The Dance Families of the Forest of Dean

 Scowles hamlet












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I first became interested in the hamlet of Scowles near Coleford and its school when researching our Dance family whose origins  were from the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley.

Our earliest Forest ancestor Edward Dance (born 1806) lived there with his family in the 1840s and 1850s, some of that time working as a gardener for Mary Brickdale's brother-in-law, and it was also where his son, stonemason John Dance (1838), had his home from the 1870s through till around 1910 when he moved to Western Australia.

John's son George Dance attended Scowles school from 1885; the register showing his moving up from the Infants department in August 1887.

Scowles common was used by local people in the later 18th century for grazing sheep during the months the Forest was closed to livestock.

Ownership of the common, claimed at that time for Newland manor by the lessee of the St. Briavels castle estate, was confirmed to the lord of Staunton manor in 1798. (The Gage family, owners of the Highmeadow estate and lords of Staunton.)

Late 19th century records inform us -  '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 Dance (1805-1882)was one of those squatters.

It seems fairly obvious how it received its name, though in much earlier times the area appears to have been known as Greenway Scowles. The common was scarred by the results of both ancient and more recent iron ore extraction, with pits known as 'scowles'  some of which are believed to date back to the Iron Age. 

Ore was found in pockets, chambers walled in by a very hard crystalline limestone called the crease, through which the miners cut their way from chamber to chamber.

It certainly appears through the evidence of 3rd century coins, that from at least as early as the Roman occupation, iron workers had set up their small furnaces and forges close to the outcrops of its iron-ore bearing rocks. In the 19th century the ground was in places deep with cinders, the residue of  those workings.

Across the fields at Whitecliff an  ore-smithy, or furnace, was operating  in 1361, and that hamlet had a number of furnaces and forges in the 15th and 16th centuries.


By modern standards Scowles does not seem to have been a very attractive place to live. We are told by James Thompson in 1870 that there were no wells. Water for those without water-butts would have to be carried fairly lengthy distances. The nearest decent supply apparently coming from the pump at the Crows Nest iron mine, shown on maps as being in existence as early as 1835. It was situated across the road north of Scowles Farm and is believed to have ceased iron ore extraction around 1865. 

It seems fairly obvious how it received its name, though in much earlier times the area appears to have been known as Greenway Scowles. The common was scarred by the results of both ancient and more recent iron ore extraction, with pits known as 'scowles'  some of which are believed to date back to the Iron Age. 


Generations of Newland parishioners had quarried the stone here and the landscape was riddled with abandoned workings. 

Today the throughway is still mainly a narrow one-lane road with often only the entrances of residents' driveways to give way to on-coming vehicles. When Reg Cope's family moved into the schoolhouse in 1888 from Uxbridge in the West London area he described it thus- 'The lane through the village looked as though it had never been made properly. The surface had large bare stones in many places and near at hand were the remains of the old iron-ore workings, holes which one could easily fall into on a dark and foggy winter night.'

He goes on- 'When I was a few years older these scowles made a lovely adventure playground, although rather grim at times, Arthur and I never had time to get bored. Children made their own fun in those days.'


In 1835 iron ore was mined in the area opposite Scowles Farm. In the early 1870s Scowles pit sent ore to the Parkend ironworks, and Crowsnest pit, supplied ironworks in South Wales and later yielded a quantity of yellow ochre. In 1873 two pits were opened at Crossways but they were abandoned soon afterwards. 


The Scowles Iron Ore Pit belongs to Mr. Fryer. There is a lot of Iron Ore got here and is taken to Parkend for use in waggons drawn by horses. The pit is worked by means of an Engin and steam. It is near the wood. You may see some parts of it from the turnpike road.      

There is another small pit. It is worked by means of a Jinny Ring and Gib and rope from which Iron Ore or Mine is got. It belongs to Mr. Fryer of Coleford. Close to it is a ruffett or wood where there is a lot of very old Yew Trees and also old mine holes. There is other mine places about here but is worked out. 

Close to the road is a pool which supplies the inhabitants of this place with water. 

James Thompson 1870




Until the Encroachments Act of 1838, practically everyone living on or holding land in the Forest was doing so illegally. Apparently, in 1803 there were close to 3000 people in around 600 dwellings squatting with little legal protection. 

In 1844 this situation changed. Parliament had  endorsed the Commissioners' recommendations for dealing with the squatters and others who had established themselves on Crown lands in the Forest over a long period of years - effectively legalising them in retrospect. Edward Dance and his neighbours were among those affected.

The original 1852 title deeds, now in the possession of Dave Jones's family, show that after a payment of three pounds, three shillings and nine pence, Edward Dance was now the legal owner of five plots of land at the Scowles. This drawing, included in those deeds, show the plots outlined with red ink. 

Plot 49, just over a quarter of an acre, plus a small access portion of plot 51 was purchased in 1858 by Mary Brickdale's father to build Scowles school. The remainder of Plot 51 (now the site of 'Shooters Roost' ) was conveyed to Mary Brickdale in 1881 to build a school-house.


Plots 41 and 45, the three eighths of an acre area which today includes the 'Red House',  'Sunways' and the meadow behind, appears to have remained with the Dance family until Edward's eldest son, stonemason John Edward Dance (born 1838), moved to Western Australia around 1908. 

Plot 20, across the road from the 'Red House' is now owned by Dave Jones's family.


Elizabeth James (1774) a widow, had a home at Scowles in the 1830s and 1840s. She died in 1851 and may have been an early owner of a house on the site now known as "Shooters Roost" before it came into Edward Dance's possession. Her husband was William James (1759) who died at Scowles in 1837.


On the 1851 census Edward Dance was employed as a gardener at Coleford by Mary Brickdale's brother in law, landowner and magistrate, Edwin Owen Jones.

Mary Ann died at Redbrook in 1879 and Edward was living in the Newland almshouses when he died in 1882. 

Edward Dance 1807-1882  lived on the plot of land that now includes 'the Red House' and 'Sunways'. According to the original 1852 deeds his home was at the time situated away from the road and in the right hand corner of what is now the meadow behind the 'Red House'.


Edward moved to Scowles around 1844. He and Mary Ann already had three children, John (born Redbrook in 1838), Harriet (born Redbrook in 1840) and our ancestor George (born Berry Hill in 1843).

Our photo shows Edward Dance with one of his sons


Three children were born at the Scowles.  David who was baptised at Newland in November 1845 died when only eight weeks old. His brother Thomas (1847) also baptised at Newland, only survived for 16 months. Their sister Mary, born at Scowles in 1849, married Bristol carpenter Edwin Hodges in 1868 and after 14 years at Bristol, migrated to Melbourne, Australia in 1882.



Coleford cemetery, which is situated at the edge of the town, upon a large and elevated piece of ground, was consecrated on the 18th of January, 1868. Before that time most Scowles and Coleford residents were usually buried at Newland churchyard.

From the 1850s there was a school and a small chapel at Scowles but no pubs or blacksmiths.  Uniquely, except for the school teachers, the working population were mainly artisans and labourers.

Residents were then plagued by the red dust usually at that time associated with those who worked in the iron mines. According to James Thompson in 1870 - 'You may tell a one who lives at The Scowles by the red colored shoes and clothes and even their talk.' 

