My last two posts have covered off the Darby family from my husband’s paternal grandfather Cornelius Pierce Darby born 1923, his father Cornelius George Darby born 1896 in the first post, and then Cornelius George’s father Frederick James Darby born 1867 and in turn his father Frederick Darby born 1848 in the second post. This post will talk more about Frederick’s father George Darby.
As my previous post mentioned, Frederick Darby who married Emma Squires in Bethnal Green in 1867 was originally from Ramsey in Huntingdonshire and he was the seventh child of George Darby and Ruth Epy who had married on 3rd September 1829 in nearby Colne. Ruth was from Colne having been baptised there in 1809 the daughter of Robert Epy and Sarah Nichols. It was not uncommon for a couple to marry in the brides parish and then settle elsewhere. George had been born on 1st December 1806 and baptised 20 days later in the Ramsey St Thomas a’Beckett parish church the son of William Darby and Cornelia Beagle.
George and Ruth had their first child within a year of their marriage with a son Robert who was born on 9th August 1830 in Ramsey, followed by Elizabeth Epey three years later, another son George Vawser in 1836 and then a daughter Emma in 1839.
George’s occupation on the baptism of his son George at the local Wesleyan chapel in 1837 was Shoe Maker. I always find it interesting to see how parents name their children and how some get middle names and some don’t. Elizabeth got her mother’s maiden name as her middle name (albeit a slight variation on the spelling but Epy often got spelled with the extra e.) George junior got Vawser as his middle name which may relate to a distant relation on his father’s mother’s side of the family.
George senior and his eldest son appeared in the Cambridge Independent Press of 3rd April 1841 there is an article from the St. Ives Petty Sessions held 29th March:
“Mr Geo Darby, of Ramsey, charged Nevile Butler, with having violently assaulting Robert Darby, his son a little boy. On Friday; a witness deposed that Butler had hold of the child and kicked him violently : ordered to pay a fine and expenses of 15s, he having used undue violence in correcting him, although it appeared he was a very saucy lad, and had called Butler names.”
Poor Robert – he would have been about 10 years old – not yet 11. However from the description of him being a “very saucy lad” calling people names it perhaps was rather provoked, but kicking a little kid is not nice, even if he did call you names!
The family then appear on the 1841 census living on the High Street in Ramsey with George listed as a Shoemaker, with his wife and children. The following year they had another daughter Mary Ann, then in 1845 they had another daughter Lavinia. I found a reference to George’s son George junior being admitted to the Huntington workhouse on 21st March 1846 but no further details relating to it. As many workhouses had infirmaries it is possible he was admitted on medical grounds as there is no mention of the other members of the family being admitted and with him only being about 10, it seems more likely he was unwell, rather than perhaps the family being destitute. A year later in 1847 Lavinia died aged 2 and a year after that, Frederick was born.
In 1849 George was mentioned in a case regarding two men – named Bott and Crane, the details are not clear about what the case involved, just a reference to it in the Cambridgeshire Archives:
A number of householders testified to Crane’s hitherto unblemished character and asked the favour of the court – signed by:-
Isaac Palmer; George Reeve James, baker, Ramsey.
Adam Setchell, draper, Ramsey; Joseph Mead; Samuel Langford; William Martin; Robert Berridge; George Saunders; John Saunders; Edward Darlow, William Adams; William Rands; J. F. Nicholls; Joseph Saunders; John Smith; George Darby.
The testimonial is written by M. H. Croft, dissenting minister, who heads the signatories; (In the depositions the prosecutor blamed Bott, “a corrupted old thief” for the crime).
I have looked in the local papers on Findmypast and not found a reference to this to find more details.
The 1851 census sees the family still living on the High Street in Ramsey, with George’s occupation down as Cordwainer – another name for a shoe maker. By then their eldest son Robert had been married for a year – having married Mary Palmer in 1850.
Not long after the census George and Ruth had another son, Amos. And in 1854 George was listed in the local gazetteer for Huntingtonshire for his trade as a Boot and Shoemaker, still listed at the High Street. Then in 1855 they had their last child Arthur. Later that year their eldest daughter Elizabeth married James Moore.
