The Last Bartlett website

Reverend James Bartlett 1816 - 1881

Reverend James Bartlett, my great-great-grandfather, was born on Good Friday, 12th April 1816 in Somerton, Somerset to James and Elizabeth Bartlett (née Taverner). He was the sixth and youngest child and the only one of four sons to survive childhood. [Source]

James married Elizabeth Rendell on 3rd December 1849 in Yeovil, at South Street Baptist Chapel. Their courtship lasted sixteen months. At the time of the marriage, James was living in Hardington Mandeville and Elizabeth was living in West Coker. The marriage certificate records that James' father was another James Bartlett and Elizabeth's father was Bartholomew Rendell and that both fathers were Labourers.

James Bartlett and Elizabeth (née Rendell) had at least six children including my great-grandfather, James Elijah Bartlett.

James was a Bible Christian Minister for 34 years, which meant that the family moved regularly. I have been able to piece together some of their movements by looking at census information, Dr. Shorney's article [Source] and from a biographical sketch written by my great grandfather.

James died, aged 65, on 21st June 1881, at South Street, South Petherton, Somerset.

Elizabeth Bartlett (née Rendell) 1830 - 1895

Elizabeth was born in 1830. She was working as a glover and was a minor (about 19 years old) at the time of her marriage [Source].

Elizabeth's father was Bartholomew Rendell, who was born in East Chinnock in 1803 and died in West Coker in 1861. Her mother was Jane Johnson, who was baptised on 19th November 1809 in Odcombe and died in 1878 in West Coker. Bartholomew and Jane were married on 20th July 1830. In the 1861 Census Bartholomew (age 59) is listed as a Sail Cloth Weaver and Jane (age 53) is an Infant School Mistress.

Elizabeth Rendell outlived her husband James and died in 1895.

Key Events in James' Life

See also James' biographical sketch.

  • 12th April 1816 - Born in Somerton, Somerset.
  • Attended Sunday school and day school from ages five to thirteen, then Somerton Free School. [Source]
  • June 1829 - Apprenticed to Mr. Hart, Boot and Shoe Maker, of Long Sutton, Somerset, who was landlord of the "Hare and Hounds" Inn.
    A written account by James Elijah paints a great picture of his father in this period of his life: "He had some time previously learnt to dance and beat the drum, and now his dancing improved and his skill as a drummer brought him into frequent request. He added to his accomplishments a knowledge of whist and soon won applause in the skittle alley. His reading abilities made him popular in the tap room. On arrival of the "Sherbourne Journal" there was generally a full room to listen to his reading of the latest news. Discussion and argument followed as a matter of course and James became a politician, an out and out Reformer, and from that time throughout his life took a lively interest in Public Affairs. Never did he lose his singular love for a newspaper. "
  • 1834 - James' family transferred their allegiance to the Bible Christians. [Source] James attends one of their meetings and by 1835 is a devout worshipper.
  • 9th June 1836 - James' apprenticeship ended. Received into Bible Christian membership.
  • 1840 - Obtained a position in a shoemaking workshop in Langport, Somerset, owned by William Nott and catering to the town's wealthiest clientele [Source].
  • 1840 - James becomes a Bible Christian minister, where he served in home circuits for the next thirty-four years. [Source]
  • August 1840 - Moves to Monmouth and lodges with the Moxley family at Porthcasseg, not far from the River Wye and Tintern Abbey. Also spends time at Cwm Avon in South Glamorgan. [Source].
  • 1840 - According to the Bible Christian Magazine, December 1907 (pp.538-43), James' preaching converted William Higman (born 4 November 1830 at Roche, Cornwall). [Source].
  • 1841 - Living in the parish of Michaelston-super-Avon in Cwm Avon in South Glamorgan. In the 1841 census he is staying with Samuel and Sarah Hoare, who are Agricultural Labourers.
  • 1842 - Posted to Northlew in Devon. [Source]
  • 1843 - Posted to Breage Circuit in West Cornwall, where he lived in Leeds Town in Crowan parish. [Source]
  • 1847 - Posted to the Chard Mission from Luxulyan in Cornwall. [Source]
  • 1849 - Marries Elizabeth Rendell on 3rd December 1849 in Yeovil. James was in Hardington Mandeville, Somerset at the time. Elizabeth was born in East Chinnock around 1830 and was living in West Coker, Somerset, at the time of the marriage. They started their married life in a rented house in Pitway Street, South Petherton.
  • 1850 - Posted to Kilkhampton Circuit on the Devon / Cornwall border. [Source]
  • 1851 - Living at Eastcott, Morwenstow, Cornwall with wife Elizabeth.
  • 1852 - First child, Elizabeth Jennie Bartlett ("Jennie"), born in Eastcott, Morwenstow, Cornwall.
  • 1852 - Posted to the Winkleigh Mission in Devon. [Source]
  • 1853 - Second child, James Elijah Bartlett (my great-grandfather), born on 1st March 1853 in Winkleigh, Devon.
  • 1854 - Hephzibah Rendall Bartlett ("Effie") was born in Hatherleigh, Devon. Hephzibah

    Hephzibah married William Henry Drew (born 1854, a schoolteacher from Okehampton in Devon) in 1882 in Yeovil, Somerset.

