Lucy’s grandfather, William Neves, was the first to cary the name Neves that we know of. His father’s identity is still a mystery. His mother, Dinah, led a short but full life. LaVerle Neves wrote the story as she knew it, in, “Their Roots were Long and Deep.” Lucy also has memories of her Grandfather discussing his parents. We’ll try to piece together the facts, as we know them, with the historical background of the time and fit together the best version we can.
Dinah Ashdown was born to James Ashdown and Mary Briant. James worked as a pit sawyer, probably in the lime quarries. Mary was described as an invalid and so James also cared for the home and children. He taught his children to read and also acted as their school teacher. He died at age 64 after contracting silicosis, a disease of the lungs.
Mary was forced to find work as a housekeeper. She watched as most of her children sailed of to America or Australia. Mary lived a long life and passed away when she was nearly 80 years old.
At the age of twenty Dinah and Abraham Cornwall were married. Just six months after their marriage Dinah gave birth to a baby girl, Ruth. Then a year and a half later Amos came along.
Laverle records, “After their marriage, he and Dinah made their home not far away at Hadlow Downs. … Life seemed to be going well for the couple until November 10, 1844. On the day they should have been celebrating their 3rd wedding anniversary, Abraham died suddenly of what was recorded as an effusion on the brain. (cerebral hemorrhage in today’s terms). Now, at the age of 23, Dinah was thrust into the “cold cruel world” with two babies to support and care for.” Ruth was almost two and a half and Amos had turned one year old just seven days earlier.
Almost three years after the loss of Abraham Dinah gave birth to a son, William. The story goes that Dinah fell in love with the son of a wealthy family. His name was William Neves. They were secretly married in 1846 but when the baby was born the family discovered the marriage. Furious, they shipped him off to a foreign land. Some say he went to Australia, others say Brazil. Wherever he went neither Dinah nor William ever heard from him again.
LaVerle and others have made trips to England. They have examined records at the Parish where William’s birth was recorded, but no mention of his father has ever been found. Dinah’s name is recorded on his birth record as “Dinah Cornwall” instead of Neves. Dinah also saw that William was adopted by her dead husband, Abraham. William kept the name of Neves throughout his life.
The identity of his father’s family has also been lost through time. The Neves family line seems to both begin and end with the first William Neves.
Dinah married again in 1821. She and her new husband, Robert Frost, had a boy, Isaac on the 21st of November 1849.
Not one year after Isaac’s birth, at the age of 29, Dinah passed away. Isaac felt that he wasn’t able to care for so many children and so he sold them into a workhouse for orphans.
When Dinah’s brother Richard discovered what had become of the children he came to their aid and brought them into his already large family.