Glover, mercer, drapers – Roger and Elizabeth Atcherley

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The first Atcherley to be listed in a trade directory appears to have been Roger, a mercer and draper in Whitchurch, Shropshire in the late 1700s. Among those Atcherleys claiming second place (and certainly the first female Atcherley to be so listed) was none other than Roger’s wife, Elizabeth.

Roger Atcherley, who was named after his father, was the youngest of nine children. Born on 9 June 1743, he was baptised a week later on 16 June at Shrewsbury St Chad. Although his father was married to Ann (nee Thomas), the parish register named his parents as “Roger & Joan”. This was presumably an error on the part of the clerk as I have found no other evidence to suggest that Roger Atcherley junior was born out of wedlock.

Roger Atcherley senior, a tanner, died some 12 years after his youngest son’s birth and was buried at Shrewsbury St Chad on 16 December 1755. A little over a year later, on 16 February 1757, the widowed Ann Atcherley apprenticed 14-year-old Roger to James Burley of Shrewsbury, a glover, at a cost of £20. Burley was a member of the Shrewsbury Glovers’ Company (also known as the Glovers’ & Skinners’ Company), and was a Warden of that trade guild in 1764 and 1765.

In setting Roger as an apprentice, Ann Atcherley’s goal was to ensure that he would learn a trade which would provide him with a secure future. In this Ann was successful, although Roger did not remain a glover. Nor did he stay in Shrewsbury. The next record I have found in which Roger features is that of his marriage, on 3 January 1768, to Elizabeth Scripture. The wedding took place at the church of St Alkmund in Whitchurch, Shropshire (pictured right). Roger lived and traded in that town for the rest of his life.

Unlike her husband, Elizabeth was a native of Whitchurch. With her unusual surname it was quite easy to find a record of her baptism, although for some time an element of doubt remained as to whether or not the record I had found really did relate to Roger’s wife. The reason for this was that Elizabeth Scripture was baptised on 7 April 1729, over 14 years before her husband was born.

(It appears that Elizabeth had two sisters, Ann, who was baptised at Whitchurch on 2 July 1726 and married Samuel Trevor at nearby Prees on 8 June 1752; and Mary, for whom I have found no baptism record, but whose marriage to George Jackson of Malpas, Cheshire, was witnessed by Elizabeth Scripture at Whitchurch on 15 October 1758. The girls’ parents, John Scripture and Elizabeth, nee Barrow, were buried at Whitchurch on 23 January 1736/7 and 2 March 1786 respectively.)

Most of the marriages for which I have seen records during my family history research – certainly those relating to first marriages – have involved men and women of around the same age, but usually with the groom being older than the bride. Nuptials between a man of 24 and a woman of 38 most certainly do not fit the typical pattern. Elizabeth’s age at the time of her wedding might go some way to explaining why she and Roger only had two children. The baptisms of their son John and daughter Mary Atcherley took place at Whitchurch on 22 November 1768 and 16 October 1773 respectively.

Although the record of John Atcherley’s baptism gives no information beyond the names of parents and child, the entry in the parish register for Mary’s baptism shows that the family was then living in High Street, Whitchurch. An indication that Roger must then have been trading successfully in that town is that he was one of 32 men of Whitchurch who formed a society for pursuing and prosecuting felons. This society was announced in the Shrewsbury Chronicle of 10 July:

Whitchurch, Shropshire, June 24, 1773.
Whereas divers Persons guilty of Felony, Burglary, Grand and Petit Larceny, frequently escape punishment, either through fear of the expence which may attend their prosecution, or for want of an immediate and vigorous pursuit, or from a principle of ill-timed lenity and moderation,
Notice is therefore hereby given,
That in order to prevent in some degree the evil aforesaid, We, whose names are hereunto subscribed, inhabitants of the parish of Whitchurch aforesaid, have formed ourselves into a Society for the purpose of raising a sufficient fund to defray the expence of pursuing, detecting, and prosecuting with the utmost rigour, such as shall be guilty or shall be suspected to be guilty of the crimes or offences above specified, against the person or property of any member of this society. …

A notice published in another newspaper (Chester’s Adam’s Weekly Courant) on 4 May 1779 shows that “Mr. Roger Atcherley, Mercer” had lately been the holder of “A very convenient freehold messuage, or dwelling-house, with the Shop and Appurtenances thereunto belonging, pleasantly and advantageously situated for carrying out any Business in the High-street, in Whitchurch”. The property was to be let, so it appears that Roger may have moved to alternative premises around that time. Further particulars of the property were to be obtained from a Mrs Trevor of Whitchurch – possibly Roger’s sister-in-law Ann.

