The Dance families of Gloucestershire & Herefordshire


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Stokenham Directory 1850

John Dance 1827

William Dance 1837-71

Hannah Dance (Berrow) 1838

Royal Marines Register

Colin Dance's Research


The Dance Family of Clearwell


Ex Royal Marine Joseph Dance (1800-1847) settled at Clearwell in the 1830s and worked as a labourer.

One family tree on Ancestry shows Joseph Dance the Royal Marine originated from the northern edge of the Forest area and was baptised at Staunton near Newent on June 29th 1800, the son of John and Hannah Dance. 

Joseph's Royal Marines enlistment details describe his birth place as Stanton in Worcestershire. 

Staunton (often in those days misspelled Stanton), near Newent, is in Worcestershire and only eight miles from the city of Gloucester where he was recruited.

A John Dance and Hannah Hart were married at Churcham in 1783. The church register records that they were both 'of this parish'.

If we have the correct John & Hannah, they then moved around 12 miles north to Longdon on the Gloucestershire/Worcestershire border.

William Dance (1789) and Mary Dance (1796), were baptised in the Longdon area before apparently moving to Staunton.

Hannah (1756) died there in 1817. 

The widower John Dance (1752) was a resident of the Staunton Workhouse when he died in 1837.


"STAUNTON, a parish in the lower division of Pershore hundred, county Worcester, 9 miles from Hereford, its post town, 8 N.W. of Gloucester, and 7 S.W. of Tewkesbury. The village, which is chiefly agricultural, is situated near the river Leadon. The Ledbury hounds meet in this parish. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Worcester, value £404. The church is dedicated to St. James. The parochial charities consist of a portion of Jarvis's bequest, which realises upwards of £1,068 per annum."   The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)



This page and the others from the Clearwell Dance Family were added in February 2010 after a query from Colin Dance through the Forest of Dean Family History site had me re-checking my own Wye Valley & Lydbrook Dance family research. Our families are at present apparently not linked but Judith Leadbeater tells me she will continue to investigate. 

My own feeling today, based partly on the Christian names pattern common to both families, and also on the number of Dances at that time living much closer to Staunton around the Ledbury area, are that John Dance & Hannah Hart from Churcham may not have been Joseph's parents and that one day we may possibly find another John & Hannah marriage in either the Herefordshire or Worcestershire parish registers and perhaps a link to both Forest families.    Tom.   November 2011 

Joseph joined the Royal Marines at Gloucester in October 1820 and was based at Stonehouse Barracks, Plymouth. He served with them for 18 years.  He met and married Devon born Ann Pepperell (1800) who we believe was from Torcross near Stokenham. They were married at Stonehouse on the 18th of June 1823. A search of the 1841 census for the small village of Torcross shows at least seven Pepperell families who were mainly employed as fishermen and boat-builders.

I joined the Devon Family History Society and they sent me copies of baptisms and deaths and the date of Joseph Dance and Ann Pepperells' wedding. They had four children who were baptised at Stonehouse.  Elizabeth Mary Hooper born 1824, John George born 1827, Hannah Louisa born 1830 and died 1831, William Henry born 1832 and died 5mths old 1832, William Henry No.2 born 1835, and Anna Louisa No 2 born 1837 and baptised in Clearwell. Apparently it was normal in those days if you lost a child you named the next one with the same name.   We went on holiday a few years ago to Cornwall and visited Devonport . We wondered whether Joseph named John after his father and George after the street. I named my eldest son John not realising that the name goes right back to the 1700's.    June Dance

Torcross, Devon from above  © Nigel Chadwick

Stonehouse Royal Marines Depot, Plymouth

The Royal Marines drill square 19th century


The building of the Royal Marines Barracks, Stonehouse, started in 1781. Before that time, the Royal Marines stationed at Plymouth and Plymouth Dock (Devonport) used private houses. The American Revolutionary War led to a huge increase in the number of troops stationed in the area and the construction of dedicated barracks was the result. A site next to Millbay was chosen for its proximity to the water, and in 1803 the neighbouring disused Stonehouse Longroom (formerly scene of fashionable social entertainments) was added. 

