Monday, 25 April 2016

Some of my favourite sites that are not subscription based and as a bonus are free.

Here's a few  sites that are on my go to list when I hit the wall.  
Thanks to the generosity of these sites there is a world of information out there waiting to be explored.
Happy hunting..

  1. Imperial War Museum Lives of World War 1
  2. Dusty Docs- online parish records for Britain
  3. Trove (a treasure trove of Australian newspapers)
  4. Ryerson Index contains  Indexes of deaths and funerals advertised in Australian newspapers
  5. National Archives of Australia especially for WW1 records, travel and naturalisations
  6. NSW Births Deaths and Marriages
  7. NSW State Library E-resources –newspaper collection of British Newspapers. 17th early20th century. If you belong to a Libary you can get a membership number.
  8. Wikipedia- great for background information on wars, trends, people or links to further research
  9. Australian Dictionary of Biography. Have you got any famous Australians in your tree?
  10. The Long Long Trail- details military units and battles

Let me know a few of your favourites


Lest We Forget- Anzac Day 2016

Today in Australia 25/4 we remember ANZAC DAY commemorating those and especially the ANZACs  (Australian New Zealand Army Corps) who fought in the Wars.

While we were in England we visited the Museum of the Lancaster Fusiliers,Bury. Steve's Grandfather James Edward Cassidy was in the 1/7 Fusiliers and while he was in Egypt at the time of the terrible Gallipoli attack he arrived in Gallipoli 4th May, landed 5th May & went into action on 6th May 1915. He was wounded 4th June 1915 by an explosive bullet (head, arm & near heart). His heart was 'saved' by medal in tunic pocket. After six weeks in hospital in Malta it was back to Alexandria, and Gallipoli until Christmas 1915. Of the 1,500 British soldiers who landed at Gallipoli, only 98 survived. Steve's  Great Uncle Harry Duckworth was also in the 1/7th.

Not to detract from Australia's day of rememberance of this Great War I wanted to share this with my readers.
Placque at the Fusiliers Museum explaining their own tragedy at Gallipoli
As we watch the marches here in Australia we are obviously not alone - British communities especially Bury are holding memorials in their own churches today.

Outside the Museum hung copies of the War posters. Stirring stuff. Is it any wonder men lined up in Britain, Australia and New Zealand to sign up with the support of their women folk? Would such patriotism and honour  happen today??
Hopefully it will never come to that  again- ever.


Steve in the Memorial Garden at the Bury Fusiliers Museum August 2014

Saturday, 23 April 2016

The demise of the Strelley fortune and other conspiracies - Clayton Sommerville Strelley 1867-1910

Born in Oakerthorpe in 1867, one of 12 children Clayton Somerville Strelley was the fourth son of Richard Clayton Strelley and Francis Joanna Moore. As the fourth son he was most unlikely to have inherited the remnants of the family fortune although he might have continued to live quite well as the Strelley siblings had been well provided for over the years. At this time in the late Victorian period the population of South Winfield Parish which incorporated the township of Oakerthorpe was only 122.

As luck would have his two oldest brothers had passed away before he was 20 and his slightly older brother Richard Charles Strelley was heir after his father died in 1884. Probate shows Richard Clayton’s personal probate to be £4000.

So Clayton the youngest living Strelley seemed to live a comfortable life in Derby with his sisters.

The Strelleys had been land owners and made money from Colliery development, brickworks, public houses etc. Richard was an engineer and also involved in a Colliery in Wales. But he was not the only one expanding the family fortunes. The tidying up of the proceeds of great grandfather Robert Strelley’s properties after he left his property to his daughters had been complicated by the emigration of Robert Strelley’s youngest daughter to the colony of Western Australia where they continued to inflate the family fortunes.

Eventually the widowed Lucy Harris returned home in 1860 but the estate was not completely settled until decades later.

It still took till about 1895 for finalisation when her son WES Harris returned to England for an extended period. Somehow or other the elderly William Edward Strelley Harris met and married young Emily Jones the cousin of Richard Charles’ Wife. The pair married in 1896 and returned to Western Australia in 1897 to have two children where the remnants of this estate remained in Harris and not Strelley hands!

