George Prideaux 1871 – 1926

After the death of his parent’s, George Prideaux went to lodge at 77 Grape Street with Elizabeth Catton and her daughter Hannah Holgate. George was working as a labourer at the brickyard, one of the many industries in Victorian Leeds. Within two years Mary Ann Hobson and her family had moved into No 93 Grape Street and George moved to No 89. The Hobson family worked in the mills. I have all their history too, but this is not the place for the relating.
George Prideaux and Mary Ann Prideaux married in St Silas Church on 21st January 1893. Incidentally Leeds was granted city status later that year.

st silas church

After the wedding, George carried on working at the brickyard. One of the many in Leeds. The yard was a filthy place to work, but then, there were very few clean places to work. Waste from  industry was thrown into the River Aire, to add to the waste from slaughter houses, sewage, dye works and chemical soap. The smell around the place was  disgusting. I remember my father telling me how foul the water courses were, when he was a child during the 40’s. And how dangerous it was to go anywhere near them. The irony was that he and his friends learned how to swim by jumping in the river and the only thing they worried about was hitting something metal and becoming trapped or cut by that.
The young George Prideaux was glad of the work though, as the alternative did not bear consideration. The workhouse and dire poverty still beckoned to those who were not of private means or able to earn. The family would have been more than aware that prostitution for women and crime for men were the other alternatives to starvation.
After the wedding they moved to 7 Burniston Place.

7 burniston place

They lived in the far house on the left next to the midden and the shared toilet.
Their children were George  Prideaux born in 1893, Arthur Prideaux born in 1894, and Annie Prideaux  born in 8th April 1895. Benjamin Prideaux was born in 1898 but he sadly died on 24th December 1899 aged 21 months. He suffered convulsions following Diphtheria. There had to be an inquest, but it was decided on 27th December that he had died from natural causes. What a great Christmas that must have been. Then there was Jane Prideaux born in 1900, Clifford Prideaux ( my grandfather) born on 25th December 1902, which hopefully helped the anniversary trauma of Benjamin’s death. Not finished yet, there was Herbert Prideaux born in 1907, Albert Prideaux born in 1910 and finally Wilfred Prideaux  born in 1912.
I have a photograph which was taken at the funeral of Agnes Prideaux (my grandmother) on the 14th February 1988. It is of Herbert Prideaux and Wilfred Prideaux. I was not told until after the funeral that this was who they were and I was a bit miffed because I would have talked to them about Grandad. They had not made themselves known because of our grief. Another missed opportunity. They are both dead now. They could have told me so many things that I would be interested in today. I would have listened for hours, but I suppose when older people want to tell you stuff, you are too young and disinterested to listen.

A Xmas Story cover

When Agnes was dying, I was living in Shropshire in my first marriage and with a small child. I got a telephone call from mother that Grandma was fading fast and the family should get to her bedside in Leeds as soon as possible. I was unable to go as my husband would not take me and my car was not the kind which would make the journey. I have never been as bound by circumstances as I was at that period of my life. I was very unhappy.
So, I determined to get as many family members there as I could. I knew my father was on a course that day, but mother could not remember where and through much effort and coincidence, I found him. At one point I rang the wrong number while trying to track down a friend of my father who was also on the course, but the person who answered knew who I wanted and went out of their way to help me. After an hour or so, I tracked him down and he joined my mother and brother at the hospital.
They stayed with Grandma all day and into the night. Eventually Dad went along the corridors and searched out food and coffee. As he returned, Grandma walked past him in the opposite direction and said, ’Goodbye Martin, take care.’ He turned, shocked that they had let her out of bed in her nightgown. She vanished and Dad ran into the hospital room. The family were crying, holding the hands of the now dead Agnes.
At exactly the same time, all the china fell from my Welsh dresser and smashed. Grandma had given it to me. Then Dad rang to give me the news. I was so upset. But, I felt that she had been giving me a message. So I dyed my long brown hair blonde, went to her funeral and determined to get a divorce. Life is way too short and I was going to make the most of it.
Incidentally, when Dad died suddenly only four years later, my brother Mark saw him soon after his death and then Mark died a few years after that.  I shall not say who saw Mark after he died.
Back to this story.