The Longroom had fallen into disuse so negotiations were started in order to purchase the site for an extension to the barracks to free-up the barracks at nearby Millbay.  There was a general fear of invasion by the French forces under Napoleon Bonaparte and once again the military forces had been increased to combat this threat.  The Longroom site was subsequently acquired from Lord Mount Edgcumbe for the sum of £4,450 and in 1805 a wooden barracks was built, the original Longroom becoming a new Officers' Mess.

The barracks are still in use by 3 Commando Brigade.

Tension was once again increased during the 1850s with the war in the Crimea.  To provide extra accommodation the east block was extended northwards, which provided 28 more rooms of 30 beds each.  This was completed in 1859.  The work did not end there, however, and much other building went on, including, in 1861, the razing and rebuilding of the north block, and in 1862 the conversion of the Racquet Court into the Globe Theatre.


On the right is a painting of HMS San Josef in Plymouth harbour as a gunnery training ship from 1839. HMS San Josef was a 114-gun first rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. She was captured from the Spanish Navy at the Battle of Cape St Vincent on 14 February 1797 (when she was still named in Spanish San Josť). In 1809 she served as the flagship of Admiral John Thomas Duckworth. 

Joseph served on board from 20th March 1835 to 1st August 1835. From 1839 the San Josef was used as a gunnery training ship. 

On the right is a view of the Royal Marines barracks and drill-square at Stonehouse in the 19th century. 

June Dance informed me that that the 1 George street, Plymouth information had been removed from you web site. Just wondering how this had been found . In fact it has led me to having a look at the street names closer to the Royal Marines Barracks in Stonehouse.

I have found a George street just a couple of hundred yards away from the Barracks. 

It looks as though it was bombed during WW2 see the web link below which shows an old map and George street just above the Royal Marine Barracks in Stonehouse.

The street is now called Stonehouse Street. If you look at the Google link you can see that where number 1 George street would have been and  is now missing and an adjacent building has been shored up...possibly after being hit by bombing ?    Cheers   Colin.                   Google link


Four of Joseph's children, Elizabeth Dance (1824-45), John Dance (1826), William Henry Dance (1835) and Hannah Louise (1838) were born at Stonehouse in Devon and Alice Ann Dance (1842) and George Joseph Dance (1841-42) at Clearwell in the Forest of Dean. 

Joseph died at Clearwell in 1847 and his widow Ann at Ruspidge in 1878. Ann was living with her daughter Hannah Berrow when the 1861 census was taken, and at one of the Clearwell almshouses in 1871. 

Their eldest child, Elizabeth Dance (1824), joined her parents at Clearwell. The 21 year old  died there in 1845.


Joseph's youngest daughter, Alice Ann Dance was baptised at Clearwell in 1842. Before her marriage in 1862 she worked as a domestic servant at Troy House, a few miles from her home. It was at Mitchel Troy, a short distance from Monmouth and the home of the Wyatt family, descendants of the owners of Raglan Castle.

Rebuilt by the Duke of Beaufort in the late 17th century after the family seat at Raglan Castle had fallen into ruin. The house remained in the Somerset family until it was sold in 1901.

In 1862, at Clearwell, Alice Dance married William Phillips who was born at Newent in 1839. William was a tanner, the son of John Phillips a Newent shoemaker.

Alice had three children baptised at Clearwell, but none survived till adulthood. Before 1878 she had lost her husband and three children. They were William Robert Phillips 1864-1866, Joseph George Phillips 1865 -1867, and Ann Phillips 1868-1877.

Her husband William  died in the 1870s.

In 1876 she was remarried at Chapel Hill, Chepstow. He was Tintern butcher's son Joseph Pritchard (1852). In the 1880s the couple settled at Ruspidge near Cinderford where Joe was employed as a coal labourer.




Troy House, Mitchel Troy



Ruspidge around 1900



My sincere thanks to Colin Dance, a descendant of Joseph's grandson John George Dance 1860, for kick-starting this page, to Judith Leadbeater, whose husband is a descendant of Joseph's daughter Hannah Louise Dance 1837, for her valuable information and assistance and a more recent contact, Bronwen Woods.

Thanks also to June Dance whose husband Ronald  is a descendant of William. She has kindly supplied her  Royal Marine archives research, and her husband's family tree.