The Stanley Connection

On 13th February 1832 the Sherborne Mercury reported on a case in which the authorities appear to victimise the miscreants for their own gain, confiscating all their possessions and, for the times, a considerable amount of gold, and sentencing them to imprisonment:

The following persons were committed as vagrants in the Devon County House of Correction last week for sleeping in tents in the open air, having no visible means of obtaining a livelihood and not giving a satisfactory account of themselves. Matthew Broadway, senior, for two months; Matthew Broadway, junior, his wife and child, for six weeks; Peter Hicks, his wife and six children, for one month. They were all of the Gypsy tribe. Peter Hicks had £81.10/- in gold in his possession, which was detained by order of the magistrates, for the purpose of defraying the expense of apprehension and maintenance in prison. The others had horses and other property, which will be sold to defray the expense of their apprehension and maintenance, unless they pay for it from some other source. The wife of the senior Broadway escaped from the constable, and it is supposed she had considerable property in her possession.

This was just as well, as the authorities had taken everything else from the Gypsies that they had in custody. It is an interesting group, and the connection between the Broadways and the Stanleys recorded in the baptism of Matthew Stanley Broadway on 16th November 1806 at Wood Norton, Norfolk, son of Matthew Broadway and his wife, Theresa, late Stanley. Matthew Broadway is surely the son of John and Eleanor Broadway (who was probably the Elin Stanley who had wed John Broadway in Salehurst, Sussex, on 22nd November 1785), the couple baptised their son Matthew on 18th February 1780 at Barnstaple, Devon (and he is also the Matthew Broadway buried on 18th April 1850 at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Croscombe, Somerset, ‘aged 71 years, Gypsy’). Matthew is found as an inmate of Tewkesbury Gaol on 25th February 1818, ‘aged 39, from Barnstaple’ who was held on ‘suspicion of stealing a mare.’ We have a brief description of him recorded as 5’10” tall, a basket maker and Gypsy, with black hair and blue eyes. Fortunately for him the case was dismissed for want of evidence.

Theresa Stanley was baptised as Teressia at North Waltham, Berkshire on 30th November 1783, daughter of Richard and Elizabeth Stanley, Gypsies, and it is likely that it was she who escaped being convicted for vagrancy with the group in 1832, by which time she and her husband would have been around fifty. Their son, presumably the Matthew Broadway, junior, referred to in the newspaper report, was also married to a Stanley, Henrietta (alias Miller). We know, too, that Peter Hicks was married to an Elizabeth Cooper, whose sister, Rhoda, was the wife of Joseph/Joshua Stanley, the brother of Teressia. (Peter Hicks had married Elizabeth Cooper at the church of St. John the Baptist, Bristol, Somerset, on 24th December 1828, where Joseph Stanley, Elizabeth’s brother-in-law, was a witness to the union.)

Less than a year earlier Peter Hicks had been one of a group of Gypsies brought before the magistrates at the Town Hall, Devonport, and Stanleys, as well as Belchers, were among the party. Jackson’s Oxford Jounal of 23rd July 1831 reported:

They were living in a state of vagrancy in the parish of Budeaux, and having in their possession twelve horses, a mule, an ass, a silver ladle, and a large silver teapot, which they used as a tea-kettle. The party consisted of three men, five women, and thirteen children, the whole of whom travelled in a covered cart or caravan. They gave their names as Peter Hicks of Brimpton, near Newbury, Berkshire, rat-catcher and horse-dealer; William Belcher of Bristol, rat-catcher; Thomas Stanley of Winterbourn, Wiltshire; Rebecca Belcher; Rhoda Stanley; Betsey Hicks; Betsey Stanley; Cecilia Belcher.

Peter Hicks’ wife, Elizabeth, is presumably the Betsey Hicks referred to in the list, formerly a Cooper; Rhoda Stanley is surely her sister, who was married to Joseph/Joshua Stanley, although he is absent from the group. Joseph/Joshua and Rhoda had a son named Thomas, baptised in Froyle, Hampshire in 1808, and a daughter, Elizabeth, born in about 1821, so it is possible that these are their children. Rebecca Belcher is another Cooper, who, with her previous partner, Richard Ayres, was the mother of the Cecilia listed, and Rebecca’s partner at this time was William Williams, whose alias was William Belcher.

