My Own Vousden Family

Snow Hill Station, Birmingham: and the clock under which my mum and dad-to-be met for the first time in January 1946.

This is the story of my own Vousden family, and the reason for this One-Name Study. The Black Country in the Midlands of England and London/Kent are my two ancestral homes but it was Cradley in the Black Country where I was born and brought up.

London came to the Black Country in 1945 when my father Daniel Brown was demobbed from the RAF in the Midlands. He had not much liked living in Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent before the War and so he did not return to live there again.

He lodged in Birmingham with the parents of his wartime air force mate, Fred Pugh. Fred's wife Lil worked in a Birmingham factory with a Cradley girl Winifred Pearce and a blind date for Dannie and Winnie was duly arranged under the clock at Snow Hill Station. Dannie stayed here after he married Winnie in September 1946 and I came along in 1950.

Childhood Holidays

Agnes Vousden and Robert John Brown: with baby Leslie and my father Daniel; Betty was yet to be born. Circa 1925.

My maternal grandparents both died before I was born, so I never knew them. However, I remember my grandad and grandma Brown well, even though they lived a long distance away, and their other four grandchildren were my only first cousins.

I knew from an early age that my grandma Brown's maiden name was Vousden, probably because it is an unusual surname. However, I knew little else about this side of my family until much later, apart from a doubtful story she told us that we were descended from Dick Turpin, the highwayman.

My grandad died when I was only six years old but I have clear memories of him. Grandma survived him by eleven years.

I spent most of my childhood holidays in Sheerness, on the Isle of Sheppey, where grandad and grandma had moved to live in the 1930s. They were Londoners who had eventually left for Kent, first Cliftonville and later Sheerness. I knew that my dad and his brother Les and sister Betty had been born in a pub in Marylebone, north London, and I had looked around Lisson Grove where the King Alfred PH had once stood, on several occasions during the 1970s whilst studying at the Polytechnic of Central London nearby.

Five cousins on Sheerness beach, 1953: Tony (rear), and (left to right) Roger, me, Marilyn and Bill.

My four cousins all lived on the island, until in 1960 my dad's brother Les moved with his family to South Wales, to work in the Port Talbot steel works. Afterwards we spent some holidays in Bridgend, Glamorgan, where they lived, and there were beaches nearby at Porthcawl and Ogmore-by-Sea.

Cousin Bill still lived a pebble's throw from Sheerness beach until his untimely death in 2008, in a house visible in the background of the photo (left), taken about 53 years earlier.

There were not many children in Cradley who had a seaside holiday every year. I was very lucky in this and many other ways.

My Family

My 8 great grandparents: Robert BROWN and Elizabeth Esther SPRINGALL; Daniel VOUSDEN and Agnes TURPIN; Charles PEARCE and Louisa PARTRIDGE; and John RAYBOULD and Mary Ann ATTWOOD.

In the jigsaw of my family (left), I am in the centre and the eight pieces around are my eight great grandparents.

My father's parents were Robert John Brown (son of Robert BROWN and Elizabeth Esther SPRINGALL) and Agnes Minnie Lucy Vousden (daughter of Daniel VOUSDEN and Agnes TURPIN).

My mother's parents were Naaman Pearce (son of Charles PEARCE and Louisa PARTRIDGE) and Elsie Maria Raybould (daughter of John RAYBOULD and Mary Ann ATTWOOD).

Wedding of Robert John Brown, D.S.M., Petty Officer, R.N. (son of Robert BROWN and Elizabeth Esther SPRINGALL) and Agnes Minnie Lucy Vousden (daughter of Daniel VOUSDEN and Agnes TURPIN): all present on this photograph, taken in the garden of 54 St. Leonard's Road, Hove, a Vousden family home.

My paternal grandparents, Agnes Minnie Lucy Vousden and Robert John Brown married on 9 April 1918 at St. Leonard's Parish Church, Aldrington, Brighton, Sussex.

At that time Agnes's parents kept the Wheatsheaf public house at 329 Edgware Road, London and Robert was still in the Royal Navy, from which he was soon to retire to join his wife in the pub trade on their own account.

The King Alfred Public House, Lisson Grove, Marylebone, London: where my grandfather was licensee from 1918 for about 10 years. [Photo dated 12 February 1904]

Aggie and Bob had four children. The first-born, Robert Vousden Brown, died in infancy. My father, Daniel Ralph came next, followed by Les and then Betty. Apart from Robert they were all born in the King Alfred public house, where grandma and grandad followed the Vousden family tradition of inn keeping.

Emmie Dabbs: barmaid at the King Alfred and later a good friend to my father and his brother and sister.

At the King Alfred a barmaid named Emily (Emmie) Dabbs became a nurse or nanny to the three children. They were very fond of her, and as they grew up they came to call her "Sis.", short for sister. When the family moved from the King Alfred, and then left London for the Wheatsheaf Inn in Cliftonville, Emmie moved with them. Later she accompanied them on the boat that took them from Margate to their new residence in High Street, Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey.

By the time my father returned from the War in December 1945 Emmie had married Reginald Jay and they had a daughter Helen, in West Ham, London. She was one of the first persons he visited.

