Text & photographs copyright ©2006 by Jeffrey L. Thomas
The Hares family has long been associated with the parish of Shipham in Somerset, England. The parish is briefly mentioned in the 1868 edition of The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland, as follows:SHIPHAM, a parish in the hundred of Winterstoke, county Somerset, 3 miles N. of Axbridge, 7 from Yatton railway station, and 1.5 miles S.E. of Churchill. Bristol is its post town. The village is situated among the Mendip hills, and on the turnpike road from Bristol to Langport. A large portion of the inhabitants are employed in agriculture. The substratum abounds in minerals, and calamine, zinc, and lead mines were formerly in operation. The tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £132 17s., and the glebe comprises 14 acres. The living is a rectory* in the diocese of Bath and Well, value £157, in the patronage of the dean and chapter. The church, dedicated to St. Leonard, was erected in 1843, and has a tower containing five bells. The register dates from Elizabeth's reign. There is a National school for both sexes, in which a Sunday-school is also held. The Wesleyans and Baptists have each a place of worship. The Dean and Chapter of Wells are lords of the manor. Fairs are held on the 27th April and 17th November, chiefly for cattle."
Below: view of the Parish church of St. Leonard's, Shipham, Somerset, May 2006.
Our immigrant ancestor, George Hares, was born in 1834 in Shipham, and was one of several children of Israel and Mary Ann Collins Hares. His father was a native of Shipham, while his mother was a native of Bedminster, Somerset, a suburb of Bristol. George and family eventually emigrated to the industrial communities of Brynmawr and Nantyglo in south Wales, and later George emigrated to the United States to work in the coal mines of Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he died in 1867. His story is told in greater detail in an accompanying essay, so here we will concentrate on the story of George's immediate family and his known ancestors.
Part 1: Samuel Hares
We begin by mentioning the family of George's grandfather, Samuel Hares. Records from the church of St. Leonard's in Shipham indicate that Samuel Hares was christened at the church on 1 May 1763, and was the son of Joseph and Mary Hares. If we can assume that during this time period there was only one couple named Joseph and Mary Hares having their children baptized at the church, it would appear that Joseph and Mary's family included the following children:
Samuel Hares, christened 1 May 1763 Joseph Hares, christened 2 June 1773
Charles Hares, christened 16 July 1775
Isaac Hares, christened 13 July 1777
Simon Hares, christened 25 Dec 1780
Parish records indicate that Samuel Hares married Fanny Lovell on 25 Oct 1784, and that the widowed Samuel Hares remarried Susanna Wookey on 26 Dec 1793. Susanna was the daughter of James and Mary Wookey of Shipham and was also baptized at St. Leonard's, however her baptism entry is a bit curious. It is one of the three final entries (baptisms) written in the register for the year 1771, and inexplicably all three entries, though legible, have been lined through. The entry for Susannah's baptism appears to lack a date, although a date of 22 December found immediately below the 2nd entry in the group could conceivably be the correct for both baptisms. The third and final entry contains a baptism date of 24 November. Even with this bit of ambiguity surrounding Susannah's baptism date, most researchers (including myself) have adopted a date of December 1771 for Susannah's baptism.
Having identified Susannah's baptism date, the next challenge is to identify any mention of a James and Mary Wookey contained in the registers. In doing so, one finds the following entries:
1771 (Dec) Suzanah Wookey daughter of James & Mary was baptized 1774 (15 Nov) James son of James Wookey & Mary his wife was baptized(?) November 15 1777 (25 Feb) Hannah daughter of James Wookey and Mary his wife was baptized February 25 1779 (8 April) Mary wife of James Wookey was buried April 8
It should be noted that the three baptisms above are the only entries contained in the registers for children of a James and Mary Wookey. It should not surprise us that baptism entries for the couple cease in 1777, given the likelihood that the Mary Wookey who was buried in April of 1779 is our Mary. It should also be noted that with the entry for James baptized in 1774, there appears to be a blank space following the phrase "James son of James Wookey & Mary his wife was," meaning that the entry could be for a baptism or a burial. Nevertheless, the registers reveal that James and Mary Wookey were the parents of (at least) three children baptized at the church, Susannah, born ca. 1771, James, born ca. 1774, and Hannah, born ca. 1777. It furthermore appears that Mary Wookey died in April of 1779 and was buried in church cemetery. It is hoped that further research will reveal additional children of James and Mary Wookey, however, I would caution other researchers against adding children to this family based on entries found in the LDS IGI index. To date I have found at least two such entries that the registers have proven to be erroneous.
