John Freeman (1740-1803)

6E. Backler descendants of Ann Backler and John Freeman (1): MORGAN/MORTON/BINSTEED/WILLIAMS/SNOOKE

In which we see that Ann Backler and John Freeman had six children in all, three of whom married and had children. This post looks at the MORGAN descendants, from the marriage of Sarah Freeman (1774-1856) to Rev Thomas MORGAN (1771-1851). We meet, among others, the delightfully-named Rev Hargood Bettesworth Snooke…

Sarah Freeman (1774-1856) was pre-deceased by two older siblings, Elizabeth Ann Freeman (1772-1789) and John Freeman (1773-1773). Also pre-deceasing Sarah was her younger sibling John Sotherton Freeman (1777-1777).

Sarah Freeman (1774-1856) married Rev Thomas MORGAN (1770-1851) on 4 November 1806 at All Saints Edmonton. Among the witnesses were his brother-in-law Richard PACK, of whom much more in a subsequent post. Thomas was born in Devinnock, Brecknock, and educated at Wadham and Jesus Colleges, Oxford. As well as holding several curacies, he was made a chaplain in the Royal Navy, latterly chaplain of the Royal Dockyard in Portsmouth. There is a portrait of him at the National Maritime Museum, described at – with further biographical details. The family moved around a lot, as shown in baptismal and census records. According to the Dictionary of Welsh Biography, Thomas sold his lands in Brecknock when his only son died in 1844 ( ). At his death in 1851 he lived at North End Lodge, Milton, Hampshire.

Sarah and Thomas had five children, as follows:

  • Elizabeth Morgan (1808, Goudhurst, Kent – 1885) married Rev David MORTON (1799-1884) on 1 October 1835 in her hometown of Portsea, Hampshire. This marriage re-kindled (or maintained) the Freeman family links with Northamptonshire. Witnesses included, among others, her Northamptonshire-based uncle by marriage Richard Pack, who had also witnessed her parents’ marriage. The couple moved back to Northants, the Rev Morton being Rector of the Parish of Harleston. England censuses from 1841 to 1871 show them living in the Rectory – in 1851 with a Housekeeper, Footman and Servant; in 1861 Cook & Housekeeper, Housemaid, Footman and occasional servant – washerwoman; and three servants in 1871, when David Morton was aged 71. In 1881 the couple are found at 2 Carisbrooke House, Ventnor, Isle of Wight. He is designated as Rector of Harlestone – aged 81. Were they just visiting? David Morton’s Probate record in 1884 shows he died in Southampton, but he is buried in Harlestone. In 1885 Elizabeth died in Sussex but is also buried in Harlestone.
  • Philadelphia Sarah Morgan (1814, Goudhurst, Kent – 1852) married Charles Henry BINSTEED (1813 – 1891), Solicitor, on 14 August 1845 at St Thomas Parish Church, Portsmouth. Alas, the names of witnesses are illegible. After her death, her husband re-married in 1860 and had three children – about whom we will not concern ourselves! (That’s a relief, you say…)
  • Anne Morgan (1816 – 1877) married on 3 February 1842 at Portsea, to Captain Woodford John WILLIAMS, R.N (1809-1892), who would become Admiral. The ceremony was taken by her brother-in-law Rev David Morton, and witnesses included her sister Philadelphia Morton and father Thomas Morgan D.D. The couple had onc child:
    • Annie Philadelphia Williams (1843-1914) married Richard Fielden TAYLOR on 6 June 1873 in Southend-on-sea, Essex. Richard was in early censuses a Professor of Music; later on he was described as living on own means. According to the 1911 Census in Torquay, the couple had had 9 children, of whom 5 were still living. Their house had 10 rooms. This family, with the exception of the youngest known child Richard Benjamin Taylor, is an example of a large family with no known descendants – this branch of the family line ends here. Some children were born and died between censuses; known children, identified with the help of online family trees, and confirmed by finding baptismal and death records, were:
      • Annie Gwendolyn Taylor (1874-1966). She died in Torquay, left about £12,000, and showed no known occupation in successive censuses. In the 1921 Census, she, her sister Winifred and their father, aged 82, were living at Abbeyfield, Bridge Road, Torquay. Search on this and you will find an elegant house built in 1860, now a rather attractive-looking B & B! This was her address when she died in 1966.
      • Dorothy Morgan Fielden-Taylor (1875 -1959), aka Angel Lorraine Dorothy Morgan, according to her probate notice. She, too, showed no occupation in censuses. She lived in Somerset in 1939, and died there.
      • Maurice Charles Woodford Taylor (1877-1877, baptised in Chelsea in April and buried at Brompton Cemetery in October.
      • Winifred Elizabeth Taylor (1878-1937), No known occupation, living with her father and sister in 1921 in Torquay. on 19 February 1937 the Torquay Times and South Devon Advertiser reported her funeral, noting that she had lived with her sister Gwendolyn (as above) for about 25 years and was an ardent church-goer and church worker with Tor Church and the Tor Missionary Association. A long list is given of friends and family who attended the funeral and sent wreaths.
      • Diana Margaret Taylor (twin: 1879-1880), buried at St Mary Wandsworth.
      • Rev Canon Thomas Fielden-Taylor (twin: 1879-1937, Wellington NZ). After qualifying in law, went to NZ for health reasons and was ordained. Chaplain to NZ army in the 1st WW, served in and wounded in Dardanelles, then to France, then invalided back to NZ. Married Eleanor Sophia Mules (1873-1950), daughter of Bishop Mules in 1911. After the War, according to NZ dictionary of Biography, he was a missioner at St. Peter’s Mission, Wellington. This link takes you to a longer biography, celebrating his work with youngsters, but also chronicling unproved charges of abuse against him. There were no children of this marriage.
      • Gladys Frances Taylor (1881-1886). Baptised at St Mary’s, Putney; buried in Heene in Sussex.
      • Christine Marie Taylor (1882-1886) Baptised in Putney 2 February 1882, Father now a ‘Gentleman’, as opposed to ‘Professor of Music’ in previous baptisms. Died in Worthing, buried at Heene on 31 May 1886.An inquest was reported in a syndicated article appearing in many newspapers between the end of May and the beginning of June, for instance the Edinburgh Evening News on 31 May. Three children had been suddenly taking ill with vomiting and other symptoms very early one morning, having gone to bed well. One aged 4 (Christine) died later that morning and another (Gladys) in the afternoon. A third child recovered. No obvious evidence of cause, for instance poisoning, was found, and after an adjourned inquest, further work was to be done on the stomach contents at Guy’s Hospital. No further report appears in the British Newspaper Archive.
      • Richard Benjamin Taylor (1883 – ) appears in the 1891 Census with his parents and surviving siblings. In 1901 he was at school in Horsham, Sussex. The Portsmouth Evening News 23 January 1903 reports that at the Gosport Petty Sessions Richard Benjamin Fielding Taylor was fined 2s 6d for riding a bicycle on the footpath of the Fareham Road! He has proved difficult to trace after that.
  • Thomas Charles Morgan (1818 Portsea, Hants – 1844 Secundarabad, India). Lincolnshire Chronicle 29 November 1844: ‘Death of a Promising Young Officer: Died, at Secundarabad in the East Indies, on the 11th of September last, in the 26th year of his age, after a few days’ attack of a violent, irruptive fever, which terminated in pulmonary apoplexy, Lieutenant Thomas Charles Morgan, acting adjutant for nearly four years in the 4th Foot (or King’s Own), the dear and only son of the Rev. Doctor Morgan, Chaplain of Portsmouth Dockyard. He was of an affectionate disposition and generous nature, amiable and a most promising officer…he was beloved in his regiment…
  • Mary Morgan (1820-1880). Married widower Rev Hargood Bettesworth SNOOKE (1807-1875) on 11 October 1853 in Portsea. He was perpetual curate in Portsea, and in 1867 became Chaplain of St Malo and Dinard. He died in Jersey. He had three children by his first marriage, and two daughters with Mary Morgan, who were::
    • Mary Elizabeth Snooke aka Hargood (1855-1912). She never married, appeared with her sister in the 1911 Census at 2 Pemberton Terrace, Cambridge, and died there in 1912, address The Tiled House, Panton Street, Cambridge, citing her sister (below) as executor of her will. Nothing else known.
    • Rosa Mary Morgan Snooke (1857-1929) lived at various addresses in London, always of ‘Private Means’. In 1901 shw is found at the elegant Ladies’ Residential Club at 52 Lower Sloane Street, and as noted above, in 1911 she was living with her sister in Cambridge. The 1921 Census shows her as Rosa Mary Morgan Hargood, 64, living at 34 Panton Street, Cambridge. Her Probate index record shows that she died at Heigham Hall in Norwich, Norfolk in 1929, effects approx £7800.

