The new information that I shared in the last post – about the origins of the Roe family, and their possible connection with Hitchin, where we now live – has made me want to make absolutely sure that I’m descended from this family. I took an Ancestry DNA test some time ago, but to date I’ve been disappointed by the small number of matches with people in this branch of my family tree. So today I went back to the records, in an effort to confirm that I’m on the right track when it comes to the Roes.

My grandparents George John Londors and Minnie Louisa Roe on their wedding day

As mentioned before, I’m descended from the Roe family via my mother. She was born Joyce Alma Londors on 27thJuly 1933 in East Ham, which was then in Essex and is now part of the London borough of Newham. The England and Wales Birth Index gives her mother’s – my grandmother’s – name as Roe. My grandparents were married at St Alban’s church, Upton Park, on 2ndAugust 1925. My grandfather, George John Londors, then aged 28, was described as a labourer, the son of another George Londors, a grave digger. My grandmother – my ‘Nan’ – was then aged 23 and working as a machinist. The marriage record states that she was the daughter of Joseph Priestley Roe, a sewerman.

The 1939 England and Wales Register, which was recently made available online, has the Londors family living at 24 Oakfield Road, East Ham (the house where my Nan would spend the rest of her life). George J Londors, born on 14thDecember 1896, is now described as a ‘grave digger – heavy work’ and his wife Minnie L Londors, born on 20thApril 1902, as undertaking ‘unpaid domestic duties’.  At the same address are Joseph P Roe, born on 22ndJune 1862, and described as a ‘sewerman – retired’, and Eliza Roe, born on 29thAugust 1863, also undertaking ‘unpaid domestic duties’: they were my great grandparents.

My great grandparents Eliza Bailey and Joseph Priestley Roe (undated)

Minnie Louisa Roe was born in 1902 at 85 Oakfield Road, East Ham, the daughter of Joseph Roe, a general labourer, and his wife Eliza Roe, née Bailey. At the time of the 1911 census, Minnie, then aged eight, was living at 92 Oakfield Road, East Ham, where she was described as the daughter of general labourer Joseph Roe, aged 48, and Eliza Roe, 47, together with her older siblings Richard, Flora, Elizabeth, William and John. Her father Joseph is said to have been born in the ‘parish of St James, W’ (Westminster?). Since the census was taken in April 1911, his age is consistent with him having been born in June 1862.

The same family can be found living at 313 Barking Road, East Ham, in 1901, a year before Minnie’s birth. There is enough overlap in the children’s names as well as their dates of birth, to enable us to conclude that this is the same family. Joseph’s full name – Joseph Priestley Roe – is also given, and his age is said to be 38. His place of birth is given as ‘England, place not known’: perhaps he was not at home when the enumerator called? Ellis – the middle name of Joseph and Eliza’s son Walter – is a clue as to Joseph’s family origins: it was also the middle name of the man I believe to have been Joseph’s brother, Daniel Ellis Roe. (I’ve written before about the close, and somewhat mysterious links, between the Roe, Blanch and Ellis families.) In 1891 Joseph Roe and his family had been living at Denmark Terrace, East Ham, next door to Eliza’s parents, William and Elizabeth Bailey. Joseph, a dock labourer, was said to be twenty-nine years old and born in ‘London St James’, thus confirming a connection with the Joseph of the 1911 census.

St Anne’s church, Limehouse

Joseph Priestley Roe married Eliza Bailey at the church of St Anne, Limehouse, on 25thNovember 1883. Joseph, then working as a carman, is described in the parish register as the son of Daniel Roe, a shoemaker. One of the witnesses was Flora Blanch, another clue as to Joseph’s family origins: if my theory is correct, Joseph’s mother was Mary Ann Roe, née Blanch, and Flora was almost certainly Joseph’s cousin of that name.

If we look for records of Joseph before his marriage, we find a census record in 1881 for nineteen-year-old Joseph Roe, a butcher’s assistant  born in ‘Middlesex, Westminster’, living at 3 Grange Road, West Ham, and described as the nephew (and presumably employee) of butcher Walter Trader and his wife Emma. The couple had been married at St Anne’s church, Limehouse in 1869. We know from their marriage record that Emma Louise Trader, née Blanch, was the daughter of shoemaker John Blanch, who was also the father of the Mary Ann Roe, née Blanch, who I believe to have been Joseph Roe’s mother; in fact, Mary Ann was one of the witnesses to the marriage.

Searching for Joseph at the time of the 1871 census, we find the most likely candidate in eight-year-old ‘scholar’ Joseph Roe, to be found living with another uncle and aunt in Albany Road, Camberwell. He is said to have been born in ‘Middlesex, Haymarket’. His uncle is Thomas Parker and his aunt is Eliza Parker, née Roe; the couple had been married in 1853. Eliza was the sister of Daniel Roe, who I believe to have been Joseph’s father. Crucially, the 1871 census record notes that Eliza was born in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, in about 1831: the first evidence we have of Joseph Roe’s connection to the Roe family of that town.

The final link in the chain connecting my great grandfather Joseph to this branch of the Roe family is provided by the official record of his birth, which took place at 23 Great Windmill Street, in the sub-district of Berwick Street, in the registration district of St James, Westminster. His mother is said to be Mary Ann Roe, ‘formerly Blanch’, while his father, who was responsible for registering the birth, was Daniel Roe, a ‘bootmaker master’. The only disparity is in the date of Joseph’s birth, which is given here as 27thJuly 1862, whereas later records claim that he was born on 22nd June in that year. Perhaps this can be explained by the fact that Joseph’s mother, and probably his father, died when he was very young, and that he was brought up, as we have seen, by various aunts and uncles, who may not have had access to his birth records. Interestingly, Joseph wasn’t christened until 6thJuly 1870, at St Luke’s, a chapel of ease within the parish of St James, Westminster.

Eliza Roe née Holdsworth, the wife of Daniel Roe senior, in old age

There is plenty of evidence to confirm that Joseph Priestley Roe’s father – my great great grandfather – Daniel Roe, was the son of Biggleswade Baptist shoemaker Daniel Roe senior and his wife Eliza Roe, née Holdsworth. As I noted in the last post, when Eliza returned to London with her children in the 1840s, after her husband Daniel’s death, her son Daniel junior married Mary Ann Blanch, who was actually his second cousin. Mary Ann’s mother Keziah Blanch, née Holdsworth, was the first cousin of Daniel’s mother Eliza. In fact, I have reason to believe that Daniel may have been apprenticed to his future father-in-law, shoemaker John Blanch. Joseph’s mother Mary Ann Roe, née Blanch, would die of consumption in 1870, and since we have no further records for his father Daniel after that date, we must assume that he probably died around the same time.

Now that I’ve convinced myself of the connection between my immediate Roe forebears and the Baptist Roes of Biggleswade, I can return with confidence to exploring the origins of the family.