Chapter 7

Mary Jane Finemore nee Ponting

Mary Jane Ponting was born on 11 February 1841, at Hengastone Farm, in the parish of Breadstone, the eldest daughter of Henry Ponting and Jane Jones. Father Henry, described as a farmer, registered the birth. (Reg Gen March Qtr 1841 Thornbury 11 470). Mary was baptised on 14 March 1841 at Stinchcombe daughter of Henry Ponting, farmer and his wife Jane of Hengaston (Chapter 4).

The 1851 census shows Mary Jane, aged 10, a scholar, born Berkeley is living with her widowed mother, Jane and her siblings at Appleridge, Highfield, Gloucestershire (Chapter 4)

In 1861 Mary Jane, unmarried, aged 20, was still living with her mothers and sisters at Highfield, Berkeley, although at least two of her brothers had left for London. At this time she is described as a farmer

By 1871 Mary had moved to London with the family. The census shows Mary J aged 30, a draper employing 4 assistants living with her widowed mother, 2 of her brothers and 4 assistants at 123 Westbourne Grove, Kensington (Chapter 4).

Mary appears to have been a witness at her sister Susanna's marriage in 1871 (Chapter 8), her brother William's marriage in 1878 (Chapter 10) and Sydney's marriage in 1879 (Chapter 11) .

In 1881 Mary Jane Ponting, draper, aged 39 was visiting James Dale, a 52 year old engineer and his family at The Grange, Paradise Row, Stoke Newington. Also visiting were Ellen Wray, wife of medical gentleman and Ellen C Esson, governess. The connection between Mary and the Dale family is not known at present.

At the time of the 1891 census Mary, now Mary Finemore, married, aged 50, was living on her own means with her brother Thomas and his family at 123 Westbourne Grove, Kensington (Chapter 6). Under the heading 'relationship to head of household' the census shows 'daughter'. As the head of the household was Thomas this was clearly not the case. However she is listed immediately below her mother which probably caused the confusion.

Mary Jane Ponting had married William Finemore on 3 January 1891 at St Peters Church, Bayswater. 

William Finemore is described as a 43 year old bachelor, a gentleman from South Marylebone. His father is William Finemore, merchant. Mary Jane Ponting is described as a spinster of full age living at 123 Westbourne Grove, Kensington. She would have been around 50 at the time. Her father is shown as Henry Ponting, farmer. The couple were married by licence. The witnesses were Thomas Hewett Ponting and his daughter Mary Louise Jane Ponting who would have been around 12 years old at the time. The above certificate is from the parish register and shows the actual signatures.

On 1 January 1891 William had signed a marriage allegation stating that there was no lawful impediment to the marriage and requesting the granting of a licence. 

On 19 February 1891 Mary Jane and her brother, Thomas Hewett Ponting (Chapter 6) had dissolved their partnership, T.H. Ponting and Co. Was this because of the events that followed her marriage in the January? A notice in The London Gazette on 30 June 1891 states

"Notice is hereby given that the Partnership heretofore subsisting between the undersigned, Thomas Hewett Ponting and Mary Jane Finemore, formerly Mary Jane Ponting, spinster, carrying on business as Drapers at 121, 123 and 125 Westbourne-grove in the county of Middlesex, under the style or firm of T.H.Ponting and Co, has been dissolved, by mutual consent, as from the 19th day of February 1891. All debts due to or owing by the said late partnership will be received and paid by the said Thomas Hewett Ponting who will in future carry on the said business under the aforesaid style or firm of T.H.Ponting and Co. Dated this 23rd day of June 1891

M J Finemore

Thomas Hewett Ponting"

The 1891 census had been taken on 5 April 1891. I can find no trace of William Finemore in the census returns.

On 29 August 1892 Mary Jane Finemore petitions for divorce. In the petition Mary Jane describes herself as the "humble wife of William Finemore of 18, Montague Street, London" and states that "following marriage the petitioner lived and co-habited with her said husband at diverse places in London and that there were no issue of the said marriage" . It goes on to say that "In February or March 1891 the said William Finemore committed adultery at some place unknown with some woman unknown and thereby contracted a venereal disease" . 

