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Fay Sampson’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 30 generations. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from my own as (1)


 THOMAS BUSHELL was born in Deal in 1794. He was the first of three illegitimate sons of Elizabeth Bushell. On 25 April she had him baptised either at the seamen’s chapel of St George in Lower Deal or the parish church of St Leonard inland at Upper Deal. [1]
His mother was 20 years old when he was born, making her rather younger than most married mothers. It is quite likely that, either then or after his birth, she was a prostitute. We do not know how much a role his grandparents, James and Mary Bushell, played in his upbringing.

Thomas became a boatbuilder.
   This was a time of hectic activity in Deal.

“From Feb. 1st, 1793, when the Revolutionary Government declared war against England, until the time of Napoloeon’s final overthrow at Waterloo, the people of these districts lived amid constant alarms. Rumours of invasion were rife, and extraordinary measures were taken to meet the danger and to avert it, if possible… Fleet after fleet was fitted up to safeguard our shores or to make attacks on the enemy’s country. Many of these fleets assembled in the Downs, which became once more the scene of constant bustle and activity. Time after time Deal was crowded with troops awaiting embarkation on the transports in the Downs. The town was full of naval and military officers, and lodgings had to be found for these. The boatmen drove a busy trade. Not only had the men of the Royal Navy to be supplied with provisions, but in addition the boatmen had to attend to the wants of the fleets of merchantmen, often two hundred sail and more, which lay in the Downs waiting for convoy [to protect them from privateers]…
   It will thus be seen that the demand of food-stuffs and other commodities became very great in Deal, so great that it was computed that during these years it was greater than that in all other East Kent towns put together. Thus the market overflowed, and it was no unusual thing to find the street from the well  by St George’s Church to Five Bell Lane (Queen Street) blocked with market carts, which at times also filled the new road now called St George’s Place.”[2]

No doubt, with the boatmen so busy, there was increased work for the boatyards.

Thomas was 21 when the war ended in 1815. Much of this associated trade dried up and Deal went into decline.


SARAH FROST was baptised in Deal on 21 April 1797. She was the first of three children of John Frost and Lucy Spinner.

She was only 9 when her father died. 15 years later, her mother died in the Poor House at the age of 46. The later part of Sarah’s childhood would have been spent in poverty, or the whole orphaned family may have gone into the workhouse. If the latter, then it is likely that Sarah was separated from her mother, and perhaps from her younger brothers, only meeting them at the weekend.

In 1812 the St Leonard’s baptismal register records the following:
1812  26 February  Maria Louisa FROST  illeg. daughter of Sarah

The only other Sarah Frost baptised in Deal would have been in her 40s by then, and almost certainly married. It may be someone else of that name who had moved into Deal, but it seems quite likely that this was John and Lucy’s daughter. She would have been 14 then.
If she was Maria Louisa’s mother and this was publicly known, it would have been more difficult for her to find a husband than for other young women. But seven years later on she did marry Thomas Bushell. The fact that Thomas himself came from a single parent family, with not one but three boys born out of wedlock, may have made this a happy solution for both of them.

Deal Marriages
1819  17 Jan  Thomas Bushell, bachelor of this parish, and Sarah Frost, spinster of this parish, by Banns
Witnesses: Simon Marsh, Sarah Sutton

Sarah was illiterate and could only sign her name with her mark.

They set up home in Lower Street, not far from the beach. They had five daughters baptised. The register lists all baptisms in Deal under the parish church of St Leonards, but it is likely that the Bushells would have been using St George’s, a chapel of ease built a hundred years earlier to serve the boatmen of the Lower Town.

Baptisms. St Leonard’s. Deal
1819  24 Oct  Mary Ann Sutton BUSHELL  daughter of Thomas & Sarah, Lower Street, Boatbuilder
1821  4 Nov  Caroline Elizabeth BUSHELL  daughter of Thomas & Sarah, Lower Street, Boatbuilder
1824  31 Mar  Sarah Elizabeth BUSHELL  daughter of Thomas & Sarah, Lower Street, Boatbuilder
1827  7 Feb  Eliza Ann BUSHELL  d. of Thos.& Sara.  Lower St.  Boatbuilder
1829  30 Dec   Jane Frost BUSHELL  daughter of Thomas & Sarah, Lower Street, Boatbuilder.
James was born two years later.
1834  19 Feb  Thomas James  BUSHELL  s. Thomas & Sarah.  Lower St.  Boat Builder

The family then moved before the birth of the last two boys.
1836  16 Dec  Henry Richard  BUSHELL  s. Thos. & Sara.  Smith’s Folly.  Boatbuilder
William J. was born in the spring of 1840.

Thomas’s younger brother Henry also became a boatbuilder. There is no evidence that they owned their own business, unlike Morris Langley on the Cory side of the family. They were most probably employed in one of the several boatbuilding yards in Deal.

In the 1841 census the family were living in Georges Street. All the girls but one had left home. They had were either married or had live-in jobs elsewhere.

1841 Census.  Deal.  Georges St.
Thomas Bushell       45          Boatbuilder          Y
Sarah Bushell           40                                         Y
Eliza Bushell                  14                                         Y
James Bushell               12                                         Y
Thomas Bushell             7                                          Y
Henry Bushell                5                                         Y
William Bushell            17 (19?) months                 Y


By the 1851 census, only three boys were living at home.

1851 Census. Deal. 145 Middle Street
Bushell       Thomas    Head          Mar      56     Boatbuilder       Deal
Bushell       Sarah        Wife           Mar      53                                 Deal
Bushell       Thomas    Son             U         17                                  Deal
Bushell       Henry       Son                         15                                  Deal
Bushell       William    Son                          10                                  Deal

No occupation is given for the boys. There is no indication that any of them are at school. William grew up to be a boatman.

By 1861, Sarah had died. There is a likely registration of her death in the first quarter of 1854.

Thomas and his youngest son William moved in with his daughter Sarah Elizabeth, her husband and their young family.

1861 Census.  19 Griffin Street, Deal:
William B. Baker    Head                  M         34        Boatman          Deal
Sarah E. Baker         Wife                   M         37        Stay Maker      Deal
William J. Baker          Son                     U           3         Scholar              Deal
Eliza A. Baker              Daughter            U          1                                    Deal
Thomas Bushell      Father in law    W         67        Boat builder     Deal
William J. Bushell        Brother in law   U         21        Boatman           Deal

Sarah Elizabeth was a staymaker. Rope-making was Deal’s other industry.

Thomas  does not appear in the 1871 census. There is a probable registration of his death in the second quarter of 1869.

By the time he was 40, their son William Bushell had become landlord of the Napier Inn on Beach Street, though he was still also a boatman. This combination of jobs was not uncommon. Their granddaughter Jane, Sarah Elizabeth’s daughter, was at the same address, working for her uncle in the inn.


[1] Register entries are from the KFHS microfiches.
[2] [2] John Laker, History of Deal. T.F.Pain & Sons, Deal, 1917, p.296.





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