Pinkers’ Commentary on the Austen-Pearce OFN


by Caroline Austen Pinkers

Material within the quotes is original narrative. The unquoted material is my comment on that segment. I believe that this must have been signed with initials and wrongly attributed to Susan Austen Grubbs. The relationships and times do not make sense. There was no daughter Susan born to Thomas O. Austen. There was a daughter Sarah who married Elmer Gordon.

“My grandfather, Chas. Austen, was born in Kent County, England.”

True. Baptised at the Headcorn Baptist Church.

“His Ancestors were the Old Britons that came to England hundreds of years ago; their descendants are in Derbyshire, England. Elizabeth Collins and Richard Mears are cousins of my father Thomas P. Austen. They are in Derbyshire, England. Dudley in Derbyshire, England is the Post Office.”

Not investigated. Possibly descendants of Henry Austen or of Mary Austen Gordon. (or Charlotte Hale?)

“Mrs Charlotte Hale is a sister of my grandmother, and at one time lived in Wiltshire.”

Not documented. I.G.I. entry of Charlotte Pearce christened 13 May 1782. Entry Sarah & Richard Pearce christened 2 Jan 1787 (birth 2 Oct 1786 by family records.) Mother of Thomas P. Austen was Sarah Pearce Austen.

“When grandfather Austen became a young man, he enlisted in the English Army. My Great-Grandfather Ambrose bought him a lieutenancy in the Army and Navy. Four and a half years in the Army and four years and a half in the Navy. His uncle, Charles Austen, was a captain of a man-of-war. And at the time that the Spanish Armada was about to invade England, the man-of-war that grandfather was lieutenant on was sent out to reconnoiter. They met them. After the Armada was destroyed in the Channel, grandfather was appointed in the Army. This gave him access to the Royal Family and admitted him to the palace in the time of King George III. He there met Princess Adelaide and Charlotte. Princess Adelaide was the mother of the present Queen Victoria. Grandfather has danced with all the princesses in the time of King George III. He was admitted to all the festivities of the Royal family. At that time his position in the Army gave him prestige. He was their escort frequently with his squad of men.”

Investigated by my Uncle [Dr.] Willard [Austen] but nothing found. The Spanish Armada is ridiculous. Wrong time period. Were there Spanish ships mixed with the French fleet at the time of Napoleon? Why Army and Navy? Could this be Marines? Lovely story. Would like to learn the truth. At the beginning of military service ?1803 +/-) Charles would have been 18 in August 1803. Marriage alligation says Charles Austen, gentleman. No indication of military service June 9 1813.

“After Grandfather Austen left the Army, his father purchased the right to live in the castle on Castle Gate Manor for 100 years. It was called Pepper corn right. It was a large sheep range and they had some thousands of sheep.”

Middlesex Co. Record letter 24 Apr 1958 states Ambrose Austen occupier of a house at Bull’s Cross valued at a rent of £100. The house was owned by Sir George Prescott. Middlesex Co. Record Office letter dated 3 June 1958: May 1814 Charles Austen paid rent. Entry from poor rate books. He was there through 1817 but had left by April 1818.

“After 4 years he became dissatisfied and sold out; sold his right to the castle, sold all his immense herds of sheep and went to live at St. Albans, there he stayed 4 years.”

Hertfordshire County Record Office dated 19 Nov 1959. Charles Austen paid rates for property in Holywell Ward, St. Albans, from 10 Apr 1818 to the rate of 24 Sept 1818. Property was worth £7 and rates of 7 shillings. He had left by 11 Dec 1818. Question: 4 months not 4 years?

“Then he went to Litchborough and 2 years later started for America.”

Not investigated. If 4 months is correct for the stay at St. Albans, approximately 2 years in Litchborough would bring the time up to late 1820. The would work with the March 1821 emigration date.

“Grandfather Austen was married to Sarah Pearce in 1813, of Bourne, England whom he met at a Fair, some 28 miles from Bourne.”

Entry #356 St. Mary-le-Bonne Parish Church for Charles and Sarah on June 21 1813. The Marriage Alligation states that Charles is from the Parish of Saint Marylebone and Sarah Pearce was from the Parish of Hemel Hemstead, Herts. 9 June 1813.

“He was in company with his sister, Susan at that time Sarah Pearce was accompanied by her twin brother , Richard Pearce. A friendship sprang up between Richard Pearce and Susan Austen and in time they were married. The two couples stood up and were married at the same time. They were married in Marylebone Church, London, England which was called Queen’s Church.”

True Entry 355 St. Mary-le-Bonne Parish Church was for Richard Pearce and Susan Austen, by license. I do not have a copy of their marriage allegation. A note in Uncle Willard’s material gave Susan’s parish as the Parish of Enfield. Richard was “of this parish”. The allegation for Charles and Sarah came from the vicar General’s Office, 1, The Sanctuary, Westminister, S.W. 1 29 Sept 1955. I.G.I. entries for Wiltshire Co. – Christening for a Sarah Pearce and a Richard Pearce, 2 Jan 1787. Twins possible.

“Royalty attended their wedding.”

No notation indicated from the entry. The witnesses were Charlotte Hale, Ralph Hale, Mary Austen for both weddings which took place 21 June 1813.

