It is hard to know where to start the story of my family history. It would be difficult to start at the beginning because my earliest roots are uncertain. And it would be unethical to start at the end because that would involve mention of lots of people who are still alive or lived during the 20th Century. That leaves the middle, which is actually a good place to start because my interest in my ancestors was sparked when I came into possession of the Family Bible, which documents my 19th Century Ford ancestry. So let us start there.

Family Bible

The Family Bible

The Family Bible is one of those large Victorian editions weighing nearly 5Kg that today's youngsters are unlikely to give house-room. It was published in 1861 and might have been a 21st birthday gift to my great-grandfather, Thomas Ford, 1840-1884. Or it might have been a wedding present. His name is the first to appear in the Family Register of Parents Names, between the Old and New Testaments. And his marriage to Rose is the first of three marriages recorded.

HandwritingThe hand writing on the Fly Leaf, and in the entries in the Register prior to 1882 were all made by one person, almost certainly Thomas Ford. The writing is beautiful copper plate script, indicating a well educated man. After the death of Rose, his first wife, the entries are made in other hands. And here a mystery opens. His second marriage to Elizabeth, the birth of two children and his own death are all recorded in other hands within the space of two years of his first wife's death.

The Fly Leaf

Some time after acquiring his Bible, Thomas Ford set down the names and birth dates of his parents and siblings on the front fly leaf, as follows:

Isaac Ford Born August 6th 1800
Mary Ford Born March 15th 1802
Lionel Ford Born August 15th 1822
Hannah Ford Born May 14th 1824
Edna Ford Born May 16th 1826
Enoch Ford Born June 26th 1828
Thomas Ford Born September 11th 1830
Mary Ford Born April 9th 1836
Thomas Ford Born August 24th 1840
John Ford Born July 7th 1844

Fly Leaf Entries

This list represents the only certain documentary proof of my ancestry back to 1800. However, as we will see later, there is circumstantial evidence in church records that help to identify Isaac Ford's parents and siblings, and so on back in time.

Family Register: Parents Names

If this is Thomas Ford's bible then whose names go in the Parents Register? Clearly not his parents. Did he assume that he and Rose were the parents? Whatever, the entries are:

Thomas Ford Born August 24th 1840
Rose Ford Born June 11the 1846
Thomas Ford Born Dec 21st 1874
Annie Elizabeth Ford Born 1872 14 Sept

Parents Names

The younger Thomas Ford, my grandfather, was the eldest son and must have inherited the Family Bible. He may have made the entries for himself and his wife when they became parents, and the entries for his children on the Childrens Names page.

Family Register: Childrens Names

There can be no doubt in this case that the first group of children are those of Thomas Ford (1840-1884), followed by those of Thomas Ford (1874-1946). The entries are as follows:

Mary Ford Born March 22nd 1871
Edna Ford Born September 15th 1872
Thomas Ford Born December 21st 1874
Hannah Ford Born March 27 1880
Harriet Ford born February 22
Arthur Ford born May 13
Hilda Ford Born August 17th 1903
Thomas Leonard Ford born 9th March 1906
Clifford Ford born 17 March 1910


The years are not given for Harriet and Arthur, children of Thomas Ford's second marriage to Elizabeth, but the 1891 Census [5th April] suggests they were 1883 and 1884.

Family Register: Marriages

The first entry in the Marriages list is in the impeccable handwriting of Thomas For, 1840-1884, but for some reason the date and the year have been omitted. The date and year have also been omitted from his second marriage, although it must have been 1882. The entries are as follows:

Thomas & Rose Ford Married May
Thomas and Elizabeth
Thomas and Annie Elizabeth Feb 18th 1901


Family Register: Deaths

The sad page:

Rose Ford Died March 31st 1882
Thomas Ford Died March 22nd 1884
Thomas Ford Died Sept 25th 1946
Annie Elizabeth Ford Died June 10th 1956


The first entry is again in Thomas Ford senior's immaculate hand writing.The second is in another equally immaculate hand that appears for this one entry only.

Who was Thomas Ford 1840-1884?

There are no current memories of my great grandfather - my grandparents and parents are long gone. The only memory I have is of a visit to Salford with my parents and Aunt Hilda around 1956-1960 to seek out Arthur, my grandfather's half-bother. We found him in a nursing home, and all I remember is a hospital ward of senile men. Arthur would have been over 70 at that time. Certainly Thomas Ford's second marriage so very soon after his first wife's death is intriguing. On reflection, I do have a vague memory of some close connection of my grandfather's family with with the Methodist Church.


