Mary Oram 1813 – 1888

Born: 1813, Queen Camel, Somerset, England; baptised 17 June 1813 at Queen Camel.

Parents: James Oram 1774-1839 and Susannah Bartlett 1782-1838

Siblings: William Oram 1809 – 1873, Susannah Oram 1817- 1899, Elizabeth Oram c1818-1878, Sarah Oram 1820-1869, John Oram 1824-1907

Married: James Hockey 1798-1841 on 30 Oct 1837 at Weston Bampfylde, Somerset, England

Offspring: Sarah Ann 1838-after 1888, William James 1840-1847, Francis 1841-1901

Lived in: Weston Bampfylde; Sparkford; South Cadbury(?), Little Weston, Somerset, England; Mere and Dinton, Wiltshire, England; Yeovil, Somerset, England

Died: 1 Dec 1888 at Yeovil, Somerset, England.

A map of locations for places mentioned on this page 

Early years

Mary, born in 1813 was the eldest daughter of James and Susannah (nee Bartlett) Oram and their first child to be born in Queen Camel. Mary’s baptismal record reads: “June 17th 1813; Mary daughter of James & Susanna Oram, Queen Camel, Dairyman; T.H.Pearson Vicar” (Source: Mike Pendleton)

Marriage to James Hockey and their family


On 30 October 1837 Mary married James Hockey at Weston Bampfylde, Somerset. At the time Mary was probably living on her parents’ dairy farm in Weston Bampfylde. James Hockey, a butcher was born 14 January 1798 in Sparkford and came from a family of butchers. He may have worked in the same butcher’s shop as his father James Hockey 1764 – 1837. One of the witnesses was Susanna Oram who could have been Mary’s mother who was to die of cancer the next year or Mary’s eldest sister. The other witness was John Vallis who was a malster (beer brewer) in Weston Bampfylde.

Sparkford – Mike Searle,

All of James and Mary’s three children were born in Sparkford where the family was living during the 1841 census. Sarah Ann was born in 17 December 1838, William James on 20 Mar 1840, and Francis on 2 July 1841. Mary’s husband James Hockey died later in 1841. The oral tradition is that Mary’s younger brother, John Oram lived with the family in Sparkford, no doubt to help Mary when she was widowed.

Mary’s widowhood

Mary’s eldest son William James was buried in South Cadbury in 1847 so the family may have lived there for a while. In the 1851 census Mary, a dairywoman was living in Sparkford with her two surviving children Sarah Ann and Francis.

Between 1851 and 1861 Mary moved from Sparkford to Little Weston, a hamlet in the parish of Weston Bampfylde. In 1857 Mary’s brother John Oram who had been in Ireland since 1852 made his first visit home when he would have spent time with Mary and probably stayed at her house, if there was room. He visited Sparkford a number of times and  “went to Weston Bampfylde and slept”.  We cannot deduce if this was at Mary’s house or whether she was still living in Sparkford.

By the 1861 census Mary, Sarah Ann and Francis had definitely moved to Little Weston where they were working on Mary’s dairy farm. In 1861 Mary’s brother John Oram wrote a letter from Ireland saying… “I think your rent very high and I am afraid your dairy is too large to be well kept on so small a farm…”. John made a copy of the letter in his diary.

Letter to Mary from her brother John Oram

By the 1871 census Mary, Sarah Ann and Francis had moved about 15 miles east to Mere, Wiltshire where they continued to be dairymen and women. Ten years later in the 1881 census Mary and Francis had moved further east to Dinton, Wiltshire where 65yr old Mary was still a dairywoman, annotated as ‘Ag Lab’ (agricultural labourer and therefore not working on her own account) by the enumerator and Francis was a dairyman. It is not evident when Mary ceased to farm her own herd of dairy cattle.

Entry in John Oram’s (1824-1907) diary on Mary’s death

Mary’s brother John Oram made a note in his diary on 3 December 1888 “Heard of Mary’s death” and on 5 December he attended “Mary’s funeral at Yeovil Cemetery”. Mary’s death certificate shows that she died on 1 December 1888 at Camborne Grove, Yeovil in the presence of her daughter ‘Sarah Hockey’. The cause of death was ‘Paraplegia 2 1/2 years Bed sores Asthema’.  Camborne Grove is close to the present Yeovil Pen Mill railway station.

Sarah Ann and Francis

Following the early death of her husband Mary, with the help of Sarah Ann and Francis must have had a hard life working on dairy farms. It is not surprising that Francis was soon in a workhouse and we do not know what happened to Sarah Ann.

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