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Two Grannies of Hanley Swan

Granny Gamble with her niece and nine children c. 1900 [Ann Postans]

Granny Dovey outside Lilac Cottage, 1920 [Mary Green]


1. Granny Gamble with her niece and nine children c. 1900 (one more, Teresa, was born in 1901) outside their cottage opposite Albion Lodge. Pictured from left are: twins Martha and Mary, Elizabeth, Wilfred, baby George, Joseph, niece Clara, Mildred, Thomas and John [Ann Postans]

2. Granny Dovey in 1920 outside Lilac Cottage [Mary Green]

From the ranks of the peasant families that supplied the workforce for the Blackmore Park estate in the 19th century two formidable women emerged: Granny Dovey and her daughter Granny Gamble.

George Dovey, whose family had worked at Blackmore for generations, was born in 1819 and, as a young man, he travelled widely in Worcestershire. He had first married a Castlemorton girl, but she died in the early 1850s, leaving him to bring up two daughters. At some point in his travels he met Jane Colley, 16 years his junior, from Suckley Green, the daughter of an agricultural labourer. They married and their first child was born in 1854 in Doverdale. By 1861, they were in Ombersley where Jane was a washerwoman bringing up three of her own children and a stepdaughter.

Within 3 years George had brought his family back to Hanley Castle, where he joined his father, Thomas, working on the Blackmore estate. Like their Hornyold employers, the Doveys were Catholics. George and Jane had a total of 12 children over a period of 24 years, eight boys and four girls, all the boys becoming, like their forebears, agricultural labourers.

George died before the end of the century, leaving Jane as the matriarch of the family. With 43 grandchildren by 1917, she was known throughout the parish as Granny Dovey. When the Blackmore estate was broken up in 1919, she somehow found the money to buy the two small properties the family rented in Picken End – Liliac Cottage and Rose Cottage. Jane died in 1926 at the age of 91.

Her second daughter, Elizabeth, born in 1858, followed in her mother’s footsteps. In 1882 she married another labourer from Blackmore, Joseph Gamble, and over the next 19 years they had ten children, five boys and five girls. She brought them up in a cottage opposite Albion Lodge in Roberts End and later in the first council house to be built in Gilberts End. Although it is not known how many grandchildren she had, Elizabeth became widely known as Granny Gamble. She died in 1943 at the age of 85.

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