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)
JOSEPH BELFIELD and ELIZA MUSGROVE (6)
JOSEPH BELFIELD. We have traced Pat Monk’s Belfield lineage to Joseph Belfield, who was born in Croydon in 1851. Thereafter, the family have proved difficult to track down.
We know that young Joseph was the eldest son of an older Joseph Belfield and Eliza Musgrove.
There is conflicting evidence about this older Joseph in the 1861 and 1871 censuses.
His age is given in 1861 as 40 and in 1871 as 46, and his birthplace as Not Known in 1861 and Morden, Surrey, in 1871. It looks as though Joseph was away from home when the enumerator called in 1861 and that Eliza answered with imperfect knowledge about his origins. The 1871 return seems more reliable.
This gives him a birth date of 1824-5.
We know from his marriage details that his father’s name was also Joseph, and that he was another labourer. We have not found a baptism for him, in Croydon, or anywhere else in the country, nor a marriage for his parents. His father was deceased by 1853, but we have not found his death either.
It may be that the younger Joseph’s baptism is in a register not yet online, or he may not have been baptised. Baptism was no longer as universal as it once was. There is a Joseph Bellfield, labourer of Birmingham, who had three children baptised on the same day, with birth dates ranging from 1820 to 1828, so evidently the older ones were not baptised immediately. One of the three was a son Joseph, but he was born in 1828.
Our first clear record of Joseph is in the 1841 census for Morden, which he gives as his birthplace in 1871. Morden was a rural parish between Wimbledon and Croydon. Although both of those towns grew rapidly in 19th century, Morden’s population remained below a thousand. The principal industry was agriculture.
While other boys his age were working on the thousands of building sites springing up around Croydon, Joseph began his working life in the more traditional role of agricultural labourer.
We find him at Mordon [Morden} Near the Crown Inn, Mordon, Croydon. He is an 18-year-old unmarried ag.lab., born in Surrey. He is living with William Witten, another ag.lab., his wife Sarah and four children, whose ages range from 8 to 2.
His age here gives him a birth date of 1822-3, sufficiently close to that given in 1871.
The Crown Inn was located to the north east of the village, where there was a small cluster of cottages on Crown Road. The present inn was rebuilt in 1932.
The Crown Inn, Morden
We have not found either Joseph or Eliza in the 1851 census. There is a 36-year-old farm labourer Joseph Bellfield. He is born in Croydon and married, but living alone at Middle Heath Lane, Croydon. His age would make him born in 1814-5, too old for our Joseph, and too young to be his father.
ELIZA MUSGROVE was baptised in Croydon in June 1833.
1832 Jun 2 Eliza Musgrove, daughter of John and Mary Ann Musgrove.
Her mother was Mary Ann Nichols.
She was the second of seven children and the only girl. A younger brother died at one year old.
1841 Census. Reservoir, Croydon.
John Musgrove 30 Ag.lab. Y
Mary Musgrove 30 N
William Musgrove 10 Y
Eliza Musgrove 8 Y
George Musgrove 5 Y
Frederick Musgrove 1 Y
The N shows that Eliza’s mother was not born in Surrey.
The reservoir was probably the one in South Norwood serving the Croydon Canal. It survives as the South Norwood Lake in a public park.
In the 1851 census the family have moved to 5 Market Street, Croydon. Two more boys have been born. In this more detailed census, we find that Eliza’s mother was born in Canterbury, Kent, and that she is Mary Ann. This enables us to identify her as Mary Ann Nichol(l)s.
Eliza is not with them, nor have we found her elsewhere. It is often difficult to find teenagers who have left home. They may be live-in servants or lodgers, and the householder may not give their details accurately, or may even miss them out.
There is another possible reason why we do not find either Joseph or Eliza in this census. There is a question mark over their marriage. It took place in 1853, but their first son Joseph was baptised in 1851.
Baptism. St John the Evangelist, Shirley.
1851 Nov 23 Joseph son of Joseph and Eliza Bellfield, Labourer. Croydon Common.
It is possible that Joseph and Eliza were living together as man and wife before their marriage. This may be why we do not find them in the 1851 census. They may avoided the enumerator because of their irregular circumstances.
Two years later they married in All Saints, Upper Norwood, Croydon.