100 elland road

Soon after the war, the family moved to 100 Elland Road, Holbeck, a much bigger and nicer property, where the expanding family could be happier.
I finally tracked down the death certificate of George Herbert. He died on the 13th October 1926 on the Railway Bridge at Woodlesford, Leeds.

railway bridge

His son George was with him. Woodlesford was a mining village and had a quarry.  It was also the home of Bentleys Yorkshire Bitter.
George suffered from bronchitis as his mother did before him. He was a heavy smoker of long standing. He had coughed his way through the past few winters. A dose of influenza after the war had also taken its toll on him. Mary Ann Prideaux often wondered whether the years at the brickyard with all the dust had not helped. One could also take into the equation, damp houses and the shocks he had endured throughout his early life. That Wednesday, George and Mary Ann were visiting their eldest son George Junior at his home in Woodlesford. Young George married Annie Eastman in 1923 before they moved there. Often Mary Ann, her daughter Annie and granddaughter went there to visit. This time Grandad George decided to go. They caught a train from Holbeck to Woodlesford.
Whichever problem was the cause of his death that day, the effort proved too much for him and George passed out and died on the bridge after climbing the steps. He was 55 years old. He was certified to have died from pneumonia and cardiac failure, by FA Fawcett. There was no post mortem.
The family posted a notice in the Yorkshire Evening Post on Friday, October 15th, announcing the funeral the following day.

PRIDEAUX Oct 15 at 100 Elland Road, Holbeck. George Herbert beloved husband of Mary Ann Prideaux aged 55 years – interment at Holbeck Cemetery, Saturday at 3 leaving house 2.30. Friends please accept this the only intimation.


George was dead, buried and gone within four days. Mary Ann Prideaux never got over the shock.
During his life, George Herbert Prideaux enjoyed a drink at the Holbeck Working Men’s Club and had been a member there for years. His sons also joined and became regular attendees. They had a whip round after George died and paid for a marble flower pot to go with the headstone. The funeral tea was held at the club, and all his friends came. It was a very happy do. The white marble headstone paid for by his family stood proudly in Holbeck Cemetery. When Mary Ann died, her remains were placed there also. The white marble pot paid for by his many friends at the club stands alongside it. However the engraving the friends arranged to put on the pot states ‘Priddo’.
They did not know him that well.
I travelled to Holbeck Cemetery on several occasions looking for the grave of George and Mary. It took an accompanied visit with 90 year old Mary and Andrea. Mary, George’s granddaughter and Clifford’s niece, wandered around with me until we discovered the gravestone. Sadly, the marble pot had been thrown onto another grave and the whole area was overgrown and neglected. There were several contractors working there and I am not entirely sure what they thought they were achieving. The end result was a disgrace. Mary became quite emotional as both her father and grandfather had lived at the lodge and been responsible for the maintenance for the graveyard and its occupants. She told me how beautifully it was kept and the place had been a pleasure to visit. Now it seems to be a haven for drunks and litter louts. Mary remembered her father going there during the war in his position of fire warden. From this raised area in the city he could not only see fires, but also enemy bombers. He had kept watch on his own house during air raids so he could see what was happening there. She also showed me the guinea grave which contained the remains of her little sister.  She had died as a three year old and Mary became upset remembering her sister in her little coffin which remained on the kitchen table in the only downstairs room in the house until it could be laid to rest in the cemetery. She recalled that this could not be done until the grave was full of its other occupants, often ten to each grave. One cannot imagine the horror of that.
Along this research road, I came into contact with Andrea Allen who is the granddaughter of Annie Prideaux and daughter of the above named Mary. Annie married Arthur Askin in 1919 and died in April 1966 in Leeds. Annie and Arthur lived at 98 Elland Road, Holbeck, Leeds 11 and her mum and all the children lived next door.
Mary can remember Jenny, who was also known as Jinny, Herbert, George, Ben, Albert, Wilfred and Arthur. Apparently there was much tooing and froing between the houses.
She and Grandma Askin did all the ironing for Grandma Prideaux and both Clifford Prideaux [my grandad] and Herbert Prideaux wore a clean shirt every day for work and another in the evening. She was very pleased when the uncles married and left home. I also know that Clifford was very proud of the way he looked.
George had such a short life and it was full of sadness. He had a large family but I doubt he had time to enjoy them. He was always at work and in his later years he was ill.Being so young when his parents died and not knowing his grandparents must have been tough for him. He was fortunate in his choice of a wife, as she worked very hard, keeping the family together and clean and tidy. The children all managed an education of sorts and were forward thinking with ambition. The trouble was that in those days, ambition got you nowhere. There was no real chance of achieving a great deal.
Luckily their descendants did.

