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Sophia Anne Nightingale

The portrait is by Jean François Millet and is a portrait of a young woman called Catherine Lemaire who became his wife.  She doesn’t look wealthy and she also looks as if life was a struggle, so I have chosen her to represent Sophia Anne Nightingale, about whom I know very very little.  So little that at the moment this page is all that I will write.  I do not know enough to write a ‘story’.  And truth to tell I am not 100% certain that she is the wife of James Dearman the convict and mother of James Dearman, bricklayer, as I have yet to find a marriage record.  But there are clues - the use of the name Newman for her first born son - a NIghtingale family name, and the fact that there do not seem to be any other likely Sophia Annes in the neighbourhood at the right time.  So overall I am 99% certain that she is the right woman.


If I have got the right Sophia Anne, her parents were Thomas Nightingale, and Susanna Bacon.  I have no idea what Thomas did for a living, nor am I absolutely certain of his wife’s surname.  For some reason Sophia was not baptised soon after her birth in 1803, but some years later with her younger sister Emma in 1809, at St. Andrew’s Enfield.  There were ten children in the family and Sophia was the third youngest.  I do not know whether her siblings survived or died - I have yet to investigate.  The family does seem to be an Enfield family though.


The only other thing we know is that at some point she married James Dearman a farm labourer, although we have yet to find the marriage.  Their children’s baptisms and her own burial clearly state that they are married, so I can only assume that they were either married elsewhere or it is a case of a missing page in the parish register.  I will continue looking.  


Their first son, John Newman was born and baptised in 1824 and their second, James in 1826.  A few months after James’ birth her husband was tried and convicted for stealing potatoes and sent to prison for six months.  Why he did it is James’ story, but it must have been very hard for Sophia, left to cope with two small children with no husband to support her.  Unless her parents, or James’s stepped in to assist, she would have either had to find some sort of work (how with two small children?) or go to the workhouse.  At this point in time I do not know what she did.


But her husband was released and went back to work as a labourer and she became pregnant again.  But this third baby killed her, for on October 12 1828 her son William is baptised and she is buried.  He must have been born a week or so before, because on October 18 he too is buried at the age of two weeks.  From this I can only assume that she died in childbirth as was a common thing at the time.  Having a baby was a very risky business and Sophia Anne paid the price.


She was twenty five.  Her son James, who was only two when she died, touchingly named his only daughter, Sophia Annie.

Sophia Anne Nightingale

b 13 November 1803 Enfield

c 12 November 1809 Enfield

m James Dearman ca 1824

bu 12 October 1828 Enfield



John Newman (1824-1871)

James (1826-?)

William 1828-1828



Parish records for baptism and burial

Parish records for children’s baptisms and burial



Greek meaning ‘wisdom’.  Used a lot in the eighteenth century.


Sophie, Sonya, 






Hebrew meaning ‘grace’ and one of the all time popular names maybe because it was supposed to be the name of the Virgin Mary’s mother.  It often seems to be used with Sophia and also with Mary as a second name.


Anna, Annette, Annabelle, Annika, Anita 


Annie, Nancy, Nan


The children


Thomas Nightingale

Susanna Bacon

James Dearman 1801-1834

James Dearman 1826-19?


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