Marriage and Argentina
On 3 September 1900 [Oswestry 1900, 3rd qt] in St Barnabas Church, Hengoed, Thomas married Rachel (Jane) Jackson, the daughter of a farmer William Jackson and Harriet (née Jones) of Pentre Clawdd farm, Selattyn, though in the 1891 and 1901 censuses they were farming Preeshenlle, Gobowen. This report of the wedding provides a detailed description of events and of the wedding gifts. Rachel, known as Jenny, came from a large family and she herself was a twin, born in Gobowen, near Selattyn, Shropshire in 1874 [Oswestry 1874, 1st qt]; her twin, Leah, was known as Polly and she emigrated to Canada.
At the time of the 1901 census Thomas and Rachel were 'visiting' his sister Miriam at the School House, Ruabon, and he was a solicitor’s clerk but this was also their address in July that year. In 1900 Thomas had been involved in the liquidation of the Penrhyn Copper Mining Syndicate, of which he was Company Secretary (see documents). It owned an old mine about four miles from Portmadoc and results had been good until mismanagement brought it down. German-born Paul Mowiz Mowis, a Director of the company, lost money in the venture and was a lowly brick modeller in 1903 when he became personally bankrupt. Thomas's liabilities are not known but this event may have been life-changing for him.
Thomas and Rachel’s first child, Olwen Mary Owen Shelby, was born on 31 July 1901 [Wrexham 1901, 3rd qt]. The Ruabon church record of her christening on 13 September 1901 states that Thomas was then a school-master, living with 'Rachel Jane' at Ruabon School House. If correct, then this was a significant but brief career change. At some time between then and August 1903 the family went to live in Argentina. Tragically, Olwen died of meningitis in Buenos Aires on Saturday, 15 August 1903. She was buried the following day in Lavalloh Cemetery, Buenos Aires, (at the bottom of this map) and I was told that her mother thereafter always wore black. (More photos on next page)
At the time, Rachel was expecting their second child, James Henry Shelby, who was born on 26 October 1903 in Banfield (see map), Provincia De Buenos Aires. Thomas and Rachel’s third child Thomas William Anderson Shelby was born in Buenos Aires on 29 May 1908.