Sunday, December 11, 2011

Richard Mason, died Ilfracombe Devon 1848

I haven't posted on the MASON family of Ilfracombe before, mainly because I don't know much about them. But as the family tree is filled out, I have been paying attention to this line in the hopes of finding more about them - I've been doing a bit of FH research, but tending to my own branch has meant that I haven't had time to post!

This is the first time I've posted information garnered from the new British Newspaper Archive ( The concept is similar to the exceptional effort by the National Library of Australia, except for the extremely disappointing fact that, as with most things of British genealogy, one has to pay.

Richard MASON married Agnes HUXTABLE at a time undetermined - up till now I'd have no luck finding their marriage in Devon or nearby counties. In fact I only knew Agnes' surname because her daughter Sophia's death certificate (Sophia BORDER nee MASON, Cowra NSW, 1898) named her father as Richard Mason, Sea Captain, and her mother as Agnes Huxtable. Agnes appears in the 1841 and 1851 censuses at Ilfracombe Devon, confirming that she was born there.

As for her husband Richard, he appears only in the 1841 census, on High St Ilfracombe, a baker, aged 60 and born in the county (of Devon), with his wife Agnes and an Anna Saxon aged 20. In 1851 Agnes was entered as widowed so we know he died in the intervening ten years.

Richard certainly wasn't baptised in Ilfracombe though, so his provenance is not known (and the subject of another post some day).

Searching the British Newspaper Archive I did indeed find an article on Richard's death. Unfortunately his age at death is vague, which doesn't help pin down his birth!

North Devon Journal, Wed 12 Jul 1848
Sudden Death.- On Wednesday (yesterday) morning, a case of sudden death happened to Mr. Richard Mason, a baker, of this place, between 70 and 80 years old, who dropped down in his bake-house whilst at work, and died instantly. Mr. Vidal, a surgeon, was called in, but found the vital spark had fled, and gave it his opinion that death had resulted from disease of the heart.

Finally, if Richard was a baker, why was he listed as a Sea Captain on his daughter's death certificate in NSW fifty years later? I have found four children baptised to Richard and Agnes in Ilfracombe, and on one of these Richard's occupation is given as 'mariner'. Ilfracombe was a thriving sea port, and the HUXTABLE family Richard married into were known as a nautical family of note in Ilfracombe.

Children of Richard and Agnes MASON:
1. Joseph Huxtable Mason Chr 20 Aug 1809 Ilfracombe, Devon.
2. Betsy Mason Chr 10 Nov 1811 Ilfracombe, Devon.
3. Mary Ann Mason Chr 26 March 1815 Ilfracombe, Devon, father Richard occupation mariner
4. Sophia Mason, birth 28 Dec 1819, Christening 16 Jan 1820, Independent Church, Ilfracombe, Devon. Father Richard MASON, mother Agness. (Sophia is my ancestor).

Clearly a switch in occupation occurred at some stage later in life!

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