The origins of Michael and Sarah
The church records of Michael Walker's native Norfolk describe him as an agricultural labourer, and his forebears are so described in an unbroken line stretching back as far as 1700. These same records show that his bride, Sarah, came of similar stock, and that they spent the first six years of married life at Totham, Norfolk, producing three children there.
The surname "Walker" with very few exceptions is a trade name originally attached to workers in the weaving industry. The surnames "Fuller" and "Tucker" were also derived from the same process, which consisted of cleaning wool by trampling on it in a large trough. It seems virtually certain that at some time in the preceding centuries one of Michael's ancestors was so employed, receiving his surname not later than 1400.
The records of the Parish of Hockwold-cum-Wilton show that a John Walker was baptised at Wilton on 17th July, 1715. He was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth and the eldest of six children.
Hockwold-cum-Wilton is on the Suffolk border, and Thomas and Elizabeth may well have moved there from another county.
John II, sixth child and second son of John I and his wife Mary, was born at Watton and baptised there on 27th July, 1749.
John II married Elizabeth Platfoot at Watton on 27th October 1777, and John III arrived there on 27th November, 1778, and was followed by five sisters. John III was Michael's father.
From 1715 onward the family had lived in a region of Norfolk later to be known as the Breckland, humbly following the land, assiduously presenting their children for baptism, somehow avoiding the soul destroying drift to the mines and factories, and with no record of conviction for crime or receipt of help from the parish.
It should be borne in mind that the century immediately preceding 1700 saw both the Agricultural Revolution and the English Civil War. Both deprived many worthy people of their land and/or their money, either because they had picked the wrong side in the war, or because of the unjust operation of Enclosure Acts. Prior to Enclosure yeomen had farmed on strips of land in great open fields, unfenced from their neighbours, with all the farm animals in a village running together on common land or a fallow field. Many lost the right to use the land they had farmed for generations because they were unable to produce a title; others received an allocation of land but were forced to sell and move on because they could not afford the cost of fencing. Tottington was enclosed in 1774.
Thomas and Elizabeth's ancestors may well have been yeomen farmers, but they have yet to be located.
The family history takes a dramatic turn with the entry of Mary Ann Clarke, of Ickburg, who was four years older than John, and probably the mother of an illegitimate child, Alice, baptised at Ickburg on 30th September, 1798.
Mary Ann and John III, who was described in the Church records as an agricultural labourer of Saham Toney, were married at Great Cressingham on 29th March, 1803 , by special licence issued on the day of the marriage. A daughter, Martha, was born less than three months later, and followed by a further four daughters and five sons. Michael, the sixth child and fourth son, was born on 27th April, 1813, probably at Sturston, and baptised at Tottington on 30th May.
St Michael's Church, Great Cressingham where Michael's parents were wed and St Jam,es Church Wilton where John was baptised.
The first son and second child, Robert, was born about 1804 and became the first success story in the family. After living in Sturston for some years he moved to Green Lane, Tottington (by 1861) where he was a farm bailiff. John and Mary spent their last years with him. One wonders whether they maintained any contact with that other success story, Michael, by now a leading light in the Westbury district in far away Tasmania.
Of all their sons only Michael had male issue.
Our Mary Ann should not be confused with another Mary Ann Clarke (spelling of names identical) who was mistress to the Grand Old Duke of York, second of George Ill's sons and Commander in Chief of the Army. Mary Ann made a handsome fortune from the bribes received for influencing the granting of commissions, and is generally regarded as the most famous of the Royal Dukes' mistresses.
It was a time of great profligacy and illegitimacy was common. King Charles II had over sixty illegitimate children, and the Duke of York's brother William, later King William IV, had ten illegitimate children by one of his mistresses. They were ennobled in due course.
Village girls were greatly preyed upon by the gentry, with one of the Dukes of Norfolk setting a particularly bad example, and moral standards at all levels of society had become lax.
Sarah Goss was the eighth child and third daughter of Thomas and Hannah Goss (nee Burroughs) and was baptised at Tottington on 5th June, 1814. Her father is described in Church records as an agricultural labourer and her sisters Elizabeth and Flora had rather unhappy records, Elizabeth, born in 1809, had three illegitimate children, and Flora, born in 1812, also had an illegitimate child.
