Henry Oldroyd and the Camberwell Connection

Map of 18th century Walworth

I’ve been playing around with the family tree for a few months. It started as part of my MA course, when I wanted to investigate how hard/easy it was to  reconstruct a family network using only public records. I had a supplementary question about  the way family networks could reflect migration patterns in London. So, this section of the blog is a collection of stories and speculations arising from my research.

I knew that the London family were established in the East End, with a cadet branch in Lambeth, and I knew that the Overtons were from Norfolk. Mum has traced them back to around 1800, where we know that Robert Overton sold his common grazing rights, and invested the proceeds in a failed milling business. His widow and surviving family spend some time on parish out-relief in the 1820s. Her son moved to London in search of work, and established the Overtons in a house with perfectly-manicured small garden and a cat called Oi  in West Ham. So the Overtons are solid, rural stock, possibly with connections to the right side in the Civil War. More about them some other time.

Grandma Overton’s family, the Oldroyds, were altogether more slippery. We know that her father, Henry, died at Thiepval in 1916, and that his trade was a specialist decorator. Before he joined up, he had been working as an engineer’s timekeeper in Edmonton. However, his father,David,  a carpenter, was born in Lambeth, and died in Southwark. Henry’s mother, Sarah, worked as a paper enameller in Leman Street, and then remarried a Henry Willsher, who transferred the family to the northern steppes of Edmonton.

One of the results of my investigations is that there are many David Henrys, or Henry Josephs, and quite a few Sarahs, so I apologise for that in advance.

So, anyway, according to records, David Henry, from Lambeth, seems to have been born within spitting distance of Vauxhall Gardens, which would have been struggling along in 1848. His father, Henry , was a waiter in the gardens. Henry Joseph was a bit of a mystery since, he appeared to be several years younger than his wife, Maria, who was from Portsmouth. He and Maria also completely disappear by 1871. His children are living in lodgings in Paradise St, Lambeth. David Henry is a messenger and his sister, Ellen, is a mantle maker – probably working in a shop nearby, but I’d have to start fossicking around company records to verify that. David’s marriage certificate in 1874 lists his occupation as carpenter, and his father’s occupation as waiter. There doesn’t seem to be any indication that his father has died at this point.

So…Henry Oldroyd (David’s father) was puzzling me. I couldn’t find a proper match for him anywhere. Oldroyd is a very Yorkshire sort of name, and there seemed to be a Dewsbury connection, but I couldn’t find anything that looked…right.

Then I took a closer look at the census for 1841 and noticed that his birthplace was listed as Camberwell (doh!).  Good old Ancestry.co.uk then threw up a whole bunch of Oldroyd evidence in St Giles, Camberwell. He was born in 1821 to Henry and Anna. Henry worked as a gardener, and Anna was the daughter of James Buchanan, who appears on the 1841 census as of independent means, but in 1821 he was a nurseryman. In 1841 the family lived in Bowyer Place, close to Addington Square and what is now Burgess Park, in Walworth.

James was married to Ann Lord, who appears on Land Tax records of  1809 as the tenant of S Brandon, paying five shillings for a plot of land opposite Sales Place in Walworth. I’ve found a surprisingly full record of the Buchanans’ marriage in 1795 at St Andrew by the Wardrobe, a rather lovely late Wren church off Ludgate HIll. James appears to be from St Pancras, and Ann’s resident parish is given as Camberwell, and her age at the time of the marriage was 21. So now I think I need to raid the London Metropolitan Archive to look at the parish records for St Giles, Camberwell, in 1774. Though there may be a possiblity that the Buchanans and the Lords were NonConformists, being middling folk of the late 18th century. Ann’s death was listed there in 1839, but Anna and Henry seem to have got married in Peckham Chapel (The one in Hanover Park? Or the Wesleyan Chapel?)

So, we have a family of market gardeners, doing fairly well in the early 19th century. There are indications that the Lord family were already established, and I suppose it’s possible that James Buchanan married the boss’s daughter, or that he was in an associated trade, so I need to find out what he was doing before he got married. Interestingly, Ann and her daughter Anna could read and write, which is evident by the way they both signed their names  on their marriage certificates.

That leaves a big question mark over the Oldroyds. Why did Henry become a waiter? There is another Henry Oldroyd from Camberwell who went off to Shropshire to become a nurseryman, but his marriage and descendants don’t tie up with ours, and I’m pretty sure that Henry Oldroyd, husband of Anna Buchanan, is the father of Henry Oldroyd the waiter. So, what happened to Henry and his wife, Maria Snellgrove, between 1861 and 1871?


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