A Settlement Examination in Shoreditch

In 1856 my great great grandfather, John Miles,  underwent a settlement examination in Shoreditch.  He was aged 46, a resident of 5 White Hart Court, Hoxton, the address at which he was living at every census from 1841 until 1871.  His wife, Elizabeth, was 38 years old and they had the following 9 children:

Jane, aged 17, born in Mail Coach Yard, Sara 16, John 14, Emma 11, Helen 9

Ephraim 6, Martha 5, Harriet 3, Abraham, 2

John stated that he and his wife had married “in Lambeth 15 years ago last July” (i.e. in 1841).  This ties in with the marriage certificate I have for them. By 1856 he had  lived in Shoreditch for 43 years, which suggests that his parents must have moved there from Southwark when John was a very young child, as he was born around 1812.

The notes from John’s Settlement Examination

A record on another page mentions that they had lived in White Hart Court for 22 years.  The margin states “Irremovable” suggesting that the parish may have wished to move them on but had no grounds for doing so.  This is confirmed by the comment that John was  “irremovable by residence”.

I assume that the reason for this settlement examination was that John must have sought relief from the Board of Guardians and needed to prove his right to this assistance as he had been born in Southwark.

Interestingly, the same set of records also gives details of some other settlement records involving a Richard Miles – might  this be my elusive 3x great grandfather?  More research is needed.

Data source: London, England, Selected Poor Law Removal and Settlement Records, 1698-1930 on Ancestry in assocation with the London Metropolitan Archives.

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A possible sighting of a 3x great grandfather?

I’ve been searching in vain for any records which might relate to my 3x great grandfather, Richard Miles.  When his son, John Miles, married in 1841 he gave his father’s name as Richard Miles, deceased, a basket maker.

Recently I found a record of a burial at St Saviour, Southwark, which is in the same area where John Miles stated he was born.  This burial was of a Richard Miles, son of Richard Miles, basket maker:

I don’t yet know whether I can find evidence to back up my hunch that this might be a link to my family tree, but it gives me some ideas about how to continue the search.

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A widow’s pension

In previous posts I’ve written about my great grandfather , John William Saunders (1875-1920) who died in 1920 having served  in WW1. He was wounded  and taken prisoner in 1917.  I have wondered whether his widow, my great grandmother Emily, received any kind of pension or support after his death.

Now that Ancestry has moved many of its military records to Fold3,   even with a full (and expensive) subscription it’s impossible to see the details of a record unless an additional subscription is purchased.  I took advantage of the free access to WW1 records over the Remembrance weekend last month and was pleased to find a pension record relating to John William Saunders.

The record shows that John suffered from “GSW (gunshot wound) in left arm, mediastinal growth, and TB disease of lungs”.    He had been awarded the Silver War Badge in 1919, presumably when he returned to England after his time as a prisoner of war in Germany.

His widow, Emily, must have  applied for a pension and was eventually awarded an £8 grant which was paid on 19th August 1921, almost a year after John’s death.  It’s not clear whether this was a one-off grant but there is no mention of a weekly sum so I assume it was a single payment.  She had 7 children , some old enough to be out working and perhaps supporting the family.

Emily’s address was given as 36 Colchester Road, Boundary Road,  E17.  Her previous address, 33 Tenby Road,  Walthamstow, was crossed through.  The Colchester Road address is where her son, John William Saunders (born 1904) was living with his wife in 1939.

Writing this has made me realise that I haven’t researched what happened to all the children of John William and Emily Saunders.   I remember my grandmother, Esther, and her younger siblings but now I need to dig into the records and find out more!

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George Blackburn (1801-1856)

Earlier this year I was leafing through a recently arrived copy of Family Tree magazine when I reached an article about how to develop your research and break down some of the “brickwalls” which face us all from time to time when an ancestor just doesn’t want to be found.  One of the pieces of advice was to ask for help from the genealogy community and not to soldier on alone.

For several years I had been struggling to find out anything about my 3x great grandfather George Blackburn. I knew that he had married my 3x great grandmother, Eliza Card, in May 1856 and had died in August later that same year.  All I knew about him was that he had described himself as a painter when he married, he gave his father as William Blackburn, a card maker, and  that he was 55 when he diedI had searched in vain to find him on the 1841 or 1851 census because I had no further information.

Spurred on by the  article in the magazine I decided to post an appeal for help on the Facebook group “ The Brickwall Club”.  Within a few hours I was stunned to receive several useful pieces of information – all of which had been there to be found if I’d used the full search facilities properly on sites including FindMyPast and Ancestry.  My heartfelt thanks go to the members of the Brickwall Club Facebook group who located George and filled in a missing piece of my family tree.

