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In the Kitchen

In the Kitchen

In the Kitchen

Eleven at night was the start of a baker’s day, when he made the dough. He was able to sleep on the job for a couple of hours while the bread rose, then had to do the rest of the physical tasks of preparing rolls and loaves. Kneading was sometimes done with feet, perhaps making for a less-than-clean product. The bakehouse was alarmingly hot as well, up to ninety degrees Fahrenheit. Some bakers had to deliver the bread they made, too. They only had five to ten hours off per day and all but none during the Season. A.N. Wilson says statistics show that London bakers rarely lived past the age of forty-two.
Baking in Victorian England

Bakery at the Rural Life Centre, Tilford.

I don’t have any chefs, or cooks in a stately home as far as I know, but I do have bakers and confectioners in my direct family line. The television programme Victorian Bakers was set in 1837, at the time mine were baking for the residents of Farnham in Surrey and that does a far better job than I could in describing their way of life.

According to the age given on his gravestone in St Andrew’s Churchyard, Farnham in Surrey, Samuel Lewcock, my great (x4) grandfather, was 69 when he died in December 1836. He had outlived all but 3 of his 15 children, at least one of whom was described as a baker in the newspaper announcements of their deaths. One son and two daughters survived him.

Samuel had been born in Odiham where at least of his relations was a miller in the area. He was baptised on 1st April 1772 and his father Richard died in 1783. In 1783 a William Newland, a mealman, a person who deals in meal or flour, took on an apprentice named Samuel Lewcock.

Samuel himself took on an apprentice, a William Blake, on 15 December 1801 in Farnham.

Millers often had a bakehouse attached so it is unsurprising that Samuel became a baker. He had connections with Farnham through his great uncle, Samuel Hare, who had left property in Castle Samuel’s father Richard. He may well have come to Farnham initially as a miller as there were half a dozen flour mills close to the town as the River Wey passes through the area.

Samuel himself appears in the online records in Farnham when he marries Sarah Taphouse in 1793. Between 1798 and 1800 he was a tenant of William Freeharry at 119 East Street next to “The Unicorn”. He appears in the Jury-Qualified Freeholders and Copyholders listings between 1812 and 1824 and in the Tax records, sometimes as owner and sometimes as tenant although no addresses are given in the listings. According to Pat Heather in “The Town of Farnham. A History of The Borough & Castle Street.”, it was in 1812 that he had bought 32, The Borough and began the bakery, and James later acquired Number 31.

TheGenealogist has the tithe maps for Farnham and there you can see where 31 and 32 The Borough were located – just below the O of Borough.  a wander along The Borough today on Street View shows No. 32 as Vodaphone and No. 31 as Dorothy Perkins.

Pat Heather records a quote about the bakery from Mrs Henry Keary, “Locock’s [sic] with its delicious buns and the round seedy biscuits, and wire baskets, painted green, filled with new laid eggs…

Bakeries were often a family enterprise and so it was with the Lewcocks, albeit only for three generations. When he died in December 1836, Samuel left everything to his wife Sarah. In turn when she died in 1844, the business went to their son James and four years later, it went to James’s wife, Jessamine.

In 1841, Sarah was listed in the Borough with daughters Ann and Jane, a male servant aged 10 and a female servant aged 20 and a journeyman baker, Henry Worsam. In 1841 James and his family were in Castle Street. They moved to The Borough in 1844 after Sarah’s death.

The oven from the Bakehouse from Newdigate. Weald and Downland Museum.

Although James died young aged 38, he died of Scarlatina and not necessarily the respiratory ailments and exhaustion suffered by other bakers at the time. Jessamine was left with the business and 5 surviving children under 11 years old, the youngest daughter had died earlier in the year, also of Scarlatina. Within a year of James’s death, she remarried, to a man seventeen years her junior, Edmund Mason. He was 25 and she was 41. That marriage did not last long as he died of “pulmonary consumption 1 year certified” four years later in 1853. I’m waiting for a certificate as we have never really tracked down who Edmund Mason was and how he ended up in Farnham marrying Jessamine so I will update the article then. We know he came from Buckinghamshire and that there were other Masons in Farnham.

Jessamine gave up the premises and the business in The Borough in 1861, “Jessamine Mason of Farnham, widow, and Charles Andrews of Farnham, gent (her mortgagee), conveyed the premises formerly known as ‘The Swan’ inn, with all associated buildings and land (see plan in -/1), situated in The Borough High Street, Farnham, to William Hazell of Farnham, draper.” exploring surrey’s’ past

In the 1861 census, she was living in Castle Street with Henry, Jessie and Agnes, listed as a house proprietor. Henry was listed as an apprentice, but not as what occupation although he did eventually become a draper, so maybe was apprenticed to William Hazell. She went to live in Kingston-on-Thames with Henry and Agnes. Following her death in 1876, they both married.

None of James and Jessamine’s family went into the baking business – the oldest son, Kenric, went to sea, George became a compositor and did his apprenticeship in Chatham, later settling in Islington. Jessie Ann, the “pianoist” ended up married to an innkeeper in Eccleshill Yorkshire. Henry was a draper and travelling salesman and stayed in the Kingston area and Agnes married a carman and went to live in Battersea. There is no trace (yet) of Lewis the second son after 1851.

The Weald and Downland museum have recently added a new building to their site – the Bakehouse from Newdigate. There were Lewcocks in Newdigate and the surrounding area at the same time as their appearance in Odiham in the late 1600s/early 1700s. As yet, we have found no connection between the two families, but who knows!


Delivery bike from Worsam’s bakery. Rural LIfe Centre.

Although the family did not eventually carry on the business, one of their work people did. In 1851, Henry Worsam, baker, who was listed in the Lewcock household in 1841 is running his own business round the corner in Downing Street, listed with his wife and a journeyman baker, John Mileham. Pat Heather notes that he had married the owner of the Downing Street bakery in 1846, following the death of her husband.

In 1861, Henry had his nephew William working alongside him and by 1871, William had taken over the business and Henry had gone back to his place of birth, Basingstoke. Worsam’s bakery remained in Downing Street for many years and eventually closed in 1983.

