Thomas Bettelley, Governor of Gnosall Workhouse 1823-1836
ThomasBettelley,1773-1859,wasthelastgovernorofGnosallWorkhousebefore theNewportUniontookitoverin1836. Achesttomb,no. A-34,onthenorthsideof StLawrence’scommemorates“thememoryofThomasBettelley,formanyyears Govenor [sic] of Gnosall Workhouse …” ThomasBettelleywasbornatChurchEatontoparentsWilliamandMargaret Bettelley and christened 26th October 1773.1On15January1798hemarried AnnMartinatChebsey,witnessJosephSedgeley. Both Thomas and Ann could sign their names. Ann Martin was “of Chebsey”.2SeveralchildrenarerecordedasborntotheBettelleysatSeighford:James christenedatStChad's,Seighford,3March1799;3Annchristened28February 1802atSeighford;4andElizabeth,25September1803.5AJohnBettelleyisshownonthe1851censusasbornat Seighford in 1805. In1807aThomasBettelleyofOldford(afarmnearSeighford)wasamemberoftheSeighfordAssociationforthe Prosecution of Felons.6In1823ThomasBettelleywaselectedGovernorofGnosallWorkhouse,thenunderthecontrolofthelocalparish,and agreed“toFarmthepoorfindingeverynecessaryat2/6perheadperweekexceptingclothingandcarriageofcoalsfor theuseofthePoorhouse.”7Heisshownaspresent,ormentioned,inanumberoftheGnosallMinutesdealingwiththe workhouse.ExamplesofhisdutiesfromtheMinutesincludecollectingBastardymoney(fromthefathers),sortingout clothingforSarahBuckleyandsomewheretoliveforJamesTitley(1834),andbuyingsmockfrocksforthreemeninthe Workhouse and one man living outside. On20November1825,achildbornto“ElizabethBettelley,SingleWoman,Gnosall”wasbaptisedas“ElizabethMeeson”.It seemslikelythemotherwasThomasBettelley’sdaughter,bornin1803–andthefatherpresumablyaMeeson.Elizabeth Bettelley,aged25,wasburiedatGnosallin1829.The1841censusshowsa15-year-oldgirlcalledElizabethBettelley livingwith Thomas,relationshipunstatedbutprobably Thomas’sillegitimategranddaughter.[In1836heproposedamotion totheBoardofGovernorsthatnoreliefshouldbegiven“tobastardsofable-bodiedsinglewomenunlesstheybothgoin the Workhouse”.]Ann Bettelley, Thomas’s wife, died in July 1826 and was buried in the churchyard.8InMarch18359Thomas’seldestsonJameswasworkingasaclerkforNewportsolicitorHenryHeane,whowassoonto become Clerk to the Workhouse Guardians. LaterthatyearinhiscapacityasAssistantOverseer,ThomasBettelleyadvertisedarewardfortheapprehensionoftwo absconding labourers, William Dyke and Edward Dyke.10In December, and then January 1836, he advertised for Land Surveyers and Land Valuers – “for making a new Survey, Map and Field Book, of the parish of Gnosall in the County of Stafford; ... and making a new Valuation to be founded on such a survey and to prepare a Poor Rate assessment”. They were to send in their tenders and a surveyor and valuer decided at a Vestry Meeting on 27th January. He states “The parish of Gnosall contains between ten and eleven thousand acres, chiefly divided into large farms, and rather more than 3000 inhabitants, and is intersected by the Birmingham and Liverpool Canal about two miles.”11ThisinformationwillhavebeenforthebenefitofthenewPoorLawUnioncentredonNewport.Inlate1836Thomas’sson JamesBettelleybecameGovernorofGnosallWorkhouse,withhiswifeSusannaactingasMatron. Theyweredismissedin December1838followingadisagreementandsomeerrorsintheaccounts,andJamesevidentlyreturnedtohisoccupation of solicitor’s clerk.12On25thMarch1837“agenteelhouse...situateinthecentreofthevillageofGnosall,nowintheoccupationofMr Thomas Bettelley”wasadvertisedtoletwithimmediatepossession.Ithada“parlour,threebedrooms,brewhouseandexcellent garden”.13 The Tithe Awards (1838) show him with a house and property at Coton End. On6thApril1840inGnosallattheageof67,Thomas,nowpublicanatTheDuke’sHead14,marriedagain,toSarahDay fromHorsebrook,Brewood,agedabout27,daughterof ThomasDay. The1841censusshowsthefamilylivinglivingatthe Duke'sHeadonGnosallHighStreetwiththeElizabethmentionedabove,aged15,ababydaughterSarah Ann,saidtobe sevenmonthsold(bornNovember1840,baptised25thJan.1842),Sarah’s70-year-oldfatherThomas,andtwoservants, SarahWilliamsandMarthaRoschel.Thomaswaslistedasapublicanandonthe1842baptism,hewaslistedasa victualler. The Duke’s Head was a venue for furniture auctions in the 1840s.On13thAugust1843JosephBetteley,sonofGnosallsinglewomanElizabethBetteleywasbaptisedatStLawrence.The Bettelleyfamilybible,heldbyadescendant,giveshisdateofbirthas10thJuly1843.Themotherislikelytohavebeen ElizabethMeesonBettelley,whowouldhavebeenaged17or18.FamilysourcesshowhermarryingJohn Astbury,asilk hatter, in Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1850 and living there with him, along with son/stepson Joseph in 1851 and 1861.The1851censushasThomasnowaged77,asanannuitant,withwifeSarahanddaughterSarahAnn,and3-year-old “nurse child” (foster child) called John Williams. The family are still living on the High Street though not at the Duke’s Head.On27thJuly1857Sarah Anndied,aged17andwasburiedatStLawrencewithThomas’sfirstwife Ann.15An Australian family history site says she died of typhus fever.16Thomas died at Plardiwick 31st January 1859 and was buried in the same grave. WithinafewmonthshiswidowmarriedafarmerfromPlardiwickcalledDavidMachin(April-Junequarter1859).17Sarah diedin1873(the Australiansourcesaysshehadastroke)andisburiedinchurchyardplot, A20.DavidMachinleft£1500 when he died in 1877. He is buried in churchyard plot A23.18Felicity Potter1 Familysearch. 2 Marriage records, Staffordshire Record Office. 3Familysearch, Freereg 4 Familysearch 5 Ibid 6Stafford Advertiser 26 December 1807. 7 Gnosall Workhouse Minutes, Staffordshire Record Office 8Inscription on Bettelley grave. 9 London Gazette, 19248, p. 497. 10Stafford Advertiser, 4 and 11 July 1835 11Stafford Advertiser, 26 December 1835, 18 January 1836 121841 census; London Gazette 20235, p. 2076, 1843; National Archives Honington Hall Estate 8 April 1844. 13Stafford Advertiser, 25 March 1837. 14 Wolverhampton Chronicle, 12 February 184015Grave inscription 16http://www.mundia.com/au/Person/2235732/-1228119584 17Bob Johnson 18Ibid.