At the time of his marriage and death, George Blackburn was living in Drury Lane, London.  I thought I’d searched the street thoroughly but I hadn’t noticed a “George B Wilson” , a painter, living with his wife Elizabeth and daughter Ellen.    This record made it easy to find several other pieces of information.  The following is what I have learned so far:

George Blackburn was born in about 1801 in Halifax.  His father, William , was a card maker, presumably making the cards used in the looms in a cloth or woollen mill.

By 1841 George had moved to Liverpool.  He is on the census for Clayton Street, living with his wife Elizabeth, daughter Ellen and a 60 year old woman called Mary Blackburn, possibly  his mother or an aunt?  George, Elizabeth and Mary were stated to have been born outside Lancashire. Ellen was born in the county.


George Blackburn and family in Clayton Street, Liverpool, 1841


This is surely the same family who appear as “Wilson” on the London 1851 census, living in Drury Lane, .  This record provides George’s  link to Halifax although at the moment I can’t explain where the surname “Wilson” has come from.  Logically this could perhaps be Elizabeth’s maiden name?

George Wilson / Blackburn in Drury Lane, London, 1851


A George Blackburn married an Elizabeth Issott in August 1830 in Leeds, again, the occupation is given as “painter” which ties in neatly with my George although so far I haven’t been able to find any birth record for an  Elizabeth Issott born in Wakefield  in about 1811. This may refer to  another George and therefore might not be connected to my tree.

George’s daughter Ellen was baptised in Manchester in 1833 – the record states father George, a painter, mother Elizabeth.

Ellen Blackburn’s baptism


The family certainly appears to have moved around a lot – what had brought them to Liverpool by 1841?  Whatever the reasons, by 1843  things weren’t going so well ,and George petitioned for insolvency in 1843. Perhaps it was this that prompted the family to use the surname Wilson in 1851?


George and his family next appear in the 1851 census, in Drury Lane, as mentioned above. In 1854 his wife Elizabeth Wilson Blackburn died of dropsy at the age of just 43.

On 10th  May 1856  George married Eliza Card at the parish church of St George Bloomsbury.   Interestingly, on the same day in May 1856 at St Giles in the Fields , George’s daughter Ellen married Edwin Green , a silversmith.

George died of pneumonia on August 22nd 1856,  just 3 months after his marriage .  He was buried at the City of London and Tower Hamlets Cemetery on August 27th 1856.  My 2x great grandmother, Esther Annie Blackburn, was born in March 1857.

There are still plenty of questions to be answered but for now I’m happy that, with the help of the Brickwall Club on Facebook,  I have discovered a great deal more about my  3x great grandfather, George Blackburn.

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Another great great great grandmother – Eliza Card (1818-1869)

My 3 x great grandmother, Eliza Card, was born in Westbury, Somerset and baptised in the parish church there in 1818.  Her parents were John Card and Hester / Esther , and according to family stories, John was a wealthy landowner and disowned his daughter when she married a divorced man.  Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, I’ve found no evidence to suggest that this is true!

According to Eliza’s baptism, the 1841 census and Eliza’s marriage certificate, John was a tailor, so he was probably a respectable tradesman in the small village, which even now has only about 800 inhabitants.

Eliza had two siblings: Jesse, her brother, was baptised in 1813 and her sister Ann  was baptised in 1816 .

By the time the 1841 census was taken, it seems that Eliza and her sister Ann were living in London, at Laurence Pountney Hill in the City of London. Both are listed as “Milliners” aged 20.

The 1851 census shows Eliza living on her own in Southampton Street, Clerkenwell. Aged 32, she is now a dressmaker. Five years later, in 1856, she married George Blackburn, a painter of 152 Drury Lane. Eliza’s address is given as 16 York Place, Pentonville.  At the moment I haven’t found George on the 1841 or 1851 censuses so I have no idea where he originated.

Sadly, their marriage was extremely short, as little more than 3 months later, George died. Eliza gave birth to my great great grandmother, Esther Annie Blackburn, on 26th March 1857 at 152 Drury Lane. In 1859, she had another daughter, Jane Matilda Blackburn.  Jane obviously could not have been George’s daughter so I need to check to find her birth or baptism record. In 1861 Eliza and her two daughters were living at 4 Royal Arcade, St Giles. Eliza is now described as a “window blind maker”.

Eliza died in March 1869 of bronchitis and pneumonia. She was 49 years old.   I was surprised to find a probate record for her but I think she must have made the will to ensure that her two daughters were looked after following her death. In the 1871 census her daughters, Esther Annie and Jane Matilda, were living with their aunt, Ann Card, who was by now a lodging house keeper of 22 Princes Street, Marylebone.

