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)

March Tree



GEORGE BENJAMIN COX came from a line of fishermen in Cromer, on the north coast of Norfolk, going back to the early 19th century.

He was born in Cromer on 14 Dec 1852, and baptised on 2 Jan 1853. This year saw the start of the Crimean War, when the Ottoman Empire invaded Russia.

George was the elder son of the fisherman John Cox and his wife Esther Payne Margerson. A baby sister died at two months, but he had a younger brother Thomas.

In the 1861 census he was living in a yard (possibly Newstead’s) off Church St, now the main thoroughfare of Cromer. This may be where he was born. By then both he and Thomas were at school.

Ten years later the family were still living at the back of Church Square. At 18, George was now a baker’s assistant. His brother was a baker’s boy, probably delivering bread, and this may be how George started work. By his late teens he had graduated to working in the bakery.

He married Ann in the last quarter of 1874.


Church St, 1850s.


ANN DUFFIELD was four years older than George. She was born in Kelling, 8m west of Cromer, in 1848. She was the eldest child of James Duffield and Elizabeth Dennis.

Baptism. Kelling.
1848 Dec 17  Anne

She came from a poor family. In the 1851 census, when Ann was two and still an only child, her father was a pauper agricultural labourer. He died two years later, aged 29, so he may have been in poverty because he was unable to do a full day’s work.

By then, Ann had a younger brother, and a sister was born after her father died.                                                                        

Her mother took the children back to her childhood home of Beeston Regis, three miles west of Cromer, probably to her parents’ small 5-acre farm. There she married a widowed neighbour, Joseph Blyth. He was a labourer then, but became a shepherd, as did Ann’s grandfather.

By the 1861 census, three step-siblings had been born. At 12, Ann would have been kept busy helping to look after the younger ones.

She and all her siblings, including those born in Kelling, are entered under the surname Blyth. But the four eldest have the middle initial D. The enumerator may have mistaken their surname Duffield for a second baptismal name.

Their address is ‘Common’. Beeston Common lies in the valley of the Beeston Beck and was  a marshy area with many ponds.

Next door to the Blyth family are Ann’s grandparents, Doiley and Elizabeth Dennis.


The only match for Ann in the 1881 census is a badly damaged page from Upper Norwood in Croydon. Ann M Duffield, born in Norfolk, aged 22, is a cook in the household of an elderly Queen’s Counsel. They live in Fox Lane, a turning off Coulsdon Road opposite Coulsdon Common. The barrister and his wife were not at their Croydon house then.

1871 Census. Upper Norwood, Croydon. Fox Lane
Mary A R Collins         daur                 7         Queen’s Counsel’s daur                       Suffolk
Henry A       do                        son                   6                                                              “
William F     do                          “                    3                                                              “
Lewis E G    do                          “                    1                                                         Kent
Mary A Simmons         Servt    Unm    53        Nurse                                       Suffolk
Ann M Duffield              “                   22        Cook                                        Norfolk
Martha E Cleverley         “       “         17        Nursemaid                               Suffolk
Hannah Sheesit                        Serv                 63        Seamstress                               Scotland
Lucy Ann Keen                       Serv                 17        Nursemaid                               Suffolk

In the same census, the barrister, 69-year-old William A. Collins and his 41-year-old wife Eliza Rose were at their house in Yoxford, Suffolk, where most of their children were born.

This is the only record in which Ann is given a middle initial M and, unusually for censuses after 1841, only the county of her birth is given, not the parish. But there is no record of another Ann Duffield or Ann M Duffield born in Norfolk around the same time. Ann’s stay in Croydon may help to explain why her granddaughter Mabel later married Charles March of Croydon.

William Collins QC died before the 1881 census and the family moved to Kent. This may explain why Ann returned to Norfolk. She found employment in domestic service in Cromer.


George Cox and Ann Duffield married in Cromer on 23 April 1874. He was a bachelor and a fisherman; she was a spinster and a servant. Both were of full age and living in Cromer. Both signed their names.

His father is John Cox, fisherman. Hers is James Duffield, labourer.

The witnesses were Robert Cox and Sophia Shepheard.


Two children were born.

Baptisms. Cromer.
1875 born June 12, privately bapt. June 28, received July 4, Anna Frances Elizabeth.  Fisherman
The private baptism suggests that Anna was near to death.
1877 born Nov 2, bapt Dec 2   Charles John Payne.  Fisherman

In the 1881 census they are living in Garden Street, Cromer. Garden Street crosses the intersection of New Street and High Street to West Cliff.

1881 Census. Garden Street Cromer.
George Cox    Head    Mar      28        Fisherman        Cromer
Ann        Do     Wife    Mar      30                                Kelling
Anna      Do     Daur                5         Scholar            Cromer
Carles   Do     Son                  3              Do                  do

Ann’s age has been underestimated by two years and Charles’s name is misspelt.

Three more children were born in the next decade.

Baptisms. Cromer.
1882 born Oct 1. 1883 bapt Jan 7  Florence Mary.  Fisherman.
1884 born May 3, 1886 privately bapt Jan 29  Robert William.  Fisherman
1888 born Dec 27, bapt 1889  Lorrie Emily.  Fisherman

By the 1891 census they have moved to 16 Brook St. This was the street where George’s father grew up, between Church St and the sea. The head of household is given as George’s unmarried uncle William, who was employed as a bricklayer. At the young age of 13, Charles has become a self-employed fisherman like his father. George himself did not join the fishing fleet until he was an adult.

1891 Census, Cromer. 16 Brook St.
William Cox      Head        S     68       Bricklayer        Cromer
George B Do     Nephew    M    38       Fisherman            Do
Ann          Do     Wife         M    40                               Kelling
Charles J P Do Son           S     13       Fisherman        Cromer
Florence M Do   Daur                8        Scholar               Do
Robert H  Do     Son                  5            Do                   Do
Laura E    Do     Daur                2                                    Do

Strictly speaking, ‘Wife’, ‘Son’ and ‘Daughter’ should mean their relationship to the head of the household, but here it is their relationship to George. Ann’s age is again given as two years less than it really was. Robert’s middle initial is given as H, but this is corrected next time.

In the same census, their 15-year-old daughter Anna was a housemaid at 2 West Cliff, Cromer, a private hotel and boarding house run by James Lovelace.

Ten years later, only Robert remains at home.  The family were now at 3 Palmers Cottages.

1901 Census. Cromer. 3 Palmers Cottages.
George B Cox   Head        M    49        Fisherman                   own account   Cromer
Ann Cox            Wife         M    52                                                                  Kelling
Robert W Cox    Son           S     16        Bricklayers Labourer  Worker            Cromer
Robert has evidently followed his great-uncle William’s trade.

By now, Anna had married in the first quarter of 1899. Charles was married. 18-year-old Florence was a housemaid at the West Cliff Hotel, as Anna had been, and 12-year-old Laura was there as a visitor.

Later that year, the elderly Queen Victoria died. Ann lived on into the Edwardian era and George into the reign of George V.

Many of the Cromer fishermen had nicknames. George’s was “Hilly-Holly”. A photograph of him taken in 1902 shows him on the beach, right, with Gilbert Rook. In the background is a crab boat. The sea around Cromer is famous for amber, jet and crabs.


Ann was buried on 6 May 1907. Her age is given in the burial register as 63. On her death certificate it is correctly recorded as 58.

George died in the first quarter of 1911, also aged 58. His burial will be in a later register not available yet.





March Tree