Monday, 23 June 2008

Blackmore: Sitch Family History

16 June 2008

Julie Jennings has written to me with a query relating to the Sitch family.

“I am researching the Sitch family tree. I have attached an email from a relative who has a question for me, regarding Catherine's surname, maybe you can help. I have found out that James was married previously to Ann Harvey and on your Blackmore website it has paragraph regarding the Sitch name and burials in 1821.

“Earlier spellings of the surname have been Saitch and Setch and they appear all to originate from Blackmore.

”From the Essex Record Office I received an email with their marriage registration
D/P 112/1/8 Entry No. 38 page 13 All Saints Church, Doddinghurst

”James Sitch widower of this parish, and Catherine Elizabeth Harvey spinster of this parish, were married in this Church by Banns published on 12 December, 19 December and 26 December this 27 day of December 1830 by Bridges Harvey, Rector. This marriage was solemnised between us James Sitch (his mark) and Catherine Elizabeth Harvey (signed) in the presence of William Mead, Jane Mead. Simon Collop also signs [possibly a parish official].

"The death registrations seem to be correct with the 1851 and 1861 Censuses supporting them.

“The marriage registration was found by a cousin who lives in England and says this is the correct one. Then why is Catherine's surname Harvey and not Curtis?

”Catherine's father was James Harvey Curtis and we know that they were related to the Harveys and that Catherine was born in Romford.”

Julie adds, ”Alice Sitch born 1902 is my grandmother and married Walter Jennings b 1904. Alice's father at one time lived at Begger Hill, Ingatestone, I was spent my childhood in Ingatestone as did my mother Pamela Jennings (nee Wash). ”Do you have any further information?”

17 June 2008

Firstly, I am not able to answer your question regarding why Catherine’s former name was Harvey and not Curtis, but am able to throw some further light on the marriage register entry.

Doddinghurst is the neighbouring parish to Blackmore. In 1830, Bridges Harvey was Rector of Doddinghurst and perpetual curate at Blackmore.

Rev. J Bridges Harvey became the Perpetual Curate of Blackmore in 1808. Entries in the Registers suggest that he was frequently absent from Blackmore. In 1813, except for one baptism, on 13th January, and five between June and October, the remaining 15 were conducted by Rev John Oldham, Vicar of Stondon Massey (1791 to 1841), or his son, “also in Holy Orders, whose name occurs in 1813 and 1815 as assisting his father at Stondon” [note 1]. Likewise in 1814 and 1815 respectively Rev Oldham conducted 18 then 9 baptisms of a total 22 and 20 [note 2].

There was an ecclesiastical requirement that the incumbent should live in the parish. Exemption could be granted by the Bishop of London on receipt of a letter. Bridges Harvey wrote to the Bishop throughout the 1830s to state “that I have been resident in the Glebe House of my Rectory of Doddinghurst … during the whole of the last year … and that I deem this residence a legal Exemption from residence on my Perpetual Curacy of Blackmore, in the same County” [note 3].

Bridges Harvey died in 1849 and is buried at Doddinghurst.

I find it interesting that James Sitch and Catherine Elizabeth Harvey are described as “of this parish”. They were married at Doddinghurst yet James Sitch is thought to have come from Blackmore. Under current ecclesiastical law, a bride and groom may only get married in the Church of England if they have been resident in the parish for 15 nights or are on the Electoral Roll (i.e. are regular church attendees at that particular church). Otherwise a Bishop’s Licence is required – approval from the Bishop to marry rather than the reading of Banns on three consecutive Sundays in public worship. The reading of Banns quaintly asks the congregation if they know of any reason in law why a couple may not marry. This arrangement has been in place since 1753. It seems irregular that the couple were “of this parish” when clearly they were not. Maybe this arrangement was historically legitimate. Does any reader know? I wonder where the Banns were read. Blackmore’s Banns register is preserved at the Essex Record Office (ERO D/P 266/1/22). It could be that James Sitch lived at Wyatts Green (I don’t know) which geographically is closer to Doddinghurst though in the Blackmore parish. It could be that he attended church at Doddinghurst for the same reason (again I have no idea) so by today’s rules was on the Electoral Roll if such a thing existed in 1830. But what seems more plausible is that Bridges Harvey found this arrangement more convenient! I wonder if any more Blackmore residents were married at Doddinghurst? We know that Thomas Smith, Rector of Stondon Massey during the 1700s, married people outside the parish. Reeve (later Rector and historian) wrote, “Out of 121 marriages between 1708 and 1754 entered in the book only 17 show one of the parties to have belonged to Stondon. In every other case both bride and bridegroom belonged to outside parishes.” He adds, “One wonders whether other Rectors were as much in request for tying the nuptial knot as Mr Smith, and whether, in cases where the entries were merely records of their work done in other parishes, the parishes interested were favoured with a copy for their own books. Otherwise the work of hunting up materials for a pedigree must be felt to be a harder one than has been realized hitherto.” [note 4]

