The young couple both give their address as Ber Street - depicted in the painting below, which would give credence to the theory that they were already living together and young parents. Roger's occupation at the time is 'servant' which could mean a pretty wide range of things.
On 26th December, 1838, (Boxing Day - the day after Christmas) Roger, aged 24 married Elizabeth Chettleborough who was only 17. It was a Church of England wedding by Banns, so I am assuming that Elizabeth was not a Catholic. Their first born son James had been born earlier in the year - he was baptised in April as James John Chettleborough the illegitmate son of Elizabeth. No mention of Roger, but we have to assume surely, that he was the father. . A common enough story in this and every other family tree but it might explain why Elizabeth, who was a minor (the marriage record says as much), must have had her parents’ consent to marry. This was not a rushed by Licence affair. Her brother-in-law was a witness, which I guess is some kind of endorsement from the family. I do not know who Charlotte Baxter, the other witness is.
Roger James Magee Marriage no.1
Yet again one has to ask whether this was a love match or a forced marriage after a foolish sexual liaison. Maybe the birth of the child had drawn them closer together. Maybe pressure was brought to bear from her family. As always, who knows? And yet again I find myself hoping that it was youthful passion as no doubt most people would today - I do not, however, think that romantic love in the modern sense was necessarily a factor in marriage in the early nineteenth century even amongst the poor, and even though artists were prone to depict it in their works - the one at the top of the page is by Edvard Munch, so somewhat later, but relatively timeless and appropriately ambiguous I think.
There are a few more pieces of information - Roger is now calling himself Roger (spelt Rodger Maggee) and cannot sign his name. Elizabeth, on the other hand, can at least write her name. But then her father, John, is a gamekeeper, which is a somewhat higher calling than labourer which is Roger's father's current position in life.
Without further birth and/or baptismal records (as yet unobtained) I cannot say what Roger worked at throughout the marriage. There seems to be only one more child - John who was born in 1841. This seems strange considering the times and the fact that Roger was a Catholic, but then again, there could have been miscarriages or problems with fertility.
So what else do we know about this first marriage? In 1841, as I said, their second son, John, was born. He was four months old at the time of the census which was taken in June - so a February baby? The family was now living at Fishgate Street, which no longer seems to exist, though Fishergate does. Indeed I found an old map and there it is - what is now Fishergate, was called Fishgate Street and this is a view of it, from one end, below.
Roger (still Maggee) is now a bricklayer. Why and how? Well why is probably because bricklayers got paid more than servants, and also it is an open-air job - Roger ended up as a gardener after all. How is a bit trickier. I would not have thought he undertook an apprenticeship, though I confess I have not investigated this. More likely is that he began as a labourer for a brickie and gradually learnt the trade. Bricklayers were skilled workers and as such commanded higher wages than unskilled labourers and this was boom times for builders. Another ancestor - this time a Dearman ancestor - James - was a bricklayer and I have written in more detail about bricklayers in his story.
So the marriage seems to have been going reasonably well - James was employed and earning money and there were only two children to feed and look after, which must have given Elizabeth more free time too, but then tragedy strikes, although not in the usual way. In 1845 both Elizabeth and her younger son John, then aged four die. They both died from smallpox after vaccination. Apparently even then the chances of this happening were pretty small - I have seen numbers as low as 3%. But then I guess somebody has to be in that 3% and unfortunately it looks as if Elizabethand her son were two of these. She was 24. Her son, just 4. Roger's mother witnessed the deaths, and they were both buried in the church of St. Martin at Palace, but died in the hamlet of Thorpe from which Elizabeth came.
So at the age of 30 Roger suddenly found himself a widower, with a young son to care for. (The lovely painting at left is therefore not quite right, but I'm sure it captures the spirit of how he felt.) He seems to have regressed to labourer rather than bricklayer, so was this another downturn in his fortunes? His mother was with him when Elizabeth died and reported the death to the authorities. Maybe she took charge of little James too. Another common enough story in our family tree. How did Roger cope?