Lavinia Harris

Lavinia was the youngest child of John and Mary Harris and grew to be a very large lady.  She married at Swansea Registry Office aged 18 when seven months pregnant.

Her husband, John Richard Martin, Sr, was from St Just in Cornwall and worked in the Morriston collieries as: an engine driver, a stoker, a stationary engineer and later a sawyer.  

Martin and his parents came to Wales but he did not forget his boyhood friend, William Clemens.  They had made a vow that their children would marry, and that happened in 1898.


William Harris Martin, born 1872.  He married Elizabeth Clemens in Cornwall aged 25, the daughter of his father's childhood friend.  It was described as a 'marriage made in hell'.  They produced a daughter but then Willie began his long period roaming.  He and one or two of his brothers went to Canton, Ohio, the town where their cousin Mary Davies was living.  Willie returned in about 1907 and the couple's second daughter was born.  Willie worked as a blacksmith at Ystradyfadog and a haulier in the mines at Seven Sisters.  His wife died and then their youngest daughter, from pneumonia.  The daughters Eva and Vera Martin were brought up by their grandmother Lavinia but the stress, it's thought, killed her.  In 1913 Eva was sent to live with her grandfather in Cornwall and Vera stayed with her grandfather Martin, and his housekeeper, in Morriston.  Willie carried on a-roaming and collapsed drunk in the shacks where Morriston Comprehensive School is now, dying age 57.

John Richard Martin, Jr, born 1879.  He was a blacksmith and later substation engineer.  It's thought he had a shop at 62 Martin Street and became Mayor of Swansea the year war broke out (1939).  His elder son, Howard, founded the stained glass department at Swansea Art College.  Martin stumbled upon a scene where his father was being forced to remake his will by his niece Lavinia Hynam.  Her hand was guiding Martin Senior's pen.  How true this is I don't know, but Lavinia did receive some money from her uncle for being his housekeeper and for bringing up Vera Martin.

Edward Thomas Martin, born 1884.  Edward was a blacksmith and arrived in New York in June 1906 on the Oceanic steamer from Liverpool age 21.  He went to join his brother in Canton Ohio.  The image above is from the 1910 census of Ohio where Edward Martin was working as a blacksmith in a railroad shop, born in Wales.  His age, by the way, is wrongly recorded.  His parents' house, 64 Vicarage Road, Morriston was renamed 'Cleveland' because of the boys going to work in that part of the world.  He came back to Britain and settled in Yorkshire where he married, worked as a blacksmith and produced a daughter.

Eva Martin, born 1892 was the youngest child and died aged seven.  She is buried with her parents in Morriston Cemetery.