The Taylor Family
The Ancestors of Kate Mary Taylor
This is the story of the family of my Great Grandmother, Kate Taylor. The following family tree shows a summary of her family back to her great grandparents.
Edward Taylor

Taylor Family Album

G5 ? Taylor
( - )
( - )
George Bickmore
(c. 1785- )
Elizabeth unknown
(c. 1785- )
John Turner
( - )
Rebecca Bothway
( - )
Joseph Taylor
(c. 1785- )
Mary unknown
(c. 1768- )
G4 Thomas Taylor
(c. 1809-c. 1842)
Elizabeth Bickmore
Capel St Mary, SFK
Philip Turner
Crowland, LIN
Anne Taylor
(c. 1805-1888)
West Lynn, NFK
G3 Edward Taylor
Capel St Mary, SFK
Anne Turner
Sutton Bridge, LIN
G2 Kate Mary Taylor
Wainfleet All Saints, LIN
= 1880
Ansley Bull
Enfield, MDX
All of these families were from East Anglia, but were not neighbours, living in areas as far apart as Crowland in Lincolnshire to Ipswich in Suffolk.

It is not known whether the two G5 Taylors were the same or two different families.

Unusually for the 18/19th century the Taylor family were very mobile. They originated and lived mainly in East Anglia: Suffolk, Norfolk and Lincolnshire but also in London and in later generations as far away as Durham and the Isle of Wight, making them more difficult to trace than most other families of the time that I have researched.

With a common name like Taylor, you wouldn't expect to find a concentration of the name anywhere in England and this is confirmed by the 1881 distribution map. The widespread distribution shows that there was no single origin, but the low population in East Anglia and concentrations to the west, may imply that they originally came from the west of England.

Thomas was probably born in Norfolk, but it is not known where, in about 1809.

Between 1829 and 1842 events for Thomas Taylor's family finds them in at least 5 places:

Thomas was a coachman - so why was he so mobile?

Edward's birth in Capel is easily explained by Elizabeth returning home for the birth, but was this due to Edward being away from home 'on business'?

The family lore is that he worked for a titled family and there is sufficient evidence to strongly imply that this is true (although the name of the family - the Duke & Duchess of Devonshire - appears to be incorrect).

A titled family would have had a London house and possibly several country seats. My current feeling is that the family he worked for had a house in Marylebone or more likely in Wilton Street, Belgravia and a country house near Gunton and perhaps another in Romford (now in East London but then a country area).

There is a family story that Thomas accompanied the 'titled family' to India, perhaps explaining why Edward was born in Capel.

In contrast it is far easier to locate the Bickmores and it is clear that they originate in the north east Essex / south east Suffolk area.

We have located our family in Ipswich and Capel St Mary in Suffolk in the early 19th C., with later generations migrating into London.

In confirmation, the 1881 distribution map shows that they were clearly concentrated in Essex and so must have originated there.

The family were land owners and publicans and obviously well educated. For example Elizabeth's elder brother was the school master and registrar in Capel St Mary.

Unlike the Taylors who were exceptionally mobile, from our records the Turner family appear to have lived in the Fens in Lincolnshire and west Norfolk for some time.

Like Taylor, Turner is a fairly common name and as expected the 1881 distribution shows no clear origin for the Turners. Strangely there is a Turner population gap in Lincolnshire, which given the concentrations on either side may be an error. However given the secluded nature of the Fens it may imply that surrounding families did not migrate there?

The places where our Turners have been identified include Crowland, Sutton Bridge, Pinchbeck, Wisbech, Terrington St Clement, West Lynn - roughly the area between Peterborough, Boston and Kings Lynn in the following map - all within a 15 radius from Wisbech.

The area is now predominantly an intensively farmed market gardening with a landscape of flat fields criss-crossed by deep drains an rivers and dotted with pumping stations.

While it is tempting to assume that the family were predominantly agricultural workers, the Fens in the early days were more like a lake than farmland. "The Fens and fenmen have their own history and distinctive cultural characteristics. When need be, a few of the native fenmen moved about nimbly on stilts (the "stilt-walkers"). They opposed incursions by outsiders and defended their valuable traditional rights of commonage, turf cutting, fishing and fowling." (see below for more).

