James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Isabel & John Bennett

For several years all I knew of Isabel's family after 1861 was that in 1871 Catherine Ann was living with her aunt, Sarah Ann Shelby When I did eventually find Isabel Ellen Roberts in the 1870 US census and then her mother in the 1871 Welsh census an intriguing picture emerged.

Some time shortly after the 1861 census a man called John Bennett became Isabel’s new partner. Their son, Timothy Owen Bennett, was born in Ruthin, Denbighshire in 1862. Their daughter, Victoria Bennett, was born on 5 March 1864 in Llwyngwril, Merionethshire (map 5). On Victoria’s birth certificate John Bennett was named as the father and the mother was ‘Isabel Bennett, formerly Owen’ but I have found no evidence that they married. (She later claimed she was ‘Isabel Roberts formerly Owens’ on her child's birth certificate in 1868 and that she was a ‘spinster’, ‘Isabel Roberts', in 1870 on the certificate of her 2nd marriage.)

Since her association with John Bennett occurred between censuses we can only speculate as to his identity. In the 1861 census Isabel was living at number 10 Menloves Row, Domgay, in the parish of Llandysilio, the parish in which she had been born (map 1). According to the census she was still married and a dressmaker and with her was her daughter Isabel Ellen; her other daughter, Catherine, was staying with Isabel’s parents, James and Susannah, in Montgomery. Boarding at number 4 Menloves Row in 1861 were John Bennett, twenty-six, (other evidence suggests he was actually twenty-seven), a railway ganger, his younger brother Thomas who was a railway navie and another railway navie; a railway ganger was someone who oversaw a gang of railway workers. On Victoria’s birth certificate the occupation of her father, John Bennett, was ‘railway ganger’. Railway expansion was taking place throughout Wales at that time and John clearly moved around to find employment. He had been born in about 1834 in Caersws or Trefeglwys in Montgomeryshire. His parents were John Bennett, an agricultural labourer, and Jane (née Owen, though not, I believe, related to James Owen). Jane and John had married in Trefeglwys on 12 September 1835.

The John Bennett who fathered Isabel's two children may well have died before 1871, or perhaps he left Wales; he does not appear on any Welsh censuses after 1861. The IGI shows a John Bennett who had been born in Montgomeryshire on 15 February 1834 and died in about 1934 married Mrs Anna Garner in Vaughnsville, Putnam, Ohio, in 1869 and married Mrs Mary Norris in Kansas in 1894. Timothy's marriage certificate states that his father was not John Bennett but John Roberts, a mechanic.