Probate record for Eliza Blackburn


Eliza’s life in London seems to have been fairly difficult. Most of the areas in which she lived were poorer, less respectable places where crime was rife and conditions often squalid. Whatever her motive for leaving Somerset and moving to London, she must have struggled to cope with becoming a widow so soon after her marriage, and having 2 small girls to bring up.

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A post for Mothering Sunday

It’s Mothering Sunday (Mothers’ Day) here in the UK . So, in loving memory of my mother Doris (1928-1993) here are a couple of photographs.

I’m not sure how old she is in this photograph, probably early teens?

On her wedding day with her father, my granddad Frederick:

And with me in about 1961:

Thinking of you today, mum. xx

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Birthdate memories: Frederick George Neville Sheepwash


This photograph shows my grandfather, Frederick George Neville (1898-1972) standing in a garden, cigarette in hand.

I’m not sure where or when the photo was taken but I’m guessing maybe the late 1940s or  early 1950s.  I’ve left the wall visible rather than cropping the picture as someone may recognise  the location!

Frederick was born at 18 Hawkesley Road, Walthamstow  on 19th March 1898, the son of Edward Neville Sheepwash and Alice Miles who had married in December 1879.  He was baptised in Walthamstow on 10th December 1899.

In 1901 Frederick, aged 3, was living at  21 Salop Road Walthamstow with his mother, Alice  and his siblings: Edward aged 19  who was working as a bricklayer’s labourer, Alfred (15) Ann (12) and baby Martha aged just 1.

In 1911 he, together with his mother Alice and two of his siblings (Martha, 12 and Alfred, 26) lived  at 41 Tenby Road , Walthamstow.  This was the household of Frederick’s brother Edward James Sheepwash and his family.

Map showing the locations of Salop Road and Tenby Road. ‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’ https://maps.nls.uk/index.html

The next record I’ve found for him is his marriage to my grandmother, Esther Saunders, in 1925 at the Church of St Michael and All Angels, Walthamstow.  By this time, 28 year old Frederick was a labourer, living at 33 Tenby Road.   I’ve been unable to find out anything about the intervening years; born in 1898, he was old enough to have fought in the First World War but I can’t identify him in the military records.

By the time of my mother’s birth in 1928 Frederick had progressed to be a storekeeper in a cabinet works. The family name appears to have changed slightly as my mother was registered with the surname “Neville-Sheepwash”.  He was still employed in the same trade in 1939, the family had moved to Lawrence Avenue in Walthamstow and had changed their surname to Neville.

My memories of my grandfather “Grandad Neville” date from the early 1960s.  We used to travel by bus to The Crooked Billet and then walk or get another bus down Billet Road to my grandparents’’ house, number 349.   I remember the garden of this house as my grandad would take me outside and show me the “pinks” and tell me to smell these pretty flowers. I have never forgotten the wonderful fragrance and have tried many times to grow the same plants but with little success!

We usually visited on a Saturday afternoon and grandad would be watching “Grandstand” on television.  He always seemed particularly interested in the horse racing.  One day he asked my grandmother to go and place a bet for him; she took me with her and into the betting shop, at which point there was a shout from the staff member “Get that kid out of here!”.  I had to go and stand outside.  I recall being very embarrassed about being sent outside, but I now realise that betting shops were only legalised in May 1961 – which is almost certainly the year that this incident happened.  It may well have been the first time my grandma had ventured into the bookmaker’s and she unwittingly took me inside as well, not realising that children were not allowed in.

Grandad worked at the Lebus factory as a storeman and one of the benefits for me was the opportunity to go to the children’s Christmas party.  I didn’t ever really want to go as I didn’t know any of the other children, but I think I must have enjoyed it in the end because I went to 2 or 3 of these before my grandad retired.

Grandad was a heavy smoker, choosing (I think) Players Weights as his preferred brand.  I didn’t like his yellow stained fingers or the smell of the cigarettes.    He didn’t often say very much to me, apart from when we looked at the garden together, but he seemed to be a kindly man.

He died when I was a teenager. I wish I’d known him better.

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More about the Batchelors of Bethnal Green

For a long time, I was unable to identify the parents of my 3x great grandfather, David Joseph BATCHELOR.  But recently I realised that the answer had possibly been staring me in the face every time I looked at the 1841 census.  Listed at the same address, but in a separate household are an elderly couple, Joseph and Fanny BATCHELOR aged 65.   Could I find evidence to prove that these are my 4x great grandparents?

