Surname Saturday – The Flower family

Surname Saturday – This week it’s the turn of the FLOWER family of Cambridgeshire – an unusual surname, that took on a harrowing battle at home.

The Flower family appear in my maternal ancestry – with its most recent name bearer being my 7x Great Grandmother, Frances Flower.

Frances was born in 1731, and was the oldest of five daughters born to William Flower and his second wife Phillipa Thorpe, who had married the previous year at Wicken parish church, Cambridgeshire, England.

St Laurence's church, Wicken. Photo: Steve Day via Creative Commons.
St. Laurence’s church, Wicken, Cambridgeshire, would have been a familiar sight for the Flower family. Photo: Steve Day via CreativeCommons.

William’s first marriage to Jane Diss on 3rd November 1715 at Wicken, had produced six children – the last, Thomas, born not long before Jane’s death in 1728.

  • Jane Flower b.c.1716
  • Mary Flower b.c.1718
  • Elizabeth Flower b.c.1719
  • Frances Flower b.c.1722 d.1726
  • William Flower b.c.1724
  • Thomas Flower b.c.1727 d.1748

Jane’s death left William with five young children, all under the age of 12 years old. Having re-married to Phillipa in 1730, the couple settled down to raise five children.

  • Frances Flower b.1731
  • Rose Flower b.c.1732
  • Anne Flower b.c.1734 d.1735
  • Anne Flower b.c.1737 d.1742
  • Elizabeth Flower d.1737

Frances was baptised at Wicken on 13th June 1731.

Frances married at about the age of 21, on 30th March 1752, to widower Richard Bayley, who also lived in Wicken.

The couple settled down and had nine children.

A danger strikes a fatal blow

Frances’ parents, lived until their 50s/60s, but the Wicken burial register notes ‘coll’ as the cause of death. I’m pretty convinced that this note, which appears alongside several other entries, suggests that there was an outbreak of Cholera in the village.

There are eight recorded ‘coll’ victims in Wicken in 1785-1786, and five of these were in the Bayley family – suggesting a contagious disease, which my other initial thought of ‘Colick’ is not (obviously, I am no doctor).

Both Frances and her husband, their son and daughter-in-law, and another married daughter, all died as a result of ‘coll’ within the space of five weeks.

Millions of people still die from cholera each year, but unlike those in the 18th Century, we can now treat the disease to help reduce that figure.

Cholera in Wicken might suggest that there was poor water sanitation in the village, or that the Bayley family had low food hygiene standards.

It is sometimes linked to poverty.

William Bailey ‘Died by the visitation of God’

William Bailey died whilst cutting oats in a field in Wicken in 1861. The inquest’s verdict was ‘died by visitation of God’.

William Bailey - killed 'by God'

Newspaper report from page 5 of the Cambridge Chronicle, dated 31st August 1861, details the sudden death of labourer William Bailey of Wicken. After an inquest took place, the cause of death was noted as ‘Died by the visitation of God’.

Needless to say, the culprit was subsequently not brought to justice.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day – a celebration of motherhood.

Today is Mother’s Day here in the UK.

To mark this day, I thought I would share a few words about three amazing women in my tree.

Ann Bowers

Ann Bowers (1843-1889)
Ann Bowers (1843-1889)

Ann Bowers was born in 1843 in Wicken, Cambridgeshire. She was penultimate of the eight child of Henry Bowers and Ann Bailey.

Marrying labourer James Simpson Bishop in 1860, it wasn’t long before she began their family with the birth of their first child Ann Elizabeth Bishop in 1861. Over the next 26 years she bore another 17 children. It appears that two of these children died in their infancy.

Ann, who must have been exhausted from her continuous pregnancies and looking after an army of children, eventually succumbed to pneumonia in March 1889 and died aged 45 years. Her youngest child was just 2yrs old.

With a total of 16 living children, their labourer father would have struggled immensely to provide and care for them had it not have been for Sarah Farby (née Bowers) – Ann’s married and childless sister.

Sarah Bowers

Sarah Bowers was Ann’s (above) older sister. She married George Farby but the couple never had any children of their own. However, they lived close to the growing Bishop household and therefore Sarah helped Ann to care for her children, and upon Ann’s death in 1889, Sarah was there to help care for the children – the youngest, George Juble Bishop, being just 2yrs old.

