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Eyke, Suffolk

A narrative of the history of the Minters of Eyke, Suffolk

by Graham Minter, 2012 and revised in 2022 (with picture postcards supplied by Stella Herbert)

Eyke village, 3 miles south east of Wickham Market and 4 north east of Woodbridge, straggles the busy road between Woodbridge and Snape, although, since the closure of the nearby American airbase, it is much quieter than it used to be. Eyke is thought to derive from an earlier word meaning "oak". In Saxon times, an oak forest covered the area.

[Note added by John Minter] Dee Hall, who lived in Eyke as a child and has researched the village, suggests a different explanation of the name: "Eyke" was actually an 'olde English' translation for the word "Key". The village was the final community before reaching one of King Richard's Anglican 'country castles' or "the key" (Eyke) before the castle's gate.

Eyke village showing the Post Office

The Mill and Street, Eyke

Robert and Elizabeth

Robert and Elizabeth were living in Eyke in Suffolk in the 1650s, during the rule of Oliver Cromwell. Both were born in around 1630. Elizabeth gave birth to a daughter, also Elizabeth, who was baptised in Eyke Parish Church on 7 November 1652. We have found no further record of her. Four years later, Elizabeth gave birth to a son, Robert, who was baptised at the same church on 26 May 1656. Elizabeth senior died in Eyke in 1700 and was buried there on 24 October. We have found no record of Robert's death.

Robert and Sarah

On 25 September 1683, at Marlesford Parish Church, Robert married Sarah Doughtey. Sarah was originally from nearby Framlingham (she was baptised at Framlingham Parish Church on 1 October 1660, the daughter of Hamont and Susan Doughtey). Robert and Sarah settled in Campsea Ash for a while, where Sarah gave birth to three children: Sarah (baptized 21 June 1686), Mary (baptized 18 May 1688) and John (baptised 10 February 1689). They then moved to Eyke where Sarah gave birth to Hannah (baptised 23 September 1694) and Robert (baptised 28 March 1702).

Marlesford is 4 miles north of Eyke, on the river Alde, just off the A12 between Wickham Market and Saxmundham. The Framlingham branch of the Great Eastern railway used to pass through the parish and there was a station in the village. There are osier beds and sandpits in the vicinity.
Campsea Ash (sometimes spelt Campsey Ash) is 3 miles to the north of Eyke and 1 mile south of Marlesford on the east side of the river Deben. Wickham Market station is located here. The village was the site of a nunnery of the order of St. Clare, founded in the latter part of the 12th century.

Of the five children:

  • Sarah went to live in Sutton, where she married Daniel Luffe on 28 September 1707. Daniel was from Campsea Ash (baptised 4 June 1682), the son of Luke and Anne Luffe. We are aware of five children, all baptised in Sutton: John (bap 29 February 1707/8, but probably died in childhood), Sarah (bap 3 June 1711), Daniel (bap 13 June 1714, but died in infancy and was buried on 27 June 1714), Mary (bap 10 July 1715 but died in infancy and was buried on 11 March 1715/6) and another John (bap 19 August 1716). Some of the baptism records refer to the father as “John”. Sarah must have died before 1730 as she is not mentioned in the will of her mother, who died that year, although her husband was a beneficiary.

  • Mary married William Beadon (or Bedon) on 19 April 1714 in Ufford. He was 29 at the time, three years older than Mary. They settled in Campsea Ash, where they had four children: Mary (bap 7 August 1719) who presumably died in childhood, William (bap 11 February 1721), Thomas (bap 31 May 1724) and Mary (bap 5 November 1726).

  • John married Ann (possible surname Finch) sometime between 1715 and 1717. For the rest of their story, see below.

  • Hannah died in Eyke at the age of 17 and was buried there on 29 April 1712.

  • Robert died in 1762 at the age of 60 and was buried in Eyke on 25 April of that year. We have found no record of his having married.

Robert senior died at the age of 54 and was buried at Eyke on 30 May 1711. He left a will, dated 26 April 1711 in which he left his 'messuage or ..Eyke' to his wife Sarah. At the time the property was tenanted by John Cutting. On Sarah's death the property was to pass to Robert's daughter Hannah 'and her heirs for ever' but if Hannah had no heirs the property would pass to Robert's son Robert 'and his heirs for ever'. Bequests were made as follows: to son John £5; to daughter Mary £5; to daughter Sarah LUFF forty shillings - these legacies to be paid within 12 months of Robert's decease. To son Robert £5; to daughter Hannah £5 - these legacies to be paid on reaching the age of 21. The rest of Robert's estate was to be given to his wife on condition that 'she keep and provide for my two younger children until they attain to their age of one & twenty years'. Sarah was to be the sole executrix of the will. An inventory of Robert's goods taken on 11 June 1711 valued the goods at £63.

As Hannah died less than one year after Robert, and left no heirs, we assume that the property passed to Robert junior.

Although we have found no record of Sarah senior's burial, she left a will on which the date of death is recorded as 6 October 1730. Sarah bequeathed £20 to her eldest son, John, and £10 to her daughter Mary Beadon and one shilling to her son-in-law, Daniel Luffe, all to be paid out of Sarah's messuage and tenement in Eyke. The remainder of her messuages, lands and tenements in Eyke or elsewhere were bequeathed to her youngest son, Robert

John and Ann

John and Ann settled in Marlesford where Ann gave birth to two sons, William, (bap 5 March 1716) and John, (bap 24 August 1718).

They later moved to Shottisham where Ann had a further three children: Anne (bap 3 November 1721), Robert (bap 4 October 1723) and Matthew (bap 19 December 1728).

Shottisham is a small village located about 7 miles south of Eyke near Shottisham Ford, on a creek of the river Deben.

In 1731, Ann gave birth to another daughter, Mary, who was baptised in Eyke on 19 November of that year.

Sometime after 1730, the family must have moved to Sudbourne. Although we have found no record of John and Ann living there, most of the children were living there, or in nearby Orford, as young adults (see below).
Sudbourne is about 4 miles east of Eyke and 7 miles north-east of Shottisham, in the Suffolk Coasts and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Both John and Ann died fairly young before any of their children married. John died sometime between 1731 and 1747. Ann died in 1747 at the age of 52 and was buried at Shottisham on 13 July of that year. It is not clear why she was buried in Shottisham: perhaps she had happier memories of the family's earlier residence there.

Of the six children:

  • William probably also died young, in 1743/4 and was buried in Sudbourne in April of that year. (His burial is entered in the parish records but has been deleted for no apparent reason.)

  • John junior married Sarah Whitwell (or Whittle) at Campsea Ash Parish Church on 15 November 1752, at the age of 34. For the rest of their story, see below.

  • We have found no definite record of what happened to Anne

  • Robert married Alice Newson in Orford on 9 January 1748/9, although both were living in Sudbourne at the time. We are aware of two children, Mary, who was baptized twice, first in Iken on 10 September 1749 and then in Sudbourne on 29 October of that year, and Robert, baptized in Iken on 9 August 1752. On 23 September 1751, the parish of Sudbourne issued a settlement certificate to the parish of Iken assuming full responsibility for Robert, Alice and Mary. It is possible therefore that Mary’s second baptism in Sudbourne was related to their desire to be accepted as residents of that parish. However, Alice died soon afterwards and Robert then married Mary Morske or Morslee in Sudbourne on 12 May 1755. We are aware of three children: Elizabeth (bap 20 June 1756), Jane (bap Sudbourne 20 November 1756) and Ann (no baptism found). In the settlement certificate, Robert is described as a “husbandman”. A husbandman was a free tenant farmer or small landowner, with a social status below that of a yeoman. Robert died in 1793 and was buried in Sudbourne on 19 December of that year. He left £50 to his daughter Mary, wife of William Read of Sudbourne, £20 and a freehold messuage or tenement in Orford to his daughter Elizabeth, wife of Noah Salmon of Friston, 'copyhold tenement and appurtances holden on the manor of Sudbourn' and £10 towards a court fine and fees to his daughter, Jenny, (whom we presume to be the same person as Jane above), wife of Robert Wilkinson of Woodbridge, and £30 to John Woods, son of his late daughter Ann, the wife of William Woods of Woodbridge, to be received when he reached the age of 21.

  • Matthew married Elizabeth Block in Wickham Market on 14 June 1763. They must have then moved to Orford as that parish issued a settlement certificate to the parish of Wickham Market on 3 October 1763 accepting full responsibility for Matthew and Elizabeth. Matthew is described as a hawker. We have found no record of any children. In the 1780s they were occupying the Cross Inn in Wickham Market as “tenants at will”. The inn was advertised for sale in the Ipswich Journal of 5 June 1784, but we have found no evidence that this affected Matthew and Elizabeth’s tenancy.