The National Census of England and Wales began in 1801 but it was not until 1841 that the individual names of all citizens were recorded. The available records are are actually Census Enumerators' Books (CEB) transcribed from the returned schedules. Some of the records are difficult to read, either due to poor reproduction, tricky copper-plate script or censors marks. And of course there were plenty of opportunities for errors in recording and transcription. One particular problem is that it is often not possible to correlate locations with modern addresses. In that respect it is worth knowing that a single slash (/) in the left column of a CEB page separates households and a double slash (//) separates buildings.

Family Bible

The 1841 Census

To follow the owners of my Family Bible through the Census records it seems most appropriate to begin in 1841 and follow the fortunes of the family members through the Victorian era. This particular census return is wonderfully informative on the location of the the family of Isaac Ford (1800-1861). He is to be found occupying a single building in Stadmorslow between Lower Stadmorslow Farm and Upper Stadmorslow Farm [written as Stadmores Law]. The Wolstanton Parish Titthe map of 1840 shows that Isaac Ford was a tenant of Ralph Sneyd Esq. in the cottage adjacent to the lane between the two farms, labeled 721 on the adjacent map (the number from the Tithe Schedule). The 1840 map shows a second cottage (720) a little further from the road and that also appears in the 1841 Census. The entries for Isaac Ford's family are as follows:

Extract from the 1841 Census
Name Age Profession Born in same county
Isaac Ford 40 Stome M[ason] N
Mary do 35   Y
Enoch 13 Ag Lab Y
Thomas 11months   Y

In the 1841 Census the Enumerators were required to round down to the nearest five years the ages of persons over 15 (although some did not). So most adult ages appear as multiples of five years. The last column indicates whether the person was born in the same county. In this case Isaac Ford was not, later evidence indicates he was born in Lawton Parish, Cheshire. So what happened to the other children of Isaac Ford mentioned in the Bible?

Lionel [Foard] is living as one of a group of Servants at Shieldscroft, Norton in the Moors. Hannah might have been the Female Servant, aged 15, at Ashley Rectory, near Loggerheads, Staffordshire, about 16 miles from Stadmorslow. All the adult ages on this record are rounded down. Parish records indicate that Edna, the first Thomas and Mary had all died in infancy before the 1841 Census.

The 1851 Census

In1851 Isaac Ford and family are still resident in Stadmorslow and this Census records a little more information:

Extract from the 1851 Census for Isaac Ford of Stadmorslow
Name Relation Married Age Profession Where born
Isaac Ford Head Mar 50 Collier Cheshire
Mary do Wife   49 Employed in Home Staffodsh Smow?
Thomas do Son ~ 11 At school Staffordsh Stadmore Lane?
John do Son   7 At school Stafordsh. Stadmorslow
Maria do Dau   5 At school do
Hanah Hancock Mary's mother Widow 72 Retir'd at Home do Biddulph

This entry is quite difficult to read, particularly the birth place of Thomas. However, it does give us Mary's maiden name. The appearance of Maria is intriguing! She is not mentioned in the Family Bible as a sibling of Thomas and, according to JJ she was the illegitimate daughter of Hannah Ford and Samuel Boughey, Hannah was only 18 when Maria was born. In 1851 there was a Hannah Ford aged 26, House Servant to Hannah Locket (55) and her son Wm [William] (22) at Marsh Green, Biddulph, only about two miles from Stadmorslow. Lionel Ford is recorded as a Servant at Ridgeway Hall, Norton in the Moors. Enoch Ford is recorded as a Farm Servant in the home of Thomas Holdcroft, farmer, at Stadmorslow.

The 1861 Census

The CEB for 1861 lists Isaac Ford's family two houses away from Upper Stadmorslow Farm, almost certainly the same house occupied since 1841, but now described as Wain Lee.

The family of Isaac Ford in the 1861 Census"
Name Relation Married Age Profession Where born
Isaac Ford Head Mar 60 Ag Lab Cheshire Lawton
Mary '' wife '' 59'   Staff Mow Cop
Hannah '' dau Un 36   Staff Whitehill
Enoch son '' 32 do do '' ''
Thomas Ford son Un 20 Blacksmith Staff Stadmorslow
John '' '' '' 16 Ag Lab '' ''
Henry Grandson   7   '' ''

At this time, none of Isaac Ford's children are married, although he has another grandson, presumably another child of Hannah. It seems that Service is a hazardous occupation! Maria Ford, who appeared in the 1851 Census, is recorded as a House Servant in the home of Henry Sutton of Newchapel. Parish records indicate that Lionel Ford died in 1858.

The 1871 Census

Isaac Ford had passed away by the time of the 1871 Census. Thomas and John are both married and occupying adjacent houses listed as Cottage #8 and #9 at Mow Cop in the Civil Parish of Stadmorslow.