The 1784 edition of Bailey’s British Directory; or, Merchant’s and Trader’s Useful Companion listed Roger Atcherley as a mercer and draper in Whitchurch. This is, as I have already mentioned, the earliest listing for a member of the Atcherley family which I have found so far in any trade directory. (See Directories Part 1.)

Bailey’s British Directory did not give an address for Roger in Whitchurch, but he was most likely still trading in the town’s High Street. When Robert B Jones, a bookseller, stationer and bookbinder of High Street, Whitchurch, announced in 1791 that he was “removed across the street” his new shop was said to be “next door to Mr. Atcherley’s.”

Despite the fact that he was much younger than his wife, Roger Atcherley predeceased Elizabeth. He was buried at the church where he had married and where his children had been baptised, Whitchurch St Alkmund, on 27 April 1793. He was 49 years old.

Although she was aged 64 when she lost her husband, Elizabeth Atcherley evidently took over the family business. She was listed as a draper amongst the “Traders &c.” of Whitchurch, Shropshire in volume 4 of The Universal British Directory of Trade, Commerce, and Manufacture (published around 1800, see extract, left).

This directory, published some four decades before the census of 1841, provides a fairly detailed picture of the town in which Elizabeth Atcherley and her children then lived. Whitchurch was described as “a pleasant and populous market-town”, 12 miles from Nantwich, 20 from Chester and Newport, 22 from Newcastle under Lyme, and 161 miles from London. The town had coach services to Birmingham, Manchester and London, and mail services to Malpas and Chester, and to and from London.

In addition to the gentry and the clergy who headed the list of the principal inhabitants of Whitchurch, there were other residents undertaking a wide range of occupations: an architect, attorneys, an auctioneer, bakers, booksellers (including the aforementioned Robert Jones), braziers, breeches makers, a bricklayer, butchers, cabinet makers, chandlers (including tallow chandlers), cheese factors, a china shop proprietor, clock (and watch) makers, a collar maker, a confectioner, coopers, curriers, a “Chymist and Druggist”, excise officers, farmers, grocers, flax dressers, a gardener, a habit maker, hairdressers, the head of a School for Ladies (possibly at Ellesmere House, pictured right), a heel maker, a hosier, hucksters, ironmongers, joiners, a liquor merchant, maltsters, a mantua maker, a mason, mercers, milliners, a “nailor”, a plasterer, two plumbers and glaziers, rope makers, saddlers, shoe makers, a sieve maker, smiths, a stay maker, a stocking weaver, surgeons, “taylors”, a timber merchant, a tanner, a turner, an umbrella maker, victuallers (there were no less than 23 public houses), wheelwrights and  writing masters. There were also other drapers, some listed as linen and woollen drapers.

This, then, was the town in which Elizabeth Atcherley was trading – and the town in which she died. Notice of Elizabeth’s death was included in the May 1800 edition of The Monthly Magazine (albeit with her surname given as Alcherley). “Elizabeth Atcherley Widow”, aged 71, was buried at Whitchurch St Alkmund on 20 February 1800.

Roger and Elizabeth’s daughter Mary Atcherley followed her parents to the grave on 30 March 1802. Aged 28 (the burial register knocked a year off her true age), Mary was unmarried. Her brother John was wed the following year (one of the witnesses was Ann Trevor, possibly John’s maternal aunt) and through him the Atcherley family continued to trade in Whitchurch. John Atcherley was a victualler rather than a mercer or draper.  In time however, one of John’s sons would take up the trade carried on by Roger and Elizabeth Atcherley in Whitchurch.


Picture credits. Whitchurch St Alkmund: Photo © Copyright Carol Walker, taken from Geograph, adapted, used, and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence. Extract from the Universal British Directory of Trade, Commerce, and Manufacture, published circa 1800 and therefore out of copyright. Ellesmere House, Whitchurch: Photo © Copyright David Dixon, taken from Geograph, adapted, used, and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.


