Local newspapers can be a wonderful resource for the family historian, especially if a well to do ancestor hits upon hard times.
The King family roots in the parish of Lydiard Tregoze date back to the 18th century when they farmed areas now buried beneath the 1980s West Swindon development. Richard Dore King was born in about 1776 and by 1812 was married and living at Mannington Farm.
Mannington, along with Toothill and Whitehill Farms, formed part of the Charterhouse estate in Lydiard Tregoze. Thomas Sutton bought the three farms in 1605 to help finance the hospital and school for 40 poor boys he founded on the site of a Carthusian Monastery in the Smithfield area of London.
By 1828 it appears the King family had hit hard times. An advertisement in the local press announced that Swindon auctioneer William Dore would be conducting an extensive sale at Mannington Farm ‘under a distress for rent and an assignment for the benefit of creditors.’
The three day sale began on Wednesday December 18 and drawing attention to the shortness of the days and the great number of lots, Mr Dore asked prospective buyers to attend on time.
Among the animals for sale were 36 cows and two bulls, seven cart horses and three nag horses. There were water troughs, cow cribs and sheep cages along with post and rails, scales and weights and tools of husbandry on the for sale list.
Everything in the dairy was up for grabs as well, from a capital oak double cheese press to milk buckets and yokes and about three hundred weight of Thin Cheeses, a North Wiltshire speciality.
But saddest of all was the sale of household furniture, particularly the beds, a much prized possession in any early 19th century home. Richard’s wife Elizabeth would no doubt have shed a tear over parting with her ‘two lofty four post Bedsteads in chintz and cotton furniture with window curtains to match, capital goose feather and flock beds, Mattresses, Blankets, sheets, quilts and coverlets.’
From two mahogany dining tables with circular ends and two sets of horsehair dining chairs to sundry prints glazed and framed, there could have been little left in the spacious farmhouse at the end of the three day sale.
What had led to Richard’s predicament remains unknown, but he obviously owed a lot of people, including his Charterhouse landlords, a lot of money.
But this wasn’t the end of Richard Dore King. At the time of the 1841 census he was living at North Lains Farm in Even Swindon. He died two years later and is buried in the churchyard at St. Mary’s, Lydiard Tregoze, his grave surmounted by an impressive monument. Now that must have cost a bob or two back in the day.
The King dynasty continued and in 1851 Richard’s widow Elizabeth King was living at Whitehill Farm, another Charterhouse property, with her unmarried son and daughter, Richard Dore King junior and Sarah Sheppard King.
When Richard Dore King junior died in 1862 he left effects to the value of about £5,000, worth in the region of £4 million today.
The King family graves at St Mary's Church, Lydiard Tregoze.
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