Collected Prideaux Ghost Stories A A Prideaux

Matthew Prideaux 1838 – 1888

By the time Matthew Prideaux  arrived back in Leeds, he was feeling very depressed and worried about his future. Already he had led a more than interesting and much travelled life.
Born in Nottingham, the son of John and Mary Prideaux and younger brother to Edwin from his father’s previous marriage, he had yet to feel relaxed and at home anywhere. He knew that he had a dead sister called Charity who had been named after his grandmother and the tales he had been told of the Prideaux family history fascinated him. The stories of Devon and Cornwall and Lords and Ladies gave him an urge to travel back there and visit. His father had never wanted to return, probably  because of the shame of how he had allowed his family to end up.  John’s family were always poor and  lived in terrible conditions. They had suffered almost every day of their lives.  John even told them that the family would not be welcome back in Devon. His son Matthew decided that he would wait until he had made something of his life before he made a visit to Chudleigh.. Matthew told his children the stories of the rich and powerful Prideaux family but in the end, he never went to visit. These stories were passed down through the generations, became watered down and a little distorted until they reached my ears.
I decided that I should write them down, add the stories to various records I discovered and visit the past myself.  I have never regretted doing that. I just wish that my granddad and mother could be with me. But then I wish David Coulthard would drive me around a racing circuit very fast, and I doubt that will happen either. Will you ask him for me Mrs Coulthard?
When Matthew Prideaux was a boy, the Prideaux family travelled to Leeds where the four of them lived in one room, which was airless and damp and the tiny window at the front of the house let in very little light. His mother Mary he remembered, was always cross and tired and he often felt hungry and worried. He was not very old when they left the Leeds house in the middle of the night, his mother shushing him as they walked briskly away through the dark streets and out of the town. At the time he never knew why, but as he got older and realised how often the family were in debt, he presumed that they would have been evicted soon anyway.
The trip down to London took many days, walking the muddy roads and begging for food at different cottages along the way. Sometimes work would be given to John in exchange for food and shelter for the family, but generally it was hard. Mary managed to keep the family fairly clean, insisting that the boys washed in streams, even when it was very cold. A couple of times, sympathetic women gave them some clothes and once a pair of old boots was given to Matthew. Oversized and rubbing his feet dreadfully as they were far too big for him, Matthew wore them for two more years.
London was terrifying and Matthew wanted to leave as soon as they arrived. Children younger than him tried to rob him, even though he had nothing. He tried to learn as much as he could about wood and working with it, because he knew that one day he would walk straight out of London and down to his rich family living in Devon somewhere. John had told the family all about the Prideaux past on that long walk to London.
It was the longest time John had spent talking to any of them. He never did again, often dismissing questions with a rough push. Many times he was  drunk and Mary waited until he was asleep before going through his pockets for money. As soon as he was old enough, sixteen years, Mary asked Matthew to accompany her as she went back to her family in Scarborough. They had moved there just before she left to work in Stalybridge in the mills.She had no intention of going to Devon to visit John’s family and so Matthew Prideaux found himself going north instead of south west. Matthew still hoped to travel to Devon and Cornwall later.
Scarborough did not work out for them and with a tearful parting, Matthew Prideaux  decided to make his way back to Leeds and  try and find work in the mills there. Perhaps he could make enough money to go to Devon. The trip over to Leeds was not too bad. He managed to get some lifts and met one very nice young lady at a farm on the journey
He arrived full of the positivity of youth and called on an acquaintance of his mother’s. Mary had given him a list of people to call on and ask for a job. He knocked on the door and the lady who answered cried when she saw Matthew and asked with feeling, how everyone else was. He told her that his father was dead as Mary had advised and the sympathy which this news brought forward, made him thank his mother for such a good idea.
Within a week, he had a job as a joiner at a local workshop and was soon living at Atkinson Street in Leeds. His mother followed him to Leeds soon after the death of her own parents. Mary took in needlework and some dressmaking and they were happier than they had been for many years.
The Jackson family became their friends and in particular Sarah, who turned up constantly on the pretence of being helpful to Mary, but having her eye on Matthew. Mary did not mind as she found the girl pretty and hardworking. The two women  got on very well and that boded well for any future marriage.
The Jacksons, who lived in 29 Spa Street, had moved from Ferriby in Lincolnshire where George Jackson worked as an agricultural labourer. He had done what many poor people had done and travelled to the town for work. Now he had a job as a blue slate worker and his children either worked in the mill or in the brickyard. George and his wife Margaret had Charles, Emma, Helen, John, Joseph, Robert, Selena, Ann, Dinah, Mary, Sarah. They had their first child when they were both 15 years old.  Mary Jackson married George Kitchen and they ran a pub together. Sarah saw how happy her sister was and compared her crowded home with that of Mary and Matthew and set about catching him. Who could blame her? Matthew did not mind being caught.
Matthew and Sarah Jackson married in 1863 and lived at 16 Spa Street.  Mary Prideaux decided to stay at 18 Atkinson Street, telling the young couple that a mother in law living with them would not help their marriage.I expect she also did not fancy the idea of sharing with a newly married couple and she took in a lodger, a single woman, who kept her company.

