Credit is due to the good people at the Essex Record Office, for digitising many of their records and making them available online, something that’s quite unusual for areas outside London. The records aren’t yet searchable, which can mean long trawls until you come across familiar names, but you can’t have everything.

Fortunately for me, the digital records include births, marriages and deaths for Barking, stretching back to the 16th century. As I reported in another post, these documents have made it possible for me to confirm a hunch that my great-great-great-grandmother, Mary Ann (1802 -1887), wife of John Londors (1786 – 1876), was the daughter of William and Sarah Schofield. I formed this hypothesis after discovering that John and Mary Ann’s son, another John (my 2 x great grandfather) used the middle name ‘Schofield’ when he married Sarah Ann Brown in 1851. Around the same time, I noticed that William and Sarah Schofield were neighbours of the Londors family in Barkingside. A search through the IGI records revealed that William and Sarah had three daughters, of whom Mary Ann, baptised in Barking in 1803, was the second. (I also have a theory that Mary Ann’s older sister, Sarah Anne, married tobacco pipe maker John Orgar, which would explain why the latter’s daughter Sarah was staying with the Schofields at the time of the 1841 census, but I haven’t been able to find proof of this yet.)

St. Margaret's church, Barking

This means that William and Sarah Schofield of Barkingside were my 4 x great grandparents. Until now, everything I know about them has been derived from the IGI records of their daughters’ christenings, and from the census records of 1841 and 1851.

For example, in 1841, when they were both said to be 70 (though we know from other records that William was actually 72 or 73), the Schofields were living at Red Bridge, Barkingside, close to Fern Hall, White House, and the Red House public house (all of these places were near where Redbridge station and roundabout are today). William was working as an agricultural labourer, and there were four other people sharing their house. I’ve already mentioned 13-year-old Sarah Orgar, who I believe was their granddaughter, the daughter of Sarah Ann Schofield (1798 – 1870) and her husband John Orgar (1798 – 1866). The others were Mary Baker, 80; agricultural labourer Robert Shackman, 69; and Henry Cooke, 7. In time, I’m sure these names will provide further clues as to the Schofields’ background and family connections. For now, it’s interesting to note, for example, that of them all apart from Shackman (who may have some connection with nearby Shackman or Shattman’s Farm?) are said to have been born outside Essex.

Red House pub, Redbridge, today

By 1841, all of the Schofields’ three daughters were living elsewhere. We know that Mary Ann had married John Londors in 1826 and was living nearby at Hattons Corner with John and their five children. Sarah Ann and her husband John Orgar, meanwhile, were at the Woodman Inn on Archway Road in north London with two of their children. I haven’t yet been able to find out what became of the Schofields’ third daughter Anne.

Valentine's in the late 18th century

By 1851 William and Sarah Schofield, now 83 and 81 respectively, had moved to Valentines Cottage, which was almost certainly part of the estate of Valentines, the mansion owned by landed proprietor Charles Holcombe – and which survives to this day in Valentines Park. William is still described as an agricultural labourer, presumably working for Holcombe in some capacity, and the census record helpfully gives us the couple’s places of birth: William was born in Barking and Sarah in Aldgate (though the clerk’s spelling leaves something to be desired, as these look more like ‘Baking’ and ‘Algate’).

Armed with this information, I searched through the baptismal records for St. Margaret, Barking, and eventually found the record of William’s christening on 25 June 1769, which also provided me with the names of his parents: Thomas and Sarah Schofield. Thus I’ve been able to add another generation to this branch of my family tree, and discover the identity of at least one set of my 5 x great grandparents.

I’ve also managed to find the record of William Schofield’s marriage to his wife Sarah. On 6 September 1797, when he would have been 28 and she 27, William married widow Sarah Hone, also at St. Margaret’s. To begin with, I assumed that ‘Hone’ was Sarah’s first married name, but so far I’ve been unable to find a burial record for anyone of that name in Barking in the preceding years, though Sarah is said to be ‘of this parish’. Perhaps her first marriage took place elsewhere, or she reverted to her maiden name after her first husband’s death? There were certainly at least three Sarah Hones born in the East London area (though not precisely in Aldgate) around 1770. I’m still trying to confirm whether any of these might have been my 4 x great grandmother.