The Ellingham Family

The Ellingham Family

Click the photographs to enlarge them

I would like to thank Bruce Frost and Ivan Coussell of the Littleport Society for the help they given me in compiling these pages and for allowing me to use the photographs on the Littleport page.

View the Deacon/Ellingham Family Tree (opens in new window)

    John Ellingham I, born 1720 Married Isabel Steward

      John Ellingham II, born1745 Married Ann Pool.

         Thomas Ellingham, born 1782 Married Sarah Dennis.

            John Ellingham III, born1809 Married Maria Freeman.

               Martha Ellingham, born 1840 Married Robert Watts Deacon

For the purpose of this web site I have marked the three John Ellingham's I, II and III. As way of explanation I can point to the fact that there are thirty five "John Ellingham's" in the family that I am aware of. The majority are cousins and do not have a part to play in our history. To the right of the page I have drawn up the relevant miniature family tree. In the case of a subject marrying more than once, only the marriage relevant to our family is shown. The line of our family is denoted by the red boxes.


John Ellingham I

John Ellingham1 and Isabel Steward

John Ellingham I was born in Crowland, Lincolnshire, in 1720. We know nothing about his parents yet but we do know he married three times. First to Isabel Steward in 1744, by whom he had three children John II, Zachariah and William. Isabel died in February 1759 and the same year John married again on May 17th, her name was Mary Jackson and in 1760 they had a daughter, Sarah. Mary died the same year, possibly in childbirth, consequently John married his third wife in November 29th 1761, Mary Rowell. Mary bore his last child, a boy, who was Christened Thomas on the 10th January 1763. Both Sarah and Thomas died in the first year of their respective lives.John died in Crowland on January 18th, 1763 just twelve days after putting his mark to his "Last Will and Testament" he was buried in Littleport January 21st 1763. The fact that John was buried in Littleport after dying in Crowland suggests that the family may already have moved to Littleport (a distance of about twenty five miles as the crow flies), in the first line of his will, he describes himself as "John Ellingham of Littleport" so we must assume that he still had interests in Crowland that kept him away from home. At this time we cannot say what his occupation was but "Farmer" would be a fair guess judging from his Will, and as the oldest son we could also assume he would have inherited the majority of any land his father owned. We are fortunate to have found this Will, along with other legal documents and Wills belonging to other members of the Ellingham family in the Cambridgeshire Archives. Some of these Wills have been transcribed and are available to view, along with various other legal documents, here.


John Ellingham II

John EllinghamII and Ann Pool

Our interest lies with the first child, John Ellingham II who was also born in Crowland but appears to have come of age in Littleport, Cambridgeshire. His younger brothers, Zachariah and William, both moved to Somersham (a small village midway between Ely and Huntingdon) married, and eventually died there, only Zachariah is thought to have produced children, two sons John and Thomas.

In the early or mid 1700's the easiest method of transport would have been by water and this part of Great Britain was awash with it.You may assume how Littleport come to be called Littleport needs no explanation but in fact the word "port" in the context it was used here means nothing more than "town". The town has spent most of it's life surrounded by water and is in fact built on and island. John came here to seek his fortune and found it. In later years he is described as a "Yeoman" i.e. a "land-owning countryman" the next step down from being a Gentleman, which would have made him a wealthy man.

East Anglia map

Ely, Littleport and surrounding villages today.

John II married Ann Pool on the 5th November 1772 in Littleport and they went on to have twelve children, all of whom were born in Littleport. In the age of high infant mortality three of the children did not survive to see twenty years. Mary born 1784 died1785, Mary again born 1787 died 1806 and Ann born and died 1789. In years to come the nine surviving children would all marry in Ely which would suggest that the family spent much of the time living in the wide area of country covered by the parishes of Ely St. Mary and/or Ely Trinity. Unsurprisingly John named his eldest son "John" and in 1796 he married Ann Lee. They had ten children. The following year Johns sister Ann married James Lee, James and Ann went on to have fifteen children over a period of twenty two years. William married Sarah Cook and had six children, Susanna married John Gotobed and had no children. Sarah married in 1816, to another long established Cambridgeshire family of Barber. She died at the age of 32 in 1823 after only two children, Mary b. 1817 and Hannah b. 1820. Her husband Robert was left property in his father in law's will, undoubtedly for the ultimate benefit of the children but Robert married again in 1825. Emma and Alice married two brothers, James and Edward Kirby the sons of James and Sarah Kirby. The boys were named after their two elder brothers both of whom died in 1787 from small pox. Emma married James in 1810 and Alice married Edward four years later. Both couples moved north to Chettisham (a small hamlet midway between Littleport and Ely) where the two brothers lived as farmers on their fathers land. Emma and James had eight children and Edward and Alice had ten. The youngest of John and Ann's children was David, he married Sarah Brumfield in 1817 and they had nine children. Sarah died in 1851 and David remarried a year later to Hannah Warren. They had no further children.

