Two young people were born in the Fens of south-east Cambridgeshire, England in the early 19th century. This is the story I have been able to reveal so far.
Elijah and Sarah
Elijah Brown was the fourth son and middle child of Robert Brown and Elizabeth Fletcher. He was born in Isleham, Cambridgeshire, England in September 1819. Sarah Wells (my fourth great-aunt) was also born in Isleham in October of 1822, she had an older sister and three brothers, two older and one younger.
In 1841, Elijah was living with his parents, his brother Isaac and sisters Sarah and Eliza at Ferry Drove near the river Lark. At the same time, Sarah was living with her father and her younger brother James (my gggg.gpa) at the Pits is Isleham. Both of their fathers were listed as “lampman” in the occupation, so it is likely through them that the two met.
The Pits was a triangular former chalk quarry lying 20 ft below street level. This area was inhabited by labourers and was very crowed with approximately 400 people housed in only 78 dwellings (1834 numbers, by 1861 it was reduced to 308 people in 70 dwellings)5. Ferry Drove, or track, was also mainly populated by labourers and located between the Pits and the River Lark.
Elijah was still living at the East End of Isleham and Sarah at the Pits when they met. They were married on 11 August 1842. They had two children very close together: Eliza born 25 June 1843 and Elijah born between July and September 1844. Elijah was working as an agricultural labourer.
On 24 February 1844, while Sarah was pregnant with their second child, Elijah and his brother Joseph and friend John Whiterod, were out drinking at the pub in Isleham. The local constable, William Brown (no relation as far as we know) came into the pub at 11 o’clock to send everyone home. When the three left the bar, they waited outside on the highway making a racket. The constable told them to go home and they took exception to that. In fact, they beat him and kicked him in the head so severely that the surgeon thought he might have permanent brain damage. The three were tried on 24 March and convicted. Each received a sentence of transportation for 15 years.
Prison records from Millbank Prison indicate that Elijah was of bad character and had been in prison previously on an assault charge. The records tell us that Elijah could read and he could print “imperfectly”. He was 5’1” tall with a dark complexion. His eyes were dark grey, his eyebrows dark brown and his hair dark brown to black. He had an oval face, a low forehead and a long nose with a small mouth and chin. He had a small scar on his right knee.
Transportation seems to have improved Elijah’s attitude slightly as he was sent to work in the community starting in 1846. Elijah was recommended for parole on 14 September 1852 and was paroled on 21 June 1853 after serving eight years and seven months of his sentence. This was not the shortest time before pardon for prisoners at that time, but neither was it the longest.
While he was working in the community he met Eliza Houghton Stanton. Eliza was born to Isabella Houghton in 1830 in Isleham, and her mother married John Stanton when Eliza was less than a year old.
Eliza’s parents and siblings had arrived in Australia as assisted immigrants in 1848. John was listed as a gardener. We are unsure how, or when, Eliza arrived as she was not listed on the same ship manifest as her parents.
Somehow, Eliza was living with or near her parents in Franklin, Tasmania, Australia where Elijah was on work release. The two had a child in 1852, and were married in 1853 after Elijah’s pardon. Another eight children followed.
Eliza’s name on their marriage certificate 26 November 1853 indicated that her last name Griggs. Her name then was varied on the birth documents as shown in the following table.
|1852||Robert George||Houghton||William S? – friend|
|1871||Elijah Henry||Houghton||FM Stanton – aunt|
When the oldest child was born, Elijah was listed as a prisoner, for every child after that Elijah is noted as a victualler.
In 1857, Elijah received a land grant in the township of Franklin in Tasmania for the sum of 57 pounds. The bordering land was owned by Joseph Griggs and Joseph Jackson.
Elijah was on the other side of the law on 23 April 1865 when it a theft was reported.
Eliza died from cirrhosis of the liver and jaundice in November of 1874. Her youngest, Elijah Henry would have not quite reached the age of three at that time. Likely the youngest five children were still at home.
Elijah wasted no time, in less than nine months (August 1875) he married Esther Hawkins, a widow aged 24 years. He was 55 at the time. Elijah was likely looking for a housekeeper and mother for his children.
In 1851, Sarah was living with her brother James at the Pit in Isleham. Her two young children were with her.
After that Sarah disappears from the census records. It is, of course, possible that she is one of the six Sarah Brown’s that were married during between 1851 and 1861. All of the Sarahs in Cambridgeshire in the 1861 census (born in Isleham around 1821) were also there with their husbands in 1851. Eliza and Elijah also disappear from the census records. Although it is possible that Eliza is the Eliza Brown working as a servant in Newmarket, St. Mary in the 1861 census.
Elijah and Sarah
Immigration records in 1877 show an Elijah Brown of the correct age sailing from Australia to England, without family. Would Elijah have left his 6-year old son at that time?
On the 1881 census in Isleham, we find a Sarah and Elijah Brown. This Elijah was a farmer of 5 acres. Is this the same Elijah and Sarah?
Could Elijah have returned to England to live with Sarah?
Death certificates have been ordered for the Sarah and Elijah in Isleham that died in 1885, we shall see what the records tell us.
For the conclusion, see this post
Information for this blog was derived from:
Ancestry, Find My Past, Family Search, Tasmanian Archives as well as https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/cambs/vol10/pp420-427#fnn63