  • Mary had an illegitimate child, William, baptized in Sudbourne on 13 June 1755. She later married John Clouton in Sudbourne on 23 February 1762. We are aware of four children, all baptized in Sudbourne: Charles (22 August 1762), Mary (9 October 1763), Robert (5 January 1766) and Frances (14 April 1771.)

John and Sarah

For a while, John and Sarah lived in Campsea Ash, where Sarah gave birth to Ann (baptised 20 May 1753), William (baptised 13 August 1758) and John (baptised 18 January 1761). They then moved to Eyke where Sarah gave birth to Samuel (baptised 10 April 1763) and Matthew (baptised 25 December 1767). There may have been a further daughter, Elizabeth, who died in childhood in Eyke in 1770.

Of the five surviving children:

  • Ann gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, Ann, in 1780, when she was 26. The child was baptised at Campsea Ash Parish Church on 30 April. On 18 July of that same year, she married Joseph Stannard in Nacton. We have found no record of any children of that marriage.

  • William married a 27-year-old girl named Elizabeth Johnson at Eyke Parish Church on 26 March 1793, at the age of 34 (see below).

  • John married Jemima Utting (aged 21) at Campsea Ash Parish Church on 17 June 1777. He was only 16. They had at least three children, all baptised at Campsea Ash: John (7 June 1778), William (17 April 1785, who died in infancy and was buried on 9 April 1786) and Elizabeth (1 March 1789). There may have been a further daughter, Ann(e), who died in infancy and was buried at Campsea Ash in January 1783. Jemima died at 41 and was buried in Campsea Ash on 14 May 1797. At some point, John became the innkeeper of the Crown Inn in Snape. The Crown Inn  is a 15th century smugglers inn with old beams, original brick floors and what is reputed to be the finest double Suffolk settle in existence, surrounding the inglenook fireplace. By 1841, John had moved north to Church Street, Fressingfield, where he was living with John and Maria Cousins and their 2-year-old daughter, Mary Ann. He died of old age in nearby Weybread on 15 January 1849, at the age of 90, having outlived his wife by 48 years.

  • Samuel married Susan Maddison in Little Bealings on 11 October 1780. Samuel was living in Brightwell at the time. We have found no record of any children.

  • Matthew married Ann Lucock at Melton Parish Church on 13 January 1789. Matthew was a labourer and probably also a volunteer in the militia. At first the couple lived in Eyke where Ann gave birth to four children: John (baptized 21 March 1790), Sarah (4 March 1792), Samuel (9 April 1794, buried 13 April, aged 5 days) and Matthew (26 February 1795, buried 4 March, aged 6 days). They then moved to Hollesley where their next child was born: Mary (bap 20 March 1796). Then they moved to Boyton where Ann gave birth to a further five children: Elizabeth (bap 12 Nov 1798), Matthew (bap 1 Jan 1801, buried 23 Jan 1801), Matthew (bap 7 Feb 1802), Ann (bap 24 May 1804), Samuel (bap 29 Dec 1806). Samuel married his first cousin, Elizabeth (see below). Matthew died at the age of 39 and was buried in Boyton on 11 April 1807.

At Suffolk Record Office there is a bastardy bond, dated 23 April 1765, in which John Minter of Eyke, farmer, and James Vincent of Ufford, brickmaker, provide £40 to the churchwardens and overseers to indemnify the parish from the bastard child of Ann Norman of Campsea Ash, singlewoman. It is not clear whether this is the same John Minter.

Sarah senior died at the age of 65 and was buried at All Saints, Eyke, on 6 November 1792.

John died at the age of 82 and was buried at All Saints, Eyke, on 25 March 1801.

William and Elizabeth

William was a carpenter. He and Elizabeth had at least seven children, all born and baptised at Eyke: Mary Ann (born 13 December 1793, baptised 15 December), Samuel (born 10 September 1795, baptised 13 September), William (born 12 July 1797, baptised 19 July), Martha (born 13 July 1800, baptised 31 August), Elizabeth (born 21 September 1802, baptised 21 September), John (born 1 June 1805, baptised 16 June) and Sarah (born 6 May 1808, baptised 8 May).

Of the seven children:

  • Mary Ann married Jonathan Nunn at Snape Parish Church on 4 February 1817, at the age of 23. Jonathan was born in Snape around 1791. Perhaps she met Jonathan through her Uncle John, who was an innkeeper in Snape at the time, see above. At the time of the marriage, John was working as a thatcher. The couple settled in Snape and Jonathan became a grocer shopkeeper. We are aware of eight children baptized in Snape: Robert (25 November 1817), Mary Ann (12 March 1818), Caroline (29 June 1820), Amelia (25 November 1821), Elizabeth (9 May 1824), Catherine (14 May 1826), Harriet (16 July 1829), Hannah (22 July 1832). There was a ninth child, William (born about 1835) for whom we have not found a baptism record. (There is a Snape baptism record for a James Minter dated 24 April 1836, but he is described as the son of James, a sailor, and Mary.) The family later moved to Norwich. In 1841, they were living in Catton Road, St Clement, Norwich. Jonathan was working as a candle bush manufacturer and Elizabeth, Catherine, Harriet, Hannah and William were still living at home. In 1851, Mary Ann was living at Magdalen Road, St Clement Without, Norwich, with Elizabeth (a bible collector), Harriet (a dressmaker), Hannah and William all still at home. Jonathan, however, was lodging with James and Lidia Hails at Parish House, Pettaugh. By 1861, Mary Ann and Jonathan had moved to 7 Heigham Folgate, St Benedict, Norwich, where they were living with Elizabeth and Harriet, as well as a 4-year-old grandson, William, born in Norwich. By this time, Jonathan had become a grocer again. By 1871 Jonathan had died and Mary was living at 1 Coppen’s Yard, Church Street, St Stephen, Norwich, with Elizabeth and William. Mary died of old age at 84 on 12 November 1877. At the time she was living at Grape’s Hill, St Giles, Norwich.

  • Samuel, who worked as a carpenter, married Sarah Freeman, a 21-year-old girl from Thornham, on 27 July 1824, at Thornham Magna Parish Church. They settled in Thornham Magna. We are aware of six children baptized in Thornham Magna: William Freeman (bap 27 September 1825, but died the same day), Caroline (born 7 January 1827), Sarah (bap 29 September 1830), Elizabeth Maria (bap 27 February 1833), William Freeman (bap 24 March 1835) and John (born about 1838). At Suffolk Record Office, there is a bill from Samuel to the parish of Great Thornham, amounting to £2.2.6d, for building two coffins, one for James Bloomfield and one for Hannah Lockwood, and for “Jeff and man taking up box and feathering parish pump” on three dates during June and July 1826. On 8 March 1834, by Deed of Assignment, Samuel assigned all his estate and effects to one Robert Brock, a carpenter in Thorndon, and Seth Bull, a local farmer, in trust “for the equal benefit of such of his Creditors as shall execute the said Deed on or before the fifth day of May next”. A notice to this effect was published in the Ipswich Journal of that date. By 1841, the family had moved to Ipswich and were living at Handford Road. Another child, Samuel, was born here in about 1842. By 1851 they had moved to St Georges Street. Caroline had left home but there was another “daughter” recorded in the census: Elizabeth C (born 1850). Elizabeth is recorded elsewhere as Elizabeth Clara Bagett Minter. In view of this unusual name, the gap of eight years between the birth of Samuel and Elizabeth and the fact that there was already an Elizabeth in the family, it seems likely that this Elizabeth was in fact the illegitimate daughter of Caroline or the older Elizabeth. In 1861, Samuel and Sarah were living in Norwich Road, Ipswich, with their 19-year-old son, Samuel, who was working as a plumber and glazier, the other children having all left home. Samuel died of bronchitis on 7 October 1867 at 112 Norwich Road, at the age of 72, and was buried in Ipswich Cemetery on 12 October 1867. In 1871 Sarah was living in Balkerne Hill, Colchester, with her son Samuel. In 1881 she was living at 3 Beaufort Street, Ipswich. In 1891 she was living at 52 John Street, Ipswich, with her daughter, Caroline, and son-in-law, Alfred Warren. Sarah died at the age of 88 and was buried at Ipswich Cemetery on 13 April 1891.

