Despite the efforts of a number of determined family historians, notably Ron Roe, it has proven difficult to trace the Roe family back beyond Daniel Roe senior. At the time of his marriage to Eliza Holdsworth in 1825, in Blunham, Bedfordshire, Daniel is said to be from Biggleswade, while Eliza’s parish is given as Blunham. But we don’t know if Daniel was born in Biggleswade, or if he had other relatives in the town. Searching the census records for other Roes has thrown up dozens of names all over Bedfordshire, but there is no way of knowing if any of them are connected to Daniel.

There seems to have been a particular concentration of Roes in Luton, and a couple of coincidences have made me wonder if they are related in any way to ‘my’ Roe family. In particular, I’ve found two families of shoemakers, both of whom included a son named Daniel. 

The 1841 census has a Peter Roe, a boot and shoe maker, born in about 1800, and his wife Dinah, living in Luton with their children George (born 1833), Daniel (1835) and James (1839). In 1861, Peter and Dinah (described as a bonnet sewer, born in King’s Walden, Hertfordshire) are living at 35 Princess Street, Luton, with Daniel (now 26), a carpenter, and his wife, Fanny, a dress maker from Aylesbury.  In 1871, Daniel and Fanny are still living with his parents, and now have three children, Edward, Annie and Fanny.

The 1851 census return for 74 Barbers Lane, Luton, lists William Roe, 40, a shoe maker master employing one man, his wife Sarah, 38, a straw bonnet maker, their son John, 19, a journeyman shoemaker, another son Daniel, 17, following the same trade, together with Mary, (13), Isaac (10) and William (7). At the same address are William’s niece Sophia Fensome, 14, a straw bonnet sewer, his nephew William, 20, a journeyman shoemaker, and Sarah (his wife?), 22, another straw bonnet sewer

Could Peter, born 1801, and William, born 1811, have been brothers, and might they both have inherited their trade as shoe makers from their father? Furthermore, might there be a connection with another shoemaker, Daniel Roe, born in about 1800, living not so far away in Biggleswade? Could he be another brother, or a cousin? Or are these just coincidences?

According to the Harding and Gauld family trees at Ancestry, William Roe’s wife was Sarah Huckle. It seems William died in Luton in 1855, while two of his sons – John and Daniel – emigrated to Massachusets. Neither tree goes back beyond William, so don’t throw any light on a possible link to ‘my’ Daniel Roe.

I’m still exploring other Roes in Bedfordshire – for example, there’s a family of tailors around the same period, in Eaton Bray, near Leighton Buzzard. In addition, the name ‘Caleb’ – another popular Nonconformist/Puritan name, like Daniel – which ‘my’ Daniel Roe gave to one of his sons – crops up in both the Luton and Leighton Buzzard searches.

I’d be interested to hear from any other Roe family researchers who have traced their family back beyond 1800 and can throw some light on these possible connections.