowarne Church


The Much Cowarne Church in 2003. Thomas Morgan was probably born in this parish. He may actually have been baptised in the Stoke Lacy Church because his family lived closer to the Stoke Lacy Church than to the Much Cowarne Church. But the records of his two suceeding siblings were kept here at Much Cowarne and, had they not been lost, the record of Thomas Morgan's bapism would probably have been recorded here as well.

The first of Thomas Morgan's siblings baptized at Much Cowarne, his older brother William, appears in the Parish Register in 1819, when his father's abode was given as Shuters Bridge. The next three sibling's baptisms appear in 1823 (Joseph), 1824 (Hannah), and 1827 (James), and in each case the abode is given as Hopton Corner (Hopton Corner is a farm and Shuter's Bridge is a place now known as Capon Bridge where a smithy was located on the road from Much Cowarne to Burley Gate-both are located in the Much Cowarne Parish). While just within the borders of the parish of Much Cowarne, Hopton Corner is well over two miles from the parish church of Much Cowarne but only about a half mile from the neighboring parish church of Stoke Lacy. It is quite likely that the Morgan family, which would not have been able to afford horses and usually traveled by "shanks mare," carried their babies to the nearest church for baptism and, in fact, in the case of the two baptized in 1823 and 1824 we know that is what happened. Although the baptisms are recorded in the Parish Registers for Much Cowarne it states that they have been entered "according to certificate from Rector of Stoke Lacy."

To understand why baptisms performed in Stoke Lacy would have been recorded in Much Cowarne, we need to return to the system prevailing at the time for relief of the poor. Each parish was responsible for its own poor - those who had their "settlement" there. The way one obtained settlement was initially by birth, although various things could alter it later in life. So, although the Rector of Stoke Lacy would have been happy to baptize the Morgan children into the church, he did not want to enter them into his own Parish Register. To do that would run the risk that the children would later claim to have been born there, when in fact they had been born in Much Cowarne. So the Rector of Stoke Lacy sent a certificate to the Rector of Much Cowarne to let him know he had baptized one of his parishioners and so they could be entered into the Much Cowarne Parish Registers.


This old print of the Much Cowarne Church illustrates what it looked like when Thomas Morgan was baptised there. This church was struck by lightning in the 1840s and the steeple burned so the tower now has the square top seen in the picture at the top of this page.

Thomas and Ann Morgan in Herefordshire page 4

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