Using surname mapping to find your ancestors

Sometimes when you have exhausted every avenue you are left wondering where to look next. When I first started doing my family history I had a notion like most others that families didn’t move much in the 18th and 19th centuries. However, that is not the case and many move much further than you can imagine.
This is where surname mapping might be a help to pin point areas where families with the surname you are researching may have moved to or even come from of course. You can do this using many different records like the census and land tax records but a good place to start is the 1837-1851 death registration indexes which you can access for free at . Deaths rather than births are used as they are more likely to have been in that area longer.
Go to FreeBMD, put in the date range and tick the deaths box and then you can either choose where you want to search be it a county/counties/country. You will then get your results and it is just a case of making a tally chart to record that information.
Once you have that information you can either use a program like GenMapUK or find a map with registration districts on it and start colouring. Work out a scale for your colours so you can see a difference between the districts and then sit back and admire your work!

Completed with GenMapUK

Using a blank map found online.

A timeline affecting the non-conformists (work not complete yet!)

This is part of a piece of work I am doing on Non-Conformists, those people who do not follow the Anglican Church. The timeline looks at various Acts that were passed which in the whole prevented Non-Conformity and therefore any records associated with it until the late 1700s, early 1800s. It is a working article so may change as I gather more information and iron our any mistakes that have been made. If you notice any or see anything I may have missed then please comment with them.


Before 1534 most English Christians were Catholics

1534 Henry VIII breaks away from Rome and declares himself head of the English Church

Some Protestant sects were formed before 1558 – mainly individuals with ideas so no organised beginning for non-conformity before 16th cent.

1559 Act of Supremacy – placed Elizabeth I as supreme Governor of all spiritual and ecclesiastical things.

1559 Act of Uniformity – all worship to follow the Book of Prayer fines of 12d to those absent from church on Sundays

1581 – Fine increased to £20 a month. Could be exacted from any land you owned. Loss of civil rights, unable to collect any rents or debts owed.

1587 – Act passed not allowing the sale or buying of land from Recusants

1593 – Recusants not allowed to travel more than 5 miles from their home.

1581-1591 – Cases were recorded in the Pipe Rolls

1592 – 1691 – Cases recorded in the Recusant Rolls

1606 – Act passed not allowing any Catholics to reside within 10 miles of London nor to practise in certain occupations or the military. Baptisms, marriages and burials only to be performed by Anglican clergy with severe penalties if not conformed to. Catholics on marriage forfeited the brides property to the crown. Men were responsible for their wifes recusancy.

1610 – Act requiring all Catholics 18+ to take an oath of allegiance, with penalties for refusal.

1611 – before this you could still be burnt at the stake.

1627-1642 – Commission for Compounding with Recusants set up to find concealed sources of revenue of recusants

1643 – Committee for the Sequestrian of Delinquents Estates – seize and confiscate land or levy fines on those described as papists and recusants

1643+ – Replaced by the Committee for Compounding for the Estates of Royalists and Delinquents

1643 New oath requiring denial of Catholics beliefs or loss of estate.

1649-1660 – Puritan Pariliament period of non-passivity towards non-conformists. Under Cromwell non-conformist minsters enjoyed greater freedoms many replacing Anglican clergy. Wills, baptisms, marriages and burials became a civil matter rather than a church one. This encouraged some non-conformists to keep their own registers.

1656 – Earliest Quaker Registers

1660 – Restoration – Started to get rid of nonconformist minsters who had replaced the Anglican ones.

19th May 1662 – Act of Uniformity – Every minster had to swear to follow the Book of Common Prayer in public. 3 months imprisonment for ministers still preaching non-conformism. This resulted in between 1600 – 2000 minsters to be ejected. Some continued to preach to like-minded congregations and some registers began to be made.

17th May 1664 – Conventicles Act – Any congregation of non-conformists greater than 5 would result in a fine of £5 or 3 months imprisonment for the 1st offence. 2nd offence it was doubled. 3rd offense resulted in Transportation to a foreign plantation but not New England.

1665 – The Five Mile Act – Non-conformist minsters or teachers could not come within 5 miles of a corporate town or parish they had previously ministered at unless just passing. £40 fine but many were imprisoned as they needed to work to live. May were imprisoned , about 8000.

1672 – Charles I Declaration of Indulgence allowed non-conformists to apply for licences for meeting houses about 1061 minsters did (Tracing your family history)

1673 – Act was repealed and the Test Act introduced which returned to fining and imprisoning recusants.

17th November 1676 – Compton Census – constables and church wardesn ordered to take names of every recusant over 16 and hand to the JPs, who then had to summon them to take oaths.

1687 – Declaration of Indulgence, suspended the Test Act.

1688 More anti Catholic legislation introduced under James II.

1689 – Toleration Act granted massive freedoms to the majority of non-conformists. This allowed the freedom of worship to all bar Catholics. There were still many barriers to non-conformist ministers but despite that 2418 places of dissenting worship were licensed between 1689-1700.

1689 – Attendance was compulsory at Anglican Church services until this point

Where are the Webbs hiding in 1851?

