The Blower Family

by Dave Edwards.

Memorial plaque in Capel Mawr

THE BLOWER FAMILY 

In Victorian times it was a custom for many people to name their children after relatives.  This can lead to confusion, so I will use numbers in parenthesis to indicate which person is which).  

On the 1871 census we find coal miner, 40-year-old William Blower (01), and his 37-year-old wife, Ann.  They are living at Cefn Mawr in the Parish of Ruabon.  Their children are: 15-year-old Robert Blower, a coal miner; 13-year-old Philip Blower, also a coal miner; 10-year-old Elizabeth Blower, a scholar; 5-year-old John Blower (01); 3-year-old William Blower (02) (born 6th June 1868) and 5-months-old Thomas Blower (born 15th September 1870).  

On the 1881 census, William (01) and Ann Blower were both shown as being 49 years old.  William was a coal miner and they were living at Plasbennion, in the Parish of Ruabon.  22-year-old Philip Blower was a coal miner; 20-year-old Elizabeth Blower was shown as a miner’s daughter; 15-year-old John Blower (01) was a miner’s labourer; 12-year-old William Blower (02) was a scholar; 10-year-old Thomas Blower was a scholar; 8-year-old Mary Blower was a scholar; 6-year-old Sarah (02) A. Blower was a scholar and Alice Blower was two years old (born 22nd March 1878).     

On 3rd December 1883, 21-year-old John Blower (01), a collier of Plasbennion, married 20-year-old spinster, Sarah (01) Jones of Afoneitha.  John’s father was shown as William Blower (01), a collier and Sarah’s father was shown as William Jones, a collier.  It seems that John Blower was a bit relaxed with the truth about his age, as the census and his birth registration both show that he was only 18 at the time of his marriage.     

On 24th May 1887, at the County Magistrate’s Court, before John James, Esq., John Griffiths, a collier of Afoneitha, Rhos, was in custody charged with stealing a silver watch, valued at fourteen shillings and sixpence, from John Blower (01) of Afoneitha on 23rd May 1887.  Mr. Blower said that on 23rd May (Ruabon Fair day) his wife, Sarah, had brought the watch down to the kitchen, intending to take it to her husband, who was at the fair.  It was left in the house and went missing.  There were some children in the house and Hannah Davies was there and saw the prisoner sitting by the fire.  When Sergeant Frederick Jones arrested the prisoner in Charles Street, Wrexham on 24th April he admitted having taken the watch.  John Lewis of Rhos said he purchased it for five shillings from a man named Thomas Hughes of Acrefair.  Thomas Hughes, a brick maker of Acrefair, said he sold the watch for the prisoner, who said it belonged to his father. The money from the sale was divided between Thomas Hughes and John Griffiths.  John Griffiths pleaded guilty and was sent to gaol for two months with hard labour.  The magistrates censured the action of the persons who had bought and sold the watch.  It appeared that the prisoner had been previously convicted at the Denbighshire Quarter Sessions in January 1885 for obtaining fifteen shillings and five pence by false pretences and was then sent to gaol for a month. 

In November 1887, Edward Jones and Jon Blower, colliers of Penycae, were summoned by William Edwards of Plasbennion, who accused them of assaulting hi in the Cross Foxes Inn at Penycae on 1st October 1887.  Mr. L. Kenrick appeared for Mr. Edwards.  William Edwards was summoned by Sarah Blower, wife of John Blower.  The Magistrates dismissed the case of Blower versus Edwards.              

At the County Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, 12th June 1890, before W. Thomas Esq. and J. Bury Esq., Mr. Ll. Kenrick, representing John Blower (01) of Afoneitha, charged Edward Jones of Afoneitha and Thomas Jones of Tai Smith, Groes, with threatening to kill John Blower.  Mr. Blower gave evidence as to the threats and showed a mark on his neck, where he said Thomas Jones had bitten him.  He said that the defendants had burst his door open and threatened to kill him and make broth of him.  He had felt in danger of his life.  P.C. Jones said that on the Monday night, John Blower went to his house to tell him that there was some bother with his brother-in-law at Afoneitha.  On Tuesday Mr. Blower visited P. C. Jones again and at 10 p.m. the constable went to Afoneitha and on approaching he heard a great noise, but on his arrival all was quiet.  Both defendants denied the charge but they were bound over to keep the peace in the sum of £20 each, and two sureties of £10 each.  It is of interest to note that £10 in 1890 was the equivalent of over £1,000 today.               

On 6th December 1890, John Blower (01), aged 27, was killed at Wynnstay Colliery, Ruabon.   An inspection was made and an inquest attended.  It was decided that a fall of coal from the face had knocked out a prop, letting down the top coals onto the deceased.  There should have been a sprag (a short wooden prop set in a slanting position for supporting the coal) against the face.  The death registration showed John Blower’s age as 28.  He was born in 1865, so he would actually have been only 25. 

