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James Family of Grosmont, Monmouthshire
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Grosmont Church interior showing James wall plaques
The James family of ,
, Wales date back to the 17th century (at least).
Grosmont is near the
border and was Welsh-speaking until the end of the
18th century, according to Bradney. There was a transition from the old Welsh patronymic system to the use of fixed surnames in the 16th and 17th
centuries and there are gaps in the parish records in the 17th century. This makes it difficult to identify family relationships in that period.
Solicitors' records (see notes) refer to a Philip James and a William James having lands in Grosmont in 1688 and a Thomas James having tenancy of a house in 1714.
Descendants of Henry James
A mason named Henry James (Harry or Hendrey) (c.1679- buried 10 October 1752) married Ann Cox of Rolston (Rowlstone, Herefordshire)
(c.1679- probably buried 10 October 1764) at Grosmont on June 20 1699. The birth years are notional. There is a
Roman Catholic register entry for this marriage. Ann passed the administration of Harry's estate in 1753 to her sons William and John, both masons. Henry and Ann's
children (baptised in the parish church and as Roman Catholic) included:
- John James (1700-1772) who was baptised July 17 1700 and died July 13 1772.
John and his wife Ann ? (1694-1771) had the following (baptised in the parish church
and as Roman Catholic)::
- Micah James (baptised October 6 1727) - possibly a mistranscription of Micall, an early form of Michael.
A Micah Jones of Peterstone was buried at Rockfield, Monmouthshire in 1801.
- John James (c.1731-1814)
- Walter James (baptised August 18 1734-1821)
- William James (baptised Feb 12 1737 - buried 3 March 1743/4)
- Anne James (baptised May 10 1741- )
John James' Will of 1772 does not name William but does refer to a daughter Elizabeth James. He left a property in Grosmont occupied by
a John Lewis to his daughter Anne. His goods and chattels went to her brothers John and Walter. Elizabeth and Micah or Michael received five
Grosmont Church Wall Plaque - "In memory of Ann ye wife of Jn James, who died Jan the 5th 1771 Aged 76. Also in
memory of John James, Sen, who Died the 13th day of July 1772 Aged 72 years."
- Henry James (1702-c.1777) possibly married Jane Walter (dates unknown) at Aberystruth in 1743. Henry's descendants:
- Henry James (bap. 16 Oct 1743-1809)
married Mary Price (1743-1818) in Grosmont on May 1 1767, including a Roman Catholic marriage. Mary Price was baptised on 23 October 1743 in the Parish Church and as a Roman
Catholic, daughter of Thomas Price. A Henry James, parish clerk, was buried in Grosmont on 28 January 1809 aged 69.
Henry was variously a stone mason, carpenter and tenant farmer at Town Farm. His Will passed his workshop to son Walter James and the remainder
of the lease on Town Farm (rented from William Roberts James) to Walter and two other sons, George and John. Henry and Mary's children included:
- Ann James (1746-1746) was baptised on 7 November and died on 14 November.
- William James (1746-1746) was baptised on 7 November and died on 21 November.
- Elizabeth James (1751-1796) who married John Croft(s) (1749-1794) on 5 June 1772. They had no children, They
feature in the chapter entitled 'Honest Servant' in Phillip Morgan's A Grosmont Miscellany (2008, Capella Archives). Initially in her will she left all her
estate to her servant Eleanor Jones but later wrote a codicil leaving sums of money to relatives and friends which the honest Eleanor discovered. The relatives
mentioned in the codicil were: sister-in-law Mary Morgan and her son James Morgan; aunt Elizabeth Gwin at Roulstone; aunt Mary Powel; and, last, brother
Hennery James 'if he will put his hand to paper that he will wall up the bulk in his work shop that it may be no newsense to the aginieining land any more.'
- Ann James (baptised 17 April 1708 - buried 14 November 1746)
- Helen James (baptised 23 Oct 1710 - )
- William James (baptised 13 May 1713 - buried 21 November 1746)
- Philip James (baptised 5 May 1715 - buried in the church 9 March 1719/20)
- Richard James (baptised 5 Nov 1717 - buried 28 June 1801) who married Martha Evans (? - probably buried 7 August 1770) on 28 June 1752.
They had Martha James (1754- ), Elizabeth James (1758-1835) and
Ann James (1760-1762).
Walter James (parish clerk of Grosmont) and brothers John James (farmer), Thomas James (farmer), and the children of William James (deceased)
and sister Mrs Mary Dyke are named as beneficiaries in the will of Elizabeth James (spinster) of Kingsfield who died in 1835. Elizabeth James had inherited the estate of
Walter James (d. 1821) whose brother John James had predeceased him. Elizabeth was described as 'our relative residing with us' at Kingsfield
in Walter's will. Her dates coincide with a baptism on December 18 1758 for Elizabeth daughter of Richard James. John and Walter were the sons and executors of John James (1700-1772).
Elizabeth's death notice in the Hereford Journal of 5 August 1835:
On Monday the 27th ult. died, at Kingsfield, near Grosmont, Monmouthshire, Mrs James in the 70th year of her age;
she was universally respected by her numerous friends, and her loss will be long felt by the neighbouring poor, to whom she was always a kind
and steady friend.
