Unknown perhaps extraordinary Combe Down cousin coincidence

It was the sort of strange coincidence that seems to call for an alliterative mass market magazine headline, something like “Mattingley makes Maria match” or “Strange Scammell story sensation” but ‘Combe Down cousin coincidence’ got the vote.

You may be wondering what I’m on about, or, even, what I’m on?

Actually, it’s quite simple but a bit strange. I discovered, quite by chance after we have lived here for 31 years, that my (half) brother Phil Scammell’s 1st cousin 4 times removed, used to live next door, at 117 Church Road Combe Down, in 1870/71.

Not only that but her son, Robert Henry Mattingly, was born there in 1870 and her husband, Robert George Mattingly, died there in 1871.

Strangely, I wrote about them, Robert and Maria Mattingly, in my book and on this site, saying “Robert (b.1841) and Maria Mattingly (1841 – 1921) lived at 117 in 1871. Robert had been a joiner but no more has been discovered about them.”

That was because I didn’t know then that Maria was Maria Scammell (1840 – 1901).

That I discovered when David Gardner, an expert on the Scammell family tree, contacted me to gently point out some errors in the family tree I publish and update from time to time.

He also commented ‘Maria c 1841 who died 1901 Barnet her spouse was Robert G Mattingley’. At the time a very soft chime went off in my head, but I did not, then, make the connection.

Then about a week later, considering what to post about for Prior to Now this month, I was paging through the site and saw Robert and Maria Mattingly. The surprise and the connection were instant and, after doing some more digging into the family tree on Ancestry I was able to confirm that they are, indeed, the same people. It’s a bit weird somehow.

Maria was the daughter of Joseph Scammell (1801 – 1875) and Maria Slade (1805 – 1895), who were both born in Edington, Wilts.

Joseph had been a farmer in Ringwood according to the 1841 census, a rail timekeeper at Eling St Mary in the 1851 census but who, by the 1861 census gave his occupation as a “farm bailiff of 160 acres employing 4 men and 2 boys” and was living at 26 Bearfield, Bradford on Avon. Maria had been born whilst he was at Ringwood and in 1864 married Robert George Mattingley (1841 – 1871) in West Derby on Merseyside.

Robert had been born in Chippenham, was a joiner and had, presumably, found work up there. He died aged only 30 at 117 Church Road, Combe Down.

Robert and Maria had 3 sons, Henry Nelson Slade Mattingley (1865 – 1946), George Elliot Mattingly (1867 – 1887) and Robert Henry Mattingly (1870 – 1895).

george elliott mattingley bath chronicle and weekly gazette thursday 13 august 1885
George Elliott Mattingley – Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 13 August 1885

We know that George Elliot Mattingly was born in Liverpool and attended the Bath Government School of Art and Science from an entry in the Chronicle for 1885.

The school was then at 33 Paragon, opposite The Star Inn and later came under the umbrella of the Bath Technical Schools and is now Bath School of Art and Design part of Bath Spa University. Unfortunately he died just 2 years later at the age of 20.

Robert Henry Mattingly was born at 117 Church Road, Combe Down and died when he was only 25. He was an auctioneer’s assistant and lived at 23 Milsom Street, the ground floor of which was Lloyds Bank. He left £127 6s according to probate, a considerable sum for such a young man.

Henry Nelson Slade Mattingley was also born in Liverpool but was baptised in Chippenham. In the 1881 census his occupation is Apprentice Bookseller. He married Edith Mary Butterfant (1866 – 1946) in 1890 and in the 1891 census when he was living in Lakenham his occupation was given as ‘Manager, Fancy Goods Dept.’.

He moved to Barnet by 1901 and became a Commercial Traveller. When he died at Middleton on Sea in 1946 he left £9,919 14s 6d worth between £367,500.00 (commodity value) and £1,846,000.00 (income or wealth value) today, depending on how it’s calculated.

He and his wife had 2 children Nelson Robert Eric Mattingley (1899 – 1986) and Geraldine Mattingley (1900 – 1976). Nelson Robert Eric Mattingley is shown as a schoolboy boarder at Monkton Combe Junior School, Combe Down, Bath in the 1911 census.

Maria died in 1901, leaving £747 8s 8d. She had home in Bath, at 3 George Street, and in Barnet, presumably to be near her remaining son Henry Nelson Slade Mattingley.

So, there you go, nothing earth shattering just a coincidence but one I, at least, found quite interesting.

