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)

March Tree



JOHN MARGERSON alias PAYNE. In the 1851 census John gave his birthplace as Thurgarton and his age as 59, giving him a birthdate of 1791-2. This is a close match to the following baptism,

Baptism. Thurgarton.
1793 born Sep 29  bapt Oct 7  John son of Phebe Margaretson

John gave his eldest child the unusual name Phoebe, so it is highly likely that this is the right baptism.

The usual reason for only the mother being named is that the child was born out of wedlock. But in one of the registers recording this christening, the entries both above and below John’s are for an “illegitimate daughter”. John is not said to be illegitimate.

The other reason for not naming the father is that he was dead.

We have not found a marriage between a bride name Phoebe and a groom named Margaretson, any of its alternative spellings, or John’s alias Payne. But nor have we found a baptism for an unmarried Phebe Margaretson.

Phebe’s uncommon name and the age given at her burial lead us to the following baptism in Thurgarton.

Baptism. Thurgarton.
1758 Jul 8   Phebe the daughter of William and Mary Mays.

Identifying John’s father is harder. The unusual surname Margaretson is first found in Norfolk. Margaretson seems to be the original form, but it is often shortened to Margerson or Margetson.

There were a small number of Margaretsons in the neighbouring parish of Hanworth, where Phebe grew up and where she was buried, but none that we can confidently name as John’s father.

We have found no definite evidence that John had siblings, but in 1795 and 1796 there are burials in Hanworth for James and Daniel Margerson, who were infants.

Thurgarton is 5 miles inland from Cromer, so it is unlikely that John grew up in a fisherman’s family.  By the time of his marriage, he had moved to Runton, between Cromer and Sheringham on the coast, and had become a fisherman.


JUDITH HARDINGHAM was born in Runton around in 1797.

Baptism. Runton.
1797 born Jun 2 Bapt 8  Judith daughter of Christopher and Esther Hardingham (late Cooper spr)

This was her father’s second marriage. Seven children had been born to his first wife. Judith was the first child by his second wife. Six more siblings followed.

Christopher Hardingham’s first wife had a pauper’s burial. It is likely that Judith grew up in poverty

She became a dressmaker.


Both children grew up during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, which ended with the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. During this time, England feared invasion from France.

They were married in 1822.

Marriage. Runton.
1822 Sep 27  John Margetson, Single man, and Judith Hardingham, Single woman, both of this parish.

John makes his mark, and Judith signs in a confident hand.

Witnesses: John Love and Ann Slater.

Judith was 9 years younger than John.


Their eldest child was Phoebe, born on 28 March 1823, meaning that Judith was pregnant when she married. Seven more children followed.

The baptism register makes interesting reading. John’s surname changes.

Baptisms. West Runton.
1823  born 28 Mar, bapt. 30 Mar.  Phoebe Payne Margetson.  John Margetson, fisherman, and Judith
1825  born 16 Mar, bapt 20 Mar.  Thomas Payne Margetson. John Margetson, fisherman, and Judith. He lived only 3 months. Thomas Margitson or Payne was buried on 12 Jun.
1826  born 24 Sept, bapt 1 Oct.  John Margitson.  John Margitson, fisherman, and Judith. John’s was another infant death. He lived less than six months, and was buried on 18 Mar 1827.
1829  born 12 July, bapt 19 July.  Esther Payne Margerson.  John Margerson, fisherman, and Judith
1831  born 2 Apr, bapt 3 Apr.  Benjamin Payne.  John Payne, fisherman, and Judith
1833  born 3 Feb, bapt 5 Feb.  Maria Payne.  John Payne, fisherman, and Judith. Maria’s was another infant death. She was buried on 7 Jul, aged 5 months.
1835  born 11 Aug, bapt 16 Aug.  Elizabeth Payne.  John Payne, fisherman, and Judith. Elizabeth too died at less than 2 months. She was buried on 25th Oct.
1838  born 18 May, bapt 25 May.  Ambrose Payne.  John Payne, fisherman, and Judith.

Three of the first four children appear to have been given Payne as a middle name. John’s name is variously recorded as Margetson, Margitson and Margerson. With the baptism of Benjamin, the family have adopted Payne as their surname. Aliases like this were not uncommon. They could arise when there was a child of an unmarried couple where the father acknowledged paternity. Or a second surname might be adopted to please a wealthy relative or patron. This alias would then be passed down in the family.

Both Phoebe and Esther’s marriage records show that Margerson has become the accepted spelling. In the censuses they appear as Payne.

Thomas, John, Maria and Elizabeth all died in infancy. The high death rate suggests that the family were poor.

Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837.

By the 1841 census only four of the children were living at home.

The family’s address in Runton is recorded as simply ‘Street’, along with many other families. This must have been the main thoroughfare through the village. Ages of adults in this census were rounded down to the nearest 5.

1841 Census. Runton. Street.
John Payne         
45    Fisherman
Judith  Payne       40
Phebe  Payne         15
Esther  Payne       11
Benjamin Payne    9
Ambrose  Payne    3
Also living in the same house is the beer-seller Hannah Brownsall and her four children.

Phoebe was probably already at work, and Judith working as a dressmaker, but only the head of household’s occupation is given.

Ten years later, the family picture is much the same. The address is East Runton, which lay a little inland from West Runton.

1851 Census. Runton. East Runton.
John Payne             Head          Mar      59        Fisherman        Thurgarton
Judith Payne          Wife          Mar      50        Dressmaker       Runton
Phoebee Payne        daur           U         28        Net Maker            do
Esther Payne          daur           U         21        Laundress             do
Benjamin Payne       son            U         19        Fisherman            do
Ambrose Payne       son                        13        Ag. lab.            Runton
Benjamin Burton     Lodger       U         30        Fisherman        Beeston Regis

All six are contributing to the family income. Benjamin has joined his father with the fishing fleet, and Esther is doing laundry like her grandmother.

 East Runton [i]

John died in 1855.

Burial. Runton.
1855 Jan 18  John Payne  Runton  62 yrs

In the 1861 census, Judith is a widow, with only a child visitor in the house. Her children had married and left home.
1861 Census. Runton. Runton Street
Judith Payne          Head          W         62        Dressmaker       Runton
Mary Ann Blythe     Visitor                   9         Scholar             Bessingham

As she grew older, Judith moved in with her eldest daughter, now married to the fisherman who had been lodging with them in 1851.

1871 Census. Runton
Benjamin Burton     Head                  Mar         50        Fisherman        Beeston Regis
Phoebe Burton        Wife                   Mar         49                                Runton
Judith Payne          Mother in law     W            71                                Runton

Judith is not said to be working at dressmaking, but the next census shows that she probably was. Ten year later, she again appears as a tailoress and is still living with Phoebe.

1881 Census. Runton.
Benjamin Burton     Head                  Mar         60        Fisherman                    Runton
Phoebe Burton        Wife                   Mar         58        Fisherman’s wife           Runton
Judith Paine           Mother in law     W            83        Tailoress                       Runton
Hannah Martins       Niece                  Mar         26        Fisherman’s wife           Runton
John B Martins        Visitor                               1                                             Runton

Judith died later that month.

Burial. Runton.
1881 Apr 22  Judith Payne  Runton  83 years.


[i] Norwich Heritage. East and West Runton in Victorian times.





March Tree