The Backlers are just one line from my mother’s genealogy. My great-great grandmother was Susannah Mary Backler, great-great grand-daughter of Samuel Backler of Ashwell, Herts. Susannah’s daughter, Susannah Mary Boulding, emigrated to the United States in 1867. I migrated the other way in 1962. The Backler family provides rich fodder for the family historian throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. This blog is my way of telling the stories of the descendants of Samuel Backler and his son Sotherton, whose origins were almost certainly in East Anglia.

Another ‘Backler’ blog – http://www.raybackler.com – looks at many different Backler families elsewhere in England.  Ray and I so far have not managed to connect up our various families, nor have either of us confirmed connections with the many Backlers in Haverhill, Suffolk.  I feel sure that back in the mists of time, many of these families come from the same origins, possibly across the North Sea in the Low Countries, and then in East Anglia.


  1. Hi, I am the current owner of Hawthorndean in Torquay. Now rename Riviera Mansion, so I am interested in the past owners and their exploits. I have full renovated the building. I never came across any sign of a lift that Mrs Huxtable died in/on. I have photo Riviera mansion if you would like it. Regards Graham

    1. HiGraham. Thanks for getting in touch. I hope you enjoyed the story! I don’t need a photo, thanks – I think I have as much information as I need, as Susannah wasn’t a direct ancestor of mine. Good to hear from you. Regards Barbara

  2. My name is Ray Backler and I live in North Kent. I knew about the convict artist and have seen some of his paintings in Adelaide, but I knew nothing about the Apothecaries connection. My aunt did extensive research on the Backler name and due to ailing health she recently passed me all of her papers. I am currently digesting these. My aunt has traced our family back from the south coast to Haverhill, Walsall, Warrington and Bristol. I was aware of some Backlers in the greater London area and have met some Backlers in Adelaide. Maybe I can establish a link!

    1. Hi Ray. I’m sorry for the delay in replying to your message. I have been away. I know there is a large collection of Backlers in Haverhill, but I have never been able to link ‘my’ Samuel Backler, Vicar at Ashwell, with other branches of the family. My feeling is that he was connected with the Backlers in Dedham, and with the Samuel Backler who ended his days in Bergholt. I have perused many Wills from the PCC Wills collection at the National Archives, including a fascinating Chancery case of a Samuel Backler whose legacy to his sons John and Samuel was disputed – but I have never been able to establish for sure where ‘my’ Samuel Backler belongs. It would be interesting to see what your aunt has found. Thanks for getting in touch. It’s nice to know there’s at least one person out there reading my blog! It has had a lull in the summer – too much to do outdoors. I plan to get back to it now and will soon move on to Joseph Backler, the stained glass artist. I have been in touch with a ‘cousin’ on east coast of Australia, who is descended from Joseph Backler, stained glass artist. We met here in England a few years back, and are in occasional touch. Kind regards. Barbara

  3. Thanks for the reply. First, I will give you an update on the Australian connection – I met Peter Backler in Herne Bay, Kent when he was over here from Australia for three months in 2006 doing a house swap. My aunty Betty from Eastbourne was aware he was in the UK and told me because Herne Bay was near here. I live near Faversham, but was born in Eastbourne. We then went to Adelaide in 2007, where Peter and his wife Margaret took us to see Joseph Backler’s paintings in the main art gallery. They own a second home at Kingston, about 300 kilometres south east of Adelaide. My aunt had told me there were a number of Backler’s at Robe, which is near Kingston. We found a number of gravestones and entries on the Robe war memorial. There is a a Backler Street in Robe. Margaret had traced their family back to Thomas Christian Backler from Haverhill, who was the Town Crier in Robe. Whilst we were in Adelaide we met Donald and Jennie Backler from Glenelg, which is on the coast nearby. Donald is Peter’s cousin. We also met Bruce and Ruth Backler, who have lived in Kingston all their lives, but we met them in Adelaide as Bruce had travelled up for a hospital appointment. Bruce, I think was Peter’s uncle and was about 80. Donald’s son David lives in Sydney and is a director of Deutsche Bank Australia. I have photographs of all of these things and can email them to you if you would like. Peter and Margaret had two daughters, Cassandra who died in 2011 from breast cancer and Holly, who is a musician and was touring with the support band to the Faithless UK tour in 2006. I was aware that Joseph the artist was the son of Joseph of stained glass fame. Joseph junior was sentenced to death at the Old Bailey for forgery and it was later commuted to deportation to Australia.

