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The WALDOCK Family History

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The History of ASHWELL - the home of the Waldock Family

The connection between the WALDOCK family and the NEWMAN family was made when my grandmother, Eliza WALDOCK, married James GOVAN and their daughter, my mother, Davina Jane GOVAN married Sydney William NEWMAN.

My mother's mother was born Eliza Ann Waldock. Eliza Ann's father, Thomas Waldock, had been born in the village of Ashwell, Hertfordshire in 1828 (baptised 6th July 1828) into a family of Waldocks who are first recorded in Ashwell in 1703 when Roger and Sarah Waldock,née BAWCOCK (my seven times great- grandparents) had all their six children baptised on 11th September. I have a record that Sarah BAWCOCKE was born about 1664 in Westmill, Herts and was christened on 7 Aug 1664 in Westmill, Herts. The children were Mary (11 years old), John (9 years old), Roger (7 years old), Richard (4 years old) Thomas (2 years old) and Sarah (a baby). Thomas was my six times great-grandfather.

Ashwell, Hertfordshire, from the air as it is today.

There is no record of them in Ashwell before that and so far I have not been able to find where they came from. I feel that they must have come from Bedfordshire as I have discovered that the second son, Richard Waldock, and his wife Elizabeth were the subject of a Settlement Order on 1st July 1719 from Eyeworth, Bedford and I have a copy of the examination certificate. Not everyone reading this will know what a settlement order is so I will try and explain.

The Act of Settlement
In 1662 the Act of Settlement was passed by parliament by which the poor legally belonged to their own parishes. These people were often obliged to move from their own parish in order to find work. This they were allowed to do as long as they had a Settlement Certificate from the parish to which they belonged. If they became unemployed in the parish they had moved to in order to get work and parish officers became aware that there were unemployed labourers (or labourers who were liable to become unemployed) living in their parishes, it was their legal duty to send them back to their own parishes. This procedure entailed an examination before a magistrate and the making out of a removal order and it became the task of the parish constable to put this into force by physically removing the "offending" labourer to his parish of settlement. To belong to a parish you had to be born there, to live in property worth a certain rent (often £10 a year) or to have served an apprenticeship in that parish. A woman belonged to the parish of her husband. There are some terrible stories of the consequences of this act - families being moved from parish to parish like lost parcels, women on the point of giving birth being pushed over the parish boundary so that the baby would be born in another parish, etc. The reason for the law was that each parish was responsible for looking after its own poor and as this was a drain on the financial resources of the rate payers they wanted to keep the numbers of poor in the parish to a minimum.

Now back to Richard Waldock: I have no idea how he had obtained a legitimate settlement in Eyeworth or what he was doing there for he had been married in Ashwell only a few months before. I had been rather hoping to find that he was born there which would have given me the clue to where the family originated but unfortunately there are no surviving records which show any of the Waldock family in Eyeworth.

Record of the Waldock Family in the Overseers' Accounts, Ashwell
So how did the Waldock family get on in Ashwell?. I have been very fortunate in being able to obtain a copy of the accounts of the Overseers of the Poor in Ashwell for the years from 1722 to 1752. In it I found that Roger and Sarah Waldock must have fallen on bad times as they got older and probably Roger was no longer able to work for, from 28th January 1739, they were receiving a handout of 2 shillings and sixpence from the Overseers. In a way this was similar to a pension today but whereas today everyone considers a pension a right and there is no shame attached to it, in 1739 there was a certain amount of shame. This was a weekly allowance for two people (widows only got 1 shilling). Even in those days it would have hardly kept body and soul together. Cheese, which seems to have been the staple diet, was 2½d a pound, pork and beef 3d a lb, eggs 1d, flour 7d, bacon 8d, jam 4d, sugar 3d (I am not sure of the quantities of the last five items and I have not found the price of bread).

Sarah died and was given a pauper's burial on 19th February 1739/40. Roger received the comfort of a "cap muffler" in the same week that he died. He was buried on 18th March 1740/41. He had continued to receive his 2 shillings and 6 pence. He does not seem to have had a pauper's funeral but his coffin (7/6) was paid for by the Overseers. I have no idea of how old either Sarah or Roger were when they died as nowhere have I found an age for them but Roger was referred to in the books as "Old Roger Waldock". (The reason for the two year dates for these burials is that England was at that time changing its calendar; the beginning of the year changing from March to January.)

