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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RICHARD MUSGROVE. We find our earliest Musgroves in Croydon in the 18th century. Richard was born there in the reign of George II.

Baptism. St John the Baptist, Croydon.
1733 born Sep 3, bapt Sep 16  Richard Musgrove son of Robert and Elizabeth.

His mother was Elizabeth Roots.

If we have interpreted the evidence correctly, then Richard was the second of the five children of his father’s second marriage. He had three older half-siblings.

We have no evidence of Richard or his father’s occupation, but from the later generations it seems likely that they were labourers.

Croydon is 10 m south of the centre of London, and same distance north of Reigate in the North Downs. It was then a separate town.

Richard went to work in West Wickham, four miles east of Croydon. This was his parish of settlement when he married. West Wickham was then a village in the county of Kent. Its population nearly tripled in the 18th century. This was mainly due to the building of several large mansions in the area, with a great demand for staff.

His wedding did not take place there, but in Godstone, 8 miles south.


SARAH GILBERT. The age given at her burial gives her a birth date of 1737-8. The only plausible baptism within a 10-mile radius of Godstone, where she married, is in 1740. It was common for the ages of older people to be given a little inaccurately.

She was the child of John Gilbert and Sarah Wood.

Baptism. St Nicholas, Godstone.
1740 May 4  Sarah daughter of John Gilbert and Sarah his wife.

This is followed by a burial for Sarah Gilbert on 20 Jan 1740/1. We only have this from an index of burials, not a scan of the register. It does not say whether this is an adult or an infant. There were a number of Gilberts in Godstone.

If it was the baby Sarah who died, then clearly she cannot be Richard’s bride. On the plus side, one of the witnesses at the wedding was John Gilbert. Witnesses were often a sibling of the bride or groom. Sarah had a brother John.

She was the second of six children. Two siblings died in infancy, leaving Sarah the eldest child.


Marriage. St Nicholas, Godstone, Surrey.
1764 Aug 19. Richard Musgrove of the parish of Wickham in the County of Kent and Sarah Gilbert of this parish.
Both sign with a X.
Witnesses: John Gilbert, X, and John Plane, who signs his name.

This is recorded in the marriage register. On the same day there is a startling entry in the baptismal register.

Baptism. St Nicholas, Godstone.
1764 Aug 19  Mary daugr of Richd Musgrove and Sarah his wife.

It was quite common for brides to be pregnant on their wedding day, but this is highly unusual.

The most likely scenario is that Sarah went to work in West Wicklow, like Richard, and became pregnant there. As soon as this became apparent, she would have lost her job and gone home to Godstone to have the baby there. By then, Richard may have gone back to Croydon, but not been there for the year necessary for it to become his parish of settlement again. He may not have learned of Sarah’s pregnancy in time to marry her before the birth.

We can imagine Sarah’s mother carrying her infant granddaughter to church, so that, as soon as the couple were man and wife, the baby could be baptised as the child of married parents.

Sarah’s mother had had a similar experience. She had a daughter baptised three days after her wedding.

St Nicholas, Godstone[1]

This is the only baptism for a child of Richard and Sarah Musgrove in Godstone. They went back to Croydon to raise their family there.

Baptisms. St John the Baptist, Croydon.
1766 born Jan 16, bapt Jan 26  Sarah
1769 born Apr 20, bapt May 14  Jane
1771 born Jan 12, bapt Feb 24  Elizabeth
1773 born May 10, bapt Jun 6  Robert
1775 born Aug 24, bapt Sep 5  Joseph

In the 18th century, houses in Croydon were strung out along the London Road. The road outside the town provided rich pickings for highwaymen. Dick Turpin had a safe house in Croydon, near Thornton Heath.

One of the most famous highwaymen was Jerry Abershaw, who was known as The Laughing Highwayman. He was tried for murder at Croydon assizes in July 1795. In court, he mockingly mimicked Judge Baron Pentryn. The judge sentenced him to death. Abershaw laughed and joked with the large crowd which came to see him hanged, keeping up an “incessant conversation” on the way to the gallows. Arrived there, “he threw open his shirt and with a flower between his teeth kicked off his boots with a flourish, to disprove his mother’s prophecy that he would die with his boots on.” [2]

Richard was the first of the couple to die, just before the close of the century.

Burial. St John the Baptist, Croydon.
1799 Apr 20  Richard Musgrove. 66.

By now, Britain was at war with France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

Sarah lived to celebrate the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. By the time she died, William IV had come to the throne in 1820.

Burial. St John the Baptist, Croydon.
1822 Jan 20  Sarah Musgrove. Croydon. 84.


 [1] Look and Learn: Godstone Church.
[2] Canning and Clyde Roads Residents Association, The Books of Addiscombe., Halsgrove. 2000, 2002.




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