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WILLIAM AND ELIZABETH SHERWOOD nee SMITH
Sherwood was born in Clothall, Hertfordshire about 1782. It is most likely
William who married Elizabeth Smith in Paddington, Middlesex in 1807. By
1811 the couple had settled in Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire. They had four
children, three sons and a daughter. Their first child William died
young. The remaining children; Charles, Jane and a second son they also
named William were all born in Fowlmere.
Elizabeth Smith was most likely born about 1790, in Cambridgeshire. When William died his wife Elizabeth and his mother Elizabeth Dixon would have had to leave Brook farm and find accommodation elsewhere. William's mother was placed in the Hitchin workhouse where she died in 1850. Elizabeth Sherwood nee Smith left Fowlmere with her son Charles and his family and settled in South Australia in 1856. She died there 11 July 1873 at the age of 84.
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1782: Baptised in Clothall.
1807: Most likely married in London.
1843: Dies in Fowlmere.
1790: Year of birth- estimated.
1807: Married in London
1856: Emigrated to Australia.
1873: Elizabeth dies in Wistow, South Australia.
William’s baptism entry in the Clothall parish church registers,
no further information has been found on William in Clothall.
those times children left home at about 14 to live and work with other families.
In his search for work a young rural boy did not travel far at first, but as he
grew older and more experienced, he ventured further away from his ‘Country’
The bounds of his ‘country’ was usually limited to a 30 or 40
kilometre radius (often less) to a district that was bounded by the nearest
market town. This was the area that
people spoke of as their Country, the neighbourhood larger than the parish to
which they felt they belonged.
later met and married Elizabeth
Smith who may have been
living in or near Fowlmere at about this time.
be found on the Cambridge to London road 13 kilometres south
of Cambridge. The origins of the village name date from Anglo-Saxon times
when it was used to describe a mere or lake on which wildfowl lived.
It was spelt Foulmire up until the end of the 19th
century. From there on it is spelt
fairly consistently as Fowlmere.
The lake or mere lies to the northwest of the parish. It comprised of
200 acres of marshland fed by underground springs.
It provided the parish inhabitants with food and firewood and an edible
frog that lived in the marshes.
In the early 19th century prize-fights were fought on
heath land to the south of the village.
By 1794 there were around 70 families and 350 people living in Fowlmere. In 1801 this number had risen to 420 and by 1841 the population had reached 616. A large number of males in the parish were employed as farm labourers. Others worked as shepherds, storekeepers, plumbers, tailors, and shoemakers. Many of the women worked as seamstresses and domestic servants.
A fire in 1634 destroyed much of the village, with only a few houses left surviving from that period. In 1841 there were 120 houses of which most could be found on the High Street. (London road)
In the past the village was largely agricultural with crops of wheat, barley, rye and oats grown in the fields. In the mid 18th century Fowlmere was involved in the wool trade. From the 1790’s until c.1800 women and children worked at home spinning wool for a small wool factory. In 1830 labourers from the village went on strike for higher wages. When rioting broke out constables on horseback were sent from nearby Royston to maintain order. The ring leaders were arrested and sent to jail.
Throughout the late 18th and early 19th centuries attempts were made to educate the children in the parish. In 1783 a schoolmistress was teaching some of the poor children in the parish. By 1825 there were two Sunday schools teaching about 50 children to read and write. Up to 90 children were being taught at dissenting Sunday schools in 1833.
Agricultural or farm labourers as they were also referred, were paid between 10 and 12 shillings a week. Many of them had large families and had great difficulty in making ends meet, particularly when work was scarce. Family folklore tells us that the Sherwoods worked as grooms in England and that William was the manager of a stud farm. Given this it’s likely that his sons William and Charles (whose occupations were farm labourers) worked with him tending the horses.
Sherwood nee Smith
According to the 1841 Fowlmere census
Elizabeth was born in Cambridgeshire.
Unfortunately there was no requirement on this census to include the name
of the parish in which a person was born. Knowing
that she was born in Cambridgeshire is a start.
The difficulty is knowing with some certainty the year she was born.
According to the census, Elizabeth was fifty years old.
The information about
her age would more than likely have been supplied by either Elizabeth herself or
husband William on the night of the census.
On the basis of this information Elizabeth’s date of birth was more
than likely about 1790.
In order to find out more about Elizabeth one of the first things that had to be done was to find
her maiden name. One means of doing
this is through the death certificates of her children. On her daughter Jane Morley’s death certificate in the
column headed ‘Surname of Mother’ the
words ''Not Known'' are written.
On her son Charles’ death certificate we were more fortunate.
According to the certificate, Elizabeth's maiden name was Smith. The informant (person supplying the information) was her
grandson Charles Sherwood junior.
Knowing that Elizabeth was a Smith before she married makes
finding out when and where she was born just that little bit harder. In fact a
lot harder. One of the first places
I looked to find a baptism entry for Elizabeth Smith was in the records of the
parish church. There is no birth/baptism entry for her in the Fowlmere Parish
Church around 1790 or any date close to 1790. Not knowing the
names of her parents
it very difficult to
connect her with any of the twenty or so baptisms for Elizabeth Smith in
Cambridgeshire for the period 1785-1795.
has been among the most popular name in Anglo Saxon countries for centuries.
Smith, which dates from 975 AD, means metal worker, blacksmith of
farrier. It has been the most
popular English name since 1853, and was the most popular on the First Fleet.
The Age. Friday June 22, 2001.
In trying to determine when and where Elizabeth Smith was born the most
promising means is to find her on the 1851 census.
For the first time this census required individuals to state their exact
age, and place of birth. For some reason Elizabeth does not appear on the
Fowlmere return. In fact Elizabeth does not appear in any parish in Cambridgeshire.
Other family members who can’t be found on the census are Elizabeth's
son and daughter in-law William and Sophia Sherwood nee Stimpson and Alfred
Sherwood, Elizabeth's grandson. Where they were on the night of the census is a
bit of a mystery. William and Sophia may have moved to another county or
emigrated to Australia. Elizabeth
and Alfred may have been away working or visiting friends or relatives in
another county when the census was taken. The other possibility is that they
were part of the estimated 10 percent of people who were missed by the census.
family, the Smiths, may have been members of the Independent Church. If
Elizabeth was baptised into the Fowlmere
Independent Chapel as a child then we will never know, as records prior to 1812
have been lost.
As far as Elizabeth is concerned we have her full name, Elizabeth Smith,
a date of birth sometime between 1785-1791 with 1790 being the most likely year.
We also know that she was born in Cambridgeshire. At this stage the best
means of finding Elizabeth and other family members who were missing on census
night, is to check the 1851 census returns for other nearby counties.
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