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John Hallett

(1858 - 1939)

John Hallett was born to parents Thomas and Caroline and baptised on 13 June 1858 at Kingsbury Episcopi; he had five sisters and two brothers.

At the time of the 1861 census, John and his family were recorded at West Lambrook Kingsbury Episcopi, John being two years old. His father Thomas was working as a brick & tile maker. Also living with the family was 13 year old George Male, working as a general servant to the family.

The 1871 census shows the family living at 3 Lake, Kingsbury. John is recorded as 13 years old and employed as an agricultural labourer. John's father appears to have changed job and was working as an agricultural labourer. His mother Caroline had a recorded occupation of gloving labourer.

John's father died of consumption (tuberculosis) in May of 1871 at the age of 51.

On August 16th 1877, at the age of 19, John married 21 year old Hannah (Annie) Dowden in St. Johns Church, Maindee in the parish of Christchurch, Monmouth. The marriage certificate identifies John to have been working as a brick maker and the fact that he 'made his mark' suggests he was unable to write. Interestingly, John describes his father's occupation as foreman of a brick yard.

Marrying in Monmouth has yet to be explained as both John and Annie were from Somerset. It is possible that they moved to Monmouth independently and met whilst there. Certainly John was an experienced brick maker and with the coal industry in South Wales in its infancy, his skills would have been readily sought.

Their first son Herbert John was born at 9 Cannon Street, Christchurch, Monmouth on 11 September 1878. John's recorded occupation was that of brick maker.

The 1881 census places the family at 22 Amelia Terrace, Ystradyfodwg, Glamorgan. John has a recorded occupation of labourer.

A further son, Job was born in late in 1881. It is uncertain as to whether Job was born in Wales or Somerset, certainly his birth was registered in Bridgwater.

The family had clearly moved to Bridgwater sometime before 1884 as evidenced by the birth of Annie Louise who was baptised at St John Baptist on 12 December 1884. The family were living at Bath Road place and John was working as a labourer.

John's fourth child Ellen Eliza was born on 15 February 1887, but not baptised until January 1888. The family had moved to 26 Wellington Place, Bridgwater and John was still working as a labourer. The baptism, recorded at St John Baptist, Bridgwater, was believed to be private, indicating that perhaps the baptism had taken place somewhere within the parish, but not in the church itself.

It may be that Ellen Eliza was a twin, certainly the 1891 census has a 4 year old Selina in the family house. Notably though, Selina and Ellen are never recorded on the same documentation at the same time and no Selina birth could be found in the GRO indexes.

Mabel Sara Hallett was Baptised on 5 June 1889 in All Saints Chapel. The records for All Saints were maintained by St John Baptist. The family were still at Wellington Place and John worked as a labourer.

At the time of the 1891 census the family were living at 32 Wellington Place, Bridgwater. John was recorded as 32 years old and working as a labourer at the local gas works.

John's next child Bessie Beatrice was baptised at St Johns on 21 August 1891. Their abode is recorded as Wellington Road, Bridgwater. This is perhaps an error and should have read Wellington Place. John was working as a labourer

The baptism record of Lilly May, born 1893? has yet to be found.

A further child, Bertie George, was baptised in St Johns on 26 June 1895. The recorded is marked "MC" which is believed to refer to the baptism having taken place at the Mission Chapel. John was working as a labourer and the family were living in Wellington Place.

Gladys Irene Hallett was baptised in the parish of St John, Bridgwater on 6 January 1897. Again the register was marked "MC" and John was working as a labourer. A new address is recorded of 8 Wellington Place.

Eva Maud was baptised in the parish of St John on 5 October 1898. The register was marked "MC" and John was working as a labourer. The family had again moved, to 82 St John Street, Bridgwater.

The year 1900 was to change the fortunes of John and his family. The brother of John's father also named John, had emigrated to America in the 1850's, setting up home in Toledo, Ohio. John accumulated substantial sums of money and owned a number of properties.

'Toledo John' died on 13 November 1899, and after making a number of specific provisions to friends, he bequeathed the balance of his estate to his sister and nieces and nephews including of course, John.

The 1901 census for Bridgwater identifies John, Annie and the children living at 'Cruffs Cottage', Liberty Place. John is described as 'living on own means' suggesting he was in receipt of the money from his uncle.

It is known that John acquired or built a number of properties in Bridgwater, including a group of properties called Pathfinder Terrace in Colley Lane. The name was reportedly chosen as it was the Pathfinder that Uncle John had sailed on to America.

John's eldest son, Herbert John married in December 1902. Surprisingly, the marriage certificate states that his father's occupation was that of 'labourer'.

In 1911 John received the following letter from his nephew in Adelaide, Australia:

Dear Uncle, - Father has asked me to write to you to inquire if you knew of some real, good, steady men who would care to come out here.

