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Louisa Duckett's daughters

Anne-Marie Ford    -    6 November 2016

In the 1881 census at Tetbury, Gloucestershire, a Louisa Duckett can be found with her four children, James, 22; Amelia, 17; Elizabeth, 16; Sophia, 12, all recorded as “Gypsies.”

The youngest of these, Sophia Duckett, is surely the “Gypsy woman” who was travelling with the Isaacs family in the spring of 1889, together with her four-month-old baby, when she became ill, dying slowly and painfully from lockjaw in May 1889 (see last month’s story ‘Matthew Isaacs’). The connection with the Isaacs, and the year itself, seems to have been highly significant for Sophia’s sisters too; C/Amelia Duckett formed a union with a son of Harriet Isaacs and Robert Birch, William, and gave birth to their first child in 1890, whilst Elizabeth Duckett, when she appeared in the 1911 census with her small family, claimed to have been united with her husband, John Marks, from 1889.

It is these sisters, C/Amelia and Elizabeth, who are mentioned in the Exeter & Plymouth Gazette of 13th January 1891, when a reference is made to some Gypsies “allowing horses to stray on the highway,” and naming the miscreants as Charles Dockett (sic), Elizabeth Marks, Camilla Burch (sic) and James Burch (sic). The Duckett travelling with the sisters is probably a cousin, the Charles, son of their uncle, Richard, and his wife, Jane, who was baptised in October1857, in Fulbrook, Oxfordshire, “tin worker.” (Interestingly, the following month, in the same parish, a James and Eliza Loveridge, tin worker, baptised a daughter, Mary Ann, which suggests that the two families are travelling together and are camped nearby for the winter.)

Louisa herself is the daughter of Richard and Caroline Duckett, whose other known children are Amelia, baptised in December 1829 at Witney St Mary, Oxfordshire, together with Job, son of Edward and Christian Orchard, “Gypsies;” James, baptised in 1831 in Dursley, Gloucestershire, “travelling basket maker of Banbury;” Richard, baptised at Fairford, Gloucestershire in July1834 “traveller.” Louisa’s baptism is recorded at Brokenborough, Wiltshire on 17th April 1836, daughter of Richard and Caroline, “Gypsies.” It probably comes as no surprise, given their travelling patterns and connections, that Richard and Caroline’s daughter Amelia married a Cornelius Loveridge, tinman, on 26th December 1859 in Fulbrook, where her brother had baptised his son, Charles.

The Richard who married Caroline is the son of another Richard Duckett and his wife, Eleanor, who baptised a daughter, Peggy, in Shipton under Wychwood, Oxfordshire in 1797; Mary, in 1800 at Stratford-in-the Vale, Berkshire, although she probably died young, as 1801 saw them baptise another baby, a few days old, also named Mary, in Headington, Oxfordshire; they baptised Maria in Banbury in 1804; Richard in 1806 at Tackley, also in Oxfordshire “travellers;” Charles in February 1809 in Banbury; Emanuel in August 1816 at Little Rollright, Oxfordshire, “of the parish of Banbury;” Priscilla in Sandford St. Martin, Oxfordshire in 1818 “travelling pedlar.”

Although Louisa’s family are recorded with her surname in the 1881 census, the 1871 census shows the same family, but with the addition of Louisa’s husband, James Strange, and they are all using his surname. James Strange is almost certainly the child whose birth is recorded in the registration district of Cirencester in the December quarter of 1841, which would make him a very young father if the eldest son mentioned in the census records of 1871 and 1881 is his - but although not impossible, it is likely that he is Louisa’s son from a previous relationship, particularly as Louisa is older than her husband. (In addition, James Strange is still recorded as living with his mother in the 1861 census.) The age gap between Louisa’s son and the three daughters also seems to indicate Louisa’s son as James Strange’s stepson, but her daughters are certainly the children of James Strange.

Amelia, for example, the name of sisters of both Louisa Duckett and James Strange, was baptised at St Philip and Jacob, Bristol, Gloucestershire on 1st October 1865, the daughter of James and Louisa Strange. (Interestingly, Louisa’s sister Amelia, who married Cornelius Loveridge, was to return the compliment, naming a daughter Louisa, whom she baptised in 1856.) Sophia Duckett, claiming birth in 1868 at Cricklade, in Wiltshire, is surely the Sophia Strange whose birth is registered 1868 at Cricklade, whilst Elizabeth is the name of James Strange’s mother and a sister, so an obvious choice when naming a daughter.

James Strange appears in census records from 1851 at Fairford, Cirencester with parents Anthony Strange, a confectioner and beer seller, and Elizabeth, as well as sisters Eliza, Sarah, Elizabeth and Amelia. Anthony Strange, baptised 21st March 1796, at Quenington, Gloucestershire, son of John and Mary, had married Elizabeth Musty (?Mustoe) at Quenington on 24th April 1824; she is, possibly, the daughter of Joseph and Ann, baptised 26th July 1801, at Stratton, Gloucestershire. By the 1861 census for Fairford, Cirencester Elizabeth Strange is recorded as a widow, working as a confectioner, with three children still at home, Eliza, James and Amelia, her husband’s death having occurred in 1859. The Cheltenham Chronicle of 27th September records that Anthony Strange, a confectioner, died “suddenly, at Fairford, aged 63.”

Louisa Duckett’s daughter, Elizabeth, together with her husband, John Marks, a hawker, are found in the 1911 census at Bishop’s Canning, Devizes, Wiltshire, with children Albert, 12; Edith, 9; Henry, 3. Camping with them are Rose Ann Buckland, hawker (wife of Liberty Buckland, who is not present), and children, William, 20; Joseph, 15; Charity, 12, as well as daughter-in-law Julia Buckland, 19. (Given this connection, and the fact that Louisa Duckett’s sister, Amelia, had married into the Loveridges, perhaps it isn’t suprising that Edith Marks, daughter of Elizabeth and John, would eventually marry Abraham Loveridge, the son of Leonard Loveridge and Sabina Buckland.)

Louisa’s eldest daughter, C/Amelia Duckett and her husband, William Birch, had a large family, and are recorded in the 1911 census at Bishophsteignton, Devon. William, licensed hawker, is with his wife, Cormelia (sic), and children Joseph, 21; Alfred, 19; William, 17; Nelson, 15; Thomas, 12; James, 11; John, 10; Edward, 8; Sophia, 6; Henry, 3; Leonard, 4 months. Their only daughter amongst eleven children presumably named after C/Amelia’s sister, who had died so tragically in 1889.

On 14th August 1909 the couple married legally, as Camelia Duckett, daughter of James Duckett, licensed hawker and William, son of Robert, licensed hawker. The assumption that C/Amelia’s father was a Duckett, however, is clearly, from the circumstantial evidence amassed, incorrect. James, yes, but James Strange; nor was he, as has been suggested, a step-father. James was still alive at the time of his daughter’s marriage to William Birch and can be found in census records as late as 1911, when he is at Cirencester, a lodger, and recorded as a widower, aged 69, cutler. Louisa Duckett’s death is likely to be that of the Louisa Ducket (sic) recorded in the registration district of Chippenham, Wiltshire in the March quarter of 1886, “aged 48.”

Copyright © 2016 Anne-Marie Ford