The IGI is only an index, created by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), aka Mormons, as an aid to their members to perform their obligation to research five generations of their family, as part of their religious duties. The IGI includes records extracted from parish registers as well as records submitted by members of the church. It is therefore a good place to start, but one is advised to search for the original record if possible as there might be errors in transcription. Fortunately for me, a great many parish records for London are available on the subscription website, Ancestry, and that’s where I went to find out more about the family of Thomas Ford and his wife Jessy Maria.
Thomas Ford was born in 1802 in Bideford, Devon, the son of a John Ford.
A view of Bideford showing the bridge over the River TorridgeCourtesy of Old UK Photos
At some point Thomas moved to
where he met Jessy Maria Dearmer, who was born about 1804 in Hackney. They were married at London ’s, Shoreditch, on 1 May 1824. St. Leonard
St. Leonard's, Shoreditch
Their first three children, James, 1825, Henry, 1826, and Thomas Frederick, 1829, were baptized at St. Leonard’s. After that the family moved to St. Marylebone where William, 1836, and Martha Cleland, 1838, were born. By 1841 the family was settled in Southwark, where Albert Charles, 1841 and Jessy Maria, 1844, were born.
Thomas Ford seems to have tried his hand at various occupations. On the baptismal records for James and Henry he is listed respectively as a carpenter and a sawyer. By the time William comes along he is a clerk, and on Martha’s record, in 1838, he calls himself a timber merchant. By the time Albert is born Thomas is describing himself as a gentleman, but on Jessy’s baptismal record he has become a traveler, presumably a traveling salesman. It’s hard, therefore, to get a picture of how well-off the family was, but there must have been some reason for the two eldest boys, then aged fifteen and fourteen, to leave London and travel to a strange new country to seek their fortunes.
As the only evidence I had for the Fords coming to
Jamaica in 1840 was Henry’s obituary in the Gleaner I did search to see whether the date was correct by searching for them in . The earliest nominal British census was taken in 1841. I found the household of Thomas Ford in the 1841 census, in England , Southwark. With them were Thomas Frederick and Martha Cleland. There was no sign of either James or Henry, nor could I find them anywhere in the English census records. Nor could I find any trace of William who would have been five years old. He may have died, but I could not find a record to support that. However, childhood mortality was high in those days, and sadly, Martha Cleland Ford and her as yet unborn brother, Albert Charles, were both dead by March 1843. Christ Church
Whether or not James Dearmer Ford and his brother, Henry, were recruited to Jamaica, or else came at the behest of a relative there, is not known, but once there they apparently made a success of it, not on any plantation that I know of, but in the city of Kingston.
Kingston, Duperly, 1850
In my next post I shall describe how the two brothers made a successful life in