  • William junior, a carpenter by trade, married Matilda Fosdike, a local girl of 18 years, the daughter of Mark and Mary (nee Clouting) on 22 May 1823 at Eyke Parish Curch. They had a son, Robert, who was baptised in nearby Rendlesham on 11 May 1824 but both Matilda and Robert died just two weeks later. They were both buried at Eyke on 26 May. Perhaps the child was baptized at Rendlesham because Eyke Parish Church was not available for some reason and the need for an early baptism would have been urgent if the child was not expected to live. On 2 December 1828 at Snape Parish Church, at the age of 31, William married again, this time to Mary Jane Sawyer, a 23-year-old girl from Woodbridge (she was baptised at St Mary's Church on 10 December 1804), the daughter of William and Jane, nee Manthorpe. Since neither William nor Mary Jane had any obvious connection with Snape, perhaps they chose to marry there as John's uncle(also John, see above) would have been innkeeper at the Crown Inn in Snape at this time, thus offering an ideal venue for a reception. For the rest of their story see below.

  • Martha may have married Daniel Cowey. In 1851 a Daniel Cowey, a 56-year-old agricultural labourer from Levington was living at Mill House with his 52-year-old wife, Martha, who was born in Eyke, and their three sons, all born in Levington: William (20), George (17) and James (15). However, we have found no record of the marriage.

  • Elizabeth junior remained unmarried until 1841 when, at the age of 39, she was still living in Eyke with her mother, who was then 75. She married Robert Cook, a sailor born in Capel St Andrew in 1802, the son of William Cook, a farmer, at St Matthew’s Church Ipswich on 2 August 1841. At the time, she was working as a servant. In 1851 Elizabeth and Robert were living at Angel Lane, Woodbridge, with their daughters, Elizabeth (8), born in Eyke, and Sarah (6), born in Woodbridge. Elizabeth was reported to be working as a schoolmistress, but she had only three pupils, two of whom were presumably her own daughters. Robert died sometime between 1851 and 1858 and, on 4 November 1858 at Chattisham Parish Church, Elizabeth married her first cousin, Samuel Minter, who was also widowed, a miller and flour dealer and the son of Matthew Minter and Ann, nee Lucock, see above. In 1861 they were living at Doves Farm, Chattisham, with Elizabeth’s daughter, Sarah. By 1871, Samuel had also died and Elizabeth was living at Burkitt Road, Woodbridge, and working as a general servant. Elizabeth died from “general decay” in Thoroughfare, Woodbridge, on 14 August 1879, at the age of 76.

  • John, who was also a carpenter, married Lydia Hurren, a widow, in Eyke on 16 October 1840. Lydia was the daughter of John (a labourer) and Mary Smith nee Savage and was baptised in Leiston on 28 August 1814. Lydia had previously been married to William Hurren (they married in Eyke on 6 August 1837), by whom she had given birth in 1838 to a daughter named Elizabeth. In 1841 John, Lydia and Elizabeth were living in Eyke. John and Lydia had numerous children, all baptised in Eyke, many of whom died young: Marianne or Mary Ann (22 August 1841), Anna (23 April 1843), George (1 December 1844, buried 28 April 1847), William 1 November 1846, buried 19 November 1848), Amelia (24 December 1848, buried 5 September 1864), George William (27 October 1850, buried 22 July 1865) and William (7 January 1855, buried 10 February 1856). In 1851, John and Lydia were still living in Eyke with five of their children (Elizabeth, Marianne, Anna, Amelia and George) and a 14-year-old servant named Susan Prike. By 1861, John was employing 6 men. He and Lydia were still in Eyke with their surviving children (Elizabeth, Anna, Amelia and George) and a 6-year-old nephew named Horace Simpson. In 1871 John and Lydia were still living in Eyke but all their surviving children had left home. Lydia died on 10 January 1875 at Wickham Market at the age of 60 and was buried at Eyke on 16 January. According to the Ipswich Journal and the Bury and Norwich Post of 12 January, Lydia had gone to Wickham Market to nurse her sister, a Mrs Last, who had died on 8 January. While there, she fell ill and died herself. John died of atrophy of the heart in Eyke on 6 February 1878, at the age of 73, and was buried there on 18 February. On 16 March of that year, an advertisement appeared in the Ipswich Journal announcing the sale by auction of “a quantity of household furniture, brewing utensils, carpenters’ tools and stock in trade of Mr John Minter, deceased”

  • Sarah married Thomas Tyler, a 54-year-old widower from Tunstall, at the Independent Meeting Chapel in Wickham Market on 28 July 1840. Thomas, who was working as a waiter, was the son of William Tyler (deceased). We are aware of two children, both born in Wickham Market: Frederick (1840) and Harriet (1843). In 1841 Sarah and Thomas were living in Lower Street, Wickham Market, with their two children, as well as two of Thomas's children by his first marriage: Hannah (born 1821) and Mary (born 1826). In 1851 the family were living in Bridge Street. Thomas was working as a common carrier and Sarah as a schoolmistress. Frederick (10) and Harriet (8) were still at home, but Hannah and Mary had left. In 1861 Thomas , Sarah and Harriett (but not Frederick) were still at Bridge Street. Thomas was working as a groom and Sarah still as a schoolmistress. In 1871 Thomas and Sarah were still at Bridge Street, along with a 2-year-old granddaughter, Catharine. By 1881 Thomas had died and Sarah was living in the home of James Bendall, an iron foundry master, at Thoroughfare, Woodbridge, where she was working as a domestic nurse. We have found no record of Sarah's death.
Rendlesham is a village located about 2 miles northeast of Woodbridge. It was formerly a market town and was a royal centre of authority for the king of the East Anglians. More recently it was the site of the Rendlesham Forest Incident, a series of reported sightings of unexplained lights and objects in the sky in December 1980.
Snape is a small village on the River Alde close to Aldeburgh, about 8 miles north-east of Eyke and 6 miles north-east of Rendlesham. It has about 600 inhabitants. Snape is now best known for Snape Maltings, no longer in commercial use, but converted into a tourist centre together with a concert hall that hosts the major part of the annual Aldeburgh Festival.

William senior died in Eyke on 2 December 1838 at the age of 80 and was buried in Eyke on 9 December.

On 6 April 1849 Elizabeth senior died of old age at the age of 84. She was buried in Eyke on 14 April 1849.

William and Mary Jane

William and Mary Jane settled in Eyke where, between 1829 and 1842, Mary Jane bore at least seven children, all baptised at Eyke: William (bap 1 November 1829), John William (bap 6 May 1832), Matilda (bap 8 December 1833), Jane (bap 11 September 1835), Robert (bap 1 July 1837), Sarah (born 19 January 1840, bap 27 January) and Elizabeth (born 8 March 1842, bap 14 March).

In 1832 William built a new west window in the Parish Church at Eyke, for which he was paid £11.11.3d. This may have been the 'extremely ugly house window' which, according to the published History of Eyke Village and Church, was replaced by a 'most beautiful one' in 1893.

At the time of the 1841 census, William and Mary were living in Eyke with their six children.

In 1844, William and Mary Jane lost two of their children. On 10 November, Matilda died of brain fever (encephalitis) at the age of only 11. On 16 November, Elizabeth, who was only 2, died of typhus fever. Both were buried at Eyke Parish Church.

On 2 December 1846, Mary Jane bore another daughter, Mary Ann. Mary Ann was baptized in Eyke on 10 January 1847.

By 1849 William had become an insolvent debtor. In July of that year, he filed a petition in the County Court of Suffolk and was granted an Interim Order for Protection from Process “under the provisions of the Statutes in that case made and provided”. He was required to appear in the said Court on 26 July at one o’clock for his First Examination touching his debts, estate and effects, and to be further dealt with “according to the provisions of the said Statutes”. All persons indebted to William, or who had any of his effects were instructed “not to pay or deliver the same but to Thomas Collins, the Clerk of the said Court”. This notice was published in the Ipswich Journal of 14 July .

At the time of the 1851 census, William and Mary Jane were still living at Eyke with their surviving six children.

