Charles Backler Bootmaker of Shipdham

Shipdham is a small village in rural Norfolk, in the UK about 18 miles west of Norwich.  There is a village website – see   which is interesting to explore.  A spreadsheet has been produced listing all the burials in the church yard since 1961 – see and alas there are no Backlers.  I suspect the surname has now become extinct in Shipdham.  The name has been entered in parish records as Battleder, Backeller and Backelder, but settled down to Backler in later entries, but there is no doubting the relationships detailed below.

Charles Backler the bootmaker was born there on 6th June 1808 and baptised six days later, but spent most of his life in London.  On his baptism record, his father was identified as John Backler and his mother as Mary Frost.  John, born in 1781 then baptised on 16th December, was married to Mary in February 1806 and then died in 1850, all recorded in Shipdham.  Mary Frost was born in 1783 and died in 1866.  John was the son of William Backler (1750-1799) and Anne Rumbold (1757- buried 7th April 1799) and his parents were married on 6th March 1781, the year he was born.

Charles the bootmaker had several Backler aunts and uncles: Diana Backler baptised 22nd October 1783, Sophia Backler baptised 19th March 1786 died 1874, Charlotte Backler, baptised 19th August 1788 died 1873, Charles Backler baptised 16th July 1791 died 1823 and William Backler baptised 6th November 1793 died 1878.  Uncle Charles married Dinah Mynott (1787-1854) on 9th December 1814.  Their children were:  Jane Backler 1815-1885, Sarah Backler 1819-1915, James Backler born 1821 and Sophia Backler 1823-1913.  Uncle William, was an agricultural labourer who married Louisa, born 1794 in Horseheath, Cambridge.  William and Louisa had five children and one of them, another Charles Backler moved to Peterborough.

Charles the bootmaker was married three times for sure and in each census he was living with a different woman described as his wife:

  • In the 1841 census he was living with Harriet shown as 40 (so born between 1797 and 1801 due to census rounding) in Plough Yard, Shoreditch, London.  He had three daughters Mildred Backler aged 8, Mary Backler aged 6 and Elizabeth Backler aged 2 plus two sons, Charles Backler aged 5 and Thomas Backler aged 4.  Charles senior had married Mildred Lincoln on 5th January 1831, but she tragically died later that year and was buried in Shipdham on 4th November 1831 and recorded as being 30 years of age.  On 6th April 1832 Charles married Harriet Goodbody, when he was noted as a widower.  The marriages took place in Shipdham, with the rector Benjamin Barker presiding over both and he also presided over Mildred’s burial.
  • By the time of the 1851 census, he had moved to 3 Caledonia Place, Hackney, London, but this time his wife was Julia, aged 37 born Shoreditch.  Thomas aged 14, noted as being born in Balsham, was still living with them, as was his mother Mary Backler (Frost), a 68 year old widow, born in Shipdham.  Charles’s entry showed him as a cordwainer born Shipdham.  A cordwainer was the ancient term for a boot and shoe manufacturer.
  • Moving on to the 1861 census, Charles was at the same address, described as a bootmaker born in Shipdham.  This time his wife was 54 year old Harriet, which could be his wife Harriet Goodbody, born Swaffham.  The only record I have been able to find of the birth of a Harriet Goodbody was 7th July 1802 in Rougham, which would make her 59 in 1861 and 39 in 1841 when she was recorded in the census as being 40, so this may not be the same Harriet in the census.  Thomas was still at home aged 23.
  • Ten years later, in 1871, Charles was still at the same address aged 59, but this time his wife was 40 year old Sarah, born Ipswich, whom he married in the fourth quarter of 1870 in London, according to the marriage index reference 1c 1888.  Harriet had died in February 1870, aged 70, and was buried in Abbey Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington, Hackney, London.

In the 1881 census Emma Dawson, born Bury St Edmunds, widow of Charles’s son, was aged 40.  She had their son Charles Linton Backler living with her at 9 Union Street, Southwark, London, who was born in 1867 and was an office boy.  Charles Linton was born in Lambeth, London and was a brass finisher.  He married Lucy Maria, also born in 1867 in Islington, London, in 1893 with the marriage taking place in Islington too.  By the time of the 1911 census they remained childless after 18 years and were living at 36 Tynemouth Road, Tottenham, London, when his occupation had changed to cooper’s tool maker.  They were living at 47 Isleton Road, London, ten years earlier.

Mildred H. had married James Maddin by the time of the 1871 census and was noted as a dressmaker born in Bolsover, Cambridge and they were living at Herbert Street, Shoreditch.  They had three daughters, Mary Ann 19, Emily 17 and Mildred 10.  Ten years earlier Mildred had been staying with William Backler, a painter born 1811, presumably an uncle, at 4 Auckland Place, Battersea, London, with her daughter Mildred aged 8.   In the 1891 census, the Maddin family were living at 97 Graham Street, Islington and Charles Linton was staying with them.  Also residing there at the time was James Maddin’s stepdaughter, Mildred P. aged 25, another Mildred.

Mary Anne Backler was buried on 7th February 1829, with her parents noted as being John and Mary.  Mary Anne, who was Charles’s sister, was born in 1810.  William Edward Backler was born in 1806, being baptised on 7th May in Shipdham and married Mary Anne Mower on 2nd October 1827, who was Charles’s older brother.  They had a son, also named William Edward Backler on 1st June 1828, who was baptised in Shipdham on 22nd June at All Saints, the village church.  John Backler and Mary Frost may have had other children, siblings of Charles the bootmaker, and further research is needed.

Whilst carrying out this research, I came across an entry recording the death in Hackney, London in 1865 of Charles Milton Backler, whose dates do not tie up with any of the foregoing.  Also, Sophia Backler was born and died in Shipdham 1818 and, similarly, Anne Jane Backler was born and died in 1832 and I have not been able to identify either of their parents.  This will have to wait until further research is completed and, as usual, there are many unanswered questions.  I have not been able to establish how a branch of the Backler family originated in Shipdham in the first place.