Houses here in the 1850s were rented out for around 1 shilling (5p) per week and usually sold for about £20 according to the rent book records of Coleford draper and land-owner Thomas Birt Trotter who was born in 1806 and owned a significant amount of land and property in the area.

From Thomas Birt Trotter's rent book.


1829. Thomas Frowen - Mortgage £25 on property at Scowles

1839. John James - Mortgage £20 at Scowles. (In 1847 -balance of £3 forgiven)

1847. Henry Jenkins, Crossways: Let him patchland at Scowles and garden at Crossways for 1 year. Rent 12 and 6 pence

1849. James Brown, Scowles - Rent.

1850. Joseph Taylor, Scowles cottage and garden, 1 shilling per week. (Property sold to Joseph Combs for £20)

1857. Mr Dobbs, Scowles land at 14 shillings.


Both the old church and the school-house are now converted to domestic use. The hamlet today is a pleasant and peaceful rural retreat with, apart from some beautiful old houses, very few immediately visible signs of its 19th century heritage.

Fortunately we have two interesting 19th century sources who left memories of Scowles  on the record. One was Reginald Cope, born 1884, the son of headmaster Alfred Cope who had joined Scowles school from Uxbridge, Middlesex in 1888. His reminiscences were published in a 1974 edition of the Dean Forest Guardian. 

The other was James Thompson, an 18 year old road man from Coleford who  wrote a journal with the grand title of "The Original Directory to the Royal Forest of Dean 1870".

The book was kept by James who was born at Lords Hill House, Coleford.  It was nicely bound and in clear copperplate handwriting.

He was at that time working for road surveyor James Bremner, a Scot  employed by the  Dean Forest Turnpike Trust, who was responsible for maintenance of the turnpikes. 

The school log book and register held at the Gloucester Record Office was another mine of information as were the census returns and local newspapers. My 'bible' though, was Cyril Hart's hugely informative book 'Coleford - The History of a West Gloucestershire Forest Town'.


There is a quantity of Yew Trees about The Scowles. Some have them before their door or gate forming a archway. They look very nice. There is also very old holes here and they are very deep. Around them is trees and bushes. There is a road right through the art of The Scowles from one to the other. The houses is not very close to each other. You may tell a one who lives at The Scowles by the red colored shoes and clothes and even their talk. There is some nice houses about here with good gardens. Some is slate tilled, some stone. They have a long way to fetch their coal which is not very pleasant in winter, you may see a long way in summer time.

Here they have a long journey to go for water. Some go to one place some another, namely Crossways well, some to Highmeadow well, or Dockenell pitch ( Dog Kennel Pitch). 

The Newland Gentlefolks is very proud and fond of The Scowles people. In winter they supply the poor with Soup. On a cold frosty morning you may see the children and old people with jugs, etc going to Mrs. Bricdale for the Soup. They say that it is very good. It is made chiefly of Meat of different kinds with other things.   James Thompson 1870

Re the water supply, I can remember Mum saying how she had to walk to the end of the village to fetch water from the well. That chore was made better when a village tap was installed - it was on the corner of the lane leading to the chapel. By the time I was born we had mains water but didn't get electricity until 1952 as part of the push to bring power to all communities in time for people to buy TVs and watch the Coronation (sorry, a bit cynical that).   David Dowle, born Scowles 1944.

The Red House

Stone mason John Dance, the first son of Edward, was born at Redbrook in 1838. Pictured below at Scowles around 1882 with his three children. Florence (1866) is on the left, Ted (John Edward 1864) on the right, and young George (1878) next to his father. The other photo shows George (1878) with his father at the time he was attending Scowles School.

John was widowed three times. His first wife, Cheltenham born Zipporah Webb, who he married in 1861, was only 22 when she died at Redbrook in June 1861. Their 5 weeks old baby Annie was buried with her.

He remarried in 1863. She was a Newland girl, 20 year old Sarah Evans. They had two children, both born at Redbrook, John Edward (Ted) in 1864 and Florence in 1866. Sarah died at Redbrook in 1869 shortly after giving birth to William Henry who was only 6 months old when he died in 1869.

Before 1871, John had left Ted and Florence with relatives and sailed across the Atlantic where he is believed to have spent time in Brazil and America.



John Dance and family at the Red House 1882 John and youngest son George (born 1878)




John Dance builder of the Red House John Edward (Ted) Dance



When he returned to the Forest of Dean five years later he brought a new wife, Margaret Hamilton (born 1842), and settled at the Scowles. Their first child Catherine only lived to be 12 months old and died in September 1877. Son, George Hamilton Dance, was born at Scowles in November 1878. His mother Margaret died in 1879 when he was only 8 months old.

Around 1881-82, possibly after the death of his father Edward in 1882,  John had crossed the Atlantic again leaving young George and  Florence in the care of his sister Mary Hodges at Bristol. He was back in the UK by the late 1880s and the photo on the right with George was taken on his return to Scowles from Brazil.

During the remainder of his time in the Forest of Dean he worked as a journeyman stone mason. We know he was present at Monmouth Grammar School when some extensions were built in the late 1890s and was employed in the Abertillery/Cwmtillery area of South Wales around 1898-1901. During that time he still kept his Scowles home going and the 1891 census shows the 12 year old George there with a house-keeper, Rosina Williams.

John left the Forest around 1910 and sailed off to join his son Ted in Western Australia. He died there in 1922.


Ted on a visit to the UK with his sister Florence in 1926 John Dance with son Ted and family in West Australia


It appears that John Dance sold the Red House to the Roberts family. Dorothy Amy (1904) the daughter of Benjamin Roberts a stonemason whose family came from Lane End, Coleford, was living there and attending Scowles School in 1908. Dorothy was to marry miner Harold Dowle. She worked in the Scowles School canteen from the 1950s for 20 years and  is remembered with much affection by her neighbours.

When William Roberts was born at Scowles in 1832 his father William (1797) was already a stone-cutter there. He and his brothers, James (1825) and Benjamin (1828), were all quarry workers in the 1840s. William Roberts Jnr married Mary Ann Jones at Christchurch in 1854 and was a self-employed stone-cutter for most of his working life. Their son Frederick (1855) took a different career path and became a coal-miner.

John Roberts (1860) and his brother Benjamin (1862) appear to be the sons of  Daniel & Selina Roberts from Lane End. They were both quarrymen at Scowles and their children attended the school there. Dorothy May Roberts (1904) and her brother Benjamin Leslie (1905) were the children of quarryman Benjamin Roberts and were on the register in 1908.

John's son Sidney Roberts (1890) was a quarryman here in the 1920s when his son Kenneth (born 1921) enrolled at Scowles School. 



The Roberts children (left to right): Selina (Lin)Leslie, Dorothy.

Leslie, Selina (Lin) and Dorothy – taken at Scowles School

Roberts family photos from David Dowle

A message on the Forest of Dean Family forum 24th March 2009
I was fascinated to see the photo of John Dance at the Scowles since his name was part of my childhood. I was born in the house (called the Red House) in 1944 and brought up there. John Dance's name was known to us since he had etched his initials into a pane of glass in the window on the left and which remained there for many years, certainly until I left home as an adult. The house had been extended by the time I was born but the original was clearly identifiable. I didn't know that he was a mason - as our son commented, 'You'd think he might at least have got the floors level'. There was one flagstone in particular that sounded hollow and the family folklore was that it was where John Dance kept his money!