George and Ruth’s son George journeyed away from Ramsey, appearing in South Hackney, London in 1857 where he married Sarah Orpwood. George and Sarah remained in London.
In 1861 George and Ruth were living not far from the High Street, having moved to a street called Great White/Whyte in Ramsey. Still listed as a Cordwainer, George was living with his wife Ruth, daughter Emma who was now 21 and was a Milliner (hat maker) and Dressmaker, Mary Ann aged 19 who was a Sempstress (did sewing), Fred aged 12 and his two younger brothers Amos and Arthur aged 9 and 6 – all three boys were at school. With the family was a five month old granddaughter Charlotte.
A year after the 1861 census Emma married a William Fordham, followed by her sister Mary Ann in 1864 who married a Robert Baker Lunniss. As we know Frederick married a heavily pregnant Emma Squires in 1867 in Bethnal Green – and given that his brother George was living in London at that time, it may be that they came to stay with him. Sadly not long after that George’s wife Ruth died on 27th May 1868 in Ramsey aged 60 of Phthisis – aka Tuberculosis. Just a few months later George appeared in the local paper suffering another kind of loss. In the Cambridge Independent Press of 19th September 1868 there was a report about a fire which involved George.
“Ramsey, – Fire, – On Thursday night, the 10th instant, about 12 o’clock, the alarm of fire was heard, and which proved to be an outhouse, near the Baptist Schoolroom, Great Whyte, occupied by George Darby. The school was saved by the energy of the persons present. The outhouse was speedily consumed. This was no doubt the work of an incendiary.”
That must have been a frightening experience, it is not clear whether the outhouse was George’s home or his workshop for his shoe making – I would hazard a guess it was his workshop. It seems to denote that it may have been set alight on purpose, this would have been quite a blow to George to lose his workspace and no doubt tools and materials.
Just a year after the incident George found himself in Shoreditch, London preparing for his second marriage, aged 63. His bride to be was a widow in her early 50s, Eleanor (nee Armstrong) who had lost her first husband James Orpwood in 1848. Does the name Orpwood sound familiar? It should do. George’s son George Vawser Darby had married Eleanor’s daughter Sarah in 1857. So this then made George senior step-father to his own daughter in law… and in turn making George and Sarah step-siblings as well as husband and wife!
It does make you wonder how that romance blossomed as presumably George and Eleanor would have met each other around the time their children married in 1858, and potentially had other occasions of being in each other’s company, so it is interesting to think whether they had an interest in one another already, and took the opportunity to marry when Ruth passed away, or had there been no interest before and perhaps Eleanor had helped George out after losing Ruth and something more came out of their friendship and family connection?
George and Eleanor then lived together back in Ramsey, appearing together on the 1871 census at Great White with George still plying the same trade – seemingly not lost his whole business following the fire. With them was George’s son Arthur, the other children having grown up and left home, Amos was working as a Draper’s Assistant in Upton cum Chalvey near Eton in Buckinghamshire, while the others were married with families of their own either in Ramsey or down in London.
George then passed away in Ramsey on 16th April 1874 aged 67 of Morbus Cordis – a name for an unspecified heart disease. He didn’t live to see his two youngest children get married, with Amos marrying Mary Adelaide Sharp in 1877 down in Brighton in Sussex, and Arthur marrying Mary Jane Skinner in Derbyshire in 1878.
Eleanor returned to London where she was staying with her son James Orpwood at 19 Beale Place, Bow in 1881. She died the following year aged 62.
