Family History


My Story 4

Chapter 4 Back to the Ridler's

I still had not made any real progress in the last few months on the RIDLER’s however other lines of research had produced a mass of unconnected information at this stage.

In September of 1992 I visited the BRO and started my search for William and Sarah, searching the Bishop’s Transcripts for Bedminster St John (Parish Registers destroyed during the second world war).

I started with 1826, which should have been about 2-3 years before Sarah was born up to 1830, about 1-2 years after the anticipated date. This gave me 6 possible Sarah’s.

Next I searched for marriages about 1848-1850, this period being a guess on the basis that at the 1851 census their son was 9 months old.

No luck with Bedminster St John but at St Philip and Jacob I found the entry May 27th 1849 William Ridler and Sarah Clark, fathers names Robert Ridler and William Clark.

 Looking back at the Bedminster records for Sarah gave me SARAH CLARK daughter of WILLIAM CLARK and SARAH.

I now had the start of the information to allow me to go back another generation. All I had to do now was to find Williams birth with a father named Robert. There is 17 ancient parishes in Bristol and I must have searched half of them. I finally found the record in the parish of Temple, WILLIAM son of ROBERT and JANE RIDLER, Robert’s trade being given as Flax Dresser.

Further studies of TEMPLE revealed a number of Ridler’s which continuing research showed there were 3 unconnected families of Ridler’s living there at the same time. 

No marriage for Robert and Jane but using the B&AFHS index of marriages I found a marriage on 24th November 1818 at St John the Baptist, Somerset.

Checking the records revealed ROBERT RIDLER and JANE BOULTER. Father nor Mother not named. Witness William Ridler (possibly Father or Brother).

I searched for evidence of Robert and Jane for the next 8 years, up to 2000 before I made the next step but that part of the story is for later.

Robert and Jane were married on Tuesday 24th November 1818.

Some extracts from the Bristol Mercury newspaper for that week printed on Monday 23/11/1818 (Price 7d – Stamp duty 4d. Paper & Print 3d)

Nov 17th. ”This day at one o’clock the queen departed this life to the inexpressible grief of the royal family after a tedious illness which her majesty bore with the most pious fortitude and resignation.” [Queen Charlotte].

“Baron Gourgaud served an order to quit the kingdom under the provisions of the Alien act, for being implicated with the escape of Bonaparte.”

A rather long article introduces a new educational system which is introduced into almost “every school of character” the new system is known as “The interrogative or intellectual system of educations by questions and exercises without answers.”

First prize in the state lottery of £30,000 to be drawn 24th November 1818. Two prizes of £5,000 and five of £1000.

This is possibly the most frustrating time searching for a specific piece of information, I kept finding obscure references to various RIDLER’s, ANCRUM’s and EAMER’s from various sources such as Mathews directory, Poll Books, Census indexes etc. All these references have to be recorded and catalogued, as they will ultimately be pieces in the global jigsaw.

One important point with any form of research is to record everything; this includes blind avenues and non-productive searches, if only to avoid searching the same documents in the future.

One family that kept cropping up in my research is whom I call David and Sarah. I have almost as much early knowledge of this prosperous family as our Robert and Jane. 

David married Sarah Bealey at St Michaels Church in 1807, some 11 years before Robert and Jane. St Michael’s was to be connected with our family over the years. Jim RIDLER, my father was a choirboy, Jim’s sister, Mame Ridler married Wilfred VINCENT in 1937 and their daughter Lynn VINCENT married David WANT.

David and Sarah’s son, John David had a successful cabinet making business in the Temple District of Bristol.

An interesting diversion at this point is a fellow researcher, Rosalie Penn wrote to me asking if I could fill in a gap for a researcher in Canada, Eric Stewart, (his wife was a RIDLER).  Eric knew his wife’s ancestors came from Bristol. Her earliest known ancestor was a John David RIDLER of Temple.

I was able to give him more information on John David but more important I was able to give him a further link with David and Sarah. Eric wrote a nice letter thanking me and since then, we occasionally exchange emails.

