Saturday, May 31, 2014

Hannah an Actual Spinster? (better than some things she could have been called...)

On the Family History records, you may notice that we have collected up Hannah, Joanna, and Johanna Vaughan as the same person. Those are common variations of the same name. She appears in several different places at different times: Cusop, Herefordshire; Hay, Breconshire; and Glasbury, Breconshire or Radnorshire (Glasbury was in both counties as the Wye River was the dividing line and kept changing course over the centuries). You will also see on a map that all three places are very close to each other, Cusop practically a suburb of the market town of Hay - even if across the national border of England/Wales. And Glasbury is just around the bend of the Wye with possible shortcuts over the hills of the northern tip of the Black Mountains that would avoid Hay.

I doesn't help that we're dealing with three counties and two countries in this little neighborhood
There is a significant issue with those connections in that Hannah/Joanna appears as the mother of illegitimate children in all three places. John 1789 christened in Hay, is the origin of our surname on the male line. She had a child previously, Thomas 1787, who was christened and buried in Cusop, Herefordshire. And she may have had a daughter Sarah, Christened 1796 in Glasbury - a year before Hannah/Joanna's father Roger Vaughan died in Glasbury.

So, what is the connection between Glasbury and Cusop that would have Hannah/Joanna in both places? Hay is the obvious market town in the center of all, but I may have found a Glasbury-Cusop connection in work that Hannah/Joanna may have done.

Cusop was a minor blip in the industrialization of Britain. Dulas Brook in Cusop Dingle provided enough power to construct mills. There was a paper mill and woolen mills there and in Hay. I had no idea what a woolen mill did besides powering looms, but apparently it could also power the squeezing of  wool into felt. Wool fibers have velcro-like stickiness when pressed together. They also spun wool, hence the "spinsters." There was the related business at Glasbury in the warehousing and sorting of wool to serve the mills in Hay and Glasbury.

So, was Hannah/Joanna a real spinster? Could there have been some tangential connection with the wool processing leading to a more physical connection with a tailor? The wool industry in Cusop and Hay was run by Thomas Howells, the great-grandfather of the American writer William Dean Howells. Unfortunately, no record of Thomas's mill works have turned up. It also doesn't help that the Cusop Parish Vestry Minutes have been destroyed. We do know from the vestries of Hay and Glasbury that the Roger Vaughan family was struggling financially in the 1790s.

Cusop Mill House
By Jaggery (c) licensed for reuse under Creative Commons License.
Side Channel of Dulas Brook at Cusop Mill
By Jaggery (c) licensed for free use under Creative Commons License
We have to weigh this with other theories and hopefully find more than circumstantial evidence. The connections to Cusop could also go back to the Vaughan family at the turn of the 17th to 18th Centuries who were butchers in neighboring Clifford. We're still not sure how the Vaughans we came from originated and what their connection is to all the other Vaughans in neighboring villages - all claiming descent from Sir Roger Vaughan of Bredwardine who allegedly died heroically at Agincourt. That claim isn't so well documented either.

     The Clywd-Powys Archaeological Trust, Historic Landscape Characterization, The Middle Wye Valley: The Industrial Landscape. (accessed 31 May 2014).
     Fairs, Geoffrey L., The Wool Industry in Hay,  The National Library of Wales Journal, Cyf. 21, rh. 3 Haf 1980. p. 225. (accessed 31 May 2014).

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