At some point in time young Clayton was promised some land if he would come to Western Australia and farm it. It is known that Clayton travelled to Brisbane in Brisbane in Queensland in 1889 on the Jumna. So Clayton travels 2nd class amongst the assisted passengers to Queensland which is quite a distance (as in thousands of miles) from Swan River in Western Australia. Another relative ended up in NZ so it is a not so surprising mistake. Perhaps the Derby Strelleys pointed at Australia on the globe and booked themselves passage to “get themselves down there”.
Clayton (rear) holidaying in Bournemouth

Anyhow, for whatever reason Clayton did not take up the “generous” offer. He had returned to England by early 1891 as shown in the 1891 Census where at age 22 years he is living in Eddington Road Derby living on his own means with his sisters Maria and Alice Grace Strelley. It is quite possible that Clayton’s disapproval of the Australian deal necessitated William’s journey to England.

One little newspaper article in the 90s about Clayton tells of him stepping in  to play a role in a local production.  He acquitted himself with credit in the part of Fleur-de-lis in the fairy burlesque “Cinderella”.

At some point in the 1890s Clayton became involved with the  recently formed and expanding Hull Brewing Company. He is possibly involved in management . I hardly think it was a manual job as many in the family had speculated.

There is a reference is to him involved in the planning of the Annual Outing of 298 employees to Matlock on 10/7/1899. Another refers to an Annual Employees’ Dinner  in February 1900 where he seems to be amongst the distinguished guests at the dinner.

He gave a toast to “the Hull Brewing Company and its Directors” at the Annual Dinner has a comment that “he was gratified to see that that the company was still further enlarged and was sure that with the present Board progress was assured.”  The reply indicates that  he is in Management.  “The Board was pleased with the satisfactory way the work had been done by staff and men alike.” There is also a presentation of an interesting address to Clayton on this occasion of his retirement in 1900. The article reports that he had been brewer for the Company several years and the address from the Directors and Employees showed the esteem in which he was held. (He returned in 1902 to again propose the toast.)

What necessitated the retirement of Clayton at the grand age of 32? Older brother Richard Charles died aged 47 in 1900. Richard  had increased his wealth to £48,814 which little brother Clayton Somerville Strelley now has responsibility for. In today's money that would be £5,364,000 or over AUD$10 million. Mind you Richard’s wife Sarah Jane Lewis was known to have been a spendthrift and she did her bit towards depleting the family money before dying a year before her husband.

How is it that less than 8 years later Clayton has managed to become bankrupt, necessitating selling the family property at Oakerthorpe? Upon his death he left his widow and son only £20 unless they successfully managed to spirit the money away somewhere..

Let's go back. Clayton was a man of plenty of opportunity. As a result of his brother’s death in 1900 he’s able to live a privileged life, sensationally rich with income from property and the mineral rights of the Strelley owned Oakerthorpe Colliery Company.

The 1901 census has him living at Oakerthorpe with his sisters Maria Elizabeth Strelley and newly widowed Alice Georgina Barber and her daughter Ruth Barber. They are living off their own means at Hollybank House on the Oakerthorpe estate. Uncle Clatie is very fond of little Ruth and she lives an idealistic country life being spoilt rotten by Clayton and spinster Aunt Maria. Ruth had fond memories of her time living at and later visiting Hollybank. She explored the Hollybank land searching for guinea fowl eggs, birds and animals. She would help her uncle fill his gun cartridges and her aunt with the pastry cooking.
1901 census

Newspaper reports between 1900 and 1908 show, Clayton is busy attending dinners, and meetings for the various local communities he is naturally involved within the small community.

Many of the newspaper reports around the period involve cases of his head gamekeeper dealing with theft of Clayton’s property at the hands of poachers.

Other articles refer to his various appointments  such as churchwarden, being Church organist, appointment to the South Wingfield School Board or organising committees in the Oakerthorpe local area. Later he is appointed to the new school authority. In 1902 and article shows him proposing the idea of a reading room  for the village at Oakerthorpe. He’s a member of the St Thomas Lodge Tibshelf Free Masons.

Many of the village meetings are held around the Anchor Inn. Although it was billed as a small coach house it was a popular spot for the local community and for the farmers and minors to meet and a spot to collect the rents.
The Anchor Inn owned by Strelleys for several generations

In 1902 the village celebrated the coronation of Edward VII with masses of food set about on trestle tables for all to enjoy. Clayton was Chairperson of the Coronation Committee.

With the demise of the Alfredton Agricultural Society  during his brother’s time the locals realised how important the annual show was for comparing notes. With Clayton as Chairperson,  Midland Ploughing and Agricultural Association was formed and the historic gathering was revived. The first Annual show of the new Association was held in the grounds adjoining the Peacock Inn in Oakerthorpe. Events included ploughing, hedge cutting, produce and a steeple chase.  