Maybe a desire to start life anew in an environment where they could create a better moral atmosphere for child raising influenced the decision to migrate. Whether or no, Sarah must often have reflected that her daughters had turned out very well indeed, and that both materially and morally their prospects in Tasmania were infinitely superior to what they would have been in England.
"It was against a background of drunkenness, immorality and brutality that the teachings of John and Charles Wesley spread throughout England."
The fact that our English antecedents are humbler than some of us may have expected or hoped should be a cause of greater rather than less pride in Michael and Sarah, because it makes their achievements all the more meritorious.
Research into the family's origins reveals that Michael Walker's forebears had resided continuously there since the early eighteenth century. Thomas and Elizabeth may well have resided continuously there prior to the eighteenth century. They had very probably resided there for some years prior to the birth of John in 1715, as he and they were registered for relief from the parish of Hockwold-cum-Wilton should they fall on hard times. At the time parishes generally were reluctant to register newcomers who might at some time become a financial burden to the ratepayers, and under the provisions of the Poor Laws were entitled to refuse to do so.
It may be said with certainty that five generations of the family lived in Norfolk for a period of over one hundred and twenty five years, and assumed with confidence that Michael's generation would have been moulded completely by the geographical nature of the county and the customs, beliefs and attitudes of its people; just as completely as Michael's descendants from the late eighteen sixties to the present day have been shaped by the Tasmanian environment and people.
A character in Noel Coward's comedy Private Lives sums up the Norfolk landscape in three words, "Very flat Norfolk". The highest point rises only 330 feet above sea level. Most of it is under one hundred and fifty feet, and a few areas are actually below sea level.
Some of Michael's descendants are known to have had notoriously poor heads for heights. Some took this disability sufficiently seriously to instruct the young as to what action should be taken in the event of an attack of giddiness. "Shut your eyes tight", was the prescription, "and walk backwards as quickly as you can".
Although Norfolk's rainfall is one of the scantiest in England, it has many rivers and creeks. To north and east it is bounded by sea, and to west and south almost entirely by rivers. Yet Norfolk has no reservoirs, all water being supplied by bores. Similarly much of Exton's water came from deep wells. Waterwise the situation in the Exton of his day must have reminded Michael of his native county, with possession of a reliable well a matter of stern necessity throughout the drier periods of the year. Care in the use of water was taught early and generally practised throughout life in Exton, and may well have simply continued habits in which Michael and Sarah had grown up prior to migration.
Waterwise the most obvious difference between Norfolk and Exton would have been the lack in Exton of anything parallelling the Norfolk fens, meres and marshes — apart from Exton's notorious Marsh Paddock, earlier known as Exton Marsh and dreaded by travellers to the Northwest Coast.
Norfolk, one thirteenth the size of Tasmania, embraces areas of widely different character. The Marshland, much of it salt marsh, extends along the north coast; the Fenland includes large sheets of water with many islands and reed beds; the Breckland, from whence we came, has land of an unusually sandy nature, full of flints and of only marginal agricultural value.
By contrast, the black soil area about Wisbeck is regarded as the richest agricultural land in England, and the Broadland also possesses soil of good quality.
For centuries, indeed for millenia, Norfolk served as the gateway into England for peoples moving from the mainland of Europe. The county is rich in relics of prehistoric times, including flint weapons and implements believed to have been in use during interglacial periods.
Probably the most important of early invasions occurred during the third century BC, when a tribe later to be known as the Iceni arrived from the Marne-Seine area and took control of the region later known as East Anglia. Recorded history shows that Norfolk had much to endure during the four major conquests of Britain. Boadicea's unsuccessful revolt of 6IAD was followed by heavy Roman reprisals, and another period of trial and tribulation commenced about 400AD when Angles, Saxons and Friesians set about the formation of the English Kingdom of East Anglia. This Kingdom flourished for a time, officially adopting Christianity in 631, but falling after 869 to a force of heathen Danes which had wintered in Thetford. Years of brutality and wanton destruction followed, but the Danes were ultimately defeated by Alfred the Great, adopting Christianity and accepting him as overlord. However, the area was by now predominantly Danish, and became increasingly so as fresh settlers arrived from Denmark. As part of the Dane law it was largely autonomous, remaining so until the late Saxon period. During this period Norfolk flourished, greatly increasing its population and becoming the most densely populated county in England during the Middle Ages. Although various people were deprived of land to provide grants for William the Conqueror's followers, the Norman Conquest appears to have been much less savage than the Danish, and indeed after all conquests a substantial proportion of the preceding population in all probability survived.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Norwich was the second largest city in England. It did not attract the "merry monarch", Charles II. The whole county, he said, should be used for road material.