And thus endeth the roll of descendants of Sarah Freeman and the Rev Thomas Morgan. It appears there are no possible living descendants of this line.

6d. Children of Thomas Freeman and Dennis Gare

In which we quickly consider the descendants of Thomas Freeman and Dennis Gare – excepting those of John Freeman and Ann Backler. We trace links between families, and back to Northamptonshire for those who were in London.

Of eldest child Thomas Freeman (bap 1738 Weedon Bec – ), we know little, other than, as noted in the previous post (6c), that he was a cordwainer in Bedford, with a son Thomas Freeman (approx 1764 – ), who was briefly apprenticed to John Freeman in London before being turned over to John Grant, Citizen and Glover, in 1779. A reference in Bedford Archives catalogue in ‘An Account of the indentures of apprentice bound out by the Bedford Charity’ (X109/1/70) cites ‘John Covington 8 May [1799] to Thomas Freeman of Kingsthorp – shoe maker’. But who knows? End of known story!

Of John Freeman and Ann Backler, we will turn to them in the next post. Their children are direct Backler descendants, while those further mentioned in this post are Backler cousins by marriage.

Of Anne Freeman (bap 23 July 1742 Weedon Bec – ), we know even less than about Thomas. Did she marry? Not sure. And we have no Wills of her parents to see if she is mentioned there. She is not mentioned in her siblings’ Wills so far identified.

Of William Freeman (1745 Weedon Bec -1795), we know more. We have seen in the previous post that he went to London sometime in the 1760s or 70s, and was made free of the Ironmongers in 1787 through his brother John’s recommendation. The record of William’s marriage to Judith T(h)ompson (1756-1785) is one of those felicitous finds that brings some strands together. Taking place at Northampton St Sepulchre on 4 July 1776, it helpfully stipulates that William Freeman is ‘of Cripplegate in the City of London’. The marriage was conducted by C[harles] Tompson, Rector of Mulsoe in the County of Buckinghamshire. who turns out to be Judith’s brother. Witnesses as shown on an ancestry parish record image signed as Geo:Tompson, in a rather large, shaky hand which could be

that of her father, and a very familiar signature for the blog – that of S[otherton] Backler [1746-1819], with its distinctive wavy flourishes seen in many documents of the Society of Apothecaries. This is Ann’s brother, who would eventually become Clerk to the Society. It is surely likely that John Freeman was at his brother’s wedding as well?

George T(h)ompson, Judith’s father, was a Grocer in Northampton, also designated as Alderman in Judith’s baptismal record and Mayor in the baptismal record of his daughter Mary in 1754. His lengthy Will probated in 1787, also the year of his son the Rev Charles Tompson’s death, is long and leaves much property and wealth to innumerable children, including £1,500 in stocks and securities to his son-in-law William Freeman. His daughter Judith also features many times in the Will, but I confess to lack of inclination to decipher it all. The Will was written in 1781, and Judith predeceased her father in 1785, so her legacy would be shared by her surviving children.