Clayton as Chairperson was sued for £11 over a disputed steeple chase race at this event. When you look into it there might have been a bit of bad blood in the Community between  his brother involved in  the closing down of the old Agricultural Society and the man involved in the dispute. The case was soon over.
Sometime around 1903 and 94 Clayton met and married Isabella Eleanor Alexandrina MacVean daughter of a Scottish minister Colin Archibald MacVean. How they came to meet is a bit of a mystery as she is a Perthshire girl from Scotland.

Isabella and Clayton's Scottish wedding 1904

His marriage was celebrated in both in England and Scotland.At the annual dinner of the Midlands Ploughing and Agricultural Association in November 1904 the newlyweds were presented with a handsome silver and glass vase. 

In 1905 Clayton became a father with little Richard Colin Strelley born. A necessary male heir one would think- what went wrong?
Ella Strelley, Clayton Strelley , and Aunt Maria Elizabeth Strelley with little Richard Colin Strelley c1905
By 1908 the Strelley family went bankrupt and the property at Oakerthorpe and the Anchor Inn was sold.

 A necessary male heir one would think- what went wrong?

Spinster Maria Elizabeth Strelley, no longer being able to live in the family home went to live in Canada where she had visited many times. In 1909 she married a widower Derby friend who was a retired Lighthouse keeper in Vancouver.

Older sister Alice had married Reginald Arthur Christian, the local Court Registrar and continued to live in the South Wingfield area at Manor Cottage with her older daughter Ruth Barber and boys Richard Frederick (Mins) Christian born 1903 and Anthony Hugh Christian born 1909.
An interesting anecdote from Ruth Barber.......she had a pet duck that was kept at Hollybank and she used to feed it whenever she went there, which was most weekends. It was around the time of the estate being wound up and cash was obviously tight. One Sunday the family sat down for can guess the rest!

Little is known of what Clayton and Isabella and little Richard Colin got up to in the next few years.  Presumably they moved to Hull and perhaps he returned to the Brewery.  Sadly Clayton’s life was short lived there.

This snippet appeared in the Courier and Argus on Monday, January 3, 1910
“"I'll see the New Year in and then I'll go to bed” said Mr CS Strelley a Hull man to his landlady. He died a few hours later apparently from heart disease. “  There is another rumour that some one of the Strelleys committed suicide but it is unlikely that a suicide would be reported in such a way. Until I found this newspaper piece I had concluded that given the circumstances perhaps it was Clayton. Even the brewery story lent itself to a “perhaps he drank himself the death” scenario

Isabella and her son are found living in Bradford Yorkshire with her brother , a medical practitioner, one year later in the in the 1911 census. The servant is a girl from a town nearby Hull so has probably come along with Isabella and perhaps had worked for the little family prior to Clayton’s death...  Isabella then moved to North Berwick and died in 1919 in Edinburgh of endocarditis with her sister attending.
Isabella Strelley and Colin in 1911 census

Clayton and Isabella’s son Richard Colin Strelley had been attending school in Edinburgh when his mother died. He entered the Scottish Police Force and was posted to Bombay when he was 20 about 1925.  He returned to Scotland and was to have returned as his passage was booked on 31/10/1936 but was cancelled. He possibly returned on another passage. Again the family rumour mill had it that he had died overseas in some outpost. In fact he died in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary aged 80 on 21 May 1987. . His death certificate shows he was single and the death was reported by a staff member of the nursing home where he was living. His occupation was reported as Retired Captain Indian Police.  

From the Edinburgh Gazette published 8/11/1991 we find his name listed under Estates fallen to the Crown Queen's and Lord Treasurers Rememberancer's Office Crown Office Regent Rd Edinburgh. It appears that any estate he left was sold up and forfeited to the Crown as no-one had come forward to claim it within 10 years. The Strelley legacy – lost again.

Between us we have come up with all sorts of possibilities about the final demise of the Strelleys of Oakerthorpe. Was Clayton able to secrete property away in other’s names- did Isabella benefit in any way and therefore was Richard Colin’s legacy lost to remaining traceable relatives still living in Derbyshire?
I visited Hollybank House which is now a nursing home in 2014. As you go through Oakerthorpe towards Belper it is a big house, there on your left, next to the Anchor Inn. I feel a sense of admiration at the land which had been in the Strelley family for many years  consisting of farming and colliery rights. I saw the workers cottages and a few remaining “Strelley” Bricks from when they ran a brickworks.

