Ron Roe has kindly sent me copies of a number of documents about the Roe family. They include a copy of the original marriage certificate for my 2 x great grandparents, Daniel Roe and Mary Ann Blanch. They were married on 30th October 1848 at St. Anne’s church, Limehouse. Both are said to be living in Limehouse, though frustratingly the certificate gives no  further details of their addresses. Mary’s father John is described (like his new son-in-law) as a shoemaker, while Daniel’s father (also Daniel) is reported to be dead.

The signatures of the married couple and their witnesses are interesting. Daniel’s and John’s writing is competent, while Mary Ann’s is quite elegant. The Christian name of the second witness is given as ‘Kezia’, but the surname is illegible and someone has written ‘Smart?’ alongside it. However, it seems likely that this is Mary Ann’s mother, Kezia Blanch, and that her literacy skills only extended as far as reproducing her first name. It’s worth noting, though, that all of those involved could write. The evidence of other certificates from this period, and location, is that many could not. As I’ve noted before, the marriage certificate for Daniel and Mary Ann’s son Joseph (whose wedding took place at the same church, 35 years later) reveals that his new wife, Eliza Bailey, was unable to sign her name and had to make a mark instead. Joseph’s signature, by contrast, is as well-formed as his mother’s was at her wedding.

Ron has also sent me documents and additional information relating to Daniel Roe’s mother, Eliza Holdsworth, in response to my query about the family’s religious affiliation. These provide confirmation that Eliza was born in Stepney, ‘in the hamlet of Mile End Old Town’, on 19th April, 1801, and that her parents were William and Lydia Holdsworth (daughter of Francis and Elizabeth Evins). The birth was registered at ‘Dr. Williams Library, Redcross-street, near Cripplegate, London’. Founded in the early 18th century, Dr Williams Library was the leading depository of Nonconformist records.

According to Ron, William’s and Lydia’s names and addresses can be found in the Little Alie Street Baptist Chapel Meetings Book. Little Alie Street is variously described as being in Aldgate, Whitechapel and Stepney. In fact, it was very close to both Aldgate and Whitechapel high streets. Apparently the Meetings Book shows that William was admitted to the chapel on 14th May 1798 and Lydia on 23rd July 1798 (they were married in 1792). Lydia’s address is given as Marmaduke Street, though in 1800 and 1803 (around the time of Eliza’s birth) they are said to be living in Mile End Road, and in 1806 William is in Wilmot Street. At first I had trouble locating Marmaduke Street on contemporary maps, but Horwood’s beautifully detailed map of 1792 reveals that it was just north of Cable Street, north of Princes Square and Wellclose Square – which means that the Holdsworths lived not far from my Bowman/Larke ancestors and very close to Betts Street where my great grandfather Charles Edward Robb would be living some 90 years later. Wilmot Street was further north, in Bethnal Green.

Ron has also sent me a record of the marriage of Daniel Roe senior and Eliza Holdsworth in Blunham, Bedfordshire, on 25th April, 1825, together with a document recording the burial of their daughter, Hannah (or Anna) Maria in the burial ground of the Old (Baptist) Meeting House in Biggleswade. How Eliza came to meet Daniel or to be living in Bedfordshire, and which happened first, remains a mystery. However, Eliza’s roots in the East End of London, together with her cousin Kezia’s marriage to Stepney shoemaker John Blanch, helps to explain why her son Daniel ended up there, and how he came to meet and marry John and Kezia’s daughter Mary Ann.