POPLAR COTTAGE 12 Madeira Hill

by Annette Edwards.

Poplar Cottage was built sometime about 1820 by Edward Davies, it was later also known as 12 Madeira Hill.

It was thought originally to have been a large property built in two parts.

Coflein described it as a detached late Georgian house with a symmetrical 3-window front. 2 storeys, of brick construction (Flemish bond) with a pitched slate roof and end stacks. Central pedimented doorcase carried on brackets, with a fanlight to the door. The flanking windows have painted stone flat arched heads.

Over the years there have been many occupants and by using Wrexham Cemetery Burial Records, parish registers, newspaper reports, and census records many of those who lived and died have been found. They are not in any particular order.

 In 1939 there is no entry for Poplar Cottage or 12 Madeira Hill, but it`s known that it was unoccupied for many years and in danger of being demolished.  It was eventually bought and renovated.  


JAMES FUSSELL c 1781 – 1839

REV JAMES FUSSELL was born in Road, Somerset about 1781, he became a Wesleyan Minister and appears in Pigots directory 1835 as, Rev. James (day & boarding schools) Fairfield house, Wrexham.  He first came to Wrexham about 1823 from Oswestry, where the court house had been converted into a Wesleyan Chapel.

According to to A N Palmer, Rev James Fussell died aged 58 at Poplar Cottage and was buried 28 January 1839   at St Giles.  He was buried in a grave belonging to Mr. Tomkinson. Near the sundial, at the south-west corner of the Church.

James Fussell`s wife was Chysagon and was born in Worcester about 1767,   it is said that when she was young was very friendly with Robert Raikes and helped him with the establishment of Sunday schools. After her husband’s death she was found in Oswestry in 1841, and in 1851 she came back to Wrexham to visit Joshua Broughton who was a chemist and druggist on High Street. Chrysagon Fussell died in Worcester on 13 January 1855 aged 88.



One of the first people found there in a census is a Mrs Graham, in Pigots Directory 1828/29 Mrs Graham, Poplar Cottage, is listed under Nobility, Gentry and Clergy.  In 1851 Poplar Cottage has two separate households, Eliza Graham is still there, she is 75, unmarried, and was from Lancashire.  She is described as an annuitant so was receiving an income from some source. Mary Edwards from Penley was her 24 year old servant.

Also there visiting was Rebecca Watson and her granddaughter Cecilia, Rebecca was normally to be found at Wynnstay House in King Street.

 Elizabeth / Eliza Graham died on 17 June 1852, aged 76, and was buried in Ruthin Road

Graveyard. Elizabeth had made a will   and left substantial amounts of money  to people from  all over the country, but she didn`t forget her servant Mary Edwards.



CAROLINE and Margaret J were the daughters of John Edwards, a gentleman.

In 1851 these spinster sisters were in Poplar Cottage but in a separate household, Caroline was 31, Margaret J was 40, and both were annuitants and were from Wrexham.

There is a marriage at St Giles on 3 May 1851 for a Caroline Edwards, Gentlewoman. She was a spinster of full age of Wrexham Abbott. Her father was John Edwards a Gentleman.

She married Joseph Bithell who was the son of John Bithell a farmer.

The couple moved to Salisbury Park where in 1865 John and Caroline were the victims of theft, John Hughes, a maltster stole 2 turkeys, 4 ducks and 4 fowl from their property.  He was found guilty and sentenced to 5 years penal servitude.

Joseph and Caroline remained in Salisbury Park, but in 1871 Joseph was sent to gaol for 7 days on a judgment summons.  What this was all about isn`t known. H K Aspinall was a brewer.

20th May 1871

A COMMITTAL. H. K. Aspinall v. Joseph Bithell.  Joseph Bithell, Salisbury Park, was ordered to be committed to gaol for 7 days on a judgment summons.

In November the same year Caroline`s husband was selling all of their possessions.

PRELIMINARY ANNOUNCEMENT. SALISBURY PARK, WREXHAM. Sale of very useful Household Furniture, Hay Stack, Agricultural Implements, and Effects. MR. WILLIAM CONNOR begs to announce the receipt of instructions (under powers of sale), to SELL by PUBLIC AUCTION the whole of the HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, Hay Stack, Agricultural

Implements, and Effects, the property of Mr Joseph Bithell, Salisbury Park, Wrexham.

