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)

Monk Tree



ROBERT EVANS. Research here is hampered by the fact that we do not yet have online access to the Buckinghamshire parish registers. We have to rely on indices of baptisms, marriages and burials, which are incomplete.

Robert says in two censuses that he was born in Waddesdon, and in another that his birthplace was Piddington in Oxfordshire. Most records agree that he was born in 1810-11.

No baptism has been found for him in either parish.

The nearest is a baptism in Buckingham, 11 miles north of Waddesdon.

Baptism. Buckingham.
Born 1811 Dec 24, baptised  1812 Feb 19  Robert son of John Evans and Hannah Gurney.

This is how it appears in two sources. It sounds as though the couple are unmarried. A third record has his mother as Hannah Gurney Evans, so Gurney may be a second baptismal name.

The distance from Waddesdon makes us cautious. But we have found no further evidence of any of these people in Buckingham, and there is a couple John and Hannah Evans raising children in Waddesdon from 1816. If he grew up in Waddesdon, Robert may have been unaware that he was born elsewhere.

On the other hand, he may indeed have been born in Waddesdon, but the record is one of a number of missing baptisms. If so, then his parents could be any of the Evans couples raising children in Waddesdon around that time. They were Richard and Alice, Thomas and Hannah, William and Elizabeth, John and Hannah, Richard and Priscilla.

All the Evans men were labourers.

Whichever family it was, Robert was probably the eldest child.

WADDESDON. “The Village is large and seated on rising ground, about 6 miles W.N.W. from Aylesbury, on one of the principal roads through the county, viz. that from London, through Aylesbury to Bicester, &c. The old Roman military road, the Akeman Street passed through the place, and in modern days, part of its course has been made the turnpike road from London.”[1]


ELIZABETH TOOLEY. We are on safer ground with Elizabeth. Her census details concur with a baptism in Waddesdon on 13 Mar 1814. Elizabeth Frances Tooley was the daughter of Susan Tooley, Farm Servant of Westcott, Over Winchendon, and Daniel Jeffcoat. Yeoman.

Westcott is a hamlet a mile west of Waddesdon village, and part of that parish.

Daniel Jeffcoat was a young farmer from a Quaker family. This did not prevent him from taking advantage of Susan, and then failing to offer marriage when he had made her pregnant.

Elizabeth’s daughter Emily was later to have a similar experience with a local farmer.

In 1816, Susannah Tuly went on to marry Joseph Venimore, both of Upper Winchendon, also a hamlet of Waddesdon.

We have not found children of this marriage, but gaps in the records mean that there may have been some.

Like all the Evans men in Waddesdon, Robert became a labourer. This was not a good time for farm workers. Their numbers were increasing, but the opportunities for employment were not. The introduction of agricultural machinery worsened the problem.

Matters came to a head at the end of 1831, when Robert was about 20. There was an outbreak of machine breaking in Waddesdon, Stone and Upper Winchendon, as well as elsewhere in Buckinghamshire. 158 men were tried before a Special Commission  in  Aylesbury.

John Evans, 38, who may be Robert’s father, was one of the men tried. He was convicted of destroying a winnowing machine. The jury recommended leniency, since he had not taken part in the accompanying riots. He was sentenced to six weeks hard labour in the House of Correction. This was one of the lighter sentences. 32 men were sentenced to death, though 28 had their sentences commuted to transportation to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) for periods ranging from 7 years to life, while others had theirs commuted to imprisonment.

James Venemore, 18, was also convicted of machine breaking at Waddesdon. He entered into a recognizance to keep the peace for the rest of his life. He was probably related to Elizabeth’s stepfather, Joseph Venemore, but we do not know how closely.

There is no mention of Robert Evans among the prisoners on trial. He may not have taken part in the machine breaking, or he may have escaped arrest.

 On 20 Oct 1836, Robert Evans, bachelor of Waddesdon, married Elizabeth Teuly, spinster of Waddesdon, at St Michael and All Angels, Waddesdon.

