Surname Saturday: more about the Sheepwash family of Faversham

As I’ve mentioned before, my 3 times great grandfather, John Sheepwash (1797 – 1862) was a tobacco pipe maker in Faversham in Kent. He married Sarah Sparrow in 1820 and they lived in or around the Preston Street area of Faversham throughout their lives.

Print of Faversham in about 1830

In 1831 Faversham had a population of 4,429, less than one-tenth of whom were agricultural workers. The population of the adjacent parish of Preston, a village which joins Faversham town, was at the same time 675. Faversham is famous for being the main centre of the explosives industry; some of the Sheepwash family were involved , presumably working at one of the three gunpowder factories in the town, but my ancestors don’t seem to have moved into that line of work. It isn’t yet clear to me whether the family lived in Faversham itself, or in Preston.  Several of the children were baptised or, sadly, buried, at the church in Preston-Next-Faversham.  

The website   suggests that Preston Street, at the end of the built up area of Faversham, was actually the nucleus of Preston Village.

John and Sarah had at least 10 children, some of whom had rather unusual names.

The first child, John, was born in 1817 before the couple married. He was baptised in 1817 and his name is given as John Sheepwash Sparrow.

Following John, we have Caroline Amelia ( born 1821); Adolphus Frederick (born 1822); Augustus Caesar (born 1823); Clementina (born 1825); George Alphonso (born 1827); Nevel Hanes Danes (born 1831); Agnes Matilda (born 1834); Alfred (born 1836); Anne Elizabeth (born 1836).

Adolphus and Augustus appear to have died young, as did Anne Elizabeth, if indeed she was the daughter of John and Sarah. The two children born in 1836 were baptised on different dates which makes me wonder if one of them is the child of another couple.  I’ve also found a Maria Sheepwash, the daughter of John and Sarah, who appears to have  died in infancy in 1825.

Most of the children remained in or around the Faversham area throughout their lives, but George moved to Lancashire, whilst Evelina was in London by 1853 when she married in St Marks Church, Old Street. The witnesses to her marriage were her sister, Agnes Matilda, and James Henry Beale. This is interesting because my great great grandfather, Nevel Hanes Danes Sheepwash was living in Mr Beale’s household in 1851.

James Henry Beale is listed as a cabinet maker employing 3 men. Nevel was an apprentice, and as he later gave his occupation as a cabinet maker when he married Mary Ann Harding at St Marks in 1853, I think it’s safe to assume that he was apprenticed to Mr Beale.

Evelina and Hatton returned to Kent by 1871, whereas Nevel Hanes Danes Sheepwash had died in London in 1862. Perhaps moving to the city had taken its toll on him – his siblings who survived childhood all went on to live to a good age.

About familyhistoryfootsteps

I have been researching my family history for several years. I'm particularly interested in social history and enjoy learning about, and trying to understand the context of our ancestors' lives. From the mid 1800s onwards most of my direct ancestors lived and worked in London.
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6 Responses to Surname Saturday: more about the Sheepwash family of Faversham

  1. We Came From says:

    Really interested by this post on Faversham – have family who moved on from there to Chatham and Woolwich – hadn’t realised Faversham’s role in the explosives industry

  2. Arthur says:

    I’ve just seen this blog for the first tiime, and have signed up to follow it, so you’lll have my email address. As you may have discovered, four SHEEPWASHes worked in the Faversham gunpowder industry. If you need more details, please get in touch.
    Arthur Percival for the Faversham Society

  3. Dr C W Boyne says:

    My grandmother’s husband, H W (Bobbie) Davis, had a chauffeur in Faversham just after WW2 named Jimmy Sheepwash, whom I remember quite vividly. In spite of having a gammy leg (a war wound?), he drove what then seemed to me to be a monstrously large Pilot V8 round the country lanes of East Kent, and sometimes, on wet days, he drove a very small me to school. I called him ‘Shawnie’ – probably from childish inability to manage ‘Sheepwash’. Shawnie was, I suppose, an employee of Francis Davis & Sons – Bobbie being one of the sons, responsible for providing road transport for farmers’ produce, and therefore having to do a good deal of sociable drinking with farmers in the course of a day’s business (hence the need for a chauffeur). Jimmy was, I know, a great favourite with all our family.

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