At some point - presumably when JD went to Australia since the dates look right- it was taken over by the Roberts family. My mother, Dorothy was born in the first decade of the 20th century which would be about right, although at Down Hatherley, Gloucester. I believe it was her grandparents who took over RedHouse. At some point her father and mother moved back to the Scowles - I think at the death of her Granddad. Her father Ben Roberts was also a mason as was my paternal grandfather, Ben Dowle of Coalway Lane End. The house is no more as the current owner demolished the original and built a new house on the site.
      David Dowle
The Roberts Family on the Scowles 1911 census

Dorothy Amy Roberts (later Dowle) in the garden of Red House. The picture gives some idea of the size of the garden as it went as far as the bushes in the mid-distance. The Sunways bungalow now stand in part of it. Beyond is a small meadow that is also now part of the bungalow's grounds. The meadow was never used so became our playground. It contained a host of wildflowers such as cowslips and primroses and was a source of sloes, blackberries and rosehips. Does anyone remember how we used to collect rosehips for the Ribena factory? It was organised by the school and we got paid for it as, at that time, H.W. Carter who owned the factory made rosehip syrup.   

"This is how the house looked at the end of its life. The original cottage is the middle section. The newer part at the left consisted of two bedrooms with a sitting room and bathroom below. The bathroom originally was a pantry complete with salting stones for curing bacon, etc. The right hand end was a large kitchen. I guess the name 'Red House' came from the colour of the sandstone used in construction. For all of my life it was whitewashed or emulsioned."     David Dowle

On the left - 'Sunways' and right the Red House today

Scowles Farm


The Scowles Farm is where Mr. Amos Jones is. The house and barns and outbuildings is near together. The land is of red color. The farm is rather large and is managed pretty well to what some is.    James Thompson 1870


This farm is on the Scowles road. A plain stone farmhouse on the Crossways-Highmeadow road was built around 1674 on the site of an old sheephouse, and acquired that year by the Probyn family of Newland. It is referred to in local records as part of the Highmeadow Estate.  'In 1792, Viscount Gage of Highmeadow let Scowles Meadow  along with the farmhouse and orchard to Edmund Probyn, who sub-let to Samuel Symons.'    

Samuel Symons also had nearby Upper Whitecliff Farm till 1802.

By the late 1790s Edmund Probyn was levying tolls at this site to generate funds for the maintenance of the road to Highmeadow by way of Crossways. That changed in 1824 when the tolls were administered by the Forest Trust and a toll-house was built at Crossways.




Edmund Morgan (baptised Newland 1803) was the farmer in 1837, the year his first son Edmund was born. He had married Essex born Mary Bibby at Newland in 1825 when  farming at Whitecliff and was still a farmer there until at least 1832. Mary who died in 1863 was listed as a school teacher on the 1861 census.

By the 1841 census it is in the hands of James Probert (bn 1780), and in 1851 with his son John Probert who was born at Whitecliff in 1815.  The earlier farmer Edmund Morgan, was listed next door as a farm labourer.

The mid 19th century census returns show Amos Jones as the tenant until about 1870. In 1881 Thomas & Rhoda Miles were in residence. 

From around 1885 Thomas (1846) & Harriet Haile were at Scowles Farm. Their sons Frank (1875) and Douglas (1879), both attended Scowles School from 1887 and their eldest daughter Edith (1874), who later married farmer's son Edward Little, was at the school as a pupil and from 1895 as a needlework teacher. Her younger sister Gertrude (1884) was also listed on the census as a teacher in 1901. 




Frank Haile married Scowles girl Catherine Flora Jones (1877) in 1904. Frank's son Douglas (1904)  was placed on the school register in 1909 and daughter May (1914) in 1918. 

Frank was to be the farmer here from around 1908. He is believed to have sold Scowles Farm to Frank Morgan in 1960. 

The photo above shows Frank Haile's truck in the 1930s? Can anyone identify the people shown and the occasion?

Thomas Haile (1846-1922) had moved on to Rushmere Farm north-east of Crossways when he built 'Rushmere' in 1908. He is listed as the farmer there during the 1920s. 


Scowles Church


"The Scowles Church is a pretty place. It has a small Bell and is well built. There is some shrubs about here and a walk with walls around it. The minister or Clergyman from Newland is the pastor. It would be a great improvement to the place if the inhabitants was to put heads together with the rich of Newland and have a down right good Church clock to liven up the place and show they was (not) very poor in their purse or pocket as some is."       James Thompson 1870





In 1850 a new schoolroom in Scowles hamlet was licensed for a mission served from Newland church.  Within a few years the building was used only for that purpose  and no longer a school. From 1872 it was a chapel of ease to Coleford. 

The chapel was used for prayers, sermons and Sunday school only and in the late 19th century it was closed during the summer. A small building with one bell, it closed before 1968  and was converted to a house.

The school log for 25th of September 1964 records.. "The children, staff and parents attended Harvest Thanksgiving at the little church. Howard Rose read the Lesson."

On the 4th of May 1967.. "The school children went to Ascension Day Service at Scowles Church. Rest of the day off."




Up-date from Forest of Dean forum 24th of March 2009

Very pleased to see your website and pictures of Edward Dance and his family after years of research. I have copies of the Indentures of 'Shooters Roost', The Scowles showing Edward Dance as the owner. My parents purchased Shooters Roost in the early sixties and it is still their home. I will scan details for you.

Colin Stephens


Elizabeth James (1774) a widow, had a home at Scowles in the 1830s and 1840s. She died in 1851 and may have been an early resident of a house on Plot 51 where "Shooters Roost" was built as a teacher's residence, by Mary Brickdale around 1879. Her husband was William James (1759) who died at Scowles in 1837.




Scowles People

In a period of history not especially known for over-long life spans, one lady managed to live to 101 years. Lucy Thomas, who Reg Cope recalls was known as Granny Thomas, had been widowed early in life.  Born Lucy Edwards the daughter of a Garway, Herefordshire carpenter in 1811, she married bachelor, Newland collier Thomas Frowen (born 1814) in 1837.They had two children, Belinda (1838-40) and Jane (1840).  Widowed in 1840 she only remarried in 1849. He was Scowles born widower William Thomas (1824) and they had three children, William (1850), Belinda (1852) and James (1859). She was widowed again in 1889 when husband William had a heart attack and spent the remainder of her life at Scowles. She died in 1912 at 101 years of age.

1889 Inquest from FOD family web-site.  William Thomas aged 65 of Scowles. Mason's labourer. Husband of Lucy. Disease of the Heart. Witness, Eliza Frowen, wife of Alfred Frowen of Scowles.


Among the earliest children born at Scowles after the hamlet's name began to appear on church records were .. 


Esther Barnett (baptised 1802) daughter of Joseph & Catherine.

William Barnett (baptised 1804) son of Joseph & Catherine.

Emmanuel Stephens (baptised 1807) son of Henry & Jane.

Shadrach Tippins (baptised 1810) son of chimney sweep Richard & his wife Hannah.

