John Jenkins After marriage
Glamorgan and Pembrokeshire 1848-1888?
I think they must have gone to live in Llanblethian because the first lot of children were all born there. This was the time of the boy children - John, the first born who very sadly died as an infant, William, Charles and another John. And maybe Edward. A later census record says he was born in Llanblethian, but he seems to have been christened in Neath.
The children came almost every year so life would have been busy. For most of this time John seems to have worked as a groom - that's what the baptism records tell us, but initially he was a coachman according to the 1851 census - still it's all horses. Maybe he had been working as a gardener in one of the big houses in the area - there were several - but got moved to being a groom - very possibly a promotion. And a steady job for a while at least.
So in 1848 John Jenkins’ bachelor days ended. Although they were married in Wick, John gave his address as LLanblethian and Jane as St. Andrew’s Minor. Both are not that far away from Wick which is Jane’s birthplace. Nevertheless the witnesses are unknown to me - Elizabeth Jones and James Richardson, but I guess Elizabeth could be a sister and James an uncle or even a grandfather? It’s an unprepossessing looking church is it not, although apparently mostly very old. Maybe it’s just that very strange tower. They were both 26 and John was working as a gardener for now, but as we shall see he chopped and changed a bit.
And then we suddenly find them in Neath. I do think suddenly because the next child, Edward seems to have been christened in Neath and yet on census records gives his birthplace as Llanblethian. Neath is some distance away - almost to Swansea - and not at all in their heartland as it were.
I wonder why. Was there a reason they had to leave or was it simply an opportunity. For this is the beginning of the travelling years. It seems that in Neath John made a complete change of direction in career - in Neath he worked for the railways as an official whatever that means. It surely can't have been a high up official as he had not worked in this kind of job before. A ticket collector, a ticket issuer, a ticket inspector? Interesting though that he is moving away from hard labouring kind of jobs. I assume railway official does not include the coal heavers, the drivers or the builders of the railways themselves. For this was the age of the railways after all. So I suspect that somebody had fired him up about opportunity.
On the family front there seems to have been a bit of a pause. I wonder if this had anything to do with the move. Try as I might I cannot find any births between Edward's in 1853 or 4 and Mary Jane's in 1858. And I have also just found that Mary Jane very probably had a twin sister - Margaret. I have found christening records for both which note the same occupation for the father, and the same parents, so I am assuming that Margaret died. So rejoicing at having a girl at last and grief at losing one of them.
When you work for the railways you are at the mercy of the needs of the railway and in 1860 we find the growing family in Pembrokeshire, further still to the west, in the town of Haverfordwest, where John is now a railway policeman, according to the baptismal record of his next daughter Annie Maria.
But within a year, by the time of the 1861 census he has changed jobs again - again something completely different - a bookseller. And he remains in this job for some years to come, although it undergoes different name changes - Traveller, Book Agent. Maybe he was not hardened enough to be a railway policeman. They stayed in Haverfordwest for some time and another daughter, Elizabeth Ann was born in 1862 but I do not know when they finally left, although like her brother Edward she seems to have been christened in one place (Haverfordwest) and yet gives her birthplace as another - Aberdare - in the 1871 census. Maybe they became homesick because in 1865 when their next child George Duncan is born they are in Aberdare back in Glamorgan - a little further north than their homeland but basically in the same area.
And here they stayed until at least the 1871 census - at 50 Cardiff Road, which I am guessing is the main road to Cardiff. The picture below is of a terrace house in the area. I have no idea how old it is, but I am pretty sure the house they lived in would not have been any bigger. William had left home by 1871 but there were still John and Jane and nine children ranging in age from 19 to 2. How did they all fit in? And the three older boys were all working as iron puddlers - pouring hot iron, whilst John worked away selling books. Maybe door to door or maybe with a street stall.
And that's really the last we hear of John and his wife Jane. I am not even sure when they died. There are a few possible deaths - its the commonality of that name again, and so I have not yet applied for death certificates. He seems to have been alive when Margaret married in 1886, so I think the most likely option is a death in 1889 when John would have been 66 - a goodly but not really old age. But then he would have had a hard life. All those children to bring up on small wages. A life of servitude, largely in small country towns and villages but ending in a larger, busier one. And that interesting period of selling books and working on the railways.
The next ten years would have been filled with many changes in their lives, but because they are all just ordinary people who kept the peace we have no records other than marriages. And so we do not know what happened to John and Jane as their children grew and gradually left home.
I do fear that one thing that happened was an accident at the workplace of the iron puddlers. I cannot find two of the sons after this census - but as always with names like Jenkins - John, Charles and Edward, they could be anywhere.
Suffice to say that by 1881 they are down to three children at home - George, Margaret and Sidney, who is now 13, and they are now in Bridgend. What I know about the other children (very little really) is on the page about the children.
The other major change is that John has changed his job once more and has returned to a much earlier job - maybe the one he always really loved - coachman. Or maybe he just liked to be around horses. Whether he performed this service for some local wealthy landowner or on a public coach it is impossible to tell. And coincidentally or not, living with them is one William Evans from Wick a retired coachman and widower. Is this Jane's father? At her birth he was a mason, and he is not described as father-in-law in the census - but he does come from Wick. A relative of some kind perhaps. Either way it seems to be a return to roots for all concerned.