The records of St. Leonard's indicate that Samuel and Susanna had the following children baptized at the church:
Samuel Hares was christened 25 Oct 1796. He married flower Tripp on 17 Dec 1819 and raised a family of four known children, Samuel, Paul, Edwin and David. The family eventually moved to St. George - Bristol in Gloucestershire, where Samuel died in 1872. His son Samuel (1822-1890) and family moved to south Wales in the mid 1860s. Samuel's (1822) son James and family eventually emigrated to Pennsylvania in the U.S.
Mary Hares was christened 20 Nov 1798. Some genealogies claim that Mary was the Maria Hares who married Samuel Roe in Shipham in 1817, however I have yet to see conclusive proof that this is correct.
Israel Hares was christened 2 Mar 1800, and married Mary Ann Collins in 1823. He and his family eventually moved to south Wales where they followed the mining trade. Israel and his family are discussed in greater detail below.
Mary Hares was christened 12 Apr 1807, and I have no additional information regarding her life.
Ann Hares was christened 12 Apr 1807. She may be the Ann Hares who married Samuel Stock in Shipham 27 Jan 1825.
Peter Hares christened 12 Apr 1807. He is likely the Peter Hares that married Elizabeth Hares on 26 Mar 1823 on the same day his brother Israel married. Church records from St. Leonard's show that there were seven children born to Peter and Elizabeth Hares between 1823 and 1836, and three of these children, Joseph (age 17), Peter (age 15) and Betsey (age 5), are present in the 1841 census of Shipham, living by themselves without either of their parents. In fact, Peter and Elizabeth Hares are not present in the 1841 census of Shipham, and their fate remains a mystery. Parish records indicate that there was an Elizabeth Hares who was buried 11 Jan 1838, and, although this could be Peter's wife, conclusive proof is lacking.
Elizabeth Hares was christened 25 July 1813. It appears that she never married, as she appears with her widowed mother Susanna in the 1851 census of Shipham.
Samuel Hares died was buried at the parish church on 19 Nov 1815, age 53 years. Corroboration of Samuel's death can also be found in the Overseers Accounts for the parish between 1786 and 1823. The accounts are basically a listing of monies collected from parishioners for the purpose of aiding the poor as well as those members of the parish that were listed as being "in distress." Samuel's wife Susanna makes her first appearance in the overseer's accounts in June of 1815, and these entries provide us with a clue as the state of the family shortly before Samuel's death. In the records she appears as "Samuel Hares wife in distress." This tells us that the family was in need of assistance even before Samuel died. Perhaps he had recently become ill or suffered an injury. Either way, there was something that was preventing him from earning a living shortly before his death. Susanna appears a couple more times in 1815, always as "wife of Samuel Hares." In April of 1816 she makes her first appearance in the records as "Samuel Hares widow," and continues in the records for the remainder of 1816. Then in 1817 she begins appearing as "Susan Hares," and continues under that name until the records end in 1823.
Susan's appearance in the overseer's accounts from 1815-1818 are summarized in the table below, and, by clicking on the individual entries you can view a photocopy of the actual parish register entries. To help with readability I have underlined in red the year and the entries that pertain to Susan, several of which are contained on the same page.