Mary Anne Thomas (baptised 1808) daughter of James & Hannah.

Sarah Thomas (baptised 1811) daughter of James & Hannah.

John Thomas (baptised 1813) son of James & Hannah.

Benjamin Thomas (baptised 1827) son of James & Hannah.

The Frowens - Elizabeth Frowen (1823), James Frowen (1827),  

Henry Frowen (1829), Harriet (1830), children of Thomas & Ann.

Mary Ann  (1829) and Amelia (1831) daughters of William & Charlotte Frowen.

William Thomas Frowen (1824) son of James & Hannah

Mary Tomlins (1830) daughter of William & Elizabeth

Thomas Williams (1824) son of Thomas & Charlotte.

Elizabeth Williams (1830) daughter of George & Esther

Ann George (1839) daughter of George & Maria

Eliza James (1824) daughter of William & Selina.

George James (1832) son of William & Selina

George James (1835) son of John & Ann

Enoch Baynham (1835) son of James & Elizabeth

James Lane (1831) son of Henry Lane - a shoemaker & Ann 

Elizabeth Lane (1836) daughter of Henry & Ann


The Tippins family were among the earlier inhabitants. Margaret Tippins (1735) died there in 1819.Their coal-mining descendants continued to live at Scowles throughout the 19th century. 

Richard Tippins (1772-1856) who was christened at Ruardean in 1785 was a chimney sweep at Scowles in the early 1800s. He married Hannah York (1759-1865) at Newland in 1808 and had three sons, all born at Scowles, Shadrach (1808-1830), Abednego (Bendigo) (1803-1833), and Nathaniel (bapt. 1821). 

Nathaniel, a miner, married Elizabeth Crockett in 1844. Their children Richard (1844), Elizabeth (1850), Nathaniel (1855), and George (1858) were all born at Scowles.

A younger Richard Tippins (1873) the son of another Abednego attended Scowles school in the 1880s.

Richard's older brother, Scowles iron miner 19 year old William Tippins (1859), married a neighbour's daughter Sarah George (1856) in 1877. They migrated to New Zealand a year later on board the 'Maraval' with 3 months old Benjamin. 


The Scowles today


Their sister Jessie Tippins (1869) married Worcestershire labourer John Christopher Pendry (1862-1939) at Coleford in 1887. Her children Matilda (Bradley) (1887), William Percy (1892), Oswald (1895) and Elsie Doris (1899) were all born at Scowles and attended the school.

That Abednego Tippins (1825-1884) a collier who had married Ann Beach (1826) was shown as blind on the 1881 census. 

Their eldest son Shadrach  was born in 1851 and married Mary Maria Rudge (1849) in 1875. His first child Emma (1877) was born at Scowles but this collier's family had moved a short distance north to the Hillersland/Christchurch area when Ellen Jane was born in 1879. She was followed by Thomas William (1881), Arthur Henry (1884) and William (1891).



Several Frowen families lived at the Scowles from very early in the 19th century. Some of the earliest baptisms were to Thomas (1788) and Ann Frowen's children, Elizabeth (1823), James (1826), Henry (1829) and Harriet (1830) at Newland church.

Mary the daughter of Edward and Sarah Frowen was baptised in 1837. Her father died the same year. 

William (1800) & Esther Frowen were at Scowles in 1841 with their children Milson (1834), Emma (1835), Alice (1837) and Amos (1840).

Both Amos and Milson did not stay at Scowles. In 1861 they were both regular soldiers at Gosport, Hampshire as privates with the 1st Battalion, 8th Regiment of Foot (King's Regiment). The regiment had only recently returned from India where it had been serving for 14 years which included the period of the Indian Mutiny. Milson, married to Emma Hancock (1838) from Staffordshire, at Sheffield in 1870, had returned to the Forest by 1871 and was a collier at Flaxley. He finished his days, mainly as a collier, at Atherton in Lancashire.


Collier and widower James Frowen (1793) who had married Hannah East in 1822 was taking care of his orphaned grandchildren at Scowles in 1841. One of his sons James (1837-1905) was a brickmaker in 1861. Another son John Frowen (1840) who married Mary Ann Nelmes in 1868 was a carpenter & joiner. He moved to nearby Staunton Road and their children attended Scowles School. His sister Jane Frowen (1844-1924) married Scowles born John Richards (1841) at Coleford Congregational Chapel in 1873 and migrated to Woodville, New Zealand.




I have just come across your marvelous website.

Congratulations on the presentation and content. Everything is MOST interesting.

I have just started looking into the ancestry of a friend of mine over here in Australia, a Mike Frowen.

Have traced his ancestry back to an Alfred Frowen who is mentioned in your website (born 1844 Berry Hill)

Also interested to see reference to a Roseblade family who moved to Australia and settled at Yungaburra, FNQ.

We lived there for four years in the early 2000s and Roseblade Road is the name of a road in a lovely part of the countryside there.

 If I happen to find anything which might be of interest will let you know.

Thanks again for your efforts in producing such an interesting site.

 best regards    Keith Mole    April 1st 2010



My mother has just discovered the Scowles Website. She lived on the Scowles at Ivy Dean and attended Scowles School from 1942 – 1947. The Head Teacher was Mrs Hamlin and the Deputy Head was Miss Majorie Brown. My mother’s name then was Jean NEWTON and her brother was there a year earlier, Tom NEWTON. The web site has brought back many memories. She lived at Ivy Dean from birth in 1937 until 1961 when she got married. She went to Bells Grammar School at the age of 10.

Kind Regards         Wayne Davies 1st January 2015



I have just been reading your website about the history of Scowles and the families who lived there. What an impressive piece of work Tom to put together all the information from so many sources. I have a connection to the area through one of the families you mention - the Tippins. Eliza Tippens who married Alfred Frowen were my g.g grandparents. Their daughter Emma Jane married Thomas Powell and then moved to Monmouthshire to work in the coal mines like so many others from the Forest. They settled in a small village near Rhymney called Abertysswg which is where my parents were born.    

Karen Heenan-Davies  October 2011



Ty Trist Collery, Tredegar

Another collier, Alfred Frowen, was born at Berry Hill in 1844. He married Abednego Tippins's daughter Eliza in 1869 and lived at Scowles from around 1880.

They  had 6 children registered at the school between 1883 and 1888. At the time of the 1891 census the family had moved to nearby Five Acres.

His son, collier Albert Edward Frowen (1873) married Margaret Evans (1874) in 1894 at Bedwellty, Monmouthshire and their son Ivor Frowen (1902) started one Tredegar branch of the family.

Both Ivor and his father worked at Tredegar's Ty Trist Colliery. In 1896 it employed 618 men. At its peak 1250 were employed there. Like many others the Pit  closed in 1959.



Albert's brother, collier William Henry Frowen (1875), who was back at Scowles in 1901, also spent some time in the  Bedwellty-Tredegar area. He was married there in 1892, but his first wife Emma Miles died in 1894. He married again in September 1896 at Bedwellty to Bessie Willetts (1870) who was from Viney Hill in the Forest of Dean. His daughters Harriett (1894) and Matilda (1897) were both born in the Bedwellty area. 



Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868

"BEDWELLTY, a parish in the lower division of the hundred of Wentllooge, in the county of Monmouth, 7 miles to the W. of Pont-y-pool. Newport is its post town. It is situated in a hilly district between the river Rumney, on the W., and the Sirhowey on the E., and contains the chapelries of Rhymney and Tredegar, the latter being now a market town, and the hamlets of Ishlawrcoed, Mamhole, and Uwchlawreoed. The district is rich in iron and coal, and is the seat of an extensive iron manufacture, giving employment to above 1,300 hands. Between 3,000 and 4,000 persons are engaged in the great ironworks and collieries in the vicinity."

The combined population of the growing Tredegar area in 1891 was 64,866, covering a total  of 27,997 acres.



William Coombes was born at Devizes, Wiltshire in 1775. He married Newland girl Letitia Alender (1793-1847) at Newland in 1815. Two of their sons raised families at Scowles. 

Joseph Coombes who was baptised at Newland in 1815 married Mary Young (1817) at Newland in 1841. In 1861 he was a farm labourer at Scowles. It is not clear when he first settled at there. His first child Elizabeth was born around 1842 at Whitecliff but because his first four children were baptised in a 'job lot' at Newland in 1852, with their residence given as Scowles, it is sometimes difficult to ascertain the actual birth dates and locations. They had seven children. 


One son, Charles Coombes (1847) married Elizabeth (1849) the daughter of Scowles born Nathaniel Tippins, and another miner Thomas Coombes (1855), married Mary Clayton (1853) from English Bicknor at her home village in 1876 and migrated to New Zealand on the 'Western Monarch' in 1878. He died at Ryall Bush, New Zealand.


Edward Coombes (1823) another son of William (1775) married Elizabeth (1824) and they lived at Scowles. The couple baptised 14 children at Newland. 


Mr. Coombs lime stone quarry is close to his dwelling house. He has a nice garden in the front, all one side is the quarry. On the top is a lot of Old Yew Trees and briers. The stone is very hard to break. It is not a very large quarry. There is other houses about it.        James Thompson 1870





The Perkins family were also early residents. Farm labourer Thomas (1821) and Sarah (1820) were at Scowles before 1841. Brickmaker Henry Perkins (1815) was also there with his young wife Elizabeth.

Henry's son, Matthew Perkins was born at Scowles in 1843 and married Sarah Ann Hains in 1871. They had at least 9 children, Matthew 1871, Maria 1873, William 1875, James 1877, Mary 1879, Henry 1882, George 1885, Thomas 1887, Violet May 1890, and Frank 1892. A stone-breaker in 1861 supporting his widowed mother, he mainly appears in later years to have been a labourer in and around the iron mines. By 1901 the 56 year old was employed as a farm wagon-man. His sons mainly were employed as iron ore miners. One son, Henry Perkins (1882), married Florence Lane (1876) at Coleford in 1904 and his sister Mary Perkins (1879) married collier Sidney Morgan (1877) in 1907.


The school log mentions Maria (1873). "April 1886 - Attendance Officer tried in vain to secure the attendance of of Maria Perkins, Eliza Chalcroft and Tom Nicholls. Maria Perkins gets three birthdays a year according to her mother viz- Holy Thursday, Good Friday and May 31st."   

January 15th 1894.. "Mrs Perkins arrived and tried to make excuses for Henry which were of the usual kind. Since 7th of May, school opened 290 times, Perkins present 148."  



Jeremiah Blanch born at Whitecliff in 1832, was the son of labourer Edward Blanch (1801) and Sarah Kear (1801). He married Mary Williams (1820) at Newland in 1855. He also was a labourer, sometimes working in the brickyards.

He and Mary had three children, Mary Ann (1858), Edward (1860) and William (1862).  Mary died in 1865 at the age of 45 and Jeremiah did not re-marry until 1870.

She was Scowles born Harriet Perkins (1847) the 23 year old daughter of Henry & Elizabeth Perkins and sister to Matthew.

They went on to produce another ten children, Thomas (1870), Alice (1875), John Henry (1877), James (1880), George (1883), Albert (1885), Charles (1887), Lucy (1890), Sidney Herbert (1892), and Emily Elizabeth (1896). Jeremiah died at Scowles in 1918 and was buried at Coleford.

James Blanch (1880) had followed many other local colliers to the fast expanding South Wales coal-fields. He and Scowles born baker's son  Alfred Powell (1873), were lodging and working together in the Rhondda Valley at the time of the 1901 census.





Alfred Jones


I was very interested to read your very informative website on the Scowles area. My Grandfather, Grandmother and their 4 children lived in the Scowles School House from about 1924 until the early 1980’s.

My Grandfather, Alfred Jones was a Baker by trade in Gloucester Road Coleford during the early 1900’s until he retired in 1924.  He died in 1948, but in 1939 bought a parcel of land at the Scowles which he intended to turn into a Camping Ground. This was an area of about 4 acres which included a number of the ‘scowles’ where stone had been quarried and also a small derelict cottage.   

Alfred Jones  (died 1948) (my Grandfather) Ellen Jones (nee Bradley)  (my Grandmother). They were married in 1909. My Uncles living at the School House from 1924 were Alfred Stanley Jones born 1911, James Dennis Jones born 1912, Cecil Frank Jones born 1918, Cyril Hector Jones born 1920.


David Jones






My Grandfather's baker's shop at Coleford taken about 1923 just before he retired in 1924. The shop is in Gloucester Road and is still much as it was in the picture, except it is now split in two - a DVD rental shop and a Dog Grooming Parlour.
Alfred Jones, my grandfather standing in the doorway, Alfred Stanley Jones (with arm in a sling) his son, a friend (not known standing on the other side of the doorway, and to the left is Cecil Frank Jones his son, with their housekeeper (name unknown)






Picture of my mother with both my grandparents outside the school house taken about 1948. David Jones








 The school in 1882









Have got round to scanning in some pics that might be of interest. They are of two Scowles village Christmas parties - the larger one is probably 1949 and the smaller about 1952.

Scowles School was the 'social centre' of the hamlet and, during the winter, there were regular, well-attended whist drives to raise funds to pay for the Christmas party which was also held in the school. As you may know the school had three major rooms - one for infants, one for juniors and the kitchen. The party was held in the junior classroom and for us kids was a highlight of the year. The other - which the fund raising also went towards - was the summer outing when at least two coaches would leave the village for a day at the seaside.


Photo from David Dowle

I put the School pic from 1957/58 to the SunGreen site and, as a result, now have the names of a fair number of the pupils. D D

They are:

Back row: 1, 2 Barbara Miles, 3, 4 Brian Creed, 5, 6 Paul Williams, 7 Lyndon Kear, 8 Kevin Howard, 9, 10 Melvin Crook, 11 Les Ruck ,
12 Gillian Jones.
Front row: 1 Ray “Buller” Gwilliam, 2, 3, 4, 5 David Ruck, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 Veronica Hunt, 12.


Some of us were also lucky enough to go on the Sunday School outing from Coleford Parish Church. The venues were always the same - Barry Island, Porthcawl or Weston-Super-Mare.

