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Dowling

A record held in the Somerset archive (Q/SR/134/5) describes the evidence was given by Mary Dowlinge, a single woman, against John White  a leadminer, concerning the theft of cheeses belonging to Mr Brice of Chewton. The record is dated 26th December 1677 but the Dowling family were probably resident before that. A William Dowling was signing churchwarden accounts as an overseer in 1705 and members of the family appear consistently in the records until the modern era.
 William Dowling may have lived in the Dowlings Farm that was identified in the 1839 tithe map. Although that was drawn almost a 100 years after William’s death, the Dowling name appeared to have stuck.
 Ann Dowling of Chewton Mendip married John Cramphoine in Chewton Mendip on 14/10/1732 and they may have briefly lived in Eakers Hill or wherever the his estate was based.
Not all members of the family were such pillars of the community. A number of records dated  6th January 1735 (Q/SR/303/17 and Q/SR/303/20-21) describes evidence given by a number of people against Richard Dowling accusing him of stealing a sheep. It was alleged that he agreed to the dastardly deed in the Falcon Inn. There are several references to ‘ye Inn’ around that date but no name for the inn is given. He had upset some powerful figures because his main accuser was Francis Exon, a servant to Robert Hipsley of Chewton. Robert Hippisley was the reeve of the manor of Chewton Mendip and  depositions were given by Francis Board and Thomas Green who were both substantial people at the time.
 He appears to have survived despite the weight of the opposition against him because a Richard Dowling was removed from Chewton Mendip to Wells according t an oder given on 29th February 1740 (Q/SR/308/39). Richard and his wife Mary along with their seven children were all carted off to Wells, the youngest child, Elizabeth or Betty, was probably five years old.
 Henry Dowling of Stone Easton married Mary Webb of Dindon (Dinder?) on 8/8/1746. This was may help to explain why the Dowlings were paying poor rates for land in the East End tithing. This marriage also identifies one of the many Mary Dowlings that lived in the village in the mid 18th century.
 Thomas Dowling guardA Thomas Dowling married Mary Blannnen  of Chewton Mendip 12th May 1737 and it is assumed that he was the Thomas Dowling that was in need of guarding c1751. It was relatively common for the parish to pay for the examination of people to determine their right of settlement. There are other examples of the parish paying for people being guarded by somebody who may have been the local constable. The last item about George Blannin having smallpox may suggest that the reason for guarding Thomas Dowling was he too had small pox but the reference to a jury is more ominous. Very few people could sit on juries at the time. Only men were considered suitable and the same names as the overseers appear in the list of people qualified to sit on juries.
 For some reason, Thomas Dowling died soon after. ‘Goal fever’, which may have been typhoid, smallpox  and cholera were all diseases that claimed many lives.
 Thomas Dowling Funeral 1751The next page of the Poor Book records the costs of Thomas Dowlings’s funeral paid for by the parish. He may have died  of natural causes or he may have been executed.
 Small pox was later the cause of death of  two of his children but Mary survived and was subsequently employed to care for other small pox victims. She would have had immunity from the disease and the parish frequently paid the recipients of poor relief to provide services to other poor people of the community as a whole.
 Another interesting family link in the context of this website is when Leah Dowling married James Blanning on 26/7/1754. A William Dowling was removed from Stoke Lane (Stoke St Michael) and returned to Chewton Mendip and the parish had to pay to transport his goods to Chewton Mendip.
A John Dowling was apprenticed to the Taswell Estate which may have been managed by  Millard & Addely.  The year 1756 is specified as the date of his apprentice which suggests he was born c1746.
 Things were going from bad to worse for Mary Dowling. Her husband had died c1751 and two of her children died c1756, probably of smallpox. She survived and would have been immune so she was paid to nurse other people afflicted by the awful disease.
 Another Mary Dowling provides an example that the poor relief was not without sympathy. The harsh treatment of the workhouse was a Victorian development. Mary may have been a native of Norwich who may have been married to a Chewton Mendip resident. Parishes were not required to support people who did no have the right of settlement so perhaps Mary was a ‘Chewton Mendip Dowling’ who had illegitimate children. The poor-law records list the support that she and her children were provided with during the 1760s.
 An apparently insignificant entry in 1767 states “…Pd Jas Dowling for carrying of ye bed & bedstead to the folly for Sus Jones…”. There are several previous references to James Dowling as a recipient and Susan Jones was probably an abandoned wife but what is signficant about this piece of ‘workfare’ is the reference to the ‘folly’. Other records from about this date make references to a Folly House and the records contradict the assumption that the group of cottages dated 1785 were the original ‘folly’.
 The next reference to James Dowling  c1768 does not specify where he lived but one explanation for the source of the name was the irresponsible behaviour of the people staying there. “…Pd the expenses in taking of John Dowling & Mary Cottle before a justice of the peace for living loose and disorderly lives…“. Other records show that Mary Cottle had suffered illness and had been cared for by the parish suggesting the Folly was used as a form of hospital. The next record is an indication of how disorderly John Dowling was. “…Pd the Expenses of carrying John Dowling to Shepton Bridewell…”. Shepton Mallet was the local jail but there are no further records for John Dowling discovered so far.
 Several records from about 1768 are example of how compassionate the poor relief could be. “…Pd for several letters from Tewksbury from Patience Dowlings children & from James Grace at Gurnesey…“. These records also hint at the level of literacy and show how far people traveled.
 Daniel Dowling may have been related the Richard Dowling who had been transported to St Cuthbert’s in 1740. Daniel was described as living in St Cuthberts, Wells when he married Hanah Loxton in Pilton on 26/1/1807.
A W Dowling was buried in Chewton Mendip in 1947.
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