    Hephzibah had suffered from rheumatic fever as a child, which left her with a weakened heart and she was advised to live in a drier climate. So Hephzibah and William emigrated to Australia, with William's parents Richard and Maria and his sister Elizabeth, on board the SS Bulimba. The SS Bulimba sailed from Plymouth on 11th January 1883 and arrived in Brisbane on 5th March. [Source]

    In 1884 the family were living in Toowong, Queensland, and William was a Bible Christian Minister, registered to celebrate marriages. Later the family lived in other parts of Queensland - Esk (in the Brisbane Valley), Diddillibah, Brisbane and finally Toowoomba. William continued to preach as a Methodist minister, was a schoolteacher at Diddillibah Provisional School (1887 - 1901) and a councillor in Toowoomba (1910 - 1928). In about 1907 William and Hephzibah moved to 'Rinaultrie', Wallace Street, Toowoomba, Queensland (see pictures below) and lived there until Hephzibah's death on 7th October 1927. William lived with his youngest daughter Mabel after Hephzibah's death, and he died in Brisbane in 1948.

    William's mother was Maria Thorne, born in 1826 in Mochard, Devon. She died in Caboolture, Queensland, on 15th September 1898. William and Hephzibah gave her a Bible Christian hymn book on 7th August 1883 - read about it here (PDF file, opens in a new window). Thanks to Stewart Free for sending me this file.

    Hephzibah and William had seven children:
    • Hephzibah Marion Drew ("Effie", 8th August 1883 - 1961). Married William Joseph Free (1882 - 1955) on 23 July 1904. [Source]. They had four children.
    • Amy Bartlett Drew (born 10th March 1885). Married George Richardson Nicholls on 10th March 1909 at 'Rinaultrie' in Toowoomba and moved to Bli Bli, Queensland. They had seven children.
    • William Henry Drew (born 12th December 1886). Married Laura Mary Cohoe. He worked as a carpenter. William and Laura had five children.
    • Ethel Mary Drew (18th January 1889 - 10th June 1910). Died at her sister Effie's house in Brisbane.
    • Richard Charles Drew ("Charles", 17th February 1891 - October 1981). Charles and his wife Lena had five children. Charles was a Methodist preacher and an alderman and then mayor in Dalby, Queensland, where the Charles Drew Bridge over Myall Creek is named after him. He was awarded an MBE for his outstanding participation in community affairs and local government.
    • James Herbert Drew (born 8th January 1893). James and his wife Alice married in 1918 and had two children.
    • Mabel Constance Drew (born 6th February 1895). Married James Wadsworth in 1933. They had one daughter.
  • 1855 - Wrote a series of 33 autobiographical letters to his wife, Elizabeth, to tell her more of his personal history, the first from Beer Hill, Sampford Courtenay on 31st January [Source].
  • 1857 - Mary Emma Bartlett born in Newport, Isle of Wight and baptised on 14th December 1857. (The family live at Quay Street, next to the Bible Christian Chapel.)
    NB: On 24th November 2015 I checked baptism records and discovered that Mary's middle name was Emma, not Ann, as I previously thought.
  • 1860 - George Jabez Bartlett born in Shanklin, Isle of Wight. He was baptised on 26th October 1860. In the 1881 Census he was a Carpenter and Wheelwright and at the time of his marriage in 1897 he was a Yacht and Boat Builder, living at 1 Woking Road, Parkstone in Poole, Dorset. George married 27 year old Elizabeth (Lizzie) Young at St. Peter’s Church, Parkstone in 1897. Elizabeth's father, George Young, was an engineer. George Jabez and Elizabeth had the following children:
    • George James Bartlett, born in 1899.
    • Maurice John Bartlett (known as Jack), born in 1901. In the First World War he served in the Royal Navy on destroyers and torpedo ships. At the age of 26, in 1927, he married Gladys Lilly Olive Horlock, at the Methodist Church, Ashley Road, Parkstone. Jack and Gladys had two daughters, Mary Elizabeth and Jill. Jack died of cancer in 1957, aged 55. Gladys died on 13th May 1996, aged 92.
    • Frank Bartlett, the youngest son, born in 1907.
    In the 1901 Census George Jabez Bartlett’s occupation is given as House Carpenter and he and Elizabeth were living at 7 Florence Cottages, Parkstone, Poole, with George James and another son (unnamed), under one month old, who must have been Jack.
    George Jabez Bartlett died on 25th December 1919, aged 59. He is buried in Parkstone Cemetery. Elizabeth died of cancer in 1958, aged 87.
    Elizabeth Bartlett (nee Young)

    Left: George Jabez Bartlett's wife, Elizabeth (née Young)
    (Copyright © Jill Bradley 2015).










