Although most census returns will tell us roughly where people lived in the village, the census does not always tell us exactly where along a lane or road the individuals or families lived.
The census returns of 1891, 1901 and 1911 show that William and Virtue Fincham lived in Penhill Road. With the help of historical deeds, I am able to pinpoint exactly where in Penhill Road they lived.
Abstracts of Title
Abstracts of Title recite extracts of earlier deeds and documents which provide an unbroken chain of ownership of a particular property. Prior to compulsory registration of land, abstracts (and later epitomes) were very much part of the legal process in the buying and selling of property and land. Occasionally, conveyancers still encounter them today – but this only relates to land or property which has not yet been registered with HM Land Registry.
The Fincham’s Home
Extract from a 1961 Abstract of Title. Courtesy McDouall Family
The above extract from a 1961 Abstract of Title shows that ‘W. Fincham’ once occupied an enclosure of freehold land comprising around 2 acres and 17 perches (2a 0r 17p). In addition ‘W. Fincham’ occupied a freehold double cottage, agricultural buildings, land and hereditaments within a site comprising around one acre three roods and 26 perches (1a 3r 26p). A person named ‘Banks’ also occupied the double cottage.
Given that deeds usually recite word for word the descriptions of property in consecutive deeds, I am unclear from the Abstract of Title as to when ‘W. Fincham’ and ‘Banks’ occupied the double cottage. However, this is where the census is helpful in that we know they were living in Penhill Road from at least 1891 to 1911.
Double Cottage at Penhill Road. Photograph courtesy McDouall family
William and Virtue Fincham lived in part of the above double cottage. The cottage (now two separate cottages) has been much altered and extended since the Fincham’s lived there.
The red dot on the extract from an O.S. map of 1945 (on the right), shows the position of the cottage in Penhill Road. For completeness, the purple dot on the extract from an 1802 Map (on the left) shows the enclosure of land on which the cottage was subsequently built. The enclosure comprises 1a 3r 26p which concurs with the description in the ‘Second Schedule’ referred to in the Abstract of Title. The freehold land comprising 2a 0r 17p referred to in the ‘First Schedule’ (again referred to in the Abstract of Title) is identified by the orange dot.
William & Virtue Fincham
The marriage between William Fincham and Virtue Chilley was registered in the Wayland District between October and December 1858.
The 1861 census captures 33 year old William Fincham with his 23 year old wife Virtue living on the North side of Long Street in Great Ellingham. William is working as an agricultural labourer. The census also tells us that William was born in Carleton Rode and Virtue in Rockland St Peter.
Ten years later, the 1871 census finds William and Virtue Fincham in Swangey Road, Rockland All Saints. With the couple is Virtue’s 13 year old nephew, Edward Barker. William is still working as an agricultural labourer. This census states that William Fincham was born in ‘Calton’.
By 1881, the couple were back living in Long Street. William continues to work as a labourer on a farm and Virtue is working as a seamstress. Now aged 52 and 43 respectively, William and Virtue have no children with them.
By the time of the next head-count, William and Virtue moved from Long Street to the double cottage in Penhill Road.
The 1891 census captures the couple living in a three-roomed property in Penhill Road. William is now 63 and Virtue 52. 18 year old Attleborough born James Banks is lodging with the couple. He is likely to be the person named ‘Banks’ referred to in the Abstract of Title which I mention above.
Given that James Banks is lodging with the Finchams and the household is occupying just three rooms, it follows that William and Virtue with their lodger lived in one part of the double cottage. Accordingly, there must have been another household occuping the other part of the double cottage notwithstanding that no other occupiers are referred to in the Abstract of Title.
Looking at the 1891 census, I think it likely that the other cottage was occupied by 49 year old Rockland St Andrew born George Allen and his 46 year old wife Rebecca.
The census of 1901 shows William and Virtue still living in Penhill Road. James Banks is still lodging with William and Virtue. However, there are two other lodgers – Virtue’s sister, 70 year old Sarah Chillystone and 24 year old Arthur Pearce.
At 75, William Fincham is still working as an agricultural labourer. 26 year old James Banks and 24 year old Arthur Pearce are also employed on a farm. No occupation is given for Virtue, but her sister Sarah Chilleystone is described as a retired domestic housekeeper.
Are all five of them living in the three-roomed dwelling? I suspect they are. Looking at the census, it appears that 26 year old Julia Lincoln, the wife of a farm labourer, is living next door with her children Ellen Louisa 6, Alice Elizabeth 5, Jacob James 3 and Albert Edward aged 1. ‘Mr Lincoln’ appears to be elsewhere on census night.
By the age of 85, William Fincham had retired. The census of 1911 captures 85 year old William Fincham with his 73 year old wife Virtue living in a three-roomed dwelling in Penhill Road. I have no doubt that it is the same cottage which has been their home for some 20 years. James Banks (now 36) is still lodging with the couple. The census also tells us that despite a marriage of some 50 years, the couple had no children.
Again it seems that the Fincham household only occupied one part of the double cottage. The census indicates that the next door cottage (also comprising three rooms) was occupied by a newly married couple, 35 year old Elijah Fisher and his 28 year old wife Ada.