The 1851 census suggests that David Batchelor was born around 1812, so I needed to find a possible baptism showing the parents as Joseph and Fanny. Eventually I found this record showing the baptism in 1821 of a David Joseph Batchelor, son of Joseph and Fanny. A note states that the child was “reported born 25 March 1812”. The next entry on the page is for a Mary Ann Batchelor “reported born 1st September 1814”.   The baptism of this daughter might be the key to the identity of my 4x great grandparents.

Baptism of David Joseph Batchelor, son of Joseph and Fanny


The story then becomes more complicated.  Listed on the 1871 census as the first child of my great great grandparents, Fanny (nee BATCHELOR) and Ambrose FERRY is a 12 year old boy, Joseph FERRY.

I searched long and hard for a birth record for him, and eventually discovered a baptism in 1859 which shows that a Joseph BATCHELOR, the illegitimate son of Fanny Batchelor, was born in the workhouse.

Joseph Batchelor, illegitimate son of Fanny Bachelor

So where were Fanny and her son in 1861? They don’t appear with the rest of the family but I might have located them in South Conduit Street, living with John and Mary “Dowra”.  John and Mary’s niece is Fanny, aged 22 and there is also a nephew William aged 2.  The ages are spot-on – is this Fanny and her son Joseph? So far I’ve not found a birth or baptism for a William Batchelor of born in 1859.  Finding out whether Fanny was  related to John and Mary “Dowra” was the next step…

Working back in time using the address search facility on Find my Past I found that John and Mary “Dower” were living in the same street in 1851.  I think the surname is quite clearly DOWNS on this census. Interestingly, also in the household are Fanny Backland, a blind lodger aged 76, born in Hertfordshire,  as well as Joseph Backler (nephew aged 19) and Jane Backler (niece aged 16).  Their ages correspond broadly  with the dates of birth of Joseph (1833) and Jane BATCHELOR (1834) , older siblings of my 2x great grandmother Fanny.  Could Mary  Downs be Fanny’s aunt?

In 1841 I found John and Mary Downs with Joseph Batchelor (aged 9) in Seabright Street, Bethnal Green.

Map showing the location of Seabright Street and South Conduit Street Bethnal Green

The next crucial piece of evidence  is the marriage of John Downs to Mary Ann BATCHELOR in 1832 at St Dunstan’s in Stepney.

Linking all of these details together, it seems very likely that Joseph and Fanny Batchelor are indeed my 4x great grandparents although the proof is not 100% because of the number of variant spellings of the surnames.

What else can I discover about them to enable me to add them to my family tree?

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Batchelors and Boyles of Bethnal Green

One of my first family history tasks this year has been to update my “Surname Interests” on this blog.  Having  decided to identify the earliest record for each of the main surnames I’m researching,  I quickly realised that I needed to go back to basics with some of the families as I had taken a great deal on trust when I started researching almost 20 years ago.  At that time there was very little on line, apart from the Family Search website and a very new and developing FreeBMD.  I also went to the Family Records Centre in London in Myddleton Street, Clerkenwell where I got motion sickness trying to operate the microfilm machines. The arrival of the age of online records was a huge relief!

I received help from other researchers, many of whom had spent years searching through parish registers and other documents at local archives.   They sent me copies of their research, not always fully sourced, and I happily accepted that their findings were correct.

Now, with the access to so many records provided by the big genealogy companies, I thought I really ought to check out some of those “looser links” which I’d accepted at the start of my family history journey.

Where to begin?

Church of St John-at-Hackney. Late 18th century church built to the designs of architect James Spiller. A Grade II* listed building.© Copyright Julian Osley and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

I decided to start the checking process with my great great grandmother, Fanny BATCHELOR who was born in Coventry Street, Bethnal Green in 1838.  Her birth certificate quite clearly records that her father was David Batchelor and her mother was Jane, formerly BOYLE.  I had searched for a marriage between a David Batchelor and a Jane Boyle and found the following in the records of St John’s Hackney:

Batchelor / Boyle marriage 1830

So I was happy that my 3x great grandparents were David Joseph Batchelor and Jane Fountain Boyle. I moved on to other research and did nothing more on this line until this month when I decided to click on the “hints” on Ancestry.co.uk.   Almost all the hints from other trees had Fanny’s mother listed as Jane FURBER – had I got things completely wrong?

When Fanny Batchelor married Ambrose FERRY in 1878 she gave her father’s details: David Bachelor, occupation a fishmonger.

The next step to check this out was to look at the 1841 and 1851 census records.