Family papers

In 1990 my cousin Bill's wife Mary gave me a sheaf of family papers, some no more than scraps, collected by my father's sister. Amongst them was a copy of the Attestation of Daniel Vousden, a clock maker, into the Ninth Regiment of Lancers at Maidstone Barracks on 26 August 1852. I had no idea who he was.

I did nothing with these papers for several years, but when I started the family history research seven years later I started with the Vousdens.

Daniel Vousden
Daniel Vousden (1865-1925): licensed victualler, my great grandfather.
Agnes Vousden n?Turpin
Agnes Turpin (1864-1935): my great grandmother.
Agnes, with children
Agnes Turpin (1896) : with children Daniel, Agnes (my grandma) and baby Alice Vousden.

My grandma's birth certificate revealed that her parents were Daniel Vousden and Agnes Turpin. (I wondered if we might be related to Dick Turpin after all.) Daniel and Agnes had four children: Daniel William, my grandma Agnes Minnie Lucy, Alice Mary Ann and Maud Rose. They were all born at The Antelope public house in Phipp Street, Shoreditch (now an Italian restaurant).

Agnes M.L. Vousden was born in Shoreditch, London in 1893, a first generation Londoner, her father Daniel having been born in 1865 in Guildford, Surrey. Her grandfather, another Daniel Vousden, was born in 1830 in Bromley, Kent, and her great grandfather William was born in Goudhurst, Kent in 1800.

I obtained my great grandfather's marriage and birth certificates and found that he was born in 1865, the son of Daniel Vousden and Mary Ann Davies. In 1865 this Daniel, my great, great grandfather, was a clock maker, an exact match with the stated occupation in the attestation paper of Daniel upon joining the Ninth Lancers in 1852.

Vousden One-Name Study

At this point my own Vousden family research slowed down and soon afterwards stopped. Eventually I found 2 x great grandfather Daniel in Bromley, Kent, in the 1841 census, with a sister Rebecca and their widowed mother, Sarah. Later I found that the father was a William Vousden, but there matters rested for a long time. The only sign of William in Bromley was his death certificate in 1839.

I started to "collect" William Vousdens, looking for a clue as to which one was mine. Thus began the Vousden One-Name Study. I knew only his name, the first name of his wife, his approximate birth year and his occupation. I found two more children, James and Thomas, and their military records, and then a record of William's baptism in Goudhurst in 1800. The "missing link" was the name of his father's brother, Daniel.

It took 12 years to find William and Sarah's marriage by which time I had traced the family line back to the 1500s and assisted many other Vousden researchers. In fact, it was not me who found the marriage record, but a descendant of their daughter Rebecca after she had contacted me through this Vousden One-Name Study web site in 2012. Shortly afterwards two more children came to light, Caroline and Charles

William was working as a post chaise driver in 1823, a coach owner in 1828 and 1830, and a coachman when he died in 1839. He was referred to as a coach proprietor in 1859 and was described as a stage coachman on his wife Sarah's death the following year. When his son Thomas married for the second time in 1863 he described his late father as a yeoman.

A stagecoach of the kind in use on the highways of Britain in the early 1800s: [Line art representation of a Stagecoach by educational publisher Pearson Scott Foresman, and released into the public domain]

I still wonder what Thomas had in mind when he described his late father in this way. A yeoman usually refers to a farmer who cultivates his own land, historically a lesser freeholder, below the landed gentry but with political rights. This seems like a rather inflated interpretation of his father's social class. However, in more modern English usage, yeoman may specifically refer to a member of a reserve cavalry unit called a yeomanry (similar to a militia), traditionally raised from respected and moderately wealthy commoners. Three of William's sons went into the army, so perhaps they were following in their father's footsteps in the days before before he became a coachman.

Men at War

William married Sarah Cook at Dallington near Battle, Sussex, on 29 May 1822. The first four children: Caroline, James, Thomas and Charles were born in Battle between 1821 and 1826 before William and Sarah moved to live in Bromley, Kent, where Rebecca and Daniel (my great, great grandfather) were born in 1828 and 1830.

James died in 1846 in Agra, East Indies (now Rajasthan, India). Caroline married Robert Cattle (another Army man) in 1853, and Charles, who became a Coffee House Keeper in London, married Catherine Ford in 1856 and Caroline Coles in 1867.

Thomas Vousden
Thomas Vousden: my great, great grandfather Daniel's brother.

In 1841 Thomas was an army private stationed at the North Infantry barracks at Walmer, Kent. He was a corporal when he married Catherine Horrigan in Gillingham in 1843, an officer when he married his second wife Mary Jane Burkitt at Rye in 1863 and a halfpay (retired) captain in the army at his death in 1872.

In the Crimean War he took part in the charge of the 21st Royal North British Fusiliers at Inkerman, 5th November 1854, where he was wounded.

An Olando Norrie watercolour (below left) shows the scene when the regiment charged and repulsed an attack launched by two Russian Battalions. To the rear of Lt. Col. Ainslie on horseback is Sergeant Major Thomas Vousden with drawn sword. The original watercolour is held at the Regimental HQ of The Royal Highland Fusiliers in Glasgow.