I looked at the Sitch family when writing the booklet ‘Hatched, Matched and Despatched’ because I was intrigued to learn of four deaths of children in a family in quick succession in 1821 when there were only 9 burials at Blackmore during the whole year. My theory is that poor drinking water from a well killed off these children. Any other ideas? I have tried to establish who their parents were and suspect that they were James and Ann Sitch. The baptism of Joseph to this couple is recorded in the Blackmore register on 22nd April 1821 but there are no later children of this marriage. James is recorded as being a farmer.

Later in the Blackmore register I find the baptism of “Thomas, son of James and Catherine Sitch” (15th January 1832) and “John Harvey, son of James and Catherine Sitch” (4th May 1834). In 1832 the father was a farmer but in 1834 he had become a shopkeeper.

I noted that I could not find an entry in the Blackmore Marriage Register.

I noted a Thomas Collop in 1829 whose profession was a ‘cow doctor’. He might be related to Simon Collop?

I think that all this evidence is convincing – that James was widowed and remarried Catherine Harvey at Doddinghurst.

In 1836 I find James Sitch in occupation of a house in the centre of Blackmore village (perhaps the Church Street area), where he probably was a shopkeeper. The house belonged to Thomas Page. Conversely I find James Sitch in ownership of three parcels of land at Elkins Green: a cottage and garden in the occupation of Sarah Chalk; a cottage in the occupation of William Doe; and, a cottage and garden in the occupation of Henry Horsnell. [note 5] My theory of occupation at Wyatts Green probably collapses. I later find a John Chalk (or Chaulk) as a farmer at Red Rose Farm. (Kelly's Directory 1848). Looking at the map in the publication, it could be that the Sitch family were once farmers at Elm Farm.

In addition I have noted a Harriet Sitch, baptised on 30th October 1829, whose parents were John and Mary Seach. John Seach was a labourer.

I should mention that my objective was not to study one particular family but to write a general introduction to the BMD registers for Blackmore. There may be other Sitch’s who I have not recorded. A visit to the Essex Record Office at Chelmsford is essential!!

By way of additional material. William Sitch was Churchwarden in 1778 [GLM 9583/29]. John Seach was Churchwarden in 1810 [GLM 9583/36].

The family name does not appear on the 1841 census for Blackmore. Where did they go?

21 June 2008

Karen Shirley (nee Sitch) in Canada provides some further information and poses more questions

“I was the relative that was in contact with Julie wanting to know about Catherine Sitch's maiden name....Curtis or Harvey.

“Thank you for doing all the wonderful research on Blackmore and surrounding area. I was most fascinated with your insight into James and Catherine's marriage registration.

“I would like to set one thing straight though. The parents of the children that died in 1821 were John (1775) and Mary Sitch"s (nee Shearman) married 1802 in Blackmore. John was an older brother of my gr-gr-gr grandfather James (1781) (wife Catherine). There were other children.
Mary 1805
Joseph 1809
Samuel 1811
Adam 1822
Walter 1822
Charles 1825

“If they had poor drinking water, why didn't the others die as well? I guess we'll never really know what happened.

“The births of the ones that died can be found in the IGIs with John and Mary as the parents.

“I did find James Sitch in the 1841 census.
RG number: HO107 Piece: 325 Book/Folio: 22 Page: 1
Sub District: Ingatestone
Parish: Fryerning
Address: Wool Pack, Fryerning
SITCH, James age 65 Ag Lab

There are others listed at that address also:
John Dawson age 50 Ind
Isabella dau age 35
Ann Pussons age 25 F.S.
Richard S. age16 M.S.
Sussanah Woods age 35

“What is Wool Pack? I cannot find Catherine and their older children.

