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Robert Dumville (1796-1887): Biography

Robert was the oldest son of Robert (1767-1857) and Margery. He too lived a long time, eventually dying in Todmorden, west Yorkshire, in 1887, aged 90. His son John (71 when he died) was father to Joseph (born 1862, and 97 when he died), President of the Bradford Textile Society, and eminent figure in the 19th century flourishing textile business.

Robert was an agricultural labourer, and moved about considerably more than his father. From Hunton he moved south. He married his wife, Ann, in 1821, in Ripon Cathedral. They then moved nearer West Tanfield and Masham, living in Binsoe (early 1820s), Lambs Hill (late 1820s), and Thornton Steward (c1851). Probably after his wife died (1869) he moved south west, following his son John, and other relatives. He spent his last few years in Todmorden, living with his son-in-law, Isaac Hartley, and his family in Spring Villa, Langfield, Todmorden. Isaac was a widower in the 1881 census, but his wife was Robert's daughter Jane. Next door to Spring Villa was Moss Bros Dyers and Finishers, where several of the Hartley family probably worked, as shown by the occupations in the 1881 census (see Robert Dumville (1796-1887): Source Documents).

Unlike his father, Robert couldn't sign his own name when he married, and different spellings appear throughout his life. At his wedding it is Dummel, later Dummil, and eventually Dumville. Though it was usual for spelling of surnames to be inconsistent at that time, I wonder if there may also have been another reason, why he failed to emphasise the French-sounding 'ville' in his early years?

England was at war with France, and in the same way as the German Battenburgs in the early twentieth century anglicised their name to Mountbatten to avoid anti-German abuse, I imagine people with French names like 'Dumville' may have felt equally sensitive in the late 18th/early 19th century. A book on Masham ('Days of Yore') describes how strong was the anti-French feeling in Robert's area:

At the beginning of the century, during the French war Napoleon threatened to invade England and volunteer corps were raised throughout the country. In Masham more than 100 men volunteered providing the cost of their own uniform and other necessary equipment. William Danby and Timothy Hutton of Clifton Castle were their leaders. In 1804 they were called up for permanent duty at Richmond and the inns there often echoed to the song of the Masham volunteers:
We volunteers of Masham, our clothing is of red, And if we meet the Frenchmen we'll make them us to dread; Our clothing is of red, my boys, and turned up with black, But if we meet those French boys we'll make their bones to crack.

One last note about the spelling of Robert's name, Dummel, on his marriage. This and the spelling Dumell, are often found in the local, but as yet unrelated, family of John Dummil/Dumell (c1696-1790) (qv) of Morton Flats ...

See also:

Robert Dumville (1796-1887)