Thomas’ surname appears in the various records of the time with different spellings, but for simplicity ‘Dewsbery’ will be used in this article, with a summary of the different versions at the end.
Wickhamford Manor was known as Manor Farm in the 1870s and an Electoral Roll for Wickhamford in 1872 lists nine men who were voters due to their occupying land on that farm. To qualify as a voter the man had to be occupying land with a rateable value between £12 and £50. All of the men lived in Evesham and one of those mentioned was Thomas A Dewsbery.
In Littlebury’s Directory and Gazetteer of Worcestershire of August 1873, Thomas A Dewsbery was listed as a farmer at Manor Farm. The only other residents mentioned in the publication were – George Burrows, farmer of Field Farm; Richard Howse, shopkeeper; Mrs Amelia Pethard of the Sandys’ Arms Inn & Wheelwright; Samuel Smith, miller of Wickhamford Mill; William Henry Smith, farmer of Pitchers Hill and Francis Taylor, farmer of The Elms. Thomas Dewsbery’s presence in this short list would seem to confirm that he was residing at Wickhamford Manor at this time. The family of John Phillipps moved into the Manor in about 1874/5, so Thomas Dewsbery’s tenancy would have been fairly brief.
As can be seen below, his life was extremely varied of which his venture into agriculture in Wickhamford formed only a small part.
Thomas Dewsbery was born on 18th June 1832 in St Phillip’s parish of Birmingham. His parents were Daniel and Ann and they had another son, Henry born in May 1834. They then had both sons baptised in St Martin’s Parish, Birmingham on 16th June 1834. Henry died, aged just 6, in 1840. The 1841 census shows that Daniel and Ann, with Thomas (5) and an elder daughter, Emma (10), were living in Sun Street, St Thomas’s parish, Birmingham.
Thomas married Ann Bott in St Phillip’s Parish Church, Birmingham on 6th March 1858 (both of their fathers were builders), but she died in Birmingham in mid-1859. In November 1858 he joined the Great Western Railway and by 31st August 1864 he was the Station Master at Evesham. The GWR records give his middle name as ‘Ashly’. For the 1861 census, as a widower aged 27, he was lodging in High Street, Evesham. Thomas A Dewsbery then married Annie Marion Wheeler in at Old St Pancras Church, London on 24th December 1863. She was described as a widow of Evesham (father Thomas Liley) and his occupation was Coach Proprietor. (At the 1861 census, Thomas had been living at Annie Marion’s house and she was already a widow at that time.) Both signed the Marriage Register and he spelled his name ‘Dewsbery’ at this point. The location of the marriage may indicate that Thomas was employed at this time at St Pancras station as Station Master.
The local Kelly’s Directory of 1870 records that Thomas Dewsbery was a Coal, Corn, Hop and Seed Merchant in Evesham. In the 1871 census, Thomas, Annie and two children – Louise Annie Marion (4) and Thomas Phillip (2) – were living in High Street, Evesham, where both children had been born. His occupation was recorded as ‘Corn Merchant’ and his wife gave an occupation as ’Dealer in Berlin Wools etc.’
The first husband of Annie Marion Wheeler (formerly Liley) was Richard Wheeler, who owned, or ran, a shop which traded in coal, corn, oil cake. He was also a hop and seed merchant and was involved with steam mills. Annie took over the business and did so jointly with Thomas after their marriage. The address was 37/38 High Street - now the Evesham branch of the Nationwide Building Society and the shop next door. (Richard Wheeler died on 3rd February 1861; he had married Annie in May 1857.)
Thomas Dewsbery had started at Evesham station as a clerk and by the 1861 census was a station agent; he was Station Master at St Pancras at the time of his marriage in 1863, having previously held that position at Evesham. On the marriage certificate, Annie was living in Evesham with the occupation of shop owner.
Post Wickhamford life
After his brief stay at Wickhamford Manor in about 1873-1875, Thomas and Annie moved back to London and by the time of the 1881 census he was a Licenced Victualler running the ‘Equestrian Tavern’, 124 Blackfriars Road, Southwark. He died there on 28th March 1886, aged 53. The Probate records show that his Estate amounted to the not inconsiderable sum for the time of £3,866 6s 6d.
In the 1891 census, Annie, widowed and 49, was a licensed victualler at the 'Horse and Groom', 128 Great Portland Street, Marylebone. Also there, were her son, Thomas Philip (22), a cellarman and daughter Louise Annie Marion (24), a barmaid. There were two servants in residence. She remained there until 1898, when she became landlady of the 'Kensington Arms', 41 Abingdon Road, Kensington. In the 1901 census, Annie was living in Hammersmith with her unmarried daughter, Louise, who then married Rev. Cecil John M. Allen later that year. During the period 1902-08, Annie lived with her daughter at Bollingbroke Villa, Bollingbroke Road, Hammersmith.
Annie Dewsbury died at 2 Middleton Road, Islington on 30th September 1910, aged 77 years, leaving effects to the value of £997 5s 5d.
Surname spellings in the records:
- Dewsberry for his baptism in 1834 and 1871 census.
- Dewsbury in the 1841 census and 1872 Electoral Roll and for Annie’s Death record.
- Dewsbery at his two marriages in 1858 and 1863 and in Littlebury’s Directory of 1873.
- Dewesbury in the 1861 census.
- Deuesberry in the ancestry website transcription of the 1871 census.
Tom Locke, February 2018 (addition information added April 2018, thanks to contact being made by Thomas Dewsbery's great great grandson, Mick Warner)