The conspiracy theories make me chuckle...
Some family members have never gotten over the loss of the Strelley money.Richard Charles' wife Gertrude gets a drubbing for being a spendthrift and her attempts at squandering the family fortune. The sale of Hollybank doesn’t sit well either. How could Clayton have lost so much in such a short time?

In her article Curses, Cannons and Robin Hood's Bowl in Bygone Oakerthorpe! Jill Sparrow speculates that

“the Strelleys may not have vacated it entirely. Sidney Strelley, one of the last remaining Derbyshire Strelleys, tells of a bedroom whose atmosphere was so hostile that no one would sleep there. In recent years, I have heard that the owner's flat on an upper storey is reputedly haunted. Objects have been moved without explanation, bedclothes pulled off and temperatures plummeted on occasion. Perhaps the Strelleys of long ago are still protesting at the trespassers of the 21st Century or maybe they continue to search for treasures they concealed in 1908.”

 “the Strelleys may not have vacated it entirely".

Strelley's Oakerthorpe home Holly Bank House now a Nursing home
(picture courtesy Greg Strelley) 

Since the deaths of Sid in 2007 and my father Alf Kerr, another Strelley relative in 2008 there have been many revelations about the Strelleys. I’m sure they are both "upstairs" spitting chips about the losses and sending clues to solve mysteries and reveal lost documents.

I have been told stories by Strelley relatives about paintings rolled up and deposited down cellars and wells and of valuable items which were secreted around the local district to avoid the bailiffs when Clayton met his downfall.

I wonder if anyone has seen or dug out any of the items rumoured to have been secreted around the nearby cottages. 

It seems in the last century the Strelleys have been losing inheritances every which way and just maybe they're not happy!

Holly Bank House by night

Friday, 22 April 2016

How I discovered we are not the Fords- The story of George (Wilks) Ford, his parents and his siblings

Harriet Ford, born 1816, comes from a long line of Fords whose records of births deaths and marriages have been kept in the registers of the ancient All Saints Church at East Meon for hundreds of years. She was my husband’s great great Grandmother.To date we have confirmed her family back five generations to the 1660s through marriages of Fords with the Philip, Greest, Norman, Webb, Coll and Sylvester families. The name Ford is of Anglo-Saxon origin and comes from the old English "ford" -- a shallow place in the river where people can ride or cross with their animals. The surname has been recorded as Ford, Foord, Foard, Forth and Forder since the time of the Saxons. The occupational surname Ford comes from being known as the keeper of the ford or being in charge of the river crossing.
Various church records show the Ford ancestors as paupers. Given the surrounds, presumably they were working as agricultural labourers in the nearby farms or around the ancient mills such as Frogmore and Draytons. From the notations in the various church records it looks like they and many others were literally “poor as the proverbial” church mice. It’s a time of no social security for those unable to work hence the need for an Alms House in town and another at Petersfield.

Daniel Ford b: 1675, d: 22 Mar 1730

... + Elizabeth Webb b: 22 Oct 1681 in East Meon, m: 02 Oct 1699 in East Meon, d: 11 Nov 1729 in East Meon

...... William Ford b: 28 Feb 1713 in East Meon, d: 18 Mar 1799 in East Meon

...... + Mary Norman b: 22 Nov 1719 in East Meon, m: 28 Jun 1737 in East Meon, d: 24 Oct 1785 in East Meon; pauper

......... Henry Ford b: 13 Dec 1753 in East Meon

......... + Sarah Greest b: Abt. 1753, m: 10 Oct 1781 in Hambledon, Hampshire, England, d: 07 Nov 1795 in Hambledon, Hampshire, England

............ Henry Ford b: 18 Apr 1784 in Hambledon, Hampshire, England, d: 1853 in East Meon; Union house

............  + Mary Phillips b: 1790, m: 11 Oct 1811 in East Meon

............... Harriet Ford b: 30 Jun 1816 in East Meon

............... Henry Ford b: 22 Nov 1812 in East Meon parish Church, d: 1814

Harriet is born and baptised in 1816.    Records from the All Saints Church show her father Henry and mother Mary are paupers. When the first census is taken in 1841, Harriet Foard aged 25 lives with her mother Mary Foard (50) and her four-year-old son Charles Foard at Frogmore part of the East Meon/Petersfield registration district. Frogmore has a local farm and Mill and the hamlet is located east of the main village. Both Harriett and her mother are agricultural labourers presumably living and working for the owners. A notation on the baptismal record shows little Charles as being the illegitimate son of Charles Kill. 
Harriet Foard, her mother Mary and son Charles in the 1841 census