William Freeman and Judith Tompson had five children as far as is known. Judith died in 1785, and William in 1795, after which date the surviving youngsters were orphans:

  • Susannah (1777-1778)
  • William (1779 -), married first Mary Hawling, and second Ann Randall, with whom he had two sons, William (1803) and George (1808). We saw in the previous post that William was apprenticed first to his father and then to his uncle John of the Ironmongers. Mention in his brother George’s Will in 1849 would indicate that William was alive then, but I cannot find a suitable death record or Will.
  • George (1780-1854), was also apprenticed to his father, and then turned over to his uncle George Tompson, Judith’s brother, in 1796 after his father’s death. In the 1851 Census he is shown as a 70-year-old retired Grocer, lodging at Radcliffe Terrace, Finsbury, the address given in his brief Will written two years before and proved by his Executor and Nephew John Downes in August 1854, and to whom the rest and residue is bequeathed after £10 and his clothes and linen are left to George’s brother William (see bullet above).
  • Judith Freeman (1781-1854) married John Downes (1781-1849), a wholesale tea dealer. They had at least five children. Their final address was 6 Bedford Place, Russell Square. Judith’s Will written 8 October 1850 would be a delightful read if it were more legible. It specifies exactly what is to go to each child, such as which volumes and editions of books, which silver spoons, which articles of furniture. But life is too short

Of Thomas and Dennis’ last child we can note just John Freeman (bap Sep 1784 St Giles Cripplegate – buried Mar 1785 St Giles Cripplegate, cause of death convulsions).

And so endeth the account of Backler-cousins-by-Freeman-marriage. In the next post we will look at the very many descendants of John Freeman and Anne Backler.

6c. John Freeman (1740-1803) Indigo Maker and Ironmonger from Northamptonshire

In which we look a little more closely at John Freeman (1740-1803), who married Ann Backler (1741-1820), speculating that the woad industry of Northamptonshire prompted his move to London to improve his fortunes in the related industry of indigo making. Also considering his links with the Ironmongers Company and his certain acquaintance (or more?) with the Pellatts, who played a prominent role therein and whose heritage we will examine in future posts.

The tree above will form the basis of this and the next post (or two). It shows two generations of descendants of Thomas FREEMAN (1684-1761) and his wife Dennis GARE (1710-1782). Of particular relevance to this post are John Freeman, who we know married Ann Backler in London, and John’s brother William Freeman (1745-1795), also to be found in London.

From his Will and other sources (see below) we know that John was an Indigo Maker. Without direct evidence, it is possible to speculate that this occupation was related to John’s and brother William’s migration from Northamptonshire to London from an area in Northamptonshire actively involved in the production of dye from woad, a crop widely grown in the area. A post on the Whilton history website describes this industry in some detail. ( ). The post describes the itinerant nature of woad workers, the necessity for communities to separate themselves from the dreadful stink of woad processing (and from the workers who carried this stink with them), and the gains to be made by landowners in letting out fields for growing the biennial crop. Every four years or so, the workers moved on to other sites. One place of residence was in the now-defunct village of Glassthorpe, almost certainly the location cited in entries in the Flore Parish Register, which also indicate that family groups were involved in the woad industry:

. 1732 Apr 9. James son of William & Martha Phipps (Woading-Labourers at Clastrop) was baptized.

1732 July 14. William son of Edward & Mary Phipps (Woaders at Clastrop) was Buried. Affadavit Dated, July 20.

1740 June 22. Elizabeth daughter of Thomas & Elizabeth Neal (Woad-Folks) was Baptized.

1740 July 12. James son of Peter & Elizabeth Neal (Woad-folks) was Baptized.

1740 July 20, James son of Peter & Elizabeth Neal was buried. Affid: Dated, July 25.

Woad was the native-grown plant which produced blue dye, but a richer, darker dye could be got from Indigo, which from the start of the 18th century was increasingly being imported from Asia and the Americas, produced largely through the work of slave or indentured labour. (See, for instance:Blue in Eighteenth Century England: Pigments and Usages. Zoriana Lotut. )

