The Life and Times of Matthew Chiddicks

This is the first in a new series of blogs, tackling the life stories of my 16 Great-Great Grandparents. So strap yourself in and lets begin the journey of discovery and uncover the life story of my 2 x Great-Grandfather Matthew Chiddicks.

Matthew born 1844

Matthew Chiddicks was born 26th February 1844, in South Ockendon, Essex and Baptised at The South Ockendon Independent Chapel on 31st March 1844. He was the fourth of the nine children born to James Chiddicks and Eliza Chiddicks nee Brewer. Matthew is my 2 x Great Grandfather and he led a relatively plain and uneventful life, or maybe he didn’t?

Matthew Chiddicks Birth

 

 

(South Ockendon Independent Chapel)

Note: The South Ockendon Independent Chapel was built in North Road in 1812, partly at the expense of John Cliff, a prominent land owner in the area, who resided at South Ockendon Hall. The Chiddicks family had some connections here for a period of time and Matthew’s Sister Eliza and Brother Samuel, were also Baptised here. Matthew’s Mother, Eliza Brewer and her family were also prominent worshipers at the Independent Chapel.

The Independent Chapel was to play a part in my own recent History, whereby a local developer tried to remove the buried remains of those interred there, just to allow the building of new Flats, you can read my campaign to stop this happening Here

Although the Chiddicks Family are not directly mentioned, I have included The Tithe Maps and lists of Land owners and occupiers in 1840, for South Ockendon, which will give you an insight to Village life, at the time the Chiddicks family were living there. The Tithe Schedule and Maps are attached here:

 

(Tithe Maps)

 

 

 

(Tithe Schedule)

 

(Tithe Schedule)

The first record we are able to find for Matthew, after his birth, is the 1851 Census. Matthew was counted in the 1851 census for South Ockendon, living at home with his three older siblings, at the family home in South Ockendon, Matthew’s father James was a modest Agricultural labour working the farm lands around Ockendon, James was originally born in South Fambridge in Essex.

1851 Census

 

 

(Some images of South Ockendon)

By 1861, the family had moved to Little Mollands Hall and Matthew was working the land with his Father.

For those observant Genealogist’s amongst you, hopefully you will have noticed that Matthew is incorrectly entered by the Enumerator on the 1861 Census as ‘Martha Chiddicks’. Whether it was a transcription error, or maybe the Enumerator miss-hearing the name, either way it was most definitely my Matthew and not Martha!

 

(Some more images of South Ockendon at the turn of the century)

1861 Census

On 7th October 1865, Matthew married his wife, Elizabeth Lake, who was born 14th May 1845, in Attleborough, Norfolk. The Lake family of Attleborough had moved from this area and settled in South Ockendon by the time of the 1861 census, presumably Elizabeth’s Father, John Lake moved to find work. At the time of Matthew’s marriage to Elizabeth, his occupation was listed as Labourer. They married in The Parish Church, North Ockendon, not as I had previously thought, in South Ockendon, the reason we can never be sure, the Parishes are that close, but their first born child, William Chiddicks was born 18th March 1886, I will let you do the Maths!

Matthew Chiddicks Elizabeth Lake Marriage

(Parish Register entry for the Marriage)

Matthew Chiddicks Marriage Cert

(Marriage Certificate)

Matthew and Elizabeth had seven children, William born 1866, Elizabeth born 1868, Louisa Annie born 1871, Mary Ann born 1874, John born 1877, Alice born 1880 and Walter born 1882. Matthew was listed on his first born son’s birth certificate on 18th March 1866 as a Farm Labourer.

By 1871 Matthew was listed in that year’s census as living with his in laws, John and Rebecca Lake at 17, Plough Cottages, South Ockendon. His wife and family are living two doors away at 19, Plough Cottages and this was the Chiddicks Family Home.

1871 Census

The Chiddicks home on the left of the pub

Plough Cottages are on the left of The Plough Public House shown in the Photograph above.

In 1881 Matthew is still living in South Ockendon with his family, at James Row and he is still working the land.

