Canals, christenings and census returns

So much choice for blogging about C, I opted to look at one family with several ‘C’ elements.

For many people before the advent of affordable public transport, moving around the country was unheard of, and many families lived in the same area, or even the same village, for their whole lives. It would be a mistake, however, to think that people just didn’t move.  The research that we’ve been doing about the men named on our local war memorial has revealed that though many were born, lived and worked in the same place, others moved further afield. We find our Shropshire lads in Cheshire, Yorkshire, London, New Zealand…

In my family tree, one of my direct line strands began (as far back as I’ve got so far, at least) in Shropshire. This was a bit of a surprise, as we’ve ended up living almost in spitting distance of where my third great grandfather was born.  He (William) was the son of William and Jane, and had two younger sisters. At the age of 18 he attested in Birmingham to join the Royal Marines, and was transferred to the Royal Marine Artillery (RMA) in 1827.

The military life took William away from rural Shropshire and to the south coast, where he met Sarah, who he married in 1822.  By the time their third (2x great grandmother) child was born William and Sarah were in Chatham, and their infant daughter was christened at St Mary’s church in Chatham.

It can’t have been long after that when William left the RMA, as their next child was born at Hampton Bank, in Shropshire a couple of years later. William began work as a labourer in Shropshire, but his daughter had stayed in Chatham, living with a mariner and his wife until at least 1841, when she was 11. By the time of the 1851 census, William was a boatman, and it was evident that his children had been born around the country – Chatham, Kent;  Hampton Bank, Shropshire and Middlewich, Cheshire. His daughter had left Chatham, and was living with her parents, and new husband on the canal.

Both census and christening records are a great source to help track family movements across the years. Life on the canal must have been hard, and it seems that children were often christened en mass, when the family had the opportunity to stop at a convenient church

So many things that c could represent, christenings, canals and census returns are just a sample….


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