The MALE Family Gatherings
Recollecting Thomas & Anna Male
[ Brief Outline ]
[ Marriage Cert ]
[ 50th Anniv.(1913) ]
[ 60th Anniv.(1923) ]
[ 70th Anniv.(1933) ]
ANNA Ann MALE (nee PRIDDLE)
b. Spring 1842 in Langport district.
Dtr. of Stephen and Ann Priddle, was youngest of 7 children. An early literate (due to parents working in service). Poss. became a district nurse/midwife. Administered 13 turnpike cottages in turn during first 6 years of marriage. Enterprising, later ran a shop from her house in Kingsbury where she collected china and dinner services, selling to young needy couples on an instalment basis. Suffered from senility late in life.
d. Summer 1935 aged 93 after 71 years marriage.
On 7th November 1863 Thomas Male married Anna Ann Priddle at the Zion Chapel in Hambridge, in the district of Langport, Somerset, according to the rites and ceremonies of the Bible Christians - a evangelist denomination of Methodist origin founded in 1815 by a Cornish lay preacher named William O'Bryan, and whose eventual 32,000 members, 218 lay preachers and 652 chapels were merged in the United Methodist Church in 1907.
Thomas's father Hugh Male was about 70 years old at the time of his 23 year old son's wedding. Thomas's mother Dinah (b.1798) was also undoubtedly present, as both his parents were to live another 23 years. Dinah was Hugh Male's second wife, yet they were to eventually share 52 years of married life together.
The marriage witnesses included Anna's brother Charles Priddle, who became a close and lifelong friend of Thomas. As far as is known, the Registrar (John Male) was not related!
1913 - The 50th Wedding Anniversary
A group photograph exists of the 26 English Male/Priddle family members who met together for Thomas and Anna Male's Golden Wedding anniversary in 1913. Their three eldest sons had emigrated to the United States some years before and, having young families of their own, could not all return to be present - although all three did make the trip back for the 60th anniversary ten years later. In 1913 only Charles ("C.W.") and his wife made the trip from the U.S.
The photo was taken in front of "Sunnyside", the small family house in the village of Kingsbury Episcopi, Somerset England. The reproduction (left) is from a photocopy, and although an enlargement is viewable, the image quality should improve greatly when a scan of the original photo becomes available soon.
The local newspaper may have carried an article about the Golden Wedding anniversary, but no research has been carried out in this area yet.
1923 - The 60th Wedding Anniversary
At least three photographs exist of Thomas and Anna's 1923 anniversary on on Wednesday 7th November, taken at "Sunnyside" in Kingsbury Episcopi with a total of 30 members of the family present.
The Older Generation
The Younger Generation
The first photograph includes all of Thomas and Anna's 6 surviving children (together with their spouses). The 3 eldest sons had long emigrated to Schenectady in America but even they returned for the celebrations, despite the lengthy sea voyage and the inclement time of year.
Of the couple's then-26 grandchildren, 10 were American-born (many with offspring of their own) and unable to attend, but of the English 16 all except one were present and were photographed as a separate second group.
According to an American newspaper article another 34 American descendants celebrated separately in Schenectady, New York, USA. The local Somerset newspaper is likely to have carried an article about the Diamond Anniversary too but again there has been no research in this area yet.
Recollections of the day
In 1998 the 3 youngest grandchildren (Marion Winslade in Cornwall, her cousin George Male in Selsey, Sussex and George's sister Dinah Hobbs in Woking, Surrey) were still surviving and could recall the 1923 event.
Dinah Hobbs was only 3 years and 6 months old in November 1923, and yet she distinctly remembers "...being lined up, and being told to watch the birdy. And I can remember I complained bitterly because I couldn't see one! Later on I was given the robin off the wedding cake, probably because of the fuss I'd made earlier about the birdy. And I tried to eat it, but it was made of plaster.."
"I remember the dress I wore too, it was made of pink silk and decorated with either crocheted or knitted thread. The top was plain, and the silk thread was attached to the skirt. I think my sisters [Berth and Kath] would have made it for me."
"But that's about all I remember of the event. We [the grandchildren] must have been indoors when the others were photographed, because I have no memory of it at all... We [the Selsey family] would have gone down to Somerset by train of course, nobody had any cars in those days. We always stayed with Aunt Kate [Jeanes] at Deadlands Farm. Whenever we visited we would get off the train at Martock, and Uncle Jack [Jeanes] or Bern would fetch us from there in a cart."
George Male recalls that his parents gave Thomas and Anna a rug that they had made as an anniversary present, formed of rag pieces rather than wool, and with a central diamond pattern woven into it.
