A trustworthy and faithful servant

January 26, 2015

Samuel Murch was born 11 April 1778 in Ottery St Mary, Devon, England, where he was also baptised on 1 January 1779.  His parents were (another) Samuel and his wife, Margaret (late LITTLY, nee MARSHALL). He is my 4 x great-grandfather.

As his father before him, and his grandfather before him, and his great-grandfather as well, Samuel was apprenticed into the textile industry – and this Samuel seems to have been the first to work with silk rather than wool. Samuel would have been apprenticed in 1790 or 1791, but had to wait until his apprenticeship had been completed before he was free to marry, as he did in 1799 to Mary BENDING.

murchFour years after the wedding, in 1804, Joseph Marie Jacquard invented a loom which could weave complex designs, using cards with a pattern of holes on them.  I wonder if Samuel rejoiced at this progress, or felt uneasy for the security of his job?  In 1813 were the famous Luddite riots of weavers, afraid that this new technology would take away their livelihoods.  A mere three years later, and John Heathcoat arrived from the Midlands and set up a new lacemaking factory (and many of the Murches began their working lives as lacemakers when they were small children).


Joseph Marie Jacquard (1752-1834)
woven on silk


Samuel had his faith to sustain him.  Or did he? It seems as though the MURCHes were constantly searching for “the truth”.  The MURCH family were nonconformists: Protestant Dissenters, then Presbyterians, then Congregationalists – and nonconformists were often associated with being hard workers and entrepreneurs.  One of the items which underlines this is a newspaper cutting, taken from the Exeter & Plymouth Gazette of 30 October 1841, in which the Agricultural and Industrial Association awarded Samuel £1 “To the Journeyman who has worked longest in the employ of the same master ... 38 years employed in the Ottery Factory, 18 years during the time of the present respected proprietor, Mr Newbery.”

And the final newspaper clipping, which emphasises Samuel’s goodness, is taken from the Exeter & Plymouth Gazette of 20 January 1849, recording his death:

“Jan. 16, at Ottery St Mary, Mr Samuel Murch, in the 71st year of his age.  He was employed 44 years in the Ottery Factory, the last 26 years in the silk department of the present proprietor.  He was a trustworthy and faithful servant.”

Ros Haywood

MURCH One Name Study


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