In the last post, I suggested that the Sarah Holdsworth who married Thomas Parker in Stepney in 1821 was the daughter of William Holdsworth, rather than – as had previously been thought – his brother John (both of them were, as it happens, my 4 x great grandfathers). In this post, I want to set down what else we now know about Sarah, Thomas and their family.

We know that Sarah was born in 1806 to William and Lydia Holdsworth: she was their seventh and final child. Her three eldest siblings, Isaac, Samuel and Phoebe, had been born in Marmaduke Street in the parish of St George in the East, and we know for certain that Phoebe was christened there. However, the next two children, Eliza (my 3 x great grandmother) and Edward Porter Holdsworth, were born in Mile End Old Town, in 1801 and 1803 respectively, and the latter was christened at St. Dunstan’s, Stepney.

In the year that Sarah was born, the records of Little Alie Street Baptist Meeting note that her father William’s address was Wilmot Street, which was in Bethnal Green, just south of what would later be known as Bethnal Green Road.  However, by the time Sarah married Thomas Parker on 8 October 1821, both were said to be living in the parish of St George in the East, where the ceremony took place. Both parties signed their names and the witnesses to the marriage were John Preston and Ann Ayres, the latter imprinting her mark.

Silk weaving (Tower Hamlets Local History Collection)

Whatever may have been the couple’s address at the time of their marriage, at some point in the next few years they moved to Park Street, Bethnal Green, where they were living when their first two children, Sarah and Eliza, were baptised together, at St Matthew, Bethnal Green, on 21 August 1825. Sarah had been born on 28 March 1823 and Eliza on 26 February 1825. Park Street ran off Back Lane, to the east of the green itself, and just to the north of Green Street (see map in last post). Sarah was born on 28 March 1823 and Eliza on 26 February 1825. The parish register informs us that Thomas was working as a weaver. (Two sons born to a Thomas Parker, grocer, and his wife Sarah, of Golden or Goulden Place on Bethnal Green Road, were baptised at St Matthew’s in 1821, but since the birth of one predates their marriage, and the occupation of the father is different, I assume this is a different couple.)

By the time their son Thomas was christened at the same church, on 10 August 1828 (he had been born on 4 February), Thomas and Sarah Parker were living in West Street, Bethnal Green, which ran south from Green Street. Thomas senior was still working as a weaver. As mentioned in the last post, it was from this address that Sarah was christened as an adult, at St Matthew’s, on 20 July 1829. In 1830, the Parkers were at the same address, and Thomas was in the same occupation, when their son William was baptised, and the same was true for the christening of their son Joseph in 1833.

The 1841 census finds the Parkers still living in West Street. Thomas is described as a silk weaver, an occupation he shares with a number of his close neighbours, suggesting that this was a street of mostly weavers’ cottages. Thomas’ age is given as 40 and Sarah’s as 35 – placing their births in about 1801 and 1806 respectively, though we need to remember the 1841 enumerators’ habit of rounding ages up and down. Their children’s ages were as follows: Sarah, 15, Thomas, 14, William, 11, and Joseph, 8. Eliza, who would have been about 16, is not present: she may have been working, elsewhere, probably as a domestic servant, if indeed she was still alive at this date.

On 11 September 1845, Thomas and Sarah Parker were witnesses to the second marriage of Sarah’s sister Eliza (my 3 x great grandmother). Eliza Holdsworth had married Bedfordshire shoemaker Daniel Roe in 1825 but had been widowed around 1836. Now she was marrying carpenter John Sharp and would soon return to live and work as a domestic servant on the Bedfordshire / Hertfordshire  / Cambridgeshire borders (see this post).

