Martha Rosa Chappell (52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #7)

19 February 2015, Chriss Coleman

Martha Rosa Chappell was an older sister of my husband’s 2nd great-grandfather, William Christopher Chappell, and I’ve found her story fascinating as she is never quite where one would expect her to be.

Martha Rosa Chappell Seaborne
Martha Rosa (Chappell) Seabourne, taken in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA.1

Martha was the fourth child of Edwin Chappell and Harriet Oaten,2 and was born in Bath, Somerset England on March 26th 1867.

Clipping of Martha Rosa Chappell's birth record from Chappell Family record
Martha Rosa Chappell’s birth record, as written in the Chappell Family record belonging to her brother William Christopher Chappell.3

And now the journey begins…

At the age of four she was enumerated at her uncle’s house at 13 Bear Yard in Westminster, London. Why was she living with her father’s brother? Was she merely visiting? Was she taking in the culture of London? Was she sent to London for a better education?

1871 England Census, St Clement Danes, London, family of John Chappell
1871 England Census clipping for the family of John Chappell, St Clement Danes, London.4

John Chappell, Head, Married, Male, 44, Shopman/Tripe Dresser, born Bath, Somerset.
Mary A Chappell, Wife, Married, Female, 44, born St Andrew Holborn.
John Chappell, Son, Unmarried, Male, 21, Butcher, born St Giles in Fields.
Mary Ann Chappell, Daughter, Unmarried, Female, 19, born [blank].
Harry Chappell, Son, Male, 15, born Chelsea.
Joseph Chappell, Son, Male, 12, born St Clement Danes.
Rosey Chappell, Niece, Female, 4, born Bath, Somerset.

By the 1881 census she’s moved back to Bath, this time living with her maternal grandparents, William Oaten and Harriet Bolt at their home at 4 Burlington Street in Walcot. At this point she was 14 years old and working as a servant, which was very common for girls of that age. As her grandparents were running a lodging house, she may even have been working for them.

1881 England Census, family of William Oaten, Walcot, Bath, Somerset
A clipping of the 1881 England Census for Walcot, family of William Oaten.5

William Oaten, Head, Married, 71, male, Lodgings housekeeper Waiter [Inn Serv written over], born Taunton, Somerset.
Harriet Oaten, Wife, Married, 68, born Sidmouth, Devon.
Adeliza Oaten, Granddaughter, 23, Unmarried, Neeedlewoman, born Bath, Somerset.
Rose Chappell, Granddaughter, 14, Domestic Servant General, born Bath, Somerset.

Martha Rosa married William Seaborne, the son of an Innkeeper, at St Werburgh church, in Bristol, Gloucestershire on November 4th 1886.6 William was a sculptor, and the couple immigrated to the United States shortly after their marriage. They lived first in Ohio, then moved to Michigan before the birth of their youngest child.7

William and Martha Rosa had three children:

  1. Minnie Seaborne (b. Oct 1887, Cleveland, Ohio, USA)8
  2. Mabel Seaborn (b. Dec 1889, Fremont, Ohio, USA)9
  3. Ada Seaborne (b. Aug 1893, Michigan, USA)10

Tragedy struck the family when Martha Rosa died of pneumonia on March 4th, 1897,11 only a few weeks shy of her 30th birthday, leaving her husband and three young daughters to mourn her loss.

Her husband William never remarried.12 He continued to raise his daughters on his own whilst working as an artist. The family later moved to Pennsylvania,13 New Jersey,14 then to New York15 as William Seaborne followed his artistic passions.

William Seaborne
Photograph of William Seaborne, undated.16

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is a blogging prompt started by Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small. My stories will include both sides of our family, including collateral lines.

  1. Martha Rosa Chappell photograph, photograph by Heath, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, undated; original privately held by Joan [surname witheld for privacy], [address for private use], Simcoe county, Ontario, Canada; digital scan held by author, scanned Sep 2014. [The reverse of the photo is inscribed “Rose Chappell Seaborne”, writing is that of Rosemary Chappell, niece.] 

  2. BathBMD ( : accessed 19 Jan 2015), birth entry for Martha Rosa Chappell; citing Register Offices, Bath, Somerset, 1867, reference LNS/20/228. 

  3. Births, Marriages, and Deaths, Chappell family record, undated; privately held by Joan [surname witheld for privacy], [address for private use], Simcoe county, Ontario. 2014. [From the style and format of the document, it appears to be a transcription of a family bible. Based on the handwriting and information, the transcription was likely written between 1897 and 1910.] 

  4. “1871 England Census”, Middlesex, Westminster, enumeration district (ED) 9, parish of St Clement Danes, page 24, family of John Chappell; index and digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 7 Jun 2014); citing The National Archives, London, “Census Returns of England and Wales, 1871”, class RG10, piece 366, folio 52, GSU 824612. 

  5. “1881 England Census”, Somerset, Bath, enumeration district 15, parish of Walcot, page 24, household 198, family of William Oaten; index and digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 11 Dec 2014); citing The National Archives, London, “Census Returns of England and Wales, 1881”, class RG11, piece 2442, folio 53, GSU roll 1341588. 

  6. “England, Select Bristol Parish Registers, 1538-1900”, index, Ancestry ( : accessed 26 Sep 2014), marriage record of William Seaborne and Martha Rosa Chappell, 4 Nov 1886, St Werburgh, Bristol, Gloucestershire; citing FHL film 4247280. 

  7. “Michigan, State Census, 1894”, Grand Rapids, Kent county, population schedule, page 221, family 421, household of Wm Seaborne; index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 10 Feb 2015); citing State Archives, Lansing; FHL microfilm 984658. 

  8. “Ohio, Births and Christenings 1821-1962”, index, Ancestry ( : accessed 19 May 2014), entry for Minnie Seaborne, 28 Oct 1887, Cleveland, Cuyahoga county; citing FHL film 877904. 

  9. “Ohio, Births and Christenings, 1821-1962”, index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 19 May 2014), entry for Mabel Seaborne, 31 Dec 1889, Fremont, Sandusky county; citing FHL film 511731, reference p 18 rn 405. 

  10. “1900 United States Federal Census”, Susquehanna county, PA, p30A, William Seaborne. 

  11. “Michigan, Deaths, 1867-1897”, index and digital image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Sep 2014), entry for Rosa Seaborn, 4 Mar 1897, Kent county, page 97, row number 7128, FHL film 2363836; citing Department of Vital Records, Lansing, Michigan. 

  12. Beverly [grand-daughter of Rosa Chappell], [Email address for private use], to Chriss Coleman, email, 29 August 2014, “Chappell Family”, Chappell family file; privately held by Chriss Coleman, [Email and Address for private use], Århus Kommune, Østjylland, Denmark. 

  13. “1900 United States Federal Census”, Susquehanna county, PA, p30A, William Seaborne. 

  14. “1910 United States Federal Census”, Hudson county, New Jersey, population schedule, Jersey City, ward 6, page 19B and 20A, enumeration district (ED) 134, dwelling 230, family 404, family of William Seabourne; digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed19 May 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 890. 

  15. “New York, State Census, 1915”, New York city, population schedule, assembly district 35, election district 4, page 35, family of William Seabourne; index and digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 19 Feb 2015); citing New York State Archives, Albany, New York. 

  16. Photo of William Seaborne, photographer unknown, photo in possession of Joan [surname witheld for privacy], [address for private use], Simcoe county, Ontario, Canada; digital scan held by author, scanned Sep 2014. [Photo identified on reverse as Uncle William Seabourne, New York. Handwriting is that of Rosemary Chappell.]