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



JAMES MARCH. James was baptised on 24 April 1836 at St John the Baptist in Croydon. His parents were James March from Sussex and Martha Mapes from Essex.

He was the fifth of six children, two of whom died in infancy.

His father was a post boy, either riding postillion with a coach or delivering mail between towns. He would have often been away from home.

James chose a very different way of life. He became a painter and decorator. Between 1801 and 1901 the population of Croydon grew to be 23 times its size at the start of the century. With such rapid growth in house building there would have been plenty of employment for a decorator.


EMMA RODWAY was the daughter of the labourer William Rodway and his wife Mary Ann Fensom. She was born in Bushey in Hertfordshire, just east of Watford, on 27 Jan 1840 and baptised there on 23 Feb.

She was the fourth of the six children who survived infancy.

We find her in the 1841 census, aged 1, living at Clay Hill, Bushey, with her parents and three older brothers. Her family had recently moved there from their birthplace of St Albans.

Ten years later, in the 1851 census, she is the fourth of five children. The family are now living at Windmill Lane, Bushey. Her maternal grandparents had also moved to Bushey and were living in the same road.

Emma went into service. In the 1861 census, she is a 20-year-old parlourmaid living in the large household at the Rectory, Whitchurch Lane, Little Stanmore, Hendon in Midddlesex. There are the Rev George Brooks, his wife, four children, a niece, a governess, a cook, a housemaid and a nurse, in addition to Emma.

Hendon is seven miles from Bushey. It is possible that the rector of Bushey knew the Rev Brooks and recommended Emma for the position.

As a parlourmaid, Emma’s duties would have included waiting at table, keeping the reception rooms clean and tidy, and answering the door to visitors.

She would have had a room at the top of the house, which she may have shared with the housemaid Ann Andison. As parlourmaid, Emma’s status would have been a little higher than Ann’s.

Five years later, she married James March in Croydon. Marriages usually took place in the bride’s parish. This suggests that Emma was living in Croydon then. If so, she had moved 16 miles south from Hendon. By the 1871 census, her previous employer had moved to Filey in Yorkshire. The Brooks may have helped her to find a new position before they left, or she may have responded to an advertisement. Since her sister Sarah was a witness at her wedding, she may well have come to Croydon with Emma.


James March married Emma Rodway at the church of All Saints in Upper Norwood on 4 Nov 1866.

The witnesses were James Wye and Sarah Rodway. Sarah was Emma’s younger sister.

Emma gives her father William Rodway’s occupation as Miller. If we are right about her origins, then he was deceased and had been a labourer. He may have worked for a miller.

The couple set up home in Brighton Road.

Emma Jane was born there in the third quarter of 1867. We have no record of her baptism.

She died towards the end of 1868 and was buried at St Peter’s on 20 Dec.

Two more children were born: James William, baptised at St John the Baptist on 31 Oct 1869, and Alice Jane at St Peter’s, 9 April 1871. James’s occupation is given as Painter.

1871 Census. Brighton Road, Croydon.
James March      Head      M      35      Painter                      Croydon
Emma March      Wife       M      31                                       Bushy, Herts
James W March Son                  1                                        Croydon
Alice J March       Daur                3 mo                                   Croydon

Four more children were born: Thomas George, baptised at St Peter’s on 9 Aug 1872, Florence Kate, 22 Nov 1874, Mary Ann, 6 Nov 1876, and Lily Maud, 20 Aug 1881. At Mary Ann’s baptism, James’s occupation is given as House Decorator. For all the others he is a Painter.

In 1803 Croydon had seen the first public railway, with the horse-drawn Surrey Iron Railway from Wandsworth to Croydon, where it joined the Croydon, Merstham and Godstone Railway. This was followed by the London and Croydon Railway, which opened in 1839. This expansion of public transport fuelled the growth of Croydon as a busy commuter town.

East Croydon Station [1]

By the next census the family had had moved to St Peter’s Street, where they remained for some twenty years.

1881 Census. 10 St Peters Street, Croydon
James March      Head      M      45      House Painter           Croydon
Emma March      Wife       M      41                                       Hertford
James March      Son                  11      Scholar                     Croydon
Alice March         Daur                11      Scholar                     Croydon
Thomas March     Son                  9       Scholar                     Croydon
Florence March    Daur                6       Scholar                     Croydon
Mary March         Daur                4       Scholar                     Croydon
Lily March           Daur                3 mo                                   Croydon

1891 Census. St Peters Street, Croydon
James March      Head      M      55      House decorator                 Croydon
Emma March      Wife       M      51                                                Hertford
Thomas March     Son        S        18      Greengrocer’s asst              Croydon
Alice March         Daur       S        20      Domestic servant nurse      Croydon
Florence March    Daur       S        16      Dressmaker’s asst               Croydon
Mary March         Daur                14      Scholar                               Croydon
Maude March       Daur                10      Scholar                               Croydon

Thomas’s name has been entered before Alice’s, though he was, in fact, younger.

Lily is here called by her second name of Maude.

Not long before this, At the time, Thomas’s older brother James William had been working as a greengrocer. Thomas may well have been given work in the same shop.

The older children’s occupations would have provided a useful supplement to the family’s income.

1901 Census. 38 St Peters Street, Croydon
James March                    Head      M      65     Decorator House  Croydon
Emma March                    Wife       M      61                                  Bushey, Herts
Maude March                     Daur       S        20     Dressmaker          Croydon
Ellen E Marianhall              Visitor    S        40     Cook Domestic    Matton, Yorks

The 1911 census shows us James still working as a painter at the age of 75. Before old age pensions, only a minority of people had occupational pensions or could afford to save much for their old age.

His earnings were sufficient, however, for Emma not to need to take in lodgers.

1911 Census. 16 Stanley Grove, Croydon.
James March    75      Married                            House Painter       Croydon
Emma March    71      Married

James is entered as a Worker, meaning that he was not self-employed.

The couple say they have had seven children, of whom six are still alive.


Emma did not live to see the first World War. She died in the autumn of 1913. Her death, at the age of 73, was reported in the Croydon Guardian and Surrey Gazette of 4 Oct.

At some point, James went to live with his daughter Mary, who had married the motor mechanic Samuel Canham. In the 1921 census we find them living in Vicarage Road with two of the couple’s school-age children.

1921 Census. 24 Vicarage Road, Croydon.
Samuel Canham          Head               31y 11m   Married Norfolk, Bracon Ash   Garage Foreman
(Hire Dept) Moores Presto Motor Works, Tamworth Road, Croydon
Mary Ann Canham      Wife                44y 10m   Married  Surrey, Croydon          Home Duties
Mary Emma Canham  Daughter         7y 7m                     Surrey, Croydon          Whole time
Lester James Canham  Son                  6y 7m                     Surrey, Croydon          Whole time
James March             Father-in-law   85y 4m                   Widower                     Surrey, Croydon    House Decorator  (Retired)       Own Account

James died seven years later, in the 3rd quarter of 1928, at the age of 92.

Unlike his father and eldest son, whose travelling lives took them far afield, James seems to have spent all his life in Croydon.



http://www.southlondonguide.co.uk/croydon/images/S      urrey,%20Croydon,%20East%20Croydon%20Station.jpg





March Tree