Joshua Lock Murray, uh, Morey

It feel slightly strange to start a post knowing that it will be followed by an update post, but not knowing when that update post will come … however, I thought that I should round out my great-grandparent collection with my father’s maternal grandfather, Joshua Lock Murray aka Jesse Lock Morey, and see what additional information I could find about him.

Joshua Lock Morey began his life on 18 May 1856 in Kitford, Belchalwell, Dorset. (I can’t find Kitford on a modern map, but there is a Kitford Lane heading north out of the nearby village of Ibbertson so I suspect that it was along this road that they lived.) He was the eldest child of John Morey and his wife Sarah (nee Lock) who had married in Cheselbourne earlier that year (yes, Sarah was 4 months pregnant when they got married). At the time of Joshua’s birth, John was a carter, although when the baptism took place two months after Joshua’s birth, he is recorded simply as ‘labourer’.

1861 sees the family having relocated to the village of Woodlands in Dorset, and the street address is Old Down. Close to North Farm, Horton, Old Down is a collection of five workers’ cottages, one of which has now been turned into a rental cottage. Their website gives an idea of the setting and appearance of the cottages – although I daresay back in 1861 it was a bit of a different matter! Sarah’s 16 year old sister, Ann, is listed as a lodger in the house, along with another older gentleman. Undoubtedly it was a bit of a squeeze for 7 people!

By 1871 the family had moved to Compton Chamberlayne in Wiltshire, although if we look at the places that his siblings were born then the family obviously had quite a journey. From Belchalwell to Warmwell and Horton in Dorset, to Compton Chamberlayne, back down to Pentridge in Dorset and then over to Ireland, and back to Compton Chamberlayne. The reason for this seems to be that John had progressed from being a carter to specialising in driving the newfangled traction engines that were slowly but surely revolutionising life on farms, including threshing machines.

Whether this somewhat peripatetic lifestyle in his youth had created a kind of shiftless, rootless sense of being in Joshua (he first appears as Jesse in the 1871 census – and this seems to have stuck for a large portion of his life), or whether it was the birth of his youngest brother in 1878, but in 1879 Jesse joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry at Trowbridge. He would stay with the RMLI until 1884 at which point he bought himself out of his service.

His service record is awaiting my eyeballs at the National Archives at Kew (sadly, it hasn’t been digitised yet!) so I know nothing else about his time with the Marines other than in 1881 he is residing at Forton Barracks near Gosport.

Next for Jesse was marriage. And he did so to a lady originally born in London, but her family had moved to Hampshire. Jesse and Mary Adela Blackmore were married in Whitchurch in 1885 and children weren’t too far behind. In fact, a total of 8 children arrived.

Three of them arrived in short order as by 1891 the family is living in Chilbolton, a Hampshire village on the river Test half way between Andover and Stockbridge. Jesse seems to have followed his father’s footsteps – and lifestyle – and became an engine driver with a peripatetic life. On the census, it seems that the children were born across Berkshire: in Stratfield Saye, Benfield and Newbury.

By the 1901 another 4 children had been born although only 3 of those appear on the census return:

From the Southern Echo – Wednesday 12 February 1896
from British Newspaper Archive

The loss of Beatrice Alice in such a way at such a young age must have been a huge shock for the family.

By 1901 the family had moved from Broughton – via King’s Somborne – to Romsey. It is after this point that Jesse leaves his wife and ‘takes up’ with Emily Alice Palmer – my great-grandmother. All I knew was that it happened at some point between 1901 and 1911, but then comparing dates of birth for Mary’s youngest child with him (Eva Maud Morey – July 1903) and Emily’s eldest child with him (George Murray – 1905) gave me a much narrower timescale. However, searching the British Newspaper Archive gave me something wonderful:

Article from Hampshire Advertiser – Saturday 31 October 1903
from British Newspaper Archive

“The other woman” mentioned must have been Emily (who had also left her husband). I find it … amazing that the Chairman of Romsey Board of Guardians wasn’t going to convict based on desertion as there was no concealment – not only that, but it was “absurd”. He hadn’t been in his children’s home for nine weeks (i.e. the end of August, when his youngest child was barely a month old) … I say good for Mary for fighting – not for her man – but for money for her kids.

It also seems to be at this point that Jesse turns back into Joshua and Morey morphs into Murray. Historically, the surname has been spelt many different ways in the Dorset records – whilst the majority were variations of Morey, occasionally a Murry/Murray does crop up. However, ‘my’ side seem to have kept the Murray spelling, with Mary’s side using the Morey spelling.

As detailed in my Emily Alice post, the 1911 census contains a number of fictions – including the surnames of the children and the length of time they have been married – although he does list himself as a threshing machine engine driver which at least is consistent!

By 1906 at least they had moved to Poole, but had moved at least twice by 1911 – once to Westbury in Wiltshire and then to the village of Marnhull near Sturminster Newton in Dorset. The street address was Batts Alley – whether this is the street currently known as Bat Alley I don’t know, but it certainly would fit the rural nature of his work. However, by the birth of Archibald Murray in June 1914 they had moved to Parkstone in Poole. As for my grandmother, Norah, they were clearly too busy moving to follow Joshua’s work that they seemingly forgot to register her birth in 1909. Her ‘official’ birthday was the same as her elder sister Dorothy.

Th family stayed in Parkstone with Joshua dying there in 1933. It strikes me as telling that on his death certificate, one of his sons gives his age as “about 70”. Perhaps, for a man who had so many children, he simply wasn’t cut out to be a father …

Jesse or Joshua, Morey or Murray, I can’t say that I feel particularly close to this great-grandfather. Is he familiar? Yes, certainly. That said, I will ever be grateful for him in providing me with a link with the beautiful county of Dorset and, even better, the beautiful landscape of the Jurassic coast around East and West Lulworth, where his father’s family were for many generations.

I’ll have a follow-up post about Jesse Morey’s service with the marines as and when I can!


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