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The Childs Family

This is a quick first attempt using my original research of many years ago plus recent internet research. Please do let me know of any additions, corrections or photographs. As usual the move from Word to the website has made a mess of some of the formatting so I have removed charts - I hope still understandable.

The Childs Family


Like the Balls, there are two distinct tribes of the Childs (or sometimes Chiles) family in Ringstead. Both came from the neighbouring counties of Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire (and tend to drift back there) but we have enough evidence to see how they arrived. It is possible that they are linked further back in their ancestry and we do know that the two families link again, which sometimes confuses the evidence. One side are my direct ancestors but by looking at both sides we can see better how the people in the Censuses relate to each other.

One Childs family links back to Thomas Childs who was born, on 2nd July 1790, in Milton Ernest in Bedfordshire. His parents were Thomas Childs and Elizabeth {daughter of Thomas Swanson and his wife Mary (nee Petitt)}. Thomas Childs was a farm labourer and at some point he moved to Ringstead. It may be that this was just after the birth of their first Child Mary Ann (sometimes Marianne) who was born on 1st January 1811, according to the Baptist records, in Ringstead but, according to the Censuses in Keysoe which is some 7 miles north-east of Milton Ernest. (Ringstead is some 12 miles due north of Milton Ernest.)

Fortunately for the genealogist the family became members of the Ringstead Particular Baptist Church (although some of the children became Methodists) at a time when there is a Register of Births for the Use of Congregations of Protestant Dissenters listing the children’s births and their parentage.

One of the children of Thomas and Martha was Elizabeth, born on 7th August 1812 in Ringstead. On 13th June1837 she married John Childs who was the son of James and Susannah who were Church of England. James had been born in about 1790, the son of John and Elizabeth (nee Page) in Southoe and had moved to Ringstead and married Susannah Whiteman on June 23rd 1814 in the parish church. Their son John had been christened on March 26th of the following year.

James and Susannah had two daughters called Elizabeth but both died in childhood and their son, John married another Elizabeth who was the daughter of Thomas and Martha. [James and Susannah also had a daughter called Ann, sister of John, and she married Thomas Ball.] The marriage of two people from different Childs families does mean that we have to be careful when looking at Childs nephews and nieces to see which spouse is the direct blood relative.

Describing the siblings does sometimes make my direct line more difficult to follow but it does also help to understand the history and family context of my ancestors.

We will start with James and Susannah Childs and their family.




The Childs Family Descended from James and Susannah


JAMES CHILDS (Abt1790 - 1868)


Abt1790  - 1868


Abt1790 - 1856


Abt1814 - 1888


1816 - 1817


1819 – 1827


1821 - 1898


Abt1824 - 1912


 Abt1828 - 1899


1831 - 1832



James Childs was christened the son of John and Elizabeth Childs in Southoe in Huntingdonshire on 3rd October1790. It seems likely that he was the son of John Childs and Elizabeth Page who were married on the 1st July 1776 in Hartford in Huntingdonshire. His siblings, all baptised in Southoe, were probably Francis, baptised 19th September 1779 and buried in Toseland on 9th July 1826, Mary, baptised 1st July 1781, Sarah, baptised 21st June 1783, Elizabeth baptised 15th December 1792 and Samuel 25th December 1796. [Francis is ‘of Upwood’ so may be some doubt.]

James Chiles (Childs), bachelor, married Susannah Whiteman, spinster in Ringstead Parish Church (BOTP) on June 23rd 1814 and we see the baptisms there of their children over the next 16 years. Susannah was a local girl, the daughter of Henry and Elizabeth, who was christened in the parish church on April 4th 1790

John, the eldest child was baptised on March 26th 1815; Elizabeth on December 25th 1816 (and buried on 1st October 1817 aged one year); Elizabeth on November 7th 1819 (and buried 22nd June 1827 aged 8: it says of John and Sarah but I think this is just a clerical error); Samuel baptised May 4th 1821 and again I think with his siblings on September 14th 1828 aged 7; Ann aged 4 and George also baptised September14th 1828; William on October 31st 1831 (and buried 3rd February 1832 aged 4 months).

By 1841 James is 50 and an agricultural labourer with children Samuel (20) a shoemaker and Ann (15). There is also a John Yeats (30) living with them who is an agricultural labourer. Susannah is away in Swineshead with son John and family. (John’s wife Elizabeth has a 6 months old child. There is also a Sarah Childs there who is almost certainly Elizabeth’s youngest sister).

By 1851, James and Susan (nah), both 61, are in Ringstead with granddaughter Elizabeth (child of daughter Ann and husband Thomas Ball).

Susannah was buried in Ringstead churchyard on January 11th 1856 aged 67 and by 1861 James, aged 71, is staying with daughter Ann and husband Thomas Ball and their family in Ringstead.

James was buried in the churchyard on May 18th 1868 aged 78.


JS1John Childs (Abt1815 – 1888)

John Childs (Chiles)

Abt1814 - 1888

Elizabeth Childs (Chiles)


Joseph Abt1838 - ?

Sarah Abt1839 - ?

Martha Abt1841 – 14/11/1855

John Abt1842 - ?


Abt1844 - ?

Samuel Abt1846 - ?

Clara Abt1847 - ?

Elizabeth Abt1850 - ?

Martha Abt1857 - ?



John Chiles (Childs), son of James and Susannah, was born in Ringstead in about 1814 and baptised in the parish church on 26th March of that year. He married Elizabeth Chiles (Childs), daughter of Thomas and Martha on 12th June 1837 in the church. It is this couple who link the two Childs families together. Soon after the marriage the couple moved to Upper Dean and then on to Swineshead, some 2 miles further on, in Huntingdonshire (transferred later to Bedfordshire). The area is midway between Ringstead and Milton Ernest.

I have not yet confirmed the baptisms of the children but it appears that Joseph was the first child, born in Upper Dean in 1838 and Sarah (Abt1839), Martha (Abt1841), John (Abt1842), Robert (Abt1844), Samuel (Abt1846), Clara (Abt1847), and Elizabeth (Abt1850) were all born in Swineshead. Martha died in Ringstead on November 14th 1855 aged 15 and another Martha was born there in about 1857.

In the 1841 Census John and Elizabeth (both25) are in Swineshead with children Joseph (3), Sarah (2) and Martha (6 months). John is a shoemaker. Also staying with them are John’s younger brother George (12), and his mother Susannah Childs (5) - and Sarah Childs (14) who I have not placed.

In the 1851 Census the family are still in Swineshead.  John and Elizabeth are both 38. She was also born in Ringstead and is a shoe binder. John’s occupation is more difficult to make out but seems to be, “Shoe maker Glove maker employing 2 men”, but the middle of this phrase could be grocer or grazer. There are seven children: the two oldest, Sarah A. (11) and Martha (10) are lace makers and the younger children; John (9), Robert (7), Samuel (6), Clara (4), and Elizabeth (4 months) are all at home. There are also the two 16 year old shoemakers that John employs, lodging with them.

By 1861 John (46) is a baker, living back in Ringstead. From the death of their daughter Martha in 1855 it would seem that they had moved back by this date. Elizabeth is 47 and the children Robert (17), Samuel (15), Clara (14), Elizabeth (11) and Martha (4) are still at home. Robert is a shoemaker but Samuel is an assistant baker, helping his father.