In 1846, the Parkers’ eldest daughter Sarah, then aged 23, married George Garner at St George in the East. Like his father of the same name, and like Sarah’s father Thomas, George was described rather grandly in the parish register as a ‘silk manufacturer’. At the time he was living at 6 Lower Chapman Street, while Sarah was at 18 Lower John Street. Both streets were in the area between Commercial Road and Cable Street where Sarah’s Holdsworth grandparents had lived before moving northwards to Mile End Old Town and Bethnal Green (see map below). This was the wedding that was witnessed by my 3 x great grandparents John Blanch and Kezia Holdsworth, the latter being the daughter of John Holdsworth and thus the cousin of the bride’s mother.

Stepney in 1851: from Cross' London Guide

Confirmation that only Sarah Parker junior had moved, and not the whole Parker family, comes in the 1851 census, which finds Thomas and Sarah Parker still living in West Street, Bethnal Green. They are at No. 28, where Thomas is still working as a silk weaver alongside Sarah, now described as a silk weaveress. Nos. 29, 30, 31 and a number of the other houses in West Street are also occupied by silk weavers. Presumably more accurate than the 1841 census, this record gives Thomas’ age as 51 and notes that he, like Sarah, was born in Bethnal Green. This is the census record that I mentioned in an earlier post, which records that the Parkers had two young visitors at this time: Harriet Payton, 18, and Eliza Philpot, 21, both of them silk weaveresses. I assume they were working alongside Thomas and Sarah. Both were the daughters of silk weavers and their families lived in neighbouring streets. In the following year, Eliza Philpot would marry Joseph James Blanch, son of the Parkers’ relations, and close neighbours, John and Keziah.

Thomas junior, William and Joseph had all left home by 1851. We know that Thomas, 25, was living and working (as a journeyman baker) with his brother-in-law George Garner in Southwark. I’ve yet to find out what became of William or Joseph.

Two years after the census, on 17 April 1853, Thomas Parker junior married Eliza Roe (mis-spelt in the register as ‘Rowe’) at St George in the East. Eliza, born in Biggleswade in 1833, was the daughter of Eliza Holdsworth and her first husband Daniel Roe. As noted in the last post, this means that Thomas married his first cousin. At the time of their marriage, both were living in Chapel Street, another of the streets to the north of Cable Street: Thomas, still working as a baker, was at No. 2 and Eliza at No. 9.  Eight years earlier, in 1845, Eliza Roe’s mother, also Eliza, had given her address as 16 Chapel Street, at the time of her second marriage to John Sharp.

The parish record for the wedding of Thomas Parker junior and Eliza Roe mistakenly gives Eliza’s father’s name as John Rowe or Roe: a confusion brought about by the fact of her mother’s second marriage. The witnesses to the marriage were Thomas junior’s sister Sarah Garner, and a Martin Landragin. He (like Thomas) was a weaver’s son from Bethnal Green who would later become a licensed victualler and landlord of the Fox in Deptford. This is interesting, in light of the fact that Thomas Parker senior is described in the register as a licensed victualler, though we don’t know when or why he ceased working as  silk weaver, nor where his licensed premises were.  Martin Landragin, born in Shoreditch in 1828 (the same year as Thomas Parker junior), was the son of weaver Martin Garrey Landragin and his wife Sarah Ogle. Martin Landragin senior was the son of John Nicholas Stephen Landragin and Johanna Felicite Guerriot. There is a suggestion that the Landragins may have fled from France at the time of the Revolution: if so, they would have joined countless other weaving families of French ancestry in this part of London, many of them descended from Huguenot refugees.

The 1851 census is the last definite record I’ve been able to find for Thomas and Sarah Parker, and the record of Thomas junior’s wedding in 1853 is the last definite mention of Thomas senior. I’ve yet to find the older Parkers in the 1861 and 1871 census, even though there is a possible death record for a Thomas Parker in Shoreditch in 1876. The 1861 census records for Bethnal Green appear to be incomplete, but the Parkers were definitely no longer in West Street by 1871.

Knowing that Thomas Parker was born in 1800-1801 in the Bethnal Green area and worked for most of his life as a silk weaver should help us to trace his family of origin – something I will try to do in another post.