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A Small Slice of Suffolk History

Journal by Rockborne38

In about the year 1800, a young man arrived in the small Suffolk village of Wheatfield, some two miles north of Hadleigh and ten miles west of Ipswich. In his early twenties, Isaac Mauls had found work as a labourer on one of the farms in the village, but it was not until he was 30, in the year 1808, that he was able to marry his 18-year old sweetheart, Elizabeth Severing. They settled in a small cottage and raised a family of four sons and three daughters. From these four sons has grown a family which now can be counted in hundreds in many parts of the world. This booklet is a small tribute to the memory of an otherwise unknown couple, typical of the country stock of East Anglia.

One feature of the family in early days was the variety of spellings of their name: Mouls, Moles, Moules and even Moulds were all used at random, even by the same members of the family. But in 1858 all that was to change; for reasons that we cannot now know, in that year everyone adopted the new spelling Mowles (which had not been used before), and from then on, in Whatfield at any rate, none of the earlier spellings appear again, although they have persisted to this day in surrounding areas of Suffolk. It is this which has made it possible to trace the descendants of the one Wheatfield family, as almost all those spelt Mowles prove to have come from Whatfield, wherever you meet them. (or the exceptions to this, please see page 32). Probably this change of name reflects the growth of literacy in Victorian England, a suggestion borne out by the fact that it is 1862 before any member of the family married in Wheatfield was able to sign their own name. Even then, it was only the daughters: the first son to sign his own name was married in 1883!

The family shared fully in the hardships of 19th century rural England. At least two branches consisted of 15 or more people living in a cottage of probably two rooms; three brothers under the age of seven died in one week in 1845, to be followed later by their only sister and their mother, all of consumption; of 18 deaths in the family recorded between 1821 and 1874, only three are of adults, all the rest being children under seven. Yet through it all the family grew and flourished, until in the early years of this century at least a third of all houses in the village were occupied by members of the Mowles family, to the great confusion of visitors - and postmen!

One interesting side of social history is found in the occupations of the Mowles family recorded in the Wheatfield registers. From the time of the original Isaac in 1808 until just before the First World, War, every father is a farm labourer, with one exception - the one who bought his own horse and cart in the 1870's, and set up as a carrier to and from Ipswich. Selling some of the goods he carried from his own cottage, he started the village shop which remained in the Mowles family until 1974. Otherwise it is 1908 before we find a milkman in the family, and then from 1912 onwards the development of farm machinery is reflected in the traction engine drivers, the mechanics, and, still, the horsemen. To-day the family has diversified to occupy positions covering the whole range of human activity; while some keep up the tradition of the last 175 years of close links with the land, here in the U.K. and overseas, others are to be found as a clergyman, railwayman, bank manager, electrician, grocer, sales representative, Upholsterer, political agent, teacher, cross channel ferry steward, craftsman in leather, company director, mechanic, restaurant owner - the list is endless.

As Rector of Wheatfield, it is my privilege to know he last seven of the family who still live in the village (three of them now over 80). Sadly, unless, one of the younger branches of the family returns to the village, the name will die out in its place of origin early in the 21st century. Before that link is broken, it is good to record that no less than 44 members of the family have been married and 142 baptized in the lovely 13th century parish church of St. Margaret, while 55 lie buried in the quiet green churchyard in the heart of the village. If the production of this Family Tree serves to strengthen the links which bind the worldwide Mowles family to their ancestral home, then all the effort involved will have been worthwhile.

Basil W. Hazledinee Easter 1981.

This document has been transcribed electronically and by hand from the following image. There may be errors.

A Small Slice of Suffolk History

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by Rockborne38 Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2010-06-12 07:40:48

My husband and I are interested in tracing the roots of our family and have been doing so since 1956, so we now have about 15+Gb of info on our computer about the families of both of us, and we are interested in making contact with any member of any of the families we are researching to share information, looking also for photos and certificates for any family member to add to our huge files on those families. After all these years they are still a "work in progress" and we would like more please

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