Date Entry Amount (P-S-P) Comments 2 June 1815 Gave Samuel Hares wife in distress 0-2-0 Susanna makes her first appearance in the Overseer's Accounts 4 June 1815 Gave Samuel Hares wife in distress 0-3-0 5 June 1815 Gave Samuel Hares wife in distress 0-2-0 17 June 1815 Gave Samuel Hares wife in distress 0-3-0 8 July 1815 Gave Samuel Hares wife in distress 0-3-0 15 July 1815 Gave Samuel Hares wife in distress 0-3-0 29 July 1815 Gave Samuel Hares wife in distress 0-3-0 7 April 1816 Paid Samuel Hares widow 19 w at 4/per 3-16-0 Samuel died in Nov of 1815 and here Susanna makes her first appearance as his widow 15 Apr 1816 - 24 Mar 1817 Susan Hares 49 -- at 4 -- 9-16-0 Susan appears as "Susan Hares" from here forward 31 Mar 1817 Paid to Susan Hares one week 0-4-0 31 Mar 1817 - 21 Apr 1818 Susan Hares 2 at 2/??? 0-12-0 28 April 1818 Susan Hares (along with others) 2-11-0 11 Aug 1817 - 23 Mar 1818 Susan Hares 21 weeks at 0-3-0(?) 4-16-0
Part 2: Israel Hares
Our next ancestor is Samuel and Susanna's son Israel Hares. Israel married Mary Ann Collins on 26 Mar 1823, and the first of their children were born the following year. Again, parish records reveal the following children born to Israel and Mary Ann:
Hannah Hares was christened 28 March 1824 and appears with her mother and father in the 1841 census of Shipham. She married John Cottrill in February of 1849 at Rehoboth Chapel in Brynmawr, and appears with her husband and baby daughter Charlotte in the 1851 census of Beaufort, Monmouthshire. Her first husband died and she remarried John Harding and had additional children by her second husband. The family emigrated to America in the early 1870s and settled in Yatesville, Luzerne Co., Pennsylvania, where Hannah died 17 Sept 1884.
PITTSTON GAZETTE SEPTEMBER 19, 1884
DIED- In Yatesville, on the 17th of September 1884,
Hanna, wife of John Harding, aged 58 years.
Samuel Hares was christened 17 July 1825 and was Israel and Mary Ann's eldest son. He appears to be missing from the 1841 and 1851 census, however we know that Samuel (like the rest of his family), by the late 1840s had moved to Brynmawr, Wales, because he stood as witness to the marriage of his sister Hannah in Brynmawr in 1849. In 1856 he married Ann Harries at Rehoboth Chapel, Brynmawr, and their only known child, Samuel, was born in 1868 Dowlais, Glamorganshire. In the 1861 census we find that Samuel, Ann and Ann's mother Mary were living next to Samuel's sister Mary Ann Haines and family outside Nantyglo, Monmouthshire, however by the time of the 1871 census the family had moved to Dowlais, where the aforementioned Samuel Jr. was born. By 1881 the family had moved to southern Glamorganshire (Swansea), and soon after settled in the town of Barry in extreme southern Glamorganshire, where we find Samuel and family in census returns for 1891 and 1901. Samuel Hares died from "Senile Decay," and "Exhaustion" at his home on Barry Road in Barry, 23 April 1905, at age 79. Having reached this age, he appears to have been the longest surviving child of Israel and Mary Ann Hares.
Mary Ann Hares was christened 5 May 1833, married James Haines, and raised a family in Nantyglo, Wales. Sons John and William Haines married raised families in Nantyglo, where they appear in the 1901 census. In March of 1876, daughter Elizabeth married Arthur Saunders in Brynmawr, and in October of that same year the couple emigrated to Australia where they raised a large family, and where descendants remain today. According to her death certificate Mary Ann Haines died in Nantyglo on 15 July 1883 after a 5-day bout with gastritis, and was buried in the Brynmawr Municipal cemetery with her husband James who died in 1875.
George Hares was christened 31 Aug 1834, and is present in the 1841 and 1851 census. He emigrated to America in 1854, and settled in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he worked as a coal miner. He became a U.S. citizen in 1860, and enlisted in the Civil War in 1861, serving three years in Company I of the 52nd Pennsylvania Infantry. He was discharged at the end of the war and married Elizabeth Williams in Scranton in 1865. George died two years later, in 1867, and is buried in the Washburn Street cemetery in the Hyde Park section of Scranton. His life is examined in greater detail in another essay.