From Northamptonshire to London: At some point, probably in the 1860s, William and John – together or separately? – went to London. The first record we find is that of John, being made free by redemption of the Ironmongers Company, on 24 July 1769. The transcribed record on findmypast shows him as a ‘Blue merchant’, son of Thomas Freeman, gentleman. Proposed by W. Price. In 1787, William Freeman (1745-1795), Indigo Maker, becomes free by redemption, proposed by J Freeman, his older brother (nepotism abounds in the City Livery Companies). Further family links appear in Ironmongers’ records over the next decade:

  • Thomas Freeman is apprenticed to John Freeman, 20 March 1779. This Thomas, said to be aged 15 years, is said in the record to be the son of Thomas Freeman (1738/9 – ), Cordwainer, of Bedford. As mentioned in John Freeman’s Will of 1803, the father is John’s older brother Thomas, baptised in Weedon Bec in 1738/9 and frustratingly elusive after that. Young Thomas, apprenticed first to his uncle John, was shortly after, on 17 June 1779, turned over to John Grant, Citizen and Glover, of the Glovers’ Company. No more is known about Thomas Snr or Jnr. Records from Bedfordshire are not very evident online.
  • Thomas Freeman, this time son of John Freeman (1740-1803), was apprenticed to his father, John Freeman, Indigo Maker of St Giles Cripplegate, on 30 April, 1793, for no consideration. This apprenticeship would see out its full time, with Thomas being made Free by service to his father John, on 30 April 1800. We will return to this Thomas (1779-1853) in a future post.
  • William Freeman (1779 – ), son of William Freeman (1745-1795), who we have seen above, became free of the Ironmongers by redemption, was on 29 August 1793 bound apprentice to his father William Freeman, Little Aldermanbury, Indigo Maker. However, William Snr’s dates as above show that he died in 1795, so on 25 November 1795, young William was ‘turned over’ to his uncle John Freeman, Citizen and Ironmonger, for the duration of his apprenticeship. I have not found a record of William being made free of the Ironmongers.
  • George Freeman (1780-1854) also son of William Snr, on 27 November 1794 was also bound apprentice to his father. After William Snr’s death in 1795, on 19 March 1796, George was turned over to George Tompson (see next bullet point), Citizen and Ironmonger, to serve out his apprenticeship. I have not found a further record of George’s apprenticeship, but we will return to him in future posts.
  • George T(h)ompson (as in the previous bullet point) was made Free by Redemption of the Ironmongers on 24 June 1788, son of George Thompson, Gent (of Northamptonshire). George Jnr was a tea dealer, and was the brother of Judith T(h)ompson ( – 1785), late wife of William Freeman Snr. George was proposed for his freedom by … John Freeman! (Are you keeping up? – nepotism, indeed.) We will return to this family in a later post.

The Aldermanbury Postern address, hard by the city walls in St Giles Cripplegate, was the site of the indigo makers variably named as Grace and Freeman (appearing in London directories between 1781 and 1794), later Freeman John & Son (by 1803), then Freeman and North (1817). William Freeman (died 1795) and Henry Grace (died 1798), and John Freeman, were in partnership, with John taking over for the brief period after their deaths until his own in 1803, the original partnership having been dissolved in 1795, just before William’s death, as recorded in the London Gazette as follows:

June 24, 1795. The partnership subsisting between Henry Grace, John Freeman and William Freeman, in the Business carried on under the firm of Grace and Freemans of Aldermanbury Postern, London, Indigo Blue Manufacturers, is this Day, by mutual Consent, dissolved, the Share of the said Henry Grace being made over to the remaining partners, the said John Freeman and William Freeman, who undertake to settle all Matters relating to the said Copartnership. Henry Grace. Wm. Freeman. John Freeman. The London Gazette Issue 13790. 23 June 1795. p. 663

I am not sure who took over after John Freeman died in 1803. Could the ‘and Son’ have been his son Thomas, who had served his apprenticeship under John and then been made free of the Ironmongers? Suffice to say that at his death in Brighton in 1853, as a ‘Merchant’ he was evidently a very wealthy man. The source of his fortune is unknown. We will meet this family again.

This post has aimed at locating John Freeman and his brother William in London from their Northamptonshire origins. A review of their families in future posts will very partially uncover the tangled roots of the Freeman and related families.