What is fascinating is the connection, evident in the two arrests, of Hicks, Broadways, Coopers and Stanleys camping together, united by family ties. They were travelling the same parts of the country, the southern counties of Hampshire, Berkshire and Wiltshire, but particularly favouring Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, where Peter and Betsey Hicks had married. The couple baptised a son, Joshua, at All Saints Church, Martock, Somerset, on 6th May 1818 (presumably one of the children with them at the time of one, if not both, arrests), saying they were of Colinbourne, Wiltshire, son of a rat-catcher. John Cooper/Hicks was baptised at Patney, in Wiltshire, on 2nd May 1819, Betsey at Kentisbeare, Devon on 3rd October 1825; Cornelius was baptised at Dawlish, in Devon, son of a rat-catcher, on 27th April 1828; Talenta at Highweek, Devon, on 14th March 1830.

In addition, a Hugh (?Uriah) Hicks, claiming birth in 1823, named Peter and Elizabeth Hicks as his parents when he married Elizabeth Stanley, daughter of James and Margaret, in Massachusetts, USA, where, maintaining the Stanley connection, his brother Cornelius wed Vashti Stanley, also a daughter of James and Margaret.

Is Peter Hicks the son of John and Sarah, travellers, who was baptised at Kintbury, Berkshire, on 25th October 1795, a brother, surely, of the Cornelius Hicks, married to Phoebe Cooper, who baptises a daughter, Louisa, at Hartley Wespall, Hampshire, on 14th September 1823, ‘a travelling hawker and pedlar of Brimpton,’ a location that Peter also names? The coincidences of time, place and names are persuasive, as is a references to the baptism of a Joseph Hicks in Berkshire in 1811, son of John Hicks and Sarah Eyres/Ayres; other children of this couple include an Elijah, baptised at East Garston, Berkshire, on 26th April 1801, and Angelo, baptised at Hungerford, Berkshire, on 12th October 1808. When Clementina Ayres, daughter of Reuben Ayres and Jane/Jenny Stanley, married William Blackman on 27th May 1799 at Thatcham, Berkshire, a John Hicks was a witness. Surely he was a brother-in-law, the husband of Clementina’s sister, Sarah, born in 1777, whom he married in 1794 in East Woodhay, Hampshire.

And to further develop the Stanley connection with the Broadways, the younger Matthew Broadway is recorded as an inmate of Wilton Gaol on 28th January 1836 in Taunton, Somerset, ‘aged 30,’ charged with a Thomas Stanley as a rogue and vagabond, who ‘maliciously destroyed a sapling!’ Matthew’s union with Henrietta Stanley resulted in at least nine children, although given the gaps there may be more. Amy Broadway is my earliest recorded baptism for this couple, baptised on 9th May 1834 at Lamerton, Devon; James was born around 1835; Rhoda was baptised at the church of St. Michael Creech, Somerset, on 25th May 1841, where her parents are described as ‘travellers’ and ‘Egyptians.’ Samuel was baptised 31st December 1842 at the church of St. Peter, Roborough, Devon, son of ‘Egyptian wanderers’ and Robert Charles at North Tawton, Devon, on 25th October 1848; Richard, in about 1852; Thirsa in the following year; Matthew on 16th April 1854 at St. Giles in the Wood, Devon; Mary’s birth, on 21st February 1856 at Chipstable, was registered in the sub-district of Wiveliscombe, Somerset, just three days later, by her father, who is recorded as a basket maker, and gives his wife’s maiden name as Stanley.

The 1861 census finds the family in the parish of St. Andrew, Devon, where Matthew Broadway claims to be 56 years of age, and a labourer. Henrietta’s name is mis-transcribed as Harriet, but children Robert, 12, Richard, 9, Thirsa, 7, Mary, 5, are all there with their parents. And this is the same parish in which Matthew and Henrietta Broadway can be found in the following census, staying in King Street, St. Andrew, Plymouth. Matthew says he is 70 years of age, Henrietta continues, fairly consistently in all census records, to claim birth in 1812,making her about 59, and with them is their youngest known child, Mary, about 16 years of age, as well as a granddaughter, Caroline, aged three.

A few years earlier, on 21st September 1865, the North Devon Journal had mentioned Henrietta in a brief article regarding the local hospital:

On Friday night a Gypsy woman named Henrietta Broadway was admitted with a fracture of the thigh bone, received a few hours previously by slipping off her horse when on her way from the fair to the encampment of the party near Highbockington.

She clearly recovered and lived on until the June quarter of 1875, when her death was recorded in the registration district of Plymouth, aged 69; her husband, Matthew, had died three years earlier in the same location, claiming to be 74 years of age.