Using the 1851 Post Office Directory the following Webbs can be found:

Benjamin Webb – 7 Burlington Street, Brighton – Auctioneer
Richard M & Benjamin Webb – 50 Devonshire Place, Brighton & 1 Marine Parade, Brighton – Wine, spirit, ale and porter merchants, auctioneers, estate agents, undertakers and land surveyors
Mrs Emma Webb – 13 Kings Road, Brighton – Milliner
James Webb – 55 Kings Road, Brighton – Milliner
Mrs Sarah Webb – 84 Kings Road, Brighton – Lodging House
Richard Webb Esq – 75 Marine Parade, Brighton
Thomas Webb – 16 North Street, Brighton – Millinery Warehouse
James Webb – 9 Queen’s Road, Brighton – Estate Agent
Mr John Webb – 21 Richmond Place, Brighton
Mr Henry Webb – 29 West Street, Brighton – Brazier and Iron Monger
Mrs Webb – 38 Russell Square, Brighton
George Webb – Waterloo Street, Brighton – Coal Merchant
William Webb – Cocking – Wheelwright
David Webb – 8 Prospect Place, Hastings – Beer Retailer
John Webb – East Street, Hastings – Beer retailer & boot and shoe maker
Peter Webb – Ifield – Shoemaker
Mrs Susan Webb – Sedlescombe – Grocer & Draper

Catsfield 1839 Map using the Tithe Applotments

The following was made using the Tithe Applotments and shows the renter/occupiers of the various applotments in 1839. This will probably marry up quite well with the 1841 census.

1. Richard Roger Davis – Meadow
2. John Crouch – Platt
3. Widow Hodgkins – Cottage & Garden
4. Joseph Thorn – Cottage & Garden
5. Poor House
6. Samuel Saxby – House
7. John Winbourne – Shops
8. Edward Sinden – Cottage & Garden
9. Richard Whiting – Cottage & Garden
10. Charles Smith – Cottage & Garden
11. Richard Waite – Cottage & Garden
12. Richard Waite – Platt
13. Samuel Saxby – Platt
14. Samuel Saxby the Elder – House & Garden
15. John Saxby – House & Garden
16. Isaac Crouch – House & Garden
17. Richard Roger Davis – Platt
18. William Hollands – Cottage & Garden
19. James Blackman – Cottage & Garden
20. Thomas Russell – Cottage & Garden
21. Richard Roger Davis – White Hart Inn
22. William Tompsett – Cottage & Garden
23. John Blackman – Cottage & Garden
24. John Blackman – Shop & Garden
25. Mrs May – Parkgate Farm, Cottage & Garden
26. Edward Sheather – House & Garden
27. John Crouch – House & Garden
28. Jesse Sinden – Cottage & Garden
29. James Wrenn – Platt
30. Sir Andrew Pilkington – Church Farm, House/Platts/c
31. Sir Andrew Pilkington – Church Farm, Platt
32. School

Catsfield Land Tax 1830 Transcription

Assessors: John & James Wrenn

Proprietor ———— Occupier ————— Name or Description

Thomas Davis ———- Himself —————- House & Land
Charlie Coppard ——- Robert Sellens ——— Land
Benjamin Waters ——- Richard Waters ——— House & Land
Richard Ruck ———- John Crouch ———— Tenament & Plat
Thomas Burgess ——– Samuel Davis ———– Tenament & Plat
Bishop & Thorpe ——- Samuel Brown ———– Tenament & Plat
Benjamin Wrenn ——– Himself —————- Windmill & Plat
Earl of Ashburnham —- Himself —————- Land
Earl of Ashburnham —- Himself —————- Woods
Earl of Ashburnham —- Widow Adams ———— Dolmans Farm
Earl of Ashburnham —- William Tanner ——— Tenament & Land
Earl of Ashburnham —- Joseph Sinden ———- Tenament & Land
James & John Farmer — Themselves ————- Hopehouse Farm
Robert Bantor ——— Himself —————- Tenament & Plat
Richard? Ashburnham — ****** Ash ————- Glebe
John Fuller Esq ——- James Chrismas ——— Broomham Farm
Tho R Bedingfield Esq – Himself —————- Parkgate
John Fuller Esq ——- Benjamin Foster ——– Tenament & Plat
John Fuller Esq ——- James Wrenn ———— Farm Henley Down
John Fuller Esq ——- George Goldsmith ——- Tenament & Land
John Fuller Esq ——- William Crouch ——— Tenament & Plat
A Pilkington Esq —— Himself —————- Church Farm
T G Pelham Esq ——– Himself —————- Catsfield Place Farm
Mercer —————- John Bourner ———– Tenament & Plat
John Farmer ———– John Witmash ———– Tenament
Frances Smith ——— George Ransom ———- Tenament
A Pilkington Esq —— James Adams ———— Down Farm
Sampson King ———- Henry Holland ———- Land
G Webster Bart ——– Himself & John Wicker? – Park Farm
A Pilkington Esq —— Edward Roakes ———- Tilton Farm

Going to check this with the 1841 Census and previous tax assessments and make some changes later on.

