Aug 062015

The August 2015 edition of Footprints includes an update on Nonconformists in Northamptonshire.

Sources for researching Nonconformists in Northamptonshire

by Graham Ward

The Northamptonshire Family History Society have published a booklet written by myself as a guide to the multitude of resources available when researching nonconformist history and family connections.  Details are available here, together with a summary of the web sites referred to in the booklet.

Available from the Northamptonshire Family History Society bookstall for £2.50 plus postage (UK 45p, airmail £1.40) ISBN 1904460275, First published November 2004, revised 2007.


The 1851 Religious Census of Northamptonshire

by Graham Ward

One of the main features of Victorian local history was the balance between the religious denominations, which varied from place to place. The one and only time a religious census was taken in this country was in 1851. This exercise was undertaken alongside the regular census, taken every ten years from 1801. This volume gives a synopsis of the returns of each place of religious worship in every place in the county, and Graham Ward, the editor, explains the problems inherent in the way the census was designed and looks at issues raised by this one and only attempt to measure religious allegiance with statistical precision.

This is a Victor Hatley Memorial volume available from the Northamptonshire Record Society Wotton Hall Park, Northampton, UK, NN4 8BQ  Telephone: 01604 762297. ISBN 0 901275 65 4, 266 pages, Published 2007.  The cost is £9.50 (plus p & p) .

 Posted by at 8:59 pm
Dec 142014

Longcase clock of Thomas Vorley of Market Harborough

Thomas Vorley of Market Harborough (1803-1847) was the son of Samuel Vorley (1766-1821). Samuel was born in Great Addington, Northamptonshire, and was a clockmaker. Samuel Vorley’s burial in 1821 at Great Addington records him as a weaver and clockmaker. I have not found any information to indicate when Samuel became a clockmaker or if he was apprenticed.

Thomas appears in trade directories at Market Harborough at two addresses, Church Street in 1831 and High Street 1835. After Thomas’ death in 1847 his last wife Mary died shortly after in 1849. In her will she leaves the property in Great Addington that Thomas owned and was occupied by his mother, since re-married, to his mother and the business and property in Market Harborough was left to the Thomas’s surviving brothers and sisters and daughters of his brother Henry, Elizabeth Fryer Vorley and Louisa Fryer Vorley.


Longcase clock of Henry Vorley of Thrapston, Market Harborough and Ipswich

Henry Vorley (1813-1872), another son of Samuel and therefore Thomas’s brother, appears in Pigot’s directory for 1841 already in business in Thrapston as a watchmaker. Henry’s first wife Charlotte died in Market Harborough in 1855. The trade directory of 1855 confirms that Henry had moved his business to Market Harborough after his brother’s death in 1847. Some time later Henry moved to Colchester as he married Jane Huxtable in Colchester at a Eld Lane Baptist Chapel in 1856. Here he is described as a jeweller living at Butt Road, Colchester. I have found no clue as to what prompted the move to Colchester or whether it was a family or business opportunity. Two of his daughters Elizabeth Fryer Vorley and Louisa Fryer Vorley, married in Ipswich in 1860 and 1861. Checking the trade directories of Colchester and Ipswich has not indicated that Henry was trading on his own account but it is possible that he was working in a watchmaking business in Colchester as it was a significant industry in the town. Henry was buried back in Great Addington in 1872 when he was still described as a watchmaker.

There was a third brother, Samuel John Vorley (1821-1858) Samuel John’s career and movements can be put together from his two marriages, census and trade directories. In 1839 his marriage to Mary Ann Tomlin gives his residence as Rothwell and describes him as a watchmaker. Pigot’s 1841 directory lists a John Vorley, watchmaker at Corby, which as it is only six miles from Rothwell is probably the same Samuel John. At his second marriage in 1844 in Irthlingborough he is living at Higham Ferrers and is again described as a watchmaker. In 1851 he is living at Church Street, Crowland, Lincolnshire. The births of his children indicate that he probably moved from Crowland to Leicester between 1854 and 1855. In 1857 his daughter Mary Louisa Vorley was born in Leicester and Samuel John is described as a watchmaker (master).

Graham Ward

(This article originally appeared in Clocks Magazine, July 2007)

 Posted by at 4:00 pm
Jun 232012
The orginal returns are now available for free, by download from the National Archives DocumentsOnline service.  Some knowledge of the geographical and administrative boundaries in1851 is helpful to locate these records.  There are 623 bundles of records organised by Registration districts within Counties.  The process of accessing them is a little convoluted the first time, but stick with it.


Start here from which point there are links to 57 county pages.  Within each county page will be found the Registration district bundles.


Select one of these bundles which will have number like HO129/xxx.  Click “Add to basket”.  Then move to the basket (top right of the screen, then “View basket”).  Add your email address and “Checkout”.  After you submit your order you will receive a download link to the file.  The files will be large (100MB) and contain a zip file with one Adobe pdf file.  This file is a collection of the images of the actual census return forms.  This is where some local knowledge will be helpful in locating the form for a specific place of worship.
 Posted by at 4:57 pm
Jun 272009

I wrote an article for the Northamptonshire FHS called Serendipity some time ago – those pleasant chance discoveries we make in family history from time to time.

Does your family tree go back to the 14th century? You might find a surprise as it contains transcripts of tax assessments for Northamptonshire from 1301 and 1524. What surprised me was that I soon found some of my family names in these records, and many others in parishes that interest me that were still there 600 years later. Sadly a lot to fill in between, but quite an encouragement.