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)
WILLIAM RODWAY and MARY ANN FENSOM (6)
WILLIAM RODWAY. Mary Ann came from a well-established St Albans families, but William’s father was London born.
William was baptised at St Alban’s Abbey on 17 July 1801. He was the son of William and Mary Rodway. His father had married Mary Bailey at St Michael’s church in St Albans on 19 Jan of that year. Both signed their name.
From these dates, we can see that Mary was already pregnant with William junior when she married. This was not uncommon.
No siblings have been found for William in St Albans, nor do either of his parents seem to have died. They may have moved to another parish. There is a succession of baptisms for children of William and Mary Rodway that do not overlap with each other. They and suggest that the family moved a few miles, first to Redbourne, where two more children were born, and then to Abbots Langley, where another six children were born. No marriage has been found for another William and Mary Rodway that would match these dates.
If this is the same family, then William’s father was a gardener.
William himself became a labourer. He moved back to St Albans and was living in the parish of St Stephen when he married Mary Ann.
St Albans had always been a busy market town on the road into London. In the 19th century its population quadrupled, driven in part by a growing textile industry, first silk weaving and then cotton.
MARY ANN FENSOM was the daughter of the labourer William Fensom and Ann Smith, baptised at St Stephens, on the edge of St Albans, on 20 Oct 1805.
Like William, if we are correct in our speculation, she was the oldest of nine children.
By the time the pair were grown up, the Napoleonic Wars were over, ending with the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815.
William Rodway married Maryann Fensom on 1 Mar 1826 at St Albans church. Both were of the parish of St Stephen. Both bride and groom sign their names.
The witnesses are George Fensom and Sarah Fensom. He signs, but she makes her mark.
St Stephens is a parish on the southern boundary of St Albans, centred on Watling Street. It has its own church, but the couple married at St Albans church.
They had their six children baptised at St Stephens.
Baptisms. St Stephens, St Albans
1826 Apr 30 Mary Ann. Two-year-old Mary Ann was buried on 9 Jul 1828.
1830 Oct 3 William
A child George was buried on 5 Feb 1832.
1832 Feb 15 George
1835 Jun 21 John. John was buried at four months on 16 Sep 1835.
1836 Sep 18 Thomas
For all these baptisms, the family are living in St Stephens and William is a labourer.
St Stephen’s church 
By 1840 they had moved 8 miles south to Bushey. By now Queen Victoria had succeeded to the throne. The rest of their lives was lived under her long reign.
1840 born Jan 27, bapt Feb 23 Emma
Mary Ann’s parents also moved to Bushey. Her ageing father continued to work as a labourer.
Bushey lies on the slopes above the River Colne. There were magnificent views across the meadows towards St Albans and also to the church towers and smoking chimneys of London in the distance.
By 1841 the Rodways are living in Bushey with their four surviving children.
1841 Census. Clay Hill, Bushey, Watford.
William Rodway 40 Labourer Y
Mary Ann Rodway 36 Y
William Rodway 10 Y
George Rodway 9 Y
Thomas Rodway 4 Y
Emma Rodway 1 Y
Y denotes that all these people were born in Hertfordshire.
Three more daughters were baptised in Bushey.
1843 Jul 23 Ann Maria. Ann was buried on 7 Feb the following year.
1847 born Mar 17, bapt May 2 Sarah
1851 born May 19, bapt Jun 15 Alice
By now they had moved from Clay Hill to Windmill Hill in Bushey.
1851 Census. Windmill Lane, Bushey, Herts
William Rodway Head Mar 50 Labourer St Albans, Herts
Maryann Rodway Wife Mar 46 St Stephens, Herts
William Rodway Son U 20 Labourer St Stephens
George Rodway Son U 19 Labourer St Stephens
Thomas Rodway Son U 14 Labourer St Stephens
Emma Rodway Daur U 11 Scholar Bushey, Herts
Sarah Rodway Daur 4 Bushey
Mary Ann’s parents were also living in Windmill Lane, though not in the same house. They were now in their 70s.
The address of Windmill Lane may be significant. At the time of his daughter Emma’s marriage to James March in 1866, William was said to be a miller. He may have worked as a labourer at the mill.
William died at the age of 57 and was buried in Bushey on 9 Feb 1859.
In the 1861 census the widowed Mary Ann is living on London Road, Bushey, with her son Thomas, his wife and her youngest daughter Alice. She is helping to support herself by domestic work.
1861 Census. London Road, Bushey.
Mary Ann Rodway Head Widow 56 ?Domestic work various St Stephen
Thomas Rodway Son Mar 24 Bricklayers labourer St Stephen
Mary Ann Rodway Wife Mar 23 Aldenham, Herts
Alice Rodway Daur 9 Scholar Bushey
Ann England Visitor Mar 20 Seamstress St Stephen
Bushey was another rapidly expanding town. Its growth would have provided men like Thomas with plenty of work as a bricklayer’s labourer
Ten years later, Mary Ann is back in Windmill Lane, but now living alone. At 65, she is working as a charwoman. Elderly people often fell into poverty and had to end their days in the workhouse, but Mary Ann remained independent.
1871 Census. Windmill Lane, Bushey
Mary Ann Rodway Head W 65 Char Woman Park St, St Albans
Mary Ann outlived William by twenty years. She was buried in Bushey on 12 Jan 1879.
NEXT GENERATION: 5. MARCH-RODWAY
PREVIOUS GENERATIONS: 7. RODWAY-BAILEY