Elizabeth Hares was christened 11 Oct 1840, although, again, census returns indicate she was likely born in 1838. She married late in life, a collier from Pontypridd named John Bassett, and had one child, a son named John. She was the informant on her father's death certificate, and appears in the 1891 census of Nantyglo. Elizabeth died 4 June 1900, at her home On Chapel Row in Nantyglo, from "Accidental Death, Fall in Kitchen." There appears to have been some doubt as to the cause of Elizabeth's death, because her death certificate also indicates that an inquest was held into the circumstances of her death on 8 June 1900. Since the certificate makes no mention of the outcome of the investigation, we have to assume that the verdict of accidental death was upheld. She was buried with her mother and father in the Brynmawr cemetery.
Susannah Hares was christened 11 Oct 1840 and is present with the family in the 1841 and 1851 census. In 1860 she married George Griffiths or Griffin at Siloam Chapel in Brynmawr, and appears in the 1871 census of Cwmtillery, Monmouthshire. Like Hannah and George, Susannah and family may have emigrated to America in the 1870s.
John(?) Hares. There is a baptism record for a son of Israel and Mary Hares dated 20 Feb 1843. Although the first name is difficult to read, it appears to be John. Since there is no individual matching this description with Israel and family in the 1841 census of Shipham, it is likely that "John" died in infancy or early childhood.
Jane Hares was christened 30 May 1845, and is present with the family in the 1851 and 1861 census. I have been unable to identify her in later returns and therefore it is possible that she either married or died prior to the 1871 census.
It should be mentioned that there are multiple christening dates for Hannah, daughter of Israel and Mary Ann, a likely indication that there was an earlier daughter Hannah who died in childhood. The Hannah included above is the one that appears as a 15 year old in the 1841 census.
Our first glimpse of the family of Israel and Mary Ann Hares comes from the 1841 census, where we find the family living in Shipham, as follows:
1841 Census, Shipham, Somerset, England
Name Age Occupation Born in County> Israel Hares 40 Miner, Lead Ore Yes Mary Hares 45 Yes Hannah Hares 15 Yes Mary Hares 9 Yes George Hares 7 Yes Elizabeth Hares 3 Yes Susannah Hares 1 Yes
This is the first indication we have that the Hares family followed the mining trade, as Israel is listed as a miner of lead ore. Absent from the family is oldest son Samuel, who may have already been working elsewhere. Of the 707 individuals in the parish in 1841, 93 carried the surname "Hares," for slightly over 13% of the total parish population.
Sometime in the later half of the 1840s, the Hares family moved from Shipham to Brynmawr in Breconshire, Wales. Beginning in the early 19th century, men and their families began pouring into Brynmawr to find work in the region's booming coal and iron industries. The first wave of immigrants into Brynmawr were from Breconshire, which was followed by an inflow of Welshmen from counties to the west and south of Breconshire, which was closely followed by the arrival of families from England, many from Somerset. In her book, "Brynmawr: A Study of a Distressed Area," Allenson & Co., London, 1934, Hilda Jennings provides a description of the town's development:
"Brynmawr stands at the extreme northern edge of the South Wales Coalfield on the border of Brecknockshire and Monmouthshire. A few miles to the north lie the fertile valleys of the Usk, while in the more immediate vicinity coal and iron outcrop on the mountain side. Up to 1800 it was practically uninhabited. Iron-ore was the first mineral, the value of which was recognized in the district, and the Clydach Valley leading up to Brynmawr is still made beautiful by the thick line of beech trees planted to serve as charcoal for the Iron Works. With the discovery of the use of coal for smelting and its general adoption towards the end of the eighteenth century came the opening out of small coal levels by the ironmasters The coal produced was both used in the iron works and taken on the backs of mules and later by canal for sale as house-coal in Brecon and Abergavenny. Many workers at the Clydach, Nantyglo and Beaufort Iron Works made their homes at Brynmawr, but the industry of the town itself was the gathering of the raw materials, iron-ore, blackband and coal."