atkinson street

Here is Atkinson Street. No 18 is the second door from the left. The small buildings to the left of 22 are the toilet blocks. It was common for the toilet blocks to be used by many families on the street. I can’t imagine that anyone spent longer than necessary in this small room. Hence chamber pots, to save walks during the night.
Although these properties would be later pulled down and referred to as slum housing, compared to the properties which John and Mary Prideaux had lived in previously, this was a move upmarket. I doubt very much that Sir John Prideaux would have considered that there was any connection between him and this little family, however.
Soon after the marriage, during the winter of 1863 and 1864, Mary began to suffer with her chest. In these poor times, the doctor was only called twice. The first time was when Mary started to get quite ill in the early stages and then later in April when she started going rapidly downhill.
Sarah nursed her as though she was her own mother and the Jackson family helped where they could. The lodger stayed in the background, working out how she could keep the place on as soon as her landlady died.
On the 4th May 1864 after suffering from bronchitis for 7 days, Mary Prideaux died at home with Sarah Prideaux present at her death. They wrote  that Mary was the widow of John Prideaux, a carpenter, on her death certificate. I wonder what was going through the couple’s mind about this death of the other spouse business.  Matthew must have known he was lying when giving the information to the coroner, unless the story about John’s death had seemed more  real over the years.
Life went on for Matthew and Sarah Prideaux . They had nine children in total, but only six made it to adulthood. Until they settled in Hunslet, there were no other Prideaux in the area. Matthew and Sarah were the first. All Prideauxs in Leeds descended from them, unless they moved into the town in later years.

Essex Street

Matthew and Sarah moved to 5 Essex Street, a delightful little property, shown below. No 5 shares the toilet block with No 3.
Mary Emma Prideaux was born in 1865 and she began work at 12 as a flax spinner.
Agnes Jane Prideaux born in 1867, Edwin John Prideaux , named after the uncle he was never to know, was born in 1868. There was George Herbert Prideaux who was born 23rd August 1871. Then William Prideaux arrived in 1873, followed by Alfred Prideaux  in July 1875, then Thomas Alfred Prideaux who was born 1878. Finally Eliza Prideaux was born 4th September 1880 alongside  her twin Charles Edward Prideaux. There were also a further three children who were born dead.
Alfred sadly died on the 3rd November 1876 at home. He had been suffering from Tabes Mesenterica for one month and was attended by Dr Green.  This is a wasting disease of childhood characterised by chronic swelling of the lymphatic glands of the mesentery. No doubt this is why Thomas was given Alfred as his second name. His death was registered the same day, so maybe Matthew had taken time from work and had to do it all in one day.When the twins were born, Charles did not fare well and he died after 14 days of Debility on the 17th September. This meant he was very weak of mind and body and would not have been expected to live. A Dr Dobson attended him and certified his death. Matthew again registered it as Sarah would no doubt have been fairly weak herself.
The other twin Eliza Prideaux lived almost two years, but she  too was sickly and  died on the 27th July 1882 after suffering from decline for a month. Decline was sometimes referred to as Tabes and meant that there was a gradual wasting away of the physical faculties often from pulmonary consumption or similar. Dr Dobson was in attendance again. This time Sarah registered the death on the following day.
The funerals were small and poor events, but attended with much love. Sarah picked flowers from grass verges and fields to put on the grave as they could not afford to buy any. It was a great source of sadness that each beloved child who died could not be given respect by society, put into little more than a pit in a thin badly made coffin. Did God not care so much for these dead children?
That thought, along with an innate fear of the dreaded workhouse if bills were not paid meant that there was never any rest and relaxation. My granddad would tell me how these worries were paramount in the lives of his grandparents. It was a real fear as going to the workhouse was the only help from the government.
It seemed odd when I first started this research that stories I had from my granddad and mother stretched back 150 to 200 years. Now I have matched the people to the names and made them real in my head and my life, I can see how my life and beliefs came to be what they are. For example, it might seem unusual that granddad, a man brought up in such dreadful poverty and lack, should vote Conservative and believe in education for all. He also wanted his descendants to strive for more than he had. He was concerned about poverty, but adamant that the Prideaux family were better than the situation he had been born into. He was right, of course.
Interestingly, Matthew could write his name but Sarah could not. The Prideauxs insisted on educating their children through all the generations and when the family fell on hard times, that must have been all the more difficult. I learned most of these stories from granddad when he sat me on his knee and taught me how to read. He talked to me constantly. Although, I was very young  when he died, everything he told me has remained and I find I am able to recall it all and write about it here. Mother filled in some other details during later years.
Sarah Prideaux did not recover from all the illness and death she was surrounded by. She died from capillary bronchitis of which she had suffered for two weeks before she succumbed on the 21st September 1884. She was only 46 years old. The symptoms are frightening. This disease was common in those days, the cramped, damp living conditions and poor food ruined the basic health of everyone. She died gasping for breath and coughing up blood. Just prior to her death they had moved to 22 Ambler Yard at Holbeck. Sarah was worried about the devil cursing the family and arranged for a cross to be buried in the chimney in order to ward off evil. She had Matthew remove a brick and put the cross in the hole and replace the brick. I wonder if it was found when the houses were eventually demolished? The cross did not help and Sarah died. Matthew stayed at this property for a while before he too died at the Hunslet Union Workhouse on the 21st January 1888 of Phthisis.
That was quite a shock for me, discovering that my grandad’s grandad died in a workhouse. Grandma and Grandad lived in such a lovely, neat  house and my mother spoke so well, it did not make sense. I know that Grandma had an innate fear of poverty and paying bills and not wasting money, but I did not for one minute imagine that the workhouse experience could have anything to do with my family.  It was a lesson learned.
Sarah Prideaux  was nursed at the end by her daughters and sisters, but particularly Mary Emma Prideaux. Was it a coincidence that the girl she named after Mary, her mother in law was now looking after her on her deathbed as she had done twenty years earlier to her dear friend? Perhaps the cross helped the final circle come round and send her to a better place.
Mary Emma Prideaux was walking out with a lovely man called Arthur Kay, but she told him that she could not marry him while her father was so sick . Mary Emma nursed her father for as long as she could. But it was becoming increasingly difficult to look after him, the children and pay bills. When Matthew became too sick, he was taken to the Hunslet Workhouse where he died. Arthur stayed with Mary until the end and she married him as soon as she could afterwards. This Prideaux family would become homeless now that their parents were dead. The problem must be solved. No time to grieve, practicalities needed to be dealt with.
I have records of all the wives and children of the brothers and sisters, but this is not the place for so much detail. Due to the fact records were kept of all births from 1837 and a census taken every ten years from 1841, it is possible with a lot of detective work, to trace most members of any family. This has meant that I have details of all the marriages, births and deaths of the brothers and sisters and grandchildren of Matthew and Sarah. Add to this, the contacts I have made with other descendants, has forced me to be quite brutal with the editing of this chapter.
So, homes and new lives must be found for the Prideaux children. Everyone ended up somewhere, as I shall show now.
Mary Emma married Arthur Kay in 1888 in the summer following the final nursing of her father. They moved into 24 Grape Street just down the road from George. They lived next door to the Queen Inn. Their house has been demolished, but The Queen was still standing in this photograph, looking rough.