The 1891 census showed 60-year-old collier, William Blower (01) and his 58-year-old wife Ann to be living at Plasbennion in the Parish of Ruabon.  With them were their children: 22-year-old William Blower (02), a collier; 20-year-old Thomas Blower, a collier; 18-year-old Mary Blower; 16-year-old F A. Blower and 12-year-old Alice Blower.  The family were all born at Cefn Mawr, apart from Ann Blower who was born at Penycae.              

Also in 1891, we find 29-year-old widow, Sarah (01) A. Blower living at Copperas Hill, Afoneitha, Penycae.  Sarah was the widow of John (01) Blower (son of William (02) and Ann Blower).  With her were her children: 6-year-old William E. Blower (03); 4-year-old Thomas Blower (02); 2-year-old John Blower (02) and 1-month-old Robert Blower.  Sadly, Robert Blower died aged one year and his death was registered at the beginning of 1892.   

At the end of 1893, widow Sarah (01) Blower married Richard Jones.   

By 1901, 36-year-old Sarah (01) and 30-year-old coal miner Richard Jones were living at 1 Hill Street, Penycae.  Sarah’s son, 17-year-old William Edward Blower (03), was a coal miner (a filler working below ground); her 15-year-old son, Thomas Blower (02)  was also a coalminer (a horse driver below ground); her other two sons from her first marriage were 13-year-old John Blower (02) and 7-year-old Richard Blower (Richard was born about six months before the marriage of Sarah To Richard Jones, so it is safe to assume he is Richard’s son, but born too early to have his surname).  From her marriage to Richard, Sarah had two children: 5-year-old Robert Jones and 3-year-old Elizabeth Jones, both born at Pentre. 

By 1901, 65-year-old widow Ann Blower was living at 4 Bryn Terrace, Ruabon.  Her children were: 32-year-old William Blower (02), a retired coal miner; 30-year-old Thomas Blower (01), a coal hewer and 28-year-old Mary Blower.  Also present were Ann’s son-in-law, 24-year-old John Alfred Davies (born 1st July 1876), a brickyard labourer from Welshpool, Montgomeryshire and his daughter, 8-months-old Annie Davies.  In the Spring of 1900, John Alfred Davies had married Ann’s daughter, Alice Blower.           

In the autumn of 1904 a marriage was registered between 18-year-old Thomas Blower (02), [son of Sarah (01) & John (02)], and 22-year-old Sarah (03) Jones (born on 25th June 1882). 

In the autumn of 1906 a marriage was registered between 18-year-old John Blower  (02), [son of Sarah (01) & John (01)], and 20-year-old Susannah (01) Wright (born 26th March 1887 in Skelmersdale, Lancs.).  

By 1911, 40-year-old unmarried coal miner, Thomas Blower (01), was head of the Household at 4 Bryn Terrace, Ruabon.  His widowed mother, Ann Blower, was 78 years of age.  Her son, 42-year-old unmarried William Blower (02), was a jobbing gardener.  Ann’s son-in-law, 34-year-old John Alfred Davies, was a coal miner and had been married to Ann’s daughter Alice for almost eleven years.  32-year-old Alice Davies had given birth to four children, all of whom had survived.  Alfred (his preferred name) and Alice had four children with them: 10-year-old Mary Ann Davies; 8-year-old Florrie Davies; 6-year-old Herbert Davies and 1-year-old Magdalene Davies. 

In 1911, 25-year-old Thomas Blower (02) [son of John (01) & Sarah (01) Blower] and his 29-year-old wife Sarah (03) were living at 67 Hall Street, Rhos.  Thomas was a coal miner/hewer.  They had been married 7 years and three of their four children had survived.  They were: 7-year-old Ivor Blower; 3-year-old George Blower and 1-year-old Sarah (04) Ann Blower (born 31st July 1909). 

Also in 1911, 23-year-old John Blower (02) [son of John (01) & Sarah (01) Blower] and his 25-year-old wife, Susannah (01) Blower (born in Skelmersdale, Lancs.), were living at 10 Pentrefelin, Rhos.  John was a coal miner/hewer.  They had been married five years and had three children – 4-year-old William (04) E. Blower (born 8th November 1906); 2-year-old John (03) Ernest Blower and 3-months-old Robert Blower (born 24th December 1910).            

In 1915, Corporal Tom Blower of 67 Hall Street was in a hospital at Tewkesbury, Gloucester, suffering from rheumatism.  In a letter to his wife Sarah (03) he wrote: I feel much disappointed at not being able to come home.  I have had to go to bed again, so it will be some time before I am able to come.  However, you need not worry for it is nothing serious.  To me being in bed is worse than prison and I am longing for my liberty.  I expect I shall have to go to France again for there are a lot of Germans left.  My nurse is Lady York and I am getting along alright.”  

