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James Dearman 1801-1834   The children

 I think there were three children who survived, though there are possibly two more.  All were left behind in England, one was not even born, when James left for Australia.  And, moreover, except for the unborn child they were motherless.  I suspect it is doubtful that their stepmother, Catherine Eves, would have felt any long-term responsibility for the first two (or three).  She had enough problems of her own - suddenly without a man to support her and pregnant to boot.  They had only been married for a little over eighteen months before James was sentenced to seven years in Australia.  Not long enough I would think for her to become attached to them. 


So what do we know about James’ children?  Well, in some instances quite a lot and in others not much at all.  They must have been tough though these Dearmans that were left behind.

James Dearman 1801-1834 +

?Sarah Barnett

Sophia Anne Nightingale

Catherine Eves

? 1815?

Did James marry Sarah Barnett?  Did she die in childbirth?  Was there a child?  Did it survive? I really have no idea but it's something to wonder about.

John Newman 1824-1871

The early life of the Dearman children would have been tough.  John Newman, I think James’ first-born son, was only four years old when his mother died.  Which must have meant hard times for a while.  Who looked after him?  His paternal grandparents were dead but his mother’s parents may have stepped into the breach as I think they were still around - and there may have been an aunt Sarah.  Whoever stepped in, they were pretty quickly replaced by James‘ second wife, Catherine Eves.  Who can tell how willing she was to look after the two little boys who came with James.  

But they must have had some semblance of a family life for a short time, until James was sent to Australia.  At this point I suspect that the entire family, including Catherine, ended up in the Workhouse - for Robert’s christening has Catherine describes as ‘of the poorhouse’.  John Newman was only six when he entered the much dreaded Workhouse.  And yet it may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  For he would have received an education and, it seems he was given an apprenticeship, because in 1841 he is apprenticed as a baker - a trade he followed until his death. 

In 1850 he married Sarah Simmons at St. Leonard’s in Shoreditch, and it seems they set up house next door to Sarah’s parents.  Why they married in Shoreditch I do not know for her parents were also in Enfield the year after her marriage.  From the census records it seems that John was not often at home.  Sarah stayed at home, worked as a laundress and brought up the children.  In all the census records we have John is listed at his employer’s home - well I guess, being a baker he would have been working in the night in order to have the bread made for the morning’s demand for bread.  He seems never to have worked for himself, instead holding a senior position in his employer’s companies.  

But he must have gone home sometimes for he fathered at least seven children.  The first that I have a record for was born in 1857 which makes me think that there may well have been earlier children.  None of the records I have are for a Sarah or a John either.  There seem to have been just two sons, and sadly one of these, Frederick William, died at the age of twelve.

Even more tragically though, at the very young age of 46 and before the birth of his last child, Louisa Sarah (who also died very young), he died.  As he is not a direct ancestor I have not sought his death certificate  so I do not know whether he died of illness or accident.  Whichever it was it would have been a complete disaster for Sarah - and we find her, like many in her situation, remarrying a few years later.  But this is not part of our story.

So a short and difficult life that ended too soon, but which may have been, at least, stable, if not happy in his adult years.  And that name - Newman - this is what confirmed me having the right mother for he and his siblings - it’s a Nightingale family name and one he reused as the second name of his son Henry.

You would also think he had a close bond with his brother James in particular, but also with half-sister Sarah and half-brother Robert, as they must have been thrown on their own reserves of strength in their youth.  And indeed they did all live close to each other, so maybe they supported each other as they grew.

Poor William - he never existed really - I do not know whether he was stillborn or survived a few hours or days.  I do know that he took his mother with him, and that they were buried on the same day.  He was named for his grandfather.

The direct ancestor of the group, named for his father and the survivor of the family. A bricklayer, his story is told elsewhere.  You can find the link at the bottom of the page.

William 1828-1828
Sarah 1830?-?

I’m pretty sure Sarah existed.  There are two pieces of evidence for this, although neither of them are absolutely definitive it has to be said.  

The first is the presence of a Sarah Dearman in the Workhouse with James, Robert and Mary in 1841.  She is a year younger than James, who I am pretty sure is the direct Dearman ancestor in this family (the only doubt is his stated age, which is out by four years or so).  Robert would be the son of Catherine and James, born after his father’s departure. Mary must be from another family as she is too young to have anything to do with James, and I guess it is therefore possible that Sarah also is somebody else’s child. 


But the killer piece of evidence is the 1851 census in which Sarah Dearman is living with Catherine and her ‘partner’ James Jarman and their children.  The rest of the children have been born after James’ departure and bear the surname Jarman.  Sarah, aged 20, still retains the surname Dearman.  Our James Dearman and Catherine were married in March 1829 so whether Catherine was pregnant on marriage or not I do not know because, try as I may, I cannot find a christening for Sarah.  I also do not know what happened to her in later life.  Possibly she died in either 1855 or 1859 or she married - but there are too many possibilities to pursue - which I would if she were a direct ancestor, but not as she is an aside really.  So a child of the workhouse, eventually rescued to live with her mother and the father of her half brothers and sisters - for James Jarman seems never to have married Catherine Eves, although the children in the household must be theirs.  You would sort have expected Sarah to be working as a servant by then  so maybe she did marry and was simply at home in 1851 awaiting the happy event.

Robert 1831-?

Robert - James’ last child (in England anyway - maybe he had children in Australia?), is also a mystery.  He was definitely christened on May 15 1831 in Enfield - parents, James and Catherine Dearman with James being a labourer.  No mention of the fact that he was about to leave for Australia.  For I have just realised that James sailed away just two days after Robert’s christening.  Surely he was not allowed out to attend the christening?  The date must surely have just been a coincidence.  Robert would never know his father anyway - he may well have been in prison before he was born - for I do not have a birth date - I am just assuming that it was around the time of the christening.

The next we know of Robert is that he is in the workhouse with his brothers and sister.  The ages are all wrong.  Robert is said to be 7 but he must be at least 10 if he was christened in 1831.  I will talk about the Workhouse more when I come to his brother James’ story.  Suffice to say life would have been hard.  But he would have received a rudimentary education and may even have been apprenticed out.  

However, this is where Robert’s story ends, for I cannot find any further records.  By 1851 he has disappeared.  He is not with his mother, as his sister is, but then he would have been approaching 20 years old, so had probably left home (and the workhouse).  The most obvious outcome is that he died, but I cannot find a death in the indexes and you would have thought that, being in an institution his death would definitely have been registered.  So what happened to him?  Did he emigrate?  I have had a half-hearted look, but can’t find anything.  The only other tantalising mention is of a Robert Dearman who was tried for Arson in Berkshire in 1864 but found to be not guilty.  I wonder what happened to him.


James Dearman 1801-1834



Marriage again

The final trial

Australia bound

Australia - arrival

Australia - convict life

The children


James Dearman 1801-1834

William Dearman

Ann Mason

Sophia Anne Nightingale

James Dearman 1826-?

Essendon and Little Berkhamsted


Labourers - Agricultural and Urban

The Workhouse


Sophia Anne Nightingale

The children


Sophia Anne Nightingale

Thomas Nightingale

Susanna Bacon

James Dearman 1801-1834

James Dearman 1826-19?


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