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William James

Eric Trudgill    -    3 November 2013

William James, baptised in Stratfield Mortimer, Berks in 1774 son of James and Jane, traveller, married a Letitia (born in Wokingham, Berks) and had five children christened in S Berks, to the west or south of Reading: William junior in Ashampstead in 1796, Ambrose in W Woodhay in 1801, Cornelius in Wokingham in 1803, Stephen in Burghfield, next to Stratfield Mortimer, in 1807 (travelling people), and Henrietta Frances in Arborfield, next to Wokingham, in 1816 (ratcatcher).

William James junior married Jane Hazard, christened in Wantage, Berks in 1808 daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth, and stuck to his parents’ S Berks patch. He and Jane christened an Ann in Bucklebury in January 1828, another William in Bradfield in November 1829, John in Stratfield Mortimer in 1832, Letitia in Arborfield in 1835, Goliah in Wokingham in 1837, Elijah in Stratfield Mortimer in 1839, and Freedom and Frances in Sandhurst 1841-42. Soon after, if not before, the birth of a Maria in Mortimer about 1844 they seem to have permanently based themselves in Sandhurst: Goliath and Mary were christened there in 1847 and 1853, Jesse was allegedly born there in-between, about 1850, and William and Jane were there in every census 1851-81.

Ambrose James, described as a ratcatcher, married Dinah Sharp in 1826 in Barkham, Berks, next to Arborfield and Wokingham, though I’ve traced no children, and Stephen James seems to have disappeared from the records, but Cornelius James married Harriet Rawlins in Oakley, Hants in 1823, and Henrietta Frances James married James Rowley in Isleworth, Mdx in 1835. Cornelius moved a short distance, into N Hants, from his parents’ S Berks patch. He and Harriet christened a William in Newnham, Hants in 1824, an Olive in Oakley in 1825, who married Henry Smith son of Joseph in Baughurst, Hants in 1846, a Mary Ann in Tuftonin 1830, and a Henrietta in Odiham in 1833. Henrietta Frances moved rather further away, into N Surrey, from her parents’ S Berks patch. She and James Rowley christened (all Rowleys) Elizabeth, Louisa and Henry in Richmond, Sry in 1838, 1852 and 1857 respectively, and in-between had Mary Ann, George, William, Emma, Henrietta and Charles, all born close to Richmond.

What intrigues me most about William and Letitia James is the possibility that they were the parents of another son, who stayed close to their patch, the Samuel James who married Mary Lane in Reading St Giles in1822. Samuel and Mary had a Freedom (like William junior and Jane), christened in Bisham, Berks in 1827, who married Cornelius Gentle in 1865. They had a Sophia and Marianne, christened in Reading St Giles 1829-30 (Samuel in each case recorded as hawker of Silver St). They had an Ishmael, christened in Sevenoaks, Kent in 1834 (but claiming he’d been born in Reading in the 1891 census), who married Delilah Scarrott, and a Charlotte, christened in Hawkhurst, Kent in 1836 (Samuel a licensed hawker of Reading). They had a Selina, born about 1845, who married (daughter of Samuel James hawker) Benjamin Bryan (son of Thomas) in Alfreton, Oxf in 1845, jointly with Freedom James and Cornelius Gentle. They had a Samson, born he claimed in Reading about 1848 and father of five children christened in Reading, who married in Oxford in 1868 Louisa Smith daughter of Edmond Smith and Selina Buckland. And finally Samuel and Mary had an Anselina (sometimes Evelina), born she claimed about 1850 in Reading, who married Emmanuel Buckland son of Mantus in Worcester St Michael in 1873.

Freedom James’ husband, Cornelius Gentle, was baptised in Lt Dean, Glos in 1828 son of John and Letitia. I’ve found eight of their children, all recorded as Gentles, starting with Goliath, christened in Wick nr Pershore, Worcs in 1854, and James, received into the Church in Alkerton, Oxf in 1855, who married Fanny Cowley in 1878. They then christened six children in Alkerton: John in 1858, who married Bridget Sheil in 1883; George in 1860; Laura in 1861, who married Joseph Ballard in 1880; and Alice, Arthur and Clara 1864-69.

Ishmael James’ wife, Delilah(Lilo) Scarrott was baptised (as Lino) in Bredon, Worcs in 1840 daughter of Esau and Elizabeth. I’ve found ten of their children: Tranet James, allegedly christened in Reading in 1856, and the rest born or baptised well away from William and Letitia’s patch. Fanny James was christened in Stretton Grandison, Herefordshire in 1858; Henry was born in Glos, and Selina in Herefordshire, about 1861-65; Thomas was christened in Bishampton, Worcs in 1867, Esau in Leigh, Worcs in 1868, and William in Ludlow, Sal in 1871; Ishmael junior was born about 1873 and died in the USA, and Elizabeth and John were born in Glos about1875-78.

Samson James’ wife, Louisa Smith, was born in Henley, Oxf about 1848. I’ve found eleven of their children. Andrew James was christened in Reading St Lawrence in 1869 and died in 1882; Edward was christened in Alkerton in 1871 (Samson a licenced hawker of Reading, who was clearly visiting his sister, Freedom); Albert was born in H Wycombe, Bucks about1872, and Mary Ann in Hurscombe, Glos about 1874; Samson junior was born about 1879 and christened in Reading Greyfriars in 1890; Selina was christened in Reading Greyfriars in 1882, and Owen Andrew in Reading Greyfriars in 1890 jointly with, I presume, another Selina; Leah was born in Bristol, Glos about 1886, Ellen in Peterborough, Northants about 1888, and it looks as if Samson and Louisa had an Arthur christened in Burnham, Bucks in 1893.

Anselina James’ husband, Emmanuel Buckland, was christened in Tanworth, Wks in 1849. I’ve found baptisms for two of their children, Horace and James Buckland, respectively in Worcester St Clement in 1874 and Ilkeston, Dby in 1895, but Albert, Ernest, Emmanuel, William, Lily, Georgina, Emily and Edward I’ve found only in the census.

I’d be glad to hear from anyone who can confirm or demolish the idea that Samuel James, the father of these children, was a son of William and Letitia James.

Copyright © 2013 Eric Trudgill