As mentioned earlier there were 3 apparently unconnected families living in the Temple district of Bristol at the turn of the 19th century. From various sources of information it would seem that a few older RIDLER’s were evident from the late 1700’s.

In the parish of St Paul, a Joseph married a Jane DREW on the 26/06/1799 and a William married a Joan Southerwood on the 14/07/1809. Robert had an older brother named Joseph and a younger brother named William.

There may be no connection but Robert’s second daughter, Jane, was born in St Pauls parish and baptised in Temple 4 months later, all the other children were born and baptised in Temple, this may indicate Robert and Jane were staying with their relatives in the next parish when their daughter Jane was born. This will require further research in the future.

The other 3 families all seemed to arrive in Bristol early in the 1800’s. I believe Robert arrived about 1815 looking for work. If he was from a farming community and brought up on the land, as a young man about 21 years old the city would be the attraction for a better life.

Robert’s intended wife Jane BOULTER was born in Wiltshire, her baptism taking place in Chippenham. There was a family of BOULTER’s living in the parish of St. Philip and Jacob which I believe were cousins of Jane which would account why she was in Bristol in 1812.

The most likely explanation but not proved was Jane was in service or possibly she worked at the floor cloth factory where Robert was employed as a Flax Dresser.


Meanwhile continuing research at the library and the records office provided me with more details of our family.

The next piece of information to surface after Robert and Jane’s marriage was the 1841 census. Robert died in the January of 1841 with the census taking place a few months later. This meant Robert’s birthplace would not be recorded thus adding another difficulty to finding his ancestors.

Jane now a widow aged 38 was living at Rings Building, Pipe Lane, Temple with her children. Her entry states she was born in Wiltshire. Elizabeth has presumable moved out; at the 1851 census she was living-in at Weston Hotel, College Place, Bristol, working as a kitchen maid. Jane age 20 was still living in the family home, her occupation is given as dressmaker.

Robert aged 17 was following his father, his occupation being listed as Flax Dresser and William age 15 was listed as a labourer.

Mary Ann would have been 11 years old but she was not listed in the census. No record could be found of her death therefore she may have been living with relatives; however at the 1851 census a Mary Anne aged 21 was listed as Unmarried, Lodging at 43 Dale St, St. Paul, her occupation was Tailoress

Jane died in 1848 and as mentioned earlier the only definite record from the 1851 census was William. Robert the only other possible descendant in the last 200 years was missing.

At the 1861 Census William RIDLER and Sarah, now in their 30,s were living at 1 Easton Road having moved out of the high density poor living conditions of Bedminster into a more pleasant up and coming neighbourhood.

William now had his own business of House Painting and decorating, operating from Fox Buildings in Easton.

The census records show the family had now extended to six children although two, Emily Eliza the first and William Nelson would die within one day of each other on the 18th and 19th December 1861, a very sad Christmas for the family.

A previous child, Nelson Fredrick died at the age of 1 year 10 months. Without antibiotics, even a simple illness could prove fatal.

Successive entries in the Bristol  "Mathews" directory for the following years show that in 1866 he was listed as a Plasterer and Painter. The last entry is 1867 still with the same address, however when he died in 1867 his address was 12 Church St,  Newtown, this being the place of death on the death certificate.

His occupation at the time he died was given as Master Painter. For the last two years of his life he was suffering from Phthisis a term formerly applied (like Consumption )to the disease of the lung now known as Tuberculosis and it is quite possible the business was carried on by Sarah.

Following the death of William, Sarah  married again to JAMES BEVAN listed as a Coach Builder. They had a son Frederick BEVAN.

In 1898 Harry Eamer, (see the EAMER family history), was an apprentice to Frederick to learn the trade decorator at 3 Clarence St, Newtown, Bristol, the same address that Sarah was living at the time of her death in 1901 age 72. Frederick was living at 47 Zetland road in January 1902  when Harry finished his apprenticeship.

The Eldest son Albert William was 17 when WILLIAM died at the age of 41 and he also became a painter and decorator. Was his business originally William's?. He first appeared in Mathews Directory in 1876.

Williams youngest son was also William from whom my branch of the Ridler's continue.

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