24 grape street

Arthur Kay was a steam engine fitter and allowed the orphaned boys William Prideaux and Thomas Alfred Prideaux to live with them. The boys started work as boot riveters as soon as they were able.

When George Prideaux and Mary Ann [my great grandparents] married on 21st January 1893 at St Silas Church, Arthur and Mary Kay were witnesses. They also became parents to John and Helen Kay and moved to 7 Boyne Terrace, shown below.

7 Boyne Terrace

Mary’s bad luck remained and Arthur died leaving her a widow in 1894 aged only 29. Arthur had been 31. She did not appear to remarry.

Edwin John Prideaux moved into lodgings after the death of his parents. He went to stay with Thomas and Ellen Clarke at 3 Endon Terrace.  Ellen was ten years older than her husband Thomas, her first husband being a Mr Long. She had a daughter Elizabeth A.S. Long and a son John Long. There was also another boarder, a Rose A Hill. The girls worked in the mill, Edwin Prideaux worked in the brickyard, John Long was a glass blower and Thomas Clarke worked in the forge. Edwin Prideaux  married Elizabeth Long in 1892, after all she was handy.  It seemed a shame to let a good home go to waste and Elizabeth was cute.
William Prideaux soon married and left the home of his sister Mary Emma, where he had stayed until that point. He married Lily Ledgard in 1892.
Thomas Alfred Prideaux married Love Townend in 1900 and appears to have lived with his big sister Mary Emma until then, supporting her through the birth of her children and the sad death of Arthur. Love and Thomas Prideaux moved to 2 Heed Street after the wedding.
The last child of Matthew and Sarah not yet discussed was Agnes Jane Prideaux . She had gone to live with her aunt and uncle when she was 14 years old.  Her aunt and uncle were Mary and George Kitchen who lived with  their four children at 10 Alfred Cross Street, which was a pub. Mary  Kitchen was Sarah Prideaux nee Jackson’s, sister.  The pub was later known as the  Oatlands Inn and had been previously run by George’s father, Robert. I don’t know whether Agnes  looked after the children or whether she worked in the pub.  It is stated in 1891 census that she was their niece and she still lived with them and their eventual nine children. Agnes left them when they took over the White Stag Inn at Sheep scar Leeds. I can’t find her after that.

Oatlands Inn

I hope she had a good life.

Edit: I was contacted by a relative of Agnes and she led an interesting life. She married the son of the Kitchens (Charles her cousin). They had a daughter Gladys, but divorced soon after and the girl was brought up by her father and his family.

