Martha was born in approximately 1755 (maiden name unknown). On February 10, 1773, at eighteen years of age, she married Philip (otherwise Phillip, “Goodfellow,” or "Goodchild") Rowland at the parish church of St. Giles, Bloomsbury. The son of one William Rowland, Philip was a shoemaker who had spent the first five years of his apprenticeship under Thomas Tweedy, in a court “at the upper end of Grays Inn Lane” in the parish of St. Andrew, Holborn. He had then been turned over to William Wiseman to serve the remaining two years of his indenture. Wiseman’s shop was located on Conduit Street in the parish of St. Martin in the Field. Philip may have been in the final year of his apprenticeship, or newly released from its bonds, when he married Martha. He could sign his name. His wife, however, could only make a mark. At some time between August and November, 1774, Martha was delivered of a son who was named Philip (erroneously listed as "Richard" in one workhouse register).
Hard times soon fell upon the young family. Martha claimed that her husband had not worked at a single placement for twelve months altogether; rented a tenement "of 10 pounds by the year"; or taken a house in the months following the completion of his apprenticeship.
In the summer of 1775, when Martha became pregnant, Philip was working for John Atkinson and Adam Dunford, shoemakers in Newport Street. However, this placement did not turn out well for the young man. In early August, he was accused of stealing two pairs of shoes from his masters’ shop and was incarcerated in Tothillfields Bridewell to await trial. He was brought before the Old Bailey on September 13, 1775, and faced the charge of stealing one pair of shoes valued at five shillings. Philip’s employer, Atkinson, described to the court how he had noticed several pairs of shoes gone missing, including a pair of gentleman’s shoes which disappeared on the tenth or eleventh of August. John Duperry, servant to Mr. Jarvis, a pawnbroker in Fetter-Lane, testified that Philip ―under the alias of Thomas Gardner― had pawned a pair of shoes which were marked “D.A.” (for Dunford and Atkinson, the shoemakers). Five witnesses gave Philip a good character. He was found guilty of the lesser charge of theft to the value of ten pence and sentenced to seven years’ transportation. Philip awaited his fate in Newgate Prison.
Luckily for Philip, his crime coincided with the onset of the American War of Independence and the cessation of convict transportation to the American colonies. A petition was made on Philip’s behalf and, on October 18, 1775, he was granted a free pardon.
Martha, however, was (or affected to be) ignorant of this happy turn of events. On November 1, 1775, a still-pregnant Martha and one-year-old Philip entered the workhouse at St. Martin in the Field. When examined before the parish committee later that week, she claimed that her husband was “under sentence of transportation” while advancing her family’s claim to relief. It seems her petition was successful as Martha remained in the workhouse. After a Christmas spent in the institution, the child Philip died on January 18, 1776. Martha gave birth to a daughter, Ann, on January 27. Mother and daughter were discharged on February 28, 1776.
On October 22, 1776, Martha and her daughter entered the workhouse and stayed for one week. Four years later, on April 12, 1780, Martha made her third visit to the institution. She was once again pregnant and accompanied by four-year-old Ann. Ann was discharged on May 8, possibly to a parish nurse, and Martha on May 31. Between then and early July, Martha produced another child, a boy named Thomas. On July 12, 1780, she entered the workhouse with her new son, but “Left ye house” alone on August 26. Three days later, Thomas died.
On December 22, 1782, Martha was delivered of a daughter, who was also named Martha. Martha Sr. was later to claim this daughter was her husband’s child. On May 19, 1785, now nine years of age, Ann was admitted to the workhouse and discharged to Nurse Carpenter at Teddington, with whom she remained for one year, until May 23, 1786. Ann spent another year and five months under parish care from August, 1786, to January, 1788. Ann probably died at some time between January and August, 1788, just as another daughter, Jane, was born of Martha.
At thirty-three years old, Martha entered the workhouse for the fifth time on August 18, 1788, together with Jane. The following day, Jane died. Martha was discharged on August 22.
Mary Ann was born on June 23, 1789; Martha claimed Mary Ann was her husband’s child. On February 6, 1790, Martha was once again examined before the parish board. It was recorded that Philip Rowland had been transported to Botany Bay and that Martha Jr. and Mary Ann were Martha’s sole surviving children. A footnote to the document, added on June 18, however, noted that “Goodfellow i.e. Philip Rowland came… & declares he was never abroad & served with his father Wm. Rowland at Grays Inn Gate… his said Master Wiseman 2pr/ Wk until his apprt. expired.”
Philip's sudden re-appearance in 1790 raises several unanswered questions: Why did Martha claim that her husband had been transported to New South Wales? How could Martha have been ignorant of the free pardon when she had two surviving children (Martha Jr. and Mary Ann) by her husband who were conceived after the granting of the free pardon? Had Philip Rowland committed a second crime at some time between October 1788 and February 1790 (unlikely, since there are no Old Bailey records to support this)? Were the two daughters truly legitimate? Did Martha stick to the old transportation tale in order to improve her chances of obtaining relief?
Martha Sr., Martha Jr., and Mary Ann entered the workhouse on February 8, 1790. While Martha Sr. and Mary Ann remained only for ten days, Martha Jr. remained until early May. One month later, Martha Jr. was back in the workhouse but, in August, was “Bound apprentice to Mr. Miller, Tambour Worker White Horse Lane Mile End New Town.” Martha Jr. does not appear in any further records of the parish of St. Martin in the Field. On November 26, 1790, Martha Sr. and Mary Ann stayed in the workhouse for a little over a month. Mary Ann does not appear in any further records of the parish of St. Martin in the Field. An infant Mary Rowland (too young to be Mary Ann) was under parish care in April, 1791, and put out to nurse; this Mary may or may not have been Martha’s daughter.
From 1805 onwards, Martha continued to move in and out of the workhouse; however, she was now always alone. She entered five times during the late summer months of 1805, 1807, 1808, 1810, and 1812 and usually remained from one to four months. This time of year seemed particularly difficult for Martha. She entered the workhouse for the last time on August 5, 1817, and was recorded as being fifty-nine years of age (although probably sixty-two). She “Absented” herself on November 14. Martha subsequently disappears from the parish records.
Between the age of twenty and sixty-two, Martha Rowland made thirteen separate visits to the workhouse of St. Martin in the Field. As a young wife, she typically entered with one or two of the six children to whom she gave birth (at minimum), but without her husband ―who makes only fleeting appearances in the parish records. On several occasions, Martha departed from the workhouse alone and childless.
Children of Martha Rowland
1. Philip: born between August and November, 1774; died January 18, 1776, in workhouse
2. Ann: born January 27, 1776, in workhouse; died between January and August, 1788
3. Thomas: born between May and July, 1780; died August 29, 1780, in workhouse
4. Martha: born December 22, 1782; bound apprentice August, 1790
5. Jane: born summer, 1788; died August 19, 1788, in workhouse
6. Mary Ann: born June 23, 1789; last recorded alive in January, 1791
Created by mwebber.
Last Modification: Monday 25 of April, 2011 22:53:51 BST by mwebber.
The original document is available at http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/londonliveswiki/tiki-index.php?page=Rowland%2C+Martha+%28c.1755-%29