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Thursday, 29 September 2016

Heirlooms from my Great Grandfather - Treasure Chest Thursday

I am over the moon! Thanks to my blog, I have just been given  personal items - a presentation silver trowel, a silver crested baton and the family bible  - belonging to my paternal great grandfather, John Matthews of Wolverhampton, Staffordshire.

John Matthews (1843-1918)

 The inscription reads:   
Ladymore Wesleyan Chapel 
Stonelaying Ceremony
Presented to Mr. J, Matthews
April 7th 1903. 

How did all this come about? 
My father's side of the family (Weston and Matthews) has always remained rather shadowy.  They lived some distance away and we only met them one or two times a year, plus the fact that so few photographs have survived of the family.   They have not featured much in my research beyond the basic facts of names and dates, and an occasional article on my blog. 

So I was amazed to receive an e-mail from a Matthews connection through marriage;  moreover with  the wish to give family treasures to a direct descendantWe corresponded, met last week and spent a happy afternoon chatting about our family history research.  

I always knew from my father that his maternal grandfather John Matthews was a prominent member of the Methodist Church,  but had not delved into research to find out more.  Featured  here is a silver trowel and baton presented to John in recognition of his service to the church

On the 8th April 1903, "The Wolverhampton Express & Star"  reported on  "A New Wesleyan Chapel for Ladymoor".
"Fourteen memorial stones were laid  of a new chapel at Ladymoor, to take the place of the present one which has been wrecked by mining operations.  There was a large attendance  at the site  which occupies a very central position.  .......The stone layers were.......Mr. J. Matthews (on behalf of the choir).....Each was presented with a silver trowel...on behalf of the trustees.

The new erection, which is estimated to cost £1000, will be of a nondescript style to accommodate 200 persons with the necessary classroom, and a vestibule.  It will be heated throughout with hot water pipes."
Following the ceremony, a public meeting and service  was held in the Bilston Wesleyan Chapel. at which the musical portion was contributed by the Ladymore Wesleyan Choir, conductor  by John Matthews.    
Below is the silver crested baton also presented to John Matthews in his role as conductor of the choir.

The tiny inscription reads: 
Presented to John Matthews
By the Choir and Congregation

of Wesleyan Chapel, Ladymoor


 To hold the baton used by my great grandfather was a delight to me, as the love of choral music  has continued down through the family.  My uncle Fred Weston was a choir boy  at Warwick Parish Church.  At the age of seven, my father joined the parish church choir at Broseley, near Ironbridge, Shropshire and continued singing until late in life,  wherever he was living.  From the days of my being in a school choir, choral music has remained  one of my main interests. 


The gift of the family bible listing John's marriage to Matilda and the birth of their ten children, will form the subject of a later post.

John,  "dearly beloved husband of Matilda"  died aged  75 on the 17th September 1918.  The loss of three children preceded him - Fanny Elizabeth  aged 33 in 1909;  John Percy aged 36  in 1910, and Arthur William. aged 35  killed in action in 1915 at Gallipoli - remembered on the Helles Memorial  in Turkey. 

My great grandmother,  Matilda Matthew, nee Such/Simpson, born in 1849 lived to the  age of 81, with her death  on 9th July 1929 recorded in the "Wolverhampton Express & Star". Mystery surrounds her background  - to be explored in a future post.  

My grandmother Mary Barbara Matthews (1876-1958) the third child of John and Matilda. 


With special thanks to Nick and Jennifer.  

"Treasure Chest Thursday"  is one of many daily prompts from Geneabloggers encouraging  bloggers to record their family history.  

Copyright © 2016 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved



  1. And a bible to boot! How exciting for you! And generous of your relatives. Now I'm jealous :-)

  2. By sharing your research and family history with the world, you connected with family. Family members recognize you as a keeper of family history, so this Matthews relative knew he had found the perfect keeper of these family treasures. Win-win! Bravo to both of you!


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