WALKER, Sawbridgeworth, Mid 19th century

August 2002

Colin Walker of Dennington, Woodbridge, Suffolk, writes: Is there anyone else researching the WALKER family in Sawbridgeworth? I am interested to know what happened to Hannah WALKER (nee DRAKE) as George WALKER remarried. George and his second wife Ann Prior had a son, Joseph, born in East Ham Essex who became my grandfather.

The details are as follows:  George married Hannah DRAKE on 30.09.1843 at Sawbridgeworth. They had the following children all born in Sawbridgeworth :-  Hannah, Emma, Ann, Charles, David, Frederick, George, James. Emma, the last of Hannah's known children, was born at Sawbridgeworth in 1864.

George then married Ann Elizabeth PRIOR, born 09.08.1840, on 12.08.1871 at  Sawbridgeworth. They had the following children:-  Rosa b. 1872 at High WychFrederick b. 1875 at High Wych; Louisa b. 1878 at East Ham; Betsy b. 1879 at East Ham; William b. 1882 at East Ham; Joseph (my grandfather) b. 1884 at East Ham.  Therefore one supposes that Hannah died before 1871 at Sawbridgeworth or High Wych.

First of all, to avoid any confusion, High Wych was part of the parish of Sawbridgeworth prior to 1862 - so for some purposes the names can be interchangeable.

Secondly I believe, on the indexes available to me, that there may be some confusion as to the identity of George Walker. The British Vital Records index lists the marriage of George Walker and Hannah Drake in 1840 and gives his age as 22. This would make him 63 at the time of the 1881 census.

The 1881 census list the following family in East Ham - which was a little difficult to find due to the misspelling of "Sawbridgeworth":

Dwelling: 18 Cato Place Roman Rd    Census Place: East Ham, Essex




Lime Burner

Shrobesworth, Herts





Shrobesworth, Herts

Charles WALKER




Shrobesworth, Herts





Shrobesworth, Herts





Shrobesworth, Herts





East Ham, Essex





East Ham, Essex

This is clearly the family of Charles Walker and Ann Prior - but if the age of 37 given for George Walker is only approximately correct there is no way he could be the 63 year old George Walker who married Hannah Drake in 1840.

Of course there is the problem of Charles, who predates the marriage and who may well be the Charles Walker, son of George & Hannah Walker who was born on 20th January 1862 and christened on 21st January 1862 (BVRI). However the close date between the the birth and the christening suggests that Charles was very sickly and not expected to live - and if you look in the burial registers you could find an infant Charles Walker buried later in January. Another possibility is that Charles was the son of Ann and took the name Walker after the marriage.

Clearly some careful checking of original records is needed - and if Charles Walker did not die an infant in 1862 it could be well worth buying his birth certificate to get the maiden name of his mother. I would also suggest that you check the earlier census returns - particularly the 1861 census, although all years from 1841 could help reveal whether there were two George and Hannah Walkers living in the area at the same time. In this context you could find it useful to read the page "Right Name, Wrong Body".

If the 1861 census gives the age for the Hannah Walker nee ?? this should be enough to identify her burial in the registers - or to purchase her death certificate.

September 2002

Colin Walker writes Thanks for undertaking the research into the WALKER family. You have thrown new light on the subject matter. I now have considerable information on the WALKER family in Sawbridgeworth and East Ham and must get round to letting you have a resume for your website. It would be interesting to know who was the major employer of farm labour in the Sawbridgeworth area as most of the WALKER boys were farm labourers.

From 1855 farmers were routinely listed in Post Office / Kelly's Directories, usually with the name of the farm. However the census returns, from 1851, give details of employers, and in particular give the size and number of employees on each farm. Using the techniques described in Locating Census Addresses on Maps you should be able to locate the nearest farms to a particular household. In particular, if a group of cottages are very close to a farm it may be that they were tied cottages (i.e. only the farm employees could live there) - and in these cases it may be possible to guess the most likely employer with some degree of certainty.

If you can add to the information given above tell me.