This article recounts the dramatic, traumatic, and tragic events leading to the first immigrant to California from the Gracia & Marchetti family. It is remarkable that one man’s life can be so thoroughly documented, placing him as, not only an eye witness, but a participant in historical events.
John Mahood was born 1825, son of Adam Mahood, in Magherally Parish near Banbridge, County Down, in Northern Ireland. The town of Banbridge was the centre of the ‘Linen Homelands’ owing its success to flax and the linen industry. Naturally, John became a weaver.
Ireland had witnessed a massive surge in population from 2.6 to 8.5 million by 1845 when blight struck the staple food of the masses – the potato. Two-fifths of the population were totally dependent on the potato and it was the major food-source of the rest. Between 1845 and 1849, the potato crop failed in three seasons out of four. The result was starvation and the spread of the “road disease” – dysentery, typhus and cholera.
Unlike his elder siblings in domestic service, John Henry, took an apprenticeship with a clothing and outfitting retailer in York, living with his elder sister’s family, Elizabeth, in Brownlow Street in The Groves neighbourhood.
The 21 year old bachelor, John Henry Bainbridge, married 24 year old spinster, Adelaide Edgar, at St Maurice Parish Church in York, 9 April 1913.
The newly weds settled in the village of Newton on Ouse, 9 miles northwest of York, where John Henry opened a grocery shop on Moor Lane, the main street entering the village, opposite the school.
Elizabeth Ann Headley was born 1863 in Huby, Yorkshire, to parents Isabella Mennell & John Headley, an agricultural laborer. Elizabeth was the sixth of eight siblings, seven of whom survived to adulthood. All four brothers relocated to Shildon, County Durham, to work in the coal mines or railways and her two sisters moved out of the village to raise large families in towns where their husbands held industrial jobs.
Jane Scott was born 1828 in Sutton on the Forest to parents John Scott, an agricultural labourer, also from Sutton on the Forest & Anne Taylor, originally from Oulston.
Jane was the ninth of eleven children, all born in Sutton on the Forest, spanning the 17 years between 1813 – 1832. Baptised 27 April 1828, All Hallows’ Parish Church was presumably the venue for all the family baptisms.
Henry Bainbridge was born 1831 in Tollerton, was sixth and youngest child of John Bainbridge & Mary Bainbridge. Raised in Tollerton, Henry followed in his father’s footsteps and aged 18, joined his elder brother Joseph as an agricultural labourer living with, and working for, the Sadler family, farmers in Tollerton.
Complicating matters, there are at least two Bainbridge families in Oulston in the 18th & 19th century. Our family and the family of William Bainbridge (1752-1816), gamekeeper for Newburgh Estate, and father of nine children.
Most of his children shared names with our ancestors, including John, William, Jane, Charles, Henry, etc. Furthermore many remained in Oulston, Easingwold, or York, muddying the waters as we trace our family tree.
Mary Bainbridge was born 16th January 1786 in Melmerby, in the parish of Wath Juxta Ripon, to parents Joseph Bainbridge & Ann, née Dresser. Mary was baptized in the Church of St Mary, Wath, February 1786.
Mary married John Bainbridge, May 1816, in the same church 30 years later, in the Year without a Summer. It was caused by the massive 1815 volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia. 1816 was an agricultural disaster. Historian John D. Post has called this “the last great subsistence crisis in the Western world.”
As a result of the series of volcanic eruptions, crops had been poor for several years; the final blow came in 1815 with the eruption of Tambora. Europe, still recuperating from the Napoleonic Wars, suffered from food shortages.
John Bainbridge was born in the village of Oulston in 1789 to parents John Bainbridge & Mary née Wright. The baptism was held two miles away at Saint Michael & All Angels Church in Coxwold, where his parents had married three years earlier. The church would be favored by the family for generations to come.
Coxwold was at one time a market town, and, though in the early 18th century the market had been ‘long disused,’ some of the dignity of a town still lingered.
The Bainbridge family line can be traced back to Oulston, a small picturesque village in the Howardian Hills of North Yorkshire. Since the middle of the eighteenth century, our family migrated over twenty miles, across six generations, and almost 200 years, to arrive in Newton-on-Ouse.