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Ronald Basil Girdler

1925 - 2017


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Helene Girdler

1927 - 2020



The children of Stephen and Pleasant must have had a very difficult upbringing, as the occupation of their father, Stephen, was recorded as "Pauper". So far, I have not traced with certainty what happened to these brothers and sisters, but John Gorham later married Rebecca and they later moved to the village of Trimley , nearly 11/2 miles N.W. of Walton (Map 2). This was a smaller village, divided into 2 parishes -Trimley St. Martin and Trimley St. Mary - by virtue of the 2 churches of St. Martin and St. Mary which are almost next to one another (Map 3). John and Rebecca actually lived in the parish of Trimley St. Mary, which had only 43 houses (occupied by 66 families) in 1801. It had a total population of 330 (158 male + 172 female) and was predominantly agricultural with 210 employed in agriculture and only 25 in trade, manufacture or handicraft.



The date of the marriage of John and Rebecca must have been around 1815, as their first child was born in 1816. On his son's Marriage Certificate, John Gorham's occupation was given as "Labourer", and he and Rebecca must also have found life rather difficult as they had 9 children to support. These were as follows:-


George (bap.21st Jan 1816)

Sarah (bap.8th June 1821)

Robert Stephen (bap. 15th Feb 1824)-born12th Jan.

Stephen (bap.2nd June 1831)-born17th May.----buried 16th Oct 1831

Stephen (bap.25th Oct 1832)-born 1st Oct.

Emma (bap.6th June 1836)

Edward (bap. 10th Oct 1837)-born 14th Sep.

Mary Ann (bap.9th May 1841)-born 8th June 1826.

Rebecca (bap. 18th Apr 1847)-born 2nd July 1827.



John and Rebecca moved from Walton, where their first two children were born, to the neighbouring parish of Trimley St. Mary. This move was made between 1821-1824 as Robert Stephen and all the rest of the children were born in their new parish. According to the 1861 Census Returns for Trimley St. Mary, John and Rebecca were then 69 and 65 years old respectively and living at 24, Trimley Street. As there was no corresponding record in the 1871 Returns, it is assumed that they both died between 1861 and 1871, and the parish records do indeed show that a John Gorham was buried at Trimley St. Mary on 22nd March 1868. His age at death was given as 77.



Of the children of John and Rebecca, George died in 1893 (aged 77) and Sarah in 1883 (aged 62). So far, no further records of Mary Ann, Rebecca, Emma or Edward have been traced. The first-born Stephen died as a baby Caged only 5 mths) and the second-born Stephen died in 1900 (aged 67). The remaining child, Robert Stephen, was my direct ancestor and is dealt with below:-


Robert Stephen Gorham was born on 12th January 1824 in Trimley St. Mary. At the age of 21, he married Elizabeth Dawson at Trimley St. Martin Parish Church on 24th August 1845. On the marriage certificate (Certificate 1) both Robert and Elizabeth signed their names with a cross, showing that neither of them were able to write. Robert's occupation was given as "Labourer" and the reason he married in the neighbouring parish of Trimley St. Martin was that it was the parish of his wife. This is presumably where they lived, as the family was recorded in the 1851-1891 Census Returns for Trimley St. Martin.gives their address as 78 Brick Kiln. This parish was even smaller than Trimley St. Mary and had only 28 houses in 1801 (occupied by 28 families), with a population of 256 (133 male + 123 female). It was also a predominately farming parish, with 154 employed in agriculture and only 12 in trade, manufacture or handicraft. Robert and Elizabeth had 10 children in all, as follows:-


Harry (bap. 19th Dec 1845)-born 15th Nov.

Rebecca (bap.12th Oct 1851)-born 1847

Sarah (bap. 14th Sep 1851)-born 1848

James (bap.12th Oct 1851)-born 1851

Emma (bap.22nd July 1855)-born 28th Jan.

Robert (bap.2nd Aug 1863)-born 3rd Nov 1857.

Stephen (bap.2nd Aug 1863)-born 2nd July 1859.

William Stephen (bap.2nd Aug 1863)-born 16th Feb 1860.

George (bap.2nd Aug 1863)-born 31st May 1862.

Edward (bap.215t Jan 1865)



Where only the dates of baptism were given in the registers, the years of birth were derived from the Census Returns for Trimley St. Martin for the years 1851, 1861, 1871, and 1881. These returns also show that the family were living at "Heath" and that the father and eldest sons were all agricultural labourers. The reference to "Heath" presumably means that either the family were living in a cottage on Trimley Heath or in Heath Lane which led into Lower Street Lane near Trimley Heath just N.W. of the village centre (see Map 4). Later on, however, it appears that Robert Stephen and Elizabeth lived in Cage Lane, Walton. My cousin Lilian remembers a photograph of Robert Stephen in a smoking cap. He died in 1910, having lived to the ripe old age of 85. His wife, Elizabeth, who was one year older than him, survived him.


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