In the 1862 edition of Slater’s Royal National Commercial Directory there are three bakers in Ringstead. Alongside Thomas Haines there are John Childs and Andrew Bull. Andrew had not appeared in the Melville and Co. Directory of the previous year. They were both to remain village bakers for many years.


The Childs house and bakery was one house from the Chapel Road turning in the Census so we can be sure that it is what are now two houses, 47 and 49 High Street. It seems that the bakehouse was in number 47 and the house and, possibly, the shop in number 49.

1871 finds the family still at the bakery but only daughters, Elizabeth, a dressmaker and Martha a “baker’s daughter” are now at home. Did a “baker’s daughter” help in the shop or the bakery?

At about the time of the Census collection in 1871, John is involved in a court case to recover 12s. from a porter called Cadman, employed by the London and North-Western Railway Company at Thrapston. The debt had actually been to his son who we learn had since emigrated. In fact Cadman’s wife, who was a witness, was too ill to attend so the case was adjourned.

The years roll by and the 1881 Census has John (65) and Elizabeth (67) with the only family living with them being Elizabeth’s widowed sister, Mary Ann (68). John does have some help, however, because lodging with them there is a sixteen-year-old assistant baker from Raunds.

Two bakers might seem enough for a small village but it appears that there were sometimes three or more competing for trade. Perhaps as the village bakers got older others saw a chance to increase their own trade. Henry Peach was a baker in Denford and we know that at this time that he too was delivering bread in the village. On 15th May 1882 he and his “boy” were on their round, in the village, unaware that Inspector Alexander was watching them. There had been “complaints”. Perhaps one of the village bakers was annoyed by Henry Peach coming into his patch. The Inspector:

Went to Mr. Bradshaw’s, publican [I am not sure which public house this was] and found he had left two loaves there, a “cottage” and a loaf baked in a tin. Witness weighed the bread, and found 4 ozs. Short in the two loaves, - Mr. Peach acknowledged the offence, and said he was very sorry it had occurred but he was under the impression that the loaves came within the denomination of “fancy bread” and did not require weighing. – The same defendant was also charged with selling five other loaves other than by weight on the same date and in the same parish. – Inspector Alexander deposed that these were delivered at the house of Joseph Fox. There was a deficiency of 6 ozs. In the five loaves. – Mr. Peach was then charged with delivering bread from his cart and not being provided with scales to weigh the same, at Ringstead, on the same day. – Defendant acknowledged the offence and pleaded in extenuation that the lad had accidentally left the scales at home. He was very sorry for what had occurred, and would take care it did not happen again. 

Henry Peach was fined for not selling “by weight”. The fact that Henry Peach might consider the loaves “fancy” may indicate that the standard loaf was a “batch loaf” which was not baked in a tin.

Unfortunately for John Childs, at the same court session, he was charged with having an “unjust flour scale” just two days after Henry Peach was caught. The report states:

It appeared that the scale was about one ounce against the purchaser. There was dough on it, and after cleaning the scale the deficiency was reduced. – Inspector Noble said the defendant was a most respectable man, and had never before been summoned on a similar charge. – The Bench considered that it to be rather the result of carelessness than with a fraudulent intent; they therefore imposed the mitigated fine of 5s. and 14s 6d. expenses. - On Superintendant Noble’s application the scales were (after adjustment) ordered to be given up to the defendant. 

We do see that John Childs was a well-regarded man but perhaps age was catching up on him. We do not have a description of John. Was he like Grandfather Iden, who Richard Jefferies describes in Amaryllis at the Fair, which was published in 1887?

He wore a grey suit, as a true miller and baker should, and had worn the same cut and colour for years and years. In the shop too, he always had a grey suit on, perhaps its original hue was white, but it got to appear grey upon him; a large grey chimney-pot, many sizes too big for his head apparently, for it looked as if forever about to descend and put out his face like an extinguisher. Though his boots were so carefully polished, they quickly took a grey tint from the flour dust as he pottered about the bins in the morning.

John died, aged seventy-two, and was buried in the churchyard on October 20th 1888. It seems likely that the house and business was sold and by 1891 his widow, Elizabeth, aged 74 and her sister, Mary Ann Abbott, were living together in Carlow Street. I have not yet found her death.

JS2 Elizabeth Childs (1815 – 1816)

JS3 Elizabeth Childs (1819 – 1827)

JS4 Samuel Childs Abt1821 – 1898)

Samuel Childs

Abt1821 - 1898

Jane Whiteman

Abt1821 - 1902


Abt1849 - ?


Abt1852 - ?

Sarah Eunice

Abt1860 - ?

(Catherine) Bertha

1864 - ?



The second son, Samuel, appears to have been baptised twice, once on the 4th May 1821 and again with his sisters on 14th September 1828, both in Ringstead Parish Church. In the 1841 Census he is 20 and a shoemaker still at home with his father (his mother Susannah is away helping his brother John‘s family with his baby). On April – June 1846 he married Jane Whiteman. Jane was from Leighton Bromswold in Huntingdonshire.

Soon after their marriage they moved to Yelden in Bedfordshire, some 6 miles south of Ringstead. The 1851 Census for Yelden shows Samuel as a shoemaker and Jane as a shoemaker’s wife (does this mean she helped with closing the shoes?). There is also George who is two years old and born in Yelden, a young apprentice, George Wiggins form Clapham in Bedfordshire and Thomas Whiteman, a carpenter, who is a 39-year-old widower from Leighton and probably is Jane’s brother.

By 1861 Samuel and his family had moved nearer home to Woodford and he was now a grocer. Besides George (13) and Elizabeth (9) both born in Yelden there is Sarah (1) who was born in Woodford. By 1871 we see that the family are in the New Town area of Woodford. This was the area built to house the newcomers who had come to work in the quarries and furnaces and it was presumably these workers that 29 Newtown, Samuel’s shop, served, (although it is possible that he lived away from the shop).Both are 5o and only Sarah (10) and Bertha (6) are still at home.  It may be the family had changed their religious allegiances because Catherine Bertha Childs, daughter of Samuel and Jane was born on 26th April 1864 and christened on23rd October of the same year in Woodford on the Higham Ferrers Methodist Circuit.

By 1881 they are still in Woodford in Upper Green and now the Census makes clear that they are living in a ‘Grocer’s shop’, Now only Sarah (21) is with her parents and perhaps the two women help in the shop. By 1891 Samuel is 70 and Jane 71 but he is still a grocer. Sarah has not married and is 31. There is also a granddaughter, Jessie Fowler, 5, with them.

Samuel died on 14th January 1898 and left to Jane, his widow, and Sarah Eunice Childs, his unmarried daughter, personal effects to the value  of £374 17s. 1d. He was 77. Jane was still a grocer aged 79 in the High Street in the 1901 Woodford Census. She died in Oct-Dec 1902 aged 81 The 1911 Census shows that her daughter Sarah, aged 51 carried on the business of grocer and general dealer but in Great Addington.


JS5 ANN CHILDS (Abt1823 - 1902)


Abt1823 – 4/05/1912 (Thrapston Workhouse)


1818 - 1891


(Sarah) Elizabeth

Abt1844 –?



Possibly did not marry




Abt1846 – 1928



Married Gabriel Bates




Abt1848– 1930



Married Charles Ferrey



Abt1850 – 1933



Married Henry Sykes




Abt1852 –




Married Susannah Phillips



Abt1854 –?



