This site is a work-in-progress. There is a massive amount to cover. I have included both male and female lines, and some go back 30 generations. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from my own as (1)
THOMAS MATHEWS and ELIZABETH STONEMENT (7)
THOMAS MATTHEWS was the son of Richard and Sarah Mathews.
1727 Thomas Son of Richard Matthews by Sarah his Wife was baptized the 10th December.
The first mention of this family in Chulmleigh is the baptism of Thomas’s sister Rebekah, in 1724 and it is possible that they had recently moved to Chulmleigh. Another seven children were born after Thomas.
The Mathews family seem to have been dogged by poverty. The name occurs frequently in the records of Chulmleigh Overseers of the Poor. Young Thomas Mathews, like his brothers after him, was apprenticed in 1737 in accordance with the provisions for poor children in the Poor Law Act.
Overseers of the Poor. Chulmleigh. Apprenticeship Indentures.
This Indenture made the Twelvth Day of April in the Tenth Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Second by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France , and Ireland King , Defender of the Faith, and so forth, And in the Year of our Lord One thousand seven hundred and thirty Seven , Witnessed, that William Bird, George Pasmore and John Yorke Churchwardens of the Parish of Chulmleigh in the County of Devon And George Nott ? Baker and Francis Lawrence Overseers of the Poor of the said Parish, by and with the Consent of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the said County whose names are hereunto subscribed, have put and placed and by these Presents do put and place (John, deleted) Thomas Mathews a poor Child of the said Parish, Apprentice to Robert Westacott the Younger of the same parish with h im to dwell and serve from the Day of the Date of these Presents, until the said Apprentice shall accomplish h is full Age of Twenty four Years according to the Statute in that Case made and provided: During all which term, the said Apprentice h is said M aster faithfully shall serve in all lawful Business according to h is Power, Wit, and Ability; and honestly, orderly, and obediently in all Things demean and behave h im self towards h is said M aster and all h is during the said Term. And the said Robert Westcott for h im self, h is Executors and Administrators, doth Covenant and Grant to and with the said Churchwardens and Overseers, and every of them, their and every of their Executors and Administrators, and their and every of their Successors for the time being, by these Presents, that the said (John, deleted) Thomas Mathews the said Apprentice in Husbandry shall teach or Cause to be taught and Instructed And shall and will, during all the term aforesaid, find, provide and allow unto the said Apprentice, meet, competent, and sufficient Meat, Drink, and Apparel, Lodging, Washing, and all other Things necessary and fit for an Apprentice. And also shall and will so provide for the said Apprentice, that h e be not any way a Charge to the said Parish, or Parishioners of the same; but of and from all Charge shall and will save the said Parish and Parishioners harmless and indemnified for the said term. And at the end of the said term, shall and will make, provide, allow, and deliver unto the said Apprentice double Apparel of all sorts, good and new, (that is to say) a good new Suit for the Holy-days, and another for the Working-days.
In Witness whereof, the Parties abovesaid to these present Intentions interchangeably have put their Hands and Seals the Day and Year above written.
Seal’d and deliver’d (being First duly Stamp’d) in the the Presence of: John Willcox, John Turner
We whose Names are subscribed, Justices of the County aforesaid do consent to putting forth of the aforesaid (John, deleted) Thomas Mathews Apprentice according to the Intent and Meaning of the Indenture abovesaid
William Marshall, writing The Rural Economy of the West of England in 1796, describes the system thus:
APPRENTICES. It is a universal and common practice, throughout Devonshire, and, I believe, the West of England in general, to put out children of paupers, boys more particularly, at the age of seven or eight years, to farmers and others; and to bind them, as apprentices, until they be twentyone years of age; and formerly until they were twentyfour! on condition of the master’s finding them with every necessary, during the term of the apprenticeship.
This is an easy and ready way of disposing of the children of paupers, and is fortunate for the children thus disposed of; as enuring them to labor and industry, and providing them with better sustenance, than they could expect to receive from their parents. To the farmers, too, such children, under proper tuition, might, one would think, be made highly valuable in their concerns, and, in the end, would become very profitable.