References.

[1] St Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1743. Entry for baptism of Roger Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1916), Shropshire Parish Registers. Diocese of Lichfield, Volume XVI (St. Chad’s, Shrewsbury), page 1069 viewed at the Internet Archive and at Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P01575-2, Film 908236.
[2] The National Archives, Kew, Reference IR 1/53 folio 28, page 16 (Board of Stamps: Apprenticeship Books). Copy viewed at Ancestry – Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices’ Indentures, 1710-1811.
[3] C H Drinkwater (1887), Shrewsbury Trade Guilds. The Glovers’ Company. In: Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Natural History Society. Volume X. Page 43. Copy viewed at Google Books.
[4] St Alkmund, Whitchurch, Shropshire, marriage register covering 1768. Entry for Roger Atcherley and Elizabeth Scripture. Copies viewed at Shropshire Archives and at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch M03756-1, Film 501818, 503826, 503827, 510683, 510684.
[5] St Alkmund, Whitchurch, Shropshire, parish register covering 1729. Entry for baptism of Elizabeth Scripture. Copy viewed at Shropshire Archives. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C03756-2, Film 510683, 510684.
[6] St Alkmund, Whitchurch, Shropshire, parish register covering 1726. Entry for baptism of Ann Scripture. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms (surname indexed as Scriphure).
[7] Prees, Shropshire, parish register covering 1752. Entry for marriage of Samuel Trevor and Ann Scripture. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages.
[8] St Alkmund, Whitchurch, Shropshire, marriage register covering 1758. Entry for marriage of George Jackson and Mary Scripture. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages.
[9] FamilySearch shows marriage of John Scripture and Elizabeth Barrow. Film 1655540, Digital folder 4012056, Image 296.
[10] St Alkmund, Whitchurch, Shropshire, parish register covering 1736/7. Entry for burial of John Scripture. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials.
[11] St Alkmund, Whitchurch, Shropshire, parish register covering 1786. Entry for burial of Elizabeth Scripture, widow. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials.
[12] St Alkmund, Whitchurch, Shropshire, parish register covering 1768. Entry for baptism of John Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Transcript viewed at Shropshire Archives. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C03756-2, Film 510683, 510684.
[13] St Alkmund, Whitchurch, Shropshire, parish register covering 1773. Entry for baptism of Mary Acherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C03756-2, Film 510683, 510684.
[14] Shrewsbury Chronicle, 10 Jul 1773, page 2. Copy viewed at Findmypast – British Newspapers 1710-1953 (search term Atcherlcy).
[15] Adams Weekly Courant (Chester), issue 2424, 4 May 1779, page 2.
[16] Bailey’s British Directory; or, Merchant’s and Trader’s Useful Companion for the year 1784. Indexed at Ancestry – U.K. and U.S. Directories, 1680-1830.
[17] Chester Chronicle, 1 Apr 1791, page 3.
[18] St Alkmund, Whitchurch, Shropshire, parish register covering 1793. Entry for burial of Roger Atcherley. Copies viewed at Shropshire Archives and at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials.
[19] The Universal British Directory of Trade, Commerce, and Manufacture (circa 1800), page 745. Copy viewed at Google Books.
[20] The Monthly Magazine, No. 58 (No. 4 of Vol. 9), 1 May 1800, page 305. Copy viewed at Google Books.
[21] St Alkmund, Whitchurch, Shropshire, parish register covering 1800. Entry for burial of Elizabeth Atcherley. Copies viewed at Shropshire Archives and at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials.
[22] St Alkmund, Whitchurch, Shropshire, parish register covering 1802. Entry for burial of Mary Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials.
[23] St Alkmund, Whitchurch, Shropshire, marriage register. Entry dated 20 Jan 1803 for John Atcherly and Martha Furmston. Copies viewed at Shropshire Archives and at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages. Transcript viewed at Shropshire Archives. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch M03756-1, Film 501818, 503826, 503827, 510683, 510684.


