Braithwell, Micklebring and Clifton History and Heritage

Catherine Gill and Charles John Macqueen Mottram

This couple had a mysterious connection with Clifton and with the Woodyeare family. In 1829 Fountain John Woodyeare and his wife, Frances Woodyeare surrendered to Catherine Gill the copyhold of a “messuage and tenement with outbuildings yards and gardens 1a 1r 12p”      (Conisbrough Court Rolls) and a substantial amount of land in Clifton.

In April1811 Fountaine John Elwin, who acquired the name Woodyeare in 1812, bought a property described as ‘dwelling houses, croft, orchard, hereditaments and premises’ for £250 from William Bower. The only farm fitting these descriptions was Beech House Farm (number 49) and the fields surrendered to Catherine in 1829 were mainly grouped to the north west of the farm. Beech House, which had formed the north side of a square of farm buildings, was demolished in the 18th century. The barns forming the rest of the square were part of a working farm until the 1960s, while the ‘tenement’ of 2 cottages probably housed a farm manager or farm labourers. It seems that Catherine was granted an income from the fields and that they were worked by the Woodyeares on her behalf, but there is no evidence that Catherine ever lived there or anywhere else in the village

 

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BUT WHAT WAS THE REASON FOR THIS UNUSUAL ARRANGEMENT WITH A YOUNG, SINGLE WOMAN?

THERE SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN NO FAMILY CONNECTION BETWEEN THE GILLS, THE ELWINS AND THE WOODYEARES. 

Catherine was an orphan, the daughter of Henry Gill, a surgeon of Hull and Beverley, and granddaughter of a Mr Jackson, another surgeon of Hull. Her mother’s brother, Rev Francis Arthur Jackson was involved as Catherine’s trustee in an agreement with Fountaine John Woodyeare in  1833 and as the first party in an agreement with John Fountaine Woodyeare and his mother in the year of John Fountaine’s marriage, 1843.

WAS THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE FAMILIES THROUGH THE CHURCH?

In 1837 Catherine married Charles John Macqueen Mottram of Edinburgh, who was a Gentleman Commoner of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, and was ordained in 1841. The couple seem to have settled in Oxford and their first and second sons were born there in 1838 and 1841. There seems to have been no change in the arrangements when the couple married or when Rev John Fountaine took over the Crookhill Estate from his father.

On the earliest version of the Tithe Map (1838) the land and the farm are recorded as ‘In Hand’, that is, they were being worked as part of the Crookhill Estate. There were no changes of ‘Owner’ (Rev John Fountaine Woodyeare) recorded after the death of Fountaine John Woodyeare in 1841, but the ‘Occupier’ was changed from ‘In Hand’ to ‘John Walker’.

From 1837 the Mottrams were, perhaps, waiting for a suitable living for Charles to come their way. He continued to give his address as Magdalen Hall, Oxford, and he was studying for a Masters degree. They were not short of money as Charles was drawn into various property deals in Doncaster. Land along the River Don from Balby to Bennetthorpe was divided into blocks suitable for development. The plots were put up for sale in 1839 and several were purchased by various consortia including Sir William Bryan Cooke of Wheatley Hall, Rev Alexander Cooke, his cousin, Margaret Gill, Rev John Fountaine Woodyeare and Charles Macqueen Mottram. Some of the land was part of the Wheatley Hall estate.

ANOTHER INTERESTING AREA TO EXPLORE!

In 1852 Rev Charles Macqueen Mottram became Vicar of St Johns, the Parish Church of Kidderminster and the family remained there until his death in March 1872. Catherine died in 1880, but the arrangement with the Woodyeares ended in 1869 when Charles and Catherine surrendered the fields and buildings back to Rev John Fountaine Woodyeare.

UNFORTUNATELY RESEARCH INTO THIS FAMILY’S CONNECTION WITH CLIFTON MUST WAIT UNTIL THE DONCASTER ARCHIVES REOPEN.