Samuel and his bride Harriet went to live in nearby
Paris Street. We know this from the baptismal registration of their
first child, Samuel Stettaford Johns, who was christened in St.
Sidwell's on 25 May 1828. Unfortunately, the close-packed terraces of
Paris Street are no more. On the night of 4 May 1942, German bombers
rained incendiaries down on Exeter. Eight hundred of the fourteen
hundred houses destroyed that night were in the parish of St Sidwell;
Paris Street was completely flattened.
The ancient tower of the church (seen above) which, four years
before Samuel and Harriet's wedding, had been crowned with a new spire
sheaved with copper salvaged from one of Nelson's men-of-war, was
declared unsafe and was demolished by a sapper the following day.
Fortunately for us, the priceless registers of St. Sidwell's were
rescued from below the tottering masonry by the brave parish Rector, the
Rev. M.V. Narracott. Had these registers not been saved, we would not
only be bereft of details of Samuel and Harriet's wedding, but also of
two of their children's baptisms, for Samuel Stettaford gained a sister,
Anne, who was baptised in St. Sidwell's on 28 March 1830."
appear to have been difficult years for Samuel and Harriet and their
infant children. In the parish registers, Samuel is twice referred to as
a "smith". Given that we know he continued to work as a
blacksmith in Australia and was also briefly an innkeeper, there seems
little doubt that he was the same Samuel Johns described in the Exeter
Flying Post on July 27th 1833 as a "blacksmith and innkeeper of a
public house at Exwick" who was declared entitled to the benefit of
legislation enacted for the relief of insolvent debtors and
"discharged accordingly" on July 27th 1833. This
"public house" was probably the Lamb Inn, Southgate Street,
Exwick or the "Buller's Arms Inn"
How long Samuel had
been an undischarged bankrupt is unclear, but 13 years before, in 1820,
the Exeter Flying Post had carried a report of a "Samuel Johns*,
formerly of Kingsand, afterwards of Mile House and late of Plymouth
Dock, all in Devonshire, imprisoned for debt in His Majesty's Goal of
St. Thomas the Apostle". According to the insolvency records,
however, this Samuel Johns was a "victualler and Taylor" not a
blacksmith. Nevertheless, there is no doubt of Samuel Johns' connection
with Plymouth. He and his family were living in the West Hoe cottages in
March 1840 and it was from Plymouth that they left for Australia in July
of the same year."