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Mary Ann Aldis (1794-1889) | Aldis Family History

Mary Ann Aldis (1794-1889)

Mary Ann ALDIS - Her Particular Situation

When Mary Ann’s husband died in 1832, she would have been compelled to confront a rapidly worsening situation on her Tivetshall farm. Unlike brother Alfred, who owned land outright in Morningthorpe and acquired other land in Stratton St Michael as a consequence of his marriage to Phoebe BLOY, Robert and Mary Ann were tenant farmers with four children of whom three were sons soon to be in need of employment. Robert had had a stint as a schoolmaster in New Buckenham and did not seem keen to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and repeat the experience; it may be, of course, that there simply were not the opportunities. He had, moreover, a sizeable family to provide for.
His mother Hannah was a DIX, who were prominent farmers as well as Quakers in Tivetshall, and it seems likely that there was a DIX/GOLDWORTH connection somewhere; possibly they were working a farm owned by one of the two major families. Robert and Mary Ann would have been keenly aware, one imagines, of the local and national scene in agriculture, and they would have been increasingly concerned at the prospect for themselves and for their young family. Did they consider emigration? We cannot know, of course. How close was Robert to his father, who must have been a man whose opinions carried some weight?

Again, we cannot know. Robert’s mother was long dead and his father re-married with a large second family. Mary Ann’s parents were also both dead, though she had younger siblings, especially brother Alfred, to provide consolation and advice. So whether Robert and Mary Ann considered emigration remains unknown; but it seems to have been a distinct possibility for widowed Mary Ann. Presumably, in the period immediately following Robert’s death, she would have continued to run the farm with hired help until her sons were old enough to take over. And as time went on, it would have become increasingly apparent that the living was insufficient for all five of them and would be even less so when the boys became adult and started their own families. So around 1834-1835 Mary Ann ALDIS took the decision, with brother Alfred’s agreement and support, to emigrate to North America. Her upbringing and family background gave her the self-confidence to assess her situation accurately and arrive at a sensible conclusion.

Certainly by Michaelmas (September 29) 1835 the decision to emigrate had been taken, because early in 1836 a crucial item of information comes to light. ‘The Norwich Mercury’ for Saturday 13 February 1836 contains the following announcement:

An Appeal to the Benevolent,
on behalf of
of Tivetshall, in Norfolk,
who was left a WidowAbout three years since,
with Four Children

She then occupied a Farm at Tivetshall, and did hope, by the most rigid economy and industry, to rear her Family with some degree of credit and comfort-but finding her difficulties increase, and seeing little or no prospect for her Children in this Country beyond the situation of Common Labourers, she determined on going to America with them.

Implements of Husbandry, and Furniture, were Sold by Auction last Michaelmas, and her crops have since been Sold at the best Market price, and a hope was entertained that a sufficient Sum would be left to pay the expense of the Voyage; but her hopes have not been realized - there is not a Shilling left. An appeal has therefore been made to several benevolent Individuals, who have very kindly and generously assisted her; and this further and more public Appeal is made with the hope that many more will come forward to help the Fatherless and the Widow.
The Writer of this statement begs to add, that Mrs Aldis is about 40 years of age, and both she and her Children (three of whom are boys) have been accustomed to the greatest frugality and industry, and are far better adapted to make their way in the New World, where Labour is well paid for, than most persons who Emigrate.
Subscriptions will be received at the Bank of
Messrs. Gurney and Co.
by the Rev N White, at Tivetshall;
and by Mr S. Mitchell, Market-Place, Norwich.

Subscriptions already received.
Hudson Gurney Esq £20..0..0
Rev N. White £1 0 0 0
Earl of Orford £5 0 0
Robert Dix (Tivetshall) £5 0 0
A. Goldworth £10 0 0
S.Mitchell £5 0 0
Mrs Nash £1 0 0
Mr Robert Delf .. 10 0
Friends £1 10 0

Of the subscribers, A Goldworth is Mary Ann’s brother, of course, and Robert Dix of Tivetshall a farmer and relative of Mary Ann’s mother-in-law Hannah.

Nearly £60 had been raised, and the final figure can only be guessed at. What we do know is that the total fund was sufficient to pay for the journey to Canada and to enable Mary Ann to lay out £80 on the purchase of land in Chatham where the family eventually settled.

Interestingly, the very same page of ‘The Norwich Mercury’ carries an advertisement aimed at would-be emigrants to Canada:



Burthen 400 Tons, JOHN KEMP, Master
The above fast sailing Vessel is of the first
class, and nearly new, and will be fitted up
in a commodious manner for the accommodation
of Passengers. She will sail from Lynn for
Quebec, early in April next, from which place
Steam Vessels are constantly going to all parts
of the Country.
For Particulars apply to Mr William English,
the Owner, Church Street.
Lynn, 18th February, 1836.