Most years there was a November 5 bonfire and that was held in the Hayes (which was then a big meadow at the end of the village above Whitecliff quarry). It was always a very large bonfire and we were fortunate in that Mr Les Ellis, who lived in the nearby bungalow, kept a village shop at Mile End and always brought any fireworks he had left over.       David Dowle



John Jones who was born at Raglan, Monmouthshire in 1840 married Susan Cox from Ruardean. He was a plasterer and tiler. He and Susan lived at Victoria Street, Coleford, the road leading into Scowles, during the 1870s and 1880s. On the 1891 census he was landlord at the Nag's Head pub in Whitecliff and in 1901 living at Scowles next door to Jeremiah Blanch. His children and grand-children went to school at Scowles. In 1911 he and Susan were living at South Cottage, Scowles, next door to son Arthur and his family.


Son Arthur Jones (1867), also a plasterer, had seven children on the school register. Another of John's sons, plasterer Montague Jones (1887), was still living there when he married Ellen Smith from Five Acres in 1913.

John's daughter Catherine Flora Jones (1877) moved to Scowles Farm when she married Frank Haile in 1904. Their children Douglas and May both attended Scowles school.



Just came across your Scowles website, and references therein to the family 
of John JONES, plasterer, born in Raglan but in Coleford (1871, 1881) and
sometime innkeeper at the Nags Head, Whitecliff (1891), who had moved to
the Scowles by 1901. His wife was blacksmith's daughter Susan COX, born
Ruardean. John JONES died at Scowles in 1916, and his widow Susan JONES was
described as of the Scowles when buried at Coleford cemetery in 1924. We
have identified where the JONES family lived in Raglan (by coincidence the
house now owned by the lady who runs the Raglan History website), though
not where the COX family lived in Ruardean

My wife is descended from John JONES' son Arthur JONES (plasterer and
sometime coal miner), through his daughter Winifred Laura JONES, who gave
her home address as South Cottage, Scowles, when she married at Tenby,
Pembrokeshire, in 1911. She was in service in Tenby up until her marriage.

Winifred Laura JONES lived in Tenby for the rest of her life, and is buried
there. She had three daughters by her first husband (who died right at the
end of the Great War, having served right through it), and then two more by
her second. The two youngest daughters are still alive, and living in or
near Tenby, and two of the older ones lived into the last decade. Their
somewhat confused story is that Arthur JONES left his large family (or
died, or was asked to leave), but that his wife, their grandmother
Elizabeth Jane (Bessie) JONES, lived on in a cottage at Scowles until her
own death (she was buried in Coleford cemetery in 1934). This seems
confirmed by John JONES' 1914 will mentioning his children, including
Arthur, but leaving Arthur no legacy, but instead remembering his wife. As
children the Tenby sisters were occasionally taken to Scowles, but my wife
and I failed to identify the cottage from their descriptions of its

When I asked the sisters what siblings Winifred Laura had (i.e. their aunts
and uncles), they thought there were about half a dozen - all the girls
were married and away from home by the time they remembered, but at least
two lads lived with their mother in Scowles. The names for these aunts and
uncles they came up with do not seem to match the names in Arthur &
Bessie's family in the 1901 census.

Hence two queries.

1. Does the name South Cottage, Scowles, mean anything to you?
2. You mention that there were seven of Arthur JONES' children entered in
the registers of Scowles school. You don't happen to know the names and

Best wishes,

John Kay
Ringmer, East Sussex



Hi John  - I have forwarded the records of the school admission and birth-dates of Arthur Jones's children and the Scowles 1911 census showing John & Susan Jones of South Cottage living next door to Arthur and his family. David Dowle believes that the building may have been demolished. It was certainly still there between 1931 and 1938 when collier William Reuben Price and his wife Marjory (Ballinger) with their four children, who attended Scowles School, were in residence.

Good luck with your research.   Tom




Coleford collier John Henry White 1895-1965 (left) husband of Arthur’s daughter, Adeline Mary Jones 1901-1981





The James families

Down the Scowles lane is a very pretty little cottage and garden. It is where William James lives. It is a pretty place with nice flowers. Around it is hedges. In the summer mornings you here the little birds and the bees pouring fourth around the cottage their song "0h  praise to God their Creator". Mr. James and Mrs. James is very old people. He works for Mr. Bremner stone breaking.       James Thompson 1870 (who also worked  on the turnpike roads for Mr Bremner.)



William James was born around 1800 in Newland parish. He married Selina Hopkins (1804) from St. Briavels at Hewelsfield in January 1824. They must have set up their home at Scowles the same year, as his first child Elizabeth was born there in 1824. On the 1841 census he was listed as a lime burner and a labourer in later years. His other children, Maria (1825), Betsy (1827), Amelia (1830), George (1831), Thomas (1836), Hannah (1840),  James (1841) and Jane (1846) were all born at Scowles. 

William James died at Scowles in 1876 aged 75 and Selina in 1880 aged 78.

John James (1810) a farm labourer, and his wife Ann (1811). He appears to have taken out a 20 pounds mortgage on land at Scowles in 1839 with Thomas Birt Trotter from Coleford. There is a further transaction in 1847 - "3 pounds forgiven". Their children, George (1835), John (1836), and Thomas (1838) were all born at Scowles. 

Elizabeth James (1774) a widow, had a home at Scowles in the 1830s and 1840s. She died in 1851 and may have been an early owner of  a house on the site now known as "Shooters Roost". Her husband was William James (1759) who died at Scowles in 1837.


Farm labourer Joseph Taylor (1826), the son of the late George Taylor (1795-1835), lived with his widowed mother Elizabeth (born Newent in 1882) was renting their cottage and garden at Scowles from Thomas Birt Trotter in 1850 and paying 1 shilling (5 pence). Elizabeth had two of her grandchildren, John Priddy (8) and Elizabeth Dobbs (4) staying at the time of the 1851 census. They had probably lived at Scowles for some time as George had died there in 1835.

Berkshire born Elizabeth Gutteridge (1809) was the first shopkeeper to appear on the census returns. She is at Scowles in 1861 with her farm labourer husband, John Gutteridge.    William Cox (1823) was a baker and shop-keeper in 1876 through till at least 1891 with the help of his wife Mary.. The Philpott family are later listed as shopkeepers. Benjamin Philpot (1850-1927) a baker died here in 1927 and Leslie Philpot in the 1930s.



Scowles soldiers remembered on Coleford's 1914-18 War Memorial and recorded on the south wall of St. John's Parish Church.


Thomas Henry Brown Private, Gloucestershire Regiment

Albert Nicholls  Lance Corporal, Welsh Regiment

Harold Townsend  Private, Somerset Light Infantry

Thomas Brown (born 1891) and Albert Nicholls (born 1894) are both on the Scowles school register.





Scowles Inquests from the Gloucester Journal


March: 1834    At Scowles Hill, Newland, on the body of MARY ANN FROWEN, aged about five years. The deceased about five weeks ago, had been much burnt by her clothes catching fire, and a report had been circulated that she had died from improper treatment of her step mother, but after a patient investigation, the Jury, who were satisfied that the report was false, returned a verdict, - That the deceased's death was occasioned by the injury she had received from being accidentally burnt.  Daughter of William & Charlotte Frowen, born April 1829. (Mary Ann's mother Charlotte had died in November 1833 aged 26)


April 20: 1833  At Newland, on the body of RICHARD THOMAS, aged about 13 years, who was killed in consequence of the wheels of a waggon going over him. The deceased was driving a waggon on the road to Scowpe, in the Forest; when, in attempting to reach some hay out of it, his jacket caught in a hook in getting down, and he was thrown on the ground, when the near fore and hind wheels of the waggon went over his right thigh, and the lower part of his bowels, from which he was so much injured as to cause his death in a few days. Verdict Accidental Death.  (Son of James & Hannah Thomas.)