Some of the Agricultural workers from the hamlet at that time include:
·         George and Hannah Sutton and family
·         William and Charlotte Blackman and family
·         Thomas Beames
·         Daniel and Mary Kent and family
·         William and Mary Silk and family
·         Olive Voakes and Hannah Newland
·         Hannah Shawyer and family
·         John and Elizabeth Hiscock and family
·         William and Leah Leach and family
·         William and Lydia Bricknall and family (life long friend of Harriett)
·         John and Ann Merritt and family
·         Sarah Cross, Phoebe Spencer, Nathaniel Taylor

By 1850 she had married William Wilkes an East Meon man who was working as an Agricultural labourer at Frogmore. Their marriage is recorded at Portsea on 27 May 1850. Incidentally, William Wilk’s mother Mary was also a pauper and he is christened in East Meon with a notation “illegitimate”. His marriage certificate does however give his father’s name as Philip.

William Wilkes marries Harriet Ford 27th May 1850

The 1851 census shows Harriet living with her sons Charles and William Ford as wife -Harriet Wilkes- to William Wilkes. Her two illegitimate sons are noted as "sons in law" by the census taker. Charles is now 14 and little William is 4. William Ford is found recorded in the Parish records as the illegitimate son of Henry Holmes having christened while Harriet was living in Poor Union House at Petersfield.
William Wilkes was working as an Agricultural labourer and young Charles aged 14  was listed as a Farm Under Carter
Others Agricultural labourers living nearby include:
·         Henry and Charlotte Pink and family
·         James and Jane Oliver and family
·         Henry and Hannah Shayer and family
·         William and Elizabeth Titheridge and family
·         William Smith
·         William and Leah Leech and family
·         William and Lydia Bricknell and family
·         Thomas and Rhoda Beams and family
·         Jeremiah and Marrian Pollard
·         Johnathon and Lucy Pink and family
·         John and Martha Appleton and family
·         James and Elizabeth Leach
·         Anne Merrett and family
Frogmore  Mill sign a little worse for wear

The Harriett Wilks nee Ford, William Wilks and the Ford boys 1851 census

Our George (My husband’s great grandfather) came along 1st April 1851 one day after the census was taken. Finally Harriet takes a legitimate baby along to the local church in East Meon for baptism. George is christened George Wilkes but his birth is registered as George Wilks, son of William Wilks and Harriet Wilks nee Foard.
George’s Birth Certificate records date of birth one year earlier than recorded on his Naval records
Here’s Harriett’s family details:
Harriet Ford b: 30 Jun 1816 in East Meon; from parish register East Meon, d: 25 Sep 1859 in Riplington, (Riplington Farm East Meon)

                 + William Wilks b: 17 Nov 1816 in East Meon; illegitimate, m: 1850 in Portsea Island, Hampshire, England Burial 14 March 1881

        Charles Ford  illegitimate son of Charles Kill b 1836

        William Ford illegitimate son of  William Holmes b 1846
                   George Wilks b 1851

It seems that the family moves from Frogmore during the next 10 years. In September 1859 Harriet Wilkes dies aged 43 with the Parish records recording her abode as Riplington. Riplington Farm house Petersfield is now Grade 2 heritage listed. The informant is her elderly neighbour from Frogmore, Lydia Bricknell who at this time is the wife of a (pauper) labourer at Frogmore. Harriett’s cause of death is lung disease which she has suffered from “long since”.  

We visited Riplington in 2014. Presumably William and Harriett lived in some of the outer farm buildings as shown here.
Riplington Farm  outbuildings where William, Harriett and George lived at the time of Harriett’s death.

Riplington Farm - grade 2 Heritage listed

Harriet Wilkes nee Foard Death Certificate 1959

By 1861 Harriett’s two older sons have moved on. Charles at 22 is lodging as an agricultural labourer at Soberton Village and William, 14 works as a servant for George and Elizabeth Gregory and family at a nearby farm. George,10 lives with his father William Wilks  an Agricultural Labourer having been put to work as a Carter at Drayton cottages in Frogmore.

Drayton Farm in 2014  – presumably the cottages were attached to the farm land.