Married William Smith  14/09/1874


Abt1858 – 1941 Brixworth TBC


Lot Major

Oct-Dec 1878



It is Ann who links the Childs to the Ball family tree.

Ann was born in about 1823 and was baptised (with brothers George and Samuel) in Ringstead Parish Church on September 14th 1828 aged four years old.

In the 1841 Ringstead Census Ann, aged 15 is with her father James, an agricultural labourer and brother Samuel (20), a shoemaker. Her mother Susannah is with her son John‘s young family, possibly helping his wife with a young child.

On 2nd December 1844 she was married to local man, Thomas Ball in the local church and had six daughters and one son in quick succession. The first daughter, Sarah Elizabeth was born in about 1844 but was not christened until May 10th 1846 along with her new sister Anna (Hannah). Alongside the entry for Sarah Elizabeth it appears to say n. (born) 1840 but I think this is just a mistake for 1844. It may be that Sarah preceded or came shortly after the marriage. Two further daughters followed; Esther was christened on August 12th 1848 and Rachel on September 27th 1850 (soon after her birth we know from the 1851 Census).

By 1851 Ann was 27 years old and Thomas 32 and three daughters are with them; Hannah (4), Esther (2) and Rachel (7 months). The oldest child, Sarah Elizabeth, is with her grandparents James and Susannah Childs. Less than two years after the Census their first and only son John was christened. There is something of a gap in the christenings but then Annie aged 8 and Susan aged 5 are christened on November 8th 1863.

We learn at the time of Thomas’s death that he had led the Ringstead bellringers for “upwards of 50 years” so we would expect him to be diligent in his “religious duties”. We also know, however, that the church had fallen into a bad state of disrepair and for a time service were only held in the Denford Church (in 1860 there were only 2 christenings in Ringstead). We also know that Percival Sandilands took over from his uncle in 1863 and completed the renovations. A number of scenarios for the tardy christenings could arise from these facts but we can only guess at the reasons.

Returning to the 1861 Census Ann (36) was with Thomas, still an agricultural labourer, and their six daughters and one son. Sarah, 16, is a lacemaker but the other daughters are all scholars.  Poor John, however, at nine years old, was described as a labourer. Also living with them now is Ann’s father, James Childs, aged 71 and also shown as an agricultural labourer. It was a hard, long, working life for those who survived it.

It appears that there were no further children and by 1871 Ann (48) and Thomas (53) were living in Carlow Street with three of their children. Esther (22) and Ann (15) do shoe work (probably closing at home) but John (18) is an agricultural labourer like his father. Also living with them are two grandchildren Ellen (3) and Sarah E, (7months). We know that from later Censuses that Sarah E. was the illegitimate daughter of Esther and it may be that Ellen was also. It seems likely that Esther had two further illegitimate children, George and William, before her marriage to Charles Ferrey.

By 1881 Ann (57) and Thomas (62) are in Church Street with Ellen (13) wrongly described as her daughter, living with them. Also in the house are her daughter Susan and husband Lot Major with their child, Polly (8 months).  Finally, there is a grandson, Richard Smith (4) son of Annie and her husband William Smith.

Thomas Ball died aged 73 just before the next Census and his coffin was born to the grave by his fellow bellringers. The 1891 Census finds Ann in Shop Street aged 66 with grandchildren Ellen (23) a shoe stitcher, her children Eliza (3) and John (1) and lodger William Hackney (25) a bricklayer from Great Addington. Ellen married William Hackney later the same year. By 1901 Anne (aged 76, is living with the Hackneys at No 3 the Terrace in Ringstead.

By 1911 Anne Ball is 86 and living in Thrapston Union Workhouse which, like most had developed into a sort of maternity hospital (especially for the unmarried women) and old people’s home. She died there on the 4th May 1912.


JS6 George Childs (Abt1828 - 1899)

George Childs

Abt1828 - 1899

Mary Manning

Abt1827 - ?


Abt1855 - ?


Abt1858 - ?


Abt1860 - ?


Abt1862 - ?


Abt1864 - ?


Abt1870 - ?



George was baptised with Samuel and Ann in Ringstead parish Church on 14th September 1828 and was the real baby at the ceremony. By 1841, aged 12, he was with his John at Swineshead, perhaps helping his shoemaker brother. Also with the family was their mother, Susannah, helping, perhaps with John’ wife Elizabeth’s 6 months old baby.

In October – December 1850 in the Wellingborough District, (probably Irthlingborough where his wife was born and was a 14 year old servant in 1841), George married Mary Manning. The 1851 Census finds them living in Irthlingborough: George (23) is a shoemaker and Mary (24) a lacemaker. By about 1855 at the latest they had moved to Yelden in Bedfordshire, almost certainly following George’s brother Samuel, and perhaps taking over from them when Samuel moved to Woodford. We find George and Mary there in the 1861 Census with girls Elizabeth (5) and Clara (3) and son George H. (1). George is a shoemaker and Mary is now a shoe binder. There are also a young 15-year-old apprentice shoemaker and a 37-year-old shoemaker living with them.

By 1871 the family are still in Yelden and George is a 44-year-old shoemaker. Mary now 45 is not shown with paid occupation but there are six children: Clara 16 a lacemaker, Elizabeth 13, Georgina 11, Martha 9, Harry 7, and James 1, all born in Yelden. If we compare it with the 1861 Census it seems that was some confusion in the first Census. The ages of Clara and Elizabeth were transposed and George H. (male) has become Georgina (female)

By 1881 George 52 is a shoemaker but Mary, perhaps released from much of her child rearing duties is now a lacemaker again. All the girls have left and son Henry (17) is a shoe riveter and James (11) still at school. Ten years later George (62) is a shoemaker and Mary 64 has no occupation shown. It may be that the lacemaking cottage industry was now largely gone. James (21) also a shoemaker, is the only child still at home.

George died aged 70 in July – Sep 1899 in the Thrapston District.


JS7 William (1831 – 1832)

William was baptised in Ringstead parish Church on October 7th 1831 and buried there, aged 4 months, on February 3rd 1832.



The Other Childs Family Descending from Thomas and Martha


Thomas Childs (Abt1790 – 1869)

Martha Cunnington tbc (1)


Thomas Childs

Abt1790 - 1869

Jane Beal(e) (2)


Mary Ann 1811 - 1892

Elizabeth 1812 - ?

Catharine 1817 - ?

Robert 1819 - ?

Lydia     1822 - ?

Peacy   1826 - ?

Sarah     1829 - ?

All have births were registered by Ringstead Particular Baptist Church as in Ringstead but Mary Ann may have been born in Keysoe



There are a number of Ancestry trees which give an earlier marriage for Thomas, aged 14, to Ann Elizabeth Prentice in Oakley, other children born in Oakley but I have not yet researched enough to include them and my feeling is that the earlier marriage is incorrect

Thomas Childs was christened on 14th July 1790 in Milton Ernest in Bedfordshire, the son of Thomas and Elizabeth (nee Swanson) Childs. He married a Martha Cunnington on 18th November 1810. Cunnington is a common name in the Keysoe area. A Martha Cunnington, daughter of Peter and Katherine was baptised in Keysoe on 11th June 1791 but someone of that name was also married there, to William Elderken on 22nd September 1803. More research needed). Keysoe

All the children’s exact births were recorded by the Ringstead Particular Church which shows their names and dates of birth. The oldest child, Mary Ann, was registered as being born in Ringstead on 1st January 1811 but in the later Censuses she is stated to have been born in Keysoe (some seven miles north-east of Milton Ernest). This would seem to indicate that Thomas and Martha lived in Keysoe and then moved to Ringstead soon after the birth of Mary Ann in 1811.