The Rural Centre at Tilford has many implements and a delivery cart from Worsam’s bakery among its exhibits. When I went there about ten years ago, I took pictures of the bakery area, knowing about having a local baker in the family history, but at the time I did not know of the connection with the Worsams.


Wills of Samuel, Sarah and James Lewcock.

Will of Samuel Hare.

exploring surrey’s’ past

Baking in Victorian England

Video: Victorian Bakers Episode 1. – set in 1837. (The mill in the programme is at the Weald & Downland Museum.)


The Town of Farnham. A History of The Borough & Castle Street by Pat Heather.

I was very lucky just before Christmas to come across this set of books by Pat Heather during a random google search. Being in lockdown caused us some hiccups but their arrival was very exciting..I had managed to work out a great deal about the Lewcocks in Farnham but her research not only confirmed that I was on the right lines, but I was able to find out more. At the time I had no idea I would be using them to research this article. Now to find out more about my other Farnham Families.

Farnham Buildings and People by Nigel Temple



Census returns

Surrey, England, Jury-Qualified Freeholders and Copyholders, 1696-1824

UK, Land Tax Redemption, 1798

Surrey, England, Land Tax Records, 1780-1832

UK, Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices’ Indentures, 1710-1811


Assize of Bread and Ale

Mills on the River Wey and its tributaries

Oast and Hop Kiln History – Surrey and Hampshire: Farnham


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Week 6: Same Name

Week 6: Same Name

Week 6: Same Name

When I saw this prompt, I immediately thought of Jessie Ann Lewcock, who baptised and buried five babies, three of them called Seth, their father’s name. Only her two oldest children survived to adulthood, a daughter, Grace Agnes, and Lewis named for her brother. Her husband Seth had already had a son named Seth with his first wife who had also died.

I have been interested in Jessie ever since I first came across her in my research. Maybe because I am supposed to be “musical” and she was a “professor” of music but mainly because I wanted to know how she somehow ended up in a Yorkshire pub far from her roots in Surrey. With the help of newspaper searches, it is possible to get some idea of her life apart from the bare bones of census returns.

Eldest daughter

Jessie was the fifth child of James and Jessamine Lewcock. They had had four sons, Kenric Mansell, Lewis James, George Albert (my great x3 grandfather) and Henry, then three daughters, Jessie, Agnes Mary and Alice.

James and Jessamine were bakers and confectioners with premises in Borough, Farnham in Surrey. Jessamine’s family, the Harts, owned property in Farnham as did James and his sister Ann who had married John Nash, auctioneer.

Borough, Farnham 1822. Painting by John Hassell.

The family were probably a typical mid-Victorian middle-class family. James was listed as Hon Sec. Farnham Mechanics Institute in Mirror Monthly Magazine Jul-Dec 1848. He was an ornithologist and also a taxidermist, while his sons George and Henry seemed to have been more interested in bugs and beetles and were competitive chess and draughts players, as was George’s son, Ernest. We know from a descendant of Agnes that the girls played at least piano and harp as did their daughters.

James died of Scarlatina in July 1848 and Jessamine was left with a business and 6 children aged 11 and under, Alice had died earlier in the year at 6 months old. Jessamine didn’t hang around and married Edmund Mason, 18 years her junior, within the year. Edmund died 4 years later.

Only the three youngest children were still with Jessamine in Farnham in 1861, living in Castle Street. Henry was 18, Jessie 17 and Agnes 15. Lewis had vanished altogether, Kenric went to sea sometime between 1851 and 1854 and then also vanished. In 1855 George was a printer’s apprentice in Chatham – he is my great x2 grandfather.

In 1871, Jessamine, Henry and Agnes were in Clarence Street, Kingston Upon Thames but Jessie was initially nowhere to be found. Henry appeared in Kingston on Thames in Clarence Street in 1867, listed in the Post Office directory as a draper and Henry and Agnes are at the same address with their mother. Jessamine died in 1876 when her residence was given in Thames Street. Henry married later in that year and Agnes married Henry Page in 1882.

Finding Jessie

While I was tracking down Jessamine’s offspring after 1861, using the “less is more” principle, which incidentally worked much better in the early days of searching Ancestry, I came across a Jessie born Farnham in 1844 listed at the Royal Oak, Eccleshill. I then found the same family in 1881, where Jessie was listed as a Professional pianoist [sic]. The husband Seth, was described as a general dealer and they were living at 2 Bank, Eccleshill. Then in 1891, when they were living at 94 Victoria Road, Eccleshill, she was just listed as a Professional and her daughter Grace was described as a Musician. Seth described himself as a jeweller (watch & clock repairs). In 1901, they were living at 44 Dudley Hill Road, Eccleshill. Seth was a jeweller (gold etc.) and Jessie wasn’t given an occupation.

I was pretty sure that this was my Jessie, which was eventually confirmed by their marriage certificate. They had been married at the Register Office in Bradford in February 1870. He was a widower aged 28 and a beer retailer and she was described as a Professor of Music aged 25. Her address was given as The Hive Inn, Croft Street, Bradford, his as the Royal Oak, Eccleshill.

© Crown copyright.

By 1911, it is Seth who is listed as a piano player, and Jessie again wasn’t given an occupation. They were living with their oldest son and his family in Birkshall Lane, Bradford.

I was given a lot of help early in my research into Jessie and her family by Margaret, a descendant of Seth’s brother, and it was she who told me about his first marriage and the babies dying and some detail about the surviving children, several years before I was able to find the same information online, one reason why I hadn’t needed to look at the North family until recently but I was very struck by Seth losing all four babies named after him so decided to return to their story and was able to add more detail, thanks to the online newspapers.

When Seth met Jessie, he was widowed with a small son, Frederick. He had lost his wife Mary in February 1867, and the first baby named Seth had died in the same year. Margaret told me that Mary had a son William, who was born 3 July 1864, the year before Seth married Mary Ayres – his name was given as Frederick William North but no father was mentioned. Seth seemed to have accepted him as his own according to the censuses. Mary’s death was reported in the Bradford Observer on 14th February.

Why Bradford?

Searching the British Newspapers Archive through Findmypast, I came across some clues about her and maybe how she finished up in Bradford. I assume that she was earning a living, or had to start doing so, and used her music to pursue a career.

