Matthew Beacock was my 9x great-grandfather. He was born in 1627 to Michaell and Bettris Beacock (nee Reder) in Appleby, Lincolnshire. When Matthew was born, Charles I had been King of England for about 2 years. The following image was taken from the General Register of Appleby in 1627 and shows that Matthew was baptised that year.
When Matthew was about 15 the English Civil War (1642-1651). It is very difficult to discover a person’s role in this war, meaning the role that Matthew played is unknown. There are some sources that state that some children between the ages 12 and 16 were soldiers in this war. This suggests that there is a chance that Matthew, at the age of 15, had to take part in the fighting, but he could have been able to stay at home with his mother and family. On the other hand, Matthew’s father most probably took part in the civil war, and could have even died in battle. Matthew’s father, Michaell Beacocke, died 2 years into the war (in 1644) in Appleby and was also buried there. Matthew was about 17 years old at this point in time.
Nine months after the end of the English Civil War, Matthew Beacock married Elizabeth Teste. The marriage took place on 8th June 1652 in Appleby, Lincolnshire. Matthew was about 25 years old at the time, and his wife Elizabeth was about 20, but most probably had already turned 21 due to the age of consent being 21 years of age.
It is very difficult to determine whether Matthew and Elizabeth married in a church or elsewhere, due to factors such as the lack of documentation and also information about the couple’s wealth. The wedding, if it did take place in a church, would have been in the local Anglican church, which is called St. Bartholomew’s Church which is shown in the photograph below. This suggests that the family were Protestants, meaning that they followed the Church of England denomination of Christianity.
Marriage was viewed very differently to how it is nowadays. Marriages were often organised by the couple’s parents, in order to better the family’s name, status or wealth. This meant that young men and women often did not get the chance to marry someone who they loved, and in many cases the wedding day was the first time that the couple saw each other. Young women were almost forced into marriage, due to the society at the time. One social aspect of this era included women being seen as witches if they were single and didn’t get married before they reached a particular age. Despite the social pressures that were present at the time, I like to believe that Matthew and Elizabeth were in love with one another.
Between the execution of King Charles I in 1649 and the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, England had no monarch. Instead, Oliver Cromwell (a well known military dictator) took the lead of England as Lord Protector and ran the country from 1653 to 1658.
Matthew and his wife lived through and also had 5 known children during the period that England had no monarchy, which was known as the Interregnum. Matthew and Elizabeth’s children were called Anne (~1652-?), Elizabeth (~1655-?), Michael (~1656-?), David (~1659-?) and Matthew (~1660-1707). All 5 of their children were born in Appleby, Lincolnshire.
During this time, Christmas and Easter had been banned, Theatre, most sports and many other activities were also banned. Effectively, anything that was deemed to be “pointless enjoyment” was frowned upon. All of these new laws and Puritan beliefs were enforced all around England by Oliver Cromwell, his trusted generals and also his soldiers. Matthew and Elizabeth lived through the horrific civil war, in which they most probably would have seen lots of death and destruction, whilst having to ensure the safety of their children. Now on top of all of that, anything deemed “fun” was banned!
Matthew worked as a labourer, which means that he would have worked the local fields of Appleby, growing/harvesting crops, looking after animals and most probably helping to build various buildings in around the the village. It would have been very hard work, as there was no machinery to do the work.
Matthew sadly passed away at the age of about 59-year-old in 1686 and was buried on 30th December of that year. Matthew lived to a reasonably good age, taking into account his very hard life. The following image was taken from the 1686 General Register of Appleby and shows Matthew’s burial entry. It also states again that Matthew was a labourer.
If there is any information about Matthew, his life and his family that I have not included in this post, I would love to know more. Matthew is a very interesting individual, as despite his hard life, which was full of war, hard work and suffering, he still managed to pull through and do the things that many of us take for granted such as raising and providing for a family. His life has made me more appreciative of everything around me, especially my safety.
Thank you very much for reading,