The inter marrying between the Ellingham, Lee, Cross and to a lesser degree Barber family has made research a little confusing. We have yet to confirm James Lee b.1776 (who married Ann) and Ann Lee b. 1777 who married John were brother and sister, though we have little doubt this was the case. Susanna married John Gotobed who also comes from another well established and well respected Cambridgeshire family. In 1839 John Gotobed is listed as the landlord of the "Anchor" in Waterside, Ely. In the census of 1841 John and Susanna are still living in Waterside but there is no mention of The "Anchor"

Clayway Drove

Clayway Drove
and Waterden Fen

John II and Ann died in 1829, they were both were buried in Ely, and both left a "Last Will and Testament" (click here to view them). In his will John II bequeathed the "Messuage or Tenement" in "Clayway Drove" to Thomas plus the six acres (more or less) of Copyhold land in Waterden. Waterden fen is a little north of the village of "Queen Adelaide" and Clayway Drove passes alongside its eastern and northern boundaries, to Clayway Farm and beyond (see map below). The word "drove" is a term peculiar to East Anglia and refers to the roadway or track between the fields, in late autumn to winter time these are usually reduced to a morass of mud and during the second World War some of the more important routes were laid with concrete to improve agricultural production, these now form part of the public roads system. Queen Adelaide is a small settlement northeast of Ely, through it now passes the Great Eastern Railway (from 1845) and the River Great Ouse, cut in 1830 as part of flood control and drainage measures. (For more information about Littleport and the Fens drainage click here) The two cuttings run alongside one another all the way to Littleport which is about four miles north, they are now also joined by a minor road.

Also in his will John II bequeathed two tenements off Downham Lane in Ely, (see map below, top right hand square) one to his son David and one to his son in law Robert Barber, husband of his daughter Sarah. Sarah had died six years earlier in 1823 leaving Robert with their two daughters Mary and Hannah. In 1825 Robert married again (to Catherine Phillips ) and regardless of this there was no change to the will. In the census of 1841 neither daughter was living with their father. Mary, shown as 20 years old by this time, was a servant in Minster place Ely and Hannah was living with her aunt Susanna Gotobed in Waterside, Ely also as a servant age 15. Interestingly Hannah's cousin Sarah Kirby, daughter of James and Emma Kirby was also a live in servant at the same address. In the will, mention was made to the right of roadway access for horses, carts and carriages and watercourses, the garden and the well in the yard. Provision is also made for his other children and his nephews, with the main benefactors of his will each being charged with a payment to the remaining children amounting to a tidy sum. Special mention was given to his Grandson William, the oldest child of his late son William who had died six years earlier and to Mary Barber first child of his daughter Sarah who married Robert Barber, why these two particular Grandchildren were mentioned over and above the others we cannot say.


Thomas Ellingham

Thomas Ellingham and Sarah Dennis

Thomas Ellingham was the sixth child of John II and Ann. Born in 1782, he is the next in our line. In 1808 at the age of twenty six at the Holy Trinity Church in Ely, he married Sarah Dennis the daughter of James and Mary Dennis (nee Staples) from Wicken, a small village south east of Ely (see map "Ely, Littleport and surrounding villages" above). Sarah was born around 1787. They produced seven children and seem to have spent most of their lives living on Waterden Fen (see map above). I have already mentioned the will of Thomas' father John II in which Thomas is bequeathed the "Messuage or Tenement in Clayway Drove plus the six acres (more or less) of Copyhold land in Waterden" This suggests that Thomas was already living and farming the land there. It would almost certainly mean that if he was not then he would be from that point on.

Wicken Register

The hide bound Wicken Parish Register from the 1700's on.

The census of 1841 has him at that address with three unmarried children. James (age 20), William (age 15) and Elizabeth age (15) still living at home. By 1851 William had married Phoebe Webb (in 1850) the daughter of Charles Webb a local labourer. The couple were still living at Clayway drove. Also still at home was James, now aged 32, unmarried and a daughter age 8 called Mary. It is difficult to believe this could be the daughter of Thomas and Sarah who were by this time age 69 and 64 respectively. She was almost certainly their granddaughter, the fourth child of Thomas (their second son) and Elizabeth Cross.

Sarah died in 1860 whilst still living at Clayway drove she was 73 I think that would have been considered very good age for the life she led. Thomas lived on for another year, dying in 1861. The address on his death certificate was Littleport Bridge.


