The Dance Families of the Forest of Dean

Edward Dance's Family

The Jones Almshouses at Newland where Edward Dance died in 1882











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Edward's Children

George Dance 1843 - 1924

John Dance 1838 - 1922

 Harriett Dance (Powell) 1840

Mary Ann Dance (Hodges) 1849-1920

Lydbrook & Bishopswood

Scowles  & West Australia

Redbrook & South Wales

Scowles, Bristol & Melbourne

Edward Dance (1806-1882) was born to Thomas and Catherine at Whitchurch, just over the border in Herefordshire . He married Mary Ann Thomas (1817) from Redbrook  in 1836 and his brother Joseph was a witness at their Newland wedding.  Edward  worked as a labourer and a gardener during the 1840s and a maltster in the 1860s and 1870s  when the family lived at Upper Redbrook.  His 6 children, John (1838), Harriet (1840), George (1843), Mary Ann (1849), David (1845) and Thomas (1847) were all born in that area. Unhappily David and Thomas died in infancy.  

On the 1851 census he was living at Scowles, between Redbrook and Coleford  and owned five plots there. Coming from a farming family we would guess there may have been livestock and also that some of the land was cultivated. He was described as a gardener on the 1851 census and a maltster in 1861 and 1871. By 1861 his home was at nearby Upper Redbrook and there were already three grandchildren staying and their unmarried son George listed on the census form. 

In 1871 there were four grandchildren and his 88 year old Welsh born widowed mother-in-law, Maria Thomas.

According to local history -  Squatters built cottages on Scowles common from the start of the 19th century,  creating a hamlet with 36 households in 1851. The small community of miners and quarrymen  had its own church and school from the mid 19th century.

Edward was one of those squatters. In 1842, when the Encroachment Act legalised his status, and after a payment of three pounds, three shillings and nine pence, he was the legal owner of 5 parcels of land at the Scowles. One of those land plots was sold to the Forescue Brickdale family in 1858 to build the school. 

The Red House at Scowles was originally on the same plot but closer to the road than Edward's original home. It has since been demolished and replaced.  On the title deeds Edward's house was at the rear of this plot. His son John Dance (1838), who was a stonemason, had built the Red House and lived there, apart from two overseas visits, from the 1860s till he left for Western Australia in the early 1900s.

Edward worked as a maltster during the time he lived at Upper Redbrook. That occupation involved selecting cereals, usually barley, from the fields for malting. He would then modify the grain, using nature as part of the process, to allow the brewer to be able to make beer from it. The barley was malted to the brewmaster's specification to ensure he produced the flavour and alcohol content desired.

The starches in barley cannot be fermented, so they must be made into a fermentable form by malting. The barley grains are soaked in water and allowed to germinate. Then they are heated and turned regularly, either in traditional 'floor' malting or huge rotating drums.

Redbrook Brewery around 1910

Edward's brother, Joseph Dance, was also employed as a maltster and lived in the nearby town of Monmouth.

Edward Dance was to finish his days living at the Jones Almshouses in Newland after his wife, Mary Ann, died in 1879. He was buried in 1882 just a few yards away in Newland churchyard.