The other children recorded to have been born in Ringstead were Elizabeth (20th August 1812), Catharine (24th July 1817), Robert (29th July 1819), Lydia (30th May 1822), Pearcy – there are many variations - (20th February 1826) and Sarah (12th November 1829).

We do know that Martha died but again, perhaps because she was a Baptist, I have not yet found the record except a possible Martha Childs in the St Neots District in 1839. Thomas remarried, to Jane Beal (e) nee Tilley, the widow of Benjamin Beale, in Ringstead Parish Church on 11th April 1841.

Soon after, in that late 1841 Census, Thomas (50), an agricultural labourer, and Jane (25) are in Ringstead with Thomas’s daughter, Pearsey Childs (15) and Jane’s daughter Elizabeth Beal (10).

In 1851, Thomas (61) is in Riseley in Bedfordshire with his eldest child Marianne (Mary Anne) (40) and her husband Joseph Abbott (42). Also there is a nephew Joseph Childs aged 13. This is one of the complicated nephews. I think he is the son of John and Elizabeth (nee Childs) Childs and Mary Ann is the sister of Elizabeth. Jane Childs, aged 38, is still in Ringstead a married lacemaker pauper. Has Thomas deserted her and left her to fend for herself? With her are Elizabeth Beale (19) a seamstress born in Tilbrook in Bedfordshire and two new children, Charlotte (8) and Lucy (5) Childs both born in Ringstead. We know that Jonathan Tilley Childs was baptised by the couple on January 13th 1850 and buried on September 1st of the same year.

It may be just coincidence but at the next Census in 1861 the couple are again apart although both living in Ringstead. Thomas, now 75 and still shown as an agricultural labourer and is shown as head of the house with Lucy (16) and Rebecca Tilley the 51-year-old sister of Jane living with him. It may be. It may be that I am reading too much into this separation because Jane (49) is acting as a monthly nurse for her daughter Elizabeth Warren (nee Beale) and her husband Samuel, a shoemaker. Elizabeth has two children Rachel (2), and Almenlee (in later Censuses Emily) who is just one month old. A monthly nurse was a name given to a woman, often a relative who helped a woman, traditionally for the first month, after giving birth.

Thomas Childs and was buried in Ringstead churchyard on 23rd March 1869 aged 80. In 1871 Jane is living on her own in Shop Street, aged 60, a widow on parish relief. She too died in 1877 and was buried on May 8th 1877 in Ringstead churchyard.


The Children of Thomas and Martha Childs


TM1 Mary Ann Childs (1811 – 1892 tbc)

Mary Childs

1811 – 1892 tbc

Joseph Abbott

Abt1809 – Pre1891

No children found


Mary Ann was birth is recorded in the Ringstead Particular Baptist Register as in Ringstead on 1st January 1811 but it seems likely that she was actually born in Keysoe in Bedfordshire, some two months after the marriage of her parents.

She married Joseph Abbott on 10th September 1832 in Ringstead Parish Church. Her younger sister Elizabeth was one of the witnesses. I have not found the couple in the 1841 Census but in 1851 they are living in Riseley Street in Riseley in Bedfordshire. Confusingly there are a number of Joseph and Mary Ann Abbotts including on in Great Addington but I think this is the correct couple). Joseph is 42 and a boot and shoe maker born in Ringstead and Marianne (Mary Ann) is 40 and born in Keysoe. Living with them is Joseph Childs, son of Mary Ann’s sister Elizabeth, and her father Thomas Childs, aged 61 and born in Milton [Ernest].

We cannot be sure but it seems that the couple did not have any children. By 1861 they had moved back to Ringstead and Joseph was now a shoemaker and grocer. It seems likely that Mary Ann (5) mainly ran the shop which would have helped give them a regular small income when the military boot trade was in recession. Also staying with them is Joseph Collins (49) a journeyman miller.

By 1871, still in Ringstead Joseph (62) is now only a grocer withy Mary Ann a “grocer’s wife”. Staying with them is their sixteen year old nephew Childs Craxton, son of Mary Ann’s sister Pearcy, who is a porter on the Midland Railway

On the 2nd July 1878 Joseph died, aged 67, and probate was granted to his wife Mary Ann as sole executrix on the 4th June 1883 (five years later!). The amount of his personal effects was £13 10s. It was not a large amount and in 1881, aged 68, May Ann is staying with her sister Elizabeth and her husband John Childs, one of the local bakers.

By 1891 John Childs has also died and the two widowed sisters are together in Carlow Street. Elizabeth (74) is the head and Maria A. (sic) is 77. Living with them are Rennie Sawford, 13, and Arthur Childs, 12, who are shown as visitors. It seems unlikely that they are looking after the two elderly sisters.

Mary Ann Abbott probably died the following year.


TM2 Elizabeth Childs (1812 - ?)

Elizabeth Childs (Chiles)


John Childs (Chiles)

Abt1814 - 1888

Joseph Abt1838 - ?

Sarah Abt1839 - ?

Martha Abt1841 – 14/11/1855

John Abt1842 - ?


Abt1844 - ?

Samuel Abt1846 - ?

Clara Abt1847 - ?

Elizabeth Abt1850 - ?

Martha Abt1857 - ?



This piece is very similar to that on Elizabeth’s husband, baker, John Childs but that is the fuller account with illustrations

Elizabeth was born on 20th August 1812 in Ringstead cording to the Particular Baptist Register, Elizabeth Chiles (Childs) married John Chiles (Childs), the son of James and Susannah (and no obvious relative) on 12th June 1837 in Ringstead Parish Church (the only church in the village licensed at this time for marriages).

It appears that the couple moved first to Upper Dean where their first son was born in about 1838 and then on to nearby Swineshead where Sarah was born in about 1839 and Martha in the December 1840 – January 1841 period.

The 1841 Census shows them in Swineshead in Huntingdonshire (later transferred to Bedfordshire) with their three children Joseph (3), Sarah (2) and Martha (6 months). Also staying with them are John’s mother Susannah (50) and his brother George probably acting as an assistant to his shoemaker brother.  There is also another Sarah Child (14) who I have yet to place.

Further children followed with sons, John (Abt1842), Robert (Abt1844), Samuel (Abt1846). Then there were two daughters Clara (Abt1847), and Elizabeth (Abt1850). All were all born in Swineshead.

In the 1851 Census the family are still in Swineshead.  John and Elizabeth are both 38 and she is working as a shoe binder. John’s occupation is more difficult to make out but seems to be, “Shoe maker Glove maker employing 2 men”, but the middle of this phrase could be grocer or grazer. There are seven children: the two oldest, Sarah A. (11) and Martha (10) are lace makers and the younger children; John (9), Robert (7), Samuel (6), Clara (4), and Elizabeth (4 months) are all at home. There are also the two 16 year old shoemakers that John employs, lodging with them.

The couple returned to Ringstead for daughter Martha died there on November 14th 1855 aged 15 and another Martha was born in about 1857.

By 1861 John (46) is a baker, living back in Ringstead. Elizabeth is 47 and the children Robert (17), Samuel (15), Clara (14), Elizabeth (11) and Martha (4) are still at home. Robert is a shoemaker but Samuel is an assistant baker, helping his father.