The four sons of Roger and Sarah are mentioned in different capacities in the accounts. John has many mentions. He was apparently the church sexton. He was paid 2 shillings to bury someone and 7d to toll the bell. He was also a church warden for a short time. Roger (the younger) supplied the overseers with chair bottoms and cloth (cloath). The only mention that Thomas, our ancestor, gets is for paying a 2d in the £ tax on the rentable value of his property for the rates of the Overseers. His property was worth between £1 and £10. Richard is a very interesting case. In spite of having been the subject of a Settlement Order he seems to have flourished. He was made constable of the parish for which he was paid as much as £1. 0. 8. Later he is mentioned as paying the 2d and 6d tax on his house whose rent was valued at the princely sum of £155 a year - considerably more than Thomas's. Eventually he becomes an Overseer himself and for one year is in charge of the accounts. His spelling is original and through it one can almost hear how he spoke.

Parish Registers, Ashwell
All the Waldock men married and had families and apparently flourished. Through the Ashwell Parish Registers I have been able to trace the family down through its many lines, however I will stick to our own direct line which I have shown in bold print.

The fifth child of Roger and Sarah,Thomas, married Elizabeth Mason in Ashwell in 1725. They had five children. Francis, baptised 28th August 1726, Ann, baptised 8th December 1728, Thomas, baptised 4th April 1730, Elizabeth, baptised 8th April 1733 and John, baptised 9th January 1736/7.

Francis Waldock married Ann Seymour in 1747. They had nine children. Elizabeth (1748), Thomas, baptised 1st July 1750, Ruth (1752), William (1754), James (1756), Phillip (1759), Edward (1761), Francis (1764) and because he died another Francis (1766). Francis (the elder) made a will on the 27th October 1783 in which he left to his " dear and loving wife Ann Walduck ...my Messuages Cottages Lands Tenements and Hereditaments whatsoever situate in the Parish of Ashwell ." He signed his will with a cross. The will was proved at Baldock 18th November 1783 and Ann Walduck was sworn to the due Execution of the will. She "verely believes the Goods Chattels & credits of the deceased do not amount to the sum of one hundred pounds."

In 1804 Ann Walduck witnessed with her mark her own will in which she left to each of her sons (but interestingly not in the order of their birth) various properties in Ashwell. I am amazed that, as her husband Francis had only been a labourer, there was so much property in her possession to will to her children. There are seven separate properties (with their land and appurtenances). Another interesting thing is that sometimes she gives a property to one son that is occupied by another son. This is the transcript of her will.

Will of Ann Walduck of Ashwell

"This is the last Will and Testament of me Ann Walduck of Ashwell in the County of Hertford, Widow. First I give and devise unto my Son James Walduck and to his Heirs and Assigns for ever All that Messuage Cottage or Tenement and Barns thereto belonging with the Appurtenances situate standing and being in Ashwell aforesaid now in the Occupation of my Son William Walduck And also the piece or parcel of Land or Ground lying behind the same now in my own Occupation And also all those my three Roods of Copyhold Land situate lying and being in or near a certain place called Poulters Way in the Parish of Ashwell aforesaid now also in my own Occupation And I give and devise unto my Son Francis Walduck and to his Heirs and Assigns for ever All that my Messuage Cottage or Tenement with the Appurtenances situate standing and being in Ashwell aforesaid now in my own Occupation And also the piece or parcel of Land or Ground lying behind the same And also all that my Messuage Cottage or Tenement with the Appurtenances situate standing and being in Ashwell aforesaid now in the Occupation of the said Francis Walduck And I give and devise unto my Son Thomas Walduck and to his Heirs and Assigns for ever All that my Messuage Cottage or Tenement and Barn thereunto belonging with the Appurtenances situate standing and being in Ashwell aforesaid now in the Occupation of my said Son Thomas And I give and devise unto my son William Walduck and to his Heirs and Assigns for ever All that my Messuage Cottage or Tenement with the Appurtenances situate standing and being in Ashwell aforesaid now in the Occupation of Jeremiah Clark And also one Moiety or half part of and in all that piece or parcel of Land or Ground now in my own Occupation lying behind the said last mentioned Cottage or Tenement and the Premises hereinafter devised to my Son Philip And I give and devise unto my said Son Philip Walduck and to his Heirs and Assigns forever All that my Messuage Cottage or Tenement with the Appurtenances situate standing and being in Ashwell aforesaid now in the Occupation of my son James Walduck And also the other Moiety or half part of and in all the said last mentioned piece or parcel of Land or Ground And I give and devise unto my Son in Law Samuel Gentle and to his Heirs and Assigns for ever All that my Messuage Cottage or Tenement with the Appurtenances situate standing and being in Ashwell aforesaid now in the Occupation of the said Samuel Gentle And I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Elizabeth Gentle all my wearing Apparel whatsoever And I give and bequeath unto my Son James Walduck my Bed Bedstead and Furniture thereto belonging and one pair of Sheets And as for and concerning the rest and residue of any Money Debts to me owing Goods Chattels and Personal Estate whatsoever (my just Debts and Funereal and Testamentary Expences being thereout first paid and discharged) I give and bequeath the same unto my son Francis Walduck and to my Daughter Elizabeth Gentle equally to be divided between them share and share alike And I do hereby nominate and appoint my Sons James and Francis Walduck Executors of this my last Will and Testament In Witness whereof I the said Ann Walduck have to this my last Will and Testament contained in one Sheet of Paper set my Hand and Seal the twenty ninth day of October in the Year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and three".

