Sunday, July 10, 2011

Stantons in Bedfordshire, England

Bedfordshire is one of the smallest of the English counties, 35 m. long and 22 m at its widest.

The Stanton family originally lived in Sandy in the north-east of the county, a Roman settlement and probably an important trading centre and staging post in the Roman era, and  likely had lived there for centuries. 

The earliest record is of Thomas Stanton who married Alice Thoady  on the 1st October, 1711.
Thomas and Alice had 8 children whose christening dates are to be found in the Parish Records. Their fifth child was

John Stanton - born about 1718 , christened 5 June, 1720.
He married a young lady called Dorothy. The fourth of their five children was....

James Stanton, christened 1755 in Sandy. He married Elizabeth (maiden name possibly Cole). James is the adventurous young man who will pack his bags and leave the ancestral hunting grounds, crossing the county to the tiny village of Turvey on the border of Buckinghamshire, about six miles west of Bedford on the river Great Ouse. He and Elizabeth are living there when their eldest child is born in 1783.

 I recommend a visit to The Turvey Web Site which is packed with interesting historical information and includes a photographic visual tour of the village and the church.

The Stantons , like 80% of the population in the first half of the 19th century, worked on the land. Agricultural workers - low wages, employment often dependent on the season's moods and no prospect of advancement, enclosure and the industrial revolution would as the century progressed increasingly threaten their livelihoods. No Social Security benefits in those days - you worked until you could go on no longer and then suffered the ignominy of being described in the census as a pauper - a person of no means dependent on the charity of others. Sad!

Although Ag Lab's are many there is some diversity in male occupations whereas the women share a common occupation - lace making.

 Children were taught lacemaking at a very young age. Finding employment in these agricultural counties wasn't easy and lacemaking provided a small amount of much needed income. Every female in the family would be expected make lace. They would work from dawn until dusk weaving the fine threads often by the light of a single candle.

History of Bedfordshire Lacemaking 
The Craft of Bobbin Lace Making

James and Elizabeth Stanton are my 4x great grandparents.
They will spend the rest of their lives in Turvey and their 9 children will all marry into local families. These tiny villages were more than close communities - with the constant intermarrying they're more like one large extended family. It makes for fascinating research. Of particular interest are the marriages of two Stanton daughters....
Sarah..........born in 1784 married George Gibbs in 1807
Esther.........born in 1801 married James Ayres in 1822

The lives of the Stanton, Gibbs and Ayres families will be closely connected in the years to come.

James Stanton died in 1853 at the grand old age of 98.


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