Charles Backler 1808-1888 Haverhill Sexton

Charles Backler was born on 11th September 1808 in Haverhill being baptised by the Reverend Stephen Gurteen and registered by James Bowers, a Protestant Dissenting Minister, on 9th July 1809.  The baptism record shows his parents as Imri and Frances Backler – see separate blog page.  Stephen Gurteen was, almost certainly, a member of the Gurteen family, the major employers in the town.  Charles was married twice, first to Harriet Marsh on 13th May 1832 and second to Phoebe Basham, born 1820, in 1842 according to marriage index 12 555 reference or possibly 1845, where their surname was misspelt as Backlar.

In the 1841 census he was a weaver with his surname again misspelt as Backlar, living at Chauntry Croft, Haverhill, along with two young children, George Backler aged 8 and James Backler aged 3 and without a wife.  Harriet died at the age of 30 and was buried on 7th October 1840 at St. Mary the Virgin, Haverhill.

Charles and Phoebe were living at Chauntry Croft in the 1851 census but James did not appear and, as he would have been 13, it is unlikely that he survived childhood.  George was joined by siblings Jane Backler 10, a factory girl, Caroline Backler 8, Henry Backler 4 and Emily Backler 2, all born in Haverhill.

By the 1861 census, George, Jane and Caroline had left home and Herbert James Backler, aged 10 months, had joined the family, now living at Beggars Row, Haverhill.  Henry and Emily were also still living at home.  Next door lived Caroline, who was wife to John Backler, a journeyman bricklayer, aged 21, who was born in Hanchett End.  Presumably this is Charles’s daughter, who probably married a cousin, and kept her surname in the process.

In the 1871 census, the family had now moved to Cemetery Lodge, Haverhill, with Henry aged 23, a silk weaver, and Herbert, aged 10, still at home.  Charles had given up weaving and was now the sexton (caretaker) of the cemetery.

In the 1881 census, Charles and Phoebe were still residing at Cemetery Lodge and they had Emily’s family living with them.  Emily was married to George Ford, a 32 year old cooper from Cambridge.  At the time George and Emily had two children, Harry aged 12, born Haverhill and Maude aged 2, born in Ely.  Emily (1849 – 1916) married George Ford (died 1911) in 1867.  According to the research of others, George and Emily may have had  George (1867), Georg. H. (1867), Harry G. (1869) and Ellen (1889) and this needs researching further.

Charles’s and Harriet’s son, George married Susan Argent in 1855.  She was born nearby in Hildersham, Cambridgeshire, in 1827.  In the 1861 census they were living in Chauntry Croft, Haverhill and they had four children, Hannah Backler 8, Harriet Backler 5, Jane Backler 3 and Rebecca Backler 9 months.  Ten years later they were still living at Chauntry Croft, but Susan was now a widow with the occupation of factory trouser finisher.  Hannah was a cotton weaver and Harriet was a sewing machinist.  Three other children had appeared on the scene, George Backler 9, Weeden Backler 5 and Louis Backler 3.  It seems that Jane and Rebecca may have not made it to adulthood, as the were too young to have left home by 1871.  As Louis was 3 in 1871, it is likely that George died between 1868 and 1871.  I can only find records for the passing of a George Backler in 1862 and another in 1864 in the area, the latter being the likeliest because he was buried at St Mary the Virgin, Haverhill.  If it is one of these two then Weeden and Louis, plus possibly George junior,  could not have been George’s sons, but they did bear the Backler surname in the census.

Charles’s and Phoebe’s oldest son Henry was living at 24 Crowland Road, Haverhill along with his wife Sarah Willis, born 1850, according to the 1911 census.  Henry was a pork butcher and they had been married 39 years.  Henry (born 29th August 1846), married Sarah (then aged 22) on Christmas Day 1871.  The census records show that they had 9 children but only 3 were living by 1911.  One of them William Backler, a mat maker aged 27, was still living at home, but later married Edith Lawrence in 1915.  Edith Backler  (1886-1930), was a cook living at 293 Green Lanes, Finsbury Park, Stoke Newington, London and she was noted as being born at Little Waldingfield, Suffolk.  Emily Backler, born 1877, was a cook servant living at 56 Queen Elizabeth Walk, Stoke Newington.  In the 1891 census, the family lived at 54 Withersfield Road and in 1901 they had move a few doors along to number 70, when Sarah Ann Backler 26 and Willi, 17 were also living at home.  Sarah married Albert Turner in 1903 and they had Phyllis (1905), Winifred (1907) and Edith Georgina.  Alice Maria Backler was born in 1872 and nothing more has been found out about her.  Harriet Jane Backler (1877) married Fred Parmenter and they had Olive (1901), Elsie Doris (1905) and Winifred (1910).  Harry Backler (1881) married Clara Andrews (died 1949) in 1907 and they had Arthur Harry Backler (1907) and Helen Jean Backler (1912).

Charles’s and Phoebe’s youngest son Herbert James (born 1861) was living at Dane Common, Kedington in the 1891 census and he was a butcher.  He had married Alice Bartrum in 1884, a shirt finisher, born 1861 in Wartham.  They were living at 32 Withersfield Road, Haverhill according to the 1889 Electoral Register.  They had three children in 1891; Alfred Backler 5, Gertrude Backler 3 and Abner Charles Backler 2.  The 1901 census confirmed that the three children had been born in Haverhill, but by then they were living back in Haverhill at Three Goats Yard and a fourth child, Frederick Backler aged 8 had joined the family, but he was born whilst they lived in Kedington.  By the 1911 census, Alice was a widow and was described as a housekeeper.  She had been married 26 years and had 6 children and 4 already mentioned were still living.

  • Alfred, a stone sawyer, married Alice Baker in 1910 and she was a sewing machinist born in Haverhill in 1887.   The 1915 Electoral Register showed them living at 87 High Street, Haverhill.  Alfred and Alice had three children: Agnes Backler (1910) who married Albert Clark, Helen Maud Backler (1913) and Kitty May Backler (1915) who married Richard Dare.
  • Abner was a farm labourer who married Alice Parker in 1914 and they had a son, Charles Frederick Backler in 1915, who married Freda.
  • Frederick married Constance Armitage in 1919 and they had a son, Alec Frederick Backler in 1920.
  • Gertrude married Edward Mayes in 1919.  Edward and Gertrude had three children: Victor (1913), Reginald (1921) and Raymond (1927).

Charles and Phoebe had seven children overall, the first born appears to have been baptised as a Basham, as she arrived and died before they were married Ellen Boredom Basham (1837-1840).  The next two were also born out of wedlock:  Jane Hawes Backler (1841 – 1925) and Caroline Backler (1842 – 1927) (who had a son John Backler – died 1928).  A further son, Harry Backler (born 1851) does not seem to have made it into adulthood.  The other children have had more detail provided above.

Charles Backler died in Haverhill at the age of 79 and was buried in the cemetery, where he had been sexton for many years, on 9th April 1888.