Foyles of Chitterne

On Christmas day 1815 John Foyle married Charlotte Frankham at Tilshead. This wedding is the first entry in the Tilshead parish register for any Foyle so it must be presumed they came from elsewhere even though they are identified as being 'of the parish'. John was a labourer while Charlotte may have been a servant. John was born between 1792 and 1796 and Charlotte about 1788. Research has not yet identified their parents or the place of birth. John was probably born locally although Charlotte could have come from Gloucestershire.

Their first three children, Hellen (Eleanor), Samuel and John Frankham, were baptized at Tilshead while Caroline Frankham, Robert, Dennis, Edwin, Fanny and Sarah were baptized at Chitterne, a few miles south of Tilshead. This means that John and Charlotte probably moved to Chitterne about 1822. The family appears in the 1841 census as Foley, a common local variation of Foyle, especially in Heytesbury.

In late 1847 John and Charlotte left their cottage in Bidden Lane, Chitterne and migrated to the new colony of South Australia on the barque "Malcolm David", arriving in March 1848. With them they took Caroline, Edwin and his wife Mary Ann (nee Price), Fanny and Sarah. The older children stayed at home but John had died and Dennis may have also died by that time. In SA the family settled at Payneham, a few miles north east of Adelaide in an area suitable for growing vegetables, fruit and livestock. Within two years of arrival Edwin owned land in Adelaide and had a machinery and homewares emporium supplying the needs of the rural settlers. Their arrival almost coincided with the discovery of gold and consequent gold rushes which may have provided a ready market for Edwin's goods. The family were Methodists and he and his wife Mary Ann became founding members of Payneham Methodist Church. In the surrounding church grounds he purchased a family plot and most early family members are buried there. The lease expired in 1969 and as it was not renewed that part of the churchyard was redeveloped. John died in 1856 after an accident with his horse and cart and is buried at Willunga in SA while Charlotte died in 1873 at Walkerville, SA. Edwin purchased land in various locations, including eighty acres right on the coast where they (primarily John And Charlotte) grew wheat. John was a member of a lobby group who petitioned the Governor of SA to build a jetty in the local area to facilitate the shipping of flour to Victoria, a hope lost as the gold rushes subsided and wheat was grown on new and better land in northern Victoria.

Caroline married Samuel Souter in 1852 and they had at least five children. Their descendents remain primarily around north Adelaide.

Edwin had married Mary Ann Price in Warminster in1846 and they had seven children before Mary Ann died in 1863, possibly from complications in childbirth. Their first child had died soon after birth, just after they arrived in the colony. Edwin then married Sarah Elizabeth Skinner in 1864 in Adelaide and produced another family of five children. Of the two families, at least five children died as infants, the second family especially affected. He remained a successful businessman but died aged just 46. Many South Australian and other Australian Foyles are related to this branch of the family.

Fanny married Cook Spencer, a native of Beverley, Yorkshire, in 1849 at Willunga and they had eleven children. Cook was a gold miner and followed the discoveries into central Victoria where they lived in a slab hut in the bush in typical goldfields conditions. Cook died in 1880 and is buried with two of their daughters at Moonambel, a former gold mining town of some 70,000 people but now a quiet country village. Fanny died in 1896 after a long battle with illness and is buried at Stawell, Victoria, sharing her grave with their son William. Although they are buried in different towns some distance apart they have identical headstones.

Sarah married Cook's brother George and they had six children at Percydale, not far from Moonambel, in 1876 a town of 16000, now a track through the bush. George was also a gold miner but died in 1866 in NSW. Sarah then married John Speakman Williams at Young in NSW in 1869. A number of both of the women's descendents still live in central Victoria while one of Sarah's daughters moved to Western Australia after her marriage and others to Melbourne.

Of the three children of John and Charlotte remaining in Wiltshire, there is no knowledge of Hellen. Her name also appears as Eleanor and Ellen may have also been used although Eleanor appears later in the family, a practice strongly favoured by the Foyles as in many other families.

Robert was a labourer who married Hannah Pearce in 1847 and they had nine children. Robert became a groom then a farm bailiff and they appear to have remained in Chitterne for many years before moving to Figheldean. Their children moved about, a son to Elgin in Scotland and a married daughter to Bedwellty in Wales (working in the coal mines), although some stayed nearby.

Samuel was a groom and in 1843 married Elizabeth Mead (nee Ingram), a widow with three older children. (Jane Mead married thomas Coles and Mary Ann married George Furnell). Samuel and Elizabeth produced four more children, two boys and two girls. While little is known of the girls at present, the eldest son William was also a groom and married Thirza Polden. They had seven children, baptized in Chitterne and Tilshead and their descendents live mostly around Salisbury but with one branch now in the Midlands. John married Ellen Dowdell at Fisherton Delamare in 1867 and they also had seven children.

