Photograph shows Martha Hope
Edward Hope was baptised in the parish church of Meliden on 6th April1805. He was the son of miner William Hope who had married Mary Hughes in Meliden on 13th March 1802. There appears to be several Hope families in Meliden at this time and family lore has it that they originated from Dumfries and came to work at the lead mines in Meliden. Prior to Edward’s birth a daughter Mary was born in 1803, but only survived until 1808. At this time infant mortality was high with deaths attributable to typhus, smallpox, measles and influenza only too common. Indeed, the Hope children fared worse than some with another daughter and son dying aged 1 and 3 in 1810, followed by another son aged 1 in 1813. Out of 6 children(quite a small family for those times) only 2 boys survived, the other being Elias who was baptised in January 1817. Edward and Elias both became Blacksmiths. In the 1800s nearly every village had a Blacksmith so there would have been no shortage of work for the brothers.
Edward married Letitia Owen in Dyserth in July 1829. She was aged 25, the daughter of Thomas who was a Wheelwright in Dyserth. The couple must have moved to Rhyl shortly after their marriage because although their first child Mary was baptised in Dyserth in May 1830 their address is given as Rhyl. I wonder if Edward Hope foresaw the expansion of the town and was keen to become part of it. Although Rhyl was quite well known as a holiday resort in the 1820s the coming of the railway in 1848 meant that the population increased at a remarkable rate. Perhaps Edward was a 19th century Alan Sugar! The couple’s second child Ann was born in 1832. She was baptised in the Ebenezer Calvanist Methodist Chapel in Parliament Street, Rhuddlan. Presumably between Mary and Ann’s birth Edward and Letitia had become chapel members. They go on to have five more children-Sarah born in 1837, William in 1840, Elizabeth in 1842, Martha in 1844 and John in 1847.
Edward is listed as Blacksmith in the 1835 Trade Directory for Rhuddlan and Rhyl. At this time there were 4 other Blacksmiths working in the area, but I doubt if he was short of customers. By 1840 he appears on the electoral roll living at Penisa with a house and shop in lease and on the 1841 census his address is given as Rhuddlan Road and his occupation as Blacksmith. In the 1844 Directory his address is given as Chapel Street which I think was somewhere in the region of where Church Street is now. However, he must have decided that a career change would be in his best interests as by 1850 he is listed in the Directory as a Grocer and Dealer in Sundries and is living in Quay Street (now Wellington Road). He is found here at the time of the 1851 census with 6 of his 7 children at home. Mary, the eldest, is a House Servant in Church Street for elderly sisters Barbara and Catherine Mason.
By 1861 Edward has had another career change and is now the Market Hall Keeper. The Market Hall was in the same building as the Town Hall on the same piece of land where the Town Hall stands now. His address is given as 67, Wellington Road. According to a map from 1861 this is the premises on the corner of Vaughan Street-not far for Edward to walk to work ! He and Letitia still have four children at home. Mary (the eldest child) married a Morgan Morgan, a Hatter from Aberystwyth, in 1851. They married in Liverpool which suggests that, perhaps, her parents hadn’t been pleased by the marriage, but they returned to live in Rhyl, having their first child there in 1854. Sadly Morgan dies in 1860 leaving Mary to bring up their three children-the youngest only 2. She does remarry in 1865, but has no more children. The second daughter Ann, has married a Richard Roberts in 1858. They have ten children most of whom survive to adulthood. Richard works as a Game Keeper in Llangystennin on the Pabo estate.
Edward remains in his post as Market Hall Keeper and is still at the same address in 1871. By the time of this census Sarah, his third daughter has married John Rowland Hughes, a Tailor, in 1861 had five children and died, age 33 in 1870. Three of the children die prior to her death and a fourth in 1885. The youngest child who is very young when Sarah dies is ‘adopted’ by her sister Mary. Edward’s youngest son John also dies in May 1868 aged 21. His cause of death is given as Low Fever which is typhus.
On a more cheerful note Edward’s other son William marries in 1869 and he and his wife, Margaret, move to Oswestry where he pursues a career as a Bookbinder and Printer. In 1872 Edward Hope has plans drawn up for a house to be built on the corner of Crescent Road and Abbey Street. From the plans it looks to be a substantial house with four bedrooms and an upstairs sitting room. It also boasts an indoor water closet! However the house is never built and, he and Letitia remain in Wellington Road.
Edward dies in on October 30th. 1877 at the home of their fourth daughter Elizabeth at No. 9 Vaughan Street. She has married Jesse Beech in 1865 and they have seven children. Jesse works as the Assistant Market Hall Keeper then later starts his own Bill Posting company. Edward’s cause of death is given as Diseased Kidneys. He was 73 – a good age for 1877 when the average age of death was probably around 60 to 65. He left a will in which he left everything to his wife Lettitia. She survives him for another 2 1/2 years dying at the age of 75 of Diseased Heart Congestion in February 1880. It would appear that she has moved to live with their daughter Elizabeth by this time. She was buried in Morley Road Cemetery with Edward and their son John. Edward and Letitia’s youngest daughter was Martha (my great grandmother) born on October 8th, 1844. She married Robert Davies, a builder, in 1872. He lived at 69, Wellington Road so she, literally, married the boy next door! They had 6 sons and 1 daughter (my grandmother).
It must have been very exciting for Edward Hope and his family to live in Rhyl at this time. They would have seen Rhyl established as a parish in 1844. Prior to this the parish church was at Rhuddlan. Two years later they would have been able to stroll along the Esplanade (Rhyl’s first promenade) from High Street to Edward Henry Street. In 1848 they would have witnessed the railway coming to Rhyl thus helping to promote the flourishing tourist trade. In 1849 the first Town Halland Assembly Rooms opened in the High Street. The Vale Road Bridge opened in 1855 and in the same year Rhyl’s first newspaper was published. The opening of Rhyl Pier in 1868 must have been an amazing occasion and also the Winter Gardens in 1876 although this was short lived. On the day of Edward’s death St Thomas’ clock was set going (I don’t think the two events are connected !). The church bells at St Thomas’ first rang in December 1879. In the year of Letitia’s death Christ Church School was built in Vaughan Street and Edward Hope’s grandchildren would have been among the first pupils. Indeed my grandmother was very proud of the fact that she, my mother and I were all pupils at Christ Church School. It would be an interesting task to trace all of Edward Hope’s descendants-perhaps one day, when I have more time !!