In the 1862 edition of Slater’s Royal National Commercial Directory there are three bakers in Ringstead. Alongside Thomas Haines there are John Childs and Andrew Bull. Andrew had not appeared in the Melville and Co. Directory of the previous year. They were both to remain village bakers, at either end of the High Street, for many years.

It may be that Elizabeth fell out with the Baptist Church because on the 4th February 1867 aged 52, along with her sisters Catharine (46) and Piercy (38) they were all baptised as daughters of Thomas and Martha Childs in the Higham Ferrers Circuit of the Methodist Church (the service probably being in the Ringstead Methodist Church).

1871 finds the family still at the bakery but only daughters, Elizabeth, a dressmaker and Martha a “baker’s daughter” are now at home. Does a “baker’s daughter” help in the shop or the bakery?

 The years roll by and 1881 has John (65) and Elizabeth (67) with the only family living with them being Elizabeth’s widowed sister, Mary Ann (68). John does have some help, however, because lodging with them there is a sixteen-year-old assistant baker from Raunds.

John died, aged seventy-two, and was buried in the churchyard on October 20th 1888. It seems likely that the house and business was sold and by 1891 his widow, Elizabeth, aged 74 and her sister, Mary Ann Abbott, were living together in Carlow Street. I have not yet found her death.


TM3 Catherine Childs (1817 - ?)

Catherine Childs

1817 – 1904tbc

Thomas Smith

Abt1817 - ?

William 1840 - ?

Walter Abt1842 - ?

Robert Abt1844 - ?

Martha Abt1848 - ?

Isaac Abt1850 - ?

Mary A, Abt1852 - ?

Edmund Abt1854 - ?

Charlotte Ellen Abt1857 - ?

Lydia Abt1859 - ?



Catherine (sometimes Catharine) was born on 24th July 1817 in Ringstead. She married Thomas Smith on 14th October 1839, son of William Smith a cooper from Higham Ferrers, in Ringstead Parish Church. She is shown on the marriage certificate as a lacemaker.

The 1841 Census finds them both with rounded ages of 20, with their 11 month old son William. Thomas is a shoemaker. By 1851 they had moved back to Thomas’s home town of Higham Ferrers and both 32 they now have five children: William (10), Walter (9), Robert (7), Martha (3) and Isaac (1).  Robert and Martha are shown as being born in Yelden in Bedfordshire but the older children were born in Ringstead. It seems that they were in Ringstead until about 1843, then moved to Yelden for some 5 years before returning to Ringstead and then in about 1850 moving to Higham. Was Thomas chasing regular work?

Also staying with them is Pearcy Childs (23) Catherine’s younger sister who is a lacemaker and entered as a visitor.

By 1861 Thomas (43) is a leather cutter and the couple have seven children: William (20) and Robert (17) both shoemakers and Martha (15) a shoe closer. Mary A. (8), Edmund (7), Charlotte (4) and Lydia (2) are all scholars (does not mean necessarily at school).  In 1867 Catherine (46) had a Wesleyan Methodist baptism with her sisters Elizabeth and Piercy.

The family stayed in Higham Ferrers and Thomas (52) remained a leather cutter and Catharine (53) is a “leather cutter’s wife”.  Does that mean she helped Thomas (for some wives are not described as having an occupation)? The children still at home are Mary Ann (18), a machinist, Edmund (16) a clicker, Charlotte Ellen (13) a dressmaker and Lydia (12) a scholar. There is also a lodger, Thomas Eagers (?), from Barton Seagrave. Is he a “Rural Messenger”?

By 1881 they are living at 50 High Street (Chapel Yard) in Higham and Thomas Smith (63) is a “Rough Stuff Cutter for Shoes”. I think this would mean he was cutting out the soles etc rather than the uppers. Catherine is 63 and not shown with any paid occupation. Lydia (22), a shoe machinist, is the only child still at home but there is a granddaughter, Emily M. Parker aged 4 and born in Kettering, staying with them.

Thomas Smith died between the two Censuses and the 1891 Census has 74 year old widow Catherine living, still in the High Street, on her own means. Living with her are daughter Lydia (32) and her husband Tom Kent (34) a shoe machinist (?) from Horncastle in Lincolnshire. They have a baby daughter Frances aged 1. By 1901 the table have turned and Catherine, now 83, is living with the Kents at 4 Kimbolton Road in Higham. Tom is a boot and shoe finisher, probably in a factory but Lydia is a closer working at home. They now have two children Frances (11) and Mildred (10).

Catherine Smith possibly died in 1904 with her age given as 83 but this has to be checked.


TM4 Robert Childs (1819 – 1902tbc)

Robert Childs

1819 - 1902

Sarah Moss

1819 - 1889


Abt1842 - ?


Abt1845 - ?

Mary Ann

Abt1847 -


Abt1850 - ?


 Abt1855 - ?


Abt1860 - ?



Thomas was born on 29th July 1819 as record in the Ringstead Particular Baptist Register [It may be that he became a Methodist like others in his family. A Robert Childs was baptised on 28th June 1837 the son of Thomas and Martha Childs (maiden name Cunnington): the birth date is given as 21st August 1818 not 29th July 1819 but I believe that there are enough similarities for it to be the correct person.

He married Sarah Moss in July – Sept 1840 in the Thrapston District. Sarah had been born on the 10th July 1819 and baptised on 29th September of the same year in the Higham Ferrers Wesleyan Church

1841 finds them both aged 20 (rounded) in Ringstead and staying with them is Sarah’s mother Mary Moss aged 55 and of independent means. Robert is a shoemaker and next door is James Childs (his sister’s Elizabeth’s father-in-law and two of his children. By 1851 Robert (32) is still a shoemaker and Sarah (31) is a dressmaker. They now have four children: William (8), Isaac (5), Mary A. (4), and Edward (4 months). Mother-in-law Mary Moss a 67 year-old widow is now shown as a landed proprietor, born in Titchmarsh.

Robert (42) has become a shoe agent by the 1861 Census and he and Sarah have six children with them: William (18) and Isaac (15) are shoemakers and there are also Mary (14), Edwin (10), Martha (5) and Thomas (1). His father Thomas is living a few doors away. Mary Moss (76) a proprietor of house and perhaps her companion Sophia Sharman (49) living on the “interest of money” are also part of the household.

By 1871 Robert has become a farmer of 35 acres of land as well as a shoe agent. We can surmise that the land came from his mother-in-law. Still living with them are Isaac (25) and Edward (20), both shoemakers and Martha (15) a “domestic” which may mean that she is helping her mother who is a “farmer’s wife”. They are apparently living in Shop (High) Street next door to the New Inn. By 1881 the farm and farming seems to have disappeared and at 61 Robert is a shoe agent once more, Sarah is also 61 and they just have grandson Robert (15) a shoemaker living with them.

Sarah died in July – Sept 1889, aged 70, and in 1891 the widowed Robert is 71 and a general dealer. Living with him is 29 year-old Elizabeth A. James who is acting as his housekeeper. The 1901 Census shows that Robert is living at No. 19 High Street and is an 81 year old widower who is still a dealer in hardware and furniture. Thomas Childs (31) and his wife Elizabeth with their children Mary Elkins (?) Childs (1) and William Moss Childs (3 months) are living with him.

Robert probably died in April – June 1902 in the Thrapston District aged 82.