As for George and Ruth’s children who survived into adulthood:
Robert and his wife Mary Palmer lived in Ramsey for a number of years before moving to Mile End Old Town in London in the mid-1860s. Robert was a Boot and Shoe Maker like his father, later becoming a City Missionary in London. The City Mission was a branch of Christianity founded in 1835, as a way to help spread the word of God to some of the most poorest areas. You can find out more about it here. Robert and Mary sadly lost many children in infancy, having a total of 10 children and only two of them survived into adulthood. Mary died in 1888 and Robert was a widow for several years before marrying again in 1904 when he was 73 to a Martha Levett Draper. They had a daughter Dorothy Winifred in 1905, I’ve not found a birth reference for her so it is possible they adopted her as Martha would have been in her late 40s when she was born. Robert died in 1919 aged 88.
Elizabeth and her husband James Moore – who was also a Boot and Shoe Maker like her father, remained in Ramsey. They had a daughter Emily who sadly died aged 7 in 1863 and a son Robert John, and while he survived infancy – he too didn’t live a long life – dying aged 30 in 1889. James died in 1897 and in 1900 Elizabeth remarried to Edward Rose. She died in 1922 in Ramsey.
George Vawser Darby as we know married Sarah Orpwood, they remained in the London area where they had married in 1857, having 11 children, although sadly they lost four children before they had reached the age of 8, and then another child who died aged 18. George was a Carpenter and Joiner like his brother Frederick. His wife Sarah died in 1901 aged 60 and George died in 1916 in Poplar aged 79.
Emma and her husband William Fordham – who was another Boot and Shoe Maker, as well as being a local Methodist preacher, also remained in Ramsey. They had two children Anne Meneen who sadly died aged 9 in 1881 and George William. Emma then passed away in 1891 aged 51 and William remarried in 1892 to an Alice Cade.
Mary Ann and her husband Robert Baker Lunniss initially lived in Ramsey before a brief stint in Wimblington, Cambridgeshire ending up in Mile End Old Town, London by 1881. The grandchild living with George and Ruth in 1861 called Charlotte was actually Mary Ann’s daughter, born in 1860 four years before she married Robert so it is unlikely that he was her father. Robert was a Baker by trade – it is interesting that his middle name is the same as his occupation! He and Mary Ann had three daughters together after their marriage and remained in the London area where Robert died in 1902 and Mary Ann passed away several years later in 1908 aged 66.
Frederick’s details were written about in my previous post.
Amos was last seen working in Buckinghamshire in 1871 and then marrying Mary Adelaide Sharp in 1877 in Brighton. He and Mary then settled in London where he plied his trade as an Outfitter or Tailor. Although the family appear as lodgers in Brighton on the 1891 census, they are back in London shortly after the census going by the birth registration of one of their children in 1892. He and Mary had six children although only three survived into adulthood, losing two sons in the same quarter of 1884 aged 5 and 6 years old. Mary died in 1910 (death registered as Adelaide Mary) aged 54 and Amos passed away four years later aged 62.
Arthur, the youngest child of George and Ruth had married Mary Jane Skinner in Belper district Derbyshire in 1878. They then show up in 1881 in Stapleton in Gloucestershire where Arthur was an Eating House Keeper, before moving up to Leeds in Yorkshire by 1891 where Arthur was an Insurance Agent. By that point they had six children, each born in different parts of the country with their eldest being born in Ripley, Derbyshire, the next three all born in different places in Somerset, one born in London and the youngest being born in Trowbridge, Wiltshire. They later settled in Bradford in Yorkshire where they had their final children. In all they had nine children, but two of them died in infancy and one daughter Mary Ethel died when she was 21 in 1908. Mary Jane died in Bradford in 1922 aged 65 and Arthur died just five years later aged 72.
So for George and Ruth’s time together over almost 30 years of marriage, they lived a fairly quiet life it seems but tinged with things like their son antagonising someone to kick him, the loss of one of their children in infancy and perhaps some pleasure in seeing their other children grow up and succeed in getting married and having families of their own. Then with the loss of Ruth, George finding happiness again with his son’s mother in law! The Darby family spread out somewhat across the country over the course of several decades, from Huntingdonshire to Buckinghamshire, Sussex, Gloucestershire, Somerset, London, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Leicestershire.
My last instalment will go into the details of George Darby’s father William Darby and my research taking the Darby family back to the 1600s.