It had always been my intention to
some day trace the origins of the
Sherwood Family. A start
was made in 1981 to do just that. Unfortunately I left things a little
too late. With the death of
my grandfather Arthur Gordon Sherwood in 1978 and his sister Minnie
Kelly in 1981, two invaluable sources of family history were lost. I was
extremely fortunate though to have the interest and help of Arthur's son
and daughter, Pat (Arthur) and Jean Sherwood.
It is to them that I'm indebted and offer my sincere thanks.
Initially I hadn't intended to write a book about the family. As time
passed and more information came to hand I felt compelled to record it.
A small book seemed an appropriate way of doing this.
By all accounts ours is an 'average' family with alas no skeletons in
the closet. If there have
been any famous or infamous members of our family then I've either
failed to uncover them or they have kept it a well guarded secret. Never the less ours is a family with a story just the same
and one I believe well worth telling.
It is with this in mind that the book sets out to do two things.
Firstly, to record for present and future generations
photographs, letters, anecdotes and other information pertaining to our
family. Secondly to
stimulate, hopefully, further interest and research into the family's
The information in this book is drawn from three sources: public records,
family letters, and anecdotes- oral history.
Oral histories are the stories passed on from one generation to
the next. We are fortunate
in that a number of the things included in this book come to us as a
result of the oral tradition of story telling.
Letters written by family members add a personal quality to the
family history. In many
instances they provide a unique and very valuable first hand account of
people, places and events not found elsewhere.
The title chosen for the first book, 'Digging Up The Past', (1987)
came from a letter written by my grandfather Arthur Gordon Sherwood in
1977. In the letter he asks
'What good does it do to dig up the past?' In the very same letter Arthur went on to talk about a foot
race he won as a small boy along with other memories from his child
hood. The paradox is that
Arthur was (fortunately) quite keen to dig up the past.
In this updated edition we solve the riddle of William Sherwood's
(c1782-1843) place of birth, and go back a further two generations. In
our search for our illusive ancestors we leave Cambridgeshire and travel
to the neighbouring county of Hertfordshire.
We play a part in the return of the Fowlmere Independent Chapel
Registers, and discover distant cousins in the United Kingdom and the
United States. We learn more about the family's voyage to Australia on
the Amazon, and discover the Sherwood Family Bible and the Sherwood
family Birthday Book.
Most important is the inclusion of more information on the women who
married into the Sherwood family. They
come from families who have a unique history of their own.
It is important that their story and ancestry is also recorded.
I have made every effort to do this.
Much of the evidence that links the Sherwoods of Fowlmere to the
Sherwoods of Clothall and Weston in Hertfordshire is circumstantial. The critical link in
a chain that stretches back at least two more generations is an elderly
lady by the name of Elizabeth Dixon. All indications are that
Elizabeth Dixon was my great, great, great grandfather William
Sherwood's mother. My
reasons for believing this are explained in chapter one.
It was Elizabeth's appearance on the 1841 census for Fowlmere that
provided the start to a search that would not only take us further back
in time but would also mean coming to grips with a change in name from
Sherwood to Sherrug and still allow us to maintain what I believe is a
definite family connection.
The book spans seven generations. On
present information the origins of the family date back to Stephen and
Sarah Sherrug/ Shearwood. Both were born about 1720.
The focal point of the book is their great grandson Charles and
his family all of whom settled in Australia in 1856.
The remainder of the book traces the lives of my parents and
There is still much to be done, with more of the story waiting to be
uncovered and told. I
remain confident that what is found in these pages is an accurate record
of the origins of our family.