Hertfordshire Genealogy

Answers to Questions


WALKER, Flamstead, 19th century

February, 2007




Linda Jones (adelyn @t optusnet.com.au) of Sandy Bay, Tasmania, has a problem properly identifying the parents of William Walker baptised at Flamstead in 1827. We have exchanged emails and the following summarises the evidence:

The census returns 1851-1881 show William Walker born circa 1827 at Market Street (Markyate) or Flamstead and living in Newington, Surrey, with occupations of painter, house painter & glazier, and decorator. The census shows his wife as Sarah, born circa 1824 at Newington, and her father, James Cushion, was staying with them in the 1851 census. Their oldest child William C Walker was 1 in the 1851 census and was surprisingly born in the United States, while a later daughter was named Mary Osborn Walker.

William married his wife, Sarah Cushion on the 28/3/1849 in St Mary, Newington, Surrey. The certificate leave the fathers' names blank for both bride and groom, although Sarah's father is clearly identified in the 1851 census. Normally the omission of the father's name indicate illegitimacy - but clearly this looks more like a mistake in completing the certificate. The witnesses were William and Elizabeth Cushion.

Familysearch lists the baptism of William, son of William & Charlotte Walker at Flamstead on 22 July 1827. The register entry has not yet been examined but may well indicate that William and Charlotte lived at Market Street (Markyate) which, in part, was in the parish of Flamstead at the time. The register should also give William senior's occupation. The National Burial Index shows that a Char Walker, aged 43, was buried at Flamstead on 12th December 1831. While the register has not been checked it may well be relevant that a William Walker (was he a widower??) married Jemima Smith in the adjacent parish of Studham, Beds, on 12th October 1833.

The most likely marriage for William senior and Caroline took place at Saint Giles, Cripplegate on 11th February 1818, when William Walker married Charlotte Osborn (familysearch). Again the register needs checking, but the fact that a grandchild was called Mary Osborn Walker suggests a link with the Osborn family. One problem is whether there were other children born between the marriage in 1818 and William junior's baptism in 1827 as such a long gap between marriage and the first born would be unusual.

The problem is that the name "William Walker" is very common (3722 listed in the 1841 census), and normal searches of the 1841 and 1851 census, familysearch, the vital records index, the national burial index, etc., have come up  with no positive identification.  We have no idea where William senior came from, and where did he end up? One surviving parish document that may contain a reference to him and which is available on microfilm is An overseers account book for Flamstead between 1824 and 1833. Unfortunately, if William is mentioned at all, this document may do no more than confirm dates when he was in the village. It could be that this is another non-conformist ancestor where records have not survived - see Where is my ancestor's baptism before 1837.

A clue may lie with the fact that William C Walker was born in the United States in about 1850. His father and mother were in England for their wedding in 1849, and back in England for the 1851 census. In between they travelled to America and back. Such a trip would have been very unusual. So was there anything which could have linked the family to America in 1849/50?

If we look at Flamstead the answer is a resounding YES! The Church of Latter Day Saints only came into existence in America in about 1830 and Flamstead was one of its first outposts in the United Kingdom. The LDS have microfilms of the membership of the Bedfordshire Conference between 1837 and 1858, and for the Flamstead branch between 1842 and 1853. In particular the LDS chapel in Flamstead was built in 1850 - so perhaps William Walker (senior and/or junior) helped to build the chapel - and William Walker junior travelled to the States to look at American LDS chapels to get ideas for its design. If this is the case it would suggest the Walker family had a history of strong non-conformist connections, which in turn would explain the paucity of records. It could also mean that there is something "non-standard" about the baptism - which means that it is even more important to view the register microfilm.

For more information of the LDS connection with Flamstead see FLITTON, Flamstead, To USA in 1868

Because Linda has health-related difficulties in getting to an LDS Family History Centre any help that readers can give her will be very welcome.

May, 2007

Linda Jones (adelyn @t optusnet.com.au) reports that the register shows that William Walker, father of the William Walker baptised at Flamstead in 1827, was a wheelwright.

September, 2007

Linda Jones (adelyn @t optusnet.com.au) has some more advanced to report: Have had a bit of a break through with William Walker (1827 Flamstead), and I admit should have considered a point you raised much sooner! I finally located William in the 1841 census living with a John Newton Osborn and a Mary Osborn. Great I thought, now I can possibly verify the link with Charlotte Osborn, no can do. Then something you pointed out reoccurred to me so I checked the John Osborn marriages, and guess what, her married Mary Walker in 1837 in Surrey! Mary was born in 1806 in Flamstead. So, the point you raised was the fact that William showed no father's name on his marriage cert in 1849. So, my conclusion is, Mary is his (single) mum, and the Newton/Osborn names are passed on out of gratitude to his "adoptive" father John. William did name one child John Newton Walker, and a daughter, Mary Osborn Walker. Given that he was so strong at passing on maternal names, it should have occurred to me that his daughter would have been Charlotte Osborn Walker had that connection proved correct. Mystery, hopefully, solved! Now I just have to find Mary's details, (oh and her father is William Walker, wheelwright) and away we go

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

Page updated September 2007