I’ve written recently about three members of the Roe family who lived in Luton in the first half of the nineteenth century, all of whom were shoemakers: Peter Roe (1801 – 1873), William Roe (1811 – c. 1863) and George Roe (1811 – 1857). There is good reason to believe that the three men were brothers, that they were the sons of John Roe, another Luton shoemaker, and that they were related in some way to my own Bedfordshire Roe ancestors, including my 3rd great grandfather, Biggleswade shoemaker Daniel Roe.

I’ve now discovered evidence that Peter, William and George may have had a sister. Much of the information that I’ve found about Ruth Roe, including her own marriage and those of her children, suggests a connection to the same network of Baptist shoemaking families living in Luton around this time.

The first record we have for Ruth is of her marriage on 2nd May 1819, at St. Mary’s church, Luton, to William Field, who also seems to have been a shoemaker. William was born in 1799, the eldest child of John Field and Elizabeth Day, who had married in the previous year. As was the case with his sisters Elizabeth (1800) and Sarah (1804), William’s birth was recorded by his parents in the Register of Births kept by the Luton Baptists.

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William Field’s birth recorded in the Baptist Register of Births, Luton (via ancestry.co.uk)

William’s sister Sarah Field would marry Sawbridgeworth shoemaker John Clarke in 1838: curiously, the marriage seems to have taken place at the church of St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney, though I’m unaware of a London connection in either family. John and Sarah Clarke lived in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, and had three children: David (1838), Emily (1842), and John (1844).

As for William’s other sister, Elizabeth Field, she seems never to have married. I haven’t managed to find any trace of her between her birth in 1800 and the 1861 census when, aged 60, she was living in the home of Nathan Beadle, a widowed tailor, in High Road, Sawbridgeworth, and describing herself as a ‘gentlewoman’.  Elizabeth is described in the census record as an ‘aunt’, though it’s not clear whose. With her are Emily Clarke, described as a ‘sister-in-law’ – presumably the sister of her sister Sarah’s husband John Clarke – and Sarah Field, described as a ‘cousin’. Sarah was the daughter of Elizabeth’s brother William and his wife Ruth Roe. Ten years later Elizabeth Field, 70, describing herself as ‘independent’ and her niece Sarah, 45, a dressmaker, would still be living together, in London Road, Sawbridgeworth. By 1881, 80-year-old Elizabeth would be back living with the Beadle family, in the same road, and describing herself as an ‘annuitant’. She would die three years later.

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(image via http://www.hertfordshire-genealogy.co.uk)

William and Ruth Field seem to have had four children: John, born in 1821; Elizabeth, born in the same year, and possibly John’s twin; Sarah, in 1825; and finally Samuel, in 1835. In December 1839 their daughter Elizabeth married William Huckle, yet another shoemaker, who was the brother of Sarah Huckle, the wife of William Roe.

Ruth Field née Roe appears to have died in 1840, and at the time of the 1841 census the widowed William Field was living with his sons John, 20, and Samuel, 7, in Park Lane, Luton, where his near neighbours included not only his daughter-in-law Elizabeth and her family, but William Roe and his wife Sarah, as well as various members of Sarah’s Huckle family.

In 1843 William Field married again, to Mary Day: presumably she was related in some way to William’s late mother Elizabeth Field, nee Day. The witnesses were his son-in-law William Huckle, and the latter’s sister Susan Attwood, née Huckle. William Field seems to have died by 1851: in the census of that year, his widow Mary was living in New Town, Luton, and by December she had married again, to William Smith.

In 1851 William Field’s daughter Elizabeth and her husband William Huckle were living in Bull Court, Luton. By now they had four children: John, born in 1841; Zachariah, 1843; Jesse, 1847; and Elizabeth, 1849. They also had a lodger: Elizabeth’s 16-year-old brother Samuel, now working, like his brother-in-law William Huckle, as a cordwainer’s journeyman. By the time of the 1861 census, the family had moved to Chase Street, Luton, where William was working as a shoemaker, Elizabeth as a bonnet sewer, their son Zachariah as a boot closer, and daughter Elizabeth as a bonnet sewer. They now had a daughter, Eliza, 4, and a son William Gentle Huckle, 1.  Their son John, another boot closer, had married Ann Souster, and in 1861 they were also living in Chase Street with their infant daughter Sarah. I haven’t been able to find John’s brother Jesse Huckle in the 1861 census; perhaps he didn’t survive into adulthood.

Elizabeth Huckle, née Field, died in December 1861, leaving her husband William a 41-year-old widower with two young children. Five years later, in 1866, William Huckle set sail for America, taking with him his 20-year-old son Zachariah, his 6-year-old daughter Eliza and 4-year-old son William, and arriving in Boston in August of that year. At the time of the United States Census of 1870, William and his children were living with his sister Susannah, her husband, bootmaker Daniel Attwood, and their daughter Jessie, in Foxboro, Massachusetts. I suspect William’s motive for emigration was as much about getting help with looking after his young family as finding work: presumably he was now working alongside his brother Daniel Attwood.

By settling in Foxboro, William Huckle was joining a growing emigrant community of Luton-born Huckles and Roes. As I noted in earlier posts, Daniel Roe, the son of William’s sister Sarah and her husband William Roe, had arrived there in about 1855, with his brother John Huckle Roe following soon afterwards. William’s sister Susannah Attwood and her family had arrived in 1857.

William’s son John Huckle, his wife Ann and their daughters Sarah, Lizzie and Elizabeth, joined him in America for a while, arriving there in 1867. In 1870 they were living in Franklin, Massachusetts, where John had found work as a shoemaker. However, by 1881 they were back in England, living in Hastings Street in Luton (interestingly, the street where a certain John Roe, shoemaker, possibly the father of William, Peter, George and Ruth Roe, had died in 1849). They would remain in Luton, where Ann would die in 1897 and John in 1937.

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Foxboro in 1906 (via wikipedia.org)

The 1881 census finds William Huckle still living close to the Attwoods in Foxboro, but in a separate dwelling, with daughter Eliza, 23, and son Zachariah, 30. Father and son are working together as boot and shoe repairers, and Eliza is working in a straw hat shop. William’s son William Gentle Huckle seems to have returned home to England as a young man, principally in order to marry Leicester-born Alice Clark in 1881. They must then have returned for a time to the United States, since their son Cyril Theodore (or Ted) Huckle, was born in Passaic, New Jersey, in 1890; son Vincent Vernon in Philadelphia in 1892; and daughter Florence in Alleghenny, Pennsylvania in 1897. The family was back in England for the 1901 census, living in Southampton, where the reason for their peripatetic lifestyle becomes clear. William Gentle Huckle is said to be the chief of an international detective bureau: something of a change from the manual trades of his siblings, parents and grandparents. The family seem to have returned to the United States soon after the census was taken.

In 1880 William’s daughter Eliza Huckle, now working as a seamstress, married John Henry McTernan in Norwood, Massachusetts. They would have two children: Charles in 1882, and Jessie in 1891.

In 1881 William Huckle married his unmarried sister-in-law, Sarah Field. According to the Massachusetts marriage records, on 3rd September 1881, William Huckle, a 59-year-old shoemaker, born in Luton, England, the son of John and Mary Huckle, married 56-year-old Sarah Field, also from Luton, the daughter of William and Ruth Field, in Foxboro. The marriage record notes that it was his second marriage and her first.

William’s son Zachariah died in 1891 at the age of 47. William himself would live until 1915 and Sarah until 1917.