George and his father William Wilks at Frogmore 1861 census

William Ford enlisted in the Royal Artillery at Fareham in 1866 aged 18 years 9 months.  He is described as a  5 foot 7 inch fresh faced labourer with grey eyes and brown hair. 18 months later he is back in East Meon vouching for his brother, George  as he enlists in Her Majesty's Navy in January 1868. George who signs with his mark  "X" commences his engagement in 1868 as George Ford not George Wilks.
The conversation may have gone something like :
"I'm his brother William Ford. Me mam’s died and I’m bringing my brother George to sign up for the Navy."
"Okay. Father's name?"
"Right then George (Ford) your brother has vouched for you. Welcome to the Navy"
George was a farm laborer at nine and had probably skimped on his education. William had got his age wrong by about a year but neither has noticed the incorrect surname. From then on Harriet's son George Wilks is George Ford Seaman and the Ford name carries on.

There are questions we will never know the answer to. This is one possible scenario we are clinging to. There could be others

·         Did George get on with his father? Did he run away?

·         Was he sick of the poverty?

·         Did he change his name deliberately? 

Certainly at the time the Navy was seen as good pay, a stable job, an eventual pension and probably adventure. George’s story of Life in the Navy, his marriage to Alice Barter, the birth of his many children and his life working with the Irish and English Coast Guard can be accessed by contacting Robyn Ford


So what became of William Wilks or Wilkes? Although in 1861 he is with with George at Draytons cottage farm. there is a good possibility he marries again after the death of Harriett. But maybe not. He appears in the 1871 Census at Frogmore again, a farm labourer widower aged 55. 

On 15 Mar 1879 William Wilks 63yo,Widower,Labourer of Frogmore son of Mary Wilks (illegitimate son) married Maria Pearce a  63yo,Spinster of Frogmore. Wilks is a fairly common name in the district but there is a burial recorded at East Meon which could well be him. The burial occurred 14/3/1881 of a William Wilkes aged 65 at East Meon. This was just a couple of weeks short of the 1881 census.


In 1861 Charles at 22 is lodging as an agricultural labourer at Soberton Village, Hampshire Shortly after 1861 Charles Ford moves on to Widley Farm where he remains for the rest of his life.

Charles earns his living as a long-term agricultural labourer in Hampshire. He outlives both his brothers dying at the age of 77 years. He lived and worked at Widley Farm until his death in 1913.  His wife Deborah Mason whom he marries in 1874 in Portsea died in 1895 after producing two daughters, Alice Emily and Elizabeth Fanny Ford. Both married and settled locally in the Widley Coreham area. Perhaps the family tradition has continued.

Technically the Ford name in our line  should die out with Charles.


And William Ford ….? After his early days as an agricultural labourer William enlisted in the Royal Artillery at Fareham in 1866 aged 18 years 9 months. We know he returned to East Meon and is involved in signing his brother George into the Navy. He returns to the Army. Chris Ford his great,great-nephew, after reading William’s military records described him as "quite a lad" and was probably correct in his assessment of him being “quite mad". His military records contain words like "bad", "awaiting trial", "placed under restraint as a lunatic". Sadly, in July 1875 he is discharged after being described as "melancholic" (Suicidal). So after his 10 years as a gunner in the Royal Artillery including five years service in India, he is considered unfit for further service. Returning to Petersfield aged 28 years where he works as a labourer.  In November 1880 he pleaded guilty to setting fire to a barn at nearby Froxfield causing over £1000 damage. This was reported in the The Hampshire Advertiser (Southampton, England), Wednesday, November 17, 1880; pg. 4; Issue 3592.

There is evidence from this case and another case in 1878 that William was a heavy drinker. The judge sentenced him to 10 years hard labour and the 1881 Census records him as a convicted felon at Pentonville Prison, Islington. As there is no further record of him it appears he is the William Ford whose death is recorded in 1882 at Islington.

Decisions and actions taken  after Harriet's death caused George's life to be vastly different to that of his mother and father, forefathers and surely his older brothers. William escaped for a while. Probably today his malaise would be called "post-traumatic stress disorder" and he would be pensioned out of the Army and receive treatment for his problems.

Three brothers- three fathers- three very different lives. Born in harsh times they may have remained paupers, died young, lived a tough life. One would like to think that Harriet and William fought for respectability and improvement of their lot through hard work and family.

Each of the boys and their father William Wilks maintained stable paid work. George's decision to join the Navy set a whole other train of career paths for the Fords to come. When he signed up, George was a boy of only 5 foot 2 1/4  inches tall. When he re-signed this ruddy faced farm labourer had grown three inches  and this blue eyed brown haired gentleman had begun a whole other story away from the quiet life of East Meon....

Pictured above is the ancient lead baptismal font where various family members have been baptised

All Saints Church East Meon 2014 where many Ford /Wilks records are recorded