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)

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SAMUEL COX. We have several generations of Coxs who were fishermen in Cromer on the Norfolk coast, but they have their origin in villages further inland.

Samuel was the one who made this transition to the coast.

He was born in Roughton, a village 4 miles south of Cromer.

Baptism. Roughton.
1785 Apr 12  Samuel Cox son of Samuel and Mary Cox.

His mother was Mary Stimpson.

His father was from Woodbastwick on the River Bure, a village 15 miles south of Roughton on the Norfolk Broads.

Samuel was the third of four surviving children and the elder son.

He came from a poor family. When his baby brother died in 1789 the family are listed as paupers.

We do not have a record of his father’s employment. In the 1841 census, a large number of the men in Roughton are fishermen, while many others were agricultural labourers. It would be possible to live in the parish of Roughton and still be within easy reach of the shore.

Roughton stands on the road from Cromer to Norwich. “The church is mainly Saxon with some Tudor battlements and adorning the walls of the nave is a gallery of sixteen weird sculptures including a toad, a lion, a dragon and a man pulling a face.

“A genius found sanctuary here in a wooden hut on Roughton Heath in September 1933, his name was Professor Albert Einstein, famous for his Theory of Relativity. He told a local reporter ‘All I want is peace, and could I have found a more peaceful retreat than here in England?’”[1]

Samuel moved to Cromer before he married. We do not know whether he did so alone, or whether his whole family moved.

He may already have been a fisherman, but was certainly one when he lived there. The principal catch from Cromer is crabs.

Old Cromer lighthouse[2]


FRANCES ROLL. We know from the 1851 cesus that she was born in Gimingham around 1794-5.   This village is just over a mile from the coast, and 5 miles from Cromer.

No baptism has been found there for Frances Roll, but there is the following.

Baptism. Gimingham.
1794 Sep 14  Francis daughter of Mary Smith  Pauper

The spellings Francis and Frances were used interchangeably for either sex.

Roll may have been her father’s name.

The Overseers of the Poor were keen to establish the paternity of children born out of wedlock, so that they could require the father to contribute to the child’s upkeep and prevent it becoming a charge on the Poor Rate. This was particularly important because Mary Smith was a pauper.

No Rolls have been found in Gimingham at this time, but there a number of records for Royall and Rowel.

Her mother may be the Mary Smith who married Thomas Smith in Gimingham in 1804.

Frances was 10 years younger than Samuel.

She too was resident in Cromer when she married him.


Marriage. Cromer.
1817 Feb 13  Samuel Cox, Single Man, and Frances Roll, Single Woman, both of this parish.
Both sign their names.
Witnesses: Judith Brooks and Benjamin Brooks.


Their first child was born only three months after the wedding. Frances must have been heavily pregnant as a bride.

Baptisms. Cromer.
1817 May 13  Mary  Fisherman
1822 born Dec 2, bapt Dec 25  William  Fisherman
1825 Sep 18  John  Fisherman
1828 Sep 28  George  Fisherman
1831 May 15  Matthew  Fisherman
Matthew died aged 3. He was buried in Cromer on 20 Aug 1834.
1834 born Jan 23, bapt Mar 2  James  Fisherman
1838 born Mar 7, bapt May 8  Robert  Fisherman

Both Samuel and Frances had lived through the Napoleonic Wars, when Britain was in danger of invasion from the sea. The early 19th century was also the Regency period, when the future George IV set an example of licentiousness. Before the Coxes had completed their family, Victoria succeeded to the throne in 1837 and ushered in an era of greater moral respectability.

In the 1841 census, the family were living in Jarvis’s’s Yard, Brook Street. Brook St leads from Church St, the main road through the town, towards the sea.

1841 Census. Cromer. Brook St. Jarvis’s Yd in Do
Samuel Cox    50               Fisherman     Y
Frances  Cox  40                                    Y
Mary  Cox         20               F. S.              Y
William Cox     15                                    Y
John   Cox        15                                    Y
James  C ox      8                                     Y
Robert  Cox      3                                     Y

Y means that all the family were born in Norfolk.

William’s age, like Mary’s, has been rounded down. He was actually 18. John’s age is correct.

FS is the standard abbreviation for ‘Female Servant’. No occupation is given for William and John, but it is likely that they too were earning. We learn from the 1851 census that William did not follow his father’s occupation, but chose instead to become a bricklayer. It was John who became a fisherman.

George is no longer with them. He had probably died, though we have not found the record of his burial.

Ten years later they were still living in Jarvis’s Yard.

1851 Census.  Cromer.  Brook St.  Jarvis’s Yard.
Saml Cox                Head    Mar      66             Fisherman       Roughton
Frances  do             Wife    Mar      56                                    Gimmingham
Willm do                  Son      Unm    28             Bricklayer       Cromer
John do                   do        Unm    25             Fisherman           do
James do                 do        Unm    19             Errand boy          do
Robert do               do                    13             do                        do
Frances Anna Fey   Grd daur          3m                                   Langham

The most probable reason for Samuel and Frances to be caring for a 3-month-old granddaughter is that the baby’s mother died in childbirth. Her mother’s name was Cox, so she was probably the daughter of Mary, who was living at home in 1841. Langham is 13 miles west of Cromer and a little way inland.

Both Samuel and Frances lived through the Crimean War of the 1850s. Neither of them has been found in the 1861 census.

Frances died in 1858.

Burial. Cromer.
1858 Feb 8  Frances Cox   Cromer    63 yrs.

Samuel was buried the following year.
1859 May 2  Samuel Cox   Cromer   72 yrs.
He was, in fact, 74.

In 1861 three of the family were still living together, though as lodgers. William was a journeyman bricklayer, Robert had become a fisherman. No occupation is given for Frances Anna. Her age is said to be 18. This may be a mistake for 10 when the enumerator’s notes were copied into the official return. In the 19th century 0s were written very like 8s. All were unmarried, though William was now 38. The fact that Frances Anna was living with her unmarried uncles is further confirmation that her mother, at least, had died.

If we have correctly identified him in the 1861 census, James was also still single and a lodger. He had moved inland from his birthplace of Cromer to the larger town of North Walsham and was working as a groom. He eventually settled there, marrying a local woman and raising a family. In the 1871 census he was an Ironmonger Porter. He kept this job for the rest of his life.

Frances Anna married a sailor before she was 20 and was living with him in Norwich in the 1871 census.

The eldest son William remained unmarried, though his household later included one of his nephews and his young family. He died between in the first quarter of 1892.


[1] http://www.a2znorfolk.com/towns/188.html
[2] National Trust Collections




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