Undiscovered Holdsworths?

Having recently updated my timelines for William, John and Sarah Holdsworth, I decided to review what I knew about their siblings, Joseph and Godfrey. In the process, I think I’ve discovered two new Holdsworths – one of whom is definitely a family member, while the other is likely to be.

The definite new addition is John Clark Holdsworth, the son of Joseph Holdsworth and Margaret Miller. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Joseph married Margaret in 1792 and lived in St George Terrace, then Marmaduke Street, and finally William Street, all in the parish of St George in the East, Stepney. Joseph initially worked as a cordwainer, possibly alongside his brother William, but later worked as a tallow chandler, the occupation that would be pursued by his sons Godfrey and Joseph Edward.

St George in the East

Until now, it was believed that Joseph and Margaret Holdsworth had four children: Sarah (born in 1792), Elizabeth (1796), Godfrey (1799) and Joseph Edward (1802).  However, in reviewing my records for the family, I came across the baptism of John Clark Holdsworth on 10 May 1795 at St George in the East. He is said to be the son of Joseph Holdsworth, cordwainer of Marmaduke Street, and his wife Margaret, and he was born on 25th March. All of the details match: Joseph and Margaret’s daughter Elizabeth would be born at the same address, and christened at the same church, a year later.

I’ve found no further records for John Clark Holdsworth and it’s possible that he died in infancy. He is not mentioned in the family trees drawn by Joseph Cook and J J Holdsworth in the 1880s. But then, neither is my other new discovery, Phoebe Diana Holdsworth, whose link to ‘our’ Holdsworth family is more difficult to prove. I came across her while searching for records relating to the family of Godfrey Holdsworth, youngest of the Holdsworth siblings. Godfrey married Diana Cam in 1793 and spent most of his life in Mile End Old Town, working as a plumber. Godfrey and Diana had six children that we know of: John Henry (born in 1796), Godfrey (1798), Diana (1802), Edward James (1806), Elizabeth (1808) and Charles William Millrow (1811).

All of these children were definitely christened at St Dunstan and all Saints, Stepney – except possibly Edward James, for whom a baptismal record has yet to be found. It was while checking their birth and baptism records that I came across the marriage, at the same church, of Phoebe Diana Holdsworth and Richard Fleming, which took place on 13 March 1823. Unfortunately the names of the witnesses are virtually illegible, but it doesn’t appear that any other Holdsworths, familiar or otherwise, were present. However, it was Phoebe Diana’s Christian names, together with the location, that caught my attention. I think Diana is an unusual name in this period: does it therefore suggest a link to Diana, wife of Godfrey Holdsworth? As for Phoebe, this was a more popular name at the time, but might she have been named after Phoebe Holdsworth, daughter of William and thus Godfrey and Diana’s niece?

St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney, in 1797

Frustratingly, I’ve been unable to locate a birth or christening record for Phoebe Diana Holdsworth. The only census record we have for her – from 1841 – indicates that she was born in about 1807 in Middlesex, which makes her of the same generation as Godfrey’s children – and, indeed, his siblings’ children. It’s possible, of course, that she was the child of one of the other Holdsworth brothers, and given the name ‘Diana’ in honour of her aunt.

After their marriage, the next record we have for Phoebe and her husband Richard is from 1825, when their daughter Henrietta was christened at St Dunstan’s. The couple were said to be living in Mile End Old Town and Richard is described as a labourer. However, by the time their son Richard was born in 1829, Richard senior was working as a weaver. A third child, Mary, was born in 1832, but it’s unclear where the family was living at the time. The same is true for the birth of their son Henry in 1835.

However, by the time their son Matthew was born in 1838, Richard and Phoebe were living in Whitechapel, which is where Richard’s family originated. Born in about 1804, he was the son of John and Mary Fleming of Charlotte Street in the parish of St Mary, Whitechapel. By the time of the 1841 census, Richard and Phoebe were back in Mile End Old Town and living in John Court, which was off George Street, and not far from a number of addresses associated with ‘our’ Holdsworths, including Crown Row where Elizabeth, daughter of Joseph Holdsworth, was living with her husband John Moore and widowed mother Margaret at this date. Richard Fleming was now working as a coach painter.

St Mary, Whitechapel

In July 1843 Phoebe gave birth to a daughter, Louisa, at 7 Little Halifax Street, Whitechapel. The child was baptised at St Mary, Whitechapel, but both mother and daughter died shortly afterwards, also in Whitechapel. Phoebe Diana Fleming, nee Holdsworth, would have been about 26 years old when she died.

The 1851 census finds Richard Fleming, a widower of 48 and still working as a coach painter, living at 2 Essex Street, Stepney with daughter Mary, 17, and son Henry, 14. However, in  March 1856 Richard re-married, at the church of St Mark, Goodman’s Fields. His second wife was a widow. Elizabeth Landgridge Holder had been born in 1807, the daughter of brush-maker Josiah Holder and Elizabeth Harris, in King David Street, Shadwell, coincidentally (?) very close to Shadwell High Street, where a number of the children of Joseph and Margaret Holdsworth would live. Her birth was recorded in the register of Protestant Dissenters, but I don’t know which chapel or meeting the family was associated with, or whether they belonged to the same denomination as the Holdsworths, who were also Nonconformists.

Shadwell High Street

In 1835 Elizabeth had married millwright, and later painter, John Ledger at St Mary, Whitechapel, and they had three children together: Harriet Ann (born in 1840); John (1843) and Elizabeth (1847). In 1841 the Ledgers were living in Back Church Lane, in the western part of the parish of St George in the East, to the south of Commercial Road.

John Ledger must have died some time in the next ten years, since in 1851 the widowed Elizabeth was living with her children in Middle Grove Street, which was between Cable Street and Commercial Road, and close to the William Street / Marmaduke Street area associated with the Holdsworths. Elizabeth was supporting herself and her family by working as a charwoman. When she married Richard Fleming, both gave their address as Back Church Lane, the street where Elizabeth had been living with her first husband John and children in 1841.

The 1861 census finds Richard and Elizabeth living at 1 Wellclose Place, which I assume was either identical with, or close to, Well Close Square (an address closely associated with my Bowman and Robb ancestors). They appear to have been living over a grocer and cheesemonger’s shop, with Elizabeth’s children Harriet, 21, a cap maker, and John, 18, a sail maker.

In 1866 Harriet Ledger, Elizabeth’s daughter from her first marriage, married gas fitter James John Fleming in the new parish of St Mary, St George in the East. James was Harriet’s step-cousin. He was Richard Fleming’s nephew, the son of his brother Matthew Jackson Fleming. At the time of their marriage Harriet was living at 4 Martha Street and James at 17 Albert Street, Shadwell, the latter being James’ parents’ home.

At the time of the 1871 census, Harriet, James, and their two young sons, James and Richard, were living with Richard and Elizabeth Fleming at 173 Cable Street. Also at this address was a visitor, Elizabeth’s brother John Holder, a retired ironmonger.

Richard Fleming died in Whitechapel in 1875. There is a suggestion that his wife Elizabeth may have died around the same time. Certainly, by 1881 Harriet, James and their family are living in Leytonstone (ten years later they would be in East Ham) and Elizabeth is no longer with them.

There is no proof in any of these records of a connection between Phoebe Diana Holdsworth – or the Flemings, Holders or Ledgers – and ‘our’ Holdsworth family,despite some coincidences of name, time and place. I notice that none of the other family trees at Ancestry that include Phoebe has managed to track down a record of her birth – possibly it has been lost, or is hidden behind a faulty transcription. If anyone does manage to identify her origins, or find out anything else about her, I would be pleased to hear from you.

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