Tuesday 2 December 2014 | By: Guest blogger, Heather Hidden.
Joseph Jones and Llanfyllin Workhouse

Joseph Jones was the twelfth person to be buried in the 'new' cemetery in Oswestry, and the register records "23 May 1863, Joseph Jones Hotel Keeper of 2 Coney Green Section A, Grave 63"

Almost a year later his wife Mary was buried: "30 April 1864 Mary Jones, widow, of Coney Green aged 78" Their simple sandstone grave stone is still in place and reads:

'In memory of, Joseph Jones, late of Llanfyllin, who died May 19 1863, in his 77th year Also of, Mary, relict of the above, who died April 25th 1864, in her 78th year'.

The Goat which changed its name to the Wynnstay Arms and is now known as the Cain Valley

Joseph was born in Llanfyllin in 1786. Joseph's grandfather was landlord of the Goat, the town's principal inn and posting house, famed for its ale known as "goats milk" which was said to make many a young widow. While still a very young man Joseph took over the inn, he became a hereditary burgess, and for more that forty years played a key part in the town's affairs.

He also had an eventful personal life with three marriages and eleven children, but it was Mary, his third wife, exactly his own age who became his trusted helpmate for most of his life.

After many years of prosperity running the Goat and a carrier's business between Llanfyllin and Shrewsbury Joseph ran into financial difficulty and was forced to leave his inn. By 1847 he was in desperate straits and applied for the post of Master of the recently completed Workhouse. Although opposed by the Chairman of the Guardians he had the support of the Guardians, many of whom were regular visitors to the Goat. After much discussion and dispute Joseph and Mary were installed as Master and Matron.

Joseph was already in his sixties and nothing we know about him suggests that he had the right temperament for his new role. The Workhouse system was intensely regulated and bureaucratic and he was soon in trouble, accused of leaving his post to meet friends in the town and exceeding the allocated rations for the poor. He was at heart an eighteenth century man and the old ways were no longer in fashion as nineteenth century reforms took hold and regulation was key.

After four troubled years the Chairman, Guardians and Auditors called for his resignation, accompanying their request with allegations of fraudulent practice. Joseph was outraged and for many months struggled to clear his name before eventually he was forced to concede.

He left Llanfyllin, and found a small house in Paradise Row, Coney Green where he lived on quietly for a further fifteen years. Not aptly named, Paradise Row lay sandwiched between a large tan yard and a saw mill with the rapidly expanding Cambrian Railway nearby.

Joseph's family scattered to all parts the country and many led happy and successful lives but it seems that Joseph felt unable to return to his birthplace although his tombstone recalls his beloved home town.

Images of Jospeh Jones grave and the Goat Inn courtesy of Heather Hidden, please respect copyright.

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