Of the six surviving children:

  • William junior, a carpenter, married a 19-year-old local girl, Sarah Clarke, the daughter of Abraham and Hannah Clarke, on 25 December 1851 at Eyke Parish Church, at the age of 22. They had five children baptised in Eyke: Elizabeth (1 April 1852, died 20 April 1852), Matilda (28 August 1853), William (26 August 1855), Robert (18 April 1858) and Elizabeth (29 July 1860). By 1861, William and Sarah had moved to Bawdsey Road, Alderton, where they were living with their four surviving children: Matilda, William, Robert and Elizabeth. On 4 September 1864, Sarah had a further son, Henry George, who was born in Eyke. By 1871, they had moved again to West Firle in Sussex and were living in a house called The Dock (which, according to the 1891 census, was at 15 Firle Street). In 1876 Sarah had a further son Earnest. In 1881 their two younger sons (Robert and Earnest) were still living with them. In 1891 Earnest, who was 15, was still at home and a 3-year-old granddaughter named Ethel E Minter was also living with them. Sarah died in 1899 at the age of 67. In 1901, William, then 71, was still living at The Dock with his son, Earnest (25), daughter-in-law, Mary (37), and granddaughter, Ethel (13). William died in West Firle on 4 January 1908 at the age of 78. The death certificate described his occupation as “estate carpenter” and the cause of death as “senile decay, cerebral haemorrhage, convulsive seizure, coma”

  • John William, who also became a carpenter, left home sometime between 1851 and 1858, and made his way to Hockerill in Hertfordshire. On 29 May 1858, he married Susan Elizabeth Bush, a 26-year-old from nearby Bishops Stortford at All Saints Church in Hockerill. Susan Elizabeth was the daughter of John Bush, a coach painter from Great Bardfield in Essex, and his wife, Susanna (see below).

  • Jane died at the age of 22, from epileptic fits and a coma and was buried in Eyke on 7 June 1858.
Hockerill is separated from Bishop's Stortford by the valley and the river running through it. It was once referred to as Bishop's Stortford's 'hilltop outpost'. Its history, however, and that of the surrounding area east of the river Stort is just as fascinating as that of Bishp's Stortford and, in parts, goes back a lot farther. No record exists as to what this area was first called, but in the 14th century it was known as Hokerhull. By the 16th century the name had been abbreviated to Hokers Hill, and in the 17th century was shortened and corrupted to its present day, Hockerill.

Hockerill became more prominent on the map in 1670 after Charles II instigated the building of the Hockerill 'bypass', and as more and more travellers, including royalty, used the more convenient route between London and the towns and cities of East Anglia, the four inns at its crossroads gained fame and fortune. In fact, during the 18th century Hockerill's wealth was greater than that of Bishop's Stortford itself.

But with the arrival of the Railway in 1842 and the demise of mail and stagecoach services that had made Hockerill so popular, its prosperity ended as abruptly as it had begun. By now, though, it was no longer a hilltop outpost.

In 1851, in an advertisement in the Ipswich Journal, William offered “to be let or sold, with immediate possession” “a compact freehold cottage residence, workshop, stable, sheds and other out-offices, with large and productive garden, in all about one acre, suitable for private occupation or business purposes”.

In 1861, William and Mary Jane were still living in Eyke. Three of their children continued to live at home: Robert, who was 23 and working as a carpenter; Sarah, who was 21 and working as a dressmaker; and Mary Ann, who was 14.

  • Robert married Eliza White, the daughter of Samuel White, a labourer, on 27 April 1859 at St Michael South Elmham. However, Eliza died later that year and, on 20 May 1862 at Eyke Parish Church, Robert married her 28-year-old sister, Emily White, who was born in Bungay. By 1871 Robert and Emily had moved to Mile End Old Town where they were living at 45 Allard Road with their two sons, Robert G and Walter E. By 1881 they had moved again to West Ham and were living at 87 Disraeli Road. Robert senior was working as a carpenter. Robert (17) was working as a painter and Walter (13) as an assistant in a grocer's shop. Robert senior died of pulmonary phthisis on 27 August 1887 at 10 Bessborough Road, Little Ilford. He was 50. In 1891, his widow Emily was living at 2 Middle Road, West Ham, with her two sons and a nephew, Walter Thurkettle (18), the son of Mary Anne (see below). In 1901, Emily was still living at Middle Road (although at number 3 according to the census), still with her two sons, neither of whom had married.

  • Sarah married George Patrick, a 34-year-old bricklayer from Ufford, Suffolk, the son of Samuel Patrick, a miller, on 20 April 1863 at Eyke Parish Church at the age of 23. By 1866, they had moved to Forest Hill. In 1871 they were living at 1 Laburnum Cottages, West Road, with their five children, Susan (7), Mary Ann (6), Charles (5), (Sarah) Elizabeth (4) and (Mary) Alice (3). In 1881, they were at 18 Beadnell Road with their five youngest children, Elizabeth (13), Alice (12), Rose (8), Noah (7) and Violet (11 months). In 1891 they were still at 47 Beadnell Road with Noah and Violet. Noah was working as a butcher. By 1901 George had died and Sarah had moved back to Suffolk and was living with her eldest daughter, Susan, at Deben Villa, Deben Road, Woodbridge. In 1911 Sarah (who was by then 71) was living alone at Leeks Hill Cottages, Melton (which is about a mile north-east of Woodbridge).

  • Mary Anne moved to London sometime before 1867 and, like her elder sister and brother-in-law, was living in Forest Hill. On 25 December 1867 at St Saviour Parish Church, Lewisham, at the age of 22, she married Edward Thurkettle, a 24-year-old railway porter from Suffolk, who was also living in Forest Hill. He was the son of William Thurkettle, a carpenter. They had at least seven children, all born in Mile End: George (born 1869), William E (1871) and Walter (1873, who presumably died in infancy), William (1871), Agnes (1873), Walter (1876), Harry (1878) and Ada (1881). In 1871 the family were living at North Terrace, Mile End Old Town. By 1881, they had moved to 10 Portman Place, also in Mile End. In 1887 they were living at 1 Salisbury Road, Forest Gate. In 1891 they were living at 15 Railway Street, Bromley (although Walter was living with his uncle Robert and aunt Emily in West Ham (see above). In 1901 Edward was living, apparently alone, at 377 Grosvenor Buildings, Manisty Street, Poplar. But in 1911, he and Mary Ann were living together at 17 Willow Grove, Plaistow.

By 1871, William and Mary Jane had joined their daughter, Sarah Patrick, and her family at 1 Laburnum Cottages, West Road, Forest Hill. This meant that the whole family had left Eyke by 1871, with all except the eldest son, William, having migrated to the east end of London.

Forest Hill is one of the highest hills in London with spectacular views towards central London and the North Downs. Originally part of the Great North Wood, providing timber for the great dockyards at nearby Deptford, until the mid 19th century Forest Hill was sparsely inhabited with charcoal burners and woodsmen. The opening of the Forest Hill Station (originally under the name of Dartmouth Arms) on the London & Croydon Railway in 1839 gave the first great boost to the development of the suburb.

West Road was part of the West Kent Park Estate, which was located in the north-west angle of Stanstead Road and Brockley Rise. The estate was laid out around 1850 by a Farrington Street wine merchant named Arthur Gurney. He was lucky to buy the fields a few years before the Crystal Palace boom hugely inflated the land prices in the area, but unlucky to have sold it again almost immediately in small plots. As a result West Kent Park became a rare poor area, almost a slum, in the middle of wealthy Forest Hill. Nearly all of West Kent Park was demolished in the 1970s and replaced by flats.

Mary Jane died at West Road on 15 February 1872 at the age of 69. The cause of death was given as paralysis.

William died on 19 January 1878 at the age of 82. The cause of death was traumatic erysipelas. By then he was living at Clyde Terrace, also in Forest Hill. Clyde Terrace still exists. It is a few minutes' walk from Forest Hill station, abutting the western side of the railway line.

John William and Susan Elizabeth

By 1859, John and Susan had moved to Plaistow, where they lived initially at 3 John Street, Plaistow Grove. Their first child, George John, was born there on 31 March 1859. He was baptised back in Hockerill on 11 May but died on 11 August. The cause of death was recorded as diarrhoea. By 1860, John and Susan had moved to 10 Custom House Terrace, also in Plaistow. It was here that Susan gave birth to their second son, Walter John, on 9 June 1860. Walter was baptised at St Mary the Virgin, Plaistow, on 4 November.

Plaistow is about 5 miles from the City of London in the centre of the east London Borough of Newham. The name 'Plaistow' is probably derived from a man who was once the area's Lord of the Manor - Hugh de Plaiz. 'stow' means a village, thus it is the 'village of Plaiz'. Another, lesser, theory is that it meant a 'playplace' or village green. Many variations on the name can be found on old maps or documents of the area, some going back to the 13th century. i.e.: Pleystow; Plegstow; Plestor; Plastow; Playstow; etc.

