Richard Locke: Family Matters

His Marriage to Elizabeth daughter of Matthew Lovibond of Othery, must have taken place somewhere about 1760 [No record in Burnham or Othery Parish Registers] but she died  in childbirth on February 28th 1762 and was buried in Burnham Church in a small vault which Locke had made in the alley adjoining the chancel.[Locke’s Will]

Elizabeth’s child was baptised Betty on March 6th 1762, this being the day on which his mother was buried. [BP Registers].

Richard did not long remain a widower: “Mary ye daughter of Richard & Jone LOCKE was baptised June 21st 1763”. Two sons followed: Henry DOD the eldest born 1765, lived just over two years; and Richard baptised on April 15th 1768 reached manhood and was described in the Gentleman’s Magazine of 1792 as the “Ingenious Mr Richard Locke of Magdalen Hall, Oxford” [p.800]

Jone his wife, died in 1792 and in May of the  same year he married at Burnham, by special licence, a widow of that parish called Parnell ADAMS [BP Registers]. Lord of the Manor of Huish Juxta Highbridge, he was now one of the richest men in Burnham.

A survey of this parish taken in 1792 [MS in private collection] and giving the names of the landowners and the value of their property, states that Richard Locke, Gentleman, owned 80 acres of land valued at £200 pa. There were only 3 landowners in this parish with property of greater value. Eight years later (1800) another survey [MS in private collection] shows a rise in Locke’s property both in acreage and value. He now owned 146 acres valued at £450 and rated at £49: 10: 0.

His place of residence in his early years cannot be found, but in the year 1792 [Gentleman’s Magazine Vol.62 p.800] if not earlier, he was living at Highbridge House in the parish of Burnham. At the time of his death he was residing at Highbridge Cottage, to which he must have moved sometime after 1801 as a letter written in this year to George Templer, has the address Highbridge House. In this letter he referred to himself as “an old man that cannot live long” and said “I wrote this letter with my usual rapidity upon scraps of paper with a hand that shakes so much as to puzzle George DAY, my amanuensis (who is no conjuror) to pick out my meaning”

One is tempted to wonder whether it was George Day who was bold enough to answer the following advert, inserted by Locke at the end of the statement of accounts of the Burnham Society for the year June 1796:

“WANTED (at a probable salary of £100pa and insured at £50) to reside in the large village of Highbridge, a person qualified to teach school and as amanuensis to write grammatically for the press the composition of an old invalid, he must be a proper judge of securities for cash, draw leases, make wills and undertake the clerkship of a large Benefit Society with whom he must pray extempore and give them lectures. He ought to be able to sing and play different instruments of music, to teach his pupils to dance, and to dress and shave a few gentlemen in the neighbourhood. Bleeding, drawing of teeth and curing ferilegs, agues and chilblains in children will be considered as  extra qualifications. He must have no objection to superintend a Sunday School and if called to become the parish clerk, to copy the Sunday Tithing rates and collect them, to keep the Lord’s pound as Hayward, have the sole custody of the stocks and if at any time to spare of a Saturday in the afternoon, will be appointed gamekeeper of the Manor of Huish Juxta Highbridge”

 

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