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John Pryce Blair
One Name Studies

Ancestors in my direct line of descent are shown in italics

1st Generation:

The earliest Denman I have on my tree is William Denman, a poulterer, born c1770.

2nd Generation:

His son William Denman was born c1795. He married Sarah Saunders in Staplegrove, just outside Taunton, Somerset on 25.10.1818. The parish record of their marriage describes both as being "of this parish" although there is no record of the birth of either of them in the Staplegrove parish records, so it remains an avenue for research. 

William and Sarah had 6 children: Dennis (bap.8.2.1824), Charles (bap.23.4.1826), Anne (bap.29.3.1829), Alexander House (bap.18.3.1832), Caroline (bap.5.10.1834), and Sarah Jane (b.26.3.1838). Dennis and Charles were both baptised in Stoke St Gregory, but the family abode is given as North Curry. For information on the history of North Curry, click here.

In 1838 and 1850, William's occupation was given as farrier. For information on the work of the farrier at that time, click here.

Sarah died in October 1845. On 2.7.1846, William married Elizabeth Rydon (spinster, a servant, daughter of John Rydon, a farmer) in the Parish Church of Taunton St James. Both were living in Taunton St James, according to their marriage certificate. William's occupation is still given as farrier.

William died on 4.9.1875 of bronchitis, 10 days.

3rd Generation:

The 1841 census finds William and Sarah's son Charles working as a miller for John West Millers, living "N. pt of North Curry, Tything."

Charles married Mary Ann Broom (b.c1830, daughter of James Broom) on 28.4.1850 at the register office in Taunton. Charles signed his name and Mary signed with a 'X.' Both were living in Taunton at the time of their marriage, Charles in East Street and Mary in North Town. Charles was a carpenter. They must have moved back to North Curry soon afterwards because they were back in North Curry for the birth of their first child in November 1850.

Charles and Mary had 11 children: Elias Andrew (bap.27.11.1850), Dennis Andrew (b.c1851), George (b.c1853), Harry (b.2.2.1855), Alexander (b.22.8.1857), Austin (b.1860), Lucy Ann (b.1862), John (b.c1861), William (b.1864), Sidney Charles (bap.28.6.1868), and Francis (b.29.11.1872).

The parish record of their son Elias's birth gives Charles's occupation as labourer, but all other records give his occupation as carpenter, except for a baptismal record in 1862 when he is again described as a labourer: it seems likely he turned his hand to both occupations.

When the 1861 census was taken, Charles and family were living at Haymans Barton, North Curry. By 1871, they had moved to the Wesleyan Chapel, 1 Windmill Hill, North Curry, and were still there at the time of the 1901 census. It seemed a strange place to live, so I contacted the Reverend Haley Moore of the Chapel, who was able to confirm that there was indeed a builder/carpenter attached to the Chapel around this time. My grandfather Jack Denman says that Charles made coffins, so this may have been part of his duties as carpenter in residence. A fellow Rootsweb lister told me that her grandfather had a workshop at the back of the Chapel.

The Wesleyan Chapel, Windmill Hill, North Curry, home to the Denman family from the later 1800s to the early 1900s. 

The Denman children attended the local school - attendance could be down by up to 50 per cent during haymaking and harvesting, especially potato digging and apple picking. The school log book describes a Mr Dinham, carpenter, making new desks for the school, this may be a misspelling or may refer to someone else. The log book describes a quaint Shrove Tuesday game:

"Shrove Tuesday. The children today bring eggs with their names written on them. These eggs are then put into a sieve, and shaken together, and as soon as they get cracked are taken out of the sieve, while the egg which remains uncracked wins the prize." 

Charles died on 30.4.1906 of bronchitis and heart failure. Mary Ann died on 3.5.1907 of a cerebral haemorrhage. She was resident at the School House, North Curry, as was S. Denman, who was the informant named on her death certificate.

4th Generation:

Charles and Mary's son Alexander (b.22.8.1857 known as Alec) is listed as Alfred in the 1871 census, working as a baker. He married Sarah Allen (b.13.4.1853, known as Dem), daughter of Charles and Ann Allen) at Holy Trinity Church, Taunton, on 11.6.1878. Both signed the register. Alexander was working as baker and they both lived in South Street, Taunton. Sarah already had a son, Frank. Alexander and Sarah had 2 children of their own, Florence Lily (b.4.10.1878) and Charles Henry (b.16.4.1880).

In 1881, Alec and family are living with his mother-in-law Ann Allen a former seamstress, at 4 Fouracres Cottages, Taunton St Mary. At the time of the 1901 census Alec and Dem were living at 75 South Street, Taunton, Alec was still working as a baker. My grandfather Jack Denman  also remembers Alec and Dem living at 28 Mansfield Road, in a Co-op owned house - Alec was in charge of the Co-op bake-house, having worked his way up. Jack recalled how he would be taken to see Dem (Sarah) every day as a child - she would give him a mug of cocoa and a bun. There were always plenty of cakes, thanks to Alec's job with the bakery.

Dem died of cancer on 18.6.1923. She had a nurse to look after her at the end, and when she died, all the clocks and watches in the house (including the nurse's) stopped. All were unrepairable, and Alec bought the nurse a new watch.

Sometime after Dem's death, Alec moved in with his son Charles - he was living with them at 29 Silver Street, Taunton, according to the electoral rolls 1931-4. He moved with them to Bodmin, where Alec, a keen gardener, tended the apple trees and runner beans. He died in Bodmin in January 1940.

5th Generation:

Charles Denman (b.16.4.1880) met his wife Mary Thomas Bridges (b.2.6.1882, daughter of Robert and Sarah Thomas)when she moved to Taunton from Dunster aged 17 or 18. Mary worked as a nurse for a local GP. She lived in and looked after his 2 children in her spare time. Charles and Mary married on 23.8.1905 in St Andrew's Church, Rowbarton, Taunton. Both were living in Taunton, Mary in Greenway Avenue, and Charles at 73 Winchester Street.

Charles Henry Denman c1905

Charles was a solicitor's clerk at the time of his marriage. Other occupations included working as chief clerk for the probate registry, as an inspector of taxes, insurance agent, and clerk of court. Jack Denman (my grandfather, Charles's son) remembers Charles having a half day off each week (from his job at the probate registry) and went out persuading people to pay their taxes. Jack used to go too. 

Charles and Mary had 3 children: Florence Norah (b.6.1.1906), Cecil Charles (b.29.8.1908) and John Alexander (b.20.11.1919, known as Jack). The family lived at 29 Silver Street, Taunton.

In 1933 the family moved to Bodmin, Cornwall, because Charles had been offered a job there. In 1948, Charles and Mary moved back to Taunton to be near their children. They lived at 76 Alma Street, just around the corner from their previous home in Silver Street.

Charles died in 1955, and Mary continued to live in the house, occasionally taking in lodgers. Her daughter Florrie used to call twice a day. Mary died on 30.6.1969.