Ellen Dowdell was born in January 1844 at South Newton, the illegitimate daughter of Thirsa Dowdell. Thirsa married Ellen's presumed father, John Potter in 1847 and they produced a large family. John was a Royal Marine from 1836 to 1846 and had been away fighting in the Maori Wars in NZ.

Ellen died in 1879 from an abscess on the brain. This condition may explain why Caroline was born at the Warminster Union Workhouse which had a hospital attached. The various birth certificates show a movement around the Wylye Valley area, consistent with John's occupations, and the use of Dowdell and Potter as Ellen's maiden names. She was a Dowdell but was apparently undecided for some time as her father had married her mother. At the time of the 1881 census the family appears to be living together at Norton Bavant but in fact had already broken up. William was living with his grandmother Thirsa Potter in Fisherton Delamare and Caroline lived with her grandparents Samuel and Elizabeth. Rosina's whereabouts are unknown but the other four children were in the Warminster Union Workhouse and by early 1882 John had abandoned them entirely, had a price on his head and a police warrant for his apprehension. It has to be assumed that John could not cope with his young family after Ellen's death at just 33 and the Union Trust Minutes state that he was unemployed for some time. Rosina was twelve and Tom was just over three (the 1881 census was conducted on 3rd. and 4th. April).

Whatever happened in that short period broke up the family but by 1882 John had married (Johanna) Caroline Murrell and was living in Weybridge in Surrey where in 1883, a son John was born. Recent research has discovered that John and Caroline moved to Elgin in Scotland soon after and had three more children. The son John migrated to Sydney, Australia in 1920 with his family while his surviving siblings seem to have remained in Scotalnd.

William became a policeman in 1887 with the IOW Police. He later became a sergeant and retired after 26 years when he then worked at Portsmouth Docks for some years. He was among the oldest police pensioners in England and was on duty at Alum Bay when Marconi sent his first radio message to the mainland. He took a keen interest in Netley Abbey, near where he lived for thirty years and served on the Hound Parish Council, the Nursing Association and other local associations. (From his obituary). He married Ellen Bennett in 1891 at Stockbridge in Hampshire and they produced eight children. Their descendents live mostly around Southampton and two have migrated to Australia.

Lucy and Louisa were sent to Canada as Home Children by the Church Emigration Society, a foster care system that provided domestic help for farmers and the like in countries including Canada and Australia. They embarked on the SS "Toronto" at Liverpool on 12.8.1887 and arrived in Quebec on 22.8.1887. (This scheme, in various forms continued into the 1960's but by the late 1980's was the subject of legal and social investigation leading to compensation and support for the children and families involved.) Little is known of Rosina in this period but it is believed she also went to Canada, possibly as part of a "Brides for Canada" scheme. She was later joined by her sister Ellen, who had been working at Ventnor, Isle of Wight, where Annie was also working. Tom became a soldier in England then went to Canada, first as a volunteer in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (WW1) where he served as Sergeant Major, then with his family as a mines inspector after 1918 at Cobalt. Stanley's situation in those years is unknown although he appears in the 1891 census as a boarder at Corsley where he was carter. He was close to his older brother William, whose decendants lived on the IOW until recent times. Stanley's grandson emigrated with his young family to Melbourne, Australia in 1958, not realizing that their ancestors had preceded them by 110 years !

Rosina was either sent or migrated to Canada. She moved to Vancouver later and married Benjamin Royal Crowder. They had four children, all born in Manitoba. Rosina also cared for some of her sister Ellen's children when she died prematurely. Their families may live in British Columbia.

Caroline Ann or Annie, married Alfred Smith in 1893 at Ventnor, IOW and they had three children. Her descendents live in Belfast and in Hertfordshire.

Ellen Frances or Nellie as she was known, apparently had a child before marrying Christopher James Mitchell. They had four children in all, all born at Winchester (Canada). They may have moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Stanley George married Annie Jane Nokes on Christmas Day 1894 at Heytesbury in Wiltshire. He was in the Royal Engineers during WW1. Stanley and Annie had six children, the first born at Heytesbury and the others at Wandsworth.

Louisa, (Emma sometimes used), married Robert Frederick Foster on 10.9.1895 at Gananoque (Ontario, Canada). They had five children.

Lucy was raped by a person at the place where she was indentured as a Home Child and had a son. She later married Lewis Justin Bull and they had four children but she died aged 23.

Thomas returned to Wiltshire and married Eva Bessie Nokes, the sister of Annie Jane at Warminster in 1900. Tom was a soldier and a hunt groom and he and Eva had seven children. After the deaths of four of their children in 1906/7 due to illnesses at Sutton Veny they moved to Amesbury where their last two children were born. Tom returned to Canada with his family about 1918 as a mines inspector and died (drowned) in Alberta in 1931.

The above is a very abbreviated version of my own line of descent. I have a family tree that contains about 300 people living in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Roger Foyle

Roger, have you a new email address? My last email to you on 19 July 2012 bounced back. Sue

Back to Chitterne People