Maybe it was a man of Norfolk who suggested Charles' epitaph:
"Here lies our sovereign lord the King Whose word no man relied on Who never said a foolish thing And never did a wise one."
By contrast George III, "Farmer George", took a lively and well informed interest in the efforts of Norfolk farmers to improve crops and livestock, viewing their flocks and fields, chatting with them in their kitchens, and seeing that their methods were followed on his own properties.
Since the term "Walker" was used in northern and central but not in southern and western England, where the same type of tradesman was called a "fuller" or "tucker" the name itself suggests that if we didn't originate in Norfolk we moved there from adjacent northern or central counties. This could have occurred during the reign of Edward III, who had greatly improved the woollen industry by persuading Flemish weavers to settle in Norfolk.
Families which followed the walker's craft must surely have acquired well-muscled legs, handed on perhaps to a descendant who won the Burnie Gift some centuries later.
The blood of the people of Norfolk is believed to be predominantly Danish, and the strain of stubborn independence regarded as characteristic of Norfolk is often seen as resulting from Danish influence. So are a distinctive building style and a unique dialect.
Not surprisingly the small yeoman farmer appears to have persisted longer and in greater numbers in Norfolk than elsewhere.
The readiness of Norfolk folk to suffer in support of their opinions is exemplified in their support for the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, for Kett's Rebellion, for the puritanism of the 16th and 17th centuries, leading to migration to America and elsewhere, their adherence to Parliament during the English Civil War, and their support for non-conformism during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A family tendency towards stubbornness may well have been derived from Danish ancestors.
According to Peter Steggall in "East Anglia" the name "Breckland" wasn't used until 1925, approximately a quarter of a century after Michael's death. The word was coined by W. G. Clarke, whose book In Breckland Wilds was published in that year. The word "breck" indicates that much of the area concerned had been broken up and cultivated from time to time, but it was a dry, stony part of the country, where old methods and countless rabbits made agriculture a desultory and unprofitable occupation. Elsewhere "breck" is described as a large field.
The Breckland straddles the Norfolk-Suffolk border, with a total area of approximately four hundred square miles. In Michael's day most of it was barren heathland, and for centuries it had boasted the largest rabbit warren in England. According to a French visitor the rabbits were not merely plentiful but brazen, to be seen in numbers during the day, calmly regarding passing travellers and seldom bothering to remove themselves to any great distance.
It has been suggested that man appeared in the Breckland as early as 8000BC, attracted by the ready and reliable availability of water and the light, well drained soil which was easy to cultivate. Above all there was a seemingly inexhaustible supply of high quality flint, which could be worked into tools and weapons available not only for local use but for trade. The "roads" or "ways" by which prehistoric man travelled and traded may still be followed, and are indicated on many maps of the region. Flint from the region is still an article of trade, being regularly exported to America and elsewhere for use in competitions involving the use of flint-lock firearms.
The Breckland appears to have exercised a strange fascination for writers and scholars, some of whom have suggested that the general effect of the landscape borders at times on the weird. Others stress a number of unusual features. Its flora is said to resemble that of the tundra more closely than that of adjacent regions. Its climate also differs, exhibiting greater extremes, summer temperatures are higher, and ground frosts more frequent, settling on more than half the days in the year. The rainfall does little to bind the light, sandy soil, disappearing quickly into the ground, and as a result sand storms are frequent. There are many slight depressions, susceptible to frost in summer and early spring, and described locally as frost holes. In Michael's adopted district the term "frost bot" was used to describe slight depressions in which the frost settled more heavily than elsewhere.