 Joseph became a joiner and by 1881 they had moved to Acton Terrace, where they took in lodgers. By 1891 they were lodgers themselves and living in Mount Street with Jonathon Phillips who was a grocer. Caroline died in Mount Street and was buried in Wrexham Cemetery in October 1892. She is buried with 5 others, including 2 babies and 2 others who died in the workhouse so it was a common grave. A sad end for a “gentlewoman”

Her sister Margaret J hasn`t been found.  


JAMES STOKES. C 1818 – 1854

James Stokes was born in Wrexham about 1818, he was the son of John Stokes, a builder.  In 1841 he was a coach makers apprentice and was at the Nelsons Arms in Hope Street, Wrexham. On 4 December 1849 he married 26 year old Sarah Carman at Aston Juxta, Birmingham.  Sarah was living in Aston Manor, her father was William Carman a draper. 

The couple returned to Wrexham and in 1851 they were living in Penybryn with their servant Ann Rhydero  who was from Carmathenshire.

On 2 January 1852 James made his will. As he was quite young he must have been rather ill.  One of the witnesses was his servant Ann Evans Rhydero.

 On 27 May 1854 the Wrexham Advertiser published a death notice

DEATHS. On the 19th inst, at Poplar Cottage, aged 36, Mr. James Stokes, much beloved by a large circle of friends, and for many years a faithful and consistent member of the Wesleyan Connexion.

 Sarah never remarried and in 1861 she was with her mother Ann Carman in Erddig Road, her mother was a fundholder so had no financial worries. Ann died in 1865, Sarah remained at Erddig Road until her death on 15 February1901. In his will James refers to his brother William Stokes,  and in her will Sarah gave probate to William Stokes, gentleman. She left effects of just over £542



GEORGE HENRY CHADWICK was born in Heywood, Lancashire about 1845.

 On 31 August 1870 he married Asenath Buckley in Heywood, it was also her home town. .  At that time he was already working as an engineer in Wrexham with his father Richard Chadwick who was the founder of Chadwick & sons, at the Eagles Foundry.

The couple moved back to Wrexham and had two children, Emily Jane in 1871 and Reginald Edwin in 1873, sadly Asenith died aged 27 on 8 March 1874 leaving George Henry with 2 young children.

By 1881 George Henry had moved to Poplar Cottage with his young family, but in 1882 he tragically died.  The burial was recorded in St Giles Parish Registers. 8 February 1882 George Henry Chadwick aged 36 of Poplar Cottage.

WREXHAM ADVERTISER 11th February 1882

SAD DEATH OF A WREXHAM TRADESMAN On Saturday afternoon, the body of Mr George Henry Chadwick, of Poplar Cottage, Madeira Hill was found in the brook at the Kings Mills. The deceased was connected with the firm of Chadwick and Sons, of the Eagle Foundry, and was well known in the neighbourhood. There was an inquest and first witness examined was Mr Richard Chadwick, who said the deceased was his son. His trade was that of an iron founder and engineer. Deceased lived at Poplar Cottage, Madeira Hill. He had two children, and had been a widower for a little over eight years. He had not been well, and had been in bed most of the day. Since the loss of his wife, the deceased had been somewhat addicted to drinking. On Friday night witness left the foundry about six o’clock and went to Poplar Cottage. He tried to persuade him to have some tea, but succeeded in getting him to take a bottle of soda-water. The former said subsequently that he wanted to go for a walk. Witness said, then I’ll go with you.” Deceased put on a loose coat, went down the street, and was lost sight of by the Methodist Chapel. Deceased had never hinted at committing suicide. He was not at enmity with anyone, and witness had not heard anybody give him a bad name. Edward Ellis said he was a farmer, and resided at King’s Mills. About a quarter to two o’clock on Saturday he left his house to go round the fields. He went down to the brook, and noticed something black in the water. He thought at first it was a petticoat, and then he went round to the other side and then saw that what he had taken for a petticoat was the body of a man. P.C. Bagshaw said that about 2.45 on Saturday afternoon he was standing by the Wynnstay Arms, when two boys came to him and said they were sent by Edward Ellis to say that there was a man drowned at King’s Mills. Witness went there and found the body on the bank. He had it removed to King’s Mills beerhouse, and on searching it he found a watch-chain, a bunch of keys, a silver a snuff-box, nine pence in money, and a pawn ticket for a silver lever watch. There were no marks of violence on the body. The stream was not strong enough even to carry the hat of deceased any distance. The Deputy Coroner having summed up the evidence, the room was cleared. After a short consultation, the foreman announced that the verdict the jury had agreed upon was that of “found drowned”


SARAH RABBITS 1815 – 1899

SARAH FLOWER was born about 1815 in Pensford, her husband Thomas Rabbits was from Nunney, both places are in Somerset. Their daughter Sarah Rabbits was born in 1846 in Frome.  By 1861 Thomas was working in Wrexham, but he was on his own, Sarah and his daughter were still in Somerset where she conveniently states her husband is in Wales. Thomas found work on the railways and Sarah and her daughter eventually joined him in Wrexham, where Sarah jnr met William Cooper.