“Grandmother after being married to grandfather went to his father’s house and Susan went to Richard Pearce’s house and stayed 8 days and then packed up all their belongings. Grandmother had 2 wagonloads (8-horse) of household goods. The horses had bells on them that played tunes such as ‘God Save the King’, etc. Likewise Susan had as many household goods as my grandmother. It was arranged to meet on a certain long bridge that crossed a river that ran near Bourne. When they met to pass, all teams were stopped and a great time was held. Bottles of wine were broken and faith was pledged again and again. My grandmother and grandfather went to Castle Gate Manor. Susan and her husband took lodging in London.”

Not investigated my me. Cattle Gate Manor was a part of Theobald’s Estate. Was sold about 1910. Estate Agents in 1950’s only had records going back 60 years. Fires have also burnt proofs.

“My grandmother and Susan were left at their homes and grandfather Austen and Richard Pearce, Susan’s husband, went to America to find homes for them here. They were 4 weeks on the ocean on a sail ship. They landed in New York. This was in the year 1820. They took stage in New York for Philadelphia, and took stage from there to Pittsburgh, where they became acquainted with a Robert Davis. He had a brother-in-law by the name of William Cochran, who was the owner of 400 acres of land that the government owned, of rather Wm. Cochran had charge of this land on Pine Creek, 12 miles from Pittsburgh on the Butler Turnpike road. Wm. Cochran offered to sell them land at fifty cents an acre and they bought 50 acres apeice from them. Grandfather’s land was on the east side of the creek and the land of Richard Pearce was on the west side of the creek.”

No record found of a trip before 1821. Land deed between William Cochran, Robert Davis and their wives and Richard Pearce, Charles Austen and their wives dated 7 July 1821 for 101 acres and 40 perches at a cost of $350.00. A second deed dated 10 Aug 1821 was made between Richard Pearce and wife and Charles Austen and wife – for the sum of $175.00 Charles purchased 50 acres more or less from Richard.

“On the Pearce property was an old log cabin and a mill site; he chose that as he was a miller by trade.He commenced at once and repaired the mill, the milldam and mill race course.”

No previous evidence known of Richard Pearce being a miller. But it has not been investigated properly either. (Was his father in Wiltshire a miller?)

“On grandfather Austen’s property there were no buildings at all, but fine pasture lands for cattle and sheep; he built a log house or took out timber for a house.”

Nothing known about this. Property now part of the North Park of Allegheny County. (There is an old building there which is used for the administration building. It was closed when we went through.)

“In the fall of 1820 they both started for England, and in January of 1821 , they sold all their household goods, and disposed of all their property. All started for America on the tenth of March 1821. They set sail from the London Docks for America. They were 9 weeks on the oceans, had a tempestuous voyage, ran out of provisions, were in a storm off the Bay of Biscay, and landed in New York about 10 May 1821.”

True mostly. Ship Criterion saled from Gravesend Wednesday 14 March 1821 arriving at New York on 10 May 1821.Have a partial passenger list which has listed Charles, Sarah, Susan 7, Thomas 6 and Charles 3 as passengers. There is a statement that the Pearce family was not found. I do not know on what ship or when they emigrated.

“They took a stage for Philadelphia. There Richard Pearce purchased a team of horses and a light wagon and went on ahead, in 2 weeks time grandfather Austen’s family, which consisted of 5 persons – himself, grandmother, Susan, Charles, and Thomas. Grandfather bought a team of horses and Mr. Toogood bought the wagon. They put all their goods on this wagon and started for Pittsburgh. They were one month on the way; arrived in Pittsburgh in the month of June 1821.”

A Mr. Toogood and family were passengers on the Criterion.

“They then went out to Pine Creek and found things just about as they left them. Grandfather found it very hard work to farm, was much discouraged and was on the point of going back to England many times. Between the Austen and Pearce families they always lived happily, never had any falling out. Both Richard Pearce and grandfather Austen had never done much labor work in England. However, they both lived to a good old age and were gather to rest. Both were buried in the Old Graveyard at the Cross Roads Presbyterian Church where they and their families went to worship.”

This was signed only by initials! Was this really Susan Austen Grubbs or was it someone from the 4th generation with the same initials?
If neither Charles or Richard had done much laboring work in England was Richard really a miller?
Were Richard and Charles acquainted before they met at the fair? If so was it from military service? It does not seem “English” for the girls to have been introduced to strangers.

There is a Sarah A. Austen who married Elmer E. Gordon. S.A.G. She is a daughter of Thomas. That would make the grandfather references appropriate.

2 Responses to Pinkers’ Commentary on the Austen-Pearce OFN

  1. Brian Austen says:

    This is a must read companion to any work on the Austen-Pearce family history; I cannot emphasise enough the contribution Caroline Pinkers has made to an understanding of this family history. As a non-American the many quaint treatments of historical English names, customs, and phrases is amusing. Caroline has covered these well.

    Ambose’s father was Thomas. Despite much research neither he nor his first wife (Ambrose’s mother has been found). We now have a DNA record for the Austen family which I hope will lead to further connections. I have one possible connection but the available documentation hs not uncovered.

    Thomas married again and had further children who I have researched looking for a current descendant but without luck so far. The research continues.

    • admin says:

      Thank you for responding, Brian. We haven’t communicated in some time. I have written you privately as well. Yes, Caroline’s work is excellent. So is yours! Obviously, in quoting both of you I hope to add some credibility to my efforts. If the number of responses I get from around the world is any indication, people (especially long lost relatives) are glad for any and every bit of information on our families. Keep up the good work, Brian, and let’s hope Caroline see your kind words as well. Stay in touch,
      Cousin Larry

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