Jan: 1822 At Coleford, on the body of HANNAH CAUDLE, aged 40, wife of JOHN CAUDLE, labourer, who was found dead at a place called the Scowles, in the Forest of Dean; it had been generally supposed that her death was occasioned by violence, but after a long and very minute investigation, the jury returned a Verdict, Died from intoxication and the inclemency of the weather, and not by violence. (Hannah Caudle had lost her 8 day old daughter Eliza 2 years earlier)

1889 from FOD family web-site.  William Thomas aged 65 of Scowles. Mason's labourer. Husband of Lucy. Disease of the Heart. Witness, Eliza Frowen, wife of Alfred Frowen of Scowles.



Marions Brickworks


Marion's Brickyard is very old. There is plenty of clay here and two kilns for burning of bricks and other places for different perposes and uses. There is a house and garden with fruit trees. It is close to the road with wood around it. There is plenty of water here. 

Saint Mary's Lane is a bye place. It is between the wood and a meadow. It is very rough and bad for travelling. A pool is at the bottom which is supplied by smaller springs from different parts. The Telegraph posts and wires goes by here to the town of Monmouth.  James Thompson 1870

A number of residents were employed in the nearby brickworks. Across the road nearly opposite Scowles Farm was the ancient trackway, Mary's Lane which led from Scowles to Marions Brickworks.

Brick clays were dug nearby from the Coal Measures, then molded and fired in the dome shaped kilns.


The brickyard on the Staunton road beyond Crossways was operated by James Hall from Redbrook who revived brickmaking there in the 1840s and 1850s. He went bankrupt in 1860 and the yard passed to the control of Jones & Co  in 1867 and William James in 1876.


In the 1920s it was the Coleford Brick & Tile Co. Ltd. The yard, which was known as Marian's brickworks, ceased production around 1940, and the kilns and some buildings were demolished in the early 1950s when it became became the site of a sawmill. 


In 1841 & 1851 the census shows Josiah Edwards who was born at Lydbrook in 1806 as the resident brickmaker and his sons Richard (1828), George (1832) and Josiah (1834) as labourers. He also employed 11 year old William Williams (1840) as a labourer and from Scowles came Richard Dobbs (1830) and Henry Perkins (1814).

After the owner went bankrupt in 1860, George Coombs (1843), the son of Joseph Coombs (1815) from Scowles, was apparently still working here. 

Josiah's son Josiah Edwards (1834) was still a brickmaker but living at nearby Poolway, while his father Josiah and brother George also employed in the same trade were living close to the Darkhill Brickworks at Fetterhill near Parkend as was Coleford born James Frowen (1837-1905).

In 1871 a part of the family are back at Marion's. George Edwards (1832) is the resident brickmaker, helped by Henry Knight another brickmaker who was born at Monmouth in 1820.

In 1891 both Jeremiah Blanch (1832) and William Thomas (1847) from Scowles were employed as brickyard labourers.

For at least 20 years, throughout the 1880s and 1890s, David Thomas (born Whitchurch, South Wales in 1834) lived here with his Monmouth born family and was originally foreman of the brickyard. His daughter Clara Thomas (1867) was a paid monitor at the school when she was 14.

David Thomas was recorded as owner of the brickyard in 1902.


Lime Kilns


Lime kilns were once a common feature in the Forest. From at least Roman times, limestone was quarried and burnt to produced lime both to fertilize fields and for mortar.

Limekilns operated at Whitecliff, and Scowles, where a kiln was apparently built before 1734. It supplied lime to Monmouthshire.

In the 1780s  Viscount Gage, who claimed manorial rights at Scowles, opposed the building of new kilns there, but a kiln erected in 1793 under a grant from the St. Briavels castle estate was rebuilt after it had been pulled down on Gage's orders. The opening of the Monmouth tramroad in 1812 with its access to a wider market, led to  a renewed level of quarrying at Scowles and Whitecliff. 






I notice on the Scowles Hamlet site that you talk about lime kilns. Were you aware that there were some at Highmeadow? Difficult to see now as they're hidden in some trees (see above). Don't know what condition they're in but we used to play on them as kids. Regards David



You would not want to play in them now! I could not resist taking my camera and checking them out.  One appears to have totally collapsed.     Tom





James Thomas (born 1815) who was married to  Cordelia (born 1816) worked for a least twenty years on the kilns near Scowles and in 1851, James Brown (1812), William James (1800) married to Selina, and John Tomlins (1787) were all listed as lime-kiln workers.

In 1871 Charles George (1804) and his son Evan George (1840) were employed there. (Was it this kiln?)







Does anyone know what this was? This structure is just off the Burial Path a short distance above Highmeadow Farm.






Scowles Masons and Quarry workers

Because of the proximity of the quarries, there were always a number of quarrymen, masons and other stone workers living at Scowles. Some were claiming their unique ancient rights which were made clearer by Act of Parliament in the 1830s.

Rights to mines and quarries The Dean Forest Mines Act 1838

Section XV: "That all male persons born or hereafter to be born and abiding within the Hundred of St. Briavels, of the Age of Twenty-One Years and upwards, who shall have worked a Year and a Day in a Stone Quarry within the said Forest, shall for the Purposes of this Act, so far as relates to having Gales or Leases of Stone Quarries within the open lands of the said Forest, but not otherwise, be taken for Free Miners"

The census returns do not always make clear those who were self-employed.  

See The Regulation of Quarrying In The Forest of Dean by Ian Standing


The method employed of splitting the rock was by cutting, with the quarry axe, main and cross V-shaped channels about 7in deep, and from 3t to 4in wide. Into these were inserted broad wedges, driven with a sledge-hammer, splitting the stone in a straight line down to its lower bed. Then with the aid of crow-bars and steam-crane, the blocks were torn from their beds and hoisted to the top of the quarry, where they were 'scrappled' to shape by the quarrymen, or sent in the rough to the works at Speech House Road and Parkend. 
The stone was conveyed down the slades to the loading sidings by means of 'trams' drawn by horses-over tramways.  The gradients were very steep, and because a team of horses took from 25 to 30 tons on each journey, great care and experience became a necessary qualification of the brake-men ('spraggers') in charge. 

In the 1850s, G. E. Payne, the Coleford stone merchant, had nine employees. At Whitecliff, where lime burning also continued intermittently, a quarry on the north side of the valley was worked for roadstone in 1870 and was enlarged after the construction of the Monmouth railway. It later sent stone by rail through Coleford and Parkend and by the mid 1960s it formed a massive crater reaching into the hillside as far as Scowles.






John Blanch who was born at Redbrook in 1839 was a mason and residing at Scowles in 1881.