It also records that William "wilfully infected" his wife thus causing her great cruelty. Divorce legislation introduced in 1857 allowed for a man to divorce his wife for adultery, but a woman could only divorce her husband if the adultery was accompanied by cruelty. It seems giving your wife a venereal disease was regarded as cruelty

The petition in August is accompanied by a document in which Mary Jane swears to the truth of the facts within the petition. The document is witnessed by John Cullimore at Morton in the parish of Thornbury (Chapter 11 and Appendix K)

In October 1892 Mary Jane was repaid £421.4s.9d she had lent to either her deceased brother Sydney, (who had died on 18 August 1891) or his widow Emily (Chapter 11). Given what is known, had Mary been in Gloucestershire in the October?

On 30 December 1892 Tippetts file further affidavits and on 4 January 1893 "set down counsel".

Mary was the informant at the time of her mother's death on 16 January 1893 when they were both living at 38 Woodville Road, Ealing.

The decree nisi was issued on 19 April 1893 and the decree absolute on 30 October 1893.

In 1894, a William Finemore is registered on the electoral roll living at 6A William Mews, Chelsea along with 7 other men, so presumably he was in lodgings. 6A William Mews is situated just off Knightsbridge. If this is Mary's husband then this is the last we see of him, nothing more is known after that date.

At the time that the 1901 census was taken, Mary Fenimore, now aged 59 was 'living on her own means', still at 38 Woodville Road, Ealing. She is described as a widow, but her ex- husband's death has not been traced so was this just have been a more acceptable way to describe her position? The other occupants of the house were Fanny Bellamy, aged 67, companion and Lucy Maynard, aged 20, servant.

In 1911 Mary Jane is still living at 38 Woodville Road, Ealing with her companion Mary Jane Culmont, aged 54 and servant Elsie Maynard, aged 25. The property was sizeable for just the three of them with 9 rooms plus scullery, landing, lobby, closet and bathroom.

Mary Jane seems to have moved to Clacton sometime between 1911 and 1914 (see below) and was living at 'Glen Helen', Thoroughgood Road, Clacton when she died on 14 August 1919.

In her original will made 13 December 1899, Mary Jane appoints William James Berriman Tippetts, solicitors and James Armstrong of Bank Buildings, Bridge Street, Walsall as her executors and bequeaths them each £100.00. James Armstrong was the husband of Mary's niece, Hilda Ashfield Love (Chapter 8)

  • Bequeaths her niece Ethel Marie Shore £50.00 (Chapter 8)
  • Bequeaths her nephew, Dudley James Ponting "who has been well provided for by his father", the sum of £200.00 "as a mark of my affection" (Chapter 13)
  • Bequeaths her housekeeper Fanny Bellamy £25.00 "if she still be in my employ at the time of my death"
  • All her remaining estate is to be divided into 6 equal parts and to be distributed as follows:
  • 1 part to Thomas Hewett Ponting's children (or if they are deceased their children)
  • 1 part to Ashfield Ann Beardsworth children (or if they are deceased their children)
  • 1 part to John Jones Ponting's children from his first marriage (or if they are deceased their children)
  • 2 parts to be invested and the income paid to Susanna Love (or if she has deceased her children)
  • 1 part to be invested and the income paid to Emily Amelia Ponting, Sydney's widow (Chapter 11) and after her death the income from this part is to be treated the same as that providing for Susanna.

Mary Jane makes her first codicil to her will on 12 October 1907. In this she

  • Revokes the appointment of James Armstrong (Chapter 8) as an executor and his £100 legacy. I suspect this was because James, himself had died.
  • Appoints William Beake of no 121 to 125 Westbourne Grove, draper and gives him a legacy of £100.00. William Beake was a business partner of her brother Thomas until 11 May 1909.
  • Revokes the £25.00 legacy to Fanny Bellamy and increases this to £100.00 still dependent on her remaining in Mary's employment.
  • Revokes the legacy to Thomas Hewett Ponting's children
  • The 1/6th previously going to both Thomas's children, is now to be invested and the income to be divided between her nieces Mary Louisa Jane Osbourne and Edith Carter, Thomas's daughters (or if they are deceased their children)
  • If these trusts should "fail" then the executors are to pay £100.00 to her great nephew Lesley Chester Cooper. Leslie Chester Cooper was born in 1907 (Reg Gen Sept Qtr South Stoneham 2c 80) and it appears that he may be Ashfield Ann Beardsworth's grandson (Chapter 12) and the remainder of the 1/6th share to go to Myldred Jane Love.