These days, unless you play an orchestral instrument and are good enough to get regular orchestral work, earning a living as a musician is precarious to say the least, so most professional players have to give lessons, especially pianists. However, in Victorian times when Jessie was earning her living, there were many, many more opportunities for pianists to perform professionally. This was the height of the music hall and most towns and cities would have a tavern, theatre or music hall with live musical entertainment. Central to the programmes were the singing and especially the comic song.

By 1875 there were 375 music halls in Greater London, which meant a lot more performers were required. Throughout the 1860s it became more common for women to perform in the halls. Performing was a means of escape and independence for working-class women. Many women achieved, if not stardom, a decent living on the halls. [V&A]

“The Era” has hundreds of advertisements for Lady pianist and vocalists all over the country at this time. Many of the adverts mention that the performers would be living in or other accommodation would be provided. We will probably never know when or why Jessie started earning a living as a musician but there was one advertisement in “The Era” which might have been typical of the reason she went to Bradford – in 1867 she would have been 23. ( “The Era” 26 May 1867) and co-incidentally it was also the year her brother appeared in the Kingston Directory. Perhaps she left home to follow her musical career when they left Farnham?

 “The Era” 26 May 1867

Or maybe she answered this advertisement which also appeared in The Era?

 “The Era” 24 October 1869

Just after Jessie’s marriage, an advertisement for the Beehive Concert Hall in Croft Street appeared in the Bradford Telegraph on the 10th March 1870.

BEE HIVE CONCERT HALL, CROFT STREET, MANCHESTER ROAD, BRADFORD. Proprietor, T MUSCHAMP. Open every Evening with a first-class company. MISS ADA BLANDFORD, Pianist and vocalist. Wines and Ales of the best quality.

The reviews below give some idea of the type of entertainment on offer.

Leeds Times 27 August 1870
The Bee Hive Concert Hall, Croft Street, Manchester Road, has continued successful since the last notice, and the proprietor spares no expense in keeping everything in the best order. Miss Marian Taylor, as the pianist and excellent vocalist, still continues to give unmixed satisfaction; while Mr. Santon, the comique, and Madame Valeria , the ballad vocalist. Have both evoked no slight degree of admiring applause.

Leeds Times 03 December 1870
The Bee Hive Concert Hall, Croft Street, has also been well patronised, as Miss Blandford’s finished vocalism and accompaniments on the pianoforte continue to be received with as much zest as ever, while the duetts[sic] of the same lady, with the newly engaged Miss Boardman, with accompaniments by Mr. Vassalli have given more than usual pleasure. The rival ventriloquists, Clayton, and now the formidable Mr. Taylor, the comic and sentimental vocalist, have continued their career in the cellar and among the chimney post without leaving the room


Once married, the female performers generally had to stop working but in 1875 and 1876, advertisements appeared in The Era with the contact address being given as Seth at the Royal Oak. If this was Jessie, I wonder if she found work from them?

The Era 04 April 1875
A LADY is open to an Engagement as PIANISTE. Can play First-class Overtures, Read at Sight, Accustomed to Concert Business. Apply, A.B., care of Seth North, Royal Oak, Eccleshill, near Leeds, Yorkshire.

The Era 27 February 1876
WANTED, by a Lady PIANISTE, an Engagement. Accustomed to Concert Business, Overtures, Operatic Selections, and read at sight. Address, A. B., care of Mr Seth North, Royal Oak Inn, Eccleshill, near Leeds, Yorkshire.

I expect it was likely that she gave piano lessons. By this time, pianos were more common and so piano teachers, mainly female, were in demand.

As the appeal of learning an instrument increased, the numbers of teachers rose rapidly. The 1871 census showed 18,600 individuals purporting to be musicians with further rapid increases evident during the remainder of the century. It is likely that at least a third of these were involved in teaching and that over half of all teachers were female.  To satisfy the increasing demand for piano skills there was a complementary expansion in the number of music teachers. It is thought that at the end of the eighteenth century there were about 2,000 professional musicians in Britain who both performed and taught. By the last decade of the nineteenth century, women piano teachers were even to be found in what Percy Scholes refers to as ‘the lower ranks of society’.
[The Social History of Piano teaching]

Bradford Daily Telegraph, 1899

A brief report appeared in the Leeds Mercury in December 1912 which reported  that “A man named Seth North, aged seventy two years of Killinghall Road, Bradford” had been changing his shirt in front of the fire and the garment “became ignited” and he was taken to the Royal Infirmary suffering from burns. Hopefully the burns were not too severe, as he did not die until 1922 in Prestwich, Lancashire.

Jessie died from heart problems, aged 72, in the Workhouse Hospital, Horton on the 24th June 1915. The informant was her daughter-in-law Phoebe, wife of Lewis. The workhouse seems to have been the same road as the Bee-Hive Concert Hall had been so she had come full circle.

I often wonder if she or her descendants had stayed in touch with the Lewcocks. Until I started my research I had never heard of her but my great grandfather who would have been her nephew was in Leeds after WW1 until his death in and his son, my grandfather, and his family lived and worked in Headingley for a few years and his sister also had connections with Yorkshire..

Jessie’s children

Lewis the oldest child, born in April 1871, was a cotton mill hand, listed as a wool washer in 1911. He married Phoebe Watson in Pudsey in 1896 and they went on to have 5 children. One of his great grandchildren, descended from his daughter Annie, is a DNA match to me, my brother, our father and his sister. Annie and her younger sister Elizabeth had emigrated to Australia. He appears in the 1939 register and died in 1946.

Grace was also a musician and later married a singer. She sadly lost a son in 1896. “Many years ago my father gave me some information he had noted from a grave book and in the grave containing Seth’s parents there was a child aged 0 who was buried on 26th December 1896. I always wondered who he was so I obtained his birth certificate and he was born to Grace Agnes on 11 March 1896. She was still living at home with Seth and Jessie. He was called Edmund Francis and no father is mentioned. Grace Agnes was a harpist. “(Information from Margaret.)

I don’t know where Grace Agnes was in the 1901 census but she wasn’t at home with Seth and Jessie that night and married Herbert Parker later that year. In the meantime she had given birth to her second child, Percy so I am assuming that she was somewhere in Cheshire where Percy was born. Grace married Herbert Parker on 30th December 1901. She was a spinster and he was a widower.  According to the 1911 census, their son Percy was born in 1900. He had been registered as Percy Parker North. Herbert died in Cheshire in 1930 and Grace in 1958.