In Coventry Street in 1841 I found David BATCHELOR, a fishmonger aged 25, with his wife Jane and children Jane (7) George (4) Fanny (3) and David (1). In a separate household at the same address are Joseph Batchelor, a greengrocer aged 65 and Fanny (65).  This family must be “my”  Batchelors.

In 1851 the family appears at White Horse Court with 8 children, including Fanny (12), John (8), Mary (6) William (5) David (4) and Elizabeth and Richard (twins aged 14 months).  All of these children except Mary appear in the GRO index with mother’s maiden name BOYLE.

I located the family in 1861 at No.1 Upper York Place, Mile End Old Town. David  and Jane still had four children living at home: Mary (17) William (15) David (13) and James (8).

In total I’ve found 13 children who could be the offspring of David Joseph Batchelor and Jane.

Seeing all the other trees on Ancestry which have my 2x great grandmother, Fanny, and her siblings linked to Jane nee FURBER caused me a minor panic as I rushed  to revisit the details in my tree.  I’m now satisfied that I have the correct family and that my 3x great grandmother was indeed Jane Fountain Boyle.

The next challenges  are (a)  to confirm that Joseph and Fanny Batchelor (who were sharing a household with the family in 1841 are the parents of David Batchelor and (b) to confirm the names of Jane Fountain Boyle’s parents.

If you are connected to this family and can add any information it will be good to hear from you!

And just for the record:

The other Batchelors

David and Jane (nee Furber) married in 1833 at St Sepulchre, Holborn.  I have found what seems to be this family in 1851:

David Thomas Batchelor, a tallow chandler, and his wife Jane were living in George Yard St Luke, with 7 children. I’ve found three of these children in the GRO indexes – all with mother’s maiden name FURBER: William James (born 1838, surname BATCHELER) David Thomas (born 1841, Surname BATCHELEAR) Sarah Ann (born 1843, surname BATCHELOR).



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The Aburn family in Towcester in the 18th Century

St Lawrence's, Towcester

St Lawrence’s Towcester © Copyright Andrew Smith and licensed for reuse under creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0

William Aburn, my 4x great grandfather, was born in Towcester, Northamptonshire in 1788 and was baptised at the parish church where he married Ann Downing in 1812.   William’s parents were James and Martha (nee Course) who had married in Towcester in 1786. Ann Downing was the daughter of William and Sarah Downing (nee Sutton) who are described on Ann’s birth record as “paupers”.

Ann Downing’s baptism record, showing William and Sarah as “paupers”.

More about them later…. but for now, back to the Aburns.

James Aburn is listed in the Northamptonshire Militia list in  1796; his occupation is given as “cooper”.and  it was noted that he had “4 children under 10”. This was significant as his wife Martha died of smallpox that year during an outbreak of the disease. The parish register records that

“The Small Pox broke out in this Parish about that time [May 1796] and continued to Rage with Accumulated Fury untill the beginning of December when the Inhabitants underwent a general Inoculation. Those marked with a cross died of the natural small Pox”.

Parish register notes about the 1796 smallpox epidemic in Towcester.

The four children referred to in the Militia list were Elizabeth (born 1787), William (born 1788), Thomas (born 1791) and Sarah (born 1795).

Being left to care for the 4 young children, one of whom was only a toddler, must have been very hard for James; perhaps he had help from the many Aburn relatives living in Towcester at this time.  Eventually, in May 1806, he married again, to a spinster named Sarah Collins, but it appears that she died just a few months later: there is a burial record in November 1806 for Sarah Aburn, wife of James Aburn.

Is this Sarah (nee Collins) James’ second wife?

James died in 1834 at the age of 85.

James Aburn’s burial record


Going back another generation, still in Towcester, James’ parents were Edward and Elizabeth (nee Bodily). They had married in August 1739 and had 5 children: Joshua (baptised 1739), Lucy (baptised 1742) Frances,  James  (both baptised 1751) and Josiah (baptised 1753).

Edward’s  baptism in 1711 is recorded in wonderfully spidery writing and it’s just possible to decipher the surname “Aburn”:


When Edward died in 1778 the parish register records his burial: Edward Aburn Clark (sic) of this Parish died April 21st, buried the 24th of April 1778. A Man well deserving of his Office.

Edward’s parents Mark  (a cordwainer) and Elizabeth Aburn, however, remain rather a mystery at the moment.  They appear in the Towcester records from 1700 when a son, Mark, was baptised, followed by six more children ( including Edward)  but so far I haven’t been able to establish a marriage record or any clues as to where they originated.



Links: https://www.ancestry.co.uk 



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