    Best wishes,


  4. Hi Barbara,

    Second update – this time on my own UK family. My Grandfather was Frederick Edwin Backler and he was born in Walsall in 1900 and died in Eastbourne in 1968. I was interested to note that Joseph senior, the stained glass artist, apparently designed the stained glass windows in Dudley church, which is close to Walsall. I have not been able to establish a connection. My grandfather, seems to have joined the army in Eastbourne, during the First World War and he had an older brother Thomas who was killed in action. He was the youngest son and had two younger sisters out of ten siblings in total. My father Donald was born in Eastbourne in 1928 and died there in 1987. I was born in Eastbourne in 1952. Most of my grandfather’s older siblings were born in Warrington and as a child I remember great uncle Bill (1889-1982) visiting a couple of times.

    My Grandfather’s father was William Backler, who married Ann Maria Smith in Bloxwich, Staffordshire on 3rd June 1888, when he was 29 and she was 18. On the marriage certificate he is a Baker and his father’s name is William Henry.

    William Henry was born on 19th February 1844 and then christened in Birmingham on 25th March 1844. His father was William Backler who married Ann Bates on 30th November 1843 in Aston, Birmingham. On the marriage certificate, William is listed as a Cabinet Maker, but I believe he later became a policeman rising to the rank of Inspector (need confirmation of this and will need to delve further into my aunt’s notes). William’s father is recorded as Henry a warehouse clerk.

    Further information on Henry, was that he got married for the second time to Ann Offer (the spelling on the marriage certificate is not too clear on her surname) on 26th December 1859 in Bristol. His profession is shown as Smith and his father is recorded as Samuel a Shoemaker. Henry died on 1st April 1868 aged 82 in Bedminster, Bristol and on his death certificate he is described as an Anchor-Smith. His first wife was Elizabeth born 1778, died 1856 (these dates need verifying).

    Samuel, the shoemaker, was from Haverhill. There was a shoe shop in Haverhill and I have a photograph of the front of it.

    So to end this post, we have Samuel of Haverhill, then Henry of Bristol, then William of Birmingham, William Henry of Birmingham, then William of Bloxwich, Frederick of Walsall and then we end up in Eastbourne. I call that being mobile, compared to many families of the time. My wife found maps on the internet of the Backler surname distribution from a University College London study and it shows almost exclusivity to the Haverhill area and East London and Hampshire in 1881 and extending to Warrington, Staffordshire, Dorset, Somerset and Sussex in 1998, so I think we may have been in the vanguard! You can find this website by typing CASA Surname Profiler into Google.

    Best wishes,


  5. Oh one more thing Barbara,

    I discovered over the weekend that Sotherton Backler married Mary Hill in Chilvers Coton, Nuneaton on 6th January 1834. This is in the same are as my connections to Walsall and Birmingham. Sotherton is such an unusual name that it seems there may be a connection to your family tree of many Sotherton’s.


    1. Hi Ray – thanks for all the info on the Australian Backlers, and on your family, plus the noteon Sotherton Backler. If you look at my blog of August 2014, you will find that Sotherton was the youngest son of Sotherton Backler and Hannah Osborne. You will also see that there is only one child of Sotherton’s who is unaccounted for – Benjamin Backler. I don’t think there is any connection in the 19th – or even 18th – centuries between your Haverhill Backlers and my descendants of Samuel Backler, vicar of Ashwell. If you look at my very first blog, early in 2014, you will see questions still outstanding about how ‘my’ Samuel connects with the Backlers of Haverhill. I suspect it might be possible to sort them all out, but I think it would require some time in the archives of Suffolk and perhaps Norfolk and Essex. The connections will be back sometime in the 1600s. I don’t have the time or means to do it, although I would love to trace their origins. I have looked at the name distribution maps – I have a CD with them on. I will be getting back to the blog next month, when the allotment takes up less time. I have many more articles to post, and eventually will get to the Rev Sotherton, in Northamptonshire. It’s good to be in touch, but I don’t feel we’re yet anywhere near putting the Backlers back together in East Anglia in early days!
      Have you looked at my tree on Ancestry? If you search Sotherton Backler I think you’ll come up with a link to me=y tree, which shows the full history back to the late 1600s. Are you on Ancestry? I am so pleased you’;re looking at the blog! It’s fun to do although I have trouble with pictures, not wanting to infringe copyright, so much of what I have, for instance from the Society of Apothecaries, I can’t put on the blog. Keep in touch.
      PS – the Australian descendant of convict artist Joseph Backler’s sister Hannah has seen the window at Dudley on one of her visits to UK.

