Alan March’s Family History

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 many generations. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from Alan’s as (1)(1)

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JOSEPH BELFIELD was born in the fourth quarter of 1851, just before the Crimean War and registered in the Croydon district.

He was baptised at the church of St John the Evangelist, Shirley, on 23 Nov 1851. He was the son of Joseph Belfield, labourer, and his wife Eliza. The family were living at Croydon Common.

He was the oldest of the three children of an older Joseph Belfield and his wife Eliza Musgrove.

By the time Joseph was born, most of Croydon Common had disappeared under the enclosures. The area was now prime building land for the expanding population.

When his brother William was born in 1856, the family had moved to Shirley.

 In the 1861 census his is one of a number of families listed under Parchmore Farm, Croydon. It appears to be the name of a road. He is living with his parents and younger sister Eliza junior.  His father is a labourer.

Ten years later, Joseph is a 19-year-old carman. He may have been making deliveries for a railway company or driving a horse-drawn tram. The family are at Farley Cottage, Bensham Lane, Croydon. His father is now a bricklayer and his mother and sister are laundresses. With them are also his 1-year-old brother Charles. He is a late addition to the family. He is said to be the son of Joseph senior and Eliza senior, but there is always the possibility that he is really the child of the 17-year-old Eliza junior.

Joseph did not remain a carman. For the rest of his life we find him as a labourer or a navvy.

Croydon was expanding rapidly as a commuter town. There would have been plenty of work for the building trade putting up new houses.


ELIZABETH HAMILTON has been harder to trace. In every census her birthplace is given as Croydon. The early censuses give her a birth date around 1849-51, and this agrees with the age given at her marriage. The later ones make it nearer 1856. We have not found either a baptism or a civil birth registration for her in the Croydon district.

At her marriage, we find that her father was Charles Hamilton, a labourer.

The most likely marriage for her parents is in 1846, when Charles Hamilton married Mary Ann Collins in Lambeth.

We have not found this family in the 1851 census.

There are two census results that could be her family.

1861 Census. 5 Newton Court, North End, Croydon.
Charles Hamilton         Head    Mar      34        Gen Svt                        Surrey, Epsom
Mary A Hamilton         Wife    Mar      32                                Kent, Greenwich
Elizabeth Hamilton      daur                 12                                Surrey, Croydon

Charles’s birthplace is given by ditto marks. The previous family were from Epsom. The rest of the ditto marks on this page refer to Croydon, and this may be what the enumerator intended for Charles. Mary Ann’s birthplace is more specific, and is probably correct.

There was a Mary Ann Collins born in Greenwich around the right date, but she was still unmarried in the 1851 census.

1871 Census. 15 Handcross Alley, Croydon.
Charles Hamilton        Head           Married     48     Labourer       Croydon
Mary Ann Hamilton    Wife           Married     46                           Croydon
Elizabeth Hamilton      Daugh         Unmar      21     Laundress     Croydon
George Hubbard          Lodger        Unmar      40     Carpenter      Croydon

There are discrepancies here in the age of her parents and their birth place. Elizabeth’s occupation as a laundress rings true. It is probably not a coincidence that she does the same work as Joseph’s mother and sister. It is likely that the three women worked together and that this is how Joseph and Elizabeth  met.

Laundresses [1]

In the mid-19th century, Croydon was a leisure destination and a spa town. It grew rapidly after the introduction of the railway and became increasingly industrialised.


Joseph Bellfield and Elizabeth Hamilton married at St Saviour’s church, Croydon on 6 Sep 1875.

He was a 26-year-old bachelor and a labourer. She was 25 and a spinster. Both were living at Wilford Rd. His father was Joseph Bellfield, labourer, and hers was Charles Hamilton, also a labourer.
Both Joseph and Elizabeth sign their names with an X.
The witnesses are W Matthews and Annie Janet Gibson.

They set up home in Wortley Road, Croydon.

Joseph junior was born in 1875. This means that Elizabeth must have been pregnant when she married.

Charles followed two years later.

Some children started school very young. Joseph junior was probably attending a “dame school”, a small private establishment run by a woman.

Croydon Times. 23 Nov 1878
CROYDON GENERAL HOSPITAL. During the week 241 patients have been under treatment. Amongst those suffering from accidents were Joseph Belfield, a child three years old, with fractured leg, he having slipped off the doorstep as he was coming out of school.

In 1879 Mary Ann was born. She died in infancy the same year.

In 1880 William Robert was born.

Their two sons are living with them in 1881.

