Over the course of my last three posts I have talked about my husband’s family tree down his male line – The Darby’s. The first post centred around his paternal grandfather Cornelius Pierce Darby, and great grandfather Cornelius George Darby spanning two world wars.
The second post discussed Cornelius George’s father Frederick James Darby and his father Frederick, detailing the family’s move from Ramsey in Huntingdonshire to Leicester and the places they lived in-between.
The third post talked about Frederick’s father George Darby and what became of Frederick’s siblings.
In this post I will talk about George’s father William and then the rest of my current research into the Darby family going back.
From my last post I mentioned that George Darby had been born on 1st December 1806 in Ramsey, Huntingdonshire and baptised on 21st December the same year. He was the third child of William Darby and Cornelia Beagle who had married in Ramsey on 12th October 1801. Their witnesses were a Richard Nixon and a Sarah Greenwood. Cornelia was from Welney in Cambridgeshire – on the border with Norfolk and was the daughter of a William Beagle and Ann Prince.
William and Cornelia’s first child was a son Robert born on 20th April 1802 and baptised on 6th June. They then had a daughter Mary born on 1st April 1804 and baptised on the 22nd April. After George they had a son William who was born on 1st February 1809 and baptised two days later. Sadly, just two days after William’s baptism the family were back at the St. Thomas a’Beckett parish church to bury their eldest son Robert on 5th February 1809 aged just six years old.
In the course of my research I have found a reference to a William Darby from Huntingdonshire as a substitute in the 30th Foot Regiment in the Army of Reserve for the Napoleonic Wars in 1803, however there is no further identifying information for me to tell whether this relates to the William Darby of Ramsey or whether it is a different man.
William and Cornelia went on to have son John born on 23rd June 1811 and baptised just over a month later, another son they named Robert born on 25th August 1813 and baptised in the October that year. Then a son David born 9th Oct 1816 and baptised later that month, a son Henry born 31st May 1819 and baptised three days later and a daughter Ann born on 7th November 1824 and baptised a week later. Tragedy struck the Darby family again as just two days after the baptism of their daughter Ann, Cornelia was buried in the Ramsey churchyard and then several weeks later in early January 1825 the baby Ann was buried there too. Poor William was now left with 7 children, however his eldest Mary was now 20 so was likely to be helping him with raising the younger children, and George by now was 18 so he too may have helped as much as he could. William was 15, John 13, Robert 11, David 8 and Henry was just 5.
In the January of 1829 Mary Darby married William Lander a local Labourer in Ramsey, and later that year George married Ruth Epy in nearby Colne. In August of 1831 William married Ann Scott in Ramsey.
On 31st March 1838 there is a reference to William’s son Robert Darby being admitted to the workhouse, this may well be being admitted to the workhouse infirmary for medical treatment, rather than out of poverty, but I cannot say for sure, however Robert only lived for another nine months after that as he was buried in Ramsey on 19th December 1838 aged 25. He never married.
William’s son David then married in 1839 to a Charlotte Colbert, leaving just John and Henry as the only ones not yet married, and sadly John never married as he was buried in Ramsey on 7th May 1841 aged 29.
By the time of the 1841 census William was staying with his married daughter Mary Lander, her husband William and their four children, Sophia, Elizabeth, Phoebe and Sarah Ann. Mary would go on to have another child, a son Thomas in 1843. In the same year that Thomas was born, Mary’s brother David Darby passed away and was buried in the November that year aged 27, leaving his young widow Charlotte and a 3 year old son David. Then just two short years later Mary died and was buried in Ramsey in May 1845 aged just 41.
William’s youngest son Henry had married by then, having met and married an Eliza Lawrence while working in nearby Warboys, they married in 1842 and started a family there.
William however would not live to see another census as he died on 21st August 1849 in Ramsey, aged 73, his cause of death was given as continued fever which had lasted for 3 weeks and effusion of the brain which had lasted for 5 days. Then just several months later his own son William junior was also buried in the December that year aged 40.
It seems so awful that this family suffered so much with loss, with the loss of Cornelia so young, the loss of two children in infancy, let alone so many of their children not living far beyond the ages of 30 or 40. Mary’s husband William Lander never remarried and lived with his mother Sarah who likely helped him with raising his youngest children. He died in 1888.
George Darby and his wife Ruth have had their story told in my last post.
William Darby and Ann Scott seem to have just had three children, William, Mary and George. Ann was a widow when she married William, on the 1841 census there was a 20 year old James Scott and 11 year old Henry Scott with them who were likely her sons from her first marriage. William and Mary both died in infancy and Ann never remarried and she died in 1871.
David Darby’s widow Charlotte went on to marry a William Malpass and her son David went to live in America after marrying in Essex, he died in New York in 1906.
Henry Darby who had married Eliza Lawrence in 1842 initially stayed in Warboys where they had a daughter Jane in 1845, followed by Lucy in 1848 who sadly died in 1852, then another daughter who was unnamed and was born and died in 1850, and another Lucy in 1852. They then moved to the Islington area of London where they had two more children Emma Ann in 1855 and George David Alfred in 1858. Henry was initially a servant in an Inn in Warboys in 1841, by 1851 he was an Agricultural Labourer and in 1861 his occupation is described as Traveller (Cream Cheese)! I am guessing from that he was a travelling salesman for cream cheese! In 1871 he was away from home working as a Coachman at Heysham House in Lancashire. Then just three years later his wife Eliza died aged 54 and Henry himself didn’t make it to the next census dying in Lambeth district in early 1881 aged 62.