As the family grew up and started having their own children and grandchildren, Sarah continued to care for them – earning herself the affectionate name of ‘Granny Farby’. She died just under 2 months after the death of her husband in 1920.

Sarah Elizabeth Giddings

Sarah, born in 1852, was the illegitimate daughter of Elizabeth Giddings of March, Cambridgeshire. The stigma that accompanied this fact will have worked against her and her mother from the moment that the pregnancy became known.

Sarah Elizabeth Giddings (1852-1925)
Sarah Elizabeth Giddings (1852-1925)

Sarah didn’t just face this hurdle in life – when she was 21 she lost her mother (aged 41-42yrs old). The following year (1874) she married James Martin and the couple bore their first child that year. In total, they had 12 children, but sadly, Sarah was to outlive 6 of her children, and 2 of their spouses.

Son Herbert died in a horrific train accident in France; Albert died in a German hospital; her daughter Emma and Emma’s husband both died in 1917 – leaving their orphaned daughter Mary.

Sarah’s 11yr old son William Martin died after an accident whilst working on a horse and cart in 1890;  her daughter Mary died on her day of birth in 1886; and her son Percy died within the first year of his life.

Sarah died in 1925 – a mother and a grandmother.

Book: ‘Soham & Wicken Through Time’

Book Review: “Soham & Wicken Through Time” by Michael Rouse and Anthony Day (ISBN:978-1-84868-667-0), published by Amberley Publishing Plc.

‘Soham and Wicken Through Time’ by Michael Rouse and Anthony Day is a collection of images from the history of Soham town and the neighbouring village of Wicken in Cambridgeshire.

"Soham & Wicken Through Time" by Michael Rouse & Anthony Day
"Soham & Wicken Through Time" by Michael Rouse & Anthony Day

This book contains a real range of photographs, chronicling the changes that both places have undergone from the late 19th century right through to the modern day. Care has been taken to try to take modern photographs of street scenes from the same position as the older image. This is achieved in most cases and really gives the reader a greater means of comparison.

The book is split into two parts – Soham (by Michael Rouse) leads the first part half of the book, with (the more familiar to me) Wicken (by Anthony Day) taking the second half.

Each page comes with two photographs and a well-researched caption, often including specific names of the people appearing in them – giving this book an extra significance in that it documents not just the places, but also the inhabitants. Unlike several of the ‘then and now’ books, it includes the village postman, the paper delivery boy, and the amateur dramatics group from both the late 19th century/early 20th century and also from when the book was compiled.

The book is both fascinating as a measure of social history, as it is for a genealogist with interests in these two Cambridgeshire places.

My only note, and maybe this is just me, is that the book would have benefited from including a basic map of each location, so that the reader could get a better sense of the location of the street scenes.

Buy it today:

“Soham & Wicken Through Time” by Michael Rouse and Anthony Day is published by Amberley Publishing Plc, ISBN: 978-1-84868-667-0.

Buy from – supporting this blog.

I got my copy (signed by Michael Rouse) from Topping and Company Booksellers of Ely – they may have some signed copies left!

Wicken Methodist Church

Wicken Methodist Church has some names engraved on its foundation stones. Who was ‘H Bishop’?

Wicken Methodist Church
I’ve been asked to research one of the names on a foundation stone laid in 1910/1911 during the construction of Wicken Methodist Church, which is located on the High Street of this Cambridgeshire village.

Yesterday I headed off on the short 12 mile trip to Wicken to take some photographs of the Church and to see the stone for itself.

The stone reads:

“Laid in memory of H. Bishop by his grandchildren”.

There is also reference to a Mr J Bailey too – another of my ancestral names from this village, but for now, ‘H Bishop’ is my focus.

I think I’ve worked out who it was (no spoilers yet until I’m a bit more certain), but I’m now off to the Cambridgeshire Collection in Cambridge’s newly refurbished Central Library to wade through some 1910/1911 editions of the local newspapers. Hopefully I’ll find reference to the stone laying and also to the opening of the church.

The church celebrates its centenary in May 1911.

I’ll report back soon!