|AYSHFORDS OF AYSHFORD|
We have no records of the family between 1755 and 1st October 1775 when Henry, eldest son of Amos and Elizabeth married Grace Govier in Burlescombe. We can assume that Henry's uncle, Robert Frost, helped out with whatever enterprise the family continued in, perhaps the butchers trade? That Robert was important to the family is underlined by the fact that Grace Govier probably came from the home parish of Robert, that is, Holcombe Rogus and from a family already connected to the Frosts. He will have acted as the "man of the family" during the boy's minority.
Henry and Grace had seven recorded children, plus one unrecorded. They were in order of birth, (Grace), Amos 1777 (died 1777), William 1778 (died young, name reused), Elizabeth 1779, married John Candy 1803, Mary 1782, married John Arbery 1807, Henry 1785, of whom more later, William 1788 who married Mary Hill of the Redhill family in 1809 and Jane 1793, died young.
Since a fee was payable at each baptism, this series of births gives us an opportunity to check the family's fortunes over this period and, taken together with other records, it makes for an interesting study. There were no signs of financial difficulty before 1788 when the baptism of William was assisted by the parish. Obviously Henry and Grace could no longer afford the very small fee involved. It was the same at the baptism of little Jane but by this time her father was in receipt of regular monthly payments of Parish Poor Relief. How did this come about?
We believe that the crucial factor was the death of Robert Frost in December of 1788. He was buried in Burlescombe, perhaps in an Ayshford plot. If he had been renting Higher Knowle, his farm in Holcombe Rogus on an annual basis, this could have forced his widow out. This ties in nicely with the appearance at the same time of another Robert Frost, taking up Lower Eastbrook in Burlescombe. We may identify him as an unrecorded son of Robert and Mary and a first cousin of Henry Ayshford. If as we suspect, Mary Frost held a property at Middle Eastbrook as the "last life" on a lease taken out by her father, the situation would have been very conveniently arranged by her living with her son for the last few years of her life.
Of course this evacuation of Knowle will have left Henry and Grace high and dry because we think that they had been living at Knowle in a second house that existed on the site. They may have been paying "Uncle Robert" a nominal rent but the new tenant, their close neighbour Richard Yendal, may have required a more commercial rent. The effects were not immediate, Henry could still manage the rent. By the summer of 1791, however, such was no longer the case and Henry wrote officially to the parish officers. We do not have the letter but we can assume that he explained his difficulties which he perhaps thought were only of a temporary nature. Certainly the monthly amounts granted to him were small until November 1793 when there is a sudden leap to a pound a month. This was the highest amount granted to anyone and cannot be explained by the extra mouth to feed. We believe that the true explanation of the high assistance offered the family is betrayed by the note placed after Henry's name in the records. Esquire.
We have never found such a statement of class in any other Poor Relief notes. At this date this should require Henry to be using a coat of arms and to hold some important public Office, say Justice of the Peace but it may mean only that the parish officers recognised him as a man of property, unused to work, with a higher standard of living to maintain. Whatever the reason for the deference, Henry continued on the highest amount of subsidy until the spring of 1797 when he abruptly vanishes from the record.
1796/7 is another of "those years" we are becoming used to in this history. In April of 1796 was buried "Grace Ayshfords child" with parish help in Holcombe Rogus. In the same month Grace Ayshford herself died and was buried in Burlescombe, presumably from the same illness that had claimed her child. In November of the same year, Betty the maiden aunt of Henry was buried in Burlescombe having been "on assistance" for some time. On the 23rd of April 1797, Mary Frost (nee Ayshford) was buried in Burlescombe and with her, we believe, died the last property rights of the family in that parish.
With so many deaths in such a short period and Henry's "disappearance", it is quite likely that he died too but we have no record of the event. All we DO know is that his daughter Grace, continued in receipt of relief in Holcombe for a further year during which time her Brothers Henry aged 12 and William 9 were apprenticed out and "off the books" as was usual for the children of the needy poor.
There are only two further mentions of the children. Betty was granted 6d in 1800 and Mary 2/- in 1801, being "in necessity". They were soon to marry. Poverty, however, was not yet finished with them.
When Henry and his new bride Grace had moved to Holcombe Rogus they had left behind a grandmother, a mother and a brother. It is to their story that we now return.
Ann Ayshford (nee Loney) was buried in Burlescombe in June of 1779. Poor relief payments covered her burial as they had supported her life for at least a year but with the lack of early churchwarden accounts we cannot know for how long this had been the case. It may surprise readers to think of the old grandmother (she was 77) being left to the mercies of the parish while her grandson, the last esquire, lived well, but attitudes were evidently very "modern" at this time. "I've contributed, so I'll take what's due" seems to have been the prevailing thought. Her relative poverty might have had something to do with the tenure of whatever property the family held. Her husband (died 1742) may have bypassed his second wife in favour of his thre eldest children; certainly Elizabeth Ayshford (nee Holly) the widow of Amos, does not seem to have required assistance. She married a widower, Thomas Davey, in December 1778, and this may have been HER support system!
William, the younger brother of the esquire, may have used a similar ploy to avoid poverty. At just the time that we note Henry beginning to require the help of the Holcombe Rogus parish authorities, William married Jane Baker in Burlescombe. She was 34, the same age as he and firmly on the shelf. Perhaps William hoped to trade on the success of her brothers. They were substantial farmers and tradesmen. One of them, her youngest brother Richard, was to become the infamous and renowned wizard, Conjurer Baker! Whatever his POWERS his income was high and on his death in 1819 he remembered his sister Jane with the gift of a home for life, in Flaxpit cottage. Despite these connections, William Ayshford may have been disappointed in his attempts to better his conditions for Jane appears in receipt of Poor Relief in Burlescombe from 1800 onwards. From 1817 William himself appears in the same records until his death in 1825, when his widow is granted support until 1833. Until her death in 1836 Jane had no more support from the parish; maybe another legacy came through? There were no children in the marriage.
From 1809 the situation in Burlescombe is confused by the presence of another William, the son of Henry (esquire). In that year he married Mary Hill (of the Redhill Family) and their first child was baptised in June of the following year. THIS William might have hoped for better luck than his Uncle William but initially it was not to be. We will follow William, junior, and his family in the next section of this history - The American Connection.
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