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The Family of

9. John Oldham & Martha Thomas

Abingdon, Henley and Wallingford

Revised with vital new information giving a more accurate time line - January 2009

The towns and villages figuring in this account can be described (allowing for deviations and loops in the roads) as on a line running southwest of Abingdon,which is 8 miles south of Oxford. Next is Wallingford 10 miles south-east of Abingdon, and then Henley is a further 12 miles south-east again. Crowmarsh (now Preston Crowmarsh?) is just north of Wallingford where the Oldham family featuring here lived at the time. Wallingford was orginally in Berkshire but was transferred to Oxfordshire in 1974. In the 19th century the Thames meandering south from Oxford via Abingdon and Wallingford before turning west to Reading via Pangbourne and then north-east to Henley, was obviously an important dividing line between the counties with the bridge at Wallingford a strategic point. Pangbourne is on the Thames a couple of miles WNW of Reading and 20 miles south of Wallingford - as the crow flies.(All distances here are approximate - exact road distances welcome!) Dorchester on Thames is 2 or 3 miles north west of Wallingford.

John Oldham sen. b. 1791, married Martha Thomas b. 1785. They must have married about 1815 or 1816 but no record has been found. It should not have been in a Baptist Chapel at the time as Hardwick's marriage Act of 1754, designed to prevent clandestine and irregular marriages, had made it obligatory for couples to marry in the parish (CofE) church, only Quakers and Jews being excepted. Any other marriage was not recognised in law. The most likely places were either Abingdon or London and also probably by licence, a common practice for those wishing to avoid having to attend a church service for the reading of the banns on three previous consecutive Sundays.

Was John the linen draper of Fleet St ?
John's earliest known occupation was that of draper and tailor in Wallingford, Berks, shown on the 1841 census - and he also appears later as a hatter.

Referred to in the Oldham Family Part 1 containing known and possible connections.

Charles Aldrich, executor in Beliza Oldham's will (not Joseph's daughter Beliza, but the one in Lombard St) was 'linen draper to his Majesty' at 47 New Bond St according to the Post Office Directory of London for 1808 which also gives 'Thomas Oldham, linen merchant' at 3 Barge Yard, Bucklersbury and in 1819 it gives 'Oldham, Ravenhill & Co.linen merchants' at the same address, with another 'C. Ravenhill linen draper' at 35 Beech St, Barbican. It certainly seems that it was their mutual interests were of some importance and that these are the Frith House and also the Lambert connections. But in 1813 in Beliza's will (see the next paragraph) Charles Aldrich was then 'linen draper of Oxford St.'

'John' appears in Beliza's will of 1813:

Appeared personally John Oldham of Fleet Street London Woollen Draper and William Oldham of Lombard Street London Gold Lace Man and made Oath that they knew and were well acquainted with Beliza Oldham formerly of Lombard Street in the Parish of St Edmund the King and Martyr and Saint Nicholas Acorn London but late of Shacklewell in the County of Middlesex widow deceased and with the manner and character of the Handwriting and Subscription having seen her write and also sign and subscribe her Name and having now carefully viewed and perused the Paper Writings hereunto annexed purporting to be and contain two Codicils to that last Will and Testament of the said deceased the first thereof beginning thus ‘Whereas by a certain Clause in my Will dated 14th of June 1800 ending thus ‘or otherwise left signed by my own Hand’ and thus subscribed “Beliza Oldham” and the second of the said Codicils beginning thus “Whereas in my will dated June the 14th 1800 I have there nominated” ending thus “Signed sealed & witness’d this Day Friday September the 30th 1808 by her” and thus subscribed “Beliza Oldham” they lastly made Oath that they truly and in their Consciences believe the whole Body Sc---(?) and Contents of the said two writed Codicils together with the names Beliza Oldham severally set and subscribed thereto to be of the proper Handwriting and Subscription of the said Beliza Oldham Widow deceased John Oldham --William Oldham -- same Day the said John Oldham and William Oldham were duly sworn to the truth of this Affidavit Before ----S.B.Burnaby Surrogate last Felix Slade N.P.

