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Dersingham Residents in 1851 - A Summary of the Census
Elizabeth Fiddick ©


The Census of 1851 gives a detailed picture of the residents of Dersingham. A census began to evolve only in the late 17C.  Before then inventories of people, taxpayers, and valuables had certainly been made.  The Domesday Book is perhaps the earliest example of a collection of information about the inhabitants of England. England took its first census in 1801 but only gradually did census takers learn what basic information was and how to collect it.  No attempt was made to secure age dates until 1841 and marital status was not recorded until 1851.

In the 1851 census 172 households are recorded in Dersingham.  There are two entries for “Houses unoccupied, uninhabited or being built”


Joshua Freeman
occupied Church FarmHe farmed 1300 acres and employed 30 outdoor labourers. There is no mention of Joshua in the Directory of 1836 but he features prominently in the Tithe Schedule of 1839. He is recorded in the Directories of 1845, 1854, 1864 and 1874, but not in the 1883 Directory.

Joshua, 44, was born in Swanton Morley and Susan, 38, his wife, came from Scoulton.  They had three sons and two daughters.  The oldest son Joshua was 16 and had been born in Bylaugh.  John, 10, Frederick, 9, Ellen, 6, and Mary Jane, 4 were all born in Dersingham. So they had taken up residence in Dersingham some time between 1836 and 1839. The Freeman’s employed a governess Elizabeth Allen, 21, unmarried and from King’s Lynn.  In addition there were four other servants.
Joyce Davis, 46, unmarried from Wolverton
Ann Rogers, 17, unmarried from Dersingham
Susanna Sparham, 16, unmarried from Bircham
George Belson, 19, unmarried, from Snettisham
It is not recorded what positions they held in the household.

Marianne Brett ran a large household at Dersingham Hall.  At the time of the census Mary was 65 and her birthplace was Mileham. She also features in the Tithe Schedule of 1839 as Mary Ann Brett.  She is listed as occupying House Yards and Garden, as well as the Meadow and a cottage and garden at Dersingham Hall.  She is also recorded as the owner of the Mill and lands occupied by James Fitt the Miller.  She lived with her son Edward, 32, a Solicitor.  He was born in Dersingham which means the Bretts were in the village in 1819. Edward’s  wife Ann Sophia 27, came from Bramtor in Derbyshire.  They had three daughters, Florence Mary, 4, Gertrude, 11, and Georgina, 11.  All the girls are recorded as being born in Dersingham. Edward features in the Tithe Schedule of 1839 as owning cottage and gardens in Manor Road. Also living in the house was Lucy Jane Davy, 56 ,Mary’s sister.  She is recorded as a landed proprietor and related to the Davy’s of Mount Amelia, Ingoldisthorpe.  Although listed as a visitor she was also recorded in the Directories of 1836 and 1845 as living with the Bretts.  A Rev. John Brett is listed in 1836 as curate and rector of Wolverton.  Mary Brett is recorded in the Directories of 1845 and 1854.
Unlike the Freeman’s no Governess is recorded.  Is it possible that Miss Davy was responsible for the children’s education?  However five other servants, all unmarried, were employed.
Jemima Ward, 33,, Nurse, from Southery
Susan Savage, 25, Housemaid, from Swaffham
Elizabeth Stanford, 30, Cook, from Massingham
Ann Maria Howard, 18, Under Housemaid, from Heacham
Esther Hardy, 15, Under Nurse, from South Wootton.

The Chadwick’s were an important family in the life of the village.  The Tithe Schedule of 1839 records George Chadwick as the holder of considerable land and buildings in the village.  He lived in the house identified as Oak Farm in later maps and which, in the 20th century, was known as The Oaks.  He also ran the Malthouse which used to be sited in Chapel Road opposite the present Library.  In 1851 Elizabeth Chadwick is the head of the household.  She is recorded as 66, a widow and a “Proprietor of Houses and Land” She was born in Dersingham and was a Stanton before marriage.  Her mother Alice Stanton, a widow of 94, born in Fakenham, lives in the house.  Elizabeth had two children, both still living at home.  Her son George A. Chadwick was 27 and unmarried.  He is recorded as farming 100 acres and employing 3 men.  Jane, the daughter was 28 at this time but a gravestone in the churchyard records a Jane Stort, daughter of George and Elizabeth Chadwick, who died in 1861 aged 38. Another stone records George Abel Chadwick, who died in 1870, aged 48.