Deaths of William & Virtue Fincham
William Fincham died at the age of 92. His death was registered in the Wayland District between January and March 1915.
Virtue outlived her husband by around 4 years. Her death was registered in the same district between October and December 1919. She was 82.
William Fincham’s Early Life
Place of Birth
The census returns of 1851 to 1881 give William’s place of birth as Carlton Buckenham, Calton or Carleton Rode. However, the returns of 1891 and 1901 show Attleborough as his place of birth. In 1911, William gives his place of birth as Great Ellingham!
It is clear that William Fincham was unsure of his place of birth. One would think that his mother would know where he was born.
The 1841 census captures 12 year old William Fincham with his mother, 39 year old Charlotte Fox, and his four step-brothers, John 9, James 7, Edward 5 and three year old Charles, living in Great Ellingham. Although the census tells us whether a person was born in or out of the County (of Norfolk), it does not give the place of birth.
However, the 1851 census does provide the place of birth. This census captures 24 year old unmarried William Fincham with his widowed mother, 49 year old Charlotte Fox, and his four step-brothers – John 19, James 17, Edward 15 and Charles 13, living in Long Street, Great Ellingham. Despite all her sons working as farm labourers, Charlotte is reliant on parish relief.
Whilst Charlotte Fox and the Fox children are all said to have been born in Great Ellingham, William Fincham’s place of birth is Carlton Buckenham (Norfolk). I can only surmise this to be Carleton Rode.
St Mary’s Church, Attleborough. Postcard courtesy B. Vidler
Having said that, it appears that William may well be the William son of single woman Charlotte Fincham who was baptised in St Mary’s Church, Attleborough on the 23rd March, 1838.
The following year, on the 3rd November, 1829, Charlotte Fincham married Charles Fox in the same church. Both Charlotte and Charles were single and living in Attleborough at the time of the marriage.
Charlotte gave birth to at least five further children after her marriage to Charles Fox. Their only daughter, Sarah Ann, died at the age of 3 months and was buried in the churchyard at St James, Great Ellingham on the 10th January, 1831. A further child, James, died between his baptism in 1834 and the birth of another child named James in 1835.
Death of Charles Fox
Tragically, Charles Fox died at the age of 29 in June 1837. He was buried in the churchyard at St James’s Church, Great Ellingham on the 20th June, 1837.
Virtue Chilley’s Early Life
The 1841 census captures 3 year old Virtue with her parents James and Francis (Frances) Chilly and sisters Sarah 9 and Esther 6 at Flies Common, Rockland St Peter.
By 1851, the Chilly family had moved to Chapel Street, Rockland St Peter. The household comprised Wortham born James Chilly aged 54, his wife Frances aged 44 and born Rockland St Andrew, 26 year old Mary Barker (born to Frances before her marriage to James Chilly), 16 year old Esther Chilly, 13 year old Virtue Chilly and James and Frances’s nine year old granddaughter Sophia Barker.
James Chilly is working as an agricultural labourer. Mary Barker is working as a charwoman and Esther and Virtue are employed as shoe binders.
By the next census, Virtue had married William Fincham.
Chilly, Chilley, Chillestone
Virtue was baptised in the parish church of Rockland St Peter on April 22nd, 1838. The entry records her parents as James and Frances Chillestone of Rockland St Peter.
Parish Church of Rockland St Peter
The baptism entries for Virtue’s sisters, Esther (on 21st September, 1834) and Sarah (April 1st, 1832) record their parents’ names as James and Frances Chilley (late Barker).
Virtue’s birth was registerd in the June Quarter of 1838 as ‘Virtue Chilley’. Her marriage to William Fincham was also registered as ‘Virtue Chilley’.
This is not the first time I have encountered variations of this family name – Chilly, Chilley, Chillestone, Chillystone. Charlotte Chilly (also of Rockland St Peter) is also found as Charlotte Chilleystone!
1841 census HO107/785/22
1851 census HO107/1823/261
1861 census RG9/1237/78
1871 census RG10/1841/130
1881 census RG11/1974/90
1891 census RG12/1549/71
1901 census RG13/1867/68
1911 census RG14/11473/59
Great Ellingham Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office PD 609. Also available at www.familysearch.org
Rockland St Peter Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office PD 336. Also available at www.ancestry.co.uk
Attleborough Parish Registers. Nofolk Record Office PD 438. Also available at www.ancestry.co.uk
GRO Index. Free BMD website. www.freebmd.org.uk
Marriage Dec 1858. Fincham, William & Chilley, Virtue. Wayland District. https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?cite=NJrYSw0dkk8%2FX6Wi7lSkQw&scan=1
Death Mar 1915. Fincham, William. 92. Wayland District. https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?cite=tzSwsOati0v1O%2Bq73fxLyg&scan=1
Death Dec 1919. Fincham, Virtue. 82. Wayland District. https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?cite=cOfR9wn0y6ep%2Be%2FF5W1RYw&scan=1
Birth Jun 1838. Chilley, Virtue. Wayland District. https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?cite=5RGaiDFMGAPolQePVzK17w&scan=1
Thanks to the McDouall Family