Elwood born Henry Rosser (1827) who had married Mary Pierce at Newland in 1852 was also listed as a stonemason at Scowles in 1868 and 1871. He came from a family of stone-workers. Both he and his father Joseph (1800) were Quarrymen or Stone-cutters on earlier Elwood census returns. Henry's son William Rosser who was born in 1858, left the area and was a railway engine fireman at Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, married with one child, in 1891.

Ross-on-Wye stonemason William Jarvis (1830) lived at Scowles for a short period with his wife Ann and their two children in the 1860s but had moved to the Pontypool area of South Wales by 1871.

Shoemaker Henry Lane (born around 1795) was one of the earlier residents. His son James Lane a stone-cutter and quarryman was born at Scowles in 1839. Three of James's children attended Scowles School, Alice (bn 1872), Florence (bn 1875), and Mary (bn 1885). His son Albert John Lane (1870), purchased land at Scowles from Alfred Mayo in 1924.






When William Roberts was born at Scowles in 1832 his father William (1797) was already a stone-cutter there. He and his brothers, James (1825) and Benjamin (1828), were all quarry workers in the 1840s. William Roberts Jnr married Mary Ann Jones at Christchurch in 1854 and was a self-employed stone-cutter for most of his working life. Their son Frederick (1855) took a different career path and became a coal-miner.

John Roberts (1860) and his brother Benjamin (1862) appear to be the sons of  Daniel & Selina Roberts from Lane End. They were both quarrymen at Scowles and their children attended the school there. Dorothy May Roberts (1904) and her brother Benjamin Leslie (1905) were the children of quarryman Benjamin Roberts and were on the register in 1908.

John's son Sidney Roberts (1890) was a quarryman here in the 1920s when his son Kenneth (born 1921) enrolled at Scowles School. 


Another Roberts family were recorded at Scowles from 1841 till 1881. He was Edward Roberts (1823 a stone-cutter, who was born just over the Monmouthshire border at Penalt, and his wife Ann (1799).

Scowles land  was conveyed to Great Yarmouth surgeon Alfred Charles Mayo in 1875 who leased it to Walter Benjamin Roberts (1892) The son of John and Mary Ada Roberts for 3 years in 1921.






Forest quarrymen and a stone quarry at Scowles


Edmund Morgan who was born in 1803 was among the earlier residents at Scowles. He is listed on the 1841 census as a farmer, and as a farm labourer in later years. His home appears to have been close to Scowles Farm. His wife Mary Bibby (1803-1863) gave her occupation as school mistress in 1861 and was possibly one of Scowles school's first teachers. Their son Edmund who was born at Scowles Farm in 1837, was employed as a quarry-man. On his childrens' birth records he describes his occupation on two occasions as 'stone cutter' and another as 'stone mason'. Edmund married Mary Desmond from Clearwell in 1865 and their four boys, Robert (1867), Thomas (1869), Edmund (1872) and Frank (1873) were all born at Scowles. The family were living in Broadwell by 1883 and both his daughters, Lucy (1883) and Alice (1885) were born away from Scowles. Son Robert Morgan (1867) was an engine driver when he married Harriett Smith in 1893.  Edmund died at the age of 66 at Coleford in 1904.


Charles Critchley was born around 1810 at Bristol. He married widow Elizabeth Jones at Newland in 1830. They had five children and James (1834) was their only son, Maria (1843), Bella (1840) and Mary Ann (1843-1883) who married mason John Roseblade, were all born at Scowles. Charles and James Critchley both worked as stone cutters at Scowles. Neither lived to 'a ripe old age'. Charles died in 1862 aged 52, and James aged 37 in 1870. James had married Sophia Elizabeth Young from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, and she was working as a charwoman after her husband's death to support  Mary Ann (1860), Constance (1861), Frank (1863) and Charles (1865).

Constance Critchley (1861) married local stone-mason Thomas Henry Brown  in 1887.


Up in the Scowles is a lime stone quarry where stone is got for the turnpike road. It belongs to Thomas Jenkins and is worked by him. The stone is very hard. It has to be blown to pieces by what he calls Black-Jack, meaning Rock powder. The stone is hauled out by Thomas Williams with a horse and cart to different places. There is some yew Trees about here and houses. 

There is another lime stone quarry here and is worked by Thomas Jenkins. It has not to be blown to pieces by powder. 

Mr. Coombs lime stone quarry is close to his dwelling house. He has a nice garden in the front, all one side is the quarry. On the top is a lot of Old Yew Trees and briers. The stone is very hard to break. It is not a very large quarry. There is other houses about it. 

James Thompson 1870



Thomas Rhodes, a mason, who was born in Nottinghamshire around 1785 and died at Scowles in 1861, married local girl 36 year old Mary Frowen at Newland in 1810. Her father was John Frowen born Newland 1740. His son Thomas (1810) married Hannah Powell (1810) at Flaxley in 1831. 

Both of Thomas Rhodes's sons were masons.


Henry Rhodes (1813-1885) and Thomas (1810-1879) were married with families on the 1841 census and residents of Scowles. Two of Thomas's children, Luke (1839-1862) and Mary (1843) were born there.

Mary married coal miner Luke Greening from Cheltenham in 1863 and the couple moved to the Woodside area near to Bilson Colliery. They migrated to Plymouth, New Zealand on the 'Eastminster' in 1879. In all, they had 13 children.  Photo shows Mary Frowen (1843)




John Musto Roseblade (1845-1916) was born in the Cotswolds village of Somerford Keynes. His father William (1816) was a farm labourer and his mother Alice Musto (1820)  a school-teacher. John was a stone-mason living at Victoria Road, Coleford, the road leading into Scowles in 1881. His wife Mary Ann Critchley (1843) was from a Scowles quarryman's family. She died in 1883 leaving him with three children, Charles William Roseblade (1874), Susan (1877) and Gertrude (1880).

He remarried the same year to a Coleford neighbour, laundress Lucy Partridge (1842), the locally born daughter of Monmouth carpenter John Partridge (1799).

On the 1881 census Lucy was living a few doors away from the Roseblades. She was single and taking care of her widowed mother Elizabeth (1800).

In the Scowles School log book for April 1886 the headmaster wrote - "I learn that the Roseblades leave Coleford for Australia early this month. They will be a great loss as they are the most forward children in the school and sure of passing."

The family migrated to Ipswich, Queensland in 1886. After 5 years they moved North as pioneers at Yungaburra in the Atherton Tablelands near Cairns.

see Roseblade Family in OZ


The photo shows John Musto Roseblade aged 21 in the uniform of the Gloucestershire Volunteers.





A paranormal experience from BBC Gloucestershire's 'You look like you've seen a ghost' web-pages.
When I first moved into our house in the Scowles, Coleford, I read in an old document about how an old woman had died in my room, and obviously this suitably freaked me out. A few days after we moved in (Sep 01) it was about 11 pm and i was nearly asleep, when my doorknob started rattling violently. The door wasn't locked ,but it was shut so if anyone or anything, had been trying to get in, they should have been able to. But they did'nt. The door knob rattled for about 10 mins, and I could actually see it moving. Then, the room turned horribly cold. Even though the heating was on, the radiator was
like a stone. I've never forgotten that night ,even though that sort of thing has never happened again.     Sacha,14