How we started tracking the Hewson family

We started off knowing very little of my wife's family, the Hewsons. Her father had vague knowledge, somewhat disconnected, about his own grandfather, but knew nothing of earlier generations. We had the 1881 Suffolk Hewsons census list has been re-arranged in families. It's quite clear that this must be young Thomas born 1854 in Mildenhall. But his father is dead!

We then checked the 1851 census: his marriage certificate said he was born in Mildenhall, and we know from the gravestone he was born around 1821, so we expected to find him in the 1851 Suffolk census entries for Hewson. There are however no Hewsons in Suffolk which are a possible match. So, as we knew he died before 1881, the next step was to check the 1871 census records for Mildenhall.

Immediately there is his family at 53 The Field, Mildenhall High Town. However his place of birth listed here is Stoke Ferry, in Norfolk, not Mildenhall. He must have filled in Mildenhall in the Marriage register as that indicated he was born in the same county as his bride.

Compare this family with the 1881 census: clearly Charles in 1881 is the same Charles listed here, who has just set up house prior to the 1881 census.

I wonder who George is? He was born in Oxborough which is very near Stoke Ferry, so I expect we will connect him soon.

Gravestone

At this stage, we happened on the Mildenhall burial records on the internet, a searchable on-line database. Thomas Hewson is listed there. A trip to Mildenhall cemetary very quickly revealed Thomas' gravestone. This graveyard is a disgrace, overgrown and lacking any care. Fortunately Thomas' grave is one of the very best there. Thomas died 29th January 1873, aged 52, so was born c. 1821. The stone ties in neatly with the Suffolk 1881 census.

The burial records also list a Hannah Hewson, died April 7th 1848 aged3 and a George Charles Hewson died May 25th 1847 aged under 1. It is possible these were Thomas' family so they are on the tree, but are subject to proof. However George Charles died 1847. Charles and George were both re-used as forenames. Then there's a Charles died 10th Nov 1875 aged 13, listed in the burial records who fits in the family - but there are then altogether too many Charles! These need checking!

Census records - Suffolk

And so to Norfolk to check the census records there. Again the fiche is sorted by names, so has to be re-sorted in family order - see 1851 census entries for Hewson, Norfolk.

We have a lot of Stoke Ferry Hewsons. But our Thomas, born c. 1821 is nowhere to be seen. He would have been 30 in 1851.

There is Thomas and Charlotte, both b. 1799. It would seem very likely that Thomas is their son, but this family has to be fullychecked in the Parish records.

Also staying with this family are Grandchildren Arthur and Ellen. Arthur is six so was born c. in 1845.

We also strongly suspect that Charles Hewson, b. c. 1823, in Kings Lynn in the 1881 census is this family.

We also 'did' the 1881 census entries for Hewson, Norfolk - expecting to find the link to the newwspaper cuting found in the bible. It's not in evidence, but of the cutting Bertha, Walter, Roger, Charles and Frederick are all names of children of Charles Hewson of Kings Lynn. It looks like the newspaper article is misleading!

Census records - Cambridge

In 1851 Thomas Hewson, born 1821, was not in his birth country os Suffolk nor was hew in Norfolk where he later settled. So the suspicion was that he could have been in Cambrudgeshire. So we next chenched the 1851 census entries for Hewson, Cambridge.

Sure enough there in Littleport is Thomas Hewson, age 30. A quick lok at the map will show you that Stoke Ferry, Littleport, Lakenheath and Mildenhall are all closer than you might think, even though they are in three different counties. By rail or fenland dyke, they are not far apart. So Thomas actually stayed in this area of Fenland all his life.