The Bothways were another Lincolnshire fenland family and like the Bickmores the 1881 surname distribution shows that their name is associated predominantly with a single county: Lincolnshire.

A study of the Bothway name in IGI and other records seems to pin their origin down to the town of Crowland with an early "breakaway group" moving to a small area about half way between Peterborough and Leicester. In the 19th C, another branch moved into Norfolk. The family appeared to remain quite small and there were apparently no more than a handful of families at any one time.

Our confirmed Bothway line is first found in Crowland in the last half of the 18th century, but from the evidence, it would seem safe to conclude that the family were there for many generations prior to that time.

The Fens, Crowland, Sutton Bridge

The Turner side of the family remained in this area for their entire lives. The places where they have been identified include Crowland, Sutton Bridge, Pinchbeck, Wisbech, Terrington St Clement and West Lynn - roughly the area between Peterborough, Boston and Kings Lynn, all within a radius of 15 miles from Wisbech.

In later generations, the Taylors maintained close contacts with the area and we have recently discovered family continued to live there until recent times.

The_Fens (80K)
An extract from Wikipedia:
300 years ago, the Fens were similar to the Florida Everglades, a large area of low-lying land, though in a cooler climate. The Fens and fenmen have their own history and distinctive cultural characteristics. When need be, a few of the native fenmen moved about nimbly on stilts (the "stilt-walkers"). They opposed incursions by outsiders and defended their valuable traditional rights of commonage, turf cutting, fishing and fowling.

Though some marks of Roman hydraulics survive, and medieval works should not be overlooked, the land started to be drained in earnest during the 1630s by the various Adventurers who had contracted with King Charles I to do so. The leader of one of these syndicates was the Earl of Bedford who employed Cornelius Vermuyden as their engineer. The scheme was imposed despite huge opposition from locals who were losing their livelihoods in favour of already great landowners. Two cuts were made in the Cambridgeshire Fens to join the River Great Ouse to the sea at King's Lynn - the Old Bedford River and the New Bedford River, also known as the Hundred Foot Drain.

Both cuts were named after the Fourth Earl of Bedford who, along with some "Gentlemen Adventurers" (venture capitalists), funded the construction, which was directed by engineers from the Low Countries, and were rewarded with large grants of the resulting farmland. Following this initial drainage, the Fens were still extremely susceptible to flooding, and so windmills were used to pump water away from affected areas.

However, their success was short-lived. Once drained of water, the peat shrank, and the fields lowered further. The more effectively they were drained the worse the problem became, and soon the fields were lower than the surrounding rivers. By the end of the 17th century, the land was under water once again.

Though the three Bedford levels were, together, the biggest scheme, they were not the only ones. Lord Lindsey and his partner, Sir William Killigrew had the Lindsey level (see Twenty) inhabited by farmers by 1638 but the onset of the Civil War permitted the destruction of the works which remained to the fenmen's liking until the Black Sluice Act of 1765.

The major part of the draining of the Fens, as seen today was nevertheless, effected in the late 18th and early 19th century, again involving fierce local rioting and sabotage of the works. The final success came in the 1820s when windmills were replaced with powerful coal-powered steam engines, such as Stretham old engine, which were themselves replaced with diesel-powered pumps and following World War II, the small electrical stations that are still used today.

The dead vegetation of the peat remained un-decayed because it was deprived of air (the peat was anaerobic). When it was drained, the oxygen of the air reached it and the peat has been slowly oxidizing. This and the shrinkage on its initial drying as well as removal of the soil by the wind, has meant that much of the Fens lies below high tide level. The highest parts of the drained fen now being only a few metres above mean sea level, only sizable embankments of the rivers, and general flood defences, stop the land from being inundated. Nonetheless, these works are now much more effective than they were until the mid-twentieth century.

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Notes & References
  1. I am indebted to my cousin Geoffrey Ray for most of the information on these pages. Geoff has been researching these families for many years and through his painstaking research he has assembled a considerable part of their history.
  2. I would also like to acknowledge the work of Mervyn Bull, another cousin. Unfortunately much of this has been lost, but the remnants have proven extremely accurate and have helped greatly in assembling this information.
  3. IGI
  4. English Censuses for 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901