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Thomas and Ann Morgan in Herefordshire page 5

Bishops Frome Church


The children of Thomas Morgan and his wife Ann Watkins Morgan (Edward, Elizabeth, Eliza, Mary Ann, and Priscilla) were baptised in the Bishops Frome church shown in the picture above. Mary Ann died as a child. The other four children came to America.

So it is possible that the Morgan family was living some distance away from Much Cowarne when Thomas was born and we haven't yet located the record. However, it is much more likely that, like his two following siblings, he was baptized by the Rector of Stoke Lacy, and the event was never entered in the Much Cowarne Parish Registers. Perhaps the Rector forgot to send the certificate or perhaps it was mislaid at Much Cowarne before it was added to the register. So the mystery of Thomas Morgan's missing birth or baptism record remains unsolved and the best we can do is share with him his belief that he first saw the light of day in Much Cowarne. Those who have searched for his birth record feel there is little reason to doubt him.

Thomas Morgan's wife, Ann Watkins, was born in 1822 and baptized in the Avenbury Parish Church. She was the daughter of James Watkins, who was born in 1776 and died in 1850 at the age of 73 in Munderfield Row, Avenbury Parish, and Elizabeth Holland Watkins, who was born in 1784 and died in 1865 at the age of 81 in Munderfield Row, Avenbury Parish. James and Elizabeth Watkins operated a blacksmith shop at Munderfield Row. The 1841 census lists the family in one household at the blacksmith shop; father James Watkins, mother Elizabeth Watkins, son James Watkins, and son Joseph Watkins. This record lists the occupations of the father and both sons as blacksmith, which means James Watkins' sons were working with him in the blacksmith shop. The 1851 census, taken one year after the death of James Watkins, lists the oldest son, James Watkins, as head of household, his brother William as blacksmith, his brother James as farm laborer, and his mother Elizabeth as widow. This record indicates that the Watkins sons continued to operate the blacksmith shop for some time after James died. The 1851 census, and Elizabeths death certificate placing her death in the same place as her husband, suggest that Elizabeth lived with her sons at the blacksmith shop until her death. The blacksmith shop was located in what is now the tiny village of Munderfield Row, which is about 2 miles north of Bishops Frome. This places the blacksmith shop half way between Bishops Frome and Bromyard. The Avenbury Church lies about 1 1/2 miles north and east of Munderfield Row and about a mile south of Bromyard. There is no village of Avenbury.


View from Burley Farm area west toward Avenbury and Munderfield Row.

The1840 Avenbury tithe apportionment map shows two small adjoining lots in Munderfield Row (# 527 and # 528) on the east side of the road that runs north-south between Bishops Frome and Bromyard. The accompanying 1840 Avenbury tithe apportionment document says there was a blacksmith shop and cottage on lot 528. This was the location of the Watkins blacksmith shop and adjoining cottage. The lots have a small amount of road frontage, the shop and cottage are shown located near the road, and the 1851 census gives the specific location of the Watkins family blacksmith shop and cottage as "The Road." As used in the census, "The Road" had special significance because while it passed through Bishops Frome and Bromyard it was, more importantly, the turnpike road between the towns of Ledbury and Gloucester. Before the railroads came Ledbury was the nearest canal wharf and there were docks at Gloucester so these would have been important centers of commerce. Bromyard had a fairly large outdoor livestock market and job fair in those times. So the "passing trade" on this road, and the business it generated for a blacksmith shop, would have been considerable at the time. In addition, the local smithy would have repaired carriages, shoed horses, and made and mended all manner of farm implements, hinges, fasteners, and other metal items necessary to everyday life. In the year 2003 the Watkins lots in Munderfield Row were occupied by new buildings. The blacksmith shop and cottage having been long since torn down, new dwellings were built in their place, and no trace of the blacksmith shop or original cottage remained.

It is interesting to note that Ann Watkins was not living with her parents in 1841. She did not marry Thomas Morgan until 1843 so it is likely she was working at a farm somewhere in the area in 1841.

Thomas and Ann Morgan in Herefordshire page 6

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