While the Monmouthshire Merlin of 1 August 1835 more accurately stated:
Qn Monday last, at Kingsfield, in the parish of Grosmont, in the 77th year of her age, Mrs. Elizabeth James
most sincerely regretted by the whole neighbourhood, more than 200 of whom, to testify their respect for the deceased, followed her remains to the grave.
And in the Hereford Times of 1 August 1835:
DEATHS - Qn Monday last, at Kingsfield, in the parish of Grosmont, after a protracted illness which she bore with
Christian fortitude and resignation, Mrs. Elizabeth James, in the 78th year of her age. She lived respected by the rich, to whom she was always
courteous, affable and obliging; beloved by the poor, to whom she was a constant, judicious and liberal benefactress and her death will long be a
subject of deep regret to all her relatives, friends and neighbours.
Grosmont Church James Wall Plaques
Descendants of John James, Town Farm
There is a Grosmont baptism record dated 19 September 1825 for a Jane James (1825- ) daughter of John and Jane James, otp, farmer who married
Other baptisms for a couple of the same name include:
- Mary James (1820-1837) baptised 26 November 1820
- Ann James (1826- ) baptised 11 June 1826
- Sabina? James baptised 9 March 1828
- Sabina James (1828-1837) baptised 17 August 1828 (transcription error?)
- Sarah James (1830- ) baptised 15 August 1830
- Isabella Abigail James (1833-1864) baptised 18 January 1833
- Louisa Martha James (1834-1841) baptised 11 December 1834
These names and ages correspond with a family listed at
Mansion, Grosmont in 1841 without mother Jane (buried 4 February 1839, aged 48), daughters Mary (buried 30 September 1837, aged 16),
Sabina (buried 9 December 1837, aged 9)
and Louisa (buried 16 January 1841) but including a Walter James with a rounded age of 65, 'Independent' (John's brother). Walter was buried on 10 March 1854, aged 79,
opt, Coroner's Order. In his will, his estate was left in trust to John James and subsequently to Sarah and Isabella Abigail.
Ann James appears in the 1851 census but not in Walter's will, suggesting that she had died by 1854. Jane Price received a hundred
pounds (after her father's death) for her own - not her husband's - use. Isabella Abigail Nicholas was brought back to Grosmont from Broad St, Hereford for burial 20th October 1864 aged 32
having married Thomas Black Nicholas, draper, on the 7th April. John James died in Grosmont on 16 October 1869 and was buried on 20 October 1869, aged 81. Sara James was still
in Grosmont in 1871. A Sarah James
of Brecon Road, Abergavenny aged 47 died in August 1878 (needs checking).
Among references to the family in the local press, the following appeared in the Monmouthshire Merlin 14 March 1835:
On Tuesday last, an inquest was held at our county prison, on view of the body of Ruth Harry, a female prisoner who died in
child-bed, on Sunday the 8th instant. After an investigation of all the circumstances of the case, the jury returned a verdict of "Natural Death."
The deceased, who was only 19 years old, was convicted at the last October Sessions for this county, on a charge of stealing a gown belonging to
the daughter of her master, John James, of the parish of Grosmont, and sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment.
The following notice had appeared in the Hereford Journal of 10 December 1845:
THE TOWN FARM
LIVE AND DEAD FARMING STOCK
IMPLEMENTS IN HUSBANDRY,&c,&c.
TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION,
On the Premises aforesaid, on Friday the 12th day of December,
1845, the property of Mr.JOHN JAMES, who is retiring from
the Farming Business;
CONSISTING OF fifty-six sheep, five superior cows
and calves andto calve, two heifers in calf, nine yearling
cattle, four draught horses, one 3-year-old cart colt, one year-
ling ditto, one weaned ditto, one poney mare, one sow, and six
store pigs, one broad-wheel waggon, one harvest ditto, two
broad-wheel carts, two pairs of harrows, two ground cars, one
roller, four lammas and three sowing ploughs, one three-knife
straw cutter, four sets of gearing and about thirty tons of well-
tended hay, part of which may go off the premises; several
hogsheads and casks in good condition, with sundry other articles.
Sale to commence precisely at Eleven o'clock.
Then in the Hereford Journal of 25 May 1867:
TO BE SOLD BY PRIVATE CONTRACT or
LET (with immediate possession), all that
FAMILY RESIDENCE, with large and productive
Garden, situate in the town of Grosmont, Monmouth-
shire. The House contains a Drawing-room, Sitting-
room, Parlour, and Five Bed-rooms, Kitchen, Laundry,
and other Offices. Also, detached from the above, a
Stable, Coach-house, and Cider-mill. The house com-
mands an extensive view over the surrounding country,
and is situate near the river Monnow, which is very
famous for its trout fishing.
Also to be sold (near to the above) four acres of very
Prime Pasture Orcharding in full bearing.
