"...for really I think that the poorest he that is in England have a life to live, as the greatest he."
Colonel Thomas Rainsborough - 1647



These pages are about my family history. 

This site is written primarily for my relatives, near and distant, whoever and wherever you are. I hope you find this site interesting and useful.  

This is the story of a working class and lower-middle class family: weavers and bricklayers from Nottingham and Warwickshire, poor labourers from the Black Country, tradesmen from  Wiltshire and London,  a soldier and his family from Dorset and agricultural labourers from Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire. So far, I have traced almost all my family tree back to 1800, and a few strands of it as far as the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

I'm from London, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, so I was surprised, and mildly disappointed, that I've only found one  ancestor not born in England: a woman called Jane, born in Blaenarvon in South Wales,  who may or may not have been my great-great-great grandmother. The rest of my ancestors all come from an area no further north than Nottingham, or west than Beaminster in Dorset.

I'm still researching, when I have the time or access to a local archive, so I will update and add to this site  from time to time. You can keep track of updates by looking at the blog page.

The following are the family trees as gedcom files for each of my grandparents. N.B. If you don't have the software to read a gedcom file, you can download a programme for free from GRAMPS:

Paternal grandfather (Chapter 1)Ancestors of Thomas Leaper.ged

The tree is also viewable on 

Thomas was a coalminer.  His ancestors were all from the Nottingham area, mostly the villages to the east of the city. His father, grandfather and great grandfather were all bricklayers, but most of his other ancestors, men and women, worked in the manufacture of lace and other cloth, including many frame-work knitters.

Paternal grandmother (Chapters 23, 4 and 5)Ancestors of Florence Annie Watkins.ged

Florence Annie was a lacemaker in Nottingham.  Her ancestors were weavers from the East Midlands and tradesmen from the West Country. One of her ancestors was Elizabeth Watkins who was the last surviving witness of the Battle of Waterloo.

Also viewable on

Maternal grandfather (Chapter 7)Ancestors of Harry Augustus Johnson.ged

Harry Johnson built up a chain of bakeries in London's East End, but his roots lay in Buckinghamshire.  His ancestors were agricultural workers. His mother was a nurse, and his grandmother was one of Buckinghamshire's last lace makers.

Also viewable on

Maternal grandmother (Chapter 5): Ancestors of Emily Webb.ged

Emily Webb, known as Jerry, came from the Sandwell area of the Black Country, a centre for metal bashing trades such as edge tool making.  Her father was a blacksmith's striker.  Her ancestors had been very poor and included child labourers in hard dangerous occupations.

Also viewable on

As far as I'm aware all the images I've used on these pages are free of copyright restrictions. It is not my intention to disturb the privacy of, or unduly upset any living person.  If you object to anything in these pages, please let me know.  If you think I might have more information that can help you with your own research, or you have information that might help me with mine, you can contact me at jane(removespamblocker)

The header image on this site is cropped from a picture of Beaminster in Dorset by Natamagat.