© Crown copyright.

Seth North

I have also been able to use the British Newspapers to find more information about Seth himself – he sounds like a real character!


Booth’s Doorstans, in t’Hall Ings

Where Booth lived in t’Hall Ings two of his windows looked onto same. One of which was used by his wife for the sale of thrummetty. The other was his sitting room. The other window was his sitting room where Booth and two local parsons used to meet on Sunday nights and their names were Ruddock and Howe, the latter was a schoolmaster. An amusing thing occurred on

The Royal Oak , Eccleshill

Feast Sundays, where Henry Ibbott, of Bolton, a temperance reformer used to hold public meetings on t’doorstans, while he spoke in front of the window in which were sat the three old cronies with their long churchwardens, their glasses of home-brew and dried oat-cake with butter and cheese, while Martha, Booth’s wife, used to come into the room with the red-hot poker and dip it in the beer, “just to tak’ t’cowd off”. Whilst Ruddock brought out his snuff case had a good snook and handed it to the other two to help him in snooking.

“Shall we gather at the river.”

A most amusing thing at these meetings was that every year for quite a long period a man attended who lived down the Bank at Eccleshill, of the name of Seth North. Seth used to go from pub to pub, along with his daughter who played the harp. At the temperance meeting, he always asked a question or two, and Ibbott who was for the United Kingdom Alliance, after giving an address on the particular value of drinking water, invited questions. North spoke out, “Mr. Chairman, gentlemen, one and all, will you allow me to put this question to the speaker: I want to know, if water rots the boots, what effect has it on the coating of the stomach?” Whilst on another occasion one of the teetotal singers said,” if I had my way, I would empty all the beer barrels into the River Aire at Apperley Bridge. Then old North struck up a very familiar song, “Shall we gather at the river, the beautiful, beautiful river.” And the refrain “Yes, we’ll gather at the river” was sung in high spirits, and taken up by a few cronies whom North had gathered together from the Royal Oak, the White Hart etc. It was always said that the publicans got North to attend same with direct purpose of breaking up the meetings.

Seth and family lived at Bank in 1881 and were in Victoria Road aka Hall Ings by 1891. Grace was 18 in 1891.

William lived in Belle Vue, Victoria Road in 1891, in 1881 he was in Town Lane, and died in 1899.

Burl Ives singing

American poet and gospel music composer Robert Lowry (1826–1899)

Pleasure boat on the River Dee c. 1928

Herbert Parker

From newspaper searches, it is possible to find out quite a bit  about Herbert’s musical career. He often featured in the Bradford newspapers in the early 1900s in reports about his performances in oratorios and concerts around Yorkshire. His death was reported in the Cheshire Observer on 11 January 1930.

Chester Man’s Death

While attending a meeting of the Oak Leaf Lodge of Buffaloes, of which he was Prime, at the Axe Tavern, Watergate-street, Chester, on Monday evening, Mr. Herbert Parker, aged 60, of 25, Queen-street, complained of feeling unwell. He was taken in to an ante-room, but was dead before Dr.Morgan had had time to reach the house. The body was removed to the Chester mortuary. Mr. Parker was apparently in his usual health at the commencement of the meeting, and he was laughing and chatting with a number of the members. This is the second death at a meeting in Chester within a short period.


Mr Parker was a familiar figure as a musician on the River Dee pleasure boats during the summer months, and he was well known to thousands of visitors. During the war, he served with the Chester Volunteers.

The City Coroner (Mr.A.B.Dye) held the inquest at the Town Hall on Tuesday afternoon.Grace Agnes Parker, widow, gave evidence of his good health apart from bouts of bronchitis in previous years as did the Licensee of the Axe Tavern where he mentioned that Parker had tuned up his violin and then asked to leave the room before playing. He was gone for some time and was then found having been taken ill [there is a more graphic description of this in the report]. The Doctor concluded that the death was from angina pecotris and the Coroner recorded a verdict of “Death from natural causes.”


Music of the time


Sources and background reading

Mechanics’ Institutes

Victorian Farnham: The Story of a Surrey Town, 1837-1901 by Ewbank Smith

Mirror Monthly Magazine Jul-Dec 1848

Of Sparrow Hawk and Ladybirds

Printer and entomologist

Chess Player of Hastings – this is long overdue for updating.

List of Joseph Richard Holmes & Sons pubs

Theatres in Bradford, West Yorkshire

Musical Women in England, 1870-1914: Encroaching on All Man’s Privileges

The social history of piano teaching

Pianos, magic, and women pianists of the 19th century

V&A: Music hall and variety theatre

Scholes, P. (1947). The Mirror of Music, 1844 – 1944

The Era (newspaper)

A Dangerous Duet by Karen Odden

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Week 11: Serendipity

Week 11: Serendipity

Week 11: Serendipity

Researching our family history depends on careful research over time, but is often progressed by a large slice of luck! I have had two major ones – both when I was looking for something else, one for my paternal line and one on the maternal.

Maternal lucky find

Gloucestershire Archives; Gloucester, England

My great x2 grandfather, John Gillett, was baptised in Stow-on-the-Wold in 1835, before civil registration of course so no idea of his mother’s maiden name. He was the oldest child and even had his birth announced in the the newspapers, but with no clue there either. Richard Gillett his father had come from Brize Norton and as a tenant farmer, could have been married anywhere and there were several possibilities in various locations. It didn’t  help that the place of birth varied for her in the census returns and could even have been two different wives called Anne – she is also listed as being deaf in one census.

I bit the cost bullet and sent for the birth certificate for the next child, born in December 1837,  which said that her mother’s maiden name was Wood. Given my doubts about whether there might have been two different wives called Anne I still wasn’t sure. Even when the GRO eventually allowed searching by maiden names more recently and all the children came up with the same maiden name, I still wasn’t 100% convinced. Whenever likely counties records came on line I would look for this marriage but no joy.