Before the eighteenth century, the area was very sparsely populated. It was a rural Essex community bounded to the south by marshland (Plaistow Level) which led down to the River Thames. The area north of the marsh consisted mainly of open woodland with the occasional path for the few travellers. A little further north was once the southern edge of Epping Forest.

Old Plaistow developed on the edge of the firm ground above the marshes. In the 18th century the area became more fashionable and attracted some of the more affluent residents of London seeking a country retreat within reach of their city homes. When Daniel Defoe passed near Plaistow in 1724 on his 'Tour through the Eastern Counties' he commented that it was 'chiefly for the inhabitation of the richest citizens, as are able to keep two houses, one in the country and one in the City, or for such citizens as being rich and having left off trade, live in this village for the pleasure and health of the latter part of their days...'.

In the nineteenth century, during and after the building of the nearby Royal Docks, Plaistow became the home to more and more construction workers, dock workers and others. Housing was built on the pastures. Construction was further stimulated by the opening in 1858 of the London Tilbury & Southend Railway to Barking, with a station at Plaistow. A railway works was opened at Plaistow in 1875 (and remained active until 1934).

Katherine Fry, writing in the 1890s described the area as of little interest to anyone except market gardeners ... The rural village of Plaistow is no more, it has been swallowed up in the town of Plaistow. The wealthy citizens and merchants have left, most of the interesting old mansions have been demolished and their sites covered with houses for the working classes. The whole district has become a busy place of industry and commerce and the population may now be reckoned at rather more than 70,000 inhabitants".

Eventually Plaistow was swallowed up by the expansion of London itself, and was transferred from being a rural Borough of West Ham in Essex to being part of West Ham as a London Borough In 1965 West Ham combined with neighbouring East Ham to form part of a large new single London Borough, known as Newham.

In recent years, the area has changed again. Heavy industry has moved away and major redevelopment has taken place, funded firstly by the London Dockland Development Council and then by European Community grants. The docks have ceased their original activity and become marinas, water sport facilities or just scenery for waterside homes. Luxury homes have been (and are still being) built, located along dockside and riverfront where only a few years ago rows of large factories reigned and no one wanted to set up home if they could help it.

A new major road system has been built through the area, east to west, to link central London with city commuters from the eastern counties and heavy traffic from the container port of Tilbury. Redevelopment has landscaped much of the area, with the new wide roads having grassed and planted areas running alongside them. London City Airport, The Thames Barrier, a giant new University campus (UEL), a National Exhibition-Conference Centre (ExCel), and large Retail Parks are other major additions and more is to come including up-market homes and shopping areas, making the area the 'Eastern Gateway' to London.

We have been unable to identify the exact location of Custom House Terrace. But it is likely that it was part of the housing that was built around the middle of the century on the Plaistow Levels to the north of the Custom House in the Victoria Dock. Eventually, this whole area came to be known as Custom House. Construction of the Victoria Dock was completed in 1855 and by 1860 it accounted for over forty per cent of shipping tonnage entering the north Thames docks. Construction of the Royal Albert Dock followed to the east of the Victoria Dock and this was opened in 1880.

John and Susan did not stay at Custom House Terrace for long as, by 1861, they and baby Walter had moved to 2 Manby Park Villas, Lavender Street, Stratford. They had a house servant, a 17-year old girl from Bishops Stortford named Rebecca Everard, and an 8-year-old boarder named William Sharratt.

Stratford is located to the north-west of Plaistow. Situated on the main road from London to Essex and at one of the main junctions of the Great Eastern Railway, it was conveniently located during the nineteenth century to become one of East London's major industrial centres. Outside the influence of the restrictions which controlled offensive trades in London and with a large area of cheap land, it provided an ideal site on which industry could develop. Attracted there by these advantages manufacturers set up soap works, glue factories and distilleries along the rivers and around Bow Bridge. The combination of the smoke and smells from the factories gave Stratford an extremely unpleasant odour, the effects of which were described by Shelley Holford in his 'Reminiscences', 'The Journey to Liverpool Street was always undertaken with a certain amount of misgiving and when the train left Stratford Station handkerchiefs were drawn out, windows closed and ladies giggled and blushed, such was the odour'.

The Eastern Counties Railway (absorbed by the Great Eastern Railway in 1862) built their line through Stratford in 1839. It was, however, the decision of the Northern and Eastern Railway in the following year to make a junction with this line that made Stratford a major railway centre serving the lines between London, East Anglia and in due course the Docks. The Eastern Counties Railway transferred its works in 1847 to a large marshland site to the west of Stratford Station. At first, these were mainly used for repairs, since most of the locomotives were bought from other contractors. However, from the 1880s, following a major reorganisation of the works, they were able to deal with all aspects of production at Stratford. By 1892 the works covered an area of 52 acres and employed about 5,000 hands.

Lavender Street was part of a housing development built on the old estate of the Manby family, one of several local large landowners who sold off their land for such development in the second half of the 19th century. It still exists but I have been unable to identify Manby Park Villas.

By 1862, the family had moved to nearby Chobham Road where Susan gave birth to a second son, Harry Thomas (23 April 1862). Harry was baptized back in Hockerill on 27 December 1862. Perhaps the family had returned there for Christmas. In 1864, they are recorded as living in Maryland Terrace (which we assume to have been the name of a block of houses in Chobham Road), where Susan gave birth to Susan Elizabeth (5 September 1864) and Georgina (28 February 1866). On 31 May 1868, Susan gave birth to Herbert Arthur. Herbert Arthur died of diarrhoea on 1 August 1868, at the age of just two months. On 6 June 1869, Susan gave birth to another son, Ernest Percy. However, Ernest Percy also died of diarrhoea at only two months, on 24 August 1869.

Susan gave birth to a further daughter, Alice Maud, on 17 February 1871. In 1871 the family were living in a house in Chobham Road named Hockerill Cottage, clearly named after the place where they were married. However, Georgina was living with her unmarried aunt, Mary Ann Bush, at London Road, Bishop Stortford. In 1881, the family were recorded as living at 136 Chobham Road. The house at no. 136 is still standing, part of a row of terraced houses built in 1875 and known as Poplar Villas. It is possible that Hockerill Cottage was demolished to make way for the new houses. In 1881, John was working as a builder's foreman. The family also had two young carpenters from Lincoln staying as lodgers.

Chobham Road is part of Stratford New Town. Originally known as Hudson's Town, the 'new town' was built by the Eastern Counties Railway Company in 1847 to house their workers.

On 17 May 1882, Susan Elizabeth junior died at the age of 17 in Whitehall. The cause of death was given as congenital curvature of the spine and meningitis.

Of the four children who survived into adulthood

  • Walter John was the first to leave home. By 1882, he was living at Leytonstone Road, Stratford. On 21 December 1884, he married Ellen Sophia Hewett, a 25 year old from Mile End, at West Ham Parish Church. For details of Ellen's ancestry, see the separate account of the Hewett family. For details of Walter John and Ellen Sophia after their marriage, see below.

By 1888 the rest of the family had moved to 161 Romford Road. It was here that John died on 26 January 1888 at the age of 55. The cause of death was pleuropneumonia. The house at no. 161 no longer exists, having been replaced by a modern housing development.

By 1891 Susan, now a widow, was living at 33 Clova Road, Forest Gate, with her children Harry (28, a house decorator's clerk), Georgina (25, a teacher of music), Alice (20, a school teacher) and a 4-year-old adopted son named William T. 33 Clova Road, a sizeable, semi-detached property, still exists.