In July 1866 daughter Sarah Rabbits married William Cooper (Rowland) who was a slater and plasterer and by 1881 they had 7 children. William just used the name Cooper.

 Thomas Rabbits died in 1877 in Lorne Steet, and Sarah moved in with her daughter, now Sarah Cooper, they eventually moved to Poplar Cottage where she died aged 74 in 1889.  Sarah was buried with Thomas in Wrexham Cemetery.    


MARY RICE JONES 1813 – 1900

Mary Jones was born about 1831 in Wrexham, in 1859 she married Rice Jones in a civil marriage in the Gt Boughton area. The birth of their son was published in the newspaper.

21st July 1860

BIRTHS. On the 17th inst., at High-street, Wrexham, the wife of Mr. Rice Jones, watchmaker, of a son.

Tragically another notice appeared later that year.

3rd November 1860

DEATHS. On the 20th ult., at High-street, Wrexham, aged 26, of consumption, Mr. Rice Jones, watchmaker, son of Mr. John Jones,, foreman at Messrs. Parry and Co. ship-builders, Hirael, Bangor. Deceased was much and deservedly respected by a large circle of friend and acquaintances.

Mary became a milliner and dressmaker, she had a shop in High Street for over 20 years, but by 1891 she had retired and was living with her widowed sister Elizabeth Lindop in St Marks Terrace. 

In 1895 the ladies had quite a shock when a baby was abandoned on their doorstep.

DESERTION OF A CHILD AT WREXHAM. The Inspector said that shortly before eight o’clock on the previous night the police received information that a baby had been left at the door of No. 1, St. Mark’s-terrace, occupied by two widow ladies- Mrs M. Rice Jones and Mrs Lindop. The child was taken to the union workhouse.

Mary died in March 1900. Her death was announced in the newspapers.

JONES, ON THE 14th inst at her residence Poplar Cottage, Wrexham, Mary Rice, relict of Rice Jones. Formerly watchmaker High Street, Wrexham.

Her son John Rice Jones became a journalist for the Wrexham Advertiser.

 She had made a will and Probate was to her son John Rice Jones, journalist Effects £505. This would be about £65 thousand pounds today.


JAMES MARTIN c 1825 – 1893. ELEANOR MARTIN c 1825 – 1900

James Martin was born in Isleworth, Middlesex, and in 1846 he married Eleanor Harrison who was from Wrexham, her father was Benjamin Harrison an innkeeper.  The marriage took place in Richmond, Surrey. The couple stayed in the south for a while and had a son born there, but by 1851 they were living in Mount Street, Wrexham. James was a plumber and glazier, in 1874 a newspaper article shows the family had moved to Poplar Cottage.

REGISTRATION Courts. The Conservatives made technical objections to Mr James Martin, Poplar Cottage, whose name had been on the register for as years in respect of property on the Town Hill, which was the joint property of Mrs Martin and her sister.

In March 1883 an advert placed in the Wrexham Advertiser confirms that it was also 12 Madeira Hill.

General servant (about 18) wanted at once in London. £10 and yearly increase, apply Mrs Martin 12 Madeira Hill. Wrexham.

The couple had a large family and stayed at Poplar Cottage on and off for many years.

Their son Horatio Benjamin Martin had his own business and was advertising in the Wrexham Directory 1888. 

James died In Poplar Cottage in May 1893. Eleanor died on 10 July 1900 aged 75.

OBITUARY. We regret to record the death, in her 75th year, of Mrs Martin, of Poplar Cottage, relict of Mr. James Martin, plumber, formerly of this town, and founder of the firm of Messrs Martin Bros., Penybryn. The death took place on Monday, after a comparatively short illness. The funeral took place at the Borough Cemetery on Thursday.

Their sons James 44 Henry 38 and daughter Sarah 46 were still all unmarried and at Poplar Cottage in 1901, but moved away by 1911.


ANN GWILLIM. c 1845 – 1925

Ann Jones was born in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire about 1845, in 1875 she married Walter Gwillim who was born in Peterchurch, Herefordshire. At the age of 32 he was still with his widowed mother and was a miller at the Mill House in Knightwick, Worcestershire.

