This site is a work-in-progress. There is a massive amount to cover. I have included both male and female lines, and some go back 30 generations. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from my own as (1)
STEPHEN SAXTY and MARY ADAMS (10)
STEPHEN SAXTY. When married Mary Adams in Sandwich in 1677 he was said to be “ Stephen Sacksed of Dealle”. We have not found his baptism in either parish. From the date of his marriage, we should expect a birth date around 1650. The Deal baptisms only go back to 1662.
His surname was obviously an unusual one. There are many versions in the Sandwich records of his children’s baptisms and burials: Sacksed, Saxe, Saxsy. Twice the name was crossed out and corrected. No other examples of the name Sacksed have been found anywhere outside this family.
There are Sextons in the early Deal registers, but this word would be familiar to the clergy and parish clerks entering Stephen’s name in the records. The name Sacket was also common in both Deal and Sandwich, but by Stephen’s time the spelling of that was well established. Stephen’s surname must have been something less familiar.
Though he was said to be of Deal when he married, he stayed on in Sandwich and brought up his family there. We find the name Saxe in the Sandwich register as early as 1576.
Stephen may have been born in Sandwich, apprenticed in Deal, or found work there, and returned to the parish of his birth to raise his family.
MARY ADAMS. The most likely baptism found for Mary is in Eastry, about 2 miles SW of Sandwich.
Baptism. St Mary the Virgin, Eastry.
1649/50 Mar 3 Mary Addams daughter of William Addams .
Not all early parish registers have survived, so we cannot be certain this is the right one. However, there is no record of this Mary Adams dying or marrying in Eastry.
If this is Stephen’s bride, her mother’s name was Mary Richardson .
She appears to be the younger of two daughters.
Mary , and probably Stephen , was born around the time of the execution of Charles I and the start of the Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector. They would have spent their childhoods under this Puritan regime.
Mary may well have been attracted to the larger town of Sandwich to seek employment. She was resident there at the time of her marriage.
Sandwich was one of the Cinque Ports. This was a confederation of maritime towns in SE England, formed during the 11th century to furnish ships and men for the king’s service. The original five were Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich. Winchelsea and Rye were added later. These were the ‘head ports’, and each had a network of associated ports. They remained the nucleus of the royal fleet, and enjoyed privileges as a result, until the 14th century. After that, their importance declined. They only sent five ships against the Armada.
Even in Tudor times, Sandwich was experiencing problems as a port. In the 18th century the River Stour became so silted up that vessels needing deep water were no longer able to reach it. It now lies two miles inland. The decline of the port must have been well advanced in Stephen and Mary’s time. It was still possible to reach the sea in a smaller boat.
The couple married in Sandwich in 1677. By this time, the country was well into the more libertarian rule of Charles II.
Marriage. St Mary the Virgin, Sandwich.
1676/7 Feb 18 Steephen Sacksed of Dealle and Mary Adams this parish
The second half of Stephen’s surname has been altered.
There were three Anglican churches in Sandwich, each with its own parish: St Clement, St Peter and St Mary theVirgin. St Mary’s church stands on what was once a sandy island to the west of the Saxon town. Mary was living in this north-western parish at the time of her marriage.
The church had been damaged by an earthquake a century earlier. The central tower collapsed not long after Stephen and Mary’s wedding.
Five years earlier, the tower of St Peter’s had also collapsed.
The couple set up home in this parish and had most of their children baptised at St Mary’s, whose roof had now been repaired.
Baptisms. St Mary the Virgin, Sandwich.
1677 Oct 7 Rachell daughter of Steephen Sacksed and Mary his wife
1679 May 25 Thomas the sonne of Steephen Saxsy and Mary his wife
Again, the surname has been corrected.
Thomas died the following month.
Burial. St Mary the Virgin, Sandwich.
1679 Jun 10 Thomas the sonne of Steephen Sacksed
Another baptism followed
1680/1 Jan 16 Steven the sonne of Steven Saxsy and Mary his wife.
They then changed their allegiance to St Clement’s in the south of the town. They had probably moved house.
Baptisms. St Clement, Sandwich
1683/4 Feb 17 Mary the daughter of Stephen Saxe and Mary his wife
1687 Jul 3 Peter son of Stephen Saxe and Mary
Their son Stephen died when nearly ten.
Burial. St Clement, Sandwich
1690 Dec 27 Stephen sonn off Stephen Saxe & Mary his wife
The next baptism is at the Independent Church.
