Descendants of James Backler (junior), Master Bricklayer of Haverhill

James Backler and his wife Dorothy Lorking were both shown as 50 in the 1841 census living at The Weavers Arms in Haverhill. There was a five year rounding on adult ages in that census, so they were both born about 1791 and there are suggestions in other family trees that James was born in 1785. In my blog page “1911 Census – Backler Families”, James was number 8 on the list.

This picture is of The Weavers’ Arms in about 1860 and it seems to have closed between 1922 and 1926. It was supplied by Graham Nunn to the CAMRA West Suffolk & Borders branch and copied here under the exceptions to copyright granted for non-commercial research, provided the source is acknowledged.

I had some contact recently from Marie Russell, who is descended from this branch of the Backler families. She sent me a photo of Annie Elizabeth Backler (seated born 12th March 1857-1944), her great great grandmother, along with another unidentified younger female who is standing next to her, who is facially clearly a relative. This is the first time that anyone connected with the Backlers in Haverhill has contacted me and I would be delighted if other descendants did so. It would be a bonus if they were able to provide more information on any Backler Connections, not just my family.

James Backler senior and Dorothy had a son James Backler junior (1820-1885), a master bricklayer, who married Mary Ann Basham (1822-1887) in 1850 and it is the descendants of the younger James that feature in this blog page. Mary Ann had been married previously and living with the family in the 1851 census were step children with the surname Brooks: Mary Ann, aged 11 born 1840, Eliza, aged 9 born 1842, Thomas, aged 7 born 1844 and John, aged 6 born 1846. Also living with the family in 1851 was Mary Ann’s mother another Mary Ann Basham born 1800 and a son Bury St Edmunds Backler aged 9 (1842-4th August 1908, Haverhill). It seems Bury St Edmund’s mother may have been Jane Banks (1829-28th August 1849), so he was half brother to the children mentioned in the next paragraph. By the time of the 1861 census only Mary Ann Brooks, aged 21 and John Brooks, aged 16 were still at home. I have not explored the Brooks connection any further because they are not Backler Connections.

James and Mary Ann had five further children living at home in the 1861 census:  Susannah Backler, aged 10 born 1851 – 1927, Harry Frank Backler, aged 5 born 1856, the aforementioned Annie E Backler, aged 4 born 1857, Catherine Jane Backler, aged 2 born 1859 and Albert Jabez Backler, aged 7 months born 1860. These five were still living at home in the 1871 census, although Harry Frank was just Frank and Catherine was now spelt with a K. There were also three additions to the family, Frank Harry Backler, aged 12 born 1859 Haverhill – 28th Dec 1933 Haverhill (not to be confused with Harry Frank – now Frank), Walter Christopher Backler, aged 8 (28th January 1863 Haverhill-24th June 1926 Chelsea, London), who appeared just as Christopher, and Emily Backler, aged 5 born 1866 – 1917.

I have mostly researched their daughters, because Marie told me that someone in the family was a servant of the Romanoffs, the Russian royal family, and she returned to Russia between 1910 and 1917 after a visit home, where family anecdotes suggest she died during the revolution. We are not certain who it was, but Marie has in her possession some jewellery give to this lady and handed down through the family. Marie’s family suggest it may be one of Annie’s sisters or the younger unidentified woman in the photo above. Here is the photo of the jewellery.

The Romanoff jewellery. A gold locket with a turquoise cross and a gold horseshoe ring with a sapphire. The photos inside the locket show an ageing Annie, but I am not sure of the identity of the dashing looking younger man.

James’s and Mary Ann’s oldest daughter, Susannah, married Charles William Spicer in 1880. In the 1891 census the family were living in Broad Street, Haverhill and they had six children at home, all born in Haverhill, step daughter Lillie born 1873, Alice Mary born 1881, William born 1884, Arthur 1887, Sissy (or Cissy) born 1887 and Frank born 1891. By 1901 they were recorded at 28 Broad Street, except for Lillie. By 1911, Cissy, a 23 year old school teacher was the only one still living with Charles and Susannah. Lillie had married Thomas Marsh in 1895 and was living in Weston Colville, not too far away, with two children of her own. Because of this information it is unlikely that Susannah was the Romanoff servant. Of their daughters, Alice Mary and Cissy could be candidates.