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Sublime world heritage city of Bath 1700 – 1764

In looking at the history of Combe Down one, inevitably, has to look at the history of Bath 1700 – 1764.

Bath today is very well known, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its natural hot springs and 18th century Georgian architecture.

TripAdvisor describes it thus:

“Known for its restorative wonders, Bath was once the home of Jane Austen. Sure, you could attempt to conjure up this elegant city by reading Pride and Prejudice in your tub, but as Bath has a lot more history than your bathroom (we assume, anyway) you’d be missing out. A stroll through Bath is like visiting an open-air museum, with roughly 5,000 buildings in the city drawing notice for their architectural merit. After your stroll, soak in the natural hot waters of the Thermae Bath Spa, once a favourite of the Celts and Romans.”

However, it was not always like this. Before the ambitions of John Wood, the Elder (1704-1754) and Ralph Allen (1693-1764) to change the medieval city of Bath into one of the world’s most beautiful cities combining Palladian architecture and landscape harmoniously William Stukeley (1687 – 1765) described Bath, in Itinerarium curiosum; or, An account of the antiquities, and remarkable curiosities in nature or art, observed in travels through Great Britain: Volume 1, so: “The small compass of the city has made the inhabitants crowd up the streets to an unseemly and inconvenient narrowness: it is handsomely built, mostly of new stone, which is very white and good; a disgrace to the architects they have there”.

He also includes a map which is shown below.

map of bath from page 339 of itinerarium curiosum
Map of Bath from page 339 of Itinerarium Curiosum

Of course, Bath had first been a Roman city and after they left was probably both in the hands of the Romano British and the Anglo Saxons until the town became Saxon controlled after the Battle of Deorham in 577.

Bath became a religious centre in 675 when a convent was established and later a monastery, the church of which grew to become Bath Abbey.

After the Norman conquest Bath remained a religious centre with the Abbey becoming the seat of the Bishop in 1157 which was confirmed by a Charter in 1256 from Henry II.

During this period Bath also became a centre of the wool trade and became famous for broadcloth.

Bath Abbey still dominated the town and its development until the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII with Bath being dissolved in 1539.

In 1552 a Charter granted the Mayor and citizens of Bath all property previously owned by the Priory in the city. 

Elizabeth I authorized a nationwide collection over seven years to pay for reroofing and reglazing Bath Abbey in 1573 and also decreed that the Abbey should become the Parish Church of the City, causing the closure of all the other churches within the city boundary and thus Bath has no medieval churches.

Elizabeth I also granted the Charter of Incorporation in 1590 so that Bath became a city.

letter from bath from the derby mercury friday 15 february 1754
Letter from Bath – from the Derby Mercury, Friday 15 February 1754

The loss of the monastery and the decline of the wool trade meant that Bath had to find another way to earn its living and tourism seemed to be something the city could do by using its Roman Baths’ heritage and the thermal springs.

The King’s Bath was improved in 1578 and 1624.

The New Bath was built in 1576 to provide better facilities and then renamed Queen’s Bath after Queen Anne of Denmark (wife of James I) visited in 1613 and 1615.

Though times were not always good, especially during the Civil War when the city was looted royal patronage continued to increase the reputation of the city. Charles II brought his wife, Catherine of Braganza in the hoping that this would produce his first legitimate heir.

Mary of Modena, wife of James II, visited Bath in 1687 needing an heir to the throne, and following her visit gave birth to a son – The Old Pretender.

During all this time, Bath never had a population greater than 3,000 and was surrounded by it’s medieval city walls. (There’s a walk that allows you to see them). The population of Bath was to rise to 28,000 by 1801 and 57,000 by 1831.

Ralph Allen became postmaster in Bath in 1712.

By 1726 his contract with the Post Office to run the cross and bye posts for the country had given him the contacts, confidence and cash to acquire the quarries on Combe Down, probably having seen John Wood, the Elder’s plans of 1725 for Bath which developed the town outside the existing city walls and their constrictions and restrictions.

Over the next 40 years the stone from Ralph Allen’s quarries on Combe Down and Wood’s developments such as St John’s Hospital (1727–28), Queen Square (1728–36), Prior Park (1734–41), The Royal Mineral Water Hospital (1738–42), North Parade (1740), South Parade (1743–48) and The Circus (1754–68) transformed Bath from the medieval to a modern and beautiful city.

map of bath 1780
Map of Bath, 1780

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