Of the remaining three children:

  • Harry worked initially as an insurance clerk. He was also a talented musician, appointed organist and choirmaster at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Stratford, at the age of just 18, holding the position for five years. He had a choir of 40 voices and formed a children’s choir of about 100 voices. This was followed by several other appointments as organist and choirmaster in English churches. He married Margaret Ferguson on 16 December 1891 at the parish church of St Mary the Virgin in Leyton. Margaret was born in Tradeston, Glasgow, on 17 September 1864, the daughter of John Ferguson, an engineer, and Margaret nee Cameron. At the time of the marriage, Harry was living at Lindley Road, Leyton, and Margaret at Abbey Mills, Stratford. We are aware of five children: Dorothy Marguerite (born Southend 5 January 1894), Ella Susie Gladwys (born Stratford 11 May 1896), Harry John Duncan (born about 8 August 1901), Mildred Georgina Maud (born Woodbridge 29 December 1905) and George Fergus (born Ottawa Maternity Hospital 21 September 1911). In 1901 the family were living at Ivy Cottage, Melton Street, Melton, Suffolk. In 1906 the family emigrated to Canada, travelling on the ‘Lake Erie’, which sailed from Liverpool, arriving in Montreal on 11 August of that year. In 1911 they were living at 79 McKay Street, Ottawa, Russel, Ontario. Harry was employed as a bookkeeper. In 1914 he became purchasing agent for the Department of National Defence. He was organist at St Bartholomew's Church in Ottawa, Ontario, between 1911 and 1931. In 1921, Harry, Margaret, Ella, Harry and Mildred were living at 101 Creighton Street, Ottawa. Harry died on 10 July 1931 in Ottawa after being ill for only two days. A tribute in the Ottawa Journal of 14 July 1931 stated that “among the many posts held by him in England were included the post of organist and choirmaster of Greendispost Parich (sic) Church St. Mary’s, Playfor (sic), Ipswich and Culpo Church, and choirmaster of St. Andrew’s, Mellon (sic), Suffolk…..Coming to Canada in 1906, he first acted as assistant organist at the Presbyterian Church, Alexandria, Ont., and later came to Ottawa, where he occupied various posts until his appointment to St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church. He was a member of the Canadian College of Organists. Mr. Minter was also prominent in orchestral circles, and played double bass for the former Ottawa Symphony Orchestra.”. Margaret died on 10 May 1950 at the age of 85. She was living at 550 Minto Place, Rockcliffe

In 1901 Susan was living with her daughter, Georgina, at 31 Hamfrith Road, Forest Gate, where Georgina had a residential music school. Hamfrith Road still exists but the original houses have been demolished to make way for a modern council estate.

Susan died on 6 April 1903 at the age of 70. Her address, and that of her daughter, is recorded as 33 Hamfrith Road (this is presumably the same residence as the number 31 recorded in the 1901 census). The cause of death was adenoma of the colon and exhaustion.

  • By 1911, Georgina had moved to Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where she was Principal at St Margaret School. She died on 27 April 1939 at the age of 74. The cause of death was myocardinal degeneration and arterio sclerosis. At the time of her death, she was living at 62 Chalkwell Avenue.

  • In 1898, Alice appeared in Burdett’s Nursing Register as a private nurse since 1893, having received her training at West Ham Hospital between 1891 and 1893. Her address is given as 24 Hyde Gardens, Eastbourne. We have found no further definite record of her.
Until the nineteenth century, Forest Gate was little more than a hamlet consisting of two or three gentleman's houses and a small hut occupied by the keeper of the gate from the forest, erected to keep cattle from straying onto the London to Romford highway. In the early 1800s residents included several leading Quaker families. It was a close knit community, with marriages linking these wealthy families. But, when the railway came to Forest Gate in 1841, this led to the rapid development of high quality homes for the new middle-class commuters as the old estates were sold to developers. Part of the area was developed as the Gurney housing estate, named after the Quaker, Samuel Gurney, who sold the land for development. Clova Road and Hamfrith Road, named after Hamfrith Hall, which was demolished in 1895, were part of this estate. Although post-war reconstruction has replaced much of the original shopping areas, other parts of Forest Gate remain untouched.

Forest Gate has strong musical associations. It was for many years the home of the Tonic Sol-Fa Institute, which taught large numbers of people to play music without learning conventional notation.

Walter John and Ellen Sophia

By 1885, Walter and Ellen were living at 10 Mornington Terrace, Wanstead. Walter was working as a Professor of Music. It was here that Ellen gave birth to the couple's first child, Arthur Beaufoi, on 8 July 1885. He was baptised on 12 July at St Mary the Virgin with Christ Church, Wanstead.

Mornington Terrace is presumably the same place as Mornington Villas, which in the late 19th century were located on the northern edge of Wanstead Flats. Mornington Villas no longer exist: a housing estate now occupies the site. Wanstead Flats, also called the Lower Forest, extended over several parishes - Wanstead, West Ham, Little Ilford and Leyton. The parishes entitled to forest pasture grazed their cattle on the Flats, and in Epping Forest, each one marking their cattle with the parish brand.

During the expansion of Victorian London the demand for land outside London for railways, houses and cemeteries resulted in the break-up of estates, and the Flats themselves were threatened. Public opinion was sensitive to this, and after the City of London's successful defence of commoner's rights in the courts, the Epping Forest Act of 1878 preserved the Wanstead Flats as part of the Forest controlled by the City of London and dedicated to 'the delectation of the people forever'.

In the eighteenth century an annual cattle market was held on Wanstead Flats in March and April but it was in the nineteenth century that Wanstead Flats came into its own as a place of recreation for East Enders. During the summer months people came in large numbers to enjoy donkey and pony races, and a variety of sports. What Hyde Park was to the West End, the Flats were to the East Londoner:

'Thousands on a Sunday evening swarmed over that open space, the largest crowd around the bandstand. The pond opposite Capel Road attracted several children and dogs. A young man was giving an account of his imprisonment and begged boys around to keep honest. We saw no single instance of roughness or disorder. About 9.00 pm the crowds began to disperse'.

The Bank Holiday Fair drew even larger crowds to the Flats. The 'Forest Gate Weekly News' described it in 1896:

'We enjoyed with breatless zest fat ladies, bearded women, pugilist champions, dramatic variations on such vivid and familiar themes as the murder of Maria Marten or the devastating tragedy of Michael Strogoff the maniac lover'.

Another reported:

'I pass out from beneath the garish glare, deafening din, sickly smell and crushing crowd marvelling more than ever how any human being can find one shred of pleasure or contentment in the midst of such a hideous pandemonium'.

In later years some would complain that the fair was showing signs of decrepitude, that the noise had lost its shrillness and the smells their pungency.

By 1886, the family had moved to 75 Leytonstone Road. This was also the address of Walter's business: by this stage he had taken up selling music and dealing in musical instruments in addition to teaching music. Had the family given up their home in Wanstead to move into premises above the shop? In any event, it was here, on 18 November 1886, that Ellen bore a second son, Berthold Philip. Poor Berthold died of tubercular meningitis and choleraic diarrhoea on 14 August of that year, at the age of just nine months. The house at 75 Leytonstone Road no longer stands.

The village of Leytonstone roughly corresponded to the manor of Ruckholts, whose manor house stood at Temple Mills until 1757. By 1894 many of the eighteenth century mansions on Leytonstone Road had been replaced by newly built streets of terraced houses and villas, though several farms still remained. The transformation into suburban dormitory gathered pace after the Loughton Branch of the Greater Eastern Railway line opened a new station at Leytonstone in 1856. Cheap fares encouraged speculative building of houses for a growing market of people employed in new offices and industries, like the railways themselves, in London and neighbouring districts such as Stratford.

On 14 December 1887, Ellen bore a third son, Leonard Walter, also at 75 Leytonstone Road. The following year, on 4 December, Ellen bore the couple's first daughter, Sophie Ellen. Sophie was baptised at All Saints, West Ham, on 10 January 1890.

By 1890, the family had moved away from Leytonstone Road to 24 Margery Park Road, West Ham. Their next child, George Austin, was born here on 9 April 1890. Four days later, on 13 April, Leonard Walter died of tubercular meningitis. He was just two years old. George was baptised at Emmanuel Church, Forest Gate, on 16 April.

Margery Park Road is located south of Romford Road and runs down to West Ham Park. The houses to the south of Romford Road tended to be of a higher standard than those to the north. The closer to West Ham Park, the higher the status and cost of the house would be. No. 24 was located at the end furthest from West Ham Park, but is still a good standard, sizable, end-of-terrace property. It now contains three flats.

When West Ham Park was opened it was stated that 'no greater boon could have been conferred on this populous district where poor and hard-working people are mostly engaged on useful and necessary but by no means healthy employment'. The opening of the park on 20 July 1874 was celebrated as a holiday in Stratford, Plaistow and West Ham. Dr Pagenstecher commented in 1895 that 'as the march of population is eastward and the old landmarks are gradually disappearing, it is a matter of supreme satisfaction that West Ham Park, this oasis in the midst of human habitation, has been preserved to the public forever as a place of rest and recreation'.