A look at the Webbs of Catsfield Part 4

In the 1841 census we find a new WEBB family living at the house in Henleys Down. Stephen WEBB 25 Ag Lab with his wife Caroline GATES 20 and their children Caroline 2 and John 5 months old. They share the house with Sarah WEBB 65, James 10, Charles 8 and Caroline 20.
It took some time to unwind this family, finding out that Sarah was the mother of Stephen and Caroline and that James & Charles were the children of two other of Sarah’s children. This is the story of that family.
John WEBB born 1773 (Based upon burial records) married Sarah HISCOCK in 1796 in Whatlington. Sarah’s family had been moved from her birth place of Salehurst to Whatlington in 1777. Now I am unsure as to whether they moved around a bit due to John being an Agricultural Labourer or whether they just had their children baptised at different churches but the following children were born to them: John 1797 Westfield, Mary Ann 1799 Burwash, Jane 1801 Burwash, Phillis 1803 Westfield, Eliza 1805 Westfield, William 1807 Westfield, Harriet 1810 Westfield, Hannah 1813 Westfield, Stephen 1814 Catsfield, Caroline 1817 Catsfield.
My supposition is that they lived with Isaac WEBBs family until they all died before 1838, the family of John & Sarah is then the only one shown in the 1841 census.
This suggests that there must be a link between John WEBB b1773 and Isaac Webb b1763. There are no records of a birth of John Webb in 1773 and his birth date is taken from the burial registers which could well be wrong. It is possible but by no means provable at the moment that John was in fact the son of John & Ann WEBB born in 1765. That family moved away from Catsfield at some point and John then moved back with his family later. John and Isaac would be second cousins and with no other family in the area could explain why they moved in to the same house in Henleys Down.

A look at the Webbs of Catsfield Part 3

Alices’ brother Isaac married Mary CRUTTENDEN on 10th December 1761 at Catsfield and they had 6 children, Mary born in 1762, Isaac in 1763, William in 1765, Elizabeth in 1767, Joseph in 1769 and Hannah in 1773. Isaac and Mary died within a year of each other and are buried in the churchyard at St Laurence, Catsfield.

As you can see there are only 2 of the children of Isaac and Mary I have found any information on other than their baptismal date. I will primarily focus on Isaac and it is he who stays in the family home and William moves to Sedlescombe where after his marriage to Philadelphia TAYLER in 1786 they have 3 children William, Mary and Joseph.

Isaac marries twice, first a childless marriage to Lucy BATTLEMORE in 1785 and then after she dies in 1812 a second marriage where he is noted as a widow to Mary MARCHANT in 1814. It is from that marriage that they have 5 children: Mary Ann, Sophia, Isaac, Lucy and John.

The first two children Mary Ann and Sophia die within a year of being born and the final 2 children I have found no information on at all. Isaac therefore inherits the house at Henleys Down but dies quite early on with no heirs. This then leads us onto a new WEBB family that must have a connection to this one but it is still unclear where that connection is. Although I have made some suggestions as to the link which sort of make sense with the no heir apparent after Isaac’s death.

A look at the Webbs of Catsfield Part 2

There is much more to the family of Isaac WEBB, although they also peter out and disappear from Catsfield in the first half the 1800s. Isaac and Ann have two children recorded in the baptismal entries, Isaac born in 1734 and Alice born in 1736.

Alice marries James SINDEN born 1735 in Catsfield at St Laurence Church in Catsfield on 26 Dec 1756. They have 3 children: Isaac born in 1757, Elizabeth born in 1761 and then a long gap till James born in 1774.

Alice dies in 1803 and James in 1823 and both are buried in the St Lawrence graveyard. As far as I can tell, the eldest son Isaac does not marry and dies in 1827 and is also buried in the same graveyard. It is possible that Elizabeth marries William BURT in 1794 in Catsfield or Thomas SINDEN in 1784 at Catsfield but as there are several other Elizabeth SINDENs born around the same time it is difficult to suggest which might be the case. James SINDEN marries Ann EASTON in 1792 at Ticehurst and he can be seen on the Tithe Applotments for Henleys Down nr Catsfield and the 1841 Census in the same place. In fact, they are next to the WEBB place of residence in Henleys Down. James and Ann go on to have 5 children but that is where we will leave their story as it is the WEBB family we are focusing on.

A look at the Webbs of Catsfield Part 1

The first instance of the WEBB family in Catsfield comes from two brothers Isaac and Richard born to Isaac & Mary WEBB in Bexhill in 1710 and 1713 respectively. It is possible that they moved to Ashburnham before they appear in the registers of Catsfield in the late 1730’s. They both married in Ashburnham, Isaac to Ann GOODALE in 1729 and Richard to Ann THARPE in 1737 and then at some point they moved into Catsfield.

I will start with a look at Richard’s family and descendants as it is smaller.

Richard and Ann have two children: Richard and John born in 1739 and 1743 respectively. There are no further records of Richard & Ann and their child Richard beyond this point. John Webb marries Ann before 1765 but there are no records detailing the date or her surname. They have one child John born in 1765 and again beyond that date there are no records of this family.