In 1858 Robert William Morgan, my first cousin four times removed, decided to pick a fight with a Captain Alsop in the Queen’s Arms public house on the road between Totnes and Dartington …The Queen’s Arms, Puddavenillustrations from matchboxesThe Queen’s Arms public house is said in some sources to have been built in 1790 as a wool store. However that may be it was operating as an inn from at least 1836 when it was taken over by George Please as tenant. When the property came to be sold in 1853 he is said to have “carried on an extensive and lucrative business” in the substantial stone-built premises for 17 years.The Premises consist of a commodious bar, kitchen, two parlours, four rooms over, two of which communicate with each other by folding doors, forming a room 30ft. by 14 ft., convenient for club and parish meetings and other public business, with two roomy attics; also beer and cider cellars, dairy, coal-hole, kayle-alley, piggery, pump-house, wash-house, and every convenience; together with a detached brewhouse, stabel, cow-houses, cart linhay, and courtlage, front and kitchen gardens. […] The above property is situate on the turnpike-road (which is a great thoroughfare) between Ashburton and Totnes, via the Railway Station, about a mile from the latter place, and is a favorite resort of gentlemen visiting the River Dart on fishing excursions. Western Times 9 April 1853George Please moved into Totnes to run a grocers on Fore Street and it would appear that William Whiteway didn’t just become the new tenant at about this time, but actually bought the property. Born in 1813 he is living with his parents in nearby Week in 1841 and working, like his father a s a shoemaker. In 1851, still in Week and now with a wife Mary and four children, he is an Innkeeper and shoemaker. Under his management, during the 1850s the Queen’s Arms hosted wrestling matches, the annual salmon dinners, and New Year balls. In the great frost of 1855, when the Dead River above Totnes Weir was frozen over and had become a “grand skating ground […] The ice-field being far from refreshment houses, Mr. Whiteway, of the Queen’s Arms, was induced to erect a tent on the ice, and was rewarded by taking the goodly sum of £10 for his energy. Hot roasted potatoes and chestnuts were also very acceptable”. Totnes Weekly Times 23 February 1895. Reminiscences of Great Frosts - 1855 - year of the Crimean War. He is still running what the census calls the Queen’s Arms Hotel in 1861, and after his death in 1864, his wife continued to run the business with her unmarried daughter Amelia, until her death on the 25th June 1900. Amelia is still running the pub in 1911 and appears on the voters’ list there until her death on the 4th August 1922 at the age of 81. The Queen’s Arms - “the only public house between Totnes and Ashburton, and Totnes and South Brent” - was sold by public auction in October 1922; it was bought by Mr. F. C. Felderman of Paignton for £1080 and “£41 for trade fixtures”. The establishment continued as a pub until 2008, and is now a private residence.The Queen’s Arms possibly took its name from the land it faced across the road and the Bidwell Brook: now known variously as Queen’s Marsh and Queen’s Meadow, this area, until the building of the weir on the Dart just above Totnes in 1584, had been a tidal creek. According to Eric Hemery in his book Historic Dart, “one rather special boat on this creek, according to oral tradition, carried Queen Elizabeth I to Dartington to be entertained at the Hall by Sir Arthur Champernowne (this before the building of the first Totnes Weir). The plain between river and drive is to this day called Queen's Meadow”. Alternatively, as the pub was running in the late 1830s it could have been a nod towards the new Queen Victoria. Or was the marsh/meadow named for the pub? During the consultation process for the building of the South Devon Railway in 1861 the area is known officially as Buckham’s Marsh, and the 1887 ordnance survey map shows Buckham’s Park Copse directly to the north of the marsh. It is referred to as Buckham’s Marsh when recounting the ice-skating exploits of certain clergy in the 1830s: [...] ice carnivals, especially that of Christmas, 1830-31, when some fine collegian skaters (the Ven. Archdeacon Froude, his sons William and Anthony, Rev. William Martin and others) showed some rare exploits, Mr. Martin leaping over a high chair, in his skates, on the ice field then in Buckham's Marsh”. Totnes Weekly Times 23 February 1895In 1808, in Vancouver’s General View of the Agriculture of the County of Devon, the former tidal estuary is referred to as Buckham’s Marsh. In fact the earliest