The couple moved to Mold where he working as a carter and by 1881 they had 3 children between the age of 5 and 2. Annie S,   Sarah J and Elizabeth. Walter and his family came to Wrexham where Walter found work as a corn miller again, Ann was working as a dressmaker and shirtmaker.

Walter died in June 1901 in Bridge Street aged 72.  Ann moved to Earl Street with daughter Elizabeth and was taking in lodgers to help out financially.

Elizabeth married Robert Roberts at St Giles in 1915, at the time Robert was living in Poplar Cottage and was the caretaker at the nearby school.  Ann Gwillim died at Poplar Cottage in February 1925 and was buried with Walter in Wrexham Cemetery.


WILLIAM COOPER 1844 – 1915

WILLIAM COOPER was born in Wrexham in 1844, his full name was William Cooper Rowland, but he dropped the last name and was known just as Cooper. In 1866 he married Sarah Rabbits.

His occupation was a Slater and plasterer and by 1884 they were living in Poplar Cottage where three of their children were born and sadly died. In 1884 Charles Bertie Cooper died aged 7 months, Percy Rabbits Cooper died in 1891 aged 4 months and John Bertram Cooper died in 1894 aged 9. They had 10 children in all.

The family moved out and in 1906 Sarah died in Manley Road aged 60, she was buried with the three children. William went to live with his son Thomas in Trevor Street and died there in 1915 aged 71.


ROBERT ROBERTS   c 1865 – 1950

Robert Roberts was born in Wrexham, he was the son of William Roberts, a joiner. By 1891 Robert was at 23 Victoria Road, his wife Harriet was 29 and from Kidderminster.

Harriet died shortly after at the same address and was buried in Wrexham Cemetery in July 1891.

Robert married again to  an Elizabeth and lived in Bridge Street, by 1901 he had another son William  aged 1,  and also there  was Roberts  brother  John 14 who was a hairdressers apprentice.

Robert and Elizabeth moved to Madeira Hill where he was the caretaker for the school next to the house.  In March 1908 Elizabeth Roberts died at 12 Madeira Hill (Poplar Cottage) and was buried in Wrexham Cemetery in the same grave as Roberts’s first wife Harriet.

Robert continued to live at Poplar Cottage, and by 1911 his son William was a hairdresser.

The house was listed as having 6 rooms including the kitchen.

Robert Roberts married Elizabeth Gwillim at St Giles in 1915.   Elizabeth was a spinster and the daughter of Walter Gwillim, miller (deceased), and this was his third marriage. Elizabeth came to live at Poplar Cottage  and  Robert`s mother in law Ann Gwillim died at Poplar Cottage in February 1925, so Robert must have still been the caretaker. 

In 1939 Robert had retired and was living in Acton with Elizabeth. Robert Roberts lived until he was 86 and died in 1950, he was buried in the same grave as his first two wives. 

Elizabeth Roberts died in January 1964 aged 80, she was buried with her parents Walter and Ann Gwillim in Wrexham Cemetery.

Robert Roberts lived until he was 86 and died in 1950, he was buried in the same grave as his first and second wives.


JOHN DERRICK 1881 – 1923   LIZZIE BUTCHER 1882 – 1948

JOHN DERRICK   was born in Oswestry about 1881, he was a boot maker in Llanyblodwell before moving to Wrexham.  He married Lizzie Butcher on 5 August 1907 at St Giles. Lizzie was from Warwickshire and was the daughter of a flour miller from Cornwall, her mother was   from Wrexham.

The couple moved to Town Hill where he was a boot dealer

In September 1914 John joined the RWF, he only served 48 days before he was discharged after being “irregularly enlisted”.  The code reveals he was classed as unfit.

His Army records show his wife was living in Poplar Cottage, Maderia Hill.  Their daughter Cybil had been born there in 1913.

He was about 5ft 8 in, had brown hair and blue eyes and was found fit for service.

The couple had five children in all, John Derrick died at Poplar Cottage in 1923 and was buried in Wrexham Cemetery.

By 1939 Lizzie was living in Bersham Road, two of her children were managers at boot and shoe shops, and the youngest daughter was an assistant in the beauty department in a shop.  Lizzie died aged 66 at “Larkfield” Bersham Road in 1948 and was buried with John.  They have a fine headstone.  Lizzie had made a will and probate was granted to her children Phillip, a footwear retailer and Ruth. She left effects of £10832 12s 10 d.

Researched by Annette Edwards. April 2020. Many thanks to Jill Rose, Cari Pugh and Lynn Evans for their help.

The image of Poplar Cottage is not an original, it has been edited!

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