An intriguing lost family story is that of my seven times great grandparents Sarah Batt and James Gaite who married 6 September 1767 in Flax-Bourton, Somerset, England. This story is entwined with a young man of similar age who lived at nearby Bristol named Henry Burgum. Burgum completed a seven year apprenticeship in pewter making and upon his parents’ death used his inheritance to start his own pewter business in Bristol Parade, facing the new Bristol Bridge.
The traffic generated by this bridge saw Burgum prosper living amongst wealthy merchants. In 1765, Burgum married Betty Copner and in that same year he partnered with George Catcott to become well-known English pewterers.1 Burgum’s wealth grew and he purchased Tickenham House, now a heritage listed building, which he extended from an existing 14th C farmhouse.2
How these couples’ lives intertwined is only speculative. Sarah was the daughter of Paul Batt a stonemason at nearby Backwell – was Sarah’s father responsible for the building of Tickenham House?3 The only evidence of their connection is a pewter plate with the engraving:
“The gift of Henry and Betty Burgum to Sarah Batt on her marriage with James Gaite at Flax-Bourton, Somerset, the 6th Day of September, 1767.”
The plate was donated by my great great grandfather James Sayer Gaite in 1926 to the Power House Museum in Sydney.4
The fact that it was handed down over the generations and finally transported to Australia with James, his wife Amelia and three children is notable of the power of blood ties. The pewter plate has spent 94 years in the museum with nobody to tell its story… I hope I am somewhere near the truth but only the pewter plate knows.
Author: Marilyn Boyd, Wallamba
1 Burgum Family History Society, Henry Burgum (1739-1789), https://www.burgumfamily.co.uk/article_1.php
2Historic England, The Court, https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1312529 ; Pennant 20, The Local History Journal of Backwell, Nailsea, Tickenham and Wraxall, p 6, http://docplayer.net/44070242-Previously-published-by-nailsea-district-local-history-society.html
4 Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Pewter dish by Burgum & Catcott, https://collection.maas.museum/object/175502