01 June 2012

Thomas Wickham, butcher of Margate, Kent

I was contacted by a descendant of Thomas and Rachel Wickham yesterday, seeking more information about the family, which got me searching a little further. It goes to show, send me an email and I might do some research you are interested in!

I have previously written about Thomas Wickham (1811-1897), the patriarch of the Australian branch of my Wickham family here and here. I was searching for information on him or his children on FamilySearch today and discovered three entries for the birth of his firstborn son Thomas (1836-1911). One entry, under "England, Births and Christenings, 1538-1975" just gives his date of birth, the other two are from the "England and Wales, Non-Conformist Record Indexes (RG4-8)", one of which gives his birthplace as No 7 Market St, Margate, Kent, the other gives it as Cripplegate, London. I think the reason for the discrepancy here is because Cripplegate is where Dr William's Library is, which is where the records for some of the non-conformist churches (Baptist, Congregational and Presbyterian) were held (they are now held by the UK National Archives).

This is interesting on two points. The first is that the Wickhams clearly attended a non-conformist church, though of which variety I have no idea. Unfortunately I have not been able to find definite birth records for any of Thomas and Rachel's other children, which may or may not have helped me to narrow it down. I do know, however, that Thomas and Rachel's son Robert Wickham was married to Annie Jane Smith by the minister of the Waterloo Congregational Church (Sydney). So perhaps the Wickhams were Congregationalists.

The second reason why this is interesting is because it names the actual place Thomas Wickham jnr. was born (in 1836) - 7 Market St Margate. Google Street View shows that the building currently at that location houses a Chinese restaurant! A search of historical directories shows Thomas Wickham, butcher, at 6 Market St, Margate in the Pigots Directory of 1840. I have found no other references to the Wickham's place of work or residence in Margate anywhere else. I don't know if 6 and 7 Margate St were beside each other or roughly opposite, but looking at the buildings in the street now, it is my guess that the Wickhams lived in the same building as the butcher shop. Perhaps Thomas jnr was born in a neighbour's house (someone who could help first-time-mother Rachel through the labour?) or perhaps they moved within the same street. I think the former option is more likely.

1 comment:

  1. Much as I love "beyond the internet" I also love this kind of opportunity to readily learn more about an ancestor's birth through digitisation and also then see it "live" today through Google Earth. Truly the internet, used wisely, has set us free.