Agnes joined another branch of the Jackson family as Mary Winter and Sarah Prideaux had a sister who married a John Henderson and they spent a lot of their time on the stage. Agnes used the surname Henderson following her divorce and became an entertainer. There is no record of a further marriage, but she died as Agnes Henderson.

Her daughter Gladys remembered;

“My parents were Charles Winter and Agnes Henderson. They divorced when I was small and I lived with my father and other members of his family. My mother visited me a few times while I was very young but after that I never saw her or heard from her. Her father was French. Before marrying she lived in a pub with some people called Kitchen who she was related to. One of them was on the stage”

Gladys Winter

Gladys and her family knew only that Agnes (Gladys’s mother) was a Prideaux and made an assumption that she was French and she was on the stage.

Collected Prideaux Ghost Stories A A Prideaux
Collected Prideaux Ghost Stories A A Prideaux

John Prideaux 1796 – 1871

The fire at Chudleigh started at midday on 22nd May 1807 and whipped through the town remarkably quickly. By four that afternoon, much of the town had been burnt or pulled down in order to stop the flames spreading. There are very descriptive and interesting accounts written about the event and its aftermath by Anthony Crockett and also in Mary Jones History of Chudleigh.


John Prideaux was at school when the fire started and went through the mix of terror and excitement that only children can experience. The fire started and spread in the area of Chudleigh between the school and his home. John  had to get through the flames in order to see his parents and in the end watch his home burn down.

The home of the Prideaux’s was burned badly because  it sat directly in the path of the fire and nothing in that area survived. I hope they managed to remove some of their belongings and animals. There is no record of any of them being injured in the flames. However, they would have been lucky to keep any part of their possessions.

By the end of the day, many had lost everything, but equally, assistance and provision arrived from far and wide. It is to be hoped that the Prideaux family were not one of those who had lost so much that they were forced to wait for the repair of the Workhouse. I prefer to think of Thomas Prideaux and his family being able to attend the General Meeting of the Parish at the vicarage the following day.

Money came in from all over the country and there were many tales of generosity towards the town. Insurance money was also paid out. The fire itself caused an Act of Parliament to be passed. Fame indeed.

The Relief Committee which was created in order to hand out monies and arrange rebuilding to take place was chaired by Lord Charles Clifford, the largest landowner and landlord of many. He was also an eminently sensible and generous man. Some other notable members were Montague Edmund Parker, husband of the daughter of the JP who heard Thomas’s case against his landlord, soon after their arrival in Chudleigh, and William Bond who was possibly John’s schoolmaster.

Money was handed to various families and a good deal of it appeared to go to some who were more affluent than others. But rarely was enough paid out to any individual to recompense, so one assumes that the townspeople helped each other out.

Thomas Prideaux was one of the eleven carpenters in the town at the time and after the event he worked steadily to rebuild houses and shops. This must have stood him in good stead for the future. Many moved into the buildings at the rear of the burnt out houses until the new houses and shops were built. Cloud and silver lining come to mind. Thomas Prideaux did well out of the disaster.

John Prideaux  saw the complete destruction of his small cob, thatched cottage with mullioned windows. But he also saw his father involved in rebuilding the town in a modern way and watched the face of the town  change forever. I hope he was excited and not freaked. It could well have inspired his decisions later on in his life.

John completed his education  and he learnt the carpentry trade  from his father.

Chudleigh and small town life eventually became boring to him however and he and his brother Peter talked about seeking their fortune in London. They had heard from the many travellers who came through their town to Exeter and Plymouth about the excitement and the many jobs which were available to a man of ideas and education in the busy London streets. Could they possibly be paved with gold? Perhaps they could restore some riches to the family.

Charity Prideaux was upset about the idea of  the boys leaving  her, because she knew that she would never see them again. The thought of them travelling to a place which might as well be on the moon as far as she was concerned, was impossible to contemplate. John reminded her that he was almost thirty years old and it was about time he had an adventure.

She could not persuade them to change their minds and in January 1824, Peter Prideaux  and John Prideaux left their home town of Chudleigh riding on the back of a cart. They carried  their belongings and hid money about their person. Charity and Thomas and the other children stood out in the road waving until the cart had finished climbing the hill out of town and vanished from sight.

Charity was never happy again.

John  and Peter Prideaux soon arrived in Exeter and met a man called John Lock at  an inn there. He was from near Bideford and told them that he could find them work. Bideford was a smuggling centre and John Lock  had the  Prideaux men  staying with him for several months helping him with the business of avoiding duty. These Prideaux men were strangers in Bideford and would not be known to the Revenue men.

One of the biggest imports here was tobacco and duty was loyally paid as the ships unloaded their cargo. However, when the tobacco was then exported again, the custom duty could be reclaimed.