So what about the rest of the Darby ancestry?
William Darby was baptised in Ramsey on 28th July 1777 and was the eldest son of Robert Darby and Ann Perkins who had married at nearby Upwood on 10th February 1772. Robert was a Master Tailor and was named in an apprenticeship record of 1777 being the master to an apprentice named William Coles. Robert and Ann went on to have just one more child, a son John baptised on 2nd August 1778.
Little is known about Robert and his family, current online coverage of Huntingdonshire parish records is not great so I’m sure there will be other records to uncover at some point in the future which may expand more. I have not found a burial for Robert, but his wife Ann was buried in Ramsey on 17th May 1815 aged 65. It is possible she was baptised in Cambridge, the daughter of a John and Susannah Perkins.
I have also not found much information about their other son John and what became of him.
Robert Darby was baptised in Ramsey on 8th Aug 1751 and was the son of John Darby and Elizabeth Smith who had married in Ramsey on 3rd November 1745. They had two other children John and William. John was baptised on 16th November 1746 and William was baptised on 11th September 1749. William sadly was buried on 27th October 1752 aged 3 and John did not make it into adulthood either as he was buried on 18th June 1763 aged 17. I do not know what John senior did for a living but he died before his son John and was buried in Ramsey on 24th May 1755, leaving Elizabeth a young widow with at the time, two young sons. She remarried in 1759 to a George Colman and they had six children over the course of 11 years and tragically none of them survived infancy. I have been unable to find burial records for Elizabeth or her second husband George but he was a witness at her son Robert’s marriage in 1772.
John Darby was baptised in Ramsey on 17th April 1724 and was the first of the Darby family to be baptised there. He was the son of Robert Darby and his wife Susannah Thornhill who had married on 29th June 1721 in Godmanchester. They had two other children, daughters both called Elizabeth who both died as children, the first aged about 4 and the second age unknown as there was no corresponding baptism but likely under 1 year old. I found that Robert was appointed a Parish Clerk in Ramsey in April 1752 but do not know much more about him beyond that. His wife Susannah died in 1756 and was buried in Ramsey in the April of that year, Robert went on to remarry in 1759 to a widow Elizabeth Morris – nee Drage who had been previously married to a John Morris. Robert lived for another 6 years before he was then buried in Ramsey in December 1765, with Elizabeth dying nine years later in 1774.
Robert came from nearby Chatteris in Cambridgeshire, just over the border with Huntingdonshire. He was baptised on 1st Jan 1697/8 – the son of Robert Darby and his wife Elizabeth. I have not yet found a marriage for Robert and Elizabeth. They also had a daughter Margaret baptised in Chatteris in 1695 and a son William baptised there in 1702. Sadly for Robert he lost both his wife and his son William within days in 1715 as William was buried there on 3rd April and Elizabeth was buried on 5th April. Interestingly Elizabeth was baptised as an adult in Chatteris on 26th March 1715, aged about 50. Perhaps she knew she was ill and near death and wanted to ensure she would be accepted into the kingdom of heaven by being baptised?
Robert and Elizabeth’s daughter Margaret married Brian Humphrey in Ramsey shortly before the deaths of her brother and mother. I have not found a burial for Robert Darby senior, but I believe he was baptised in 1666 in Doddington the son of a John Darby and his wife Elizabeth who had married the previous year. Sadly the marriage record doesn’t state what Elizabeth’s surname was, it is blank.
The spelling of Darby now is changing to be recorded differently, previously I have noticed spellings of Derby – which is not uncommon and still get people trying to spell it like that when I say the surname, but on the records going back it can often be spelled Darbie, Darbye but now as I moved back into the records in Doddington there are other potential variations like Dalby and Dolby. Under the spelling of Darby I have found baptisms for a Thomas in 1675 and a Catherine in 1677 as children of John, but there are other entries for children of a John Dolby/Dalby around the same time as the baptisms of Thomas and Catherine. There is a possible baptism of a John Dalby in Doddington in 1635/6 son of a Luke but with there being someone else having children in the parish called John Dalby it is possible they are two different people. So for now I have not been able to go any further back with the Darby family. I have not found a definitive burial entry for both Robert or his wife Elizabeth in Doddington either.
Paul and I visited Ramsey two years ago, it is a really lovely village in amongst some lovely countryside. We visited the church and hunted around for gravestones, had a look at the nearby Abbey Gate and visited the Ramsey Rural Museum which was a really interesting place to visit, full of details about rural life, with farming machinery and mock up shops from the Victorian/Edwardian era. It was nice to come to the place where the Darby family had it’s roots for over 140 years. We have not yet visited Chatteris or Doddington, but perhaps if I find out more information we will take a trip over to that area again.
So from starting out as a bit of a friendly bet to see how far I could get with Paul’s family in one evening of research back when we first became work colleagues back in 2013, to then ending up married in 2020 and having put in fair bit more work into researching his family tree – I’ve not done too badly, and of course – I’m not done yet!