Extract of the 1871 Census for Thomas Ford
Name Relation Married Age Profession Where born
Thos Ford Head Mar 30 Blacksmith Staffordsh Stadmorslow
Rose do Wife Mar 24   Cheshire Alderley
Mary do Dau   12days   Staffordsh Harriseahead
Mary do Mother W 70   do Mow Cop
Extract from the 1871 Census for John Ford
Name Relation Married Age Profession Where born
John Ford Head Mar 26 Labourer Staffordsh Wolstanton
Hannah do Wife Mar 22   do ''
Sarah Ann Ford Dau   2   Cheshire Congleton

Enoch, the eldest surviving son, is still living at Wain Lee in Cottage #116 a couple of houses away from Farm House #113. Presumably this is the same house as occupied by Isaac's family since before 1841.

Extract from the 1871 Census for Enoch Ford
Name Relation Married Age Profession Where born
Enoch Ford Head Mar 42 Lab in Ironstone Staffords Whitehill
Emma do Wife Mar 32   do Norton
Helena J do Dau   6   do Stadmorslow
Emma do Dau   4   do do
Mary do Dau   1   do do

There is no sign of Hannah in the 1871 Census, but a Hannah Ford married a George Williams of Wedgwood in 1872 and they turn up again in 1881. George has children but no wife in 1871, and as Wedgwood is less than a mile from Stadmorslow it seems likely that this is the wayward Hannah mentioned in the Family Bible. There is no sign of Hannah's duaghter Maria either. However, according to JJ, later in 1871 Maria had an illegitimate son Isiah at Horton. And Henry? He was living as a boarder with Ann Ford, a Servant in the home of George Powell at Harriseahead #4. Just a few doors away at #1 were Thomas Ford (50) and his wife Ann (58), Grocer and Beer Seller.

The 1881 Census

The people listed in the 1881 census are coming within living memory: my grandfather made his debut, and my brother remembers him using his moustache for tickling! Thomas Ford the Blacksmith is now listed at Harriseahead #78 in the hamlet of Stadmorslow.

Extract from the 1881 Census for Thomas Ford 1840-1844
Name Relation Married Age Profession Where born
Thomas Ford Head Mar 40 Blacksmith Wolstanton ''[Staffordsh]
Rose '' Wife '' 33   Alderley Cheshire
Mary Ford Dau   10   Wolstanton Staffs
Edna '' Dau   8   '' ''
Thomas Son   6   '' ''
Hannah Dau   1   Odd Rode Cheshire

John Ford is also living at Harriseahead (Buckramrow) with his wife Hannah and children Sarah Ann, James and John H. He is now a Stone Miner. The elder brother Enoch Ford is still at Stadmorslow, working as a Colliery Labourer (Miner). His wife Emma has died: there is a tombstone in Newchapel churchyard gives the date as June 20, 1877, aged 39. There is also a daughter, Margaret Lawrence, 12/11/1874-24/12/1876.

Hannah Ford, Thomas Ford's elder sister, appears to have married George Williams and is living with his family in Thomas Street, Wedgwood, now known as Packmoor. There is no trace of Maria or her son Isaiah. However, there is a Henry Ford (27) living at 17 Bank Street, Tunstall with his wife Emily (20), daughter Maria B. and mother-in-law Fanny Jones. Henry is a Carter, the same profession as his mother's husband George.

The 1891 Census

A decade is a short time in a family history. The Family Bible recorded the death of Rose, Thomas Ford's wife, his second marriage to Elizabeth, the birth of two children and his own death, all in the space of two years. So the Bible passed to my grandfather, also Thomas Ford. In 1891 he was living with his stepmother at Harriseahead #63.

Extract of the 1891 Census for Thomas Ford, 1874-1946
Name Relation Married Age Profession Where born
Elizabeth Ford Head Wid ??   Staffs Gratton
Thomas do Son S 16 Coal Miner Waggoner do Wolstanton
Harriet do Dau   8 Scholar do do
William A do Son   4 Scholar do do

Thomas Ford's family were just four doors away from another completely unrelated Ford family: John (45), his wife Charlotte (41) and son Joseph (19).

Thomas Ford's uncle John is now a widower, recorded as an Ironstone Loader living at Sands, just along the road from Thomas. His children, Sarah, James and John are still living at home. Next door but one, Hannah Ford, Thomas Ford's sister, is living with her uncle George Powell, a Forgeman, brother of Rose.

Enoch Ford is living at Birches Row, Harriseahead with his daughter Emma and son William. The entries are on the same page as Stonetrough and Hollin's House [find out more about Birches Row].

