Not a Single Man

I wrote about John OAKDEN over two years ago (Leader of the Band) and remarked that my “diligent searching” had failed to come up with a helpmeet in his short Filey retirement. I thought that the Mary Oakden residing on The Crescent may have been his wife – and a couple of days ago discovered that she was, and not his first.

I had taken another look at John because of his connection to Thomas SWIFT, the lawman on the side of injustice in the Maybrick Case. I had long wondered what circumstances turned a bachelor (on the face of it) into the great uncle of little Mary Alice Swift? Of course, I suspected Mary’s niece Emma SAMPSON held the key but without the elusive marriage source…

Marriages Dec 1853  

OAKDEN John & SAMPSON Mary, Manchester 8d 398.    

Free BMD

How had I missed this?

Mary was 45 years-old and single when she married but may have known John for many years if, as seems likely, he had been a “brother in arms” to Thomas Swift. Mary was an aunt of Dinah Swift nee Sampson, and great aunt to Mary Alice.

I then found another report of John’s retirement from the 1st Royal Dragoons that contained information cut from the Staffordshire Advertiser’s account shown in my earlier post.

John Oakden and Hannah TRAVIS were minors when they married. John’s guardian, Robert Wagstaff, and Hannah’s father, Samuel, gave their permissions and William was born the following year (1825), when Hannah was just nineteen. If they had more children I have yet to find them, though it appears Hannah may not have died until 1851. If that had been the case she would surely have attended William’s wedding in 1848 and perhaps her daughter in law Emma’s funeral in the spring of ’51.

William’s second wife, Anna WAGSTAFF, hailed from Derbyshire and his father’s guardian had farmed at Snelston in that county until his death in February 1851 at the age of 81. Robert’s relationship to Anna has yet to be determined. William prevailed upon Anna to give two of their children, John and Louisa, the middle name ‘Travis’ and they christened their fourth child William Robert. John Oakden may have dandled three of his grandchildren upon his knee.

William buried his firstborn child, Elizabeth Gray, in the summer of 1875 and Anna buried him at the end of the following year.

Anna carried on William’s “music dealer” business for a while, assisted by daughter Louisa Travis, and then sailed to the other side of the world with two of her sons. Anna died in Auckland in 1917, Frank in Dunedin (1931), and Harry Percy in the Waikato (1941).  Harry married into the VALPY family in New Zealand, bringing distinction to the Oakden/Wagstaff pedigree. I wonder if there are any among them who had a hand in condemning an innocent woman to death.

Bird 95 · Tufted Duck♀

Glen Gardens Boating Lake

Brothers in Arms

About fifteen crow-flown miles separate the places where Jabez ARNOLD and William DAY first drew breath, Jabez in Meppershall, Bedfordshire and William in Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire. Their fathers were labourers and their mothers plaited straw. There is no telling if their paths crossed before they enlisted in the 1/89th Regiment of Foot but around 1880 they found themselves posted to Warrington, on the border of Lancashire and Cheshire.

The Orford Barracks, aka Peninsula Barracks, was what we’d describe today as “family friendly”. Jabez married Elizabeth Annie PAYNE on Christmas Day 1880 and their three children were born surrounded by soldiers. The third child, a boy, had only just been conceived when his father died – and was named Jabez.

William DAY married Elizabeth Annie about nineteen months after the death of Jabez senior and provided the three Arnold children with seven siblings. At the 1891 census, only young Jabez was part of the Day household – and he had taken his step-father’s name. On the 1911 census form, William stated that he and Elizabeth Annie had ten children, of whom seven were living. However, when Jabez junior died in 1925 aged 39, he went into the register as  ‘ARNOLD’.

I don’t know how many years William served in the army. In 1891 he was still a Private in the King’s Liverpool  Regiment (the 89th Foot re-named). Ten years later he was working as a Maltsman in Warrington and in 1911 he gave his occupation as ‘Labourer’.

Find the two soldiers on the FamilySearch Tree attached to Elizabeth Annie.

1915? coloured postcard

In 1891 William gave his birthplace as No Man’s Land, an area of common land where the Yorkists were defeated in the Wars of the Roses,(Second Battle of St Albans), and where artillery trained during the First World War. William going for a soldier was perhaps somehow pre-destined.