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Richard Atcherley in pre-WW2 Germany (Part 1)

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Ever since the time when the German government announced the intention of forming an Air Force, the expansion and development of that force has been a matter of the highest interest, not only to all keen officers in the R.A.F., but also to everyone in England. So many conflicting reports and wild rumours are current concerning the air power of Germany, and the opinions of members of the Government itself seem strangely at variance, that both Atcherley and myself determined to try and find out for ourselves something about the German Air Force, its personnel, its aeroplanes and how its methods of expansion compared with those of this country.
– H V Rowley, 1936

Following the First World War, Germany’s air forces were dissolved under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.  Under Nazi rule in the 1930s however, the Versailles Treaty was repudiated and on 26 February 1935 a new German Air Force – the Luftwaffe – came into being.

Group Captain Richard Llewelyn Roger Atcherley – known to his friends and fellow officers as Dick or Batchy – was at this time a test pilot at the Experimental Station of the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough in Hampshire. Squadron Leader Herbert Victor Rowley was based at the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Martlesham in Suffolk. Undeterred by the fact that neither of them could speak German, the two officers hatched their plot to travel to Berlin, in their own time and at their own expense, to satisfy their curiosity about the new German Air Force.

Although their visit was unofficial, Atcherley and Rowley travelled to Germany with the RAF’s permission, and while there they liaised with (and received support from) the Air Attaché and Assistant Air Attaché in Berlin. Although he was the junior officer, Richard Atcherley was essential to the success of the ‘mission’. Rowley acknowledged that it was Atcherley’s “natural genius for making friends [which] was largely responsible for our success in getting into touch with many people in the German Air Force and in the German aviation industry.”

The two officers left England on Tuesday 6 October 1936, and returned just over a week later on Thursday 15 October. Transport for the journey was a Percival Gull aeroplane (an example of which is shown in the photo below), which was loaned for the purpose by “our good friend Mr. Robert Blackburn.” (Blackburn had given Richard Atcherley an engineering apprenticeship with his aeroplane company in Leeds back in 1921.)

Rowley’s 44-page type-written report on the trip was prepared “in conjunction with” Atcherley, and R L R Atcherley’s signature appeared after Rowley’s at the end of the document. There can be little doubt however that Rowley was the sole author. He noted that “Since this visit was unofficial so is this report, and much of it is written for my own amusement.”

The main body of the report took the form of a diary, recording not just the visits made to aircraft factories and air force establishments but also the many marvellous luncheons and evening entertainments which the two officers attended. Thus the report, originally secret but now available to all at The National Archives in Kew, enables us to share in the amusement that Rowley (and Atcherley) experienced.

On the RAF officers’ first full day in Germany, for example, Atcherley and Rowley had lunch with the Air Attaché, Group Captain Don, at the Haus der Flieger or Aero Club (formerly the old Prussian Parliament in the days “before Germany decided that parliaments were a waste of time, but an Aero Club was a necessity”):

We were overjoyed to notice that the spirit of old Germany still persists for in this modern club the lavatory is equipped with a most excellent vomitorium fitted with chromium plated bars for hand grips. Evidently the German Air Council has a reasonably broad-minded view of the drink question.


Das Berliner Abgeordnetenhaus – the former Haus der Flieger

There was another reason for the inclusion of seemingly superfluous detail of the trip in the report. The diary was followed by several pages of “deductions and conclusions”. Rowley explained that he felt it was important to say “what one did during the visit, as otherwise little credence may be placed in such deductions and conclusions.” He also felt that it was necessary to show those in authority that RAF officers going abroad were not doing so “with the fixed intention of first of all flying over all prohibited areas, secondly landing on all prohibited aerodromes, and finally spending his time on the ground in the local brothel.”

The first two of those fears, if they were indeed held by senior staff, were possibly justified when one of the officers travelling abroad was Richard Atcherley! As for the third concern, Rowley reported that on the evening of Sunday 11 October:

Dick Atcherley made immediate friends with Achtenberg, who afterwards proved most useful to us and is a most likeable sort of chap. We returned to the Eden for tea which, incidentally, is one of the few places in Berlin where one can see reasonably pretty girls.   Achtenberg kindly offered to supply us with any we liked, but we replied that, although we thanked him kindly, we would sooner have a cup of tea.

