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James Dearman 1826-?  Marriage 1854-1895

Initially I think, I found all the various census records for James from 1841 to 1891, from which I deduced that his wife’s name was Eliza.  I then found the record for their marriage, at which point I discovered that her ‘real’ name was Emma Eliza and that her father was the shoemaker John Brown.  She appears to have almost always put her name as Eliza, so we can only assume that this is the name she went by.  When I looked more closely at the dates I saw that two of the children had been born before their marriage on March 5 1854.

The first child, Henry William (as he was christened) or William Henry (as he was known), was christened in St. Andrew’s Church on February 13th 1848.  Eliza is described as a single woman, the child has the surname Brown, and James is written, then crossed out where the father’s name should be.  In the 1851 census he is listed in the Brown household as the son of the head of the house (John Brown - now aged 56).  John’s wife Mary is now 51, still able to have children three years before I guess, but we do know that Eliza was William’s mother because of the baptism record.  I suppose it is possible that John was the father - incest is not totally unknown - but our James is living in the same house as a lodger and there is that crossing out of names in the baptism record.  

Whatever the reasoning, James did indeed marry Eliza on March 5 1854 but in St. James’ Church.  I have no idea why they would have all the children baptised in St. Andrew’s and then get married in St. James’.  They are in different parts of Enfield, however I’m not sure this really explains it.  The marriage certificate does say they are resident there - maybe the disgrace of all those illegitimate children had forced them to move to Chaseside - the northwestern part of Enfield.  It’s a mystery.  The witnesses at the wedding were John and Fanny Brown.  I am assuming that Fanny was Eliza’s sister, Frances.  James is now describing himself as a bricklayer and Eliza says she is a servant.  How she managed to do this whilst looking after two very young children is remarkable.  There was no child care in those days - maybe her mother looked after them.  His father is described as deceased - and indeed he was, but I wonder how he knew?  Did the authorities inform the families back home when a convict died?


  A little over a month after their marriage, James John was born on 27 April, and his birth was registered by his mother in May.  He was baptised back in St. Andrew’s on  23 July.  By now the curate (or vicar) was thoroughly confused because he writes the details as James John son of James and Eliza Brown, then realises his mistake and crosses out the Brown this time and replaces it with Dearman.  Thus did James and Eliza’s official life as husband and wife really begin.

I actually obtained the birth certificate of Frederick who was born on 14th July 1851.  It clearly states that Eliza was the mother but no father’s name is given.  However, when he was baptised the next day, the record reads son of James and Eliza Dearman, labourer - but then obviously somebody thought better of it, and James, Dearman and labourer are crossed out.  As an aside Frederick was baptised as Frederic, but then the vicar, or curate, or whoever wrote this out, was obviously confused anyway.  I guess all this shows that James and Eliza were an established couple.  So I wonder why he didn’t marry her earlier?  It took the third pregnancy to tip him over into doing the right thing - or maybe her father threatened him!  I suppose he hadn’t had very good examples of stable marriages.  His mother died, and his father almost immediately married again.  Then when he disappeared from his life, his stepmother abandoned him to the workhouse and took up with a local carpenter.   But then Eliza’s parents seem to have been a stable enough couple - and they were obviously pretty tolerant, as they must have known that James was the father of Eliza’s first two children and yet they allowed him to live with them.

The factual evidence seems to be that James fathered two children by Emma Eliza Brown - Henry William (also known as William Henry) and Frederic (Frederick) - before they were married in 1854. Even then she only just made it to the altar before giving birth to their third son James John.  How do I know this?


They went on to have five more sons and one daughter.  Tragically the only daughter, touchingly named Sophia Annie after James’ mother, died at the age of three months.  I find it very sad that she was named after his mother, as he surely cannot have been able to remember her.  Their son Thomas also died as an infant, but the others seem to have survived.  The complete list of children is thus:


William Henry (1847)

Frederick (1852)

JAMES JOHN (1854-1913)

John Charles (1856)

Thomas (1858-1858)

Charles John (1861) - not much imagination - did John Charles die?

George Alfred (1862)

Sophia Annie (1865-1866) 

Alfred Arthur (1867)


Poor Eliza - being the only woman in a household of eight or nine males must have been a nightmare at times.  And life must certainly have been tough.  The picture on the right at the top of the page is called Wornout and that’s what they must have been most of the time.

I am hoping that he and Eliza had a long and happy marriage, after such a tragic start in life.  It certainly seems to have been stable from the evidence.  The children were not in any huge rush to leave home, so one can only assume that home life was good.  He might have taken a bit of nudging to commit in the first place, but he seems to have stuck with it after that.  Let’s hope their marriage was in the spirit of the rather lovely picture at top left.

The two pictures here are of Oarsonage Lane in 1900 above right and Bell Road today - ordinary suburban semi-detached - today.

In 1861 they moved to Parsonage Lane and they were still there in 1871, though by1881 they had moved to Bell Road which is close by.  In 1871 William had left home, but the rest of the children were still there.  And then I guess all of the children gradually left home.  In 1895 at the age of 70, Eliza died.  James is still alive, but cannot be found in the 1901 census, so I am assuming he died shortly after his wife.  I have yet to find his death.

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