1881 Census

In 1883 there is an interesting entry in the local newspaper:

From Newspaper Article dated August 25th 1883:

School Board Cases – The following parents were summoned for neglecting to send their children to school, Matthew Chiddicks, South Ockendon, Fined 5s.

We can only speculate the story behind the headlines.

Matthew Chiddicks School Session

1891 Brings a slight change in direction for Matthew, as we start to see the beginning of the Industrial Age hit the village of South Ockendon, because in this census Matthew’s occupation is listed as an Engine Driver. Matthew’s two sons worked on the railway, but I have yet to prove whether Matthew actually worked for the Railway or whether he worked as an Engine Driver in a separate industry. It’s never safe to assume with this hobby, but given the family connection with the Railway, I have always assumed he was a Railway Engine Driver. The family are all living at High Road, South Ockendon.

 

(South Ockendon Railway around the turn of the century)

 

 

(Some more images of South Ockendon at the turn of the century)

 

1891 Census

Between 1891 and 1901, Matthew and Elizabeth make the huge decision to move the family to Watford in Hertfordshire, presumably for work, but this is one detail that will have to remain unknown. Matthew moved with his wife Elizabeth and their two youngest children, John and Walter. In 1901 the Chiddicks family home is, 7, Harefield Terrace, Judge Street, Watford. For some reason Matthew’s stint as an Engine Driver is over and he is back listed as an Agricultural Labourer.

1901 Census

 

(16, Southwold Road, Watford)

By 1911 All the children had fled the nest and Matthew was living with his wife only, in 16, Southwold Road, Watford, Herts. We see another change in career direction as Matthew is no longer working the land, he is now listed as a Labourer at a Chocolate Factory. If only we knew the reason he moved from South Ockendon to Watford…..

1911 Census

Between 1918-1920 Matthew Chiddicks is listed in the Biggleswade Electoral Registers as living at 23, Shortmead Street, Biggleswade.

Matthew Chiddicks

 

(23, Shortmead Street, Biggleswade)

 

Sadly the next record we find for Matthew is sadly his death on 2nd March 1924, at the time he was living at, 40, Shortmead Street, Biggleswade.

40, Shortmead Street, Biggleswade (1)

(40, Shortmead Street as it looks today)

He died from pneumonia at the ripe old age of 80. Matthew is buried at Drove Road cemetery, Biggleswade, plot 1601 in an unmarked grave. His Son-in-law, Ernest Albert Dray was the informant on his Death certificate.

Matthew Chiddicks Death Cert 02-11-2006 13;58;35

 

Biggleswade Cemetery

(Drove Road Cemetery)

 

Matthew Chiddicks Burial Map

(Drove Road Cemetery, Plot Plan)

 

(Drove Road Cemetery)

To Finish Matthew’s story; I decided long after starting my Family History that I wanted something concrete to remember my Family name by, something to stand the test time, a legacy to leave, long after the day that I have become an entry on my own tree!

So I began thinking about what would be the ideal legacy for The Chiddicks name? My Ancestors had led fairly modest lives, but they had always contributed, in their own small way, to the day to day life of South Ockendon Village. So I enquired with the local Council, whether it was possible to name a Street after my humble Ancestors. Now this wasn’t a quick process, in fact it took several years to achieve, but finally planning consent was given to a new development and it was to be called ‘Chiddicks Court’, to say that I was elated is an under statement! The Chiddicks name would forever be remembered, well hopefully it will!

So in honour of Matthew and the Chiddicks family of South Ockendon, in 2004, Thurrock Council named a new block of flats in honour of my humble ancestors, namely Chiddicks Court.

 

 

Serendipity plays a large part in our wonderful hobby. Before I started researching my family tree I named my Son Matthew Chiddicks without ever realising he was following in the footsteps of another, almost famous Ancestor, Matthew Chiddicks Senior!………….

 

Please follow my series of blogs for Family Tree Magazine Family Tree Magazine Blog

*Tithe Maps and schedule images were kindly reproduced with the permission of the Essex Record Office.

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