“In the 1851 census Fryerning
HO 107/1775 f 222 pg43
James Sitch Head 70 House proprietor b: Blackmore
Catherine Wife 41 b: Romford
Thomas 19 Ag Lab b: Blackmore
John 17 Ag Lab b: Blackmore
George 15 Ag Lab b: Ingatestone
William 13 Ag Lab b: Ingatestone
Edward 9 b: Ingatestone
Samuel 7 b: Ingatestone
Catherine 5 b: Fryerning

“1861 census
Beggars Hill, Fryerning
Catherine Sitch Head Wid. 51 House Holder Property

“What is a House Proprietor?

“I had always been told that Beggar(s) Hill was in Ingatestone. Which is correct?

“My gr-gr grandfather Samuel (age 7 in 1851 census) lived at Rose Cottage, Beggars Hill, Ingatestone(?) with his wife Sarah Ann Roast.

“My gr-grandfather Ernest and most of his siblings (9 of 13) came to Canada in the 1890s to early 1900s just southwest of Thunder Bay, Ontario as the townships were opening up. Land was available for farming.

“Before Ernest came to Canada, he left home at age 14 and went to sea as a cabin boy sailing around the world. I believe he was around age 21 or so when he settled down here.

“Thanks again for all your research and a terrific website/blog!!”

22 June 2008

Thank you for confirming the parents of the four children who died in 1821. I will update the record. Of course, we will never know why these children died. It would appear to have been some illness unique to this family. If it were cholera then perhaps the fittest survived and the weakest members died. If anyone has any observations then please comment below.

The Woolpack is now a trendy restaurant but was, until 2002, a public house. It is near the church at the top of Fryerning Lane. In the 1970s the pub was called ‘The Huntsman’ but reverted to its original name about ten years later. A look at the 1841 census might establish the sequence of properties and confirm that James Sitch lived there.

Beggar Hill is in Fryerning, although since 1889 Ingatestone and Fryerning were merged as a single civil parish and ecclesiastically they remain separate (note 6). A look at the old parish boundaries for Essex shows that Fryerning was a wide ribbon of land running roughly north-west to south-east with Ingatestone on both sides of a (very) roughly oblong-shaped area (note 7) . Anciently both Ingatestone and Fryerning were on the eastern side of Blackmore parish. A large proportion of Ingatestone High Street was in the parish of Fryerning.

I am not sure what a ‘house proprietor’ meant. By the age of 70 James was probably retired, though of course reliant on his children’s income to support the family.

Essex suffered badly from the agricultural depression in the late 1800s. There were particularly bad harvests in the 1870s (1879 in particular) which was not helped by cheap imports of grain from America. Wheat prices by 1895 reached an all-time low. Many farms went out of business. In Ingatestone and Fryerning farmers changed to dairy farming. Fortunately there is a railway station at Ingatestone so milk could be transported to the London markets with ease.


1. Reeve. Stondon Massey (1900) p90
2. Essex Record Office. D/CR 38. Bishop’s Transcripts on Blackmore registers.
3. Guildhall Manuscripts ms19226/95.
4. Taken from ‘Stondon Massey. A Short History’ currently available.
5. The Tithe Place-Names of Blackmore. Recorder Elizabeth Lamb. ERO 2003
6. Kelly's Directory 1899
7. Cecil R Humphrey-Smith. The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers (Phillimore, 2003)


Naomi said...

Hello, thank you for the information posted on here. I have been researching this part of my family tree for a year and a half and the family is so big, it's difficult not to get people mixed up. I can't find the 1841 census for James at the moment, his relative (second cousin I believe) is listed with a wife named Ann but this is not him. I am happy to take part in any research and to offer you any information I have on the family myself. My grt grt grt grandfather was John Harvey Sitch.

Naomi said...

Hello, thank you for the information posted on here. I have been researching this part of my family tree for a year and a half and the family is so big, it's difficult not to get people mixed up. I can't find the 1841 census for James at the moment, his relative (second cousin I believe) is listed with a wife named Ann but this is not him. I am happy to take part in any research and to offer you any information I have on the family myself. My grt grt grt grandfather was John Harvey Sitch.