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)

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Baptism. St John, Croydon.
1808 born Mar 19, bapt Apr 10  John Musgrove son of Robert and Elisabeth.

His mother was Elizabeth Hooker.

John’s father was an agricultural labourer.

He was the fourth of twelve children, but six of them died as infants and one at 13. This suggests that the family was impoverished.

During his childhood, the family moved between Norwood and Croydon.

He became an agricultural labourer, like his father.


MARY ANN NICHOLAS was baptised at St Mary Northgate, Canterbury, on 30 Aug 1807. She was the daughter of George and Mary Nicholas.

We have found no marriage for her parents in the Canterbury area and no baptisms of other children for them there. There is, however, a marriage in Croydon between George Nichols and Mary Boulton in 1806, and a string of baptism for their children from 1809 onwards. Mary’s baptism would fit neatly into the gap between 1806 and 1809.

It would appear that she was born during her parents’ short stay in Canterbury, but grew up in Croydon.

She was the eldest of 7 children, and the only girl.

Her father was at first a soldier, then a blacksmith or farrier. Given the number of horses in the British army, he may well have been a farrier while he was in uniform.

It may have been an army posting that put her parents in Canterbury for her birth.

This puts Mary Ann in the artisan class, rather than a labouring family like John’s, though some of her brothers became labourers.

In Canterbury, the surname was spelt Nicholas, but in Croydon it is Nichols or Nicholls.

She was born two years after the Battle of Trafalgar.


John and Mary Ann lived to see the end of the Napoleonic Wars with the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

They married in 1830, which saw William IV accede to the throne.

 Marriage. West Norwood.
1830 Feb 13  John Musgrove and Mary Ann Nichols, both of this parish.

St Luke’s in West Norwood was consecrated in 1825 to cater for the growing urban population. Until then, the area had been sparsely populated, with the village surrounded by meadows cleared from woodland.

A stipulation that no building should be erected within 100 ft of an existing one without the owner’s consent meant that, unusually, the church had to be orientated south-north, instead of east-west.

The building of St Luke’s meant that the residents of West Norwood no longer needed to use St John’s in Croydon.

St Luke’s, West Norwood[1]

They had seven children baptised in Croydon, six boys and one girl.

Baptism. Croydon.
1831 Aug 14  William
1833 Jun 2  Eliza
1836 Jan 24  George
1838 Apr 18  Thomas. Thomas died the following year, and was buried on 30 Apr 1839, aged 1yr 1 month.
1840 Jun 14  Frederick

The 1841 census finds them living at the Reservoir. This was constructed in South Norwood for the Croydon Canal. It is now the South Norwood Lake.

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

Two more children were born.

Baptisms. Croydon.
1842 Dec 25  Charles
1846 May 31  Alfred

Only one of their children died in infancy, compared with six of John’s siblings. This points to a more secure financial position.

By the 1851 census they have moved to Market Street.

1851 Census. 5 Market Street, Croydon.
John Musgrove              Head   Mar     43        Gravel Digger KL    Croydon
Mary Ann Musgrove    Wife    Mar     43                                         Canterbury
William Musgrove          Son      N         19        Labourer                  Croydon              Deaf
George Musgrove           Son      N         15        Carriers boy             Croydon
Frederick Musgrove       Son                 11        Scholar                     Croydon
Charles Musgrove           Son                 8         Scholar                     Croydon
Alfred Musgrove            Son                 4         Scholar                     Croydon

We learn from this that their eldest son was deaf.
In the 19th century, the building of new roads created a large demand for gravel, and pits were dug to extract this.

In 1853, Eliza married the labourer Joseph Belfield in All Saints, Upper Norwood.

In the next census, we find the Musgroves in Myrtle Street, where John and Mary Ann stayed for the rest of their lives. Myrtle Street is in East Croydon.

1861 Census. Myrtle Street West, Croydon.
John Musgrove                         Head      Mar    52             Labourer                                     Croydon
Mary Ann Musgrove                Wife      Mar     53                                                                 Canterbury
George Musgrove                       Son        Un       25             Labourer                                    Croydon
Charles Frederick Musgrove      Son        Un       20             Labourer                                      Croydon
Charles Musgrove                      Son        Un       18             Militiaman                                   Croydon
Alfred Musgrove                        Son        Un       14                                                                 Croydon

Frederick’s name has been mistakenly started as Charles, which should have been crossed out.

Most of the Musgrove men were labourers, but Charles has followed his grandfather as a soldier. He would have been a member of the Royal Surrey Militia. This was a reserve force that was not required to serve overseas.


Four years later, John died.

Burial. Christ Church, West Croydon.
1865 Nov 24  John Musgrove.  Myrtle St West.  57.

Christ Church had been built in 1851, another church to cater for the fast-growing population of Croydon.

In the next two censuses, Mary Ann is still living in Myrtle Street, with only her youngest son, who has remained unmarried. But they move from No.9 to No.80.

 1871 Census. 9 Myrtle St West, Croydon.
Mary Musgrove 
           Head      W          65             No occupation            Canterbury
Alfred Musgrove          Son        Unm      25             Labourer                     Croydon

 1881 Census. 80 Myrtle St, Croydon.
Mary Musgrove
            Head   Wid          75                                                          Canterbury
Alfred Musgrove          Son      Unm         34                    Plasterer                   Croydon

Mary Ann died in 1882, aged 74. At the time of her death she was still living in Myrtle Street. Like John, she was buried at Christ Church, Broad Green, West Croydon.

Burial. Christ Church, West Croydon.
1882 Apr 13  Mary Ann Musgrove. Myrtle St. Aged 74.


[1] History – St Luke’s Parish Church, West Norwood.





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