Things in South Australia, are very prosperous just now. We have been having some exceptionally good harvests during the last. few years, and it has made things in almost every trade very busy, with the result that we cannot get men enough to do the work there is to be done. The building trade is exceptionally busy, and carpenters, masons, plasterers, painters, in fact all men connected with the building trade are very hard to get.

But, to come to our own case - men for brickyard work. We cannot get sandstock moulders, nor men for clay digging, and father thought perhaps you might know some good reliable men who could do this sort of work., and who would, perhaps, like to come out here. We could do with about half a dozen moulders; and if we had fifty out here we could find work for theirs in - brickyards in this district.

Sandstock moulders are paid piecework 8s. 6d per 1,000, and we have got on 33 of them. They work eight hours per day (48 hours per week), and they average £3 per week. Of course some earn up to £3 15s. per week, while others only earn about £2 10s., but an average man can earn £3 very easily. Clay temperers are also paid piecework, from 4s. to 4s. 6d. per 1,000, according to the distance they have to wheel the clay, and they can earn anything from £3 to £4 5s. per week of 48 hours.

If you know of any men about, if it was only two or three, or if you could get ten or twenty, we could do with that number ourselves. We should be glad if you will write and let us know. Father said if you could get good men he would not mind advancing the money for their fares; they could pay us back so much at a time when they got out here. I think the fare is about £17.

Board and lodging costs from about 15s .to £1 per week, and the climate is all right. We do not get it really so hot as we did a few years ago. The hottest day in Summer is very seldom 100 deg. in the shade, and we have got two or three men from England working for us now, and they like the climate. Even if any one came out and did not like it they could save enough to go back again in about four or five months. We would not recommend any one over 40 or 45 years to come out.

If you can do anything at all in this matter we should be glad to know.

Your affectionate nephew, THOS. HALLETT.
22 March 1911


John helped his brother in Australia by sending the above letter to a local newspaper, the Bridgwater Mercury. He accompanied the letter with the following:



Sir, - having received the letter from my nephew of which the enclosed is a copy I thought there might be some who would like to embrace the opportunity offered. I am, therefore, writing to ask you to give insertion to enclosed. This being a brickyard district the information it contains seems to be of local interest. Any one interested may see the original letter, on application to me. Thanking you in anticipation,

I remain yours truly,
JOHN HALLETT, Pathfinder-terrace, Bridgwater, May 6th


This letter is significant for two reasons, firstly John had clearly moved to Pathfinder Terrace. Secondly, the letter appears to be well written for someone who 34 years prior was unable to sign his name on his marriage certificate.

The 16 August 1937 was the diamond wedding anniversary of John and Annie. The occasion was celebrated with a party at which a number of photographs were taken. The event was attended by the Mayor of Bridgwater and was reported upon by the Bridgwater Mercury.



Mr. and Mrs. John Hallett, of 9 Pathfinder-terrace, Bridgwater, on Monday celebrated their diamond wedding, and received many presents and messages of congratulation on the happy event. They were married at Newport Mon., in 1877. Mr. Hallett was born at Kingsbury, near Langport and his wife is a native of Weston Zoyland, her maiden name being Dowden. They have nine surviving children, three sons and six daughters, and 17 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. All three sons served in the Great War.

Both the aged couple are in fairly good health. Mr. Hallett worked for 26 years for the Bridgwater Gas Co., but has lived in retirement for some years.


In the afternoon there was a family party, and among those attending as visitors were the Mayor and Mayoress (Alderman F. J. Reed and Councillor Mrs Reed), the Rev. H. Durose and Mrs. Durose. The Mayor expressed the great pleasure it had given both his wife and himself to join them on that unique and happy occasion. They had enjoyed the friendship of Mr and Mrs. Hallett for many years and heartily congratulated them upon the celebration that day of their diamond wedding, offering their most sincere wishes for their future happiness. Among the congratulatory messages was one from the Mayor and Mayoress of Bridgwater.

In view of the reference made in the "Bridgwater Mercury" from time to time concerning the origin of the street names of Bridgwater it is interesting to record that Pathfinder-terrace, Where Mr. and Mrs. Hallett reside, was built and named by Mr. Hallett after a vessel in which an uncle went to sea more than threequarters of a century ago.

Royal Congratulations. - Mr. And Mrs. John Hallett, of 9, Pathfinder-terrace, Colley-lane, who recently celebrated their diamond wedding, have received the following telegram from Balmoral: The King and Queen send you hearty congratulations and good wishes on your diamond wedding day which you have recently celebrated. - Private Secretary.

The newspaper article mentions that John had worked for the Bridgwater Gas Co. for 26 years, indicating that despite his inheritance, he still needed or wished to work.

The GRO records (5c 332) identify the death of a 70 year old, Bridgwater John Hallett in q2 1939.

Much of the above information was provided by Geoff Hallett who lives in Canada and has researched the Hallett family in great detail. Significant contributions to Geoff's research on John Hallett's [ 1796 ] descendants have been made by Bob and Lynette Stunell of Adelaide, Australia and Bert Hallett of Kurri Kurri, NSW, Australia.