Anne Gillett

As everyone does, every so often I randomly google the names or locations in my tree to see what pops up, and last summer, I came across some Oxfordshire records which I’d not seen before, the Index of Oxford Diocese Marriage Bonds and Affidavits, 1661-1850 and as usual went to the page for G and there it was – the missing marriage!! Thank you to Donnette Stringham Smith who had paid $200 for three rolls of microfilm to be filmed in June 1976.

Anne would have been about 18 years old then and Richard was 24. I can see from the index that John’s future wife’s grandparents (my 4x great grandparents)  also appear on the index so I have more work to do yet on this set of documents.!

G 265
Gillett, Richard, 21 a.u. of St. Aldates, Oxford
Wood, Ann, under 21 of Hawling, Glos.
At St. Aldates, Oxford 14 Oct 1831
d. 47
f. 312

In some ways that serendipitous discovery has taken me no further since tracking down her parents is proving a challenge but I have found out a lot about the Wood family from the Stow-in-the-Wold and Naunton area of Gloucestershire and it was very satisfying to have found out my great x3 grandmother’s maiden name, It is possible that I have a picture of her as we do have pictures of John and a man believed to be Richard and we have also one of Susan Gillett’s grandmother, Anne Gillett – trouble is, both her grandmothers were called Anne Gillett.

Paternal discovery

Thanks to work done by Neville Lewcock I had a rough outline of my recent paternal family history and through work done by John Manning and Phyllis de Fraine, I had a fair idea of the bare bones of my maternal side. Their work was done by visiting archives and family memories but I was lucky in that when I was able to start my own research in 2002 there was already some online and more and more arriving all the time.

Thanks to the IGI and an unusual surname, I was quickly able to confirm Neville’s research back to Samuel Lewcock. baker, and his marriage to Sarah Taphouse in Farnham, Surrey in 1793 and the baptisms of their children. Through Genes Connected, I was soon in touch with other Lewcock researchers. Early on we had realised that there were distinct pockets of Lewcocks and Lucocks across England.

The nearest to Farnham were a family group in Pyrford, Surrey who were sometimes recorded as Lewcock. but mostly as Lucock and another group in Odiham, Hampshire who were generally recorded as Lewcock. Give the numerous possibilities of variant spellings with the name I had learned every quickly not to get precious over the spelling!

Will of Samuel Lewcock, baker, of Farnham. National Archives.

I had learned early on of the value of wills and my first foray took me to Samuel’s own will and also those of his daughter-in-law’s ancestors.

There was a baptism of a Samuel Lewcock in Odiham but the dates weren’t quite right so a tentative place of birth was recorded for him along with his potential family group but it was a few years before we could get much further with any confidence – unfortunately he had died before 1841 which didn’t help and the putative father had died quite young.

In the meantime, George Lucock’s family in Pyrford were being followed up and I added them to the tree in the hopes that one day I would find the join if there was one. By then we had been tracking Samuel’s possible siblings and there was a possible ink to a family in Hampton, Surrey.

So, we had a John Lewcock born c. 1767 born out of Surrey in 1841 in Hampton and a John Lewcock baptised in Odiham in 1867, possible brother of our Samuel, and their father Richard. Richard was baptised in Odiham, the son of George and Barbary Lewcock. We also had George Lucock of Pyrford, son of another George who had married a Jane Chitty. His age at burial was about the same as a George who was the son of George and Barbary of Odiham.

The Hampshire Baptism CDs were gradually being published along with various Surrey CDs and the possible family groupings for all three branches were being firmed up along with checking with the wills available. And then when I was exploring just to see what they had for another family entirely, I came across their new collection of wills from Surrey. And there it was – the missing link! (some of the correspondence appears here.)

Surrey & South London Will Abstracts  1470-1856  – now available on findmypast.

Samuel Hare of Farnham, carpenter, indisposed 28 Mar 1758
to my brother Richard Hare all my two freehold tenements in Cove, Hampshire in the occupation of Thomas Gardiner and Thomas Wooldridge for life and then to my nephews Richard Lewcock and George Lewcock sons of my sister Barbara Lewcock; to my said nephews Richard and George Lewcock all my messuage in Castle Street, Farnham on east side in my occupation paying to my said sister Barbara £10, to my sister Mary Gregg, widow £5, to my nieces Mary Humphreys and Sarah Hare daughters of my brother Richard £10 each, to my nephews and nieces Samuel Lewcock, Thomas Lewcock, Mary Lewcock and Barbara Lewcock children of my sister Barbara £10 each, to my nephew and niece William Vice and Ann Vice children of my sister Ann Vice £10 each; to my nephews Richard and George Lewcock all my goods, execs.
Witnesses: John Crook; George Smith (X); John Lacy
Proved: 5 Apr 1758 to execs. 

By now I had also acquired the fiches for Odiham – they were really hard to read and it took some time, but I did eventually find George’s marriage to Barbara Hare. Lewcock was mis-transcribed as usual but I had found what I needed without even deliberately looking! I remember being really excited and telling anyone who cared to listen.

It also took me a few generations back as the Hares were very good at leaving wills. Finding George’s baptism to get that line back further was tricky though and needed a trip to Winchester to look at their copies of the fiches – but we found it – for George Leeucock, son of yet another Richard.

We’re still looking to see if we can “find the join” with another group of Surrey Lewcocks from the Dorking area, but hopefully one day I will stumble upon it.

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Week 15: From Fire to Form

Week 15: From Fire to Form

Week 15: From Fire to Form

A blacksmith is a metalsmith who creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal, using tools to hammer, bend, and cut (cf. tinsmith). Blacksmiths produce objects such as gates, grilles, railings, light fixtures, furniture, sculpture, tools, agricultural implements, decorative and religious items, cooking utensils and weapons. The place where a blacksmith works is called variously a smithy, a forge or a blacksmith’s shop.


While there are many people who work with metal such as farriers, wheelwrights, and armorers, the blacksmith had a general knowledge of how to make and repair many things, from the most complex of weapons and armor to simple things like nails or lengths of chain. Wikipedia

Blacksmiths and gunsmiths

A quick query of my family tree software shows me that of those who have an occupation entered, I have 32 smiths or related occupations of whom 8 are blacksmiths, 2 gunsmiths, 3 silversmiths, and 4 whitesmiths and also some charcoal burners.

