Are you a