reference I have found to it being called the Queen’s Marsh or Meadow is in the Hemery book published in 1982 where the name is used to back up the oral tradition of Queen Elizabeth’s visit! I don’t have access to the Dartington Estate archives, and they may show more than I have managed to find out, but there are current plans to make the area into a wetland habitat, and they have wholeheartedly opted for the name Queen’s Marsh.Captain John AlsopSo I decided to do a quick bit of research into Capt. Alsop, the object of Robert William Morgan's drunken anger at the Queen's Arms in 1858, not expecting to find much, and ended up looking into Devon's Newfoundland trade, Liverpool shipping and silk manufacture in Leek in Staffordshire.Captain Alsop was Robert Morgan's senior by about 10 years, so Robert's taunts may just have been a case of drunken bravado. It wasn't too difficult to find the Captain in the 1851 census, as there was only one Alsop of a suitable age and occupation in the south Devon area. Though actually living in Dartmouth with his wife Catherine in 1851, he had been born in Newton Abbot, or Newton Bushell rather, in 1815, and baptised in Wolborough on the 24th November that year. His parents were Robert Alsop, a merchant, and his wife Carteretta Nichols who had married in Wolborough in 1813. Carteretta and Robert also had the following sons: Robert who was baptised in Highweek on the 10th June 1814; Carteret Alsop who was baptised in Highweek on the 4th November 1817; James Wardle Alsop baptised in Wolborough on the 10th October 1822 (and buried on the 18th July 1826); and Henry Alsop baptised in Wolborough on the 5th August 1827. John Alsop's family had settled in Liverpool by 1835 when Robert Alsop (most likely John's father) made a contribution of £5 towards the building of a new chapel in Newton Abbot. Exeter Flying Post 8 October 1835. The 1841 census finds them at 35 Salisbury Street, with Robert senior and Carteret both described as Merchants, and John as a Mariner. John's older brother Robert was away from home, either at sea or already running the family business - Robert Alsop & Co. - in St John's, Newfoundland. Carteret and Henry would eventually join him there, while John remained the mariner of the family, keeping his Devon connections. Both John's parents died in 1844 and were buried in the graveyard of the parish church of St Mary, Edge Hill.Trading as Robert Alsop & Co. in Liverpool, John's father had originally been in partnership with William Codner, and John Drew, "carrying on business in St. John's, Newfoundland, on the coast of Labrador, and at Ringmore, in the County of Devon, England". This partnership was dissolved by mutual consent on the 3rd of March 1825 according to the London Gazette, and it was probably shortly after this that Robert with his wife and young family moved their part of the business to Liverpool, as the small fleet was gradually divided up with Codner & Co keeping the Devon interest. The Alsop's business thrived through to the 1850s, running a fleet of up to four ships trading from Liverpool and Teignmouth to Newfoundland and European ports, and also from London to South America. They survived the destruction of their mercantile house in the fire that ravaged St. John's in 1846, and Carteret (in Liverpool) and John (in Newton Abbot) both subscribed to the aid fund set up to provide support in the face of "the utter destitution, and upwards of twelve thousand human beings ... now houseless, and dependant for daily bread upon the bounty of the few who were more fortunate than themselves." The fire arising from a spark in a carpenter's shop, driven by a strong wind, and fuelled by the huge vats of seal and whale oil, had rapidly destroyed the mainly wooden buildings of the town.So Robert William Morgan was 8 when John Alsop was mate in 1835 on his family's ship Cartaretta, (or Carteretta) under Captain John Warren, sailing out of Liverpool for Newfoundland and importing train, or whale, oil, dried cod and capelin. He was 11 when the now Captain John Alsop sailed the newly built company brig Rosalie on her launch in Dartmouth in 1838 to Portugal; a voyage that ended with the Rosalie being towed by a steamer back to Dartmouth having lost her foremast and nearly all her sails in a storm. In 1841 he sailed her out of Liverpool for Copenhagen, and also took on the route from Liverpool to Rio and Valparaiso, making regular crossings in the Rosalie between 1839 and 1845, and one final voyage in 1849 bringing back wheat and hides from Valparaiso.John Alsop had married Catherine Porter Wills in Dartmouth on the 19th March 1845, probably expecting to be