The Property is Freehold, and is situate within three
miles of the Pontrilas Station, on the Great Western
For further particulars, apply to Mr. John James
Grosmont (the proprieter) or to Mr.Samuel Farmer,
According to Bradney's History of Monmouthshire, Part 1 (1904) (p.:
Kingsfield takes its name from being the place where King Henry III encamped when he was attacked and defeated by Hubert de Burgh
in 1232. In the eighteenth and early part of the nineteenth century this place belonged to a family named James, who seemed to have been an
old family in Grosmont. It was sold to Colonel Scudamore about 1860. The same family also owned Trevyr, the Grug Lodge, and the Town Farm.
Bradney describes Town Farm thus (p.86):
The Town Farm, so called because of its situation at the edge of the town, also belongs to Mrs Gazzard.
At the end of the eighteenth century it belonged to William Roberts James, who in 1806, then residing in Serle Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields,
married Maria Hodges. He died in 1850 at Lested Lodge, near Sutton Vallance, Kent, having had issue Maria, William, Eliza, Amelia, Helen,
Robert Edwards, Henry Brandram, Thomas Lloyd, and Edward Wallwyn.
The house is a very old one, some of it having been apparently built in the early part of the sixteenth century. Over the door is
the date 1673, and on the door-frame of the stable 1671.
Monmouthshire Houses, Part 111, Renaissance Houses, c.1590-1714 by Sir Cyril Fox and Lord Raglan (Merton Priory Press/ National
Museum of Wales, 2nd edition, 1994) includes a plan of the house and photograph, together with the following description:
(pp. 52-53) Town Farm, Grosmont, a fine little house of (...) three-in-two plan (...) is developed from its
neighbour, Upper Tresseny (...) for it has the principal entry at the side. (...) Of two storeys, with attic, it is completely unaltered, with original doors,
windows, and cupboards throughout. [Footnote states: Part of the back wall of the parlour, beside the farm-yard, fell in 1952.] These windows have the
usual angled hoods; they are of four lights, ovolo-moulded, on both floors: the lights are 12 in, wide with intermediate bars. The joists have
bull-nose mouldings. (...) the entrance is central, and the whole layout symmetrical. Entering the lobby, a striking and novel feature in our
tradition, the stairs to the cellar are opposite; beyond is the pantry; doorways with shaped heads on either side lead to rooms, hall, and
parlour, approximately equal in size and similar in character, each with its stairway, to a bedroom above. The house is dated on the outer,
rectangular, door head - 1673. The back doorway has a modern frame, but may be original. A stable, dated 1671, is on the opposite side of the
road; its chamfered door frame and door are original, as are the decorative "trident" hinge-straps: the tall window beside the door, of seven lights,
has diamond mullions. This door and window unit, under the same angled hood, is seen at the house as well as the stable; it is in our experience
peculiar to the parish. It enabled the seventeenth century indwellers, man or horse, to have a peep at a visitor.
Grosmont Chest Tomb - Angelina James
James and Edmonds in Gwent Archives: Documents deposited by Messrs Williams, Son, Pryce and Tweedy
1 February 1688
In the marriage settlement of Thomas Edwards and Sarah Delahay, reference to tenements, etc in the parishes of Skenfreth
and Grosmont near 'the lands late of Phillip James, of William James, of Jane Phillips, widow of Isaack Williams gent.
1 February 1688
Similar but also ending with 'and other lands of Phillip James.'
13 June 1714
Reference to 'a house in the town of Grosmont in the possession of Thomas James as tenant..'
Similar 6 September 1718. Similar 4 May 1713 - all described as 'late of'.(Both filed under parish of Skenfrith).
12 February 1803
25 December 1825
Conveyance. Lease for a year with 4 names including William Edmonds of Skenfreth, farmer (filed under Skenfith).
Charles James gent tenant (with two others) recovery of property, land in Grosmont.
7 February 1849
- Walter Prosser of Much Birch co. Hereford yeoman
- Thomas James of Grosmont co. Mon Blacksmith and Ann his wife
- Edward McCormick of Grosmont, land surveyor and Elizabeth his wife
- Thomas Prosser of Monmouth, draper's assistant
- Elizabeth Prosser of Little Kingsfield par. Grosmont widow
- John Prosser, otherwise John Prosser Williams yeoman
- Thomas Prosser and Edward Carpenter of Kingsfield par. Grosmont, farmer
DECLARATION OF TRUST
£700 a part share arising out of a sale of a mess farm, cottage and certain lands par. Grosmont, invested in public funds
Monmouthshire Merlin 20 September 1834, part of an item on erection of toll gates within the Abergavenny Diistrict of
Turnpike Roads: "A Toll Gate or Bar, across the turnpike road from Abergavenny to Hereford, by the Greege, between a close of land in the occupation
of James Jones, and a close of land in the occupation of Walter James, in the parish of Grosmont."
Monmouthshire Merlin 12 September 1851, leading on from a fire in Llanfoist: "(...) The accident arose from the culpable
conduct of the parents of some of the village children, allowing them to have access to their lucifer match boxes. A fire took place last week in
Grosmont, from the same cause, when Mr. M'Cormack's barn was destroyed, and about sixty bushels of wheat. Surely there is a law in existence that
will reach parents who are so careless as to leave such dangerous articles as lucifer matches within the reach of children."
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