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)
JOHN SCUFFAM and MARTHA ABRAHAM (8)
JOHN SCUFFAM. From his age at death we should expect John to have been born in 1727-8. He married and raised his family in the Linconshire villages of Benington and Fishtoft, east of Boston. Even allowing a little leeway on the date, we have found no baptism for him in the Benington/Fishtoft area.
In 1728 William Scupham married Elizabeth Lord in Fishtoft. We have discovered no children from this marriage. It is possible that the couple were living in a nearby village whose early registers have not survived.
In this part of Lincolnshire the usual spelling of the surname is Scuffam, but there are occasional instances of Scupham.
We first meet John Scuffam at his marriage in Benington to Martha Abraham.
Benington stands 5 miles east of Boston, on the edge of the salt marsh bordering the Wash. It was formerly a market town.
John’s bride, Martha Abraham was born here.
1730 Apr 17 Martha daughter of Thomas and Rose Abraham.
The surname Abrahams is commonly used in the Jewish community, Abraham, without the s, is more likely to be used for descendants of a man with the baptismal name Abraham. This was a particularly common forename in the Fenlands.
Martha was the second of five children of Thomas and Rose Abraham. Her mother was Rose Banister.
Shortly before these five, there were two children for Thomas and Mary Abraham. We have found few burial records for Benington, so we cannot tell whether this was an earlier marriage for the same Thomas.
Martha was still living in Benington when she married John.
1755 Sep 16 John Scuffam and Martha Abraham
They began their married life in Benington, with the baptism of their first child.
Baptism. All Saints, Benington.
1756 Jul 27 Susanna Scuffam
By the next baptism they had moved 4 miles SW to Fishtoft.
“The historic centre of this village was formerly an island in the tidal marshes – one of a series of islands around the coast of The Wash (each one marked by a medieval church). The parishes along the coast of the Wash had no eastern boundaries, and were continually expanding as new land was reclaimed from the tidal marshes. The marshes produced methane gas which spontaneously ignited to produce flares, giving rise to the belief that they were haunted by spirits and that the new land needed cleansing before it was safe to use. This may account for the veneration of St Guthlac at Fishtoft, the saint being renowned for driving out devils; a medieval statue of St Guthlac can be seen high up on the tower of the Fishtoft parish church, and formerly held the whip with which he cleansed the land of evil spirits.”
St Guthlac, Fishtoft
Two more children were born here.
1759 Jan 8 John Scuffam
1761 Nov 11 Martha Scuffam
The older Martha died a year and a half later.
1763 May 3 Martha wife of John Scupham.
Two months later, John married again.
1763 Jul 1 John Scupham Widower and Susanna Twigg, both of this parish.
Both make their mark \.
Witnesses: John Dawson, the mark of William Scupham.
William Scupham was probably John’s brother. We have not found his baptism either.
There are two baptisms for this couple.
1764 Feb 1 Hannah Scupham. Unless she was born prematurely, Hannah was conceived before the wedding. She was buried on Mar 6.
1766 Dec 8 Elizabeth Scuffam.
John’s second wife also died young.
1767 Jan 6 Susanna the wife of John Scuffam.
We do not know whether the early demise of two of John’s wives was the result of childbirth fatality or due to the diseases, like malaria, in these swampy surroundings.
There were moves in the 17th century to drain the marshes around Boston. This met with fierce opposition from the fowlers, who made a lucrative living from the meat and feathers of wildfowl. A chief advocate of the drainage was the Parliamentarian Lord Lindsey, who was shot in the first battle of the Civil War. It was another century before the scheme took hold.
In the late 18th century the Fens began to be effectively drained, with embankments, and the straightening of watercourses. A sluice helped to scour out the Haven leading into the Wash. The reclaimed land proved very fertile.
We have found no indication of John’s occupation. In the 1841 census for Fishtoft there are three men named Scuffam. All are agricultural labourers. It is likely that John was too.
John married for the third time.
1767 Apr 26 John Scuffam Widower and Mary Dawson Widow, both of this parish.
Both sign with their mark +.
Witnesses: Peter Buddivant, the mark of John Dixon.
There was one more child from this marriage.
1768 Apr 24 John
Over his life time, John Scuffam would have seen significant changes to the countryside bordering the Wash, from a pattern of marshland and islands, where the locals sometimes used stilts to get about, to rich farmland with ruler-straight drains.
John died in 1804.
Burial. St Guthlac, Fishtoft.
1804 May 24 John Scuffam 76.
NEXT GENERATION: 7. SKUPHAM-CORDLEY
PREVIOUS GENERATIONS: 9. ABRAHAM-BANISTER