Surname Saturday: Poll


This week’s Surname Saturday theme posting takes a look at the Poll family – one of the few Norfolk families in my tree.

My most recent ancestor to bear the surname of Poll was Elizabeth Poll, my Great Great Great Great Grandmother, who was born on 12th April 1796 in the market town of Wymondham, less than 10 miles from Norwich, in Norfolk.

Elizabeth was the oldest of the ten children of silk weaver Ishmael Poll and his wife Mary Fiddamont. Ishmael and Mary had married just 13 days prior to Elizabeth’s birth.

The couple went on to have 9 other children – including an unbroken line of 6 daughters before having their first son – then two more daughters – and ending on their youngest child in 1816, also a son.

Elizabeth married my great x4 Grandfather John Howlett in Wymondham, Norfolk on 17th May 1824, and my ancestry then passes through them and their son Thomas’s brief life.

Silk Weaving in 19th Century Norfolk

On the 1841 census, Elizabeth’s father Ishmael, is noted as a silk weaver despite his advanced years (he was 70yrs old). He dies in April 1847, predeceasing his wife Mary, who then appears on the following 1851 census living alone as a pauper.

Ishmael is most likely to have apprenticed for many years in the skills of producing beautiful quality silk weaving, and he would have most likely have worked from home, using huge weaving machinery. It’s understandable to see why Mary was living in poverty after Ishmael’s death, as his trade was so highly skilled, that it is unlikely that she could have continued it on after his death.

James Churchyard, one of Norwich's last hand-weavers. He died in 1913. Photo: © Norwich Textiles

James Churchyard, one of Norwich’s last hand-weavers. He died in 1913. Photo: © Norwich Textiles

For more detailed information and images from the weaving industry in Norwich, check out the fantastic website Norwich Textiles.

Hebrew names

The Poll family is not only unusual in my research because it comes from Norfolk, but it also provides me with some of my most usual names (in comparison to the rest of my family tree) in the 18th Century – Ishmael (male) and Keranhappuck (a female name) – both featuring in the Hebrew bible.

What inspired the use of these names, when the rest of the Poll children were fairly common names?

Earliest Ancestors

The earliest ancestors in my Poll tree are my Great x 7 grandparents – Simon Poll and his wife Ann. They would have been born around 1720, seeing that their son (my next ancestor – Great x6) was James Poll, born in 1741. James married a Mary Syers and they were the parents of Ishmael.

About Andrew Martin

+Andrew Martin is owner and lead writer for History Repeating and Family Tree UK. Genealogist, historian, writer, photographer and would-be archaeologist. He'd love a time machine, but worries that it might take all the fun out of it.
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8 Responses to Surname Saturday: Poll

  1. David POLL says:

    Super Blog !Please get in touch have some info/questions .
    Last first : your James POLL I think it’s the other James christened 31/10/1725 that married Mary SAYER a.k.a. SYER (acquitted 25/3/1851 Bigamy). Ishmael’s elder brother John christened 11/9/1756 who’s legitimate children are my line ,and they were into Droving and cattle fattening. Around Wymondham/Silfield.
    Spot on with the odd names !At some point either Job 42:14 was a must read (I suspect the curate as other families also christened after the 3 daughters of “JOB”)or a father’s patience was tested !.No1 Jerimiah No 2 Keziah No 3 Keren-happuch all used in POLL lines however they also sneak in the male versions ie Kerum-happuch b.1810,the occasional “Archer “,”Christmas”and an odd “Charity”the rest as you say were predictably safe given names especially if christened at the Abbey /Parish Church.
    Mary POLL nee FIDDEMENT/ FIDDAMENT/FIDDEMONT, (Vicar spelt it different ways ,couldn’t write an “e” properly and was unable to count /recognise number progression ) was a Pauper so would received Parish funds .to remain at the Lizard ,Wymondham.(Due to inter-marry most of the community residents were either directly or indirectly related at that time .)
    Very few POLL’s ended up in the Workhouse ,unlike Norwich Prison .But that s another chapter .
    DavidP

    • David, thanks a lot for finding the blog and leaving that comment – what a fascinating chunk of info. Yes, i’ve seen Mary Sayer/Syer too, but you’ve got more info by the sounds of it – if that’s true about the bigamy, then that would be my first brush with that in my family tree. Wonder if there’s any news articles relating to the ‘scandal’.

      I’ll be in touch very shortly!

  2. david poll says:

    Bigamy to-day is a fairly BIG thing .Because its so uncommon,but put yourself back in the .time of the day .If you wanted to dissolve the marriage partnership in theory you had to apply to Parliament to enact Bill granting a divorce.The cost for your average Ag Laborer was mealy a dream,Even for the landed gentry it would be prohibitive amount The Parish records that we now accept as normal and the act of signing the Marriage register has now been woven into the service as an event .But it is really a signed contract declaration that both parties are of age and are free to marry.
    Licences were sometimes used instead of Banns to cover under age marriages ,But both require the deceleration. If your ancestors forgot to mention that they were already married before re-marrying,was that Bigamy or financial restrictiveness as opposed to ensuring you were a widow or widower.the other acceptable criteria to being entered in the register as either a bachelor or spinster .Being ” Single” doesn’t cut it anymore to marry ,but it ensures Family Historians have to keep an open mind to the written record.
    DavidP

  3. georgia says:

    my grandparents are named sue and david poll and my father and his brother are named jon and chris poll

  4. benjamin poll says:

    Hi i also am a member of the wymondham Polls. my grandfather was Sidney Roy poll, my great grandfather was George Walter poll

    • David POLL says:

      Hi Benjamin,Very Interesting post ,I do not know if you are seeking info but have a few connections myself with the Wymondham/The Lizard/Silfield branches of the POLL line.One of my problem gents appears to be your 2x Gt Grandfather John POLL & wife Emma.( He does not exist in the parish births {that I looked at})If you wish to,please contact me as I have further info .We are very much a minority surname in England but it is an old name to be sure .

      • benjamin poll says:

        Hi i would be very interested in learning more. I don’t know much about the polls.what is funny my uncle is called David lol

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