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Johanna Yates Murch

Biography of RNH gg grandmother

Johanna Murch was born 4 February 1844 in Ottery St Mary, Devon to Samuel Murch, a silk weaver, and his wife Joanna (Yates) Murch, the same year that the railway came to Devon. It is interesting to note that on the birth certificate, her forename is spelt Joanna, on her marriage certificate it is spelt Johanna, and in the death register (and on the death certificate) it is spelt Johanna Yates Haywood (note: 'Yates' as a middle name only appears on her death registration and death certificate). When Johanna was born, she already had five sisters and one brother: Mary, Sarah, Samuel, Emily, Hephzibah, and Harriett. Alice and Ebenezer were added to the family after Johanna.

In 1845 Johanna's father became a steward in the local 'silk manufactory', working with approximately 400 workers (mostly female). Working with textiles was a family tradition, from the earliest Murches who were woolcombers, through weavers, lacemakers, and now silk weavers. Johanna's sister, Emily, became a Court dressmaker.

In 1845, Samuel's daughter by his first marriage, Anna Maria Murch, died from consumption aged only 19. Disease played a large part in the Murch family's life: when Johanna was only three, there was a cholera epidemic in Ottery St Mary (but none of the Murches died), and again in 1865.

But before that, in 1851, was the glittering event that was the Great Exhibition of works of art and industry at Crystal Palace in London, visited by six million people. Perhaps the Murch family, including a seven-year-old Johanna, were part of that six million?

Small earthquakes were felt in Ottery St Mary in 1863 and 1868, then more tragedy befell the Murch family. After the aforementioned cholera epidemic in 1865, there was a huge fire in the small town of Ottery St Mary which destroyed 120 buildings (some cottages catching fire more than once), among them Johanna's family home - the Western Times of Exeter reports her father as being 'deprived of his habitation'! He also lost his job, so he and his wife and only one daughter, Emily, were living at a new address in Hind Street on the 1871 census. His wife, Joanna, died in 1873 of bronchitis.

Three years after the 1866 fire, however, Johanna married John Haywood in the local Independent chapel on 30 September 1869. Johanna's youngest brother, Ebenezer, was one of the witnesses, and the other, Jane Page, stayed a spinster for over 30 years until she married Johanna's beloved John in 1903!

In 1870, Johanna's first baby was born, a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy they named Edmund John, followed two years later by Samuel Murch Haywood and three years after that by Ernest.

But this last birth proved too much for Johanna. She died nine days after the birth, aged only 31, with the causes of death on the death certificate listed as 'gastritis 3 days, diarrhoea, exhaustion'.


Owner/SourceRos Haywood
Linked toMURCH, Johanna (Yates)

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