The lesser flora listed by David Yaxley as giving the Breckland a distinctive character compared with the rest of Norfolk may also be encountered in various parts of the Westbury district: "bracken, sedge, heathy grasses, heather, gorse and broom". However, his list of trees doesn't correspond as closely: oak, thorn and willow are fairly common here, but birch and alder are less common.
At certain periods in its history the arid nature of the Breckland has been intensified by over-grazing. The diarist John Evelyn, visiting the Breckland at a particularly dry and dusty time, likened it to the Libyan desert.
Michael's forebears lived in a comparatively small area of the Breckland. Watton, the third largest country town in the area, would have been the nearest centre of any size, and was about as far from Tottington as Deloraine is from Exton.
Ickburg, Sturston, Great Cressingham and Saham Toney were within comparable distance, and Hockwold-cum-Wilton somewhat further away to the south west. They are all many centuries old. The roads connecting them are believed to have been established, largely in their present positions, by the Romans and almost all of them, including Tottington, are mentioned in William the Conqueror's Domesday Book.
Although Watton was noted for centuries for its butter, the sheep appears to have been the most important domestic animal, being present even in Roman times in large flocks.
Few pigs were kept in the area because of the scarcity of acorns and beech mast, for centuries an important item in pig feed; but horses, bees and turkeys are mentioned in early records.
For centuries the Breckland was something of a sportsman's paradise. King James I not only hunted there, but owned a house in Thetford for use during his hunting excursions. Sir Robert Walpole, one of the most famous of England's Prime Ministers and a native of Norfolk, is also known to have been keen on shooting, particularly on shooting pheasants.
Conditions in the Breckland were never over-favourable for farming, which fluctuated greatly in prosperity over the years. Brecks were sometimes cleared and broken up and villages founded only to be abandoned in later years. W. G. Hoskins refers to twentyeight deserted villages in and around the edges of the Breckland. Both Sturston and Tottington fall within this category, and no longer appear on roadmaps.
Enclosures had also contributed to the decline in size of the rural population. Tottington was enclosed by Act of Parliament in the same year in which Michael's mother was born.
The effects of over a century's residence in a small area of the Breckland on Michael and Sarah's lives and those of their descendants may well have shown out in the following areas:
A tendency towards chest complaints, provoked by dry and dusty conditions; Acquisition of above average skills in agriculture and pastoral pursuits to remain employed in an industry in which the number of jobs available had steadily and dramatically declined; An interest in spiritual matters encouraged by the uncertainty of success in the physical field of human endeavour, and the somewhat eerie, unearthly nature of the landscape; A desire to follow the example of others who had migrated.
Though brief, the records concerning Sarah's family are numerous enough to present a reasonably coherent picture; on the whole an unhappy making picture, only too typical of life in England at the time.
Sarah emerges in a class of her own, escaping unscathed where sisters were hurt. Maybe things turned out more happily for her because she and Michael were childhood sweethearts and married young.
Michael must surely have regarded her as "the pick of the bunch by a country mile". It is felt that the succeeding section should be read carefully, because in no other way can the extent of Michael and Sarah's success in character building be fully grasped. It is felt, too, that the reader should bear in mind that in the times under discussion there was proliferation of illegitimate children at all levels of society. Sarah's illegitimate niece, Adelaide, may well have been named after William IV's queen, who, according to Debrett's Kings and Queens of Britain, shared their household with the King's 10 illegitimate children by Mrs. Jordan. And William was a very popular King. A Duke of Norfolk, the "Protestant" or "Drunken" Duke, 1746 - l815, had "passed through life surrounded by parasites and illegitimate children", and long after Michael and Sarah had left England certain prominent men were to be described as "siring whole villages of illegitimate children". Village girls were regarded as fair game by gentlemen in search of amusement, and in the labouring and other classes moral standards were often low.