Of those, 4 of the blacksmiths, and one gunsmith, are my direct ancestors from the Hampshire/Surrey/Sussex border, more or less following the route north along today’s A3 and A31 from Westbourne near Havant via Bramshott to Farnham and south from near Odiham to Farnham.

Molly Elkins, my 4x great grandmother, was the only child of a gunsmith, himself the son of a blacksmith, Charles Elkins, who married Mary Hudson, the daughter of a blacksmith, in Wrecclesham near Farnham.

Not only Mary’s father was a blacksmith but so too were her maternal great grandfather and great great grandfather,  George and John Hawkins who came from South Warnborough near Odiham. Her grandfather is described as a yeoman in land records but perhaps he was also involved in the smithy work too.

It may be that Mary’s Hudson line extends further back, but I’ve not found any evidence of that yet. John Hudson’s first wife was the daughter of Raphael Boxall, yet another blacksmith, of Headley in Hampshire.

Molly’s paternal aunt Ann married a blacksmith, James Varndell, in Odiham, and her cousins either married into or were smiths and in related occupations. Varndell, Hounsom and variants, Elkins, Hudson, Boxall and Hawkins are names frequently associated with smithing in the area and their families were very interlinked. I wonder if it was a case of propinquity, pre-arranged marriages, or as simple as falling in love with the boss’s daughter. My “plan” is to see how they were linked to me, if at all, but big families and repeated forenames will probably make it impossible to ever be 100% accurate or even finished.

As I was living overseas, when I started investigating my roots seriously in 2002, I could only research by using what was available online and by buying CDs and fiches. Thanks to online will transcriptions and the IGI on familysearch, I came across my Elkins ancestors very early and West Surrey FHS was already publishing CDs which took me further. I had added information to my direct line over the years but when I came to write this article, I realised that I hadn’t kept up to date with the details of all the descendants of Charles and Sarah Elkins as all the census returns and other records for Surrey and Hampshire became available online – and there are a lot, so my current task is to get up to date and I shall keep an eye open for anyone in smith related occupations.

A casual remark from my brother led me to ask why there seemed to be so many blacksmiths in this area – I know that horses were important and they would have made tools as well as some fancy work, but there just seemed to be too many trying to earn a living doing only that in the area, so I started to explore the iron industry in that part of Sussex.

The iron industry in Sussex

Waggoners Wells in Grayshott. Believed to have been created as hammer ponds for Bramshott, aka Wakeners Wells, but never used as such.

Modern West Sussex consists of a flat area next to the sea, with the South Downs behind and then flattish areas north of that going into Surrey with heathland to the west going into Hampshire. Farming, fishing and smuggling are common occupations among the other usual local occupations in the towns and villages, but I wouldn’t really have thought of it as industrial.

I have come across possible distant links to glassmakers in the same area and on the same paternal lines, but generally, the occupations I had come across were mainly involved in feeding and clothing the population.

In fact, the Sussex Weald was the centre of the iron industry, peaks arising first in Roman times and then again in the 15th century. There was ironstone available, water for running the bellows and copious amounts of wood for making of charcoal for the smelting. There was competition for the wood with the glass industry and shipbuilding and the amount of wood was finite so that laws were passed to stop more new ironworks in Sussex in 1581 and the use of wood for glass furnaces was banned in 1615.

Bramshott is on the western edge of the industry, just over the Hampshire border, north of Fernhurst in Sussex where there are still visible remains of the North End furnace. At the time when the Elkins were there in the early to mid-1700s, the iron-making industry was still active, making cannon for the Seven Years’ War, but by the end of the century, most of the Wealden area’s ironworks had closed following a cut in the prices paid, which forced many ironmasters into bankruptcy. The use of coal elsewhere in Britain had also made using charcoal for the smelting furnaces too expensive as well as the competition from imported pig and bar-iron.

Charles Elkins (1727-1790) Blacksmith

Charles Elkins, son of Nicholas Elkins who was described as an innkeeper in the administration of his will, and Elizabeth Burgess(?), was baptised on 29 January 1727 in Westbourne, Sussex. He had had four older siblings, three of whom died as infants before he was born. His parents, Nicholas and Elizabeth Elkins were in Bramshott by 1733 where they had two further children. Elizabeth was buried in Bramshott in February 1739 and Nicholas in December of the same year.

The oldest child, Elizabeth was 19 when her parents died and had had her own daughter two years before so presumably, she took on the responsibility of looking after her siblings, the youngest of whom, Myrtilla, was 4 years old. Charles was about 11 at the time – I haven’t managed to find out yet if he had already been apprenticed to a blacksmith by then. A bond for the administration of Nicholas’s estate had been awarded to a Thomas Elkins cordwainer of Winchester on the 29 February 1740. If I have the correct person, Nicholas’s brother John had also been buried in Bramshott in July 1739. There are several Elkins families in this area of Surrey/Sussex/Hampshire and I’ve not managed to find a connection between Nicholas and Thomas as yet.

Blacksmith shop – Rural Life Centre, Tilford 2010

Tilford is in the area where my blacksmith families lived and worked.

Charles married a Sarah, but as yet I have not found a marriage for them. For a brief time, I speculated that her name might have been Diggins but having now seen a better image of the marriage on familysearch, this is clearly not the correct Sarah. Unfortunately, many people have assumed that I was correct and had copied the wrong bride all over ancestry without the messages and question marks after the surname. Others have speculated that she was Sarah Allen. That surname does show up several times in the other relationships, so maybe, but as yet I have found no evidence of this.

Charles and Sarah’s oldest son, also Charles, was baptised in Bramshott in 1751, and by 1753 the family were in Farnham where their first daughter, Sarah, was baptised. They went on to have another seven children. Charles senior was buried on 2 June 1790 in Farnham, Sarah was buried in Farnham in 1798 having outlived her oldest son who had died in 1792.

The younger Charles married Mary Hudson on 30 November 1775 at Saint Andrew’s in Farnham, Surrey. They had one child, Molly. Molly married Joseph Hart, a coachman in and they went on to have nine children: seven girls and two boys of whom one boy died in infancy. Molly’s son Charles was described as “Ironmonger, Tinman, Brazier, Cutler, Gasfitter, Bellhanger etc.” at 117 West Street in the heading of a receipt in 1889. (Exploring Surrey’s Past). Mary outlived her daughter Molly.