The next daughter was Annie Elizabeth from the photo above. She married Charles John Pavey, a fitter and turner, (1857-6th February 1938) from Ilminster in Somerset on 25th October 1879 and the witnesses were Frank Backler and Kate Backler, presumably her siblings. In the 1881 census Charles was in hospital, aged 24. By the time of the 1891 census the family had expanded by the addition of Charles Frederick born 10th March 1880, Ellen Mary born 1882, Stanley born 1889, Dorothy born 12th January 1892 and Bertram born 1894, all in Haverhill. Henry (Harry) Pavey born 1884, but unfortunately buried on 11th May 1985 was not on the census, but I can’t be sure he was the son of Charles and Annie. The 1911 census shows that the family consisted of seven siblings, of which five were still alive, so if one was Henry, I have not been able to identify the second child who was no longer living, although there was an unnamed Pavey who died in 1886 (but see UPDATE Below). This is what happened to the Paveys I have been able to trace and it is unlikely any served the Romanoffs between 1910 and 1917:

  • Charles Frederick married Kate Buttle in the second quarter of 1903 and they had three daughters. Freda Ellen born 7th August 1907 in Watford married Sidney Barsted in 1932. Constance K born 26th January 1909 in Watford married Peter Beavis in 1937. Doris J born 14th January 1915 married Bertram G Sturman in 1940.
  • Ellen Mary married Isaac William Poole and they had daughters Kathleen Phyllis born 1909 and Madge Gertrude born 1910.
  • Stanley married Emily B Brown in 1915.
  • Dorothy married William Martin Tucker in 1918 and in 1911 they were living with Dorothy’s parents in Watford. William was a cycle mechanic and his father, Reuben, was a cycle and motor engineer. William and Dorothy had a daughter, Dorothy M born 20th July 1920, a commercial clerk, who married someone with the surname Green. In the 1939 Register Annie Pavey (Backler), widow, was living with them at 71 Judge Street, Watford. This seems to be how the Romanoff jewellery passed from Annie, to Dorothy, then to Dorthy M and thence to Marie who confirmed that she received it from Dorothy M.
  • Bertram married Ellen Farthing in 1919.

The next daughter was Catherine Jane Backler who married John Henry Bareham in 1880. In the 1891 census they were living at The Green, Weston Colville, near Haverhill. By 1901, they had moved to Oakham in Rutland and John was an agent for Prudential Insurance. Ten years later they were in Melton Mowbray and John was a cattle feed traveller (salesman). They had nine children. Edith J born 6th January 1883 and Rose E born 22nd October 1884, by the time of the 1939 register, these sisters were living with their widowed and retired mother. Both daughters were unmarried and carrying out domestic duties. Philip J was born in 1886 in Haverhill and probably married Elizabeth Awain in 1915 in Tamworth and they had a son Alan J Bareham born 29th May 1922. Constance Irene was born in 1889 in Linton, Cambridgeshire and married in 1912, husband not yet identified. Marjorie Cecilia was born in 1891 in Weston Colville, Cambridgeshire, where the next three siblings were also born. They were Vernon C born 1893, Percy V born 1894 and Frank N born 1895. The last sibling was Lillie M who was born in 1897 in Bottisham, Cambridgeshire. It is possible that either Marjorie or Lillie served the Romanoffs.

The youngest daughter was Emily who married Frederick George Pavey, a carpenter, from Ilminster in 1887, probably a brother of Charles, Annie’s husband. They had six children born in Haverhill who were, John born 1888, Beatrice also born 1888, Horace born 1889, Edith Maud (1890-1893), Bernard born 1892 and Evelyn (Eveline) Dora born 2nd March 1893. In the 1891 census, the family was living at Hamlet Road, Haverhill, but by 1901 they had moved to 138 St James Road, Watford. They had Charles Pavey their 21 year old nephew, a coach painter, living with them. By the time of the 1911 census, Frederick and Emily had been married 24 years and had had six children, with five still living, apart from the unfortunate Edith Maud. In the 1920 and 1930 electoral registers, Beatrice was living not too far away from Watford in Rickmansworth. Evelyn married William Pine in Watford in 1929. None of these descendants were likely to have ventured to Russia.

In the 1901 Census, Christopher Backler, carpenter, born 1862 and his family (all born in Haverhill apart from his wife who was born in Diss, Norfolk) were mis-transcribed as Bachler. They were living at 135 St James Road, Watford, wife Elizabeth Mary Anne born 1864, and children Annie Marie Backler born 1888, Elizabeth Alice Backler born 1889, Fannie Brett Backler born 1890, Royal Backler born 1894, Emily Daisy Backler born 1896, Sylvia Dorothy Backler born 1898 and Phyllis P Backler born 1900. In the 1891 census the family were living in Haverhill and there was an older sibling James Christopher Backler born 1885. Further siblings have been identified from other trees, Sarah Backler born 1902, Sidney Backler born 1905 and Lily Backler born 1907. I have not carried out any further research on this part of the tree.

That leaves Harry Frank, Alfred Jabez and Frank Harry where further research is needed and I will update further when I complete more work. It is interesting to note that two Paveys moved to Haverhill from Ilminster and that there was probably a further work related connection to Watford that involved a number of other members of the family. This was unusual in those days, where people tended to stay firmly rooted in one area.

