Now I start getting back to the eighteenth century, starting with Richard Powell, who was born about 1791 in Bromfield, Shropshire. I haven’t been able to find a baptism. The closest found was a Richard on 23 September 1792 at Clunbury (a 3 hour walk away from Bromfield, in present times), son of William and Mary.  As there are no Williams among Richard’s children it doesn’t seem likely (but not impossible). I wouldn’t’ be surprised if Richard’s father was Richard (there are a lot of them). So, unfortunately, for now, this will be as far back that I can go with the Powells.

Richard married Martha Harris on 9 January 1818 at Bishop’s Castle in Shropshire, the place of Martha’s birth. Martha would have been born about 1792. I haven’t been able to find her baptism either.

The first child, Martha Eliza, was born about 1819 at “The Poles”, baptised on 4 August in Bromfield, Shropshire. When I found my grandmother’s handwritten family tree she had at the top “Powell, The Poles”. For years I couldn’t figure out what “the poles” meant and thought perhaps that it indicated how Powell was pronounced.  Years later, I was told it was a rural area within Shropshire, but maps seemed to place it far to the north of Bromfield. Then I found this.




Perhaps there was an earlier farmhouse (Richard was a farmer) as the above building dates from the mid-19th century.

The next child born was Charlotte, estimated to have been born around 1822, but baptised on 7 August 1824 in Bromfield. Following Charlotte was Ann (bear with me, there were nine children). Ann, born at the Poles, was baptised on 7 May 1823. Then the first boy was born in 1825, Richard, baptised on 16 September. Sadly, he died just three months later, and was buried on 5 December. The following year brought more sadness to the family as another daughter, Mary, baptised on 24 September 1824, was buried on 29 September.

There may or may not have been more children before another boy, also called Richard, was born in 1830. The family had moved northwest to Lydham, nearer to Martha’s birthplace. Richard was baptised on 27 June in Lydham.  Following Richard was another girl, another Mary, baptised on 27 November 1831 in Lydham. Two more girls were born: Sarah, baptised 3 February 1833; and Susan, baptised 20 July 1834. Sadly, she also died, buried on 17 April 1835. So Richard was the only surviving boy in a family of (six surviving) girls.

In the 1841 census the family were living at Lydham village, Richard a farmer. The surviving children were listed except for Charlotte. She may have been working as a servant somewhere. There was a Charlotte living with Elizabeth Harris at St Chad (who may or may not be an aunt) along with some other unrelated girls of the same age.

Ann married John Harris on 14 November 1843 at Lydham. Sadly, Sarah died in 1847 and was buried in Lydham on 22 February, aged only about 14.  The eldest daughter, Martha, married Thomas Bright on 12 April 1849 at Church Pulverbatch, Shropshire. This is where I had a hallelujah moment as my grandmother’s tree had ? marrying ? Bright followed by a list of five children, three of whom were named. (I found those five children and was able to confirm from my grandmother’s descriptions, eg “chemist London”, or “died a bachelor”. It was a wonderful feeling.)

Sometime between 1841 and probably 1849 the family moved to the Church Pulverbatch region. In the 1851 census they were living at Walleybourne in the parish of Wrentnall near Church Pulverbatch. Richard was a farmer of 250 acres employing one labourer occasionally. Despite that, living with them were a number of people: a dairy maid, a housemaid, two farm labourers, a waggoner and his boy, and a cow man. Also visiting was John Rhees, age 20, a nephew. Richard may have had a sister called Martha who married a Thomas Rhees, or certainly, if not that couple (who married in 1807 which seems too early) then a sister who married a Rhees (also a farmer). Living with Richard and Martha were Charlotte, Richard, and Mary.

Sadly, Ann died in 1855, at the age of about 32. She left a husband and five children, the youngest being four years old. Richard married Catherine Jones in 1858 at Church Pulverbatch. I don’t know what happened to Charlotte – whether she married or died.

So in 1861 there was just Richard and Martha living at Sydnall cottage, Pulverbatch, Richard a farmer of just 16 acres. Visiting them were grandchildren, Richard and Margaret Harris (the now motherless children of Ann). There was also a house servant. Richard’s age was put at 80 but according to previous census returns he would have been 70 (and was about the same age as Martha). He can’t have aged 20 years from 1851 to 1861.

Richard died on 15 July 1862 at Sydnall cottage. The probate of 1863 reads:

Powell Richard, effects under £2000


Martha lived for another 11 years. In 1871 she was living with her daughter, Martha, and her family in Clun. Her son-in-law, Thomas Bright, was a farmer of 220 acres employing three labourers.

Martha died a couple of years later and was buried on 23 August 1873 at Church Pulverbatch.


Sources: family archives; findmypast; familysearch;; probatesearch