Joseph's son John, born 1790, would have been 22 at this time, and his brother William 23. See Part 3 for more details of William and his known association with the City of London.

Martha Thomas, wife of John Oldham(1), was the daughter of Jonathan (or John) Thomas and Prudence. Thanks to cousin Paul of Stockwell/Brazell descent we know that her burial is recorded at the Independent Chapel at Wallingford on 29 Apr 1823 where her age is given as 38. Perhaps there were complications after the birth of her last child, Martha Oldham, who suffered the same fate as her mother. The important point is that Martha Thomas was baptised as an adult, aged 26, not as an infant, in 1811 so she was born in 1784 or 1785, probably being 6 years older than her husband. The LDS gives the following information for the two identified children of Jonathan Thomas and Prudence in Abingdon, Berks:

The supposed 'birth' dates must refer to some other event, possibly 'conversion' from Anglican to Baptist, and perhaps even a second baptism by total immersion because they held the first to be incomplete? The BVRI source for the records of the Thomas children is given as Dr Williams' Library in London which has a large collection of Nonconformist registers. It is not clear whether the dates given are really births or baptisms so the original needs to be consulted, but they are probably baptisms, and in this instance at least, the children, if not infants would not be more than a few years old.In the case of the last, Martha [Thomas] died within weeks of her daughter's birth.

A further crucial point about Dr Williams' Library is reported in the February 2009 issue of 'Your Family Tree' (p.24) in an article by Paul Blake, which is that those who wished to register their children had to attend the library in person, some often travelling great distances to do so and they also had to pay 6d.The children were therefore often registered quite long after the birth, which could account for some of the discrepancies in dates below.

John Oldham(1) could have met his first wife, Martha Thomas, through his nonconformist connections and he obviously became an active member of the church when they moved to Wallingford, and most probably a good friend of the local minister, Carey Tyso whose son Carey was born about the same time as his own son, John (2).
died at the end of April 1823, leaving John (1) with five very young children, the eldest, John (2) aged 6 years, and Martha just 7 weeks old.

  1. John Oldham (2) chr 1817 in Wallingford, BRK m. (1) Sarah Pochin (2) Elizabeth Winter
  2. Jane Oldham born b 7 Feb 1819 - Independent Upper Meeting House, Abingdon, BRK
  3. Emma Oldham b 19 Sep 1819 in Henley, Oxf.; bur 26 Dec 1835 in Wallingford (Independent Chapel)
  4. Mary Oldham b 17 Dec 1821 - St Mary's, Wallingford, BRK
  5. Martha Oldham b 11 Mar 1823 - St Mary's, Wallingford, BRK m. James Stockwell 31 May 1848

    See the relevant note on Baptism and Christening on the Stockwell page. Use your back arrow or go to the menu at the top of the page to return here.
    Further notes on the children concerning the given dates - those with day and month are recorded in Dr William's Library:
    1. A birth record has not been found for John(2) or Carey Tyso jun.(in either parish records or the BVRI) but John's given ages are consistent through several censuses leading to the date above of 1817
    2. Jane is given as aged 40 in the 1861 census and 50 in the 1871 census. She was born in Crowmarsh, Oxfordshire but this is only just across the R.Thames from Wallingford, though the Thames is the county boundary) She was visiting her sister Mary in Wallingford in 1861. She is also recorded on the IGI as the daughter of 'John Oldham and Martha' and was a witness at her sister Martha's marriage to James Stockwell in 1848
    No less confusing birth date has been found for Emma but her baptism is listed as from Dr Williams' Library (in the BVRI like the others) with names of both parents and of Jonathan Thomas as her maternal grandfather.
    4. In 1861 Mary is given as 38 and in 1871 as 48. 'St Mary's' probably refers to that area of the town rather than the parish church. She and Martha were more likely to have been baptised in the nonconformist chapel.
    5. Martha was only a few weeks old when her mother died and in urgent need of a wet-nurse.

It was almost 7 years before he married again, on 5 Apr 1830. His 2nd wife was Mary Voyce, born about 1789 in the City of London.and the marriage took place in All Souls, St Marylebone, London. Mary presumably went straight to live in Wallingford and no doubt to take care of the children. She is listed with John and John the 1841 census at Fish St Wallngford but none of the other children were living at home by then.