Baptism. Independent Church, Sandwich
1691/2 Feb 9 Thomas, the son of Stephen Saxcy was born the 9 th of Feb 1691/2 and baptizd the same day.
Baptism on the day of birth usually means that the baby is not expected to live.
The register for the Independent Chapel does not name the mother. We cannot be absolutely sure this is the same family, but there are no other references to a second Stephen Sacksed/Saxe/Saxcy at this time.
Stephen and Mary may have briefly switched their allegiance to this Presbyterian church. In the next generation, their son Peter had children baptised there. Or the need to baptise an ailing newborn might have been urgent. Perhaps there was no one at the Anglican church available.
The Independent register usually says if the baptism is followed by a death. In this case Thomas survived, but did not live on into adulthood.
Burial. St Clement, Sandwich.
1694 May 20 Thomas son of Stephen Saxe and Mary his wife
He was two years old
His death was followed by the birth of a final son.
Baptism. St Clement, Sandwich
1695 May 5 Stephen son of Stephen Saxy and Mary his wife
There was one more burial, for a daughter whose baptism we have not found.
Burial. St Clement, Sandwich.
1701 Aug 17 Hannah daughter of Stephen Saxe and Mary his wife.
The Saxes were left with only three of their seven children living. This may be an indication that they were not well off. We do not know Stephen’s occupation.
Two years later the Great Storm of 1703 struck southern England. There was a huge loss of life, particularly on the Goodwin Sands, opposite Sandwich.
HMS Restoration was wrecked with all her ship’s company of 387. HMS Northumberland went down with 220 men. HMS Stirling Castle lost 206 men, but 70 were saved. Only one man escaped from HMS Mary out of 270. He was first swept on to HMS Stirling Castle. When that went down he was tossed by a wave into a boat and rescued. HMS Mortar-bomb sank with all 65 aboard. A great many merchant ships and small boats suffered the same fate. More than 1500 seamen drowned on the Goodwin Sands alone.
Across the south of England thousands of trees were uprooted, roofs blown away, chimney stacks crashed into houses. It remains the worst storm in the country’s history.
Mary , Stephen’s wife, died in 1713.
Burial. St Clement, Sandwich.
1713 Dec 8 Mary wife of Stephen Saxe
If we have the right baptism for her, she was 63.
The following year their son Peter and his wife Elisabeth began to have children baptised at the Independent Church, though they reverted to St Clement’s in 1723. When Stephen junior married Elizabeth Jordan they also used St Clement’s.
The Independent Church in Sandwich was one of the earliest built after it became legal for Dissenters to worship publicly. A Dissenting congregation was already meeting before 1643. They gathered in a building behind the Guildhall, on the site of an inn formerly used by Canterbury pilgrims. In 1706 the present chapel, now Sandwich United Reformed Church, was built on the same site in the Corn Market
Of particular interest are two wooden pillars supporting the roof. One of them bears a metal band with an inscription saying that these are the masts of ships in which Huguenots fled from persecution in France in the 17th Century. They are tokens of gratitude for the hospitality with which these Protestants were welcomed in Sandwich.
There is another possible link with the Huguenots.
In the next two generations the spelling of this surname settled on Saxty, and then Sexty. Before that, it was so unusual that there was no consensus about how to spell it.
The name may perhaps be derived from de la Saux.
The de Lasaux family were Huguenots who fled France in August 1572 after the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre. With six other families they crossed the Channel in an open boat and settled in Canterbury. They appear in the Canterbury registers as Delasaux, de Lasaux, and. de la Saux.
We know that Huguenots also settled in Sandwich, where they joined a community of French-speaking Protestant Walloons from Belgium, who had been established there since 1561.
If one or more of the de la Saux family made their home in Sandwich, or moved there from Canterbury, the name may have become Anglicised as Saxe.
On the other hand, the French spelling has persisted in Canterbury until the present day.
Stephen lived on until 1726. There were two burials that year. By now, Saxty had become the accepted spelling of this name.
Burials. St Clement, Sandwich.
1726 Aug 3 Stephen Saxty
1726 Oct 24 Stephen Saxty drowned in ye Bay
Stephen senior would probably have been in his 70s. It seems more likely that the man who drowned out in the open sea was Stephen junior . This may mean that he was a boatman. If so, it is possible that this was Stephen senior’s occupation too.
Next Generation: 9. SAXTY-JORDAN
Previous Generations: 11. SAXE