TM5 Lydia Childs (1822 -1898)

Lydia Childs

1822 - 1898

John Wright

Abt1817 - 1891

Elizabeth ?

Abt1820 – Abt1863/4

Lydia had no children as far as can tell

John & Elizabeth had at least 4 children



Lydia was born on 30th May 1822 as recorded in the Ringstead Particular Baptist Register. She seems to have left home early and in 1841 is a 19 and a female servant in Melchbourne in Bedfordshire for Farmer William Islip and his family. Melchbourne is some seven miles south of Ringstead in the area where has been links with the Childs families of Ringstead.

By 1851, aged 28 she is still unmarried and a servant again for William and Martha Alliott. William is an Independent Minister of the Howard Chapel in St Peter’s Street in Bedford. The Alliotts have nine children and there is one other servant. Another Census comes and Lydia is now a housekeeper and his children for stonemason, Joseph Bayes in High Street, Rushden. She is shown as 32 years old but is actually nearer 38.

It would seem fairly certain that Lydia would remain single but there was one scenario which sometimes brought a late marriage.  In the 1861 Census John Wright, a 44-year-old shoemaker and grocer from Newport Pagnell, was living in Allhallows in Bedford with his 41-year-ol wife and four children, ranging in age from 20 to 10 months. There was also a servant working as a nurse and laundress.  It seems that their youngest son Walter died, possibly in 1862 and that Elizabeth also died within the next few years. (There are possibilities but I have not established these deaths).

We do know that in April – June 1865 in the Thrapston District Lydia Childs married John Wright and in the 1871 Census Lydia Wright is 48 and born in Ringstead, a grocer’s wife, with her grocer husband, John Wright at 11 Allhallows Lane in the St Pauls areas of Bedford. Only John’s son, John Edward Wright (20), a bookseller’s assistant is still at home. By 1881 John (63) and Lydia (54), still grocers at the same address are on their own. (Perhaps coincidentally a Joseph Childs, a 29-year-old from Milton Ernest, is living with his family at No. 3 Allhallows Lane.)

 By 1891, John, now 74 has retired and with Lydia (64) has moved to 17 Queen Street in Bedford. I think John died soon after the Census, aged 75, and Lydia died in July – Sept 1898, aged 77, her age correct in death


TM6 Piercy Childs (1826 – 1910)

Piercy Childs

1826 - 1910

Thomas (S)Craxton

1831 - 1869


Abt1854 - ?

Thomas Robert

Abt1859 - ?

Benjamin Abt1861 - 1877

Samuel Cunnington (Charles?)

1864 - ?


Abt1868 - ?

Married Harry Blackwell


The piece on the gale tragedy is based on the chapter in Ringstead People (some corrections)

PIercy had her name written in almost any way that a scribe might guess at from Peacy to Pearsey. Her birth was registered as Peacy or Pearcy for 29th February 1826 by the Ringstead Particular Church. In 1841, aged 15 she is with her father, Thomas and his new young wife Jane, at 25 younger than some of Pearsey’s (as her name appears) sisters.  Also with them is her stepsister Elizabeth Beal who is ten years old.

By 1851 she is 23 and a lacemaker staying with her sister Catherine and her husband Thomas Smith in Ringstead. The couple have 5 children including a one year-old son, Isaac so perhaps Pearcy is helping her sister.

Two years later in October – December 1853 Piercy Childs married Thomas Scraxton (or sometimes Craxton), some five years her junior, in the Wellingborough District (probably Irthlingborough).  Thomas was the son of Samuel and Susannah and was baptised on 14th August 1831 in Irthlingborough.

They had a son, apparently christened Childs Scraxton in Irthlingborough on 25th December 1854 (a traditional day for christenings and marriages). Another son, Thomas Robert, was christened on 3rd April 1859. I have not found the family in 1861 but some parts of this Census for Irthlingborough are missing but they did have another son, Benjamin christened there on 4th August 1861. [She seems to have become Percy!]

 Samuel Carrington (or Cunnington after her mother, Martha’s, maiden name) was born on 12th June1864 and christened in Ringstead Church on 25th July of the same year. A first daughter, Ellen, followed on 21st May 1868 also in Ringstead so it seems that the couple moved back there sometime between 1861 and 1864.

It may be that she had never been a strong Baptist and on 4th February 1867 along with sisters Elizabeth and Catherine, aged 38, she was had been christened as a Wesleyan Methodist.

Thomas died the following year, and was buried on 21st July 1869 aged just 39. It would have been a very difficult time for Pearcy and at 45 she is on Parish Relief. It wrongly states that she was born in Irthlingborough. She is a widow living in Butchers Lane, off Chapel Lane in Ringstead. Living with her are Robert (13), Benjamin (10), Currington who is a boy aged 6 and Ellen, the only daughter, aged 3. All the children are shown as being born in Ringstead but I think this is incorrect certainly for the older siblings. Everyone, even Robert who is thirteen, is put down as scholars. The 1870 Education Act had just made attendance compulsory at school until the age of twelve years for all children. It may be that Robert was just finishing his time at school or it is also possible that he had not managed to obtain work because of the poor state of farming. Benjamin was just ten years old and presumably attending the National School which had been erected in 1867 at a cost of £860 and was further enlarged in 1874 when it had an average of 100 pupils attending.

Some eight years after the death of Thomas a tragedy hit Ringstead and especially Pearcey’s family. The start of the third quarter of the nineteenth century was marked by extreme weather which caused much hardship and grief across England. Baking hot summers and wet harsh winters meant bad harvests and miserable working conditions, especially for the agricultural labourers.

The winter of 1876-7 was remembered particularly, for the terrible storms that pulsed across the islands that year. The Times had started weather charts (for the previous day) on April 1st 1875 and the one for Tuesday 30th January 1877 showed the strong westerly winds on the Monday veering to ‘squally’ north-west winds which raked across the country. All over England, from Liverpool and Hull to Bath, London and Portsmouth a trail of destruction was reported. Scaffolding collapsed in Lett’s Wharf Lambeth where the City Commissioners of Sewers were erecting buildings for the sorting and storage of the dust and refuse collected in the city of London. One woman was killed and many injured.

These storms, which continued into February, were part of a winter of wind and rain. An observer at Castle Ashby noted for January 1877

Excessive rainfall, which, following the very heavy fall in December 1876 of 5.42 inches produced almost continuous floods in the Nene Valley

It would have been a miserable time for farm labourers, slogging away in the cold wet mud to earn enough to survive the winter and help keep their families from the workhouse. Three of these families concern us in this story and we need to briefly tell a little about them.

At the end of January in 1877, Benjamin and his younger brother Cunnington (Charles in the reports) along with other local boys were working in the fields in that miserable winter of rain and wind. Benjamin Craxton and William Clayton were sixteen and Albert Fensom was just fourteen years old. All had probably been at work for a number of years. They may have enjoyed the outdoor life but must have wished, on a day like this that they were working in the dry with their siblings, many of whom were in the shoe trade. The three of them had managed to get some work with William Dearlove the young farmer who had taken over the farm on the death of his father, Joseph on November 5th 1874. Joseph had been born in Yorkshire of a well known ‘County’ family and had moved from a farm in St Neots to one of 500 acres in Ringstead. He was a widower in 1871 with a family who seemed in no hurry to get married and leave home.  His death at the early age of 60 had left William running the farm although it is more likely that, Mr. Warren, his bailiff, would have been the man the boys would have been hired by. They were working in what would have been part of the old Ringstead Field before the Ringstead Enclosure Act some 38 years earlier. They would have made their way through the dark of the early morning and were probably soaked to the skin before they arrived at the field to work. Below them the Nene valley was flooded and the field would have been wet and muddy and facing into the driving north-westerly winds. There was a large group of men and boys working on the field so what could they have been doing on that January day?