John Lock was part of the organization which brought this same tobacco back into the country via other means and sold it duty free at that point. There was a lot of money in this. The Prideauxs stayed at Landkey where John Loc lived and slept in beds made up in the stables outside the cottage.

I am sure that John Prideaux did not know that the residants of the Acland manor sitting against the side of a hill nearby, were the descendants of Baldwin Acland and Joan Prideaux, the sister of William Prideaux of Adeston born four hundred years previously.

John Prideaux and Elizabeth Lock, the daughter of the host and employer John Lock were attracted to each other. John had no real intention of getting married, but the pregnancy announcement to her father ensured that he was trotting up the aisle of the local church before he knew what had hit him.

So much for the planned adventure.  Not yet out of the county and married and about to be a father. He didnt return home to Chudleigh to announce his shame and proceeded with the initial plan.

The couple  were married on Monday 18th October 1824. John was still determined to see London and soon the three of them left another tearful family in Landkey, never to return.

When John, Elizabeth and Peter Prideaux arrived in London, it was not all that they had expected. Work was hard to find and the place was horrible. London was filthy, smelly and full of violence and crime. John and Peter Prideaux  lost their possessions as soon as they arrived and turned to crime themselves in order to survive. The baby was born dead, much to the disappointment of John and Elizabeth. It took another four years before their daughter Charity was born, on 28th February 1829.

Elizabeth Prideaux was adamant once her daughter Charity was born, that she would not bring her up in this filthy hellhole. John agreed with his wife and the three of them travelled  to Nottingham where they heard there was some work.

As a journeyman carpenter, John  soon found work.  They were never going to be rich, but they could eat and sleep safely. Soon Edwin John  joined their family, arriving on 4th October 1833, a healthy boy.

Another child in the already overcrowded terraced house they were living in did not reduce the anxiety of the family in any way. Money and food were in short supply and jobs even more difficult to keep. Almost immediately, work dried up in Nottingham and the family found themselves walking towards Cheshire.

On arriving at StaleyBridge, bone tired and underfed, the family took some lodgings with the little money they had and John went out to try and find work. Some work was given to him, but not the kind of master carpentry he was capable of doing. He must take what he could get. It was a nightmare for the family traveling from one place to another through filthy lanes in the rain and cold,  and arriving in a new place trying to look presentable enough to obtain lodgings and work.

The life the family was leading began to take its toll and soon Elizabeth and the children fell sick with fever after catching it from another poor family in the next cottage. The damp and poor water supply encouraged disease and the poor hygiene, lack of food and anxiety combined to  rapdily wprsen their conditions.   John Prideaux only just managed managed to get the family to the Ebenezer Chapel on 24th June 1837 to have them baptised. Shortly after the ceremony  Charity and Elizabeth were dead, leaving John in charge of three year old Edwin.

By the next year John was married to Mary who had been born in Wakefield, but had lately lived in Scarborough. The couple settled in Staleybridge and in 1838 they became parents to a  son they named Matthew. It would have been imperative for John  Prideaux to marry as soon as possible if he had any chance at all of keeping his son Edwin with him. Had this happened in his home town, or even his home county, his mother would have immediately taken in the boy. But this new life he had chosen for himself, away from the safety and comfort of connections meant that he was alone. John was the first Prideaux in my line to become an adventurer and break away from any security whatsoever. So far it had done him little good.

By 1838 the Chartist movement was underway and Stalybridge played its part in its history. The Peoples Charter of 1838 gave the movement its name. Stalybridge was like other towns in the country where the Industrial Revolution had encouraged thousands of people previously living in villages to come to the towns and find work. Now they lived in overcrowded houses and streets in filthy and unhygienic conditions. The working man wanted the vote and better conditions. It was getting near the time when the workers did not want to accept the poor wages on offer.

I have no way of knowing where John worked, all I know is that he called himself a carpenter or a joiner all of his life. There were cotton mills in Stalybridge and in Leeds, where in 1841; the whole family lived in Saville Street.

The railway was being completed in Leeds that same year and coal mines still producing coal. The family were caught in a Dickensian trap of living in absolute squalor but needing to be there in order to make ends meet. Why did they keep moving around? John may have got himself into debt like Mr. Macawber and had to up sticks to yet another town.

John Prideaux  had little training in managing a family and its accompanying finances having lived with his parents in a town where everyone knew him. I can’t imagine how scary it must have been for them all. Moving from town to town and living in the smelly, dirty hovels which the addresses suggest. Workhouses beckoned if money was not earned.

The family must have been constantly hungry, dirty and anxious. I think of Tiny Tim in the snow, with the crutch. No! It does not bear thinking about.

I would have tried to find them work.

This is how researching ones own history affects us all. One knows what happened to people in certain times and in certain situations. But, as soon as we learn their children’s names and know something of their history, one feels for their troubles. They become ours. Is this what religious teachings mean when they tell us that everyone’s suffering is also ours?