able to retire from the sea. His 1849 voyage must have been a last minute decision, for Lloyd's Register names the Rosalie’s captains as Boyes from 1845 to 1848 and Cummings from 1849. These are the years now when his path could have crossed that of Robert William Morgan; the latter might have been a "big man" according to the bribery accounts, but John Alsop, as a Cape Horner, can't have been a pushover. However John and his wife had just separated; the 1861 census finds Catherine living with her widowed sister Caroline in Dartmouth, while John is a lodger in Widecombe. In 1871 John is in Limehouse in London and working as an auctioneer's clerk while Catherine is in Hastings. They divorced in 1872. John is back in Devon in 1881, lodging in Morchard Bishop, near Crediton; Catherine is living with her widowed sister Harriet in Cricklewood, which is where she died in November 1886, and according to her death notice in the local paper she had been living there for 29 years. She is described as the widow of the late John Alsop, for he had died in January 1886 in West Leigh near Harberton. John doesn't appear from the censuses to have had much contact with his relations in Newton Abbot, but someone must have shared the news of his death with the few family members still in Newfoundland as it was reported on the 24th March in the Newfoundland Times. All three of his brothers had settled there during the 1850s: Carteret died there in 1864 without apparently marrying, and Henry had married Louisa Mary Blackman there in 1853; though I'm not sure if this marriage was a success, as from the details in Boyd's Inhabitants of London, Henry died at Hilston in New South Wales in 1888, while his wife who died in London in 1894, had been living in England and Scotland since at least 1871.The descendants of his brother Robert, however, certainly were still there, and although the early Canadian records are a bit hit and miss, the family trees on Ancestry mostly agree that he had two sons and perhaps two daughters, though there is no agreement on the names of his wives. Robert himself merits an entry in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography: He became a principal in the merchant and shipping firm of R. Alsop and Company, which in the 1840s and 1850s was one of the most extensive trading out of St John’s, Newfoundland. Like many of the older firms, it suffered severely during the late 1850s and 1860s because of the failure of the fisheries. After the decline of the firm Robert Alsop was induced to enter political life.and from Wikipedia: Alsop was first elected in a by-election held in 1866. He served in the Executive Council as chairman of the Board of Works. He was opposed to union with Canada. Alsop was named colonial secretary in 1870. When he ran for reelection because he had been named to a cabinet post, he was defeated but then was named to the Legislative Council, continuing to serve as colonial secretary until his death in St. John's [on the 25th March 1871].A useful collection of Alsop snippets, showing primarily their business dealings to and fro across the Atlantic and in St John's from the early 1800s until the dissolution of the company in 1859, says the following under Robert Alsop senior giving this DCNQ XIV/VI p258 as a source: it's not in the Wolborough burial register, nor in any newspaper reports I have seen, but I feel Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries can be trusted. "ROBT buried in Woolborough (Newton) 1829 of HARTINGTON, DERBYSHIRE. - in 1830 JN/JAS living their [sic]". So the Newton Abbot Alsop family had their roots in Derbyshire; Captain John Alsop's father Robert had been born in Newton Abbot in 1788 to parents Robert Alsop and his wife Ann (née Wardle) who had married by licence in Earl Sterndale in Derbyshire on the 11th February 1779, when Robert is described as a Hawker. This Robert had been baptised to parents Thomas and Ann Alsop (probably also née Wardle) of Brandside, Hartington, Derbyshire on the 18th January 1760. Robert and Ann moved to Devon shortly after their marriage, where Robert set up business in Newton Abbot as a Linen Draper. He was eventually joined in this enterprise by his oldest son John who was born in 1786, their partnership being formally dissolved on the 31st March 1818. Robert died in 1829 aged 70, but John continued for a while as a Linen Draper, before becoming Clerk to the newly created Board of Guardians of the Newton Abbot Union in 1836 and Superintendent Registrar. When he died in 1850 his son John, aged just 19 was chosen as his successor, and he continued in this role until his retirement in 1898. It is probably