By the time the 1851 census was taken, Israel and family had settled on Orchard in Brynmawr, as follows:
1851 Census, Brynmawr, Llanelly, Breconshire, Wales
Street - Place Name & Surname Relation Condition Age Sex Occupation Where Born Orchard Street Israel Hares Head M 52 M Cinder Tipper Shipham, Somerset Mary Ann Hares Wife M 50 F Cinder Tipper's Wife Bedminster, Somerset George Hares Son U 14 M Iron Miner Shipham, Somerset Elizabeth Hares Daur U 12 F Coke Filler Shipham, Somerset Susana Hares Daur U 9 F Cinder Tipper's daughter Shipham, Somerset Jane Hares Dau U 6 F Cinder Tipper's daughter Shipham, Somerset James Haines Son-in-law M 20 M Limestone Breaker Frome, Somerset Mary Ann Haines Dau M 20 F Shipham, Somerset
The return gives us quite a bit of information about the family. First, because youngest daughter Jane was born in Shipham circa 1845, we know that the family moved to Brynmawr sometime after Jane's birth but before the 1851 census. The returns also reveals that by 1851 daughter Mary Ann had married James Haynes (Haines), and that James, Israel, George, and Elizabeth were all working in the iron industry. Because we know the family later moved about a mile south to the neighboring industrial community of Nantyglo, it is logical to assume that they were employed at the iron works there at this time as well.
Below: modern view of Orchard Street, Brynmawr, Wales, May 2006.
Although Israel and Mary Ann and family appear in the next two sets of census returns for 1861 and 1871, both returns inexplicably contain misleading and incorrect information. Nevertheless, it is possible to identify Israel and family in both returns using a telltale combination of family members and ages. By the time of the 1861 census we find that the family had moved from Brynmawr to Aberystruth (parish) in neighboring Monmouthshire, a location that was likely just outside the industrial community of Nantyglo. In the census we find that Israel (61) was living with his wife Mary Ann (51), and their unmarried daughters Elizabeth (29) and Jane (16). Here the family surname is listed as Hayner rather than Hares, with all family members born in "Shipton" rather than "Shipham," Somerset. Living nearby is daughter Mary Ann Haines and her family.
In the 1871 census we find Israel Hares and family living in Nantyglo. Included in the family group this time are Israel (69), Mary Ann (70), daughter Elizabeth (29), and a 7 year old Mary Ann Hares, described as a "daughter," although clearly this Mary Ann has to have been a granddaughter or niece. This time, the place of birth for Israel, Mary Ann and Elizabeth is given as Weston, Somerset. It is interesting to note that Mary Ann Hares appears to be listed twice in the 1871 census. She appears with her husband and daughter Elizabeth in Nantyglo, as Mary Ann Hares, and again with daughter Susanna Griffin and her family in the neighboring community of Cwmtillery, as Mary Ann Hairs. Double census listings are not unheard of, because neighboring communities were often enumerated on different dates. This second return tells us that by 1871 daughter Susana had married a man named George Griffin and was the mother of three children, James H., Howard(?) and Mary A. Griffin. Although I have been unable to locate the Griffin family in later UK returns, I find it interesting that there is an exact match with this family in the 1880 census of Pennsylvania. Still, more research is needed to determine whether these two families are one and the same.
Mary Ann Hares died in Nantyglo of "senile decay" on 1 May 1880, and was buried in the Brynmawr Municipal Cemetery, opened in the early 1850s to help relieve the region's overcrowded chapel cemeteries. The certificate mentions that Mary Ann was the "wife of Israel Hares, a Labourer," and the informant was daughter Mary Ann Haines. Mary Ann Haines would die just three years later in 1883 and is also buried in the Brynmawr cemetery.