Blacksmiths of Wrecclesham

Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland. Map images website.

One of the Charles is listed from 1780 until 1790 in the Surrey, England, Land Tax Records, 1780-1832 and thanks to Wrecclesham History Project Briefing Notes: Wrecclesham Forge and  Wrecclesham Maps, it is possible to make an educated guess at where in Wrecclesham the forge will have been located: “There had earlier been a Forge, at a house called the Link, which was behind the Bear Inn ( now known as the Bear and Ragged Staff).”

In 1780, Charles is listed as the occupier but in following years he is listed as owner-occupier. It isn’t clear which Charles this would be, but in 1789, a Charles is listed as owner-occupier and another is listed as an occupier, with the owner being John Cook who is listed as the owner.  Surrey Quarter Sessions records that in 1766,  “George Millams was accused of stealing an iron ‘Beck’ the property of John Novell of Wrecclesham, Farnham, labourer, from the hop ground of Charles Elkins where he was working.”

There are records of releases of messuages and mortgages by Mary and her brother-in-law William in the papers from Crowley’s Brewery, Alton. (Hantsweb)

Bundle of deeds and papers relating to a tenement, orchard and blacksmith’s shop in Wrecclesham, Surrey.
Owners and occupiers include: John Robinson of Binsted, yeoman, 1754; Charles Elkins of Wrecclesham, blacksmith, 1754; Charles Elkins of Farnham, gunsmith, 1790; William Elkins
1: release of a messuage, blacksmith’s shop, etc, by Mary Elkins (widow of Charles Elkins of Farnham, gunsmith, who was son of Charles Elkins of Wrecclesham, blacksmith) and others to William Penfold of West Chiltington, Sussex, yeoman (the premises are described as having been successively occupied by John Robinson senior, John Robinson junior, William Hammond and Charles Elkins senior), 1799
2-3: lease and release and assignment of a mortgage term in the property by George Charman of Earnely, Sussex, husbandman, and others to William Elkins of Wrecclesham, baker (one of the sons-in-law of William Penfold), and his trustee (reciting Penfold’s death in 1801), 1819
4-5: mortgage by William Elkins to William Varndell of Crondall, bricklayer, 1819

Will of Charles Elkins the younger – 1792

Later, Mary is listed as being in Farnham in the land Tax records, firstly as an occupier with different owners, but latterly as owner until her death in 1839.

47 Castle Street, Farnham on the left.

In the tithe map records for Farnham, a property in Castle Street, Farnham is listed as:

Landowner Party: John Macdonald & Mary Ann Hart
Relationship to Landowner: Executors of landowner Mary Elkins
Occupier: Mary Ann Hart
Parish: Farnham, Surrey
Original Date: 22nd October 1840

Mary Ann Hart was her second oldest granddaughter and John Macdonald was the husband of her older sister Harriet. A comparison of the tithe map and modern maps would indicate that the left-hand building in the picture left would be the house. They were the daughters of Joseph Hart, coachman, of Farnham and Molly Elkins who was the only daughter of Charles and Mary. The families’ properties, and those of their descendants, are documented in “Farnham Buildings and People” by Nigel Temple. Another granddaughter, Jessamine, my direct ancestor, was living there in 1861 with her three youngest children.

This house had been owned by Samuel Hare until his death and was willed to his nephews, Richard and George Lewcock sons of George Lewcock and Barbara Hare of Odiham, in 1758. In 1812 it was sold by John Newell. Perhaps sold to Mary – this would fit with the dates when she was listed as an occupier. Jessamine’s father-in-law, Samuel, was the son of Richard. Samuel’s son, James, his wife Jessamine and family were living there in 1841 and Jessamine lived there in 1861.


Sources and further reading

The picture on the right is a moving model of a Wealden post-medieval blast furnace based on the excavated site of Fernhurst Furnace, Fernhurst, West Sussex, England. It has twin overshot waterwheels powered twin bellows to provide the air blast. Wikimedia

The videos below show the process.

BOOK: Scenes Of Rural Life In Hampshire Among the Manors Of Bramshott – W.W. Capes.

Wikipedia: Gunsmith

English gunmakers

19th Century gunsmiths

Wealden iron – a brief history

The Sussex Weald iron industry

Archaeology of the Wealden Iron Industry

Sussex Archaeological Collections Relating to the History and Antiquities of the County, Volume 2.

Wikipedia: Ludshott Common and Wakener’s Wells

Wikipedia: Wealden iron industry

The Iron Industry of the Wea1d

Fernhurst Society 

The Fernhurst Furnace Preservation Group

Facebook: Fernhurst Furnace

Bloomery furnace

Early iron smelting

South Downs Way

Surrey’s Industrial Past

Wealden Iron at the Rural Life Centre

Making Iron In The Woods – Bloomery Furnace

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Week 30: The Old Country

Week 30: The Old Country

Week 30: The Old Country

Because we moved around a lot when I was small, it wasn’t until I was about 7 years old that we settled in one place when my parents bought a new build bungalow in Rockdale Drive, Grayshott. Four years later they moved on to nearby Headley and then on to Leicestershire, by which time I was teaching in Shottermill and living in a bedsit on the London side of the Hindhead crossroads. Although I spent my secondary school years away at school in Lyme Regis and then at college in Chichester, via a “gap year” in Hong Kong, that is the area which I know best and little did I know then, it is the area of a quarter of my paternal roots.

OS Old Series Hampshire 1810s

I had written in my blog about my relocation to West Sussex and the coincidences I have since found with the places where my paternal ancestors lived in Genetic memories …. or just coincidence? As I had got further back in my tree, it looked as though I might have ancestors from the parish of Headley – the Hampshire one – in the late 1600s/early 1700s. The parish includes several hamlets; Standford, Arford, Headley Down, Barford, Wishanger. Sleaford, Trottsford, and part of Hollywater and at that time, also included Grayshott. Lindford and part of Bordon.