She makes a second codicil on 8 March 1910 in which she

  • Revoke the appointment of William Beake as an executor and his £100 legacy.
  • Appoints Arthur Ponting of Taynton, Kenley as her executor and gives him the £100 legacy (Appendix J)

A third codicil is made on 21 January 1914 by which time Mary Jane is living at "Glen Helen", Thoroughgood Road, Clacton. In this she

  • Gives all her plate, china, linen wearing apparel, glass, books, pictures, prints, furniture and other household effects to her sister Susanna Love with a request (not a legal obligation) that these be distributed in accordance with an attached letter of wishes (not held)
  • Bequeaths her companion Mary Jane Culvert, £100.00 if she still be in her employ at the date of death
  • Bequeaths Norah Bloom, her servant, one years salary

Finally there is a fourth codicil dated 26 July 1918 in which Mary Jane makes the following specific bequests

  • "To Mary Louise Osbourne, 2 diamond rings and 1 ruby and diamond ring, my seal skin coat and sable furs" (Chapter 6)
  • "To Edith Carter all my white wood carving and 4 pictures" (Chapter 6)
  • "To Mrs H Vernon Cooper, my carved walnut bookcase, paper rack and fire screen" (Chapter 12)
  • "To Mildred Love 2 large Doulton vases, my pillar clock and diamond pin" (Chapter 8)
  • "To Ethel Shore, large Sheffield tea tray, my white and gold tea service and diamond brooch with horse shoe" (Chapter 8)
  • "To Hilda Armstrong small plain Sheffield Tea tray and set of Sheffield knives and forks in case". (Chapter 8)
  • "To Pattie Ponting my gold watch and chain" (Chapter 9)
  • "To Gladys Ponting my large gold locket and safety diamond brooch" (Chapter 9)
  • "To Miss Calvert, my silver from my dressing table"

Mary Jane also revokes the legacy to John Jones Ponting's children of his first marriage and now specifies that of the same 1/6th share

  • ½ should go to Frank Osborne Ponting (Chapter 9)
  • ¼ should go to Pattie Partridge Sarah Ponting (Chapter 9)
  • ¼ should go to Gladys Merryweather Ponting (Chapter 9).

This change possibly reflects the fact that Frederick Hewitt Ponting had been killed in World War I, but why not leave it to his children? 

At the time of her death her estate was worth £6,805 10s 5d (the equivalent of about £214K in 2006).  

Mary's niece Gladys Merryweather Ponting (daughter of John Jones Ponting) wrote a journal describing her upbringing and family (Chapter 9). Known as "Sissie", in "Aunt Sissie's Journal" she says that the additional amount was left to Frank "because he had done his duty to his father's little children. I was utterly astonished when I received £207. 13s. 4d, a locket and a diamond brooch. The odd £7 bought me a sewing machine".   

The journal describes Mary as " A woman with a will and the carriage and manners of a duchess and liked to rule and order everyone's life.............She married and soon found he was a rotter and only wanted her money - I suppose they left each other and he died, that's all I know. She had a companion and a maid. 

Still for all her interfering, she was generous and kind, but had no use for youthful follies. She died in about 1920 at Clacton, where she had lived for some years, from cancer of the lungs, very suddenly after her lunch". 

Although she died in Clacton, Mary Jane Finemore was buried in Ealing & Old Brentford cemetery on 20 August 1919. She shares her mother Jane's grave.  

The inscription reads "Also of Mary Jane Finemore daughter of Jane and Henry Ponting who died 14 August 1919 aged 77"  

Click here to go to "Chapter 8 - Susanna Love nee Ponting"

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