Edward Jukes Parsons was the eldest child of Charles Parsons and Ann Jukes. He was given his mother’s maiden name, Jukes, as a second name; a tradition which he followed when he baptised his third son John Taylor Parsons, Taylor being Edward’s first wife Elizabeth’s maiden name. John Taylor Parsons was the father of Sidney Alfred Parsons and Sidney was a grandfather of the present author.
Edward’s grandfather William Parsons had been a farmer and inn-keeper in Holton, a small village near Wincanton in Somerset, and had also owned several houses in the village. William’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather (who were called Moses Parsons, Moses Parsons and Richard Parsons respectively) had all farmed in the the village of Kington Magna a few miles south east of Wincanton across the county border in Dorset.
Some of Edward’s relatives were well known in Somerset. His uncle George Parsons had married Jane Peters of the wealthy land-owning Peters family and several of Edward’s cousins had become stewards for Lord Portman after whom Portman Square in London was named. Edward’s cousin George Parsons (who was two years older than Edward) was an inventor and manufacturer who founded the Parrett Works near Martock in Somerset. Another cousin, John Parsons, was prominent in the Methodist movement.
The map shows the area of south east Somerset in which Edward lived.
Edward was baptised in Wincanton on the 23rd of January 1809 but he was probably born nearby in Hatherleigh which was then a detached part of the parish of Maperton. Hatherleigh is not far from Holton where Edward’s grandfather William Parsons lived. Hatherleigh Farm had been the home of Edward’s mother before she married Ann Jukes and years later, in 1870, Edward’s younger brother Charles and his family went to live there.
Edward’s parents moved several times while he was growing up. They lived in Holwell, Nether Compton, and Stock Gaylard but by the mid 1820s they had settled in Marston Magna where they occupied Manor Farm. Charles was the wealthiest farmer in the village. His house with its garden, orchard, and offices was situated next to the church in the centre of the village and he also owned two shops nearby — a grocer’s and a butcher’s.
Edward got married in 1831 when he was about 22 years old. His bride was a local girl called Elizabeth Taylor whose father, John Taylor, was the village baker. The formal witnesses at the wedding were Elizabeth’s unmarried sister Sarah and a farmer called Joseph Dauncey.
When they were first married Edward and Elizabeth lived in Marston Magna where for a while they lodged with an elderly woman called Sarah Cooper and her daughter. After a few years they moved to Redlynch Manor, near Bruton, where Edward took a job as a gamekeeper for the Earl of Ilchester. Bruton is about ten miles north east of Marston Magna. Their second son, James, was born in Bruton in 1841 but by 1844 the family had moved back to Marston Magna.
As Charles’ eldest son, Edward could reasonably have expected to inherit a significant part of his father’s estate. But when Charles wrote his will in 1846 he specifically excluded Edward. Charles died later that year and his estate was divided between his other sons and daughters with his second son, his namesake Charles, getting the largest share. Edward and Elizabeth continued to live in Marston Magna where Edward worked as an agricultural labourer.
In 1867 Edward was summoned to the County Petty Sessions in Yeovil for refusing to give up possession of a cottage, the property of John Cottle. He said he had rented the house by the year and was unable to find anywhere else to live, otherwise he said he would leave at once. The case against him was dismissed as the owner had failed to give proper notice.
Edward’s wife Elizabeth died of bronchitis on the on the 29th of December 1874 aged 64 years. A year later his son Isaac, who had moved to Southampton, died there while he was staying at his younger brother John Parsons’ pub.
When Edward grew older he worked as a gardener rather than a general agricultural labourer.
In 1881, when he was 72 years old, Edward married again. His new wife was a 54 year old widow called Elizabeth Evans (née Sansom) who worked as a laundress. She had been born in the city of Wells but moved to Limington near Ilchester as a young girl. She had two grown up children who lived in Wales and she had been a widow for fourteen years when she married Edward. She probably met him through the Dewdney family. Edward’s sister Harriet’s second husband, William Dewdney, had a son called George who lived with his family just a few doors away from where Elizabeth had lived in Limington with her first husband John Evans. Elizabeth was known as a singer of traditional songs.