In the absence of baptisms we can only trace Robert and Elizabeth’s children from the censuses.

Their first child Sarah was born in 1838-9.

1841 Census. Waddesdon, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.
Robert Evans            30        Ag. lab .      Y
Elizabeth Evans        25                           Y
Sarah Evans               2                            Y
Philip Venemore        20        Ag. lab.       Y

Philip Venemore may well be Elizabeth’s half-brother.

Two years later, there was a significant addition to the village.

“A branch of the Silk manufactory at Aylesbury and Tring, was established at Waddesdon in 1843. The building stands about the centre of the village, and about forty females are employed in it at hand-loom weaving. Many of the other female inhabitants find employment in pillow-lace making.”[2]

Elizabeth was one of those lace-makers.

One of the roads in Waddesdon is named Silk Street.

Before the next census, another two children were born: Emily in 1841-2 and Jonah in 1847-8. There may have been other children who had died.

1851 Census. Waddesdon.
Robert Evans       Head    Mar      40      Labourer          Waddesdon
Elizabeth Evans   Wife     Mar      39      Lace Maker      Waddesdon
Sarah Evans          Dau                 12      Lace Maker      Waddesdon
Emily Evans         Dau                 9       Scholar            Waddesdon
Jonah Evans          Son                  3       Scholar            Waddesdon

Waddesdon was famed for its pillow lace-making. This was an occupation that women could do at home.

Waddesdon lace

A newspaper report gives us a picture of Robert’s working clothes.

Windsor and Eton Express. 17 January 1852.
Stephen Dormer, 25, labourer, was charged with having, on the 8th of November, at Waddesdon, stolen a smock-frock, the property of Robert Evans; also with having, on the 8th of November, stolen a smock-frock, the property of John Capell. – Guilty; four months imprisonment.

The next census shows another daughter, born in 1856-7. The gap between Jonah and Lizzy makes us wonder whether Lizzy was, in fact, the child of either Sarah or Emily. In the following census she is said to be Robert and Elizabeth’s granddaughter.

The family are now living in a cottage on Waddesdon Hill. At 482 ft, this is the highest point of Waddesdon.

1861 Census. 1 Waddesdon Hill Cottage,Waddesdon.
Robert Evans         Head       Mar      50      Ag F Labr               Waddesdon
Elizabeth Evans      Wife       Mar      48      Wife Laundress       Waddesdon
Sarah Evans             Daur       Un       23      Daur Lacemaker      Waddesdon
Emily Evans           Daur       Un       20      Daur Sewer             Waddesdon
Jonah Evans            Son        Un       14      Son Lab                  Waddesdon
Lizzy Evans             Daur                   4                                     Waddesdon Hill

In this census, Elizabeth is said to be a laundress. She probably combined this with lace-making.

 In Dec 1861 Emily gave birth to Henry Monk Evans. His father was Henry Monk, a 44-year-old unmarried farmer of Sheepcott Hill, Waddesdon. Henry (Harry) is staying with his grandparents in the next census.

Jonah joined the Royal Engineers in 1864.

That year, Elizabeth had her own moment in the local press.

Bucks Herald. 17 September 1864.
And Inquest was held on Saturday last by Mr G Fell, deputy coroner, on the body of Elizabeth White, sixty-five years of age. The deceased had been for some time past suffering from heart disease, and was, on the morning on which the inquest was held, found dead in her room by Elizabeth Evans, a neighbour. Verdict ,  “Died from Natural Causes.”

 The Whites lived at No.3 Waddesdon Hill.

In 1866, Emily married Frederick James Neal in the Kensington district, though both were from Waddesdon. She came back to her parents’ home for the birth of her daughter Ada Florence, late in 1867. Her son Harry was also living with there.

She was still there a few months later, in Feb 1868, when the Evanses were witnesses in a court case. 34-year-old Philip Evans was accused of setting fire to ricks in the farm opposite the Evans’ cottage. He seems to be a familiar visitor at the Evans’ house and was probably a cousin or nephew of Robert’s.