  6. I am looking for any information on Susan Backler who married William Woollard on 15th November 1763 in Haverhill.

    1. Hi Graham. I am afraid I am not good with the very many Backlers in Haverhill. I don’t know whether the Susan you are looking for might be covered on Ray Backler’s Blog – see his message and website below. Ray has done quite a lot of work in trying to locate various Backlers around the country. I hope is blog might point you in a good direction. The Ancestry record for the marriage refers to ‘Susannah’ Backler, and the date given is 25 November 1763. Unfortunately I can’t seem to find an online source for parish records for Sudbury, which is where the Ancestry record suggests the marriage took place or was registered. Have you looked for a Will for William or Susan(nah) Woollard? I can’t seem to find one. I can find a William Woollard death in Haverhill in 1813. And baptisms of Woollard children in Haverhill – but presumably you have those? One possible way of finding out more about Susan(nah) would be to trace through the children of the marriage… Barbara

  7. Hi Barbara. Thank you for responding so promptly. I had also contacted Ray Backler and am waiting for him to get back to me. I am aware of the Susannah and William details you refer to. I have details on 5 sons (no daughters?) 3 of which died very young or without marrying. The plague of 1768 hit Haverhill hard around this time and there may well be other offspring including daughters I have yet to find. The other problem is, and I am sure Ray has encountered this, that there was a huge fire in 1667 that wiped out much of Haverhill including all the parish records and few records survive of the post-fire period up to about 1730. In 1766 there was another major fire but not as extensive as the earlier one. Cheers. Graham

  8. I am a member of the Port Macquarie Historical Society, NSW, Australia and have been looking at Joseph Backler Jr who, after being convicted of forgery in 1831, was transported to New South Wales on the ‘Portland’, He was initially held in Sydney but was then sent to Port Macquarie where he spent about 9 years (1834 – 1843) as a prisoner before being granted a ticket-of-leave. Around 1841 he painted some views of the town and the church, and these remain among the earliest pictorial depictions of the town, preceded only by two paintings made by Augustus Earle in 1826.

    Blogs 19, 20 and 22 deal with Joseph Backler Jr and his father, Joseph Backler Sr, the celebrated artist who produced many painted glass windows, especially altar windows.

    In blog 19 Joseph Jr’s birth is given as c.1813. However, an announcement in the Sun (London)
    on Thursday 12 November 1812 p4, states the following:

    “BIRTHS. On Monday last, Mrs. Joseph Backler, of Newman-street, of a Son and Heir”.

    This indicates that Joseph Jr was born on 9 November 1812 and perhaps might be included in the blog.

    I have a considerable amount of information on Joseph Backler Jr and am in the process pf preparing an article for submission to the Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society.

    1. Hi Tony. Thanks for spotting that. I will amend the post. I should love to see your article when it is published. I have a Port Macquarie print on my wall. The Backler family has been an endless source of interest for me. Do let me know if I can send you any information from England. Kind regards. Barbara

  9. Hi. My name is Paul John Backler and I live in New Zealand. My father is Jeffrey Russell Backler and my grandfather was Paul William Backler. I have an uncle John Backler and Aunty’s as well. Unfortunately I have lost contact with this side of my family. To my knowledge we are the only Backler family residing in New Zealand.

    1. Hi. Thanks for getting in touch. The names you mention are not at all familiar to me. There do seem to be several different Backler lines, perhaps all from one source way back in the 15 or 1600s. I wonder if you have found Ray Backler’s blog? He traces a different line from mine. I have done just about all I can with my Backlers, and am now working on my Pellatt/Newton line from which there are very few Backler descendants. Thank you for following my blog. It is definitely a niche topic!

  10. Hi i have a connection to the Backler name from Haverhill. Annie Backler Born Haverhill 1858 and married my great great grandfather Charles Pavey in 1879. Charles was orginally from ilminister. Annie Backler born Haverhill.
    I’m desperately trying to.find out more about Annie Backler?All i know is she had a sister, but no name. Her sister worked for a Russion Count as a maid znd possible died in the R Revolution

    Any help or connection greatly recieved


    1. Hi. Thanks for getting in touch bi am afraid I know next to nothing about the many Haverhill Backlers. Ray Backler has done more work on them, and if you haven’t already looked, I suggest you check out Raybackler.com to see his various posts on some of the Haverhill family. I am sorry I can’t be more help.

  11. Hi there all I am a Backler that still lives in Haverhill England great great great grandfather was a man with a really horrific story as he butchered his common law wife and 2 new born twins tried for murder and spent his final years in a sanitarium in Hadleigh Suffolk, as far as I remember according to my late father he had sisters and brothers. Anne, Mary, May, Charles and Arthur. His name was Ellis Backler there is a book published called Suffolk murders with an account of the story compiled by a Mr Deeks hope is of interest

    1. Hello David. Thank you for that. So far there is no clear link between my Backlers and the many Backlers in Haverhill. Ray Backler in his blog is closer to finding links than I have been. I am aware of the events you describe. Thanks for being in touch!

      1. No problem, as a child I was aware of the shoe shop I think the proprietor was a Stanley Backler. You probably are aware of a Dennis Backler who is a member of the local history group.
        Best regards David

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