In the first few posts on this blog I described how the five Holdsworth siblings came to Stepney from Essex at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The story now moves on to the next generation, beginning with the family of Joseph Holdsworth, a cordwainer and later a chandler in the parish of St George-in-the East. We’re fortunate in having reasonably good information about Joseph and his offspring, in part because his descendants, including my fellow researcher Adrian Holdsworth, have investigated their family history in some detail. Another reason is that this branch of the family achieved a degree of material success and middle-class status, one consequence being that they left more comprehensive written and photographic records than some of their relatives.

Joseph Holdsworth and his wife Margaret had four children who survived to adulthood: Sarah, born in 1793; Elizabeth, 1796; Godfrey, 1799; and Joseph Edward, 1802. In this post I’ll summarise what we know about the first three, while Joseph Edward and his family will be the focus of a separate post.

Sarah Holdsworth, the eldest surviving child of Joseph and Margaret Holdsworth, was married at the age of twenty-three, to Isaac Crawshaw. The wedding took place at the church of Holy Trinity, Minories, in the City of London, on 20th March 1815, with Sarah’s father Joseph acting as one of the witnesses. Isaac, who was two years older than Sarah, was the son of David Crawshaw, a Southwark clothier, and his wife Prudence.


Section of Greenwood’s 1827 map of London, showing Shadwell High Street and St Paul’s church (via

Isaac and Sarah Crawshaw had only one child, a daughter name Margaret, who was born in the following year in the parish of St George-in-the-East. The fact that the couple had no other children, and that Sarah was a widow by the time of the 1841 census, suggests that Isaac probably died in the early years of their marriage. That census record finds Sarah, now forty-five, and her daughter Margaret, twenty-five, living in Shadwell High Street. Sarah is described as a shopkeeper, though the exact nature of her business isn’t given. Sarah and Margaret share the address with two employees: Edmund Poole, a shopman, and Angelina Best, a family servant, both of whom are aged twenty.

The nature of the Crawshaw family business becomes clear in the 1851 census record, which finds Sarah and Margaret living in Bedford Place, Mile End Old Town, with a seventeen-year-old female servant. Sarah is now described as a milliner, which suggests that her late husband Isaac had followed in the footsteps of his clothier father. By this time Sarah was fifty-six years old and Margaret, who was still unmarried, thirty-five. Also present at the time of the census was Mary Ann Moore, described both as a visitor and as the proprietor of the house. She was almost certainly a relation of John Moore, the husband of Sarah’s sister Elizabeth (see below).

By 1861 Sarah, now sixty-six, had moved to Lewisham Terrace, West Ham, then still a middle-class suburb, where her status is described as ‘independent’.  I’m not sure where her daughter Margaret was at this date, but someone with the same name was married in Stepney in 1853. Sarah was still in West Ham in 1871, but was now living at Upton Villas, on Romford Road, with her sister Elizabeth and her husband John Moore. Sarah died in West Ham eight years later, at the age of eighty-six.

Sarah’s younger sister Elizabeth Holdsworth had married John Moore on 5th March 1815, just two weeks before Sarah’s own marriage. The wedding took place at Christ Church, Spitalfields, the church where Elizabeth’s parents were married twenty-three years earlier, and her father Joseph was again a witness. John Moore had been born in Spitalfields in about 1794, so the bride and groom were nineteen and twenty-one years old respectively when they married. John worked as a tallow chandler: since this was the same profession as Elizabeth’s father Joseph, it’s possible that John had been apprenticed to his future father-in-law.

John and Elizabeth Moore would have three children: William, born in 1817; George, 1818; and Samuel, 1824. At the time of the 1841 census, the family was living in Crown Row, on the south side of Mile End Road, with Elizabeth’s widowed mother Margaret, who was now aged seventy, as well as a domestic servant. By 1851, they had moved to West Ham, where they  lived in Ham Cottage, Upton Villas. John is now described as a ‘house proprietor’. His mother-in-law Margaret seems to have died by this date, and all of the children appear to have left home, leaving John and Elizabeth with their servant Eliza Lewis, who would remain with them in the following decades.


John and Elizabeth Moore in 1865 (via Adrian Holdsworth)

The 1861 census finds the Moores at the same address. Ten years later, the household had expanded to include Elizabeth’s widowed sister Sarah (see above), as well as John’s eleven-year-old nephew Alfred Moore. John Moore seems to have died in 1876. Certainly, by the time the 1881 census was taken, eighty-four-year-old widow Elizabeth was living alone with her servant Eliza Lewis, now sixty-three. Elizabeth died in the following year.

Godfrey Holdsworth, the third child of Joseph and Margaret Holdsworth, married Anne Mitchell at the church of St. Anne’s, Limehouse, on 2nd December 1822, when he was twenty-three years old and she was twenty-one. Godfrey and Anne Holdsworth had two sons. Joseph Godfrey was born in 1823 and his brother John in 1825, both of them being christened at the church of St Paul, Shadwell. In both baptismal records Godfrey is described as an ‘oil man’: in other words, he was a tallow chandler like his father Joseph. The family’s address is given as High Street, Shadwell, close to the shop kept by Godfrey’s sister and brother-in-law Sarah and Isaac Crawshaw. Godfrey and Anne were at the same address when the census was taken: they were now forty-two and thirty-nine years old respectively, while their sons were eighteen and sixteen.


Anne Holdsworth appears to have died in about 1849, and in the following year Godfrey married again. His second wife, who was ten years younger than him, was his first cousin Elizabeth, the daughter of his uncle, another Godfrey Holdsworth, and his wife Diana. The 1851 census shows the family still living in Shadwell. The head of the household was now Godfrey’s son Joseph, a tallow chandler employing ten men, who had married Mary Ann Battersby in 1846. By this date they already had three children: Mary Ann, four; William, one; and Eliza, seven months. Godfrey, now fifty-two years old, is described in the census record as a tallow chandler ‘out of business’, suggesting that he may have passed the family concern on to Joseph. Also present are Elizabeth, now forty-two, as well as Joseph’s mother-in-law Eliza Battersby and two servants.

Godfrey’s younger son John had married Anne Jane White of Dalston a few years earlier. In 1851 he too was living in Shadwell High Street, though at a different address, and also working as an oil man. With John and Anne in 1851 were their daughter Anne, aged three, and son Frederick, eight months, as well as a general servant and a nursery maid.

In 1853 Godfrey, his wife Elizabeth, his two sons and their families, all emigrated to Wellington, New Zealand, sailing on the Cornwall and arriving on 13th August. Godfrey and Elizabeth stayed in New Zealand (Godfrey’s name appears on the electoral roll living in Molesworth Street, Wellington, in 1858), dying in 1874 and 1900 respectively. So did Joseph and his family; his wife Mary died there in 1848 and he married Eliza Mary Smith in 1861, having five more children with her before his death in 1884.


Joseph Godfrey Holdsworth (via Adrian Holdsworth)

John and Anne Holdsworth had two daughters in New Zealand before moving to Australia, where they had two sons and another daughter who died in infancy, and eventually returning to England. At the time of the 1871 census they could be found living with their children in Lichfield Road, Mile End Old Town, where John was working as a tallow chandler’s traveller. By 1881 the family had moved out to Leyton, Essex, and John was described as a commercial traveller. They were still there in 1891, but in the 1901 census record John was described as a widower, though he was still working as a commercial traveller at the age of seventy-five. John Holdsworth would die in 1916 at the age of ninety.