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)
JAMES MARCH and EMMA RODWAY (5)
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.
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 
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.
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