Mary Gummry - Her Box
Some years ago I was contacted by an antique dealer from the Herefordshire/Worcestershire border region who had for sale a rosewood, inlaid box with small mother of pearl roundels connected by thin nickel silver lines. Inside the box in copperplate writing on the original paper lining was the following inscription:- Mary Gummry Her Box Oct 11 1840. According to the dealer the box dated from that time.
It is the sort of box that would be given to a young girl or young woman, maybe for a birthday, and would probably have been used to keep personal precious items locked up. They box has a lock as can be seen by the top photo, but the key had been lost. There would have been a small fitted tray inside, with compartments for jewellery, which is also missing. The lid of the box where the lining is damaged (not shown) would have had a small folding envelope arrangement where letters were kept.
The Mary most likely to have owned this box was Mary Gumery who was baptised on 6 October 1822 at St John the Baptist church in Whitbourne, Herefordshire, the daughter of Timothy Gumery and his wife Mary Dutfield. Timothy was a gardener, and Mary a shopkeeper, living at Ring of Bells in Whitbourne. The Ring of Bells is an historic house dating from around 1450 and was probably the first inn in the village. It is situated near both the church and the manor house, right in the centre of the village. Parts of the house are of medieval cruck construction. The Gumerys lived at Ring of Bells for many years before moving across the road to Kennets Cottage about 1850.
At the time of the 1841 census young Mary, aged 19, was a female servant at Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire. Maybe the rosewood box was given to her as a gift from her family when she left home to go into service, somewhere she could keep a few private things safe.
To see the exterior of the house and the garden, have a look at the BBC website which shows panoramic views using a 360° camera at http://www.bbc.co.uk/herefordandworcester/features/360/worcester/hanbury_hall_index.shtml
As can be seen from the census, the Vernon family was away from Hanbury Hall on census night, leaving a few servants to look after the place. Nineteen year old Mary Gumery must have been quite awe-struck working in such an environment.
On 30 April 1846 Mary Gomery a spinster of Whitbourne married Edmund Soley a mason from Bringsty Common at St John the Baptist church in Whitbourne. Edmund was born c.1818 in Whitbourne, the son of Henry Soley a cooper. Edmund and Mary Soley had several children baptised at Whitbourne:-
At the time of the 1851 census the Soley family were living at Bringsty Common, and Edmund's occupation was bricklayer. Bringsty Common is a large area of unenclosed common land south west of Whitbourne village, part of the manor of Whitbourne.Today it is designated a special wildlife site. In 1861 the Soleys were still living at Bringsty Common and 40 year old Edmund was working as a stonemason employing 1 man. Ten year old son Edmund was employed as a stonemason's boy. Son Michael, aged 11, was described as insane so was most likely handicapped in some way. In 1871 both Edmund senior and Edmund junior were described as masons. In 1881 Edmund aged 63 was a bricklayer living at Bringsty Common with his wife Mary aged 59, and son Michael 29, who was described as handicapped, imbecile. Edmund now aged 73 years, a widower, was still employed as a bricklayer in 1891. His son Michael was still living with him and was described as an "imbecile from birth", and his married daughter, Mary Ashby, was also staying in the house on census night.
Judging by the route the census enumerator took in 1891, the cottage the Soleys lived in was located between the shop on Bringsty Common, and Little Common and Red House. The census enumerator noted in his description of the area that miles have to be traversed in some cases to deliver only a few schedules. The common was dotted with cottages but these could be good distances apart. According to Phyllis Williams in her book Whitbourne: A Bishop's Manor the cottage known as Little Common was at the side of Bringsty where Hogg or Hodge Lane ran towards Lower Elmsores End (was Red House). This would make sense as just east of Lower Elsmore End there was an old clay pit and brick works shown on the 1888 Ordnance Survey map of the area which could well be where Edmund Soley, both father and son, worked. Many of the houses and cottages in the parish were built of brick.
Mary Soley née Gumery, probable owner of Mary Gummry's box, died in late 1887 at Bringsty Common aged 64 years. Her husband Edmund Soley, bricklayer of Bringsty Common was buried on 6 March 1899 at Whitbourne churchyard aged 81 years.
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