In the 1881 census we find the widowed Israel Hares living in Aberystruth parish, likely just outside Nantyglo, with his daughters Mary Ann Haines and Elizabeth Bassett (Bossett in the census) and several grandchildren, as follows:
1881 Census, Nantyglo, Aberystruth, Monmouthshire, Wales
Name Relation Condition Age Where Born Occupation Israel Hares Head W 82 Somerset Late Labourer Iron Works Mary Ann Haines Daur W 49 Shipton, Somerset Laundress Elizabeth Bossett Daur M 38 Shipton, Somerset Coker (Steel Manuf) Wm. Haines Grandson U 14 Aberystruth, Monmouthshire Coal Miner Jno. Haines Grandson U 11 Aberystruth, Monmouthshire Scholar John Bossett Grandson U 4 Aberystruth, Monmouthshire Scholar
Again, there is quite a bit of information packed into this return. First, it appears that Israel has retired by then, as he is listed as a "Late Labourer" in the iron works. The returns also tell us that Israel's wife Mary Ann, and daughter Mary Ann's husband James Haines, died sometime prior to the census being taken, as both are listed as widowed. We also learn that by 1881 daughter Elizabeth married a man named Bassett (John per the 1891 census), and had a 4 year old son John living with her. Also present are Mary Ann's children William and John Haines, who married and remained in Nantyglo through at least the 1901 census.
Israel Hares died in Nantyglo on 25 May 1883, following a 2-month bout with bronchitis, his death being reported by his daughter Elizabeth Bassett. Although Israel died in Nantyglo, he was buried in the Brynmawr municipal cemetery, likely due to the fact that by then many of Nantyglo's smaller chapel cemeteries had essentially closed due to overcrowding. With his death, the story of our Hares ancestors from Shipham, Somerset comes to a close. Although he was a miner or mine laborer for nearly all his life, Israel Hares managed to live into his early 80s, at a time when such an age was obtained by few individuals. At least two of his children, Hannah and George, (and perhaps Susanna), emigrated to America, while granddaughter Elizabeth Haines emigrated to Australia. As such, the descendants of Samuel Hares and Susannah Wookey and Israel Hares and Mary Ann Collins, came to inhabit several different corners of the globe, including, England, Wales, the United States, and Australia, where their descendants remain today. It hoped that this web site and this essay will cause other family members to contact me directly so that their family information can be added to this record.
Jeffrey L. Thomas
Updated April 2006
The Israel Hares plot is located in the Brynmawr cemetery, Section 6, Row 1, Grave 3. My wife and I visited the cemetery in May of 2006 where we located the grave of Israel Hares and family. Below you will find a photograph of Israel's unmarked grave, along with a photo of the front portion of section 6, showing some of the other graves nearby. Arrangements are currently being made to erect a permanent marker mentioning Israel, his wife Mary Ann, and their daughter Elizabeth Bassett.
Below: general view of the Brynmawr cemetery.
Below: the front portion of section 6, Brynmawr cemetery.
Below: the grave of Israel Hares & family is in the foreground directly to the left of the Bethel marker.
Below: two granddaughters of Israel and Mary Ann Hares. On the left is Mary Jane Hares (1866-1936), daughter George Hares and his wife Elizabeth Williams. George emigrated to Scranton, Pennsylvania in the mid 1850s, served in the Civil War and died in 1867. Mary Jane married William Henry Thomas in Scranton, son of John J. Thomas and Elizabeth Davies of Brynmawr, Wales. She died in Scranton in 1936. On the right is Elizabeth Haines (1858-1933), daughter of Mary Ann Hares and her husband James Haines. Elizabeth married Arthur Saunders and emigrated to Australia in 1876. Mary Ann Haines died in Nantyglo in 1880 and is buried in Brynmawr cemetery with her husband. Elizabeth Haines Saunders died in Western Australia in 1933. Mary Jane and Elizabeth were first cousins.
Learn more about the Hares family and Shipham by exploring the links below:
The Israel Hares plot, Brynmawr Cemetery
Photographs of Shipham
Photos & history of St. Leonard's Church, Shipham
Photos & observations on Shipham's lead mining industry
Continue with the next generation: Israel's son George Hares
History of Shipham Parish, from The Heart of Mendip, by Francis A. Knight
Return to the main page at the Hares Family Web Site
Return to the main page at the Thomas Family Web Site
Web site copyright © by Jeffrey L. Thomas, with all rights reserved