The Roe family in 1851

I’m still trying to find out where Daniel and Mary Ann Roe, together with their baby daughter Keziah Eliza, were living at the time of the 1851 census. As mentioned in an earlier post, Keziah was born in St. Thomas Square, Hackney, on 7th October, 1850 (her birth was registered on 16th November). The next definite record we have for the family is 7th March 1853, the date of their son Daniel Ellis’ birth, when they were living at 8 Crown Court, Westminster.

Searching for the names of Daniel, Mary Ann and Kezia in the 1851 census records at Ancestry has thrown up nothing. As a next step, I looked through the descriptions of the census enumeration districts for Hackney, and found addresses for St. Thomas Square in District 11. However, I was unable to find any record of the Roes living in the square. The most likely explanation is that they had moved on from this address by the time of the census (though it was only 4 months after Keziah’s birth was registered): in which case, where were they living?

Despite my lack of  success in this search, researching St. Thomas Square has been interesting in providing some of the context for Daniel’s life. Hackney had a longstanding Dissenting tradition and the area around St. Thomas Square was a hotbed of religious and political dissent in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. There was a Presbyterian chapel in the square itself and a renowned Unitarian chapel nearby. Most interesting of all, Joseph Priestley had sought refuge in Hackney after being hounded out of his Birmingham home, and was the preacher at the Unitarian Old Gravel Pit chapel in the 1790s, succeeding his friend and fellow radical Richard Price, who actually lived in St. Thomas Square.

We know from Ron Roe’s researches that the Roes had Baptist connections when living in Biggleswade. And Daniel would later name his youngest son, my great grandfather, after Joseph Priestley. Whether Daniel and Mary Ann were connected to the Presbyterian chapel in St. Thomas Square, the Unitarian chapel not far away, or another of the many other local dissenting chapels, might this help to explain their move to this district?

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