Ann X Walduck

her mark

Signed Sealed Published and Declared by the said Ann Walduck the Testatrix as and for her last Will and Testament in the presence of us who at her request in her presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our Names as Witnesses thereto, Isaac Hindley

Ann Vincent
H. O. Roe
29th Dec 1804.

James Walduck & Francis Walduck the Executors above named were duly Sworn &c and that the Effects of the deceased are under the value of £100.

Thomas married Sarah Bridges and they had seven children, Ann (1775), Elizabeth (1777), William, baptised 26th December 1779, Edward (1783), Thomas (1785), Sarah (1790) and Mary (1793) This Thomas is mentioned on the Militia Lists from 1769 to 1778 which meant that he was eligible for call up to serve his country in time of war. From 1781 he was exempt from service as by then he was the father of three (and more) children.

William married Hannah Burr in 1801 and they had seven children, Thomas, a gardener, baptised 13 February 1803, Hannah (1806), David (1809), Abraham (1814), Jesse (1818), John (1820) and Sarah (1822)

Thomas married Eliza Ann Gilby on 29th August 1822 and they had nine children, Allen (1823), James (1825), Thomas, baptised 6th July 1828, Caroline Adelaide (1830), Henry (1833), Stephen (1835), Mary (1837), Septimus (1842) and Henrietta (1846).

This last Thomas was my great grandfather the tailor, who married Mary Ann Burroughs on 29th July 1847 and emigrated to Australia on the `Truro' in 1854 with my grandmother, Eliza Ann, then aged three years and her sister, Salina, six months.

Most of the men in the Waldock family in Ashwell were agricultural labourers. The women were straw plaiters for the flourishing hat trade in Luton. In the 1851 Census there were 22 families of Waldocks in Ashwell. Many of them had the same forenames as well as surname. It would be interesting to know how people distinguished them from each other. I expect that there were some very interesting nicknames but I have no record of those. After 1851 many of the families moved away from Ashwell. Times were hard in the agricultural world and there would not have been enough work. Other families, besides Thomas and Mary Ann, emigrated to Australia. There is a record of one Waldock family being shipwrecked off the coast of Victoria and being drowned. When I visited Ashwell in 1999 there were only two people living there with the name of Waldock.

Records show that Forresters' Cottages in the High Street, Ashwell were at one time occupied by members of the Waldock family.

In 1829 a survey of `Farm Homestead, Private Dwelling Houses, Shops, Cottages etc.', at Ashwell was made. In the survey was the following information:-

Part of the Forresters' Cottages was occupied by William Waldock [my great-great-great-grandfather], his wife Hannah and their family. Their part consisted of a large sitting room, pantry and one bedroom plus a small garden at the back. The annual rental was £2.15.0.

Another part was occupied by Thomas Waldock [my great-great-grandfather], his wife Eliza and their family. This is described as the end cottage which was stud and plastered with a tiled roof and contained a sitting room, wash house and two bedrooms plus a small garden. The annual rental was £2.5.0.

The accommodation hardly seems adequate for the size of the families that were involved.

Forresters Cottages, Ashwell, Hertfordshire
"These ancient buildings, now a row of three cottages, probably began as a single building of which the earliest date back to the fourteenth century. It was added to, still as a single house, over the next two centuries. At some later point it was divided into cottages and, whether then or later, acquired by the Friendly Society, the Ancient and Honourable Order of Forresters, as an investment - hence the name.
The old cottages were allowed to become very derelict and narrowly saved from demolition after tiles and plaster were removed in 1961. They have now been restored as dwellings"

The Village of Ashwell, based on the 1840 Tithe Map

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