Samuel Heydon & Maria Finch

Samuel Tozer Heydon Samuel Heydon's baptismal recordSamuel’s baptismal record, January 20, 1834. His sister, Sarah Ann, is listed below him. and his twin sister Sarah Ann Heydon were born on September 23, 1833 in Dartmouth, a port town in the English county of Devon. They were baptized four months later on January 20, 1834 in the presence of their parents, John Heydon, a mason, and his wife Elizabeth “Betsy” Tozer (or “Toser”). Although their baptism record says that they lived “in the parish of St. Saviour’s,” I doubt they went to church there because the family was Presbyterian.

In 1849, 15-year-old Samuel started his career as a sailor with a four-year apprenticeship to William Brown of Guernsey aboard a vessel called the Gipsey Queen. According to that year’s edition of Lloyd’s Shipping Register, the Gipsey Queen (ON 14884) was a wooden schooner built in Guernsey in 1841 and sheathed in Muntz metal in 1845.

Samuel’s apprenticeship record (second row). He was officially indentured on July 23, 1849 and was scheduled to remain an apprentice until July 23, 1853. Samuel Heydon's apprenticeship record.

Samuel is also listed in the 1851 English census with his family on Higher Street in Dartmouth, where his occupation (“servant”) has been crossed out. A “Mrs. Betsy Tozer” appears in an 1856 directory as the proprietor of the “Admiral Nelson” in Southtown, and in 1857 the same woman is listed as a “victualler” there. This may or may not be Samuel’s mother.

Anna Maria Finch My mother, Ann Marie (Maria’s great-great-granddaughter), pointed out that they have very similar names, but this is almost certainly a coincidence. (sometimes “Hannah Maria,” often just “Maria”) was born in about 1835 in the town of Harbertonford in Devon to John Finch and his wife Mary Ann Morgan. The family moved to Dartmouth before she was 15, and the 1851 English census places them on “Pillory Lane” (now Smith Street)—very close to where Samuel’s family also lived. Maria’s father was a wool comber, a journeyman who “combed” raw wool to disentangle the fibers and prepare it for spinning. The occupation had a long and proud history, but the process was mechanized in the 1850s and had totally disappeared by the end of the decade. For more on wool combing see this page.

Britain at large was in the midst of the early Victorian era, a period marked by high moral standards and rapid industrialization. Dartmouth, however, was in decline during the first half of the 1800s. Wooden sailing ships—which had traditionally been built in the town—were being replaced by steam ships, and the area’s difficult terrain meant that Dartmouth was not connected to the railway until 1864. Tourism started to become a major part of the region’s economy in lieu of traditional occupations, and a Royal Regatta was formally established in 1834 as yachting became popular among England’s wealthy.

From 1853 to 1856, Britain, France, and the Ottoman Empire fought against Russia in a conflict that would become known as the Crimean War. I am not qualified to explain the exact causes of the Crimean War. Samuel’s name appears several times in the Royal Navy’s Medal and Award Rolls from this period, most notably in 1854 and 1855, when he received the Baltic Medal and the Crimea Medal for service aboard the HMS Leopard.

Records show that the Leopard, a wood-hulled paddle frigate, fought in the war’s largely forgotten Baltic campaign, an operation aimed at disrupting Russian trade in the Baltic Sea. This series of battles became known as the Åland War. For more see this PDF. It was the flagship of Rear Admiral James Hanway Plumridge in May 1854 when it sailed into the Gulf of Bothnia with the task of destroying ammunition stockpiles in Finland.

Samuel would have been 23 when the war ended in 1856, but I don’t know exactly when he left the Navy. In 1861, the census lists him with his parents and siblings on Higher Street in Dartmouth; this time his occupation is “seaman,” indicating he was probably working aboard merchant ships. The same census lists Maria as one of two servants at “Bellview,” the home of Royal Navy Commander Augustus Arkwright in the town of Stoke Fleming, about two miles away; she would continue to do household work in upper-class homes for most of her life.

Samuel and Maria must have met in Dartmouth, but it’s impossible to say exactly when; they could have known each other as far back as their late teens. They married sometime in the first three months of 1862 when Samuel was 29 and Maria was 28. Their marriage was registered in the town of Kingsbridge, but I don’t think this necessarily means they had a wedding there.

They went on to have two children:

By the 1860s, Dartmouth’s prospects were slightly better. The Royal Naval College moved to the town in 1863 and permanently moored the ships HMS Britannia and HMS Hindostan in the River Dart to serve as a base. There was also an influx of tourists after a railway station was built in nearby Kingswear, although it was still necessary to take a ferry to get to Dartmouth.

Samuel disappears from records at about this time. In 1871, Maria reports her marital status as “widowed,” but I cannot find a record of Samuel’s funeral or burial. One list from 1866, however, records a 30-year-old boatswain named “Saml. Haydon [sic]” being lost aboard the ship Witch of the Wave on about November 17, 1865. I suspect this is him.

“Haydon, Saml. [sic]” (second row) was lost with eight others aboard the ship Witch of the Wave on “about 17.11.65.” Samuel's death record.

I have not been able to find any details about the ship’s loss. According to the 1865 edition of Lloyd’s Shipping Register, the Witch of the Wave (ON 5807) was a 239-ton brig that had been built ten years earlier and traveled between Dartmouth and Cadiz. The Mercantile Navy List, a catalog of English merchant vessels, reveals that it was owned by “Anne Bowdon, Fore Street, Brixham, Devon” in 1865 and “Sarah J. Colston, Brixham, Devon” in 1866. Lloyd’s reports the ship was owned by “Bartlett&c.” in 1866 and lists it for several years after it apparently sank, but this might be because it was not reported missing until months after being wrecked.