The Handbook of Farm Labour by John C Morton, written in 1861, gives a calendar of operations on a farm. For January it lists:

Drainage operations; carriage of manure to heaps in fields, also of lime and marl, also of grain to market; threshing grain for sale; ploughing, probably the last of the stubbles for root crops; applying clay and marl, carrying lime etc; attendance on cattle and sheep road and fence mending; to-dressing pastures.

The list for the farmworkers, for the early part of February, is not very different, with the addition of ‘gathering stones off the meadows which are to be mown’. Of c course it is possible that the bad weather had delayed operations. The Victoria County History in 1937 records that much of the parish was under grass but the chief crops were wheat, beans, barley, oats, turnips and roots. Looking back at the various Directories there was little change from the nineteenth century. The 1885 Kelly's Directory gives the same list but without the oats. Could they, like the tragic heroine of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d’Urbervilles, have been harvesting turnips and swedes, after the sheep had eaten off the tops?

We can only guess at the work they were doing in Ringstead Field. We do know that on that Tuesday morning the storm began to increase in fury. The Northampton Mercury of the 3rd February later reported:

Tuesday last will long be remembered in this village [Ringstead] as a day of hurricanes, for storms of wind, hail, rain and snow came rapidly one after the other with scarcely any intermission. Trees were uprooted and large branches blown off others along the Ringstead-road, and many pranks played during the height of the various gales. In fact it was with difficulty that people keep on their legs and maintain their equilibrium.

About 9 o’clock on that Tuesday morning of 30th January 1877 the men and boys working in the fields decided to have what the Northampton Mercury called a ‘luncheon break’ although it was an early hour for lunch even for farm workers. It is likely that the force of the wind and rain had made working almost impossible and they hoped that things might improve later. Certainly the Peterborough Advertiser reports that they had ‘taken refuge from the rain.’

They all made for the shelter of the farm buildings and gathered in a small hovel and watched the rain lashing down in the increasing gusts of wind. They had not been there long when ‘the wind blew such a gale as to take the tiles from the roof’. The younger ones decided that it was time to move and five of them, ranging in ages from 12 to 17 years ran into a nearby barn where they hoped that they would be safer. It seems as if it was a substantial structure because the Advertiser describes it as ‘stone built and thatched and stood in an exposed position.’ The Mercury continues the story: 

This barn stood with its frontage to the south-west and with the doors open. No sooner had these boys and young men got into the barn than the storm had attained the terrific force of a hurricane; a few moments more there came a whirlwind of such force as to at once take the roof completely off the barn, and threw it into the farm premises beyond. One of the gable ends immediately fell in and also the side walls burying three of them in the ruins.

High winds and hidden fears often produce high spirits in young men and you can imagine them joking and jumping about as they watched the gale lashing about them. Then in an instant their small world fell in on them. Those still in the hovel saw the barn cave in and they rushed to the scene as the storm still raged.

Two of the boys had managed to escape. One was near the door and got out uninjured. Charles Scraxton, who I think must be Currington, Benjamin’s younger brother, had been injured but also managed to get out of the ruins. Three of the lads, Benjamin Craxton, together with William Clayton and Albert Fensom, were buried under the debris of thatch, beams and masonry. The storm would still have been howling across the valley and one can imagine the group, with the wind catching and driving loose debris about them, as they desperately dragged aside the fallen timbers and masonry to find the boys. Someone was sent to fetch Dr. McIntyre from Raunds while they searched frantically for the three who were buried. The Advertiser tells us that:

The news of the accident speedily spread and a force of men from the adjacent ironstone diggings at once set to work to clear away the rubbish.

Albert Fensom and William Clayton were first pulled out but seemed already dead. Benjamin Scraxton was drawn out, still alive but with a fractured skull.

Dr McIntyre, when he arrives, seems to have gone quietly about his business among the chaos of the storm. He checked the two boys and pronounced them dead from suffocation. The Mercury says that the bodies of the two boys were taken home to their families. Benjamin and Charles were also taken home. Charles was not too badly injured and soon recovered but Benjamin only lingered a few hours, possibly until the Wednesday morning, when he also died of his injuries.

A week later the Northampton Mercury reported on the inquest that had been held the next day, on the three deaths, at the Axe and Compass Inn in Ringstead. A verdict of ‘Accidental Death’ was returned. It also reported on the funeral.

On Friday the bodies of William Clayton, aged 16; Benjamin Scraxton, aged 16; and Albert Fensom, aged 14, were interred in the parish graveyard in one wide grave side by side. Amongst the followers were Mr. W. R. Dearlove and his farm bailiff, Mr. Warren; also the Misses E. and M. and A. Dearlove. There was a very large number of people present, estimated at not less than 500, and many were the tears of those who witnessed the last tribute of respect paid to those who had been cut off in the morning of life by that melancholy tragedy. Wreathes of immortelles were placed on each coffin by the Misses Dearlove as the coffins were lowered side by side in their last resting place.

The old bass bell, cast in 1682, would have been tolling out from the church tower, rattling the windows of the school next door. The inscription on the swinging bell read, ' I to the Church the Living Call, I to the Grave do Summon All'. The funeral is not mentioned in the School Log Book but one cannot believe that the children did not, in some way, acknowledge the deaths.

In the national press, the death of the three boys does not appear to have been reported. Perhaps notice of the deaths came too late to be considered ‘news’ among all the terrible loss of life caused by the hurricane across the country. Locally, however, they made a deep impression on the local communities and sermons were preached on the tragedy at Ringstead Parish Church on the following Sunday afternoon and at the Wesleyan Chapel in the evening, on both occasions to packed, weeping congregations. The Reverend Oyston also preached at the Raunds Wesleyan Chapel the following Tuesday.

A Committee was formed for defraying the funeral expenses and £23.11s was raised, any surplus to be distributed among the families. The reports of the funeral and the collection only mention the great and the good. It is the three Misses Dearlove, unmarried daughters of the late Joseph, who place the ‘wreathes of immortelles’ (dried flowers) on the three coffins in what must have been a touching scene. We hear nothing of Pearcy and the other grieving families or even whether they were at the funeral. We hear nothing about the boys who were killed.

A few days after this tragedy a young boy aged 12 called John Ball, from Denford was also killed in the driving wind and rain. After finishing his work at Woodford Lodge he was walking along the London & North Western Railway towards where it crossed under the Midland Railway. He was going to meet his father who worked on the Midland line. In the noise of the wind and rain he did not hear the train coming behind him and was killed instantly.

In the turmoil of the three boys’ deaths, his single death almost went unnoticed, as did the death of Ambrose Fensom, aged 4 months a little over three weeks later. Some deaths seem to affect a community or a nation and stir them into grief whereas others leave the families to grieve alone.

