Peasants to Puddles
My Family History - By Nicky Rowberry

The Rucks

Sarah Ruck was one of my 3 x great grandmothers and is one of my most interesting female ancestors, having had 4 husbands and possibly 10 children. She was born in 1799 in Kilpeck, Herefordshire, the daughter of Edward Ruck & Mary Grindon. Edward & Mary Ruck also had 5 other children born in and around the Kilpeck/Orcop area in Herefordshire.

Sarah married her first husband George Rowberry in 1817 in Orcop, with her sister Anne Ruck as her witness. Sarah had three other sisters (plus a brother who died as an infant), but Anne seems to have been the closest, as she appears again at various points in Sarah's life. George & Sarah had at least 5 children together and today there are many living descendants of their oldest son William Rowberry.

It seems likely that George Rowberry died sometime in the late 1820's. A George of the right age did die in 1828 in the Infirmary in Hereford, but his surname was recorded as Rowlan - perhaps wrongly recorded for Rowberry. Whatever happened to him, by 1829 Sarah was described as "single-woman", when she had her son James baptised in Much Dewchurch. In 1832, she married William Rowberry, George's younger brother in Hereford St Nicholas church. It was illegal in those days to marry your dead brother's wife, so it seems they went into Hereford, where no-one would know them, to do the deed. William & Sarah went on to have 3 more children, before William died in 1837.

In the 1841 census Sarah is to be found at Kilpeck still, described as aged 40 and a shopkeeper. With her are two children from her first marriage, William & Mary, and three from her second marriage - Hannah, Eliza & Emma. Her son James was living in nearby Kentchurch, working as an agricultural labourer at the age of 12. Another possible child of hers, Elijah Rowberry, was also living in Kilpeck as a child labourer.

In 1846, Sarah married for the third time, to Thomas Nations, almost 20 years her senior. The witnesses at this marriage included Ann Bishop, her eldest surviving daughter from her first marriage to George Rowberry. Thomas Nations was also a widower, his first wife Jane having died some years ago. In 1851 Thomas & Sarah were living in St Devereux, all her children living elsewhere by this time. Two of Sarah's children, James & Hannah, were living with Sarah's sister Ann, now Ann Niblett, and her husband in Orcop.

Thomas Nations died in 1856 in St Devereux. He left a will, in which he split the bulk of his estate between his wife Sarah, his son Thomas and his daughter Ellen. Two months later, his daughter Ellen Nations, married James Rowberry, Sarah Ruck's son! James's sister Emma Rowberry was one of the witnesses. Emma Rowberry spent some time at least working for John Coleman as his housekeeper after his wife Elizabeth Nations had died. In August 1851 it was reported in the Hereford Times that Emma had been the one to find John's young son (also John) drowned in a well. The inquest recorded a verdict of accidental death.

So Sarah was widowed again. In 1861, she can be found living with her sister Ann Niblett in Orcop at the Fountain Inn. Sadly by then her son James was also a widower, as his wife Ellen Nations had died in 1858. Sarah married for the fourth time in 1865 in Orcop again this time to a younger man. Her husband was Matthew Meredith, a mason. Sarah died in 1873 in Orcop, having finally found a husband who could outlive her. I like to think Sarah Ruck must have had something about her, not everyone has four husbands!

Sarah's parents were Edward Ruck and Mary Grindon who had married in Orcop in 1792. Edward was a farmer and lived in the Kilpeck/Orcop area all his life.

Edward and Mary had 5 daughters and one boy; sadly their only son died as an infant. Mary died in 1840, but Edward survived until 1851, at which point he was living in Orcop with his grand-daughter Hannah Gough and his great grandson Albert Gough. He died later that year at the ripe old age of 83. He'd done well enough in life to feel the need to make a will, although his entire estate was valued at less than 20. He left most of his worldly goods (chattels and crops) to his eldest daughter Ann Niblett and her husband. This included the house occupied by his grandson William Rowberry. His daughters Elizabeth Evans and Sarah Nations each got 5 and Sophia Thomas got 5 shillings. His other daughter Frances Evans had died 10 years before he made his will.

Edward Ruck was born in 1768 in Kilpeck, the youngest son of Edward Ruck & Elizabeth Ritchetts who had married there in 1746.

I don't know anything at all about this Edward Ruck senior other than the bare facts gleaned from the parish registers. He was born in 1718 in Kilpeck, the son of John & Margaret Ruck. Edward & Elizabeth had 10 children in Kilpeck between 1747 and 1771. Edward seems to have died in 1787 and Elizabeth in 1803 (I think she was a bit younger than him). It would be nice to at least find out what he did for a living - probably something agricultural, I doubt there was much else in Kilpeck in the mid 1700s.

As to Edward's parents John & Margaret Ruck, I know even less. I've not managed to find a marriage for them so at the moment I don't even know Margaret's surname. They had at least 6 children between 1702 and 1718, so I guess they would have been born around 1670-1680. Margaret died in 1744 and John Ruck in 1756, both in Kilpeck still. There must be lots of Ruck descendants out there, so please do get in touch if you have any connections to this family.

The family tree below summarises what I know about the above generations of the Ruck family. It is hopefully reasonably accurate, but if you spot any errors, or any relatives, please feel free to E-mail me

Please click on one of the red links on the tree to move to a different page.

If any of the above is of further interest, please feel free to contact me at:

Nicky Rowberry 2021

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Peasants to Puddles - My Family History. By Nicky Rowberry