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Roberts, Mrs. Mary Anne

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Cecil Sharp collected The Cherry Tree Carol from Mary Ann Roberts aged 81 on 8 April 1909 in Winchcombe Union (Workhouse). She also sang him Green Brooms. Eliza Wedgwood, who collected songs in collaboration with the composer, Percy Grainger, also collected The Cherry Tree Carol from her on 31 July 1909 and said she was a native of Beckford. Miss Wedgwood had previously visited her on 24 April 1908 and stated that she was aged 77 ‘and is very gone in the head’ when Mary Ann Roberts sang her Lord Lovel, Betsy the Milkmaid or the Rich Bristol Squire, The Young Fisherrman and Today You May be Alive Godman.

Mary Ann Roberts had learnt the Cherry Tree Carol from her mother, Mary Haines, who came from Fladbury, Worcestershire and was born about 1794. Mary Ann was born in Fladbury and by 1841, aged 7 she was living in Alderton with her parents, John, aged 35, an agricultural labourer from Bricklehampton, Worcs, and Mary, also aged 35, and her siblings: Eliza aged 9, Hannah aged 5 and George aged 3. They were the only Haines family living in Alderton in 1841.

By 1851 Maryann Haynes (this time written with ‘y’ by the Census officer) then aged 17 was still living in Alderton with her father John Haynes, an agricultural labourer aged 47, her mother, Mary aged 55 and her brother George then aged 13 with three further brothers: Charles aged 7, and John and William who were twins aged 4 born in Alderton. Mary Ann, her mother and George were all described as agricultural labourers. They were still the only Haines family living in Alderton.

The marriage of Mary Anne Haines was registered in 1854 in the Registration district of Winchcomb. Her husband, William Roberts was from Aston on Carrant, near Ashchurch, Gloucestershire and the first reference to him is in 1841 when, aged 1, he was living in Aston with his parents, James and Elizabeth Roberts, both aged 25. He had two brothers: John aged 5 and George aged 2. His father was an agricultural labourer. All the family were born in Gloucestershire and were the only Roberts family in Aston. In 1851 William Roberts, then aged 11, was still living in Aston, Ashchurch, with his parents, James then aged 37, an agricultural labourer born in Overbury, Worcs, (later stated to be Bengrove, near Teddington, Glos.) and Elizabeth Roberts aged 36, born in Bishops Cleeve (later stated to be Gotherington) and his siblings: John possibly aged 15, George aged 13, Jane aged 8, Mary A. aged 6 and Richard aged 3. All the children were born in Ashchurch. By 1861 William was not in the family home in Aston, but George, Richard and James were still living with their parents, James and Elizabeth. He may have been employed as a house servant in Aston in the household of Isaac Witts, a widower and farmer of 73 acres, who employed three men, three women and a boy.

By 1871 Mary Ann was married and living in Great Washbourne with her husband, William, described as a labourer aged 30, born in Aston on Carrant. She was described as a labourer aged 40 born in Alderton. They had four children: Walter aged 8, Mary A aged 6, Joseph W, aged 4, all scholars and Jessie aged 1 born in Washbourne. All the children except Jessie were born in Aston on Carrant.

In 1881 Mary Ann’s husband, William, aged 41 was living in Great Washbourne with his children: Walter aged 19, an agricultural labourer, Mary aged 17 of no occupation, Jessie aged 11 and James aged 5, both scholars. All the family except James were born in Ashchurch. Mary Ann was not in the house but a Mary Ann Roberts was in Winchcombe workhouse, an’ imbecile’ aged 45, wife of an agricultural labourer, born in Moore, Worcestershire. There is an Upper Moor and Lower Moor near Fladbury. By 1891 Mary Ann was out of the workhouse and aged 61 was living in the School House, Beckford, with her husband William aged 51, an agricultural labourer, with their daughter, Jessie, aged 21, a general servant born in Aston on Carrant and their son, James aged 16, born in Great Washbourne, also an agricultural labourer. On 20 January 1908 she was readmitted to Winchcombe Union (workhouse) and was refused a leave of absence on 23 May 1908 but referred to examination by the medical officer. She remained there until 4 October 1910 when she was certified insane and removed to the asylum. It is not clear when she died. A Mary Ann Roberts died in Winchcombe in June 1928 but this may also be another Mary Ann Roberts who was living in Winchcombe in 1891.

Mary Ann’s son Walter was probably the Walter Roberts aged 28 who was living in Beckford in 1891. He was a labourer born in Aston on Carrant and was living with his wife Hannah aged 32 born in Woolstone and their son George Will, aged 3, born in Bourton, and daughter Ellen Elizabeth aged 1 born in Gotherington.

Mary Ann’s son, Joseph, may have been the Joseph Roberts who in 1881 aged 15 was a general servant in the household of George Wealsby, a farmer of 39 acres in Beckford, who was born in Great Washbourne. He is the only Roberts living in Beckford in the 1881 Census

In 1871 Mary Ann’s parents, Mary Haines aged 81 and John Haines aged 70, described as a farm labourer, were still living in Alderton with their son, Charles aged 26. They were still in Alderton in 1881: Mary aged 90 born in Moore, Glos and John aged 78,now deaf but still described as an agricultural labourer. Possibly she may have been the Mary Haines who was buried 11th March 1889 in Winchcombe Union (workhouse). Her age was stated to be 94 and she was said to have been born about 1875.

William’s parents were still living in Aston in 1871. James aged 57 was still described as an agricultural labourer and Elizabeth then aged 56 were living with two of their sons, George aged 32, now a cordwainer, and James aged 18 an agricultural labourer. By 1881 James aged 65, still an agricultural labourer, was living in Aston with his wife, Elizabeth aged 65 and their son George aged 42, a cordwainer. By 1891 James was a widower, an agricultural labourer aged 75 and living in a cottage in Aston, Ashchurch, with his son George, now a shoemaker aged 53.

Notes by Carol Davies November 2011