Rockdale c1959

While researching for this article, I came across Pat Nightingale’s Memoir. It was fascinating reading since I remember her sister Maureen and their parents very well. We must have moved to Rockdale at about the same time and I am fairly sure that Maureen is in this picture along with me, my brother and two of her brothers. She moved on to secondary school a year before me and soon afterwards we left Grayshott – I have a vague memory of being told that they went to Australia, whether that was before or after we left Grayshott, I don’t remember. In those days we were able to spend all day roaming in the woods, coming back when it was time to eat. The village was surrounded with woods and heathland with ponds and good climbing trees and we could explore for miles, travelling through the Golden Valley and up towards the Devils Punchbowl.

When we first went to the village, I was able to walk up the road to the classroom annexe of the village school in the Village Hall where  Miss Miles was in charge. I have vague memories of long division, lumpy custard, scratchy pens and having to sing with my arms hooked over the back of the chair and Miss Miles always calling me Frances. I wasn’t with that class long and soon after, I was moved to the main buildings of the school at the other end of the village. Many years later as a student summer job, I taught foreign students who had come over to learn English in that same village hall classroom. One of my teachers then who encouraged me to play the piano and started my love for singing and music, later turned out to be my supervisor when I was doing my final teaching practice at The Herbert Shiner in Petworth – a small world!!

One of my favourite places in the village was also in the village hall – the library. There were two halls – the library was in the smaller of the two and The Grayshott Stagers performed in the large hall which had a stage. Both my mother and I appeared on stage with the Stagers. In Surprise match, I have written about discovering lately through DNA that we are distantly related to Les Larkham, one of the leading lights of the Stagers. The village hall was also the focus of organisations like the WI which my mother also became involved with, as well as Brownies and Guides which we were both involved with.

Names which have popped up in my tree are familiar from my time at Grayshott School and later living in Headley. They aren’t uncommon names at all, but maybe one of them will also test out their DNA, although the match will be so far back that with the recent announcement of the changes which Ancestry is about to make, we may never find each other now. They are local names which feature strongly in the parish registers as hosted by John Owen Smith – Boxall, Hawkins, Hudson and Coombs (in various spellings) are names I remember well.

My bedsit from 1972-1976 was above an antique shop, Albany Antiques, on the London Road going towards the Punchbowl. The postcard, from about 1910, shows my dormer windows in the roof quite clearly above the woman standing alone in the centre of the picture. In 1901 and 1911 it looks as though the building was a general store. The building between there and the Post Office was a tea and luncheon room then and was a restaurant when I was there. I would wait for the bus towards Shottermill outside what was then the Hindhead Huts Hotel and buy my magazines in the corner shop which was once the Post Office.

Although the building I lived in is still there today, what was once a very busy and noisy crossroads has changed immensely since the building of the A3 tunnel, as has the whole area.  Instead of the constant background noise of the lorries heading north and south waiting at the traffic lights, the road is now closed off and has been grassed over now.

The crossroads at Hindhead is probably important in my family’s history too. Going north and turning left at the crossroads takes you eventually to Farnham and Odiham and turning right would take you over the border to Sussex where yet more putative relations are to be found. Going south towards Portsmouth, you get to Bramshott and further south to the Clanfield area. One of my direct ancestors, Joseph Hart, was a coachman based in Farnham – he must have known the crossroads well, travelling towards London or Portsmouth many times, braving the highwayman while travelling across Hindhead Common.

In the 17th century, the route around Hindhead was a particularly hazardous one, with highwaymen lying in wait to ambush unsuspecting travellers as they made their way down the Portsmouth Road. Such was the reputation of Hindhead Common in those days, many travellers actually wrote their wills before setting out on their journey.

I had no idea whatsoever when I was living and working there of all these connections with my paternal roots. The people from the villages in the surrounding area met, married and intermarried until their descendant George Albert Lewcock, who was born 1842 in Farnham and was my great x2 paternal grandfather, left for London where he met his wife who was from St Ives, Huntingdonshire.


Grayshott Heritage

Wikiwand: Grayshott

Headley by the Wey

Headley Village

Hindhead Crossroads

Hindhead tunnel

Old Hampshire Mapped

The Grayshott Stagers

Hindhead Commons and the Devil’s Punch Bowl


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Farnham families

Farnham families

When I first started my research into the Lewcocks, the furthest back I could get was to the marriage of Samuel Lewcock to Sarah Taphouse in Farnham, Surrey on the IGI. Since then I have uncovered more….

If it were not for the discovery of Barbara Hare’s unmarried brother Samuel’s will, [see The Missing Link],  the Lewcock “tree” would have remained firmly stuck in Farnham!


Jessamine Hart, wife of James Lewcock, and mother of George Albert Lewcock.

Jessamine Hart was the daughter of Joseph Hart, coachman, of Farnham and Molly Elkins who was the only daughter of Charles Elkins, gunsmith, of Farnham in Surrey.

47 Castle Street

The families’ properties, and those of their descendants, are documented in “Farnham Buildings and People” by Nigel Temple.

The picture right is of 47 Castle Street, Farnham. This house was owned by Samuel Hare until his death and was willed to his nephews, Richard and George Lewcock sons of George Lewcock and Barbara Hare of Odiham, in 1758.

Jessamine’s father-in-law, Samuel, was the son of Richard. Samuel’s son, James was living there in 1841 and Jessamine lived there in 1861.


See also Expedition to NE Hampshire.


Sarah *Sally” Taphouse, was the wife of Samuel Lewcock and mother of James.



Sarah was the daughter of William Taphouse of Farnham.

Her grandfather William was a hop grower and publican.







Skeleton by marriage?

Skeleton by marriage?

When I registered for the 1911 census, I was really only expecting to confirm what I already knew, to see if some of my ancestors were still alive to narrow down dates for searching for their deaths and perhaps bring some of the distant twigs up to date. What I didn’t...

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Of Sparrow Hawk and Ladybirds

Of Sparrow Hawk and Ladybirds

A cause of curiosity to all and horror to some, I have a battered glass case in my living room containing a stuffed sparrow hawk with her bullfinch prey.  This is a macabre memorial to the collecting activities of the Lewcocks.

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Chess Player of Hastings

Chess Player of Hastings

The following is from the website of the Hastings and St Leonard's Chess Club Author: Brian Denman Ernest Arthur Lewcock was a native of London who came to Hastings at about the beginning of the twentieth century. He opened a small cafe in Pelham Street and by means...

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