John Mastin of Hodnet
(Born at Fenton in 1798. Died at Achnashalloch, Scotland in 1865)
His father died when he was 15 and his mother when he was 23. We have no record of where he lived or what he did after the death of his parents, but he must have served his time as a joiner. Again we do know that a lot of Mastins lived in the area at the time.
When he reached the age of 32, he gained the position of joiner at Hawkstone Hall, Shropshire working for Viscount Lord Hill. Lord Hill was having his house substantially altered at a great expense and the adjacent park remodelled with a series of romantic follies so appreciated by the Victorians. The house is now a Grade I Georgian Mansion.
Hawkstone Hall, Shropshire, where John worked from 1830 to 1865
John lived at Marchamley in the School House, School Lane, where he had built the School room in the 1830's. In 1830, John married local girl Anne Brayne from Market Drayton on the 18th February. So, he joined Lord Hill, got married and had their first child in the same year. I do find this hard to believe and I wonder if he had been previously employed at Hawkstone Hall or other employment in the area before this date. It seems a short time for a new job, a courtship and having a child.
His wife Anne's father was described as a 'currier' ( a person who dresses and colours leather) and on his retirement lived with John and his wife at Marchamley. I think the Brayn Family were also well educated, and one of Anne's nephews or cousins was Sir Richard Brayn who was medical superintendent to Broadmoor Prison and chief advisor on lunacy to the Home Office.
John and Anne had 10 children, 5 sons and 5 daughters: John in 1830, Anne 1833, Mary 1834, William 1836, Joseph 1838, Jane and Rebecca (the twins) 1840, Elizabeth 1842, Charles 1844, and George Butler in 1847. J.M. says George died in infancy but J.B. has found a record of a George Butler Mastin marrying. This needs further checking.
In 1860/62, Lord Hill acquired an estate in Ross-shire, Scotland, and had a Lodge built at Achnashalloch. Scotland was being made popular by Queen Victoria, who had come to the thone in 1837. In 1865, John was sent to the Lodge to carry out some work. At that time the Railway through Glen Carron had not been built and part of the journey to the Lodge would have been by sea. John was 66, not a young man, and the journey, by himself, must have been quite an experience. He stayed at the Lodge, possibly in the servants quarters, which are described as "a series of low, ill-lit rooms in the roof space connected by crooked triangular-shaped passages which could be traversed in comfort only by headless one armed dwarfs".
John of Hodnet's grave, Lochcarron Cemetary
In July of 1865, John was taken seriously ill. He must have been extremely uncomfortable in these dreadful quarters and although he was attended by a doctor, and he died alone without his wife and children by his bedside. His death certificate describes him as being a House Carpenter, and cause of death kidney failure. It would take several days for his wife to be informed and, because of the heat of the summer, burial could not be delayed. He is buried at Lochcarron Cemetery. Lord Hill, I hope with remorse at sending an old man to such an inaccessible and lonely place, erected a gravestone commending John's 35 years service to him. In any event Lord Hill sold the Lodge two years later.
His death must have been devastating to Anne back in Marchamley, not even being able to go to his funeral. Her eldest son, John, who had moved to Sheffield and married, came back with his pregnant wife to comfort her. His wife, also called Anne, stayed and gave birth to her own son, which they called John. This must have been some comfort for granny Anne but nevertheless she gave up life and died the following year in 1866 at the age of 55, presumably of a broken heart. Her grandson John later became the famous Sheffield artist, author and scientist. Anne is buried at Hodnet Church, Shropshire.
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