Alan Crosby's blog: Location, location, location

By Jon Bauckham, 5 May 2016 - 4:43pm

Alan imagines what it would have been like for his 4x great grandfather when he upped sticks and moved his family from mid-Norfolk to the edge of the Cotswolds

Dr Alan Crosby is the editor of the Local Historian and a columnist for WDYTYA? MagazineThursday 5 May 2016
Alan Crosby
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Swanton Morley, Norfolk, Jim Laws/Alamy

Alan's 4 x great grandparents left behind the rural idyll of Swanton Morley (Photo: Jim Laws/Alamy)

Last week I had a quick visit to Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies.

There was no time to do family history, even though my 4x great grandfather John Hyde was born in Hatfield in 1800 and his mother was from the tiny and still amazingly rural village of St Pauls Walden (lovely name!) tucked away in the forgotten corner between Stevenage, Luton and Hitchin.

John was a papermaker and when he was 23 he married Ann Elizabeth Ashmore at the equally remote but rather larger village of Swanton Morley, in mid-Norfolk. There were important papermills nearby on the River Wensum, but I’ve never worked out exactly how he learned of them and the employment they offered.

But the fact that he was a papermaker is directly responsible for my existence, since in about 1835 John, Ann and their only surviving child, my 3x great grandmother Elizabeth, moved halfway across England to another papermill.

This was a small enterprise with a slightly precarious commercial history, on the Sor Brook at Broughton, three miles south-west of Banbury in Oxfordshire. It must have been there, in the local market town, that Elizabeth Hyde met George Crosby. She married him in 1845 at Broughton.

I’m fascinated by their journey – husband, wife and daughter aged 10 or 11, presumably in a cart with their possessions, trundling through Norfolk, over the Fens, across the rolling farmlands of the Midlands to the edge of the Cotswolds.

What must they have thought, what hopes and fears and expectations did they have? Of course I’ll never know. I can only imagine.

Alan Crosby lives in Lancashire and is editor of The Local Historian. He is an honorary research fellow at Lancashire and Liverpool universities.

 

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Alan Crosby's blog: A corker of a discovery
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Alan Crosby's blog: Solving the mystery of great aunt Edith
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