Marriage. All Saints, Croydon.
1853 Aug 7 Joseph Belfield, bachelor, labourer, and Eliza Musgrove, spinster, both of full age. Both are living in Croydon. His father is Joseph Belfield, labourer, dec. Hers is John Musgrove, also a labourer.
Joseph signs his name, with quite fancy curls on the B. Eliza makes her mark.
The witnesses are Edward Belfield, who makes his mark, and Ann Belfield.
Edward Belfield was born in 1800-1 and married to Ann, and was probably Joseph’s uncle. He was born in Erith on the Thames, downstream from Woolwich. We have found no records for a Joseph Belfield in that area. In the 1851 census Edward and Ann are living in Shirley Street or Village, Croydon, close to where Joseph and Eliza were when their son William was baptised in 1856..
Their second child Eliza Maria was born in the Croydon district in the last quarter of 1853. It may be this pregnancy that convinced Joseph and Eliza to get married.
Two and a half years later a second son was born.
Baptism. St John the Evangelist, Shirley.
1856 Mar 10 William. Labourer..Shirley.
William lived less than two weeks. He was buried in Croydon on 22 March.
By 1861 they had moved to Peachmore/Parchmore Farm.
1861 Census. Peachmore Farm, Croydon
Joseph Belfield Head M 40 Lab N K
Eliza Belfield Wife M 31 Norwood
Joseph Belfield Son 9 Norwood
Eliza M Belfield Daur 7 Norwood
Peachmore Farm is usually given as Parchmore. Norwood is part of Croydon.
NK means Not Known. It has been transcribed as Warwickshire (presumably from a possible reading of WK). No other counties in this census are abbreviated in this way.
There was a Joseph Bellfield, mentioned earlier, son of Joseph and Ann Bellfield, and baptised in Edgbaston, Birmingham, in 1828. Birmingham is in Warwickshire. But he would be younger than we believe our Joseph to be.
The reading of NK, Not Known, is more likely and occurs elsewhere.
A third son Charles Thomas was born in the 3rd quarter of 1870
1871 Census. Farley Cottage, Bensham Lane, Croydon.
Joseph Belfield Head M 46 Bricklayer Morden, Surrey
Eliza Belfield Wife M 36 Launderess Croydon
Joseph Belfield Son U 19 Carman Shirley
Eliza Belfield Daur U 17 Launderess Croydon
Charles Belfield Son 1 Croydon
The birthplace of Morden looks more probable, and fits with the 1841 census, but it is still possible that Joseph was brought up in Morden, unaware that he was born elsewhere.
Charles could well have been an unexpected late addition to the family, but it is also possible that he was actually the child of the younger Eliza, brought up by his grandparents as their own.
The older Eliza died in 1873. Her death was registered in the third quarter, aged 40.
There are more doubts about what happened to Joseph. He is probably the following in the 1881 census.
1881 Census. Jolly Bleachers Licensed Lodging House, Union Street, Croydon.
Joseph is a lodger here, aged 70 and a general labourer. He is one of 12 lodgers, all men. He is said to be unmarried, though, if this is the same man, he is actually a widower. His birthplace is given as Croydon.
The age of 70 would give him a birth date of 1810-11. This is closer to the farm labourer whom we found living alone in the 1851 census, but too old for Eliza’s husband. However, in situations like this, the personal details of all the lodgers may not have been accurately known to the person making the return. And Joseph himself may have been getting confused about his age.
In the same census, we find Joseph junior living at Wortley Road, 3 York Cottages, Croydon, with his wife and three children. He too is a general labourer.
Joseph Bellfield’s death was registered in the Croydon district in the third quarter of 1884. He was 74. This matches the Joseph Bellfield of the 1881 census better than the one in the 1871 census, but we have not found a credible alternative.
It has been hard enough to pin down Joseph himself. What has eluded us is his father, Joseph senior. We have found no records of him in the Croydon area. There are several instances of Joseph son of Joseph Belfield across the country, but none that matches his perceived birth date closely.
 Crown Inn: London Road, Morden – Merton Memories Photographic Archives.
NEXT GENERATION: 5. BELFIELD-HAMILTON
PREVIOUS GENERATIONS: 7. MUSGROVE-NICHOLS