Jane Wilcox, 28, born in Dersingham is recorded as a visitor.  The Chadwick’s employed three servants.  Sarah Melton, 20, from West Newton was the Cook and Dairymaid.  Harriet Coble, 18, from Ingoldisthorpe was a House Servant, while Elizabeth Kemp, a widow of 63, was employed as a Nurse.  Perhaps Elizabeth’s aged mother needed special attention.

Richard Stanton
farmed 345 acres at Ling House.  He employed 16 men, 8 boys and 3 girls.  Richard, 43, born in Dersingham, lived with his wife Sarah, 44 from Stanhoe.  They had one daughter Sarah, 10 and four sons, Robert,8, Harry,6, Philip, 5 and William 4.  All were born in Dersingham.  The Stantons employed a governess Charlotte Gosker, 23, from Hillington.

In addition there were Susan Baldwin, 19, from Dersingham, a Cook servant.
Sarah Allcock, 18 from Docking , a nurse servant and William Brown, 18, from Great Bircham, a groom servant.

The census records three households with an address at Ling House. No doubt these were the cottages on the farm.

William Nurse,40, and his wife Mary, 39, from Flitcham occupied one cottage.  William and his oldest son, George, 15 are recorded as agricultural labourers.  There were two daughters, Frances, 18, and Mary 12, with no recorded occupation.  The other children, Maria, 9, Henry, 7, John, 6, William 4, and Jane, 1 are all listed as scholars at Bircham.

The next cottage was occupied by Henry Nobes, 47, and his wife Sarah, 47.  Henry is also recorded as an agricultural labourer.  His son James, 10 is a scholar at Bircham.  There were three lodgers in the house.  Robert Harrison, 24, and Daniel Miles, 18 from Bircham Magna and William Rye 18, from Terrington.  They are all recorded as agricultural labourers.

The third household was that of William Jarrett 42, and his wife Frances, 38.  William was born in Bircham Magna while his wife originated from Leziate.  William was the shepherd. while his son Robert, 18 was a farm labourer.  A lodger, John Marster 15 from Bircham Magna was the shepherd’s helper. The children, Anne, 11, Susan, 9, James, 5, Sarah 3, and Hannah,2 are all recorded as Scholars at Bircham.

There were a number of smaller landholders in the village. Mary Spanton, a widow of 49, is recorded as farming 220 acres and employing 5 labourers  She was born in Weybourn but all her children were born in Heacham. As the youngest was 7 at the time of the census then Mary came to Dersingham some time after 1845. There is no record of her husband in any of the Directory entries for Dersingham for that year but  she appears again in the Directory of 1854.  Her sons Edward William 20, and Thomas,15 are listed as Farmer’s son.  Frederick aged 19 is a Draper while daughters Ellen 9, and Sarah 7 are scholars at home. 

Emmanuel Boothby, 48, farmed 76 acres and employed 3 labourers. He came from Heacham whilst his wife Charlotte, 43, was from Shernborne.  Their son Alfred, 16, was a farmer  but his younger brother John, 7 was a scholar at home. Both sons have Harpley listed as their birthplace. So with John aged 7, they came to Dersingham some time after 1844. Living with the Boothby’s was a niece Georgianna Woods 15, who was employed as a house servant.

Emmanuel Boothby does not appear in the 1839 schedule but is listed in the Directories of 1854 and 1864.  In 1883 an Alfred Boothby is listed as Farmer and Coal Dealer. If as seems likely this is Emmanuel’s oldest son then he would have been 48 years old.  In 1890 Alfred is recorded again as Coal Dealer, assistant overseer and tax collector.  In the same list is Mrs. Hannah Boothby dressmaker.  Later in 1896 and 1900 Alfred is recorded with William and Ernest Boothby as farmers and coal merchants.  In 1900 there is also an Arthur Boothby recorded as a grocer.  The Boothby’s do not feature again in the lists.  Gravestones in the church record a John Boothby dying in 1875. If this is Emmanuel’s son he was just 31 years old.  Alfred died in 1902 aged 67.