Saville Street was right in the centre of Leeds, just off Wellington Road.The following photo shows City Square with Wellington Street running past the top centre. Saville Street is one of the streets off there. John and his family were now well placed for all the mills and factories. Most others on the same streets worked in the mills or shops.There was a railway station on Wellington Road which was opened in 1846; it was known as the Leeds and Bradford Railway station.  There would have been plenty of joinery work there. Perhaps he worked in the mills, or took work wherever he could. I hope he did not drink too.

Soon, though, John Prideaux took his family straight down south again, back to London. His brother Peter Prideaux was still there, so I expect he was hoping that his brother could find him work and lodgings. Did they walk? Did they take the train? Did they find Peter and his family? I can’t find that out.

Sometimes, it will seem as though I am writing with far more detail in these later chapters. That is because I am adding family stories to the facts I discover and so am able to link the records with a story.

If these are incorrect, you will have to blame my dead family and not me.

In 1851 the family was living in 52 Boston Place, Christchurch, St Marylebone. This street is just off Baker Street. I don’t expect that they ever consulted Sherlock Holmes though.

Mainly because he was not real.

Edwin and Matthew were also working as carpenters. Boston Place  was right by the railway, as was his brother Peters house, four miles away in Whitechapel. The workhouse not far away also helped to keep their eye on the ball.

A scary truth is that the two brothers may have had no idea where the other one was living, unless both were in contact with their parents by some means and they in turn told the other brother their address. The cities and towns were so crowded then and the two families could have passed within inches and not known each other. Mary Prideaux and the children were not known to Peter and his new wife and family equally so.

Each house in Boston Place seems to house several families with jobs as diverse as stableman, Coldstream Guards soldier, artificial flower maker and men who worked on the river.  52 Boston Place was opposite Marylebone  railway station.

Edwin John and Matthew were working  here as carpenters, perhaps on further construction at the railway station.  Now life changed drastically for the family. All I know about this man and his family are the facts from the records.

John Prideaux  lived as a lodger at the Marquis of Granby Cottages in St. Pauls with a fellow carpenter George Oliver. He told the census taker that he had been widowed. He appears to stay at this address until his death.

We discover from the next story about their son Matthew Prideaux , that Mary and Matthew both moved away from London, although Mary went to Scarborough and Matthew went back to Leeds. Mary always said after this point that she too was a widow. What possibilities this opens up for my  enquiring mind.

Did John get into debt again and Mary could take no more? She certainly would not have had to now that the boys were grown up. Was John a drunk and a wife beater? Did he come across some criminal element he had dealings with on his early excursion there in the later twenties with his first wife and the couple decided that it would be safer to split up? Did they both believe the other to be dead?

I do know that during the spring of 1871 John Prideaux was leaning against a balcony in central London, which he was supposed to be fixing. He pushed against it to test how damaged it was and he fell to the ground as the rail gave way with an almighty crack.

He was seriously injured and taken to Middlesex Hospital with a fractured skull and died soon afterwards. It was 6th May 1871.

Edwin John Prideaux,  who had dropped the first name Edwin, married Jane.  He had also started saying he was born in London, wanting to either hide his origins or fit in a little better.

Their first son was called Edwin, but he died aged two on the 8th May 1854 at home in 5 St Marks Road Kennington. His death certificate said that he had been malformed, this being certified at 14 weeks old.

His father, who was still working as a carpenter, was present at his death.

Their second son John died aged 8 on the 26th October 1863 of a fever. This time his mother Jane was present at his death. They were still living at St Marks Road,

Their other children were Jane who was born in 1851 and Henry born in 1853. Because of the ages I think that Jane and Edwin were twins, with Edwin dying young.  There is also a record of an Edwin John Prideaux , carpenter, son of John Prideaux carpenter marrying Mary Ann Bryant, a 35 year old widow and dressmaker. She was the daughter of James Walker a bookbinder. They lived at 26 Holywell Lane, in Shoreditch on 16th March 1856.  This does not seem to fit in with the story as every other detail matches, so perhaps it is just coincidence that Edwin John, son of John married in London at the same time.

Henry and Jane never married and even after their mother Jane died in the 1880s they still lived with their father in 1891, although they had moved to Dunstan’s Road, Camberwell. Both John and Henry were still working as carpenters, although John was now 76. John still did not refer to himself as Edwin, but had started saying that he was born in Chudleigh, Devon, which of course was where his father and not he was born. Remember he was born in Nottingham. Confusing isn’t it?

A Rosina Bernard was living with them as a lodger, she did not work but lived on a small means. In 1901 Rosina had left or died, John had died and Henry and Jane still lived together, although they had now moved to Tudor Court, East Ham. Henry still worked as a carpenter. My research on them ends here.