Martha Whitfield was the daughter of William and Mary Whitfield of Abertanat Hall, born on 13 February 1861 in Sychtyn, Llansilin Shropshire. One of five children, her mother was widowed in 1875 but continued running the family farm of 293 acres at Abertanat Hall.
On 7 April 1885 Martha married John Walter Ward. This was his second marriage – his first wife Eleanor died in 1883 leaving John with four daughters. They lived at Blodwel Hall where John farmed.
Between 1881 and 1898 Martha and John had six children; Martha Emily (died aged 5 in 1893), Florence Hannah, Elizabeth Gertrude, Alice Ruth, John Edward and William Walter Ward.
Martha’s husband John died in 1905 leaving an estate of £2495 5s 1d. In 1911, aged 50, Martha was still running the farm with four children at home. Oldest son John had joined the army in 1912 but he returned home in January 1915, having left the army as ‘unfit for service’. He received an army pension. There were five servants working on the farm, one of whom was John Chetwode *. He joined the army and was killed in action in April 1917.
By 1939 Martha was living on private means with daughter Elizabeth, at 23 The Terraces, Morda, Oswestry.
She died in 1949 and her daughter, Elizabeth, who never married, died at Sunnymead, Hampton Road on 2 January 1964. She left £823 to her brother, Edward John Ward, a retired farmer. Edward continued to farm afterwards, leaving Blodwel Hall for Perry Farm, Whittington, where he was farming in 1934.
*John Chetwode, is an example of those men who left behind a life working the land to enlist and fight for his country. He moved to work at a farm in Sweeney before joining up in 1916 and was killed in action on 17 April 1917.
John‘s brother Joshua Chetwode, also a farmer worker before the war, enlisted and was killed in 1918.
Sources: www.ancestry.com, www.menonthegates.org.uk