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  1. #1
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    Default Menai Bridge-keepers

    My g-g-grandmother Hester was married to William Knight who was the Bridge superintendent at the Menai Bridge from the mid 1880's until his death in 1897. My question is this? What would have happened to the bridge-keeper's family once a new superintendent was hired? A few months after William's death Hester throws herself in the Menai Strait near the church at Llandysilio. The inquest found that she had "...committed suicide whilst temporary insane." It was the eve of what would have been her 13th wedding anniversary, but perhaps there was more than that weighing on her mind than simply a lost husband. What was to become of her?

  2. #2
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    I don't know for certain but I imagine that the bridge would have been operated by a private company, and the office of superintendent would have been provided with accommodation. If you look at the 1891 census they were living in BRIDGE HOUSE, so its probable that once William died, she would have lost her home.

    If couple that with where she was living, she and William were English incomers who did not speak Welsh - the census tells us that. If you look at her neighbours most of them were Welsh speakers, and not bi-lingual. So she would have felt quite isolated. William had his work.

    The "temporary insanity" is the verdict that was returned for most suicides.

  3. #3
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    Thanks Megan

    I have that census and have seen what you describe. This was Hester's third marriage, and the only happy one. She had grown children in Canada and in the London area from her first marriage and had, at the time she died, two or three young grandchildren. She may never have seen them. Her step-children were grown too, but maybe no one could afford to take her in. Strangely she washed up on shore almost underneath the bridge house. She had left her clothes folded by the church and jumped into the strait naked. Very sad story. I wonder if the records of the company thta ran the bridge are available somewhere.

  4. #4

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    On his 1885 marriage cert. William Knight is recorded as "Caretaker, Toll House, Menai Bridge".

    His burial register entry, Parish of Llandysilio -
    William Knight, abode - Penybont, date - Oct 11th 1897, age - 71yrs, ceremony performed by - T A Williams, Curate

    One newspaper report of Esther's death describes her as "... widow of a former toll collector... ", another as "... wife of a toll taker...".

    Her burial register entry, Parish of LLandysilio -
    Hester Knight, abode - late of the The Bridge, Menai Bridge, date - Feb 22nd 1898, age - 56 years, ceremony performed by - T A Williams, Curate (crossed out) and written in above - D Herbert, Rector and initialled TAW. The "... late of ..." is unusual - significance?

    Re. the "Penybont" address for William - is this the name of the Tollhouse? This was situated at the end of the bridge and "Penybont" can translate as "End of the Bridge". Do you have William's death cert. to confirm address?
    "dyfal donc a dyr y garreg"

  5. #5

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    “Late of” - She had already left the marital home. “ Who used to live at,,,”Bridge admin would have replaced William quite quickly and if the new guy had kids they’d have wanted the house.

    Was there a Poorhouse in the area?

  6. #6

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    That's how I read "... late of ...".
    The register is unusual in the extra info that can appear against "Abode". For example, I did wonder if Esther was homeless, but one of the entries on the same page provides an address but is endorsed "no fixed abode". This appear on other pages.
    Other entries provide an address but state a different location for place of death.
    "dyfal donc a dyr y garreg"

  7. #7

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    As you know, my main experience is Scotland, where the amount of info in Church Registers was pretty much up to the assorted clergy and clerks. Information ranges from the minister who didn’t record the name of a bride through another who listed grandparents and godparents on a baptism to another omitting the names of the dead, especially wives simply recorded as “the wife of Whoever”.
    You have to be luck with whoever did the recording!

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lesley Robertson View Post
    You have to be luck with whoever did the recording!
    Agreed - hence my describing the register entries as "unusual"
    Found a pic' of the old toll house (long gone)
    https://coflein.gov.uk/en/site/415326...pension-bridge
    "dyfal donc a dyr y garreg"

  9. #9
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    It's odd that he's described as the toll collector in the parish register because the census is clear that he was doing another role. Particularly as I would have expected the tol collector to speak Welsh, as at that time there were still a lot of people who didn't speak English.

  10. #10
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    I found this web site and it might be worth contacting them to see if they can give you some information about how the bridge was operated.

    https://menaibridges.co.uk

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