Mary Chapman, a widow of 55, farmed just 89 acres with one labourer. Her son John 35, is recorded as formerly Miller and there was one daughter Maria aged 17.  All were born in Dersingham.  Chapman is a name recorded in the village for centuries.  A John Chapman gained fame in the great flood of 1671.  In the !839 schedule a John Chapman is recorded in Chapel Road near Sugar Lane.  He had arable land in Mill Road, and pasture land close to Sugar Lane.  A John Chapman occurs in the Directories of 1836, 1845 and 1854.

At Hill House, John Townshend 64, farmed 68 acres and employed two labourers.  He and his wife Bathsheba were from Ingoldisthorpe.   They had one house servant Susan Taylor 22, from Shouldham.  The only other record of John Townshend is in the Directory of 1854.

John Riches 40, was a smallholder with just 4 acres.  A John Riches with such a smallholding appears in the 1839 schedule with his land at the top of Doddshill.  He lived with his wife Charlotte, 36, and their 8 children. Charles,14, Hannah,13, Zoa (daughter - name confirmed in the original and in the birth registration; it means 'life') 11, Emma, 9, Ann, 7, Deborah,5, Jacob, 3 and Rebecca 1.  Living with the family was Henry Riches 20, a carpenter.  All the children were born in Dersingham apart from the two youngest who are listed with Houghton as their birthplace. A John Riches is listed in the Directories from 1836 to 1874 as farmer and Rabbit Dealer.

Thomas Baldwin 40 from Rudham is recorded as a cattle dealer.  His wife and 8 children were all born in Dersingham.  His wife Mary Ann was 40.  The children were Robert,19, Mary Ann 17, Sarah, 14, George, 13, James 11, Tom, 8, John, 6 and William 2.

A Robert Baldwin appears in the 1839 schedule with pasture and a House Yards and garden situated in Manor Road close to Westhall Manor. It is interesting that one of Thomas Baldwin’s sons, Tom is entered as Balding. The name Baldwin does not appear in the Directories of 1836 or 1845.  However a Thomas Balding , farmer, is recorded in 1854 and again in 1864 Robert and Thomas are recorded as Farmers & Cattle Dealers.  In 1874 Thomas appears again as does Robert Balding.  Both are described as cattle dealers. If this Robert is the son recorded in the census as Baldwin  he would have been 41.  Also in 1874 a George Baldwin is the proprietor of the Alexandra Inn in Station Road..  If this is Thomas’s son George he would have been 35. In 1883 there are again Thomas Balding and Robert Balding  but also Robert Balding Jun a grocer and draper.  In the 1890 Directory Robert and Thomas are listed again.  If they are the Baldwin’s Robert would have been 58 and his father 79. After 1890 neither Robert or Thomas appear again but in 1896 a Mrs. Balding lived at Rose Villa. and the name appears several times in the 1900’s up to my last directory of 1937.  John Balding, Frederick Balding, George, and James Balding are recorded as farmers in the village.  There are still Baldings here as I write this in 2004.  I do not know for certain if the confusion of names is correct but it seems a distinct possibility that the  names were misheard in the collection of the 1851 data.

Another Balding family is recorded in the census.  Robert Balding,39,was born in Dersingham but his wife Mary, 29 was from Gaywood. Robert is entered as an Agricultural Labourer.  They had 3 children. Mary,3, and John, 5.  Mary Balding the mother, aged 60,  from Bircham, is described as a pauper.  Then another daughter is recorded, Mary aged 17. It is not clear whose child this is.  She could be the daughter of an earlier marriage.   All the children were born in Dersingham.

An interesting entry is for Mary Green, a 78 year old widow, described as estate owner.  She was born in Wolverhampton Norfolk.  Could that have been Wolverton? Another example of mishearing?  She lived with her daughter Susannah, aged 40.  In 1854 an auction was held at The Cock Inn on January 12th of
“Three cottages and Outbuildings with yards and Large gardens adjoining , next to the common of Darsingham, lately occupied by Mrs. Mary Green, and now by Henry Green and three others.  With a right of Common over Stinted Commons of Darsingham for 3 head of stock.
Three roods of land next the road leading from Sandringham to Darsingham Mill and now in the occupation of Henry Green”

The 1839 schedule records a Robert Green owning arable land near the road to the Mill and a cottage and Garden on Chapel Road close by an area that was designated common land at that time. 