1881 Census. 3 York Cottages, Wortley Road, Croydon.
Joseph Belfield         Head M      29      General labourer       Croydon
Elizabeth Belfield     Wife  M      30                                       Croydon
Joseph Belfield         Son             6       Scholar                     Croydon
Charles Belfield       Son             4       Scholar                     Croydon
William Belfield       Son             7mths                                 Croydon

Two more children followed: Henry George in 1883 and Eliza Elizabeth in 1887. Henry does not appear in the next census. There is a death for Joseph Harry Belfield in 1884. Since he was born in 1883 this could be Henry George if his father’s name was mistakenly added to his own.

Fifteen-year-old Joseph junior was in the papers for a second time, when he appeared before the magistrates.

Croydon Guardian and Surrey County Gazette. 25 October 1890.
CHARLES OWEN AND JOSEPH BELFIELD were charged, on remand, with wantonly throwing stones in a public place. – The Mayor told them they were troublesome boys, but Mr Campbell had promised to interest himself with a view of one going to sea and the other enlisting, and the case was further adjourned for a month to see how they got on.

 It is probably through the good offices of Mr Campbell that we find Joseph junior in the 1891 census as an inmate at the Gordon Boys Home at Chobham, near Woking in Surrey.

The National Memorial Gordon Boys Home was founded in 1885 as a memorial to General Gordon, who had died in the siege of Khartoum. It accommodated 240 boys, aged 14 – 16 at the time of their admission. They were required to be “necessitous boys unconvicted of crime and free from physical infirmity”. Some were admitted free, while others paid up to £22,, according to their circumstances. They left at 18.

The home was run on military lines, with drill, marching and bugle calls. Boys were assigned ranks from Corporal to Colour Sergeant. As well as normal school lessons, they were taught trades such as shoemaking, carpentry, tailoring, metalwork, saddler, agricultural work and baking. They make all their own clothes and boots, baked their own bread, and grew most of their vegetables. They did the carpentry repairs, cooking, laundry and mended clothes. There was a drum and fife band for the musically inclined.

The uniform was a dark blue tunic, and Gordon  tartan trews, with a Glengarry cap bearing the Gordon badge.

Many of the boys went on to join the army.

It is possible that Joseph junior became a soldier. We have not found him in the 1891 census, though nor have we found evidence of military service.

By the 1901 census, he is back in Croydon, married and working as a bricklayer’s labourer like his father.
Meanwhile, the rest of the family are still in Wortley Road for the 1891 census, but at a different number.

1891 Census. 34 Wortley Road, Croydon.
Joseph Belfield         Head    M    36          Bricklayers Laborer  Croydon
Elizabeth Belfield     Wife    M    35                                           Croydon                
Eliza  Belfield           Daur            4                                            Croydon
William Belfield       Son             11          Scholar                     Croydon
Charles Belfield       Son             14                                           Croydon

Charles has left school, but no employment is given for him. The next census shows that he followed in his father’s footsteps. The likelihood is that Joseph senior got his employer to take Charles on.

Only Charles and William are living with their parents in 1901. Both have followed their father into the construction industry.

1901 Census. 34 Wortley Road, Croydon
Joseph Belfield         Head      M      45      Navvy                       Worker       Croydon
Elizth Belfield          Wife       M      46                                                          Croydon
Charles Belfield       Son        S        23      Bricklayers labourer Worker       Croydon
William Belfield       Son        S        19      Stonemason labourer                   Worker  Croydon

14-year-old Eliza is a servant to a grocer’s manager and his family in Lodge Road, Croydon.

By 1911 their sons had left home. Joseph and Elizabeth were living 44 Dryden Road, Croydon.

1911 Census. 44 Dryden Road, Croydon.
Joe Belfield         Head M      58      Labourer  Builder   Worker                   Croydon
Belfield                Wife  M      55                                                                   Croydon

They are recorded as having had nine children, of whom four are still alive. We have only been able to identify six of these.

Joseph died aged 65 in the first quarter of 1917, during the first World War.

Elizabeth outlived him by fourteen years. In the 1921 census she is living at 27 Southsea Road, Croydon, with her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter.

1921 Census. 27 Southsea Road, Croydon.
David Pearce            Head           38y 4m
Elizabeth Pearce       Wife           36y 1m
Annie Pearce            Daughter     12y 10m
Elizabeth Belfield     Mother        72y

Annie’s birth registration shows that her mother’s maiden name was Belfield.

Elizabeth died aged 80 in the first quarter of 1931. This again confirms her birth as being around 1850, though her age given in the censuses varies considerably. It may be that Charles and/or Elizabeth struggled with numbers.


[1] https://i.pinimg.com/originals/b5/7b/c1/b57bc1dd9b16140ace7fc71c972a2653.jpg




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