He appeared at the fire and claimed to have seen it from the outhouse of his home, but evidence showed that it would not have been visible from there. Doubts were also cast on his ability to get to Waddesdon Hill so quickly. Both Robert and his daughter Emily gave evidence.

The Bucks Chronicle and Bucks Gazette. Saturday, March 14, 1868
Emily Neal said she lived with her father, Robert Evans, opposite the rickyard. She knew Philip Evans. He came to her cottage within ten minutes of the alarm of fire….

 She said that Philip Evans seemed unconcerned about the danger of the fire. Her mother remarked that he must have flown to get there so soon.
Emily said she dressed herself and her children and went outside.
Her father had been woken by their neighbour William Cannon.

 Robert Evans, father of the last witness, said he remembered the alarm of fire, which was made “rather better” than half past one o’clock. He dressed himself and went to the fire. It was first burning on the sloping side of the rick next the barn. That was the furthest side from Waddesdon. There was not much fire at that time. He saw his neighbour Cannon and another man or two in the barn. They were not Waddesdon men but lived close by. He saw the prisoner in the rickyard when he went out of the barn about twenty minutes after he first heard the alarm of fire. He saw the prisoner unhatch the barn door and throw it back against the burning rick. The clock in his cottage was right. He knew so, for he generally kept it by the clock in the chapel, which he attended in the afternoon. On seeing the prisoner in the rickyard, he said “Holloa, Phil; have you come alone?” He said he was in his privy, and seeing the fire he came to it.

 Philip Evans was acquitted, since the evidence against him was circumstantial.

The newspaper account tells us that Robert Evans was attending chapel. This was almost certainly the Strict and Particular Baptist Chapel on Waddesdon Hill. This was founded in 1792 by local farmer Francis Cox for agricultural labourers. Worshippers gathered there from over thirty towns and villages.

The simple interior had a pulpit, a gallery at the back, and a baptistery for baptism by full immersion.

Waddesdon Baptist Chapel [3]

It is very likely that Elizabeth attended the chapel too.

We do not know how long the Evanses had been going to a Baptist chapel, nor if it was a matter of belief or convenience. It they were committed Baptists when their children were born, the latter would not have been baptised as infants. Baptists practise  Believers Baptism, where people are not baptised until their teens or older, when they can make the decision for themselves.

Emily returned to Kensington, taking baby Ada with her. In the 1871 census we find her living in the same house as her married sister Sarah, though as separate households. She left Harry with Robert and Elizabeth.

 In the next census, for the first time Robert enters his birthplace as Piddington, a village 7 mile from Waddesdon, just over the border in Oxfordshire. It is hard to explain this. We have only found three records of an Evans family in Piddington before 1838, and none around the time of Robert’s birth.

 1871 Census. Waddesdon Hill, Waddesdon, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire
Robert Evans            Head           Mar   62    Ag Labourer     Oxon, Piddington
Elizabeth Evans        Wife            Mar   63    Lacemaker       Bucks, Westcott
Elizabeth Evans         Granddaur             13    Lacemaker       Bucks, Waddesdon
Harry Monk Evans   Grandson              9    Scholar            Bucks, Waddesdon

The younger Elizabeth Evans is probably the same as Lizzy Evans in the 1861 census. She was then said to be Robert and Elizabeth’s daughter, but is now their granddaughter. The gap between Jonah and Lizzy’s ages suggests that the latter may be the true relationship. Lizzy/Elizabeth may well be another child born out of wedlock to either Sarah or Emily.

Robert does not appear in any further censuses. There is a probable death for him in the first quarter of 1875. He did not live quite long enough to see the construction of the huge Waddesdon Manor, built by Baron Rothschild in the style of French Renaissance château on a hill to the west of the village. The foundation stone was laid in 1877.

Whether Elizabeth saw it built we cannot say. No death record has been found for her.


[1] James Joseph Sheahan, History and Topography of Buckinghamshire,  1862.
[2] Sheahan.
[3] Friends of Friendless Churches.  https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Er1ZGoVXUAAQXlN.jpg




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