However, Walter’s business had by now run into trouble. The London Gazette of 12 September 1890 reports that Walter was adjudged bankrupt on 10 September 1890. He was trading as W J Minter & Co. His address was given as “8, Elm Road, Romford Road, Forest Gate, lately residing at 24, Margery Park Road, Forest Gate, and lately trading at 75, Leytonstone Road, Stratford, Essex, and 76, Broadway, Stratford, Essex” and described as “Out of business, lately Music Seller and Musical Instrument Dealer”. The London Gazette of 23 September 1890 reported that the First meeting and the Public Examination were fixed for 2 October and 23 October respectively. The London Gazette of 21 November 1890 reported that an application for debtor's discharge was fixed for hearing on 19 December 1890. On 16 Jan 1891 the London Gazette reported that an application for release from bankruptcy was heard with the result that 'Discharge suspended for one year. Bankrupt to be discharged as from 19th December, 1891'. An absolute discharge was refused on the grounds that 'Bankrupt had continued to trade after knowing himself to be insolvent'. Referring back to the 1890 bankruptcy, the London Gazette of 8 November 1892 gives notice of release of trustees.p>

Remarkably, the shop at 76 Broadway still exists, surrounded by modern shopping centres. An uninspiring two-storey building, it is now an amusement arcade.

The move from Margery Park Road to Elm Road may have been necessitated by the decline in Walter's business fortunes. Although Elm Road is only a couple of blocks west of Margery Park Road, the terraced house at no 8 is considerably smaller than 24 Margery Park Road. However, the house must have become increasingly cramped as, between 1891 and 1895, Ellen bore four more children: Stuart John (born 11 November 1891), Reginald Walter (born 12 April 1893), Mary (born 20 August 1894 but died the same day from premature birth) and Cyril Howard (born 2 November 1895, but died on 10 December of atrophia).

In 1895, Walter John took out a patent in several countries for a pocket-knife. The patent stated that 'the object of this invention is to provide pocket-knives and such like folding instruments with means whereby the blade or blades or the implements thereof can be quickly and easily opened and without requiring to touch the blade or blades or implements with the fingers or finger and thumb'.

By 1896, with five growing children, the family needed to find a larger home. They moved to 291 Romford Road, Forest Gate, a sizeable semi-detached property, built in 1876. Now known, together with its neighbour, as Lynby Villas, it contains 4 flats.

It was at 291 Romford Road that Ellen gave birth to Eric Norman on 1 December 1896. Ellen subsequently bore two more children at 291 Romford Road: Bernard Leslie (born 5 March 1898) and Eleanor Georgina (born 23 November 1899). Somewhere between the birth of these two children, Walter gave up being a professor of music and became a hardware merchant instead.

In 1901, the family were still living at 291 Romford Road. Walter had given up the music business and become managing director of a wholesale clothing company. Arthur was working as a clerk in an insurance company.

By 1902, now with eight surviving children, the family moved to a still larger house at 190 Balfour Road, Ilford. This house, which was probably newly-built at the time, still stands. It is a large end-of-terrace property on the corner with Brisbane Road.

Ilford was historically a small rural settlement in the county of Essex and its strategic position on the River Roding and the London to Colchester road caused it to develop as a coaching town. The arrival of the railway in 1839 eventually accelerated that growth and as part of the suburban growth of London in the 20th century, Ilford significantly expanded and increased in population. The population grew from 10,913 to 41,235 in the decade from 1891, and to 78,188 by 1911. This influx of people derived almost equally from those escaping inner London for a better life in the suburbs and Essex rural folk. Much of the new housing in Ilford was aimed at the rising middle-classes, white-collar workers and professionals, and right from the start there was a very high proportion of owner-occupiers. Balfour Road, which lies north of the railway line, was part of a development initiated by a builder named J.W. Hobbs and his associate Jabez Balfour. The two were convicted of fraud when their interlocking web of development companies and building societies collapsed in 1892.

On 16 August 1902, young Eleanor died. She was only two years old. The death certificate shows the cause of death as 'hepatitis, tetanus, coma'.

Of the seven surviving children:

  • Arthur had left home by 1911 and was living at 124 Blackfriars Road, Southwark, and working as a barman. (The census record gives his birthplace as Snaresbrook, which is adjacent to Wanstead.) On 27 September of that year he married Annie Kathleen Caron, the 24-year-old daughter of Francis Edward Caron, at St John's Church Stratford. Annie, who was originally from Lyme Regis, Dorset, was living at 30 Walton Road, Manor Park, and working as a barmaid. At the time, they were living at 41 Western Street. They had four children: Arthur Cyril (born 7 June 1912 in the West Ham area), William A, Kathleen A and Queenie (who married Harry Thomas Sims). Arthur served in the Royal Engineers in World War 1. He was wounded at Gallipoli and died of pneumonia in Alexandria, Egypt, on 22 December 1918. He was buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery. Annie died from influenza just two months later, on 19 February 1919 at the Forest Gate Sick Home. She was living at the time at 6 Burgess Road, Leyton. The informant was her brother, P. Caron, who was living at 35 Western Street, Stratford. Kathleen and Queenie were put in an orphanage, but Kathleen was removed at some point and cared for by “two maiden aunts”. These may have been Walter John's sisters, Georgina and Alice Maud, both of whom were probably living in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, at this time and neither of whom was married.  Kathleen later married and the family migrated to Australia. We are in touch with her son, Paul Willee, who is a QC at the Victoria Bar in Melbourne.

  • Sophie left home some time before 1911, when she was working as a hospital nurse at the Royal Hospital Annex Convalescent Home in Ecclesall (near Sheffield), Yorkshire. (The Sheffield Royal Hospital itself was closed and demolished in 1978.) She became a Registered Nurse on 21 September 1923, when she was listed as resident at 13 Lexham Gardens, London W8. In 1939 Sophia was living at Little Croft, Two Mile Ash, Horsham, with two older women: Muriel K Davies-Williams (born 5 December 1862, widowed); and Eva A Pewsey (born 9 September 1869, single). In 1952 Sophie travelled to Australia for six months stay. We understand that she was invited there by her niece, Kathleen Minter (daughter of Arthur – see above) who had migrated there with her husband and children. She returned to Tilbury on the ‘Maloja’ from Brisbane (having boarded in Melbourne) on 9 October 1952. She did not marry. She spent her final years in Seaford, East Sussex, living at Flat 4, Avondale Court, Avondale Road until she moved into St Elizabeth’s Home, Homefield Road, where she died on 17 March 1976 at the age of 87. The cause of death was a myocardial infarction (i.e. heart attack) and senile dementia. She left £3165.

  • Reginald left London for Melbourne Australia in 1910, at the age of 17. He lived at Whitehorse Road, Box Hill, Victoria. On 21 April 1915 Reginald enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force 1914-18 and served in Infantry Brigade 6, Field Ambulance 6, Reinforcement 7. He embarked from Melbourne aboard HMAT Commonwealth on 26 November 1915. He later served as a corporal and returned to Australia on 6 September 1919 as a member of the 3rd Australian General Hospital (3AGH). In 1920 he applied for and was granted a homestead in the parish of Moyhu, Benalla District, Victoria, under the Discharged Soldiers Settlement Act 1917, a scheme for ex-servicemen who had served in the First World War. He later returned to live in England and in 1939 was living with his elder brother, Stuart, at 207A Deansbrook Road, Edgware, and working as a general clerk. He later worked for Hendon Borough Council as a Food Executive Officer. He did not marry. He retired to Dawlish, Devon, with his brother Stuart, where they lived at 13 Park Road. Reginald died on 18 March 1959, at the age of 65, at Redhills Hospital, Exeter. The cause of death was pulmonary oedema, congestive cardiac failure, generalized carcinomatosis and carcinoma of the prostate gland.

By 1911 the rest of the family had moved back to Forest Gate at 26 Earlham Grove, also part of the old Gurney housing estate. This house, which still stands, is a sizeable, semi-detached property, but smaller than the house at Balfour Road, no doubt reflecting the fact that several of the children had left home by then. Walter was working as a mechanical engineer. George and Stuart were described as clerks. George had been working as a clerk at C & R Light Ltd, Cartram Road, Cl, address 3 Khadars Road, Forest Gate. However, he had by then joined the 8th Batallion City of London Rifles on 5 January 1910, at the age of 19 years 9 months.