By 1881 Pearcy Scraxton a 53 year old widow is now a lodging house keeper in Bunkers Hill in Higham Ferrers, (her sister Catherine’s family had moved to Higham.  With her are S. Cru Scraxton a clicker aged 16 and Ellen, 13 a shoe closer. Obviously the Census recorder had given up on Samuel Cunnington (or Charles). Also lodging with them is unmarried Alfred Colton a twenty-one-year-old boot finisher from Northampton. By 1891 Pearcy Craxton, aged 60, is living on the New Estate in Higham. Living with her are daughter Ellen (23) and her husband Harry Blackwell, a clicker with their children Percy (5) and Harold (3)

By 1901 Harry and Ellen Blackwell have moved to Wharf Lane in Higham with children Percy (14) and Harold (13). Pearcy Claxton is now 74 and living with them. She probably died, aged 78, in 1910 (age actually nearer 83).


Sarah Childs (1829 - ?)

 Like all her older siblings, Sarah’s birth was registered by Ringstead Particular Baptists, in her case, for 12th November 1829. She may be the Sarah Childs (14) staying with her older sister Elizabeth and her husband John Childs in Swineshead.  Also staying there are John’s brother George and his mother Susannah Childs.

 I have not yet found what happened to Sarah next out of the many possible marriages or deaths.

Reader Comments (6)

I am the 79 year old son of Jack Childs b.1907. He was born in Hastings but his father was Harold Joseph Childs who I understood was born in Thrapston or Raunds. There is a Samual Childs who may have been his father who could have been a Publican of a Pub in Raunds. ? Rose and Crown. I have no written evidence of any of the Raunds - Thrapston, Denford or Ringstead connections. The research continues.! I have a son David Michael Childs aged 45 living near Tunbridge Wells and he has a son Harry Childs, aged 8.

John M. Childs 2.12.2015

December 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Michael Childs

Hi John. Hopefully someone will be able to help you. Just as a starter I believe that he was Joseph Henry Childs, born in Ringstead in about 1871 who was 9 years old in the 1881 Denford Census. His parents were Samuel 34, a publican and baker born in Swineshead in Bedfordshire and his wife Mary J 33 born in Ringstead. I think in 1891 he is 19 and a grocer's assistant lodging at 69 Dover Road, Folkstone. He married Maud Marian Neame in 1890 and in 1901 was with his wife at 4 Worthington Street Dover. He is now 29 and a Grocery Manager. Maud is 27 (born Sheerness Kent) and they have a son Sydney 1 born in Dover (I believe that Sydney died soon after) In 1911 they are at St James Street, Hastings and Joseph Henry is 39 and a Commercial Traveller. Oddly his wife is now Mary Jane but correct age (37)and born in Sheerness. With them are twins George Henry and Helen Mary (8) and Jack E 3 all born in Hastings. Maud M (I have seen in one Ancestry tree) died in 1919 so the 1911 Census seems odd (as they usually completed this Census themselves). Ther are a number of mistranscriptions in Ancestry (e.g Denford Northamptonshire becomes Dounton, Norway!)
I am not sure what Northamptonshire knowledge you have but Denford, Ringstead and Raunds are very close together and are also very near Thrapston which was the Registration District. The website,uk has all the early Ringstead Registers and Censuses up to 1901 and much other information. (I find it easiest to Google ringstead register rushden heritage).
I hope that this is some help. If you would confirm that this information I have put is correct it may be that others can then help.
Best Wishes David

December 3, 2015 | Registered CommenterDavid Ball

Catherine Childs b. 1817 is my 3 x great grandmother. Her daughter Mary Ann Smith b. 1852 is my 2 x great grandmother. She married George Thomas Parker (a boot maker and later a leather merchant and son of Robert Parker and his first wife Martha Denton) in Higham Ferrers in 1875 and had 8 children and it appears another that died in infancy. The family were Wesleyan Methodists (although George was originally baptised in the parish church) and George and Mary moved to Kettering soon after their marriage. Their middle daughter Beatrice b. 1887 is my great grandmother and moved to Luton when she married Horace Oakley my great grandfather in 1913 (I believe that they met through Wesleyan Methodist choirs at a large gathering of some sort). The eldest daughter of Mary Ann and George Thomas Parker, Emily May, is the 4 year old granddaughter appearing with Catherine on the 1881 census.

A very interesting site - I had reached the same point with Thomas and Martha Cunnington (I believe that she probably is the Martha bapt. 1791) and I have got no further either, though I have been trying with the online records at Ancestry etc.

Another note on the name Piercy / Peacy etc - this name also appears repeatedly in another branch of the Northamptonshire part of my family - the Clapham family (of Finedon), and I have traced it back to a Piercy / Peacy Horne born about 1700. I wonder if there is a connection again with the Childs family to the Claphams or Hornes at a point further back than we have yet reached? It is such a unusual name. Piercy Horne appears to have moved to Finedon from Bishopton, Warwickshire and her father's name is given as William Horne.

Kind regards,


February 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJenie Oakley

Hi Jenie

Many thanks for the extra information. I have posted on the site (under a new heading) a photograph of a Childs woman in case she is connected in any way to your line.With regard to Peacy etc it may be just a name (like Kezia) which has dropped out of usage but of course there may be a connection.

Best Wishes


February 8, 2017 | Registered CommenterDavid Ball

Hi David,

I found the following baptism for Elizabeth Swanson:

05 May 1771 in Milton-Ernest, Bedfordshire, England to Thomas and Mary Swanson.

Thomas married Mary PETTIT 29 Jun 1760 in Milton-Ernest, Bedfordshire, England.

There were several other children baptised to this couple - William - 1761, Peter - 1763, possible twins Peter (so the first Peter must have died) and Hannah Jane - 1765, Thomas - 1769 and Mary - 1773.

I found a burial for Thomas 29 Jul 1795 in Milton-Ernest, Bedfordshire, England and Mary 28 Feb 1792 in Milton-Ernest, Bedfordshire, England.

Mary Pettit appears to have been baptised 10 Nov 1738 in Great Doddington, Northamptonshire, England to Thomas Pettit and Mary.

There is a marriage of Thomas Pettit and Mary Gilbert or Gillet 22 Jan 1724 in Great Doddington, Northamptonshire, England and 4 other daughters baptised - Dina - 1725, Martha - 1727 (buried 1730), Lucy - 1729 and Em (? Emma or Emily) - 1741.

Other children of Thomas Childs and Elizabeth Swanson after Thomas (1790): William (1797), Hannah (1800), another Hannah so the first must have died (1802), James (1803), Ann (1805), Mary Swanson (1810 - so the first Mary had died), Lewis - 1811 (? maybe Lewis could be the maiden name of Thomas' mother?), all baptised in Milton Ernest.

I also found a website with the Rushden Methodist Circuit and Higham Ferrers Methodist records indexed, including the family of Thomas Smith and Catherine Childs, meaning that I finally have both a baptsim date and even a birthdate for my great great grandmother Mary Ann Smith - I have never been able to find her birth certificate as there were too many Mary Ann Smiths, although I did get one for her sister Lydia.

I can definitely see a resemblance between the photos I have of Mary Ann Smith (Parker) and the one you have on the other page, so it could well be her mother Catherine or one of her aunts.


September 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJenie Oakley

Hi Jenie

Good to hear from you. I have added a little to what I have written above in the light of your new information. Hopefully it will help others looking for a Swanson link. If I find out who the Childs woman was I will let you know.

The Ringstead School is 150 years old and they are having a special Open Day on Saturday November 11th between 12 and 4 when the Ringstead Heritage Group will be doing displays..

Best Wishes

September 16, 2017 | Registered CommenterDavid Ball

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