  • 1860? - The family moves to Southampton.
  • 1861 - Living at 9, Amoy Street, Southampton. The 1861 Census records James (44) and Elizabeth (30) with children Elizabeth J. (9), James E. (8), Hephzibah K. (sic) (6), Mary Ann (3) and George Jabez (6 months), with Mathilda Rendell (born in West Coker) visiting. Mathilda must be one of Elizabeth's relatives, perhaps a niece?
  • 1863 - The family moves to Timberscombe, Devon, where James is minister for the Kingsbrompton circuit. (Kingsbrompton is now know as Brompton Regis).
  • 1867 - Edward Charles Bartlett ("Charley") was born in Timberscombe.
    At the time of the 1881 Census he was a first year Pupil Teacher. Like James Elijah he went to school at the Bible Christian Shebbear College. He wrote home to his father on 23rd May 1879, and the letter is now in the Lewis Court Bible Christian Collection in John Rylands University Library, Manchester (MAW Ms 91.10.1).
    Charley entered the Bible Christian ministry in 1890 and served as Journal Secretary at seven Conferences.
    In the 1891 Census, Charley was living at Brea, Ilogan, Cornwall with Solomon Dunstan and his wife Ann and their son Isaac, and another Bible Christian Minister, Thomas Nicholas.
    In 1895, Charley is one of three preachers based in Devonport and his address is listed as 12 Benbow Street, Stoke, Devonport.
    In the 1901 Census, Charley (age 34) was living at 4 Montpelier Terrace, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, with his wife Beatrice Annie Bartlett (age 29, née Lang, born in Lamerton, Devon), daughter Beatrice Vera Constance Bartlett (age 3, born in Wheal Maria, near Tavistock, Devon) and parents-in-law Thomas and Mary Lang (age 54 and 53). Thomas Lang was a Retired Farmer, born in Shebbear in Devon. Mary Lang was born in Beaworthy in Devon.
    In the 1911 Census, Charley is described as a Nonconformist (United Methodist) Minister and was living with his wife and daughter at Malvern House, Leeds Street, Sandown, on the Isle of Wight.
    For his services during World War One as a chaplain to the Belgians in France, he was awarded the Order of the Belgian Crown. His later ministry was spent in circuits in the North of England [Source].
    My Cousin Irene in Beverley recalled Charley visiting James Elijah in Beverley. Charley died in 1936.
  • 1867 - The family leave Timberscombe in Somerset. James is presented with a writing slope inscribed with his name (see picture below).
  • circa 1870 - Living in Portland, Dorset.
  • 1871 - Living at The Village, Northlew, Devon. The 1871 Census records James (54) and Elizabeth (40), Elizabeth J. (19), Hephzibah A. (sic)(16), Mary A. (13), George J. (10) and Edward C. (4). James Elijah had left home and was working as a Pupil Teacher in Portland.
  • 1874 - James retires.
  • 1881 - Living in South Street, South Petherton, Somerset. The 1881 Census records James (64), Elizabeth (50), George J. (20) and Edward C. (14).
  • 21st June 1881 - Dies aged 65 at South Street, South Petherton, Somerset. In his obituary in the "Minutes of the Bible Christian Conference" (1881) he was described as "a loving and lovable man" who excelled as a pastor [Source].
  • 1891 - Elizabeth, James' widow, is living in James Street, South Petherton, Somerset with her daughter Elizabeth J. (Jennie). In the 1891 census Elizabeth is described as a widow living on her own means and Jennie is a 39 year old spinster.
  • 1895 - Elizabeth dies in the first half of the year.
  • 1901 - Elizabeth's daughter Jennie, aged 49, is living in Morwenstow 'on her own means'.

The Makings of a Bible Christian Itinerant, James Bartlett, 1816-1881 by Dr. David Shorney

In 1855 James wrote a series of 33 autobiographical letters to his wife, Elizabeth, to tell her more of his personal history.

The excellent article "The Makings of a Bible Christian Itinerant, James Bartlett, 1816-1881" by Dr. David Shorney, examines these letters, and can be found in the Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society, Volume 56, Part 1, February 2007, pp10 - 20. The full article is now available online.

The letters were copied into a notebook now in the Lewis Court Bible Christian Collection in John Rylands University Library, Manchester (MAW Ms 91.14).

Picture Gallery

James Bartlett's Writing Slope (1867)

James Bartlett's writing slope

Detail of James Bartlett's writing slope, presented to him by The Friends of the Kingsbrompton Circuit in 1867.

Kingsbrompton is in the Exmoor National Park in Somerset and is now know as Brompton Regis.

Hephzibah Rendall Bartlett and Rinaultrie

William and Hephzibah

Hephzibah Rendall Bartlett was the second daughter of James and Elizabeth Bartlett (née Rendell). She married William Henry Drew in 1882. Thanks to Marilyn for the pictures of Hephzibah and 'Rinaultrie' on this page (copyright © Marilyn Deuter 2010).

'Rinaultrie' in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia was Hephzibah and William's home.

Rinaultrie, pre-1927

Pre-1927: Hephzibah and her daughter Mabel are on the verandah.

Rinaultrie, 2008

'Rinaultrie' in September 2008.