  • George (usually known as Austin) was discharged from the forces on termination of engagement after 4 years, in 1914. On 23 July of that year, at the age of 24, he married Janet Walker, the 33 year old daughter of Thomas Walker, a wool merchant, at Fulham Register Office. At the time George was working as a master cabinet maker and living at 128 Sinclair Road, Hammersmith. On 26 December of the same year, they had a church wedding at St Matthew's, Hammersmith. It is not clear why they married twice. Perhaps their parents were unaware of the first wedding and insisted on the couple marrying in a church. George set up a furniture business at 475 and 477, Bethnal Green Road, Bethnal Green. In 1921, however, he was filed with a petition for bankruptcy in the High Court of Justice. It was reported in the London Gazette of 27 January 1922 as follows:

    In the High Court of Justice. - In Bankruptcy.
    In the Matter of a Bankruptcy Petition filed the
    15th day of December, 1921.
    To GEORGE AUSTIN MINTER (trading as J. Edwards & Co.), sued in the Bankruptcy Notice as G. A. Minter (trading as J. Edwards & Co.), of 475 and 477, Bethnal Green-road, Bethnal Green, in the county of London, Furniture Manufacturer.
    TAKE notice, that a bankruptcy petition has been presented against you to this Court by Richard Gregory, of Numbers. 16 and 16A, Fuller-street, Bethnal Green, in the county of London, Builder and Decorator, and the Court has ordered that the publication of the notice in the London Gazette and in the Daily Telegraph newspaper shall be deemed to be service of the petition upon you; and further take notice, that the said petition will be heard at this Court on the 15th day of February, 1922, at 11.30 o'clock in the forenoon, on which day you are required to appear, and if you do not appear the Court may make a receiving order against you in your absence. The petition can be inspected by you on application at this Court. - Dated this 17th day of January, 1922.
    067 HERBERT J. HOPE, Registrar.

    George was the subject of a further bankruptcy petition in 1932, when he was recorded as residing at 107 Fairlop Road, Leytonstone. He was also recorded as living at this address in 1930 when he was informant for his father’s death. In 1939 George and Janet were living at 92 Lewis Road, Sidcup. George was working as a solicitors’ managing clerk, while Janet had retired from her job as a hospital-trained nurse. By 1945, the couple had moved to Leigh-on-Sea, where they lived at 25 East Street. Janet died on 6 May 1949 at the age of 70. George later moved to Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, where he lived at 8 Gainsborough Drive. He died there on 18 April 1970 at the age of 69. The cause of death was severe haemoptysis and carcinoma of the left lung.

  • Eric joined the Corps of Hussars of the Line on 22 August 1914 at Stratford (London), He served in Colchester in the Middlesex Regiment and was with the British Expeditionary Force in France from 25 July 1915 to 26 July 1917. He was admitted to Tooting Military Hospital on 27 July 1917 with 'tubercule of lung' and was discharged as no longer physically fit for war service on 8 October 1917, having completed 3 years and 49 days service. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. In 1920 Eric was living at 90A Station Road, Finchley, and working as a clerk. On 10 March 1920, he married Susan Lawrence, a 21 year old daughter of Daniel George Lawrence, a farm worker, and Susan nee Page (see below). At the time Susan was living with her parents at 39 Meads Road.

  • Stuart entered into a business partnership to manufacture mahogany and hardwood articles of furniture, operating out of 119 Charlotte Street in the name of MINTER & VINCETT. The partnership was dissolved in 1927 but Stuart continued to operate the business, as shown in the following notice in the London Gazette of 14 October 1927:

    NOTICE is hereby given, that the Partnership lately subsisting between us, the undersigned, Stuart John Minter and John Albert Reginald Kingham, carrying on business as Manufacturers of Mahogany and Hard Wood Articles of Furniture, at 119, Charlotte-street, London, W., under the style or firm of MINTER & VINCETT, has this day been dissolved by mutual consent so far as regards the said John Albert Reginald Kingham, who retires from the firm. All debts due to or owing by the said late firm will be received and paid by the said Stuart John Minter, who will continue the said business under the present style or firm of Minter & Vincett. - Dated the tenth day of October, 1927.
    S. J. MINTER.
    J. A. R. KINGHAM.

    In 1932, Stuart was living with his mother and his younger brother, Reginald, at 390 Merlin Crescent, Little Stanmore. He was the informant for his mother’s death in 1938, when both he and his mother were living at “Leahurst”, 134 Hadley Road, New Barnet. By 1939 he had moved in with Reginald at 207A Deansbrook Road, Edgware. Stuart did not marry and retired to Dawlish, Devon, with Reginald, where they lived at 13 Park Road. Stuart continued to live there until his death at Dawlish Hospital on 6 May 1973, at the age of 81. The cause of death was cardiovascular degeneration.

  • Bernard (usually known as Leslie) married Dorothy Evelyn Bull, the 31-year-old daughter of the late George John Bull, a coach painter, at the Register Office, Willesden, Middlesex on 11 October 1931, at the age of 33. He was working at the time as a civil servant, doing clerical duties at the Inland Revenue, and lived at 108 Review Road. In 1932 the couple were living at 391 Merlin Crescent, Stanmore. They had two children: John Bernan (born in 1937 in the Hampstead area) and Trevor Howard. In 1939 Bernard, Dorothy and John were living at 26 Hillside, Wembley. Bernard died on 22 January 1980 at St Mary’s Hospital, Praed Street, Westminster, at the age of 81. He was cremated on 25 January. His last address was 20 Tickford House, Lisson Green Estate, NW8. The cause of death was a “cerebro vascular accident” (probably a stroke) and staph aureus infected shingles.

Walter died on 8 October 1930 at Queen Mary's Hospital at the age of 70. The cause of death was given as heart failure and bronchopneumonia. His occupation at the time of death is recorded as pianoforte tuner. His residence was still 26 Earlham Grove.

In 1936, Ellen Sophia was listed in the electoral register as living at 22 Maitland Park Villas, Camden.

Ellen Sophia died on 22 May 1938 at the age of 78. The cause of death was given as carcinoma of breast. Her residence at the time was 'Leahurst', 134 Hadley Road, East Barnet, where she was living with her bachelor son, Stuart. This house which would have stood just south of Hadley Common, no longer stands. A block of private flats, known as Hadley Heights, now occupies the site.

Eric and Susan

On 21 September 1920, Susan gave birth to the couple's first son, Eric Laurence, in the City of London Lying-In Hospital.

On 9 August 1922 at Edgware, Susan gave birth to a second son, Norman Leslie.

From 1922 to 1929 the family were living at 38 Chandos Crescent, Little Stanmore. On 21 October 1924, Susan gave birth to a third son, Harold A.

Of the three children:

  • Eric worked as an engineer. He married Florence Ivy Robertshaw on 9 July 1949 at St Mary the Virgin Church, Kenton, Middlesex. They had two children: Janet Christine (born 14 June 1953) and Susan Elizabeth (born 10 July 1955). On 23 July 1959, the family travelled to Mombasa, Kenya, on a ship called the Uganda. At the time, he was working for Unilever.

  • Norman (known as Les) married Beryl Winifred Damen at St Lawrence Church, Little Stanmore, on 9 August 1947. For the rest of their story, see below.

  • Harold joined the Merchant Navy, where he worked as a steward. In 1947-8 he was on the electoral register at 19 Aldridge Avenue, Edgware; in 1949 at 117 Buckingham Road; between 1950 and 1958 at 270 Camrose Avenue; and in 1962 at the home of his brother Norman at 36 Aldridge Avenue. In 2002 he was living at Bulwark, Crockness, Stromness, Orkney. From 2009 to 2016 he was living at 5 Raes Close, Stromness.

In 1929 the family moved to 133 Buckingham Road, Little Stanmore. On 8 June 1929, at Redhill Hospital, Edgware, Susan died of haemorrhage and shock from a curettage following an incomplete abortion. She was 30.

On 30 March 1931 at Little Stanmore Parish Church, Eric married Agnes Mary Lee, a 43-year-old widow. At the time of the marriage, both were living at 133 Buckingham Road.

In 1939 Eric and Agnes were living at 64 Camrose Avenue. Harold was still at home.

On 28 February 1950 at the age of 53, Eric died of carcinoma of bronchus. At the time, he and Agnes were living at 2 North Street, Leigh-on-Sea. Eric's occupation was recorded as tax officer (Inland Revenue).

Agnes died in 1965.

Norman and Beryl

Norman worked as a telephone engineer. Norman and Beryl had three children: Graham Leslie (born Hampstead 4 January 1950), Elaine Patricia (born Hampstead 26 February 1953) and Christine Valerie (born Edgware 4 August 1959). From 1937 to 2002 they lived at 36 Aldridge Avenue, Edgware, Middlesex. From 2002 until Beryl’s death in 2011 they lived at 5 Cavendish Road, Chesham. Beryl died on 4 May 2011 at the age of 87. Norman continued to live there until 2018, when he moved into a care home, Pratt House, in Quill Hall Lane, Amersham. He died there in 2018 at the age of 95.