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Movement In and Out of the Parish

Family names in Elsfield in 1825

In Reay’s study of three villages in Kent, he found that between 1851 and 1881 as many as 45% of the inhabitants over the age of fifteen were born outside the parish. Was this the case in Elsfield?

One approach to tackling this question is to study the continuity of family names. An account of the families living in Elsfield in 1825 was compiled for the North estate and lists the adults, their children and the housing conditions.

Listed in the 1825 accounts were five farmers: John Butler, William Butler, Samuel Tagg, Richard Holley and John Gurdon.

There was also Mrs Oglander, whose name appears on the 1703 map of Elsfield. The Oglander family had therefore been living in Elsfield for more than a hundred years. She does not, however, appear in the 1841 census. Two others named separately from the general list of inhabitants were John Beckley, who had a fishery, and John Weyland, listed as “Esquire”.

Other villagers were:

Name Family Age of children
Narroway Man, wife and children 17, 13, 10, 8
Durham Man, wife, children and grandchild 28, 20, 18, 12, 9, 4
Lock Man, wife and children 22, 13, 12, 8
Porter Aged widow
North Man, wife and children 7, 4, 2, 1
J. Gurdon Man, wife and children 4, 2, 1
W. Phillips Man and wife
Gammon Widower and children 20, 17, 12, 10, 8, 4
Taylor Man, wife and children 13, 10, 7, 3
Clay Man, wife and children 6, 2
Phillips Widow and grown up daughter
Sneeth Widow and children 20, 16, 14
Wakelin Man, wife, father and children 6, 3, 1
Tolly Man, wife and children 17, 14, 9, 6, 4
Gurdon Man, wife and child 1 child
Skitmore Man, wife and family
Humphries Humphries, married son and wife
John Humphries, wife and children 20, 16, 13, 8
Ford Widow and children 24, 16, 13, 8, 4
Munday Widow, married son and daughter and children 8, 7, 5, 2
J. Clay Man, wife and six children
R. Harris Man, wife, grown daughter and grandchild 11
Heagher Widow, married son and daughter and children 5, 2
Croton Man, wife, married son and daughter
Maul Widow
Harrison Blind widow
Richards Mother, son and wife
Cross Man, wife, married son and wife and child 1 child
Moby Man and wife
J. Harris Man and wife

There are 29 families listed which with the number of other tenants, eight in all, including John Gurdon, whose name appears twice, once as a farmer and once in the list of villagers, makes a population of 37 families.

Of these names, those who lived in the village for the longest time are:

Name Last listed in census Number of years in Elsfield
Cross 1871 46+ years
Crotton 1851 26+ years
Gammon 1901 76+ years
Gurdon 1871 46+ years
Harris 1871 46+ years
Humphreys 1871 46+ years
Maul 1861 36+ years
North 1881 56+ years
Narroway 1861 36+ years
Taylor 1901 77+ years
Tolley 1824-1851
1871-1881
36 years in all
Wakelin 1891 66+ years
Tagg The name dying out with Martin Tagg in 1865.

Judging by this list, there certainly were some very long term residents. However, excluding the Crottons and the Tolleys, who moved in and out of the village, and which in itself shows that there was movement, if we take a man’s working life as being from the age of eighteen to about 70, 52 years, very few of these families lived here for longer than one man’s working life. We should remember however that children often started working as early as ten and that there was no such thing as a retirement age. Generally, if a person was able to work he or she did so. Nevertheless, it seems reasonable to reckon a working life from eighteen since any work done before that age will have been as a contribution to the family income rather than as a wage which supported a family, and at the older end of a working life, it would be fairly rare for a man to be working full time to support a family, even though he again might contribute to the family income.

Given these caveats, only the Norths, the Taylors and the Wakelins lived in Elsfield longer than the 52 years originally stipulated, three out of the thirty-six families, roughly 8%. However, we have to take into account the fact that women, when they marry, lose their own surname. Harriet Gammon, for instance, married William Elston, and their daughter, Ethel May, married Herbert Allam. So the Gammon family, even when the name has disappeared from the census returns, is still represented up to the mid 1960s, when Ethel May died.


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