Michael's Sarah was the daughter of Thomas and Hannah Goss (formerly Burroughes). They were married at Tottington on 16th January, 1798 and their first child, Mary Ann, was born on 29th September, 1798, and baptised on the following day. Baptism at such an early age suggests that Mary Ann was either sickly or born prematurely, and that her parents subscribed to the somewhat superstitious beliefs of the time, which took a rather sombre and sorrowful view of the prospects of unbaptised babies in the next life. Another not uncommon belief at the time, at any rate in rural areas, held that a child not placed on the Holy Cross before baptism would be unlucky. The Holy Cross referred to was the mark across a donkey's back, believed to have been placed there in memory of the donkey's service to Christ on Palm Sunday. Mary Ann was buried at Tottington on 16th February, 1812, "aged thirteen".
The next child and first son, Makum, was born 13th May, 1800 and baptised 12 days later. He was buried at Tottington on 2nd February, 1834 at a stated age of 36, which doesn't quite agree with his birth and baptismal records. A query has been placed against his name on an information sheet received from England, maybe suggesting a mis-spelling of Mark, maybe simply inviting conjecture. The name doesn't occur in the bible; could the -um ending indicate a name of Danish origin, like Guthrum, or could it have originated from the mis�pronunciation of a name heard in conversation. In the Exton of 50 or 60 years ago the suffixes -um and -bus were often used facetiously: a dog called Cheek might be addressed as Cheekum; Ted the cat as Teddy bus; Goldie the cow as Goldibus. -Um usually carried a note of warning or reproof, as, "Don't go turning your tap on those lettuces Cheekum", to a dog loitering with intent. -Bus often indicated mild approval, as, "Well done Teddybus", to a cat appearing with a rat in mouth. Both suffixes are common in Latin, which at that time was still taught in school. In the Tottington of 1800 Thomas or Martha Goss may conceivably have heard one Mark addressed as Markum, and liked the sound of Makum as a name in its own right.
Makum was followed by William, who was baptised on 14th March, 1802 at Tottington, became an agricultural labourer, and was married to Mary Knights at Tottington on 13th August, 1837. Ann Elizabeth arrived less than a month later, to be followed by Sarah, Jemima, Samuel, John and Michael, the last named born on 26th June, 1851 just over five years later than John. Sarah and Samuel were allegedly born at Rockland All Saints, which is situated in Suffolk, but according to church records were baptised neither there nor at Tottington. The family could well have moved further into Suffolk (to Hoxne, for example, whence one John Goss migrated to Van Diemen's Land in 1841), stayed there at intervals for a season or so, and finally returned to Tottington. William, Mary and respective members of their families are all recorded as living in Tottington in censuses taken from 1841 to 1871. In 1861 they are recorded as living at the Town House, which was owned by the parish of Tottington, and hence may have been in receipt of some form of assistance from the parish. William was buried at Tottington on 28th February, 1876 allegedly aged 76; a paradoxical age, as it would mean that he had been born in March 1800, a month or so before the birth of his elder brother Makum.
Thomas and Hannah's fourth child and third son, John, was born on 21st September, 1804 and baptised on 30th September. According to his death certificate, John married Ann Ayers in London, and may well have lived there for some years. His name does not appear on the 1841 to 1881 censuses of Tottington and there is no record of his burial there.
For a time it was thought that this John Goss might have been one and the same with the John Goss who migrated from Hoxne, Suffolk, to Hampshire Hills in Van Diemen's Land, and later became the father-in-law of Michael and Sarah's daughter Elizabeth. In support of this theory is the possibility that Sarah's brother John may have moved across the Suffolk border to live at Hoxne, following in the footsteps of his older brother, William, who probably spent some time at Rockall All Saints, also in Suffolk. There is also the fact that the great majority of the group which travelled to Circular Head with John of Hoxne on the ship Emu came from Norfolk.
Against the theory are two entries in the records of the Van Diemen's Land Company. One gives the wife's name as Jane, not Ann, and the other records an age of 32, five years younger than Sarah's brother John would have been, in 1841.
Thomas and Hannah's fourth son and fifth child, Thomas, was born at Tottington on 2nd March, 1807 and married Martha Johnson on 26th February, 1837. Their children, all baptised at Tottington, were Elizabeth on 20th August 1837; Mary on 29th May, 1839; Eliza on 4th April, 1841; Sarah on 2nd August, 1845; John Makim on 27th August, 1848; and Susan on 5th June, 1853. Thomas and Martha appear with family on the 1841 and 1851 censuses of Tottington, but not thereafter, and there is no known record of their burial there.