At this time three Inns are recorded in Dersingham, The Dun Cow, The Coach and Horses, and The Cock.

In 1851 Thomas Wills is recorded as Innkeeper and Farmer with 33 acres and 1 labourer.  He was 32 years old and his birthplace was Snettisham.  His wife Sarah was 27 and came from Tottenhill.  William Plafer, 22, a labourer from Stanhoe lodged with them.  As both The Coach and Horses and The Dun Cow are identified in the census Thomas must have been Proprietor at The Cock.  In 1845 it was in the hands of Abraham Gay and by 1854 Archibald Petrie was in charge.

John Waters 56 was Innkeeper at The Dun Cow.  He farmed 6 acres with 3 labourers.  He came from Great Dunham and his wife Ann 51, was from Watton.  Four of their children, Mary Ann, 23, Robert 17, Maria 15, and George 11 were born in Swaffham but the two youngest Samuel 9, and Margaret 6 were born in Dersingham.  John does not appear in the 1839 schedule but is listed in the 1845 Directory.  As Samuel was 9 at the time of the census it would suggest that they came to Dersingham after 1839 but before 1842.  In 1864 only Ann Waters is listed at The Dun Cow and by 1874 the Inn was run by John Smith.  In the churchyard there is a gravestone for John Waters, a servant to Anthony Hammond Esq. of West Acre, who died in 1854 at the age of 59.  Other gravestones record Ann Waters dying in 1871 at 74 and a son Robert who dies in 1888 at 55 years. 

William Hotching,34,is recorded as Innkeeper at The Coach and Horses.  He came from Congham as did his wife Elizabeth also 34.  Living with them was William’s father William Hotching,67, formerly Farmer, born in Little Massingham.  They employed Emily Greenacre, 16, from Wolverton as a House Servant.

In the 1839 schedule a William Hotchen is recorded with a Shop and Yard owned by Lydia Petchey who is recorded as  the Proprietor of the Coach and Horses in 1845.  This shop and barns  stood opposite the Inn.  The house and shop were demolished and new houses erected at the end of the 20th century.  The barns were renovated. William had both arable and pasture land.(See chapter on the schedule)   In 1845 William Hotchen is recorded as a butcher and as Proprietor of The Coach and Horses in 1854.  The name does not occur again in the Directories.  It would seem likely considering the age of the father, that it was the son who is recorded as Butcher and later Proprietor of the Inn.


Charles Reynolds
was born in Dersingham in 1807 and was 44 at the time of the 1851 census.  He is recorded as Shopkeeper.  His wife Francis 40 was born in Hillington.  They had six children, Edward Turner Reynolds, 15, Elizabeth Turner Reynolds, 13, William Turner Reynolds 8, Ann Turner Reynolds, 5, and Daniel and Sarah both aged 2. All the children were born in Dersingham.  There is no mention of the name Reynolds in the 1836 Directory, or the Tithe Schedule of 1839.  He is recorded as Shopkeeper in the 1845 and 1854 Directories.  From 1864 to 1883 only Elizabeth Reynolds is recorded as the shopkeeper. The daughter Elizabeth would have been 28 in 1864.  She appears once more in 1890 as a Dressmaker.  In that same year Daniel Reynolds is listed as Market Dealer and Coal Merchant. Daniel would have been 41 in 1890. In 1896 he appears as Shopkeeper and Coal Dealer.  By 1908 he is listed under Daniel Reynolds and Sons.  In the same Directory John Charles Reynolds first appears as Nurseryman at Roseneath in the present Post Office Road.

In 1851 William Asker, 53, born in Dersingham is listed as Dealer in Greengrocery.  He lived with his wife Maria, 37, from Bradenham.  The name Asker does not appear in the Directories until a John Asker, Broker, is recorded.  This name appears again in 1890 and 1896 as Furniture Broker and Hawker.  In 1912 a William Asker is listed and in 1916 he is listed as Private Resident.  In 1922 he is recorded in Brook Road and in 1925 and 1929 a William Asker is last  recorded as Carpenter.  Askers Row is the cottages at right angles in Manor Road , opposite Heath Road.  Mrs. Goodship tells me of a carpenter who lived in that area..