A curious note concerning John sen.appears in the records of Petty Sessions at Wallingford on 19 Oct 1831, the subject being 'information and complaints related to the Paving Act'. Those listed were almost certainly all fellow tradesmen in Fish St, 'James Sawyer, Francis Pouking, John Oldham, John Hall, Abraham Phelp, Benjamin Smith'. [ref. PS/W/1A/1/2] This is confirmed in the case of two found in a later directory (by which time the others had perhaps ceased trading or even died), Francis Pouking as an auctioneer and also cabinet maker & upholsterer, and John Hall a cooper, both on Fish St.

By 1846 John(1) had decided to retire at the age of 56, perhaps in order to devote more time to the chapel. His partnership with his son was dissolved by mutual consent in 25 Mar 1846 and John jun. took over the business in Fish St. . The notice appeared in the Gazette (London edition) on 3 Apr 1846 announcing that ' in future the business will be carried on by the said John Oldham the younger on his separate account.' (More on John jun. below)

At some time John(1) was appointed as Pastor of Dorchester Baptist Chapel and signed the 1851 Religious Census of the congregation as the minister. The entry stated that the chapel there "was erected about 1837. A separate and entire building. Used exclusively for worship. On 30 March in afternoon General Congregation 76; in evening General Congregation 100.. . The sittings are all free. Dorchester is a Village 4 miles distance from the town of Wallingford."

John Oldham(1) died.on 7 Nov 1856 of 'bilious disorder with effusions on the brain; gouty inflammation of joints' (Death Certificate)

On Sat 15 Nov 1856 the following notice appeared in the Oxford Chronicle and Berks/Bucks Gazette about Mr John Oldham of Wallingford: 'This gentleman, who formerly carried on business as a draper, in Fish Street, from which he retired some years ago, died on Saturday morning last, in the 65th year of his age, after an illness of some months. Mr Oldham was a dissenter, and always voted with the liberal party, from conscientious motives. He has left a widow and a son, by a former wife, to regret their loss.'

With many thanks to Robert, Stockwell descendant, for much extra information from primary sources

Children of John Oldham and Martha Thomas

1. John Oldham jun., John and Martha's eldest child, is listed in Pigot's Directory of 1844 for Wallingford which can be seen on the website run by Leicester University, for Historical Directories, the entry reading "Oldham, John & Son (woollen drapers - and in Slater's Directory - also hatters), Fish St." His father having retired in 1846 (see above) Kelly's Directory of 1848 must only refer to John jun, who continued to be listed in directories and in the 1851 census as a tailor and linen draper. In Slater's Directory of 1852-3 he is listed as a tailor, and in brackets, 'and hatter'.(note, previously listed incorrectly as John sen, but the dissolution of the partnership made all the difference!) Perhaps one reason for his father's retirement is that in the Mar Q 1846 John (2) married, his bride being Sarah (possibly Pochin).

In 1846 [Mar Q 1846 Vol 6 p.307] John jun. married Sarah (perhaps Pochin). Sarah died only 3 years later and in the Jun Q 1858 [Abingdon Vol 2c p.497] John married again, this time to Elizabeth (Winter?) who was born in 1811 in Abingdon. She died a few years before him in the Sep Q 1881. The censuses don't show them as having any children.