In 1915, Private Johnnie Blower (02), Mountain Street, Rhos, of the “G” Company, 4th Battalion, R.W.F. had been on active service since November 1913.  He featured in the Rhos Herald (27th February 1915) because he’d named his six weeks old son Winston Mons Blower.  Winston was born on 6th January 1915.      

In 1915, Private John Blower (02) [Thomas’s brother] of Mountain Street was also fighting in the war.  Both brothers were in the 4th Battalion (Territorials) of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.  On 30th September 1922 a wooden plaque was unveiled in Capel Mawr, Rhos that commemorates soldiers involved in the First World War.  Thomas (02) and John (02) Blower’s names are shown on the list of those soldiers who survived the war.  

A document (Army Form B. 268A) dated 29th August 1917 showed that Lance Corporal Thomas (02) Blower (No. 316655), of the 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers was discharged at Shrewsbury as he was no longer physically fit for war service.  His military character was described as being very good.  At the time of his discharge, Thomas was 31 years and 2 months old; he was 5 feet 8½ inches tall; he was of dark complexion wit blue eyes and brown hair and his trade was that of collier.  His place of residence was 67 Hall Street, Wrexham.                  

In the Spring of 1921, Ann Blower died, aged 86.   

In early 1935, Sarah (04) Ann Blower [daughter of Thomas (02) and Sarah (03) Blower] married Idris P. Jones. 

In the Spring of 1935, Winston M. Blower [a son of John (01) & Susannah (01) Blower] married Susannah (02) Morris (born 21st April 1917).   

In late 1936 Robert Blower [a son of John (02) & Susannah (01) Blower] married Lily Morris (born 7th April 1910).  In 1939, 29-year-old Robert Blower and his 29-year-old wife Lily were living at 197 Holt Road, Wrexham.  Robert was a plasterer’s labourer, doing heavy work.  Robert and Lily had a daughter called Maureen M. Blower, born 8th March 1938.  In the summer of 1958, Maureen married George W. Humphreys.       

 In 1939, builder’s labourer, Winston Mons Blower, aged 24 [a son of John (02) & Susannah (01) Blower] and his 22-year-old wife, Susannah (02) were living at 43 Hightown Road, Wrexham.  There was one other member of the household, whose name was blacked out for confidentiality reasons.      

On the 1939 Register, Sarah (04) Ann [daughter of Thomas (02) and Sarah (03) Blower] and Idris P. Jones (born 16th August 1911) were living at 18 Cheshire View, Wrexham.  Idris was a journeyman hairdresser.  Living with them was Sarah’s widowed mother, 57-year-old Sarah (03) Blower. 

Also on the 1939 Register we find 52-year-old Susannah (01) Blower, the widow of John Blower (02).  She is described as a householder and is living at 15 Rhostyllen Cottages, Wrexham.  Living with her was her unmarried son, William Blower (04), aged 32, who was a miner, clearing dirt after the coal cutter (heavy work).  There was also a lodger, 32-year-old Charles Edwards, who was doing the same duties as William. 

The last 1939 Register I found was for 4 Bryn Terrace, Wrexham and showed 69-year-old Thomas Blower (01) [son of William (01) and Ann Blower] and 71-year-old William (02) Blower (also a son of William (01) and Ann Blower).  Thomas was a retired brickwork labourer living on his old age pension.  William was a coal hewer on old age pension.  Living in the same house was 63-year-old John A. Davies, an underground colliery labourer who was unemployed through accident.  John’s wife was 61-year-old Alice Davies [daughter of William (01) and Ann Blower].  Their children were: 28-year-old Magdalen Davies (born 27th March 1911 and later married to a Mr. Vaughan) and 23-year-old Gladys Davies (born 13th March 1916 and later married to a Mr. Norfolk). 

In the summer of 1944, the marriage was registered of Gladys Davies (daughter of John A. Davies & his wife Alice) and Charles E. P. Norfolk.    

On 23rd October 1944, Infantry Sergeant Winston Mons Blower (4201865) died aged 29.  Winston was in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and was fighting n the Western Europe Campaign.  He is buried at Valkenswaard War Cemetery, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands.   

In the spring of 1946, Susannah Blower (02) died aged 29.               

In 1951, Sarah (03) Blower [Thomas (02)’s widow] died aged 69.   

In late 1955, the marriage was registered of Magdalen Davies (daughter of John A. Davies & his wife Alice) and Walter Vaughan.    

In 1960, Susannah (01) Blower [widow of John Blower (02)] died aged 74.    

Memorial plaque in Capel Mawr

WRITTEN BY: Dave Edwards. November 2020. 

SOURCES: Census Returns; Births, Marriages & Deaths; 1939 Register; Heroes & Gentlemen All by Grev Jones; Wrexham Advertiser (28th May 1887; 4th June 1887; 14th June 1890; 5th November 1887); Llangollen Advertiser (20th June 1890); Rhos Herald (27th February 1915).    

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