Mrs Mary ROWLES, née Clarke (1834–1875)
Her son Francis Henry C. ROWLES (1865/6–1870)
St Paul section: Row 20, Grave E15½ [St Paul ref N.17]











M. R.

F. H. C. R.



Mary Clarke was born at Denton in Oxfordshire in 1834 and baptised at Cuddesdon Church on 22 June, the daughter of the butcher John Clarke and Rebecca Smith, who were married at St Michael's Church in Oxford on 14 February 1831.

Mary's older sister Rebecca had been baptised at Cuddesdon on 18 December 1831, and her next two siblings were also baptised there: Thomas in 1836 and John in 1837. Then the family moved to Abingdon, and her next four siblings were baptised at St Helen's Church there: Hannah Maria (1843), Catherine (1845), William (1847), and Henry Joseph (1851).

At the time of the 1841 census Mary (7) was living at Abingdon High Street in St Helen's parish with her parents and her sister Rebecca (10) and brothers Thomas (5) and John (3). By 1851 their address was described as the Sheep Market in Abingdon: Rebecca (19) was a dressmaker, and all six of her siblings were also at home.

On 26 March 1862, at St Pancras's Church in London, Mary Clarke, described as being of St Pancras, married Francis Henry Rowles. He was born in St Helen's parish, Abingdon on 16 February 1837, the son of the builder Isaac Rowles and his wife Ann, and baptised in the Abingdon Independent Upper Meeting House on 30 June: in 1841 he was living with his parents in Ock Street. By 1861 he was a 22-year-old draper's assistant in Oxford, living with John Caldicott Cavell (and many other assistants) over Elliston & Cavell's shop in Magdalen Street. (The marriage had originally been planned for 30 January but was delayed, and by the time it took place, Mary was eight months pregnant.) They spent the beginning of their married life at the Sheep Market in Abingdon (where Mary's father had his butcher's shop), and by 1868 had moved to Oxford.

Mary and Francis Rowles had the following children:

  • Catherine Maria Rowles (born at the Sheep Market, Abingdon on 28 April 1862 and privately baptised by St Helen's Church on 19 May)
  • Francis Henry C. Rowles (born in 1865/6, reg. Abingdon district first quarter of 1866)
  • Minnie Rebecca Rowles (born in Walton Street, Oxford in 1868 and baptised at St Paul's Church on 29 September)

By the time of Minnie's baptism in 1868, Mary's husband was working as a commercial traveller rather than a draper's assistant.

Their son Francis died in Oxford in 1870:

† Francis Henry C. Rowles died at Walton Street at the age of 5 in September 1870 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 1 October (burial recorded in the parish register of St Paul's Church).

By the time of the 1871 census Mary Rowles and her husband had separated. Mary (31) (with her surname recorded as Rowells) was living at 57 Walton Street with her daughter Minnie (2). She described herself as both a “commercial's wife” and as the head of the household. Her other daughter Catherine (nearly 9) had gone to live with Mary's younger sister Catherine (26) and her grocer husband Robert Underwood who lived in Chilcomb, Hampshire.

When Mary Rowles died four years later in 1875, no mention of her husband was made on her grave, and it is likely to have been paid for by her father:

† Mrs Mary Rowles née Clarke died at the Cowley Road at the age of 40 in August 1875 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 17 August (burial recorded in the parish register of St Paul's Church).

Husband of Mrs Mary Rowles

Francis Henry Rowles is hard to find in the 1881 and 1891 censuses, and may have been away from home working as a commercial traveller. In November 1895 he went to lodge in the home of the draper's porter Thomas Pearce at 15 Friar's Entry and was working as a draper's assistant again, probably at Elliston & Cavell's nearby shop, where he had worked before his marriage.

On Saturday 23 February 1895 at about 9.20am, Rowles (59) attempted to commit suicide by taking strychnine (vermin killer) in his room at 15 Friar's Entry. It was understood that he was worried because he owed his landlord £3, and had no means of paying it. A doctor (William Allin Thompson, the husband of Ellen Thompson) was called, and administered an emetic, and Rowles survived. He appeared at Oxford City Police Court on 26 February charged with attempting to commit suicide by taking poison, and was remanded in custody for a week. He appeared in court again a week later, and Superintendent Head reported that he would communicate with Francis's two daughters, as his brother in Abingdon refused to help him. His case was held at the City Quarter Sessions at County Hall on 22 April, and no one who knew him was present or willing to take charge of him. The gaol chaplain said that Rowles, who was a cripple from rheumatism, had acted in a moment of despair and would not attempt to do such a thing again: he recommended that he should be admitted to the Radcliffe Infirmary, and might get from there to the Workhouse. Rowles was bound over and liberated.

Rowles probably spent 17 years in Oxford Workhouse, as he died there at the age of 81 in 1912. His funeral was held on 21 December that year, and as his burial was recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church, he was definitely not buried in this grave with his wife and son, who are in the St Paul's section.

Surviving children of Mrs Mary Rowles and her husband Francis
  • Catherine Maria Rowles, later Mrs Freeman (born 1862) was aged 19 and still living with her aunt Catherine, now at 3 Belle Vue Villas, Westbury-on-Trym, Gloucestershire. (Her aunt had married her second husband, John William Harton, in 1877.). Near the beginning of 1885 in Brighton, Catherine Maria Rowles married David James Freeman. At the time of the 1891 census Catherine (28) was living at 23 Roundhill Crescent, Brighton with David (43) and their daughter Mary (3). In 1901 Catherine (38, but stated as 36) was a widow, boarding in Yarmouth. In 1911 she and her daughter Mary (23) were living in London at 30 Carlton Terrace, Finchley Road. Catherine died in the Barnet district of London at the age of 44 near the beginning of 1905.
  • Minnie Rebecca Rowles (born 1868) was aged 12 and still at school in 1881: she was living in London with her widowed aunt (possibly great-aunt) Mrs Mary Quartermain (54, and born in Garsington), who was a licensed victualler in Hackney High Street. In 1891 Minnie (22) was living at 15 King Edward Street with her mother's sister Mrs Rebecca Jenkins and her husband Robert, who was a medical practitioner, plus their two servants. By 1901 Minnie's aunt was dead and she was living at the same address with her her uncle Robert Jenkins (64), plus their cook and housemaid. In 1911 Minnie (40) lived at 8 Sydenham Park Mansions, Sydenham, Lewisham with her niece Myfanwy Read (6). Miss Minnie Rebecca Rowles died at 6 Bolton Road, Folkestone, Kent at the age of 86 on 17 April 1955. Her effects came to £1,176 16s. 7d., and her executor was her niece Miss Myfanwy Read.



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