The second daughter and sixth child, Elizabeth, was born at Tottington on 24th August, 1809, baptised on 27th August, and buried there, aged 25, on 24th June, 1835. She had three illegitimate children, all of whom were baptised at Tottington. Of these the eldest, Mary Anne, died six weeks after baptism, and was buried at Tottington 12th April, 1829. Henry, baptised on 13th June, 1830, was buried at Tottington on 1st May, 1831. Adelaide (named after William IV's Queen) was baptised on 27th February, 1833. She outlived her mother, and her name appears on the censuses of 1841 to 1851. She was then living with her grandparents Thomas and Martha Goss.
Thomas and Hannah's third daughter and seventh child, Flora, was born at Tottington on 3rd December, 1811 and baptised on 5th January, 1812, She had an illegitimate daughter, Mary Ann, who was baptised at Tottington on 8th December, 1830. Mother and daughter had probably moved from Tottington by 1841, as their names do not appear on the census of that year. Nor is there any known record of burial at Tottington.
There is a touch of pathos in the repetition of the name Mary Ann, on each occasion of the illegitimate daughter of a mother still in her teens; a further touch is the probability that Elizabeth and Flora's infants were named after their eldest sister Mary Ann, who had died at age 13 in the year that Flora was born. It may be recalled that Michael Walker's mother, too, was named Mary Ann. The name was used for a time as a symbol of the unfortunate innocent, appearing for example in a maudlin ballad still to be heard in Exton a full century later to the accompaniment of the separator's hum, or the swish and jingle of a single furrow plough; "Poor, poor, innocent Mary Ann, Didn't know whether to kiss the man, Or whether to run away".
Thomas and Hannah's eighth child and fourth daughter, Sarah, arrived on the scene as the undisputed heroine of this history on 14th January, 1814, was baptised at Tottington on 5th June, and married Michael Walker on 1st December, 1834. It is a pleasure to record that their first child, William, arrived after a decorous interval of eleven months.
At this stage the writer of these lines, pausing to reflect on the world of human misery condensed above, and wryly reckoning there was more of the same to follow, was seized by a great desire to pay tribute to Sarah, the chosen one, and left this task for a time to write the words that appear at the head of the chapter.
Sarah was followed by a fifth daughter, Anne, baptised at Tottington on 28th April, 1816. She married George Macrow at Tottington on 11th August, again with an early arrival, John, who was baptised on 1st March, 1840. The couple had three more children: Sarah, baptised 15th May, 1842; Thomas baptised 11th August, 1844; George baptised 9th July, 1848. George was an agricultural labourer, and the family living in the Old Workhouse in the 1851 census. According to the records as quoted to us, George Macrow was buried at Tottington on 2nd May, 1873 aged 62, and Anne on 19th November, 1884 aged 70. Again there is disagreement between records, as the difference between Anne' date of death and the date of birth of Sarah, a sister two years older is only 70 years.
Thomas and Martha's fifth son and 10th child, Robert, was born at Tottington on 13th April, 1818, baptised on the 19th, and married Susanna Cheston there on 5th April, 1846. Two daughters, Mary and Ellen, were baptised in the neighbouring village of Thompson; Mary, born 2nd July 1848, baptised on 30th July, and Ellen baptised on 27th July, 1857. A son, William was baptised at Tottington on 13th November, 1854 and a further daughter, Jane is mentioned on the 1851 census of Thompson, aged one year (entry difficult to read, writes our researcher).
Sixth son and 11th child of Thomas and Hannah, was born 13th February 1820, and baptised on 12th March, 1820 at Tottington, where he was also buried on 26th March 1894. Aged 71, one reads; three years out by comparison with dates of birth and death as quoted. According to the 1861 census of Thompson, Samuel was then working as a servant at Wood Farm, aged 43 and unmarried (aged 41 according to his baptismal record). His name appears again on the census for 1881, which states that he was then living with his sister Ann Macrow, and was lame though not from birth.