John Ellingham III

John Ellingham and Maria Freeman

The occupations accredited to John III are Blacksmith, Farmer and Inn Keeper. It can be said any person who lives in a farming community such as this will, at some time in their life, work on a farm. In this case we know from his will that John III's Grandfather was a man of property much of which was farmland. From before 1841 John and Maria Ellingham were the keepers of the Bridge House Inn, Burnt Fen Bank, Littleport. There had been a crossing of the River Great Ouse at this point of some nature for time immemorial. There are many references to the "Littleport chair" as the ferry here was once called.

John was born in Ely in November 1809, his father Thomas inherited the "tenement" and farmland at Waterden Fen in 1829 but it would almost be a certainty that Thomas and his family were already living on and working the farm in Clayway Drove and as the eldest son John would have had most of the responsibility along with his father. John married Maria Freeman February 12th 1838 at the Holy Trinity Church, Ely. Maria was the daughter of Edward and Mary Freeman of Ely and although we have not delved into her family we are sure she had many brothers and sisters. We came across many references to the "Freeman" name during our research.

The Bridge House, Burnt Fen Bank

The Bridge House,
Burnt Fen Bank

The family stayed at the Bridge House until sometime after 1851 as by 1861 they were living in Lynn Road, Littleport which was a more recent continuance of the roman road linking London to Cambridge, now extending from Cambridge trough Ely and Littleport to the sea at Kings Lynn. The eldest son Freeman (born in 1838) had already left home, from research by Derek Shingles and David Ellingham obtained through the Littleport Society we learn that Freeman married Lucinda Jane Hanley (date unknown) and emigrated to America settling in New York and eventually dying there in 1914. His Christian name, obviously taken from his mothers maiden name, was a practice largely now forgotten, of keeping the mothers maiden name alive after she had married. The practice varied from family to family. Records kept by the Church only give the mother's Christian name in the details of a child's baptism, it was not until civil registration system we are familiar with today started in 1837 that the mothers maiden name is recorded.

Ely street map 1880

A Street Map Of Ely
(circa. 1880)

At the new address in Lynn Road John resumed one of his previous occupations as the village Blacksmith. Martha, Arthur and Elizabeth were the only "children" left at home, Martha was 20 years old, Arthur was sixteen and Elizabeth 9. Arthur had taken up his father's occupation of Blacksmith.
The family seem to have missed the 1871 census, apart from Arthur who married Rachel Bye in November 1870. She was 18 years old and they were still living in Littleport but at a new address of Thornhill Cottages, in Victoria Street. Arthur was still earning a living as a Blacksmith.
John Ellingham III died in 1872 and was buried in Ely, which suggests at some time the family moved on from Lynn Road, Littleport south to Ely.

After John's death, Maria, moved away from Littleport and Ely with her youngest daughter Elizabeth who in 1876 had married Nehemiah Mundseer (anglicized to Mountseer) in Wisbech. In 1881 the family were living at 15, Queens Street in Wisbech, Cambs. Elizabeth had by this time had a son named Sidney but her husband was working away in Willesden, north west London. He was lodging at Willesden House, the home of Frederick Tennant who was a painter, Nehemiah's occupation was given as a joiner. Maria died in the North Cambridgeshire Hospital Wisbech in 1885 which made her 76 years old.


Martha Ellingham

Robert Watts Deacon and Martha Ellingham

Martha was the second of five children, her elder brother was Freeman born in or before 1838. (Some entries are worded this way because the only date available is the child's Christening or Baptism date, therefore the actual date of birth must be before the given date). Martha born 1840, Sarah before 1841, Arthur before1844 and Elizabeth before 1851.
Obviously Martha was born at the Bridge House and Baptised at the Parish Church of St George, Littleport. She grew up at the inn staying with the family when they moved to their new address in Lynn Road where she became a dressmaker.

Napier Street, Hoxton

Napier Street

After the death of her father in 1872 Martha left Cambridgeshire and moved south to London. She married Robert Watts Deacon on 3rd July 1874 at the Holy Trinity Church in Hoxton, Shoreditch. Robert was a carpenter, son of a carpenter from Westbury in Wiltshire.

The practise of naming a child using a mothers maiden name was not uncommon, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, Robert's name was also derived from his mothers maiden name of "Watts" only this time her fathers Christian name "Robert" was also used, resulting in the first born son having almost the same name as his grandfather Robert Watts.

On the Marriage certificate both Martha and Robert were living at the same address, 3 Napier Street, Hoxton (now called Napier Grove) Their first child, Charles Edward did not live to see one year, dying on the sixth August 1874. Their second child Emma was born in April 1876, Herbert in April 1878 and John Benjamin in August 1880.

*In the summer of 2007 the Bridge House stood derelict. Photographs can be seen here.

The story is continued on the Deacon Family Page.

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