Since I wrote yesterday I decided to look into whether Sydney's wife's family had already moved to the Gresford area before she died. The answer is yes - they can be found on the 1891 census living in Bryn Issa, Gwersyllt. Caroline Spurdle's mother Sarah Wetherell seems to have been widowed at some point and married Simon Start.
Sarah and Simon and Sarah's girls Annie Wetherell and Ellen Wetherell can be found living with Edward and Elizabeth Hughes and family. Simon is described as father-in-law and Sarah as mother-in-law, but I don't know whether Elizabeth is Sarah's daugher (in which case her maiden name would be Wetherell) or Simon Start's daughter. Elizabeth's birthplace is stated as being Sturminster, Somerset on the web but the original record shows it actually says Ilminster, Somerset (it was worth paying Ancestry to look at the original myself). This means that she is almost certainly Sarah's daughter as all of her eldest children were born here. On the 1881 census for Drimpton, Dorset Sarah Wetherell is living with 6 children - Herbert aged 15, Caroline aged 12 and William aged 11 were all born in Ilminster, Somerset. Benjamin aged 9 was born in Chillington, Somerset and Fred aged 5 and Annie aged 1 were both born in Drimpton, Dorset.
Edward and Elizabeth Hughes are both 29 and they have three children: John Hughes aged 7, Ellen Hughes aged 5 and Richard Hughes aged 1. Edward seemes to be relatively local - born in Denbighshire - but I can't work out the Welsh placename. It could be Llanrydod but unless it has been misspelt that doesn't seem to exist. He speaks Welsh and English. I wonder how he met Elizabeth? Perhaps she first moved to Wales as a servant? Edward Hughes and Simon Start are both Coal Hewers. This was hard, dangerous work and not particularly well paid and yet it seems to have drawn people from all over the country to work. And perhaps the area around Gresford wasn't a bad place to live - it has never been built up with houses and industry the way that South Wales was. Locals were never far from open fields.
I never realised that people left as extended families and communities to go and settle in other areas of the country. I suppose I should have really as I know of the large number of Spurdles that travelled together to settle in New Zealand in the mid-19th century. I know it was still awful for Sydney when his wife dies so young, but I am glad to know that he did have her family around him to share his grief and help him to raise his two young children.
I am really confused about Sarah and Simon Start. In the 1891 census Sarah is aged 55 and husband Simon is 59. As I have already mentioned, on the 1901 census Sarah is 65 and Simeon/Simon is shown as being 41. On the 1901 census Simeon/Simon is shown as being the Head and Sarah his wife. Perhaps his date of birth was recorded wrongly as there is 28 years difference in age! I am going to try to solve that one.
Do you think Caroline's sister Elizabeth wrote to Caroline and encouraged her to move to North Wales with Sydney? Her three children were born in North Wales showing that she had been there longer than Caroline. The chance of work, the meeting up with family, it must have been very tempting especially as times were tough in Dorset. No other Spurdles seemed to head to North Wales - all the ones that live there now seem to be descended from Sydney!