Thomas and Hannah's seventh and last child, Henry, was born at Tottington on 6th January, 1823, baptised a week later, and was buried there on 16th February, 1823 aged only five weeks.
Additional information regarding the family of Sarah's older brother, William, is as follows:
Their first daughter Ann Alizabeth, had an illegitimate daughter, Emma Eliza, born at Tottington on 25th February, 1862 and baptised there on 7th September.
Second daughter, Sarah, had an illegitimate child, Charles Henry, who was born at Tottington on 5th March, 1860, baptised on 27th May and buried at Sturston on 20th May, 1862 aged two.
Meanwhile, Sarah had married Henry Macrow at Tottington on 22nd March, 1862 thereby being, as the neighbours would have remarked in those days, "made an honest woman of".
According to Norman Walker's wife, Louie, a great source of information on customs in the old country, it was customary for an illegitimate child to kneel beside its mother during the marriage ceremony, covered by her skirt, and to be thereby deemed to have been made legitimate.
Sarah must have passed through a harrowing time:
She married on 22nd March, 1862, bore Frederick on 23rd April, 1862. She bore a further 10 children, all at Tottington. Details of her brood are as follows: Frederick, baptised 28th April, 1862; Thirza Elizabeth, born 7th June, 1866, baptised 29th July; Charles, baptised on Christmas Day, 1868; Henry, born 16th May, 1870, baptised 28th May, 1871; Sarah Matilda, born 18th November, 1872, baptised 22nd December; Arthur, born 1st August, 1873, baptised 21st December; William, baptised on 12th August, 1875; Laura Anna, baptised 7th October, 1877; Emma Rosetta, born 6th December, 1879, baptised 16th May, 1880; Wallace, born 15th June 1881, baptised on 19th November, and buried on 17th March, 1882; Alice Louisa, born 16th June, 1883, baptised in June 1884.
William and Mary's next daughter, Jemima, was living with her family at Tottington at the time of the 1861 census, but her name does not appear on the 1871 census.
Their fourth child, Samuel married Mary Garrod at Tottington on 15th November, 1883. Three children were born to them and baptised there as follows: Alice Maud on Christmas Day 1874; Mabel Mary on 16th June 1878; and Ernest Samuel on 28th March, 1880. The family is not listed on the 1881 census.
William and Mary's fifth child, John had a daughter Gerty Emma, who was baptised at Tottington on 25th May, 1877. His wife was also called Emma, but her maiden name is not known. This family also is not mentioned in the 1881 census.
The sixth child Michael, is mentioned in the 1861 census, but not thereafter. Such is the story of Martha's family, a story to stir 'thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears"; yet still are they kinsmen of the Walkers of Exton, and there, but for the Grace of God, go we. They were not without redeeming features. They stood by their illegitimate offspring, and they stood by their church faithfully following its rites of baptism, and in so far as they could, its rites of marriage.
Dear mother of our clan, dear Norfolk maid, Maid fair and free where unflawed gems were few, Quamby shall not outlast thy memory's span, Nor sons forget to praise thy life and thee. Dear trusted Sarah, Kind of heart and eye, Thy name shall live in thine adopted land While ere Meander flows, and in the sky The fair bright rainbow gleams, sign of His pledge. From thee descend no gifts of pelf, of dross: To thy new land, a legion's strength of folk, As living witness to thy life and care: And to thy sons, such skills of hand and eye As they possess:
Their stubborn family pride: Faith in the Hand, they guide by land and sea.
Maid fair and free where unflawed gems were few,
Quamby shall not outlast thy memory's span,
Nor sons forget to praise thy life and thee.
Dear trusted Sarah, Kind of heart and eye,
Thy name shall live in thine adopted land
While ere Meander flows, and in the sky
The fair bright rainbow gleams, sign of His pledge.
From thee descend no gifts of pelf, of dross:
To thy new land, a legion's strength of folk,
As living witness to thy life and care:
And to thy sons, such skills of hand and eye As they possess:
Their stubborn family pride:
Faith in the Hand, they guide by land and sea.
Written on 1st July, birthday of the writer's late mother, at the funeral of the late Ford Pearn, a true friend and guide to the writer's family for many years.