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Murch

Robert, born in 1687 in Ottery St Mary, married Elizabeth BASTONE on Christmas Eve of 1712. The couple had the following children:
Mary 1713 Elizabeth 1716 John 1718
Gideon 1721 Robert 1723 Josiah 1725

Robert saw six reigns: James II, William & Mary, Anne, Georges I, II, and III. The religion of the nation veered between Catholic and Protestant, included Presbyterianism, and saw the beginning of the Protestant Dissenters (including Congregationalists). The English Civil War, officially over by the time Robert was born, still made its influence felt in the political unrest and general uneasiness of the people. Rebellions and riots were, unfortunately, quite frequent, and the Murch family rebelled in their own way, by seperating from the Anglican Church of England and becoming Protestant Dissenters.

Gideon was baptised on 10 May 1721 in Ottery St Mary. He grew up to become a weaver, married a woman called Elizabeth, and the couple were the parents of
Elizabeth 1745 Samuel 1748 James 1749
Sarah 1751 Samuel 1755 Hannah 1757

In 1748, “...great numbers of Eastern Locusts were seen in this County [Devon], and most parts of England” – this was written on the flyleaf of a parish register. Perhaps this could have been considered an omen? Gideon’s son, Samuel, was baptised in the August of 1748 and recorded in the Presbyterian register, but there is a bishop’s transcript record of a young child of Gideon Murch’s having been buried on 7 April 1750, and another (later) son was also called Samuel, which suggests that the first Samuel died as a small boy.
On 25 March 1754 Hardwicke’s Marriage Act was passed, which meant that a) parish clerks had to keep records of marriages in books separate from the books that they normally recorded baptisms and burials in! some rather haphazardly; and b) that marriages had to be performed in churches, after banns. This had quite a considerable effect upon the Murch family, who were nonconformists, in that marriages within their family could not be celebrated in the meetinghouse, but had to be performed in the local Church of England parish church. The date was also significant in that it was Lady Day, the beginning of the new year according to the old calendar up to 1752.

Samuel, baptised in 1755, also became a weaver. 1766 saw a failure of the harvest. This led to a considerable increase in the price of bread which, in its turn, led to riots. The town of Ottery St Mary was not so much concerned with who was on the throne, as with the bad harvests that made bread prices rise considerably – riots were frequent.
Samuel married Margaret LITTLEY on Boxing Day 1774, and the couple had
Samuel 1775, who only lived for six months, and was buried on Boxing Day 1775, his parents' first wedding anniversary Samuel 1778

Margaret then died, and Samuel remarried in 1791, to Eleanor BENDING. The couple had:
John 1792 James 1793 Anna 1795

Although Samuel and Eleanor were married in the Church of England (as per Hardwicke's Marriage Act), the children's baptisms were recorded in the Independent or Congregationalist registers.
On 1 February 1792 John was baptised as the son of Samuel and Eleanor, and the baptism was recorded in the registers of the Independents. However, baby John was only one year old when Britain declared war on France, and thus began the conflict known as the Napoleonic Wars. Samuel would have been 38, probably too old for the army.

Samuel 1778 became a woolcomber and married Mary BENDING. The couple had

Sarah 1801 Margaret 1804 Samuel 1806 Mary
John 1812 James 1815 Harriet 1817 Hannah 1819 William 1821

In 1816, when Samuel was 38 , his family felt the beginning of change as John Heathcoat arrived from the Midlands and set up a new-style lacemaking factory. The changes in the way cloth was woven had made a considerable impact on the Murch family, who were cloth and silk weavers. James Hargreaves had invented the ‘Spinning Jenny’, which could spin up to eight threads at a time in 1767. In 1769 Richard Arkwright built a water-powered spinning machine which could produce stronger thread. A further improvement came in 1779 with Samuel Crompton’s ‘Spinning Mule’. James Watt’s 1782 invention of the rotary steam engine to power textile mills, and Edmund Cartwright’s introduction of the mechanically-driven loom, had changed the way they worked. In the same year as Margaret was born (1804), Richard Trevithick built the first steam engine to run on a track, thus heralding the arrival of the railway in Devon in 1844, forty years later.


Samuel was born about 1806 in Ottery St Mary, Devon, a year before the slave trade was abolished. When he was two, a huge storm arose in the area; the River Otter was described as a river of ‘rushing waters’. When he was a small boy of 8, England and France were at war and France received the crushing defeat at Trafalgar, followed only a year later by the famous battle at Waterloo.
A silk weaver in 1841, 10 years later he was a steward in the silk factory at Ottery St Mary and a foreman in the silk factory at his daughter Johanna's wedding in 1869.
Samuel married Joanna YEATS from Chudleigh.
Samuel and Joanna were the parents of
Mary 1830 Sarah 1831 Emely 1837 Hephzibah 1840
Harriett 1841 Johanna
4 Feb 1844
Alice 1846 Ebenezer 1848

1840 saw the arrival of the penny post, and maybe this was used to announce the birth of daughter Hephzibah, who later begins work as did the other girls as a lacemaker, then becomes a silk weaver like her father until her marriage in 1862 to Charles Bovett from Somerset.
The year of the census, 1851, Samuel and Joanna are living with all 8 children in Yonder Street, and Samuel is listed as a steward in the silk factory , while Ottery St Mary itself has grown to 4,500 inhabitants.
Earthquake tremors were felt in Ottery St Mary in 1863, to be followed two years later by yet another cholera outbreak in the town. Previously there had been a long period of hot, dry weather which, it was noticed, always preceded cholera. 1866 was a year of note. The now-famous Great Fire happened in Ottery St Mary; Mill Street suffered severely – and yet it rained the very next day! The railway had come to Devon in May of 1844, and in 1866 the South Devon Railway Company was formed. Once again Ottery St Mary felt a small earthquake in 1868.
Johanna's father was a silk weaver, her older sisters silk weavers and lace makers.
She was born 4 Feb 1844 in Ottery St Mary, Devon
and was married in Ottery St Mary 30 Sept 1869 to John HAYWOOD
with witnesses Jane Page and Johanna's brother Ebenezer.
Johanna and John were the parents of
Edmund John 1870 Samuel Murch 1872 Ernest 1875

in 1871 the electric telegraph was opened in Ottery St Mary. The next year the news was that the first horse-drawn tram had operated in Plymouth! More innovations: in 1875 electric lighting was introduced to Britain, but that year also included tragedy for Samuel and his family. December celebrations at the birth of baby Ernest to daughter Johanna and her husband John rapidly turned to grief. On 17 Dec 1875 in Bovey Tracey, Devon Johanna died eight days after baby Ernest was born. Her death certificate states the cause of death to be "Confined 8 days. Acute gastritis 3 days. Diarrhoea. Exhaustion."
She was 31.

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