Mary Ann Aldis (1794-1889)


Mary Ann GOLDWORTH descended from a long line of Goldworths (sometimes referred to as GOLDWORTH alias PORTER) from the villages of Morningthorpe, Thurton and Bungay, all having strong independent church associations. Goldworths were, moreover, landowners and substantial farmers who protected their property and ensured its inheritance by legal settlement. Mary Ann’s grandfather Francis, who married Ann YALLOP of Hempnall (another strong independent parish) in 1764, inherited land from his father Clement together with the residue of the latter’s estate, as directed in Clement’s will of the 14th of May 1736. Clement, of Morningthorpe and Stratton St Michael (later merged with Stratton St Mary to become Long Stratton), married Elizabeth HUNNE on the 7th of April 1702 at Norwich St Stephen; he was buried on the 28th of October 1736, just five months after writing his will. Elizabeth, who survived him two years, was buried on the 17th of September 1738 as “widow of Morningthorpe”; her probate inventory was proved in 1746. Clement, together with his niece Mary, was executor to his brother Sylvester (1640-1706).

The will of Sylvester GOLDWORTH, made the 16th of November 1695, was not proved until the 17th of July 1706. The ten-year gap is critical because it explains why the will makes no mention of Sylvester’s son Peregrine who was not born until 1696. The bulk of Sylvester’s estate goes to his eldest daughter Mary who inherits all of her father’s lands in Thurton and Bergh Apton; wife Ann and other daughters Anne, Lidia and Sarah are also named beneficiaries, as is his son Silvester who married Dorothy SMITH of Carleton Rode in 1717 and had a son Thomas born in 1725.

Clement and Sylvester had a brother Peregrine, of Thurton, who was baptised the 4th of September 1646 and buried in 1709; a memorial inscription records the event. Apparently unmarried and without issue, his will, made the 20th of February and proved the 11th of March 1709/10, provides substantially for his nephew Peregrine who was not, of course, a beneficiary under his father’s will. Peregrine, still a minor, inherits all of his uncle’s lands in Thurton, Ashby and Carlton. Other named beneficiaries of Peregrine are the four eldest children of his brother Sylvester, his brother Clement, and the latter’s two youngest children, Stephen and Mary.

These three brothers along with daughters Mary and Lidia were the children of Thomas GOLDWORTH alias PORTER of Thurton (c1610-1664) and his wife Joan. Thomas, who graduated at Caius College Cambridge in 1631, was a yeoman of Morningthorpe and churchwarden there from 1641 to 1643. His will was proved on the 2nd of July 1664. Thomas looks to have been the son of Thomas GOLDWORTH alias PORTER (1584-1631 MI), gentleman of Bungay, who married Joan CHAMBERS in 1608. This Thomas, in turn, was possibly the son of John GOLDWORTH alias PORTER of Thurton and his wife Mary NOBBES who married in 1583. Earlier predecessors were probably Richard GOULDSWORTH and Thomas GOLDSWORTH, both of Thurton.

So Mary Ann GOLDWORTH descended from generations of educated and prosperous almost minor gentry. Her background is significant to her history; it explains, in part at least, how she was able to cope with her husband Robert’s early death and, even more importantly perhaps, to assess accurately her situation in reduced circumstances in Tivetshall, take the decision to emigrate, and purchase land in Canada. To be sure, she had the advice and support of her brother Alfred, a substantial farmer in Morningthorpe; but essentially it was Mary Ann’s decision to sell up her farm in Tivetshall and emigrate to Canada with four teenage children. Once settled in Chatham, a significant decision in itself, it was Mary Ann who had to buy property and establish a business there, pretty much a lone woman making her independent way in a man’s world. So it may not be entirely fanciful to suggest that Mary Ann’s genetic inheritance stood her in good stead in enabling her to make a success of her new life.

The GOLDWORTH family fortunes did not decline completely in the 19th century. What happened to other branches of the family is beyond the scope of this narrative; the family of Salem and Mary Chapman, however, provides informative contrast and comparison.

Mary Ann’s brother Alfred, born 1798 in Morningthorpe, married Phoebe BLOY, daughter of Francis and Elizabeth, of Stratton St Michael in 1820; they had nine children. A Tythe Agreement of 1838 for the commutation of tithes lists Alfred GOLDWORTH as a gentleman and substantial property owner. The 1851 Census shows Alfred to be a successful business man as well as farmer. Described as a brick manufacturer employing 25 men, Alfred responded appropriately to the recession in agriculture by diversifying into manufacture.

Census: Brickkiln Farm, Morningthorpe, DEPWADE HO/107/1821 Folio 581
Alfred GOLDWORTH Head M 53 M Farmer of 130 Acres 5 Labourers Brickmaker employing 20 Men Morningthorpe
Phoebe GOLDWORTH Wife M 53 F Stratton St Michael
Elizabeth GOLDWORTH Dau U 27 F Morningthorpe
Maria GOLDWORTH Dau U 25 F ditto
Diana GOLDWORTH Dau U 23 F ditto
Jemima GOLDWORTH Dau U 20 F ditto
Phoebe GOLDWORTH Dau U 18 F ditto
Clement GOLDWORTH Son U 16 M ditto
Mary Ann NUDDS Serv W 25 F House Servant Carlton Rode
Elizabeth ALLEN Serv U 20 F House Servant Thuxton

One can only speculate on the letters that must have passed between Alfred and Mary Ann who was at least as prosperous on her side of the Atlantic as was Alfred on his side. An essential difference, of course, is that whereas Alfred started from a strong inherited position and developed it appropriately, Mary Ann had to pick up the pieces of a broken life and begin anew, albeit with financial backing.