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  • Writer's pictureJessica Feinstein

James Read, who lost his life in a flood

James Read was Ari’s 5x great-grandfather. He lost his life on 16 January 1841 in Fonthill Bishop, Wiltshire, after a rapid thaw caused the low ground to be inundated. A newspaper report the following week tells us what happened:


Wiltshire Independent, 21 January 1841



The same newspaper said that another man, Hezekiah Collins, had drowned at Laverstock after falling into the mill dam, and the city of Salisbury was completely flooded. “The water soon forced its way through the houses, and the street was rendered impassable for foot-passengers, fortunately no lives were lost, and the communication between this part of the city was kept up by means of carts, each passenger being charged threepence for his conveyance. On Monday morning the worshipful the Mayor, with his usual promptitude, called a public meeting at the Council Chamber for the purpose of adopting measures for the relief of those poor persons who had suffered from the flood. … many of the inhabitants of the town … readily entered into a subscription which very quickly amounted to £100, which is to be distributed among the poor.” (p. 3)


James’s death certificate tells us that he was a labourer, aged forty-five at the time of his death. He had been born in 1796, and baptised at the church in Fonthill Bishop on the 18th of December.


Wiltshire, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538–1812


James and his wife Jane had at least seven children. Reuben was born in 1824, Elizabeth in 1826, and Harriet in 1828. Mary Ann (Ari’s ancestor) was born in 1832, Charles in 1836, Jane in 1838 and Charlotte in 1840, so they would all have been very young when their father died.


James was buried in the churchyard on 19 January 1841.


Ari, this is how you are related to James:



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