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James Travill  


James was born in 1850 in Towcester, in one of the poorer parts of town, Puddle Dock. His father Edmund was a butcher, who worked part of the time as a labourer. James followed his father into the butchery business. The third of 8 children, his older brother Edmund died in the cholera epidemic in 1854. Two other younger siblings also died in infancy.


James was only 17 when he married, in the Leicester area, a lady named Betsy Manchester. She was 6 years older than him. The couple had one child, Sarah Jane, born towards the end of 1867 in Melton Mowbray (Betsy’s home town), but no further children. In 1871 they were living, with 3 year old Sarah, near the Sun Inn in Towcester.


By 1881, things were a little different. Betsy had “remarried” in 1875, under her maiden name, to a Charles Underwood. In 1881, she was living in Timber Hill, Melton Mowbray, with her daughter Sarah Travil, and two more children, Maud Underwood (aged 5) and Ernest Underwood (aged 3). There was no sign of Charles. James, however, was in Leicester. And he wasn’t alone.


Matilda Stones was baptised Mary Ann Matilda Stones on 11 Apr 1841 in Paulerspury. She, too, was married at a very young age, (being just 18), to John Pell, in 1859. In 1861, she was at home with her parents. In 1871, she had a home of her own in Pury End, living with 5 children and her father. John Pell wasn’t there. And her father put himself down as a widower, despite the presence of his wife elsewhere in Paulerspury!


Following the 1871 Census, Matilda had another son, William Richard Pell in 1872. Her next child was registered as Edward James Travill in 1876, Northampton. He was followed by Emily Travill (1877) and Joseph Travill (1880). The whole family are in Leicester with James Travill in 1881.


But it didn’t last. For whatever reason, Matilda was in Towcester Workhouse in April 1884. She had a son baptised John Travil Pell on 15th April of that year, and the Workhouse records reveal Matilda, Edward, Emily, Joseph and John in the Workhouse, with their surname given as Pell. They have not been found on the 1891 Census.


James appears to have returned to his real wife. He is living with her in Melton Mowbray in 1891, with their daughter Sarah Jane, Maud and Ernest Underwood (now surnamed Travil), and two younger children Bessy and James, who were aged 5 and 3 respectively.

James and Bessy later moved to Duston in Northampton.