At first Edward and his second wife lived near the centre of Marston Magna in Camel Street but by 1891 they were living in one of the three alms houses at Portway on the eastern edge of the parish, near to the small village of Rimpton.
The alms houses for the aged poor, pictured right, had been established fifty years earlier by the rector, the Revd. John Williams. This picture was taken just before they were demolished in the 1960s.
Edward died on Christmas day 1893. His daughter-in-law Margaret, the wife of his son James who by then lived in Eastleigh near Southampton, was present at his death. Edward died soon after the Russian flu pandemic which began in 1889, and influenza was indeed recorded as his cause of death. However some experts now think that pandemic might have actually been caused not by an influenza virus but by a form of coronavirus. So Edward might have been infected by a pathogen related to that which caused the pandemic which struck the world nearly 130 years later in 2020.
Edward Parsons was buried in Marston Magna a week later on the 30th of December.
His widow Elizabeth continued to live in Marston Magna and in 1905 she was visited by Cecil Sharp, a keen collector of folk songs. The London headquarters of the English Folk Dance and Song Society was named Cecil Sharp House in his honour. Elizabeth sang for him the song Young Roger of the Valley which he wrote down. The manuscript can be viewed in the web site of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.
Eliazbeth died in Marston Magna in October 1907 in the presence of Edward Evans, a son from her first marriage.
Children of Edward & Elizabeth Parsons
Edward had nine children with his first wife Elizabeth (née Taylor) and none with his second wife who was also called Elizabeth (previously Evans née Sansom) who was 54 years old when they married.
One of his daughters (Elizabeth) and three of his sons (Isaac, James and John) moved to the Southampton area.
His son Henry died before he reached adulthood and the first of his daughters named Jane, who was Elizabeth’s twin, died when she was a only few months old.
• Jane and her twin sister Elizabeth were baptised together in Marston Magna on the 9th of September 1832. Jane died in December, just over three months later, and was buried on the 29th of December.
• Elizabeth was still a young girl when she left home to work as a domestic servant in Yeovil and she was still only 17 years old when she got married there at the South Street Chapel. Her husband was Orlando Dunford who was a gardener from the village of Chilton Candelo. But Orlando died three and a half years later of a painful infection. Elizabeth was pregnant with their first child at the time and in 1854, three months after he died, she had a baby boy whom she named Charles. Eleven months later her baby grew ill, had fits, and died. Elizabeth found a job as a maid servant in Gillingham, Dorset. Her younger sister Mary also worked there in the same house as a nursemaid. In 1861 Elizabeth married William Sly who was a butler. The couple moved from Gillingham to Southampton where William took over the management of the St. Mary’s Hotel in East Street. Elizabeth’s younger brother John stayed with them there for a while when he moved to Southampton as well. Elizabeth and William had one child, a son called William. They remained in Southampton for the rest of their lives but from time to time Elizabeth went back to Marston Magna to visit her father. Elizabeth and William later moved to another pub in Southampton, the Oriental Arms in East Street which was later renamed the Anchor Stores. Twelve years after they had married, Elizabeth’s husband William Sly died after which she took over the running of the pub. In 1886 Elizabeth married again and transferred the licence to her new husband, Alfred Giddings. He was a widower with two children who had been a ship’s steward. Elizabeth and Alfred continued to run the pub until they both retired and moved to a small house in Fanshawe Street. Elizabeth died in hospital in May 1909 of bronchitis. Alfred died in 1912.