A closer examination of parts of the grandparents' and grandchildren's photographs reveals some interesting points about the occasion. For example:
Second son Charles (C.W.) appears to be wearing a flower decoration in his buttonhole (see detail). It is doubtful that this was his normal attire, and so perhaps he chose it deliberately to celebrate the occasion or to add a touch of "wedding" humour. For whatever reason, he was the only one dressed thus.
Grandmother Anna, with hands crossed in her lap, is holding a small thin object in her right hand. It seems most like an iron doorkey, with possibly a small partly-hidden tag attached to it (see detail). Perhaps she had just unlocked the rarely-used front door in order to bring out the four chairs they sat on. "Sunnyside" was actually two dwellings, and the front door opened into a stone passage leading to two family quarters. Thomas and Anna lived in the righthand dwelling with windows at the rear. Rather than use the front door, their dwelling was usually entered via a store room built on the righthand side of the house. The store room window and boarding is just visible in the top right of the grandchildren's photo. At the time of the photo one high pane of glass from the store room window was broken, but as they stored and sold potatoes and other homegrown provisions there the extra ventilation was probably of little consequence!
The left front gate of "Sunnyside" was removed for the benefit of the camera. The grandparents' photo shows the gate-post hinges, while the edge of the metal gate itself is just visible where it was temporarily propped up against the lower side fence in the background of the grandchildren's photo (see details). A matching right front gate was probably swung back on its own hinges out of sight, while the photographer stood outside on the road to capture the two groups in full.
It is also noticeable that there are only four chairs used in each of the large group photos, which was probably the maximum number of seats in the house in 1923.
1933 - The 70th Wedding Anniversary
Thomas and Anna Male were married for 71 years until Anna's death but, unlike their diamond wedding year, there was apparently no major family get-together in 1933 to celebrate their 70th Anniversary and thus no photographic record of the particular day (although a small photograph does exist [shown] of Anna aged 92 in 1934).
When asked in the early 1990s about the 70th anniversary, granddaughter Kath Terry said that '..I think we were all afraid the excitement would be too much for them - they were both in their nineties by then, and a big party might well have finished one of them off!'
The economics of the early '30s may have played a part too. The post-war boom of the early '20s was over, and for the American relatives the Wall Street Crash of 1929 had led to the Great Depression, making time off for overseas travel more difficult and uncertain. Britain too was suffering similar large increases in unemployment, and family trips could be expensive.
And as youngest granddaughter Dinah Hobbs recalls, there were also other age-considerations: 'Well, Anna was senile by then, she'd been getting worse and worse for several years... Grandpa Thomas (or "Gramps", the Somerset folks called him), he was still alright, but Grandma... she'd go wandering off where nobody could find her for hours... I was up in Somerset [from Selsey] that summer on holiday, and one day I was pushing Janet [Sis's daughter] out in the pram when I came across her just walking, and she thought I was my mother! And then she asked if it was my child! I was only thirteen at the time! Of course I still led her along though, saying "Yes Grandma, it is!" And then she immediately reached deep into the pockets of her black dress, pulled out a fruit and just said "Have a plum!" She was very strange and erratic by that time...'
Sadly, extreme old age can affect people in different ways. Born in 1843, Anna Male had in her lifetime been a district nurse/midwife, a turnpike keeper & administrator and finally a domestic shopkeeper (selling goods to the villagers from the family home in Kingsbury). Her contribution to her children's education and success must have been immense, and the gradual change from her mid-eighties onwards must have been sad and difficult for those who'd known her from earlier.
In complete contrast, Anna's daughter Kate Jeanes (who was reportedly highly pleased when she eventually overtook her mother's final age of 93!) had a very sharp memory almost till the day she died. She provided a remarkable handwritten article for the Kingsbury Episcopi School Centenary 1878-1978 when 96 years of age.
But most telling of all with regard to the 70th anniversary, by 1933 two more of Thomas and Anna's children had died as well - their youngest daughter Maud in Selsey, Sussex (d.1931 of tuberculosis, like her sister Lilian in 1915) and youngest son Hubert (d.1932) in Somerset, who had taken over his father's blacksmith shop in Kingsbury after Thomas's retirement. Furthermore just eight days after the November 1933 anniversary date, their son-in-law Courtney George Male (daughter Maud's Selsey blacksmith husband) also died from a protracted cancer. Perhaps in their extreme old age Thomas and Anna were mercifully less aware of the effects of time on the rest of the group from ten years before, instead passing their 70th anniversary quietly and informally, with just a few friends and family calling in to congratulate them on the day.
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