James William Oram 1866 – after 1920

A map of locations for places mentioned on this page 

James William known as William, eldest son of Job Cox Oram 1843 – ? and Elizabeth nee Bartlett 1846-1889 was baptised in 1866 in Babcary. By the 1871 census Job had deserted his family and moved to the USA where he became a serial bigamist. William, his mother and two siblings had moved to his grandparents farm in South Barrow. As a result James William grew up on Parsonage Farm of about 200 acres that was owned and run by James Bartlett 1813-1895. In the 1881 census James William was a 14 year old ‘assistant on farm’ in 1881.

Nothing is known about Job’s death but his mother Elizabeth, described as a widow died in 1889. A couple of years later on the night of the 1891 census James William, a bailiff was visiting farmer John Corp in Lovington, Somerset. No doubt he spent time with his great uncle John Oram 1824-1907 who was living at Charity Farm in Lovington.

In 1895 James William married Alice Amelia Benjafield in the rural district of Barton Regis, now a northern part of Bristol. The marriage may have taken place at Horfield, as that was where their daughter Ella Kathleen was born in late 1899. Before then on 24 December 1897 their son James Marshall Bartlett Oram has been born and died 15th[?] February 1898. James’ birth and death were registered in the Bedminster, Bristol registration area but the mourning card gives William and Alice’s address as The Towers, Clevedon, see below.

Alice had been born in Bowerchalke, Wiltshire in 1867, one of ten children where their father John Benjafield farmed 500 acres at Middle Chase Farm. Alice’s Benjafield ancestors had originated from Cucklington, Somerset about five miles from Ansford, the Oram’s ancestral home. In 1891 Alice was working on her uncle Eli Jenkins’ dairy farm in Keynsham, south of Bristol.

On 29 October 1901 John Oram 1824-1907 noted in his diary that ‘William Oram’ visited him at Little Weston, Weston Bampfylde, Somerset. At that time, according to the 1901 census return James William and Alice were running a creamery at The Towers in Clevedon, Somerset and looking after James William’s grandmother Mary Oram nee Cox b1820. Clevedon had been developed as a seaside resort overlooking the Bristol Channel in the 1830s and 40s with a pier being added in the late 1870s. In 1904 a James W Oram, last residence Clevedon took a ship from Liverpool to Philadelphia. The list of passengers is difficult to read but it seems as if he did not give a relative’s address. Was he looking for his father? Back in England, in the 1911 census James William and Alice describe themselves as restaurant keepers at The Towers with four living-in employees.

In 2012 the business James William and Alice knew as ‘The Towers’ on Marine Parade, Clevedon was called ‘Campbell’s Landing’ and had been refurbished earlier that year.

The Towers is on the right of this picture (Clevedon Civic Society)

James William has an entry in the 1914 Kelly’s directory “dining rooms, Beach & boarding house, Norfolk house, Elton road”. It seems as if James William and Alice had been successful at The Towers and were now running a small hotel not knowing that 1914-18 World War would soon affect them. Then they moved again as in the 1919 and 1920 electoral registers William and Alice are at the New Passage Hotel, on the south side of the old River Severn Ferry. See this wikipedia page where there is a link to this set of photos.

It is not known when James William died but Alice lived until 1959, her death registered in the Cardiff area. Ella married Harold R Davies in 1919 and died in 2001 aged 102. Alice was living with them in Newport, South Wales at the time of the 1939 register.

Sources: The information on the Benjafields and Amelia and Ella’s later life is taken from family trees in ancestry.com

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