Samuel was 32 when he disappeared, Maria Anna Maria Heydon in the 1871 census.Anna Maria Heydon in the 1871 census (bottom row). “Prince Loewenstein” is four rows above her. was 30, and their oldest child was only three. Six years later, the census records Maria in the Royal Naval College’s Cadet Hospital, which was near the present day address of 15 Ridge Hill in Dartmouth. (One of the sick cadets on the census with her is “HRH Prince Loewenstein,” age 14. Who that is is anyone’s guess.) Both of her children are listed with her mother on Lower Street, about a ten-minute walk from where she was working.

In 1881, a 46-year-old “Maria Haydon [sic]” appears on the census in Exeter, where she was working as a cook in the home of Richard Turner and his family at “Pennsylvania, 1 St. German’s Villas.” There’s a neighborhood in Exeter called “Pennsylvania.” Go figure. By this time, her older son was probably at sea and her younger son was living with his grandmother and aunt in Dartmouth; both of her children would move to the United States by the end of the decade.

I cannot find any records of Maria from 1881 until 1911; I suspect she took more jobs as a cook or servant in places farther and farther away before finally returning to Dartmouth sometime after 1901. She appears there in the 1911 English census at age 75, listing her address as a three-room tenement on Duke Street. She lived alone.

Maria Heydon in the 1911 English census. She appears to have filled out and signed this document herself. Maria Heydon in the 1911 English census.

Maria died in December 1916 at the age of 81. She was buried in the St. Saviour’s section of Longcross Cemetery in Dartmouth on December 20.

Further reading

Samuel Tozer Heydon’s and Anna Maria Finch’s entries on my Ancestry.com tree (requires a subscription). A few additional sources are visible here.

Samuel Tozer Heydon’s and Anna Maria Finch’s pages on FamilySearch (requires a free account).

Sources

The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; General Register Office: Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths Surrendered to the Non-Parochial Registers Commissions of 1837 and 1857; Class Number: RG 4; Piece Number: 959. Link (requires subscription)

Ancestry.com. UK, Apprentices Indentured in Merchant Navy, 1824–1910 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Registry of Shipping and Seamen: Index of Apprentices. BT 150/1-53. The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey, England. Link (requires subscription)

Lloyd’s of London, editor. Lloyd’s Register of British and Foreign Shipping. Cox and Wyman, Printers, 1849. Link

Ancestry.com. 1851 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Census Returns of England and Wales, 1851. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1851. Class: HO107; Piece: 1873; Folio: 383; Page: 18; GSU roll: 221021. Link (requires subscription)

Dartmouth Post Office Directory, 1856 (DHRG No. 103045). Provided by the Dartmouth History Research Group. More information.

Billings Directory for Dartmouth, 1857 (DHRG No. 103042). Provided by the Dartmouth History Research Group. More information.

Ancestry.com. 1841 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc, 2010. Census Returns of England and Wales, 1841. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1841. Class: HO107; Piece: 211; Book: 23; Civil Parish: Harberton; County: Devon; Enumeration District: 3; Folio: 7; Page: 10; Line: 22; GSU roll: 241306. Link (requires subscription)

Ancestry.com. 1851 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Census Returns of England and Wales, 1851. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1851. Class: HO107; Piece: 1873; Folio: 419; Page: 30; GSU roll: 221021. Link (requires subscription)

Ford, Felicity, et al. A Short History On Wool Combing. 12 Nov. 2013, wovember.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/a-short-history-on-wool-combing/.

Ancestry.com. UK, Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793–1972 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Admiralty, and Ministry of Defence, Navy Department: Medal Rolls. The National Archives microfilm publication ADM 171, 202 rolls. The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey, England. Medal Roll: Ships G-Q and Medal Roll: E–J. Link 1, Link 2 (requires subscription)

Ancestry.com. 1861 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Census Returns of England and Wales, 1861. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1861. Class: RG 9; Piece: 1416; Folio: 38; Page: 10; GSU roll: 542809. Link (requires subscription)

Ancestry.com. 1861 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Census Returns of England and Wales, 1861. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1861. Class: RG 9; Piece: 1422; Folio: 41; Page: 2; GSU roll: 542810. Link (requires subscription)

FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837–1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006. General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England: General Register Office. First Letter of Surname: F. Link (requires subscription)

FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837–1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006. General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England: General Register Office. First Letter of Surname: H. Link (requires subscription)

Ancestry.com. UK, Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths at Sea, 1844–1890 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016. The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Registers of Wages & Effects of Deceased Seamen; Class: BT 153; Piece: 6. Link (requires subscription)

Lloyd’s of London, editor. Lloyd’s Register of British and Foreign Shipping. Cox and Wyman, Printers, 1865. Link

Lloyd’s of London, editor. Lloyd’s Register of British and Foreign Shipping. Cox and Wyman, Printers, 1866. Link

The Mercantile Navy List and Maritime Directory for 1865, p. 397. William Mitchell, London, 1865. Link

John J. Mayo, The Mercantile Navy List and Maritime Directory for 1866, p. 406. William Mitchell, London, 1866. Link

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1871 England Census; Class: RG10; Piece: 2093; Folio: 121; Page: 43; GSU roll: 831785. Link (requires subscription)

Census Returns of England and Wales, 1881. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1881. Class: RG11; Piece: 2153; Folio: 34; Page: 23; GSU roll: 1341519. Link (requires subscription)

Ancestry.com. 1911 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA) Series RG14, 1911. Class: RG14; Piece: 12815; Schedule Number: 141. Link (requires subscription)

Dartmouth Cemetery Book 3 (DHRG No. 103130). Provided by the Dartmouth History Research Group. More information.