2. Jane Oldham's baptism is recorded at the Independent Upper Meeting House in Abingdon. The dissenters were active there in the 17th century and there had been a nonconformist chapel in the town since 1700. They had always had a close relationship with the Baptists in the town, the 'upper and lower meetings', and the Oldhams appear to have particularly favoured the Baptists. It was originally thought that Jane was born there, but further evidence from censuses now shows that she was actually born in Crowmarsh, a village just north of Wallingford. In 1840, at the age of 20 she was working as one of two assistants to a schoolteacher just outside Henley at Gray's Green Farm, Rotherfield Greys. The school run by Mary, wife of the farmer, Henry Turner, had some 23 pupils and 3 servants. By the 1861 census Jane was a governess, but where is unknown as she was visiting her sister Mary in Wallingford. However, it could have been at the same place where she was 'governess, day school' in 1871, namely in the High St in Bensington, Berks, just north of Wallingford, which must be the old name of the central part of Benson, Oxfordshire ( 4000+) ['Benson' could be a contraction of 'Bensington'?] Then in 1871 at the age of 50 and still at the same school her niece, Jessie Stockwell aged 11, daughter of her sister Martha, was presumably living with her and a pupil at the school. Jane has not been found after this date and may have died between then and the next census of 1881. By that time Jessie had, not surprisingly, become a governess herself, living in - and presumably teaching the children of - Randall G.Woodland in Halstead, Essex. Also, again no surprise, Randall was a linen draper! For further details of Jessie see the Stockwell family and the continuation of the Baptist connection.

4. Mary Oldham 1821-1879 was born in Wallingford but from working age - from 10 or 11 - onwards she was working for Joseph Charters, draper, on Bell St in Henley , being listed there in 1841 as one of two assistants. . The original is so badly written (and overwritten) that some of the names are difficult to decipher, but Joseph's name is confirmed by his widow, Elizabeth being clearly shown in 1861 as a 'milliner'. (Perhaps Mary was still there in 1851 this has not yet been checked). In the Sep Q 1857 she married Carey Tyso jun., son of the nonconformist minister, Joseph Tyso (1774-1852) who was of independent means, and his wife Elizabeth, formerly Hubbard.

Carey, was born about 1816 in Watchet, Somerset. Joseph had been pastor of the Baptist church in Helston, Cornwall for eleven years, then spent a year at the King St chapel in Bristol. A year later he was appointed to Wallingford where he remained for 30 years until his death in 1852. A popular preacher, he wrote a large number of religious tracts, some of a controversial nature about various 'revelations'. He was also very interested 'in the cultivation and improvement of the genera anemone and ranunculus', his son joining him in the work and in the writing on this project. He had to resign from his ministry through illness in 1848 and died on 30 Nov.1852. Carey continued the work of the nursery, being better known for his writings on the subject of horticulture than on religion, though he was also a very devout Baptist. The influence of both father and son on the Oldham family must have been quite considerable, particularly on John sen. in the whole of his time in Wallingford, and the two sons, being much the same age grew up together, and must have been very good friends.

With many thanks for much new and vital information from a correspondent who is researching the history of this church.

In 1861 Mary's (unmarried) sister, Jane Oldham, was visiting them, Carey being described as florist and seedsman.
Mary died in the Jun Q 1879. Carey appears as a widower on the 1881 census - though as an accountant.. The following year, on 2 Feb 1882, he died aged 67 at the home where he had lived since he was about 2 years old, on Wood St, in the St Peter's district of Wallingford.

5. Martha Oldham was about 7 when Mary Voice became her stepmother. It was only a few years before she would go out to work, and by 1841 she had moved to Reading and the Grove Boys School in Caversham. Unfortunately all the teaching and other staff as well as the 30 boy pupils are only identified by their initials, but 'M.Oldham' born 'out of county' since this was Oxfordshire and she was born in Berkshire (before county reorganisation) must be the otherwise missing Martha. The school was run by a Miss M.A.Lamb with an all female staff, two assistants, plus the sister of one who was dressmaker also with two assistant dressmakers all marked as aged 15. 'M.' Oldham was one of these dressmaker's assistants, her age being consistent with the rounding down to the nearest multiple of 5 on that census. She was actually 18. She would certainly have learnt early in life the skill of sewing a straight seam! By the time of the next census, 1851, she was living in Chinnor with her husband James Stockwell and had two children of her own - with 7 of them eventually she would certainly be fully occupied at home with sewing as it would have been still all by hand, the sewing machine still being in the early stages of its design and a cumbersome (and surely too expensive) affair for home use.
For further details from her marriage onwards continue with the Stockwell family.

Oldham Part 1
Oldham Part 2
Joseph & Mary
Oldham Part 3
Oldham Part 4

Oldham Part 5
John & Martha