Incidentally, the foregoing very British response to Herr Achtenberg’s offer, and the fact that Richard Atcherley never married, should not be taken to mean that Batchy did not have an eye for the ladies. I say this because Rowley’s diary for Friday 9 October concluded as follows:

In the evening we were driven back to Berlin and were entertained to supper by Dr. Merkel at the Wintergarden. Dr. Merkel produced a very attractive niece who evidently created a certain impression on Atcherley who not only invited her to fly in the Gull, but also later in the evening stated that he thought intermarriage between the two nations would be an excellent thing and should be encouraged.

Richard Atcherley’s “natural genius for making friends” was enhanced by the fact that he had a twin brother, David, who was an equally popular RAF officer. During the above-mentioned lunch at the Haus der Flieger on Wednesday 7 October, our airmen met Colonel Hannesse of the German Air Intelligence Service. Hannesse “had met David Atcherley and consequently gave a very effusive greeting to his brother, a very excusable mistake with the Atcherley twins.”

Hannesse proved to be a useful contact, one of many made during the luncheons, dinners and parties which Atcherley and Rowley attended. He did not however provide the RAF officers with their desired visit to the Heinkel aircraft works at Rostock, despite Rowley’s best efforts to secure this during a party on the evening of Monday 12 October. No matter – at the same party, Richard Atcherley had made the acquaintance of Prince Henry Reuss, a major in the German Air Force. Rowley wrote:

Finally I signalled failure to Dick who by this time had got the Prince in a fairly old and mild condition.   The Prince rallied at once, fetched along General Wennegen, who seemed quite pleased to meet me again, and in a few moments had arranged, with the consent of Group Captain Don, to have us flown out to Rostock in company with Count Beissel next morning.

There was one senior figure in the German Air Force with whom Richard Atcherley was already well acquainted. Ernst Udet (pictured right) was the second-highest scoring German air ace of World War One, and by 1936 he was director of research and development for the Luftwaffe. He and Atcherley had first met in Egypt and later in London, and both attended the National Air Races in America as stunt pilots in the early 1930s (see A Day at the Air Races (Part 1) for Richard’s 1930 visit). On Thursday 8 October Atcherley and Rowley had lunch with Udet and Dr Merkel (whose niece impressed Atcherley the following day) at the Esplanade Hotel. “Udet arrived in full uniform, blazing with medals,” wrote Rowley, who went on to say:

Udet is indeed a colourful personality.   It rather surprised me that this man, who is the most famous of the pilots of the old Richthofen Squadron left alive today, and who for years has been making a living as an aeroplane pilot, should now hold a post of such responsibility. However, in spite of a certain wildness and a stubborn refusal to assume the solemn airs of a high staff officer, he is clearly a man of intelligence and ability … He is of course an old friend of Atcherleys …

I have to say that I see something of Richard Atcherley himself in Rowley’s description of Udet, so it is no surprise that these two men were such good friends.

Ultimately, the schmoozing and networking paid off and Atcherley and Rowley did get to see for themselves something of the German Air Force’s personnel, aeroplanes and methods of expansion. What they saw led Herbert Rowley to draw some stark conclusions.


Picture credits. Percival Gull: Photo by RuthAS, taken from Wikimedia Commons; adapted and used under a Creative Commons licence. Das Berliner Abgeordnetenhaus – the former Haus der Flieger: Photo by Beek100, taken from Wikimedia Commons; adapted, used and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons licence. Ernst Udet: Photo by Conrad and held by the German Federal Archive (Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1984-112-13 / Conrad / CC-BY-SA), taken from Wikimedia Commons; adapted, used and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons licence.


References

[1] The National Archives, Kew, item ref AIR 40/2086: Report on a visit to Germany by Sqn. Ldr. H.V. Rowley and Flt. Lt. R.L. Atcherley. Indexed at TNA Discovery catalogue.
[2] Luftwaffe. At: Wikipedia (website, accessed 18 June 2015).
[3] Air Marshal Sir Richard Atcherley. At: Air of Authority (website, accessed 15 Jun 2015).
[4] Air Commodore H V Rowley. At: Air of Authority (website, accessed 15 Jun 2015).
[5] John Pudney (1960), A Pride of Unicorns. Page 33.
[6] Ernst Udet. At: Wikipedia (website, accessed 18 June 2015).


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