one of these John Alsops - Captain John's uncle and cousin - who acted as the agent for Robert Alsop & Co. in Newton Abbot.Robert and Ann's other children baptised in Devon were Thomas born in 1797, who may well be the Thomas Alsop who was master of the Venus sailing between Liverpool and Newfoundland in the early 1820s; Maria who was born in 1799 and who died a year later; and James born on the 29th March 1806 whose arrival must have come as a bit of a surprise to the 45 year old Ann. They also had two other sons baptised as Robert, in 1783 and 1784, but both died as infants. There are no obvious baptism records for his daughters Elizabeth, Ann and Sarah, or his son John, and while John’s existence was obvious from his joint drapery business with his father, the daughters only appear officially for the first time in their father’s will, written in 1829. Elizabeth is the wife of William Creed Henly, Ann is unmarried and Sarah is only remembered through her daughter Sarah Branscombe as she died in 1827. Robert’s wife Ann is mentioned in his will so she must have outlived him, but so far I have not found a suitable record for her death.The DCNQ reference suggests that a John and a James were living in Hartington in 1830. As will become clear, this certainly refers to Robert’s son James; but which John? This could be Robert’s son John, who, although he was married with a young family and working in Newton Abbot at the time, as a Linen Draper he could have been using family contacts in Derbyshire to supply his business. James Alsop born in 1806 in Newton Abbot, who was apparently in Hartington in 1830, was by 1841 living in Leek in Staffordshire. He doesn’t get a mention in his father’s will probably because he has been absorbed by his mother’s family, the Wardles. James Alsop and his siblings were cousins to Joshua Wardle who established a silk-dyeing works in Leek in 1830 - was James Alsop involved in this? - and Joshua was the father of Sir Thomas Wardle. By 1841 James, age 35, is living in Queen Street, Leek and described as a silk manufacturer. In 1848 his voting qualification is “one third of a silk shade” in New Street, and this reflects his partnership with “James Gaunt Robins, Joseph Large and Joseph Flowers […] in the trade or business of Silk Manufacturers”. London Gazette, 30 April 1850. By 1851 he is living in Ball Haye Street with his aunt Elizabeth Gaunt, she is his mother’s sister, and the widow of Josiah Gaunt, a button merchant. Living in the same street in 1861, perhaps in the same house, as his aunt had died, he is now a silk manufacturer employing 130 hands. He married Adelina Elizabeth Towle in 1862 when he was 56 and she was 30, and he died four years later in December 1868.Mr. Alsop was the principal partner in one of the oldest firms in Leek, and occupied an important position among his fellow-townsmen. He was elected first chairman of the commissioners under their Improvement Act [of 1855] and his opinions on the various important matters which came before that body were held in much respect. His courteous and impartial conduct during the nine years he held the office has often called forth the warmest expressions of approval. His services as a magistrate were also most valuable. Perhaps no one had more at heart the progress of the town in its moral and intellectual aspects; religious societies, schools, the mechanics’ institution, &c., found in him a most liberal supporter. He was a member of the Congregational body, and was a very large contributor to the erection of the beautiful chapel in Derby-street. From his obituary in the Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal 1 January 1869.As a promoter of the Leek Benefit Building Society, James is remembered in the naming of Alsop Street, where in the 1850s houses were built on land belonging to him. When his widow endowed the cottage hospital in his memory it was on land belonging to his nephews John and Robert, of Newton Abbot and Teignmouth respectively. So the Devon connection continued.
Tales around the treeThe Queen’s Arms and Captain John Alsop
Alsoppropertyinandaround NewtonAbbot from Robert’s will in 1829[…] All those two fields or closes of land called Howton Park and also all those three fields with the appurtenances called Cherrycombe Hill Grounds and also all that field called Frog Meadow situate in the parish of Highweek [...] all that messuage and tenement with the lands hereditaments and premises thereto belonging containing by estimation thirty acres or thereabouts with the barn, linhay and buildings thereon situate at Berry Knowles in the parish of Highweek purchased by me of Mr Richard Segar […]