It would be fabulous if a DNA connection could be established to one of the lines of Backlers that emanate form Haverhill, but none has emerged so far, although I have come across trees where there are people with DNA connections to Haverhill and to me. One of these included a Farrant, where I know that there were extensive families in the Haverhill area, but I have been unable to make a connection. Since I know that my own family is descended from Samuel Backler, probably born about 1750 and his son Henry Backler born 3rd April 1785 in Haverhill, I can only assume my line has died out in the area through direct Backler Connections, because I could not locate any family connections, when working backwards from the 1911 Census. However, there could be a connection through the marriages of Henry’s sisters Elizabeth, Martha, Mary and Sarah. More research is needed, which is usual with anything to do with genealogy and that is also the case with the Romanoff story.

UPDATE 10th May 2021:

From the Ancestry tree of Russell Suter. This is clearly the younger woman in the above photo.

In the original post, it states that Ellen Mary Pavey married Isaac William Poole, but I can now add further information. Ellen was born in Haverhill on 13th May 1882 and died in Faversham, Kent on 9th February 1970 at 76 London Road. This is only a few miles from where Princess Olga Romanoff lives at Provender House. I spoke to Princess Olga and her daughter Alex, but neither can recall whether Ellen Mary worked for the family in Kent. In any case this would have to be from the 1940s onwards because of when Provender House became the Romanoff home. Isaac was also born in 1882 and he too died in Faversham in 1958 and his probate shows his address as Suffolk House, London Road, which happens to be the main A2 running east-west past the north of the town. Ellen Mary and Isaac were married in 1908 in Haverhill. In the 1911 census and in the 1939 register, Ellen and Issac were living in Haverhill, having moved from 46 High Street to 27 High Street, so these records suggest that the family moved to Faversham in the 1940s. Ellen and Issac had a further child, this time a son, Donald Laurie Poole and he was born in Haverhill on 29th April 1913. He died in March 1983 at Broadlands, Ashford Road, Faversham. In the 1939 Register he was living in Tendring, Essex and he was recorded as living in Ashford Road in 1964, so he may have relocated after his father died. Donald married Eleanor Ludlow in 1937 in Tendring. It is surprising that there is a connection from Haverhill to Faversham, but I can only speculate that it was because of the nearby Romanoffs.

UPDATE 11th May 2021:

Judith Ashton provided a link to her tree on Ancestry that gave further details on Alfred Jabez Backler (October 1860 Haverhill – 2nd September 1935 Saffron Walden, Essex, UK), mentioned in her comment. Alfred married Eliza Ann Jay (1857 Saffron Walden-1933) on 28th July 1884 in Saffron Walden. They had seven children:  Thomas Jay Backler (1887 Linton-1955), Alfred Jabez Backler junior (1889 Linton-12th August 1927 Linton), Ruby Jessie Backler (1891 Linton-17th May 1948 Saffron Walden), Edward George Backler (1893-1893), Pearl Annie Backler (26th August 1894 Linton-12th July 1969, Chichester, West Sussex), Emerald Eva Backler (27th December 1896 Linton-1980 Chichester) and Beryl Barbara Winifred Backler (1900-11th May 1947 Colchester, Essex). The family ran a draper’s shop in Linton, Cambridgeshire, UK.

Pearl Annie was Judith’s grandmother. She married Charles William Ashton in December 1918 in Linton (1892-1986) and one son has been identified from this marriage, Michael Alfred Ashton (1920-2016), who was probably Judith’s father. Beryl Barbara Winifred married Frederick Hector Stuart-David (1900-1970) in Linton in 1922. They had a daughter Ivy Stuart-David who was short lived (1923-1923). Emerald Eva moved to London for most of her life, before arriving in Chichester via Plymouth. She did not marry. Ruby Jessie married Colin Campbell MacKinnon in 1914. Thomas Jay married Fanny Maude Smith in 1923 in Linton.

Frank Harry Backler married Elizabeth Willis and they had five children.  Florance Backler born 1878, Frank Backler born 1880, Alfred Backler born 1882, Mary Backler born 1885 and Phillip Backler born 1888.

James Backler junior and Mary Ann, may have had another child, a third generation James Backler, identified from a Haverhill gravestone, as having been 86 when he died in 1950, so born in 1864.

Bury St Edmunds Backler married Charlotte Humphrey and they had a son St Edmund Bury Backler in Haverhill in 1876-24th February 1948, who married Ada Annie Cooke in 1898. They had three children Edward J Backler born 1900, Gladys Ada Backler (1908-1988) and May Backler (1909-1972). St Edmund Bury also had two siblings James Backler born 1881 and Ella Backler born 1884, plus these three had a half sister Mary Ann Backler born 1867, the son of Bury St Edmunds and his first wife Ellen Scott (1843-1872).

I have also found a reference to Freda Hilda Pavey (1896- October 1897) whose parents are identified as Charles Pavey and Annie Elizabeth Backler, so she is probably the missing child noted above in the main text.

These updates will need to be related to the relevant paragraphs from the original posting above.