• Edward and Elizabeth’s son Isaac was born in 1835. He got married in 1861 to Jane Cupper who was the school-mistress in Marston Magna. They did not have a happy marriage. They had two children — Isaac William in 1862 and Louis Henry in 1865. Both children were probably born in Hereford where Jane’s brother Joseph Cupper lived with his wife. Isaac moved to Southampton where his sister Elizabeth was the wife of a publican and Jane went to Weymouth where she worked as lady’s maid for an elderly lady called Frances Cox. Their son Isaac was baptised in Marston Magna and again, on the same day as his brother Louis, in Weymouth. From the time they separated Isaac described himself as a single man. He became a publican in Southampton and took a licence for the Surrey Hotel in Orchard Place. He was with his younger brother John on the day in June 1874 when John was injured by a policeman during a riot in East Street. But Isaac’s health was failing. He gave up his own pub and became an assistant to his brother John. Isaac died of liver disease on Christmas day in 1875 at his brother John’s pub in East Street. After his death his wife Jane married a butler called William Trim and together they ran a lodging house in Weymouth. Isaac and Jane’s eldest son, Isaac William Parsons, first became a soldier serving in the 75th foot regiment. He then became a travelling salesman for a brewer, married, and lived in Yeovil where he died in 1938. Isaac and Jane’s other son, Louis Henry Parsons, joined the Royal Navy. After serving nearly 22 years he was became ill and was discharged. He then lived in Weymouth, married, and had one child, a son called Cecil, before he died there aged only about forty years old. Louis left a journal describing his life in the Royal Navy during the latter part of the Victorian era.
• Jane Parsons was born in 1836 in Marston Magna. When she was 23 years old she married Luke Vincent who was a carpenter, wheelwright and smith, from Thornford in Dorset (Thornford is about five miles south of Marston Magna). The witnesses were Jane’s brother Isaac and their friend Jane Cupper whom Isaac would later marry. Luke and Jane had a son called Luke and a daughter called Jane, but Jane died while she was still a baby. At first they lived a comfortable domestic life. Luke took part in the village horticultural society’s competitions and they had a household servant. He took on three apprentices one of whom was John Willis, the son of Jane’s widowed aunt Harriet. But in 1867 Luke was declared bankrupt, and a year later he died of “diseased lungs”. He was only 31 years old. From that time on, nothing more is known about his wife Jane.
• James Parsons, Edward and Elizabeth’s second son, was born in 1841 near Bruton, where Edward was a gamekeeper. As a young man he went to work for Samuel Newton Parsons, a second cousin once removed, who was the village doctor in Milborne Port, Somerset. Later he moved to Bishopstoke, near Southampton, where he worked as a coachman and groom. There he met and married Margaret Rogers, a dress-maker who lived in Southampton with her widowed mother. His sister Elizabeth and her husband William Sly were witnesses at the wedding. Margaret had an illegitimate son called Frederick and he eventually took on the surname Parsons. The couple had no children of their own and lived in Eastleigh, which is just north of Southampton, for the rest of their lives. Margaret was in Marston Magna when James’ father Edward died there on Christmas day in 1893 and she registered the death. Margaret died ten years later in 1903. After his wife died James became ill and he spent the last few year of his life in the Southampton Union Infirmary. He died there of Parkinson’s disease disease in 1914. His stepson Frederick became a steward on the White Star Line liners operating from Southampton as did Frederick’s son Norman James Parsons who was born in 1911. Frederick died in the early 1960s.
• Mary Parsons was born in 1844. When she was 17 years old she went to work as a nursemaid in Gillingham, Dorset, in the same house as her older sister Elizabeth who was a maid. In 1868 she married Charles Hallard in Sherborne, Dorset. Charles had been born in Worcestershire but had moved several times. Mary and Charles’s first child was called Agnes and she was born in Thornford. Their second child, Ethel, was born in Steeple near the South Dorset coast (close to the now abandoned village of Tyneham). Bertram, their last child, was born back in Thornford. By 1891 Mary and Charles had moved to Meopham near Gravesend in Kent where they lived for the rest of their lives. Charles worked as a gardener in a nursery. He died in 1907 and Mary died in 1916. Their children Ethel and Bertram were, when they were teenagers, sent to work as servants to an army officer from Elson, in Gosport, Hampshire, who was stationed at the Victoria Barracks in Southsea. Bertram went on to become a bicycle mechanic. Agnes became a housemaid at the Imperial Hotel in Bournemouth until she married Michael Ryan, an Irish man. Agnes and Michael lived in Kent for a while, then he joined the army (the Veterinary Corps) and was posted to Bloemfontein in South Africa. On their return they lived at Griggs Green, north of Petersfield in Hampshire, near the army camp at Bramshott.
