Mary Oram 1813 – 1888

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”

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; his story can be followed on this page.

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 1842 and was buried in South Cadbury on 30 August 1842, the register noted that his abode was Sparkford. . 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 also buried in South Cadbury, abode Sparkford, on 13 April 1847 aged 7 years. 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 after Mary’s death

When Mary died Sarah Ann would have been 50 years old and unless she used her maiden name when she registered the death, she had not married. Unfortunately other Sarah Hockeys were born about the same time as ‘our’ Sarah Ann and it is difficult to follow her after her mother’s death.

There is no sign of Francis in the 1891 census but in the 1901 census there is an unmarried Francis Hockey in the Workhouse in Sherborne, Dorset. Sherborne is about 4 miles from Yeovil. As this Francis was born in Sparkford c.1839 he is very likely to be Mary and James’ son. Francis died in late 1901.-

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