The contrary, however, is generally the case: an unfortunate and indeed lamentable circumstance, which arises, in a great measure, I apprehend, from improper treatment. Instead of treating them as their adopted children, or as relations, or as a superior order of servants, whose love and esteem they are desirous of gaining, for their mutual happiness, during the long term of their intimate connexion, as well as to secure their services at a time when they become the most valuable, they are treated, at least in the early stage of servitude, as the inferiors of yearly or weekly servants, are frequently subjected, I fear, to a state of the most abject drudgery: a severity which they do not forget, even should it be relaxed, as they grow up. The ordinary consequence is, no sooner are they capable of supporting themselves, than they desert their servitude, and fill the provincial Papers with advertisements for “runaway prentices.”
There are, no doubt, circumstances under which it were difficult, or impossible, to render this class of servants, either pleasurable or profitable to their masters; such as the naturally bad disposition of the servants themselves, and the more reprehensible conduct of their parents, in giving them bad counsel. Nevertheless, it strikes me forcibly, that much might be done by a change of principle , in their treatment.
When the unfortunate offspring of unfortunate parents fall into the hands of men of sense and discretion, they frequently turn out ell, and become most valuable members of the community.
Thomas seems to have been one who benefited from his apprenticeship. There is no evidence that his own children needed the help of the Overseers of the Poor, though some of his grandchildren may have done.
It is not quite certain that this Thomas Mathews is the father of Joseph. It depends on the interpretation of later baptismal records.
If, as seems the case, Stonement is an alternative spelling of Stoneman, then the family goes back to at least 1657 in Chulmleigh, when Mary, daughter of Peter Stoneman, was baptised.
There are two possible baptisms for Elizabeth, in 1716 and 1723. She may have been the daughter of either of these marriages.
1710 Peter Stoneman and Jane Hill ye 6 december
1715 Roger Stoneman and Ann Bowden ye 21 october
Eliz: daughter of Peter Stoneman ye 26 of March 1716
Elizabeth the daughter of Roger Stoneman was baptized the 20th day of November 1723
In 1731, there is a burial for Elizabeth Stoneman. Since there were two women with this name alive and of marriageable age in 1748 and since the dead woman is not described as anyone’s daughter, it is likely that this Elizabeth was one of the older generation.
In 1744, one of the unmarried young women had a baby.
1744 Elizabeth daur of Elizabeth Stonement a natural Child. July the 31th
Peter and Jane’s daughter would have been 28 then, Roger and Ann’s daughter, 20.
This is quickly followed by a death.
Elizabeth Stonement. August ye 2?th. Affid. recd.
Again, no relationship is given, but at this period the curate was cutting corners and gave no details of anyone in the burial register. The dead Elizabeth could have been a child or an adult. Following so soon after this birth, it seems likely that it was either the mother or the baby. The marriage of two women named Elizabeth Stonement four years later makes it more probable that it was the infant who died.
1748 Thomas Mathews and Elizabeth Stonement. April ye 15th.
1748 William Tibbs and Elizabeth Stonement Feberary ye 8th
These marriages took place shortly before the introduction of the new-style register, which would have given more information. The signature of a witness sometimes suggests a close family relationship. Nor have we yet found the baptism of several sons for either couple, one of which might have been named after the wife’s father.
In 1749 (1750 by modern reckoning) Peter Stonement married Elizabeth Hammet. Peter may be a brother of one of these Elizabeths, though his baptism has not yet been found.
There are three baptisms in the Chulmleigh registers for the children of Thomas and Elizabeth Mathews.
1749 Elizabeth Dau r of Thom s Mathews by Elizabeth his wife. De br ye 5th
1761 Joseph Son of Thomas Matthews by Elizabeth his wife. January ye 25th.
1764 Sarah Daughter of Thomas Matthews by Elizabeth his wife. July ye 5th.
1765 Sarah Dau r of Thomas Matthews. Octobr ye 5th. Affid. Recd.
One possible explanation of the twelve year gap in the baptisms is that Thomas and Elizabeth spent the 1750s in another parish, where they may have had more children. Another is that there were two Thomas Matthews, both married to an Elizabeth. In this case, the earlier one is probably the pauper apprentice, and the later Thomas the one we need .
Their son Joseph had sufficient education to sign his name confidently in the marriage register.
One, at least, of the couple lived into the nineteenth century.
1804 Febr ry 24th. Thomas Mathews
Elizabeth’s burial may be either of the following:
1767 Elizabeth Matthews April ye 19th. Affid. Recd.
1805 July 14th. Elizabeth Matthews
Next Generation: 6. MATHEWS-TURNER
Previous Generations: 8. MATHEWS