• John Taylor Parsons was born on the 7th of October, 1845. As a boy he lived in Marston Magna and was apprenticed to a boot-maker. He never took up the trade because when he was in his early 20s he moved to Southampton to live with his sister Elizabeth and her husband William Sly. William ran a pub and John soon became a publican in his own right. He remained in Southampton, as a publican, for the rest of his life. John was the father of Sidney Parsons and a great-grandfather of the present author. He died in 1925 having survived both of his children.
• Henry was born in 1849 in Marston Magna but he died there when he was only about 12 years old.
• Martha was the youngest child of Edward and Elizabeth Parsons. She was born in 1850 in Marston Magna. When she was 21 she worked as a waitress at the London Hotel in Poole for a while and then she met and married Edmund Witt, a London policeman. Edmund had originally come from Fordingbridge in Hampshire. Martha and Edmund’s first child, Henry, was born in London but then Edmund got a job as a railway policeman and the family moved to Southampton. Edmund soon gave up police work and took up house painting. The couple moved several more times, to Thornford in Dorset, Combe St.Nicholas in Somerset, and then to Fordingbridge. They finally moved to Bournemouth where they had a large house in Southcote Road and took boarders. Edmund died in 1918 and Martha in 1930.
Ancestors of Edward Parsons
The following chart shows three generations of Edward’s ancestors.
His earliest known ancestor was Richard Parsons who lived in Kington Magna in Dorset during the period following the Civil War.
Grandfather — William Parsons a farmer and inn-keeper who lived most of his life in Holton, near Wincanton, in Somerset.
Grandmother — Mary West, William’s wife, who came from Stowell in Somerset
Grandfather — Giles Jukes from Silton and Bourton near Gillingham in Dorset
Grandmother — Elizabeth Hill who was born in Mere which is in Wiltshire but not far from Gillingham
Great-grandfather — Moses Parsons of Kington Magna in Dorset
Great-grandmother — Martha Turl
Great-grandfather — William West who was born in Stalbridge in Dorset but spent most of his life in Stowell in Somerset
Great-grandmother — Mary Turk, his wife, who was also born in Stalbridge
Great-grandfather — Giles Jukes the elder, of Silton in Dorset
Great-grandmother — Mary Forward who was born in Wincanton in Somerset
Great-grandfather — James Hill from Mere in Wiltshire
Great-grandmother — Hannah Grey
You are free to make use of the information in these web pages in any way that you wish but please be aware that the author, Mike Parsons, is unable to accept respsonsibility for any errors or omissions.
Mike can be contacted at email@example.com
The information in these web pages comes from a number of sources including: Hampshire County Records Office, Somerset Heritage Centre; Dorset County Records Office; Southampton City Archives; the General Register Office; several on-line newspaper archives; several on-line transcriptions of Parish Register Entries; and several on-line indexes of births, marriages and deaths. The research has also been guided at times by the published work of others, both on-line and in the form of printed books, and by information from personal correspondence with other researchers, for all of which thanks are given. However, all of the information in these web pages has been independently verified by the author from original sources, facimile copies, or, in the case of a few parish register entries, transcriptions published by on-line genealogy sites. The author is aware that some other researchers have in some cases drawn different conclusions and have published information which is at variance from that shown in these web pages.
Copyright © 2013 Mike Parsons. All rights reserved.