Author Topic: Riches to Rags to Riches?  (Read 468 times)

Offline peakoverload

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Riches to Rags to Riches?
« on: Monday 16 April 18 09:37 BST (UK) »
Firstly I do realise that nobody will be able to give me a definitive answer to this but I'm interested in everyone's opinion as to whether I've traced the correct family line.

Rather than start at the beginning I need to start at the end. The following I know for absolute certain:

My 2xGG was William Foster b 1816 in Witham, Essex d 10/07/1900 Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. William was a very wealthy man who started off as a victualler then became a coal merchant, then a farmer (owned the farms rather than worked them) and was the 3rd largest land owner in Essex at that time. From various documents I have of his that have been passed down through the family I know his father was John Foster and that he was a Cordwainer who for many years had a business in Witham.

Based on this I always assumed that William was a self made man as a cordwainer was perhaps a more humble background for his father.

Detail on John Foster is fairly scant and although I have located him on the 1861, 1851 and 1841 census his age and place of birth differ. I am confident though that these are the correct census as other details like occupation and other family members match.

On the 1841 census his age suggests he was born in 1783 and his place of birth is simply given as Essex
On the 1851 census his age suggests he was born in 1793 and his place of birth is given as Chelmsford
On the 1861 census his age suggests he was born in 1790 and his place of birth is given as Rochford

John Foster died 07/03/1870 and the age on his death certificate suggests he was born 1788

The only baptism I could find for A John Foster anywhere near Chelmsford or Oxford in the time frame was on one 1788 in Blackmore which is roughly 8 miles from Chelmsford.

If that is correct then his parents were John Foster and Mary Bolton and he was one of 8 children. His parents came died in Blackmore but were born in Writtle which is 6 miles from Blackmore and 2 from Chelmsford.

Going back 2 generations further, this John Fosters grandparents were Henry Foster and Dorothy Brecknock who were from Margaret Roding (all parish records spell it as Margaret Rothing but current maps have it as Margaret Roding) which is 11 miles from Blackmore.

This is where it gets interesting. The Foster family live in Margaret Roding for something like 4-5 generations to the point where a Richard Foster in 1670 writes a will in which he leaves money to the poor and an awful lot of land to his grandchildren. In other documentation I have found he is referred to as a Gentleman (as was William Foster my 3x GG) and clearly is a very wealthy man.

Obviously 6 or 7 generations is enough time to loose a family fortune (my 2x GG managed to loose his fathers fortune in a few years) but presumably whilst money may slowly or rapidly decline, education, social status and opportunity would take a little longer to disappear. So is it likely that the Foster family could go from wealthy land owners in 1670 to a shoemaker in 1814 only to regain fortune some 30 years later?

I'm just trying to work out if I mixed another Foster family into my tree as Parish Records offer such limited detail.
Johnson: London & Maidstone
Foster: Essex
Leach: London
Jennings, Camberwell, London
Gray: South London
Dashwood: London
Mason: Maidstone & London
Neville/Stiff: Hampshire & USA

Offline pinefamily

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Re: Riches to Rags to Riches?
« Reply #1 on: Monday 16 April 18 10:48 BST (UK) »
Don't let modern concepts of rich or poor colour your judgement. Follow your research, and try and corroborate every piece you find; tie in parish records with wills and other types of records.
A family's circumstances could change in a single generation, or different branches of the same family could end up in different circumstances.
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Offline Billyblue

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Re: Riches to Rags to Riches?
« Reply #2 on: Monday 16 April 18 13:58 BST (UK) »
Some years ago at a genealogy conference, a speaker outlined how families' fortunes go up and down.
This can be caused by various things.
One generation makes a lot of money.  But they have a large family and when the estate is split up, each beneficiary ends up with only a (relatively) small amount.
One generation makes a lot of money, leaves it all to wastrel son who spends it all - this I believe happened frequently in the 'landed gentry'
One generation makes a lot of money, then makes a bad business decision / is affected by others' bad business decisions / famine / war / etc, so the next is in the poorhouse.

Could go on, but I'm sure you get the drift.

Dawn M
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Offline Andy_T

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Re: Riches to Rags to Riches?
« Reply #3 on: Sunday 17 February 19 14:55 GMT (UK) »
Dates on Census and burial records can be all over the place as seen on John Foster (3 times great grandfather) 1841, 1851 and 1861 census records with different dates of birth.

The location Rochford is a discrepancy being 27 miles away from other 2 locations in earlier census.
Do you have some gaps still to fill in between your 6 times great grandparents Henry Foster & Dorothy Brecknock from Margaret Roding as we jump another  4-5 generations to a Richard Foster in 1670?

If I understand your point, it’s that between generations some ancestors are relatively humble and some very entrepreneurial and successful?
I think this is frequently the case and in my line there’s a lot more of the former than the latter. One exception I have is an ancestor born 1755 and a landowner owning hundreds of acres of farmland and buildings in Warwickshire and Leicestershire, including a windmill.
He died a "Gentleman" and a lifelong bachelor leaving all land and buildings to neighbours on condition they paid off any duty owed to the appointed executors. Oh, and one godson had to change his middle name to our family name before he could inherit.

There was a bit of money to his deceased nephew’s and niece’s children. A hundred pounds here and two hundred there and so on. His relatives were not business minded and not farmers so I think he thought it was better to leave the land it to other farmers.

BTW one great nephew bought a farm in Ashbourne, Derbyshire with his money and went from being a servant at Oakover Hall to having a farmhouse and 26 acres.


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