The Story of the Oaten Family
It was in 1858 that Thomas JOINT, a shipwright, working in the maritime city of Bristol, and Theresa OATEN, originally from Taunton in Somerset were married at St. Jude’s Church, Bristol. The history of the JOINT family is covered separately, but here we trace the OATEN [or WOOTTON] family over a period of 400 years.
The earliest known OATENS came from the villages of Corfe, Pitminster and Otterford, situated a few miles to the south of Taunton in Somerset. However, like so many British families in the 1800’s, they endeavoured to secure a better life for themselves by migrating further afield. The U.S.A., Canada, Australia and New Zealand appear to have been favoured countries for the OATEN ancestors. However, some have been traced to France, Hong Kong, Brazil, Angola and even Russia.
Our earliest known OATEN ancestor was Ralph OATEN, who was born about 1606 at Otterford in the county of Somerset. His son, Michael OATEN was born about 1632 and the family line was continued when his son, also called Michael was baptised on 6th January 1674/75 at Corfe. In 1711 Michael married Amy PARKHOUSE at St. James’ Church, Taunton.
In 1743, William OATEN, son of Michael, married Hannah NEWBERRY and from 1776 until 1790 William was the Innkeeper of the “Cog Wheel Inn”, later called the “Holman Clavel”. The inn still stands today and with its low pitched roof, neatly whitewashed stone walls and pitch black window casements, it appears to have changed little from the days of William and Hannah. Their son Thomas OATEN was baptised in 1747 at Pitminster and at the age of 28 he married Susanna GUMMER. In 1776 Susannah gave birth to their first child, John OATEN and in 1803, still remaining in Pitminster, John married Hannah CHEEK.
John and Hannah had seven children, the fifth being Frederick OATEN, baptised 21st May 1813 at Pitminster and on 11th March 1832 he married Dinah BRADBEER at St. Giles Church, Thurloxton, near Bridgwater (Dinah was the great-great-granddaughter of the infamous Sarah Bradbeare of 1664). Between 1832 and 1855 they produced thirteen children, all born within a ten-mile radius of Taunton. However, the need to provide for such a large family meant that Frederick had to look further afield in order to improve his chances as a coach spring maker. At some point after the birth of their last child in 1855 and before the 1861 census, Frederick and Dinah took their large family and joined the many country people who were hoping to make a better life for themselves in the West Country capital of Bristol.
This was just the beginning of the OATEN migration for although some of Frederick and Dinah’s children remained in Bristol, others moved to other parts of the country and even other parts of the world.
John OATEN, the eldest of the thirteen was born in 1832 and baptised at Pitminster. On 5th November 1854, he married Mary Ann LUXTON, at Taunton St. James and produced six children during their marriage. All of the children reached adulthood, and several married and had families of their own. Sadly, the youngest child, Private Alfred OATEN, No. 33053, 1st Bn., Welsh Regiment, was killed at the Second Battle of Ypres on 25th May 1915. He was 44 years old. Alfred is commemorated at the Menin Gate, Belgium, beside the many others who bodies also lay “ In Flanders fields where poppies blow……….”
Maria OATEN was born in Wiveliscombe in 1834. On 23rd January 1860, at St. Jude’s, Bristol, she married George Thomas TRAPNELL, a butcher by trade. During the next eighteen years they had nine children and continued to live in the Bath/ Bristol area. In the early 1880’s they decided that the United States of America provided the best chances of advancement and so George and his son Frederick decided that they would go first and establish a base. Later Maria and seven of the children sailed from Bristol on board the “SS Warwick” and arrived in New York in August 1883. Daughter Emma Jane TRAPNELL married Albert Walton BARTLETT in 1889, in Kansas City Missouri. Below is a photograph of the BARTLETT family, taken in 1917.
Theresa OATEN was baptised 22nd May 1836 at Taunton, St. Mary. In 1858, at St. Judes, Bristol, she married Thomas William JOINT, the son of a gentleman’s tailor, who had moved to Bristol from Chulmleigh in Devon. Thomas was a shipwright and in the 1881 census he is stated to be living at Boars Head Yard, a short distance from the busy city docks and only a few streets away from the home of his parents. Theresa and Thomas’ first child, William Frederick, named after his two grandfathers, died at the age of two. However, in 1864 William Thomas JOINT was born. Theresa Elizabeth JOINT in 1866, Elizabeth Mary JOINT in 1870 and Emily Dinah JOINT in 1872 followed him. Full coverage for this family can be found under the Surnames List.
Eliza OATEN was born on 2nd April 1838 in Bridgwater. She married Thomas Bell DRAPER, a Derbyshire man, on Sunday 29th May 1864 at St. Philip and St. Jacob, Bristol, locally known as “Pip and Jays”. Thomas worked for the railways and in 1864 he was transferred from Bristol, back to the Midlands. Eliza and Thomas set up home in Swannington, about two miles north of the coalmining town of Coalville in Leicestershire, a town long associated with the railways, through its connection with George and Robert Stephenson, who had brought the railways there in order to facilitate the movement of coal. Herbert Oaten DRAPER was born 13th March 1865 and on his first birthday he and his parents arrived at Portland, Maine, after travelling from Liverpool on the “SS Hibernian”, a small three masted, one funnel ship. Six more children were born to Eliza and Thomas. The family made their home in Iowa and it was there, in Evergreen Cemetery, Red Oak, that Eliza was buried.