Edna Ford may be the Servant recorded as living in the home of John and Martha Taylor at Harriseahead. There is no trace of Maria Ford or Henry Ford, but the latter will be back with a new family in 1901.

The 1901 Census

Thomas Ford has come of age since the last Census, and he is married and living with his mother-in-law at 24 Tunstall Road Biddulph (many Census returns now contain modern addresses).

Data from the 1901 Census for Thomas Ford
Name Relation Married Age Profession     Where born
Mehetabel Stubbs Head Wid 64 Living on own means     Ches Bre[re]ton Heath
Hannah M '' dau S 26 Dressmaker own account at home Staffs Biddulph
Sarah A '' '' S 17 Chain Maker worker   '' ''
Annie E Ford '' M 28       '' ''
Thomas '' son-in-law M 26 Coal Miner (hewer) worker   '' Harriseahead

Elizabeth Ford (51), Thomas Ford's stepmother is living at 19 High Street, Harriseahead with her son Arthur Ford (17), an Underground Waggoner. Harriet (18), her elder child, is a servant in the home of William and Elizabeth Patey at 22, Greengates Street, Tunstall. Edna and Hannah Ford, Thomas Ford's sisters are living at 4 Biddulph Road with their uncle, George Powell.

Uncle Enoch (73) is a retired Labourer living at 36 High Street, Harriseahead with his daughter Emma (34), a Housekeeper, and son W. Isaac (23), a Coach Painter. At 46 High Street Uncle John (56), a Forge Labourer, is living with his new wife Adelaide (56).

Aunt Hannah Williams and her family have disappeard, presumably having died. There is no trace of her daughter Maria who would have been 56 at this time. However, Maria's son Isaiah Ford (29) is to be found living with his wife Hannah (24) and children Isaiah (4), Mary E, (3) and Minnie (1) at Norton in the Moors. Hannah's son Henry (47), a Horse Cart?? driver for delivering sewing machines, is living at 15 Bank Street, Tunstall with his second wife Minnie (33), son Frederick H (18) a Plumber's Apprentice, his step-daughter Florence Taylor (13) and his son Arthur H (3).


The Census returns reveal a picture of a family of largely Agricultural Labourers and Miners living through the industrialisation of a previously rural environment. They did not move around much: a circle with a radius of one mile centred on Harriseahead would cover the dwelling places of most of the those mentioned in the Family Bible for a hundred years.


To extend my family history back in time beyond the information in the Family Bible and the National Census, I pieced together coherent families from parish records of Births, Deaths and Marriages, and from some tombstones. This involved numerous visits to the Public Records Offices in Stafford, Chester and Lichfield during the latter part of the 1980s, and to churchyards. Some of the evidence of who might be related to whom is circumstantial, and possibly wrong. But in the absence of other documentary evidence there seems no alternative. At the outset I had available copies of the records of marriages and baptisms collated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormon Records). That led me to concentrate initially on collecting information on burials to make best use of precious time in the Records Offices. It turns out that the Mormon Records were collated from Bishop's Transcripts, copies of the Parish Register sent from the Parish to the Bishopric. These did not include Hamlet of residence, and that turns out to be important in collating family histories.

Brieryhurst and Stadmorslow

In the 1841 Census there were two townships on the Staffordshire flanks of Mow Cop: Stadmorslow, which [in 1861] included Mow Cop Parsonage, The Land in Mow Cop, Harriseahead (p[ar]t), Ashes Farm, Stone Trough, Hollin House, Wain Lee (pt) and Brown Lees, and Brieryhurst, which included land westwards to the Cheshire border (Dales Green, etc). This is important because Stadmorslow and Brieryhurst are the only townships mentioned in connection with my Ford family in earlier parish registers for Newchapel, where most Births, Deaths and Marriages were recorded (the church at Mow Cop was a later construction). Newchapel also includes the twonships of Thursfield, Ranscliff, Oldcot, Tunstall, Chell and Wedgwood.

The Records

The Parish Records are books containing lists of names in date order of baptism, marriage or death. The entries were completed by the parish priest and may have been stored in the church when in use. Many of the early books are missing, some are in poor condition (or were so before conservation) and are quite difficult to read. In some case separate books were kept fo Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths. In other cases, one book served for all three. The earliest books were in latin, or used latinised names. Eventually, the books were deposied with the County Record Office for safe-keeping. The outcome is that browsing the parish records is a difficult and error prone task. It is easy to miss entries and to misinterpret name and place information.

The information on tombstones is of similar variable quality, many inscriptions having weathered or been overgrown with lichen. More importantly, very few families went to the expense of a tombstone. Those that did were typically the more affluent farmers. The families of miners and agricultural labourers could only afford tombstones at the end of the 19th Century.