Richard W. Masters

Of Misterton-Walcote, Leicestershire, England

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Born Richard Masters, Walcote, Leicestershire, ENGLAND
(6 November 1831)

 Died William Marsters, Palmerston Island, COOK ISLANDS
(22nd May 1899)

Richard Masters was born in the little village of Walcote which lies about 24 kms south of Leicester. The turn off to the village meanders through Misterton for about one kilometre. Misterton was originally the larger village until a series of plague attacks diminished its population. St Leonards Church is situated on a hill overlooking Misterton, with Walcote just in the distance. The church was a focal point for the people of both villages as it recorded important events in the lives of those who lived there. Each Sunday those from Walcote would follow the well-worn track that wove through the fields and paddocks of the surrounding countryside to attend the Sunday service.

Richard's parents John and Ann Masters were farming people. John had originally come from Arnesby, just north-east of Walcote. Ann came from north east of Leicester - a little village called Twyford. They would have met at the markets in Leicester, and their wedding day 6 November 1827, was Tuesday, Leicester's market day. Ann was pregnant with their daughter Elizabeth. They married at St Mary de Castro Church in Leicester and moved to live in Walcote.

Being a wool area (Border Leicester sheep originated from this region) knitting stockings was a common employment among the villagers of Walcote and Misterton, John and the men from other Masters families who lived in Walcote remained as farming labourers. In 1841 when the first census was taken, Richard was 10 years of age and his sister Elizabeth was 13. Their younger brother, Joel was one year old. By 1851, Elizabeth was married to blacksmith, Thomas Archer, and Richard was listed as a farmer's son, and it is assumed that he worked for his father. Joel was attending the local school. 

1851 was not a good year for Richard. It appears that he got a village girl pregnant, and although it took some time to convince him to do so, he was persuaded to marry Charlotte Farmer to give her child a name. Their marriage was witnessed by two members of her family. Richard and Charlotte were married at St Leonards Church on 10 November 1851 and his son, John Richard, was born on 25 January 1852.  

It is not known what happened in the intervening years, but it seems likely that Richard did not remain in Walcote with his wife and child. On 5 December 1853 a child was born to Sarah and Richard Masters. Her birth was registered as having taken place in Lutterworth but her birth certificate records something unusual - her mother is listed as Charlotte Farmer. Richard and Sarah's daughter was named Ann Elizabeth on her birth certificate, but on her baptismal record, Joel has been added to her name. These are names of significantly important people in Richard's life.

While Richard was absent from his home, his younger brother Joel died at home at the age of 12 from rheumatic fever. He died on 20 June 1853. His headstone (featured in the banner above) remains in the grounds of Misterton Church (also featured above). This would have been heartbreaking for his parents who would have felt the loss of both their sons. 

In 1856, some disaster must have struck Richard and Sarah. Richard returned alone to his parents and asked them to raise his daughter. She was baptised by her grandparents at St Leonard's Church in Misterton on 25 May 1856. Richard must have left England at this time as he is said to have reached the Pacific in 1856. 

In Ann Elizabeth's early years John and Ann must have suffered the censure of the local community. Their elder son had left his wife and son who were still living in the village, and had returned with an illegitimate daughter whom they had welcomed into their home. The mores of the time would not have accepted this so readily. The family moved from Walcote to take up a new career as inn-keepers in Great Bowden. They managed the Union Inn (pictured in the banner above). It was several years before they returned to Walcote.

Ann Elizabeth became a much loved addition to her grandparents' household. She made up for the loss of her father and of her uncle who had died at such a young age. She and her children were left legacies by her grandfather when he died in 1880. She married John Granger from Lutterworth in 1872 and died in Leicester in 1924.

Photographs of Ann Elizabeth Joel Masters-Granger have been provided by her great-great-grandson Steven Hughes of Coventry. Steven is the great-grandson of  Harriet (b 1879) who was the third of the eleven children of Ann Elizabeth and John Granger of Leicester.

Ann Elizabeth Granger with her children. She died in 1924.