Emma OATEN was born 2nd August 1840 at East Reach, Taunton. On 5th November 1859, at the Church of St. Michael, Bristol, she married William HARRIS, a shoemaker by trade. Following the example of her sister Eliza, Emma, her husband William and their daughter Helena Anne, then aged three years, decided that the U.S.A. would offer better opportunities. They sailed from Liverpool on the “Alexander Marshall” and arrived in New York on 17th July 1868. The family settled in Nashville. Tennessee, where in 1872, their son Frederick was born.
Frederick OATEN was born 13th August 1842 at Queen Street, Taunton. He not only carried his father’s name, but also followed his father’s profession of coachwright. He married Clara HORWOOD IN 1864 in Bristol and it was in East Bristol that the family settled. They had six children; all born in Bristol and their grandchildren also remained there.
Mary Ann OATEN was born 10th April 1844 at East Reach, Taunton. She married Thomas BUSSELL on 16th January 1870 at Holy Trinity Church, East Bristol. They had two children.
William James OATEN was born 4th March 1846 at Mount Lane, Taunton. He was a “hatter shaper” by trade and in 1865 he married Emma Victoria FRANKCOM, a Bristol girl born in 1840. They decided to live in Bristol and it was there that their only child, Ada OATEN was born in 1869. Sadly, Emma died in 1880 and William decided that although he would remain in this country, he would seek better prospects in London. It was in London that he met Caroline LEE and in 1884 they were married in St. Saviours.
Jane OATEN was born 31st July 1848 at Mount Lane, Taunton. On Christmas Day 1870, Jane wed James MORSE, a commercial clerk. They were married at Holy Trinity Church, Bristol. They later moved to London where their son Walter James MORSE was born in 1875. Walter married Caroline Jane SLEDGE in 1897 and their son James Charles MORSE was born in Poplar and is recorded as one month old on the 1901 census.
Robert OATEN was born 16th March 1850 at Mount Lane, Taunton and sadly, it would appear that he died at the age of sixteen.
Henry [Harry] OATEN was born 3rd November 1851 at Mount Lane, Taunton. He married Mary A. DAVIS in Bristol in 1873 and they made their home in Greenbank Road, St. George. They appear on the census’ for 1881 and 1891 and during that time their seven children were born. However, by 1901 the family had moved to Erith in Kent.
Francis Walter OATEN was born 16th March 1853 at Paul Street, Taunton. On 16th June 1873, he married Elizabeth Rebecca GRIFFITHS at St. James’ Church, Bristol. Francis and Elizabeth had six children - Ernest, Horace, Alice, Percy, Augustus and Beatrice. Ernest Walter OATEN was the most famous child and achieved recognition through his industrious efforts for Spiritualism. In 1916, he led a Parliamentary campaign for the legal recognition of Spiritualism and made the first Spiritualist broadcast on the B.B.C. In 1919, he became editor of “The Two Worlds”. His organisational skills and understanding of Spiritualism stood him in good stead when he became tour organiser and right-hand man to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Edward OATEN was born 16th January 1855 in Paul Street, Taunton. In 1878 he married Evangeline Louisa WILLSMAN and they had one son. In June 1905 Edward left Liverpool on the “Celtic”, first of the White Star Lines big four, one of which was the “SS Titanic”. He arrived in New York on 25th June 1905 and whilst in the U.S.A. visited Eliza and Thomas DRAPER in Red Oak Iowa.
Frederick OATEN died of Bronchitis on 22nd January 1888, at 27 Gladstone Street, Bristol, aged 74. His son Fred, who lived a short distance away at Lawrence Hill, was the informant. Less than four months later Dinah OATEN died in 13th May 1888 at the home of her daughter, Theresa JOINT, at 6 Brandon Street, St. George’s Road, Bristol. Dinah was 77 years old. A romantic might say that this was the result of a broken heart, after losing her partner after a marriage lasting 56 years, and they may be correct. However, the physical conditions that brought about her death were Bronchitis and a weak heart.
During their time together, Frederick and Dinah had achieved the near impossible for those times. They had produced a family of thirteen and with one exception, all had reached adulthood, had married and had families of their own. When Frederick and Dinah decided to uproot themselves and move their family from the relative tranquillity of Somerset, to the grime and squalor of the industrialised city of Bristol, they could little have realised the consequences of their action. The move was instrumental in providing a springboard for the future of the OATENS. Some remained in Bristol and prospered, whilst others chose to seek opportunities in the New World. The journey from Taunton may have been one small step for a man, but was one giant step for the future generations of OATENS.
Also see: -