Battle of Inkerman
The 21st Royal North British Fusiliers at the Battle of Inkerman, Crimea: an Olando Norrie watercolour shows the scene on the morning of 5th November 1854, when the regiment charged and repulsed an attack launched by two Russian Battalions. Lt Col Ainslie, later mortally wounded, is on horseback. To his rear right, with drawn sword is Sergeant Major Thomas Vousden.

Thomas and Catherine had one son, William John, born in 1845 in Perth, Scotland. William John followed in his father's military footsteps and rose to high rank. He died in Lahore, India (now Pakistan) in 1902, leaving a wife who survived him for little more than a year and no children. William John's father Thomas retired from the army to live at Stream Farm House in Peasmarsh near Rye, Sussex.

Ninth Lancers
9th Lancers (1846-55)

My great, great grandfather Daniel began his military service with the Ninth Lancers at the Cavalry Depot in Maidstone, Kent, on 26 August 1852. He was discharged on 18 March 1854 at Dublin, having transferred to his brother Thomas' regiment the 21st Foot in February 1853. After a short-lived army career, Daniel returned to clock making, had a brief spell as a tobacconist, and then turned to inn keeping, the beginning of a long association of my Vousden family with public houses.

Daniel married Mary Ann Davies on 7 August 1859 at St. Olave Church in Southwark, Surrey. In 1861 they were living in Lambeth with their 6 month old daughter Sarah Ann. They had six children in all: Sarah Ann, Charles, Daniel, Minnie, Alice Maude and Mary Ann. By 1871 they had left London for Guildford, where Daniel became the Innkeeper of the "Railway Arms", Farnham Road, Guildford, also known as the "South Western" hotel at the railway station in Guildford.

When he died in 1874 Daniel was described as an Innkeeper at Farnham Road, Guildford. However, he was remembered also by his earlier trade of a clock maker.

Back to Goudhurst

Goudhurst in 1901: a view that probably had not changed much since 1801. [Francis Frith Collection]

It was the long line of Daniel Vousdens that led me to Goudhurst. I found that my 3 x great grandfather William Vousden had been baptised at St. Mary's Parish Church on 24 August 1800, one of the six children of Thomas Vousden and Elizabeth Luck. The daughters were Elizabeth, Ann and Mary. The other two sons were Thomas and Daniel, the first of many of "my" Vousdens given that name.

William left Goudhurst to live and work as a post chaise driver in Battle, Sussex, near where he met and married Sarah Cook in 1822 and their first four children were born. Daniel's attestation states that he was born in Bromley, Kent in 1830, and I soon found the record of his baptism at Holy Trinity Parish Church in that year, and also Rebecca's in 1828.

William died at the young age of 38, in 1839, in Bromley, where he was buried in the churchyard of Holy Trinity. After she was widowed, Sarah remained in Bromley for some time, later moving to London.

In the 1841 census Sarah was 40 years old, still living in Bromley Town with her two youngest children Rebecca (12) and Daniel (10) and earning a living as a dealer in china. In 1851 Sarah was in Newington, London, living with daughter Caroline and son Charles. Later she moved to Camden Town near St. Pancras, London, perhaps to be closer to Rebecca, and in 1860 she died there in her home at 85 Bayham Street after a heart attack, aged 61 years.

Rebecca was working as a house maid in Westminster in 1851, she married John Arthur Warden, a letter carrier, in 1858 and they were living in St. Pancras when she was widowed in 1881. John died on census day, when Rebecca was recorded at home alone with her daughter Rebecca (Jesse) Jane (21) and son Arthur CA (10). Rebecca herself died the following year, aged 53 years.

Monumental Inscription, Holy Trinity Church, Bromley: [Extract from Holworthy, 1922]

I have a library-bound copy of The Monumental Inscriptions in the Church and Churchyard of Bromley, Co. Kent, transcribed by Richard Holworthy in 1922. It contains details of well over 800 monuments, many of which have now been lost. The only Vousden entry is on one of these lost family graves. It is for William and Sarah, my 3 x great grandparents, also their son James and their daughter-in-law Kate (Catherine Horrigan), the first wife of Thomas.

The Vousdens have lived in the vicinity of Goudhurst since at least the mid-sixteenth century - and hardly anywhere else beyond a few miles until the early nineteenth century. The journey that my 3 x great grandfather made, from Goudhurst to Bromley (via Battle), was not unusual for its time, as rural life changed and the Medway towns and London began to attract labour to work in the docks, factories and ancillary trades.

I have traced my Vousden family back to my 6 x great grandparents, John Vousden and Sarah Wousley, both "of Goudhurst parish", who married in Maidstone on 20 November 1733, and further back to my 11 x great grandfather, another John Vousden who lived in Goudhurst in the 1500s. I believe that this John had six children who were born and baptised in Goudhurst between the years 1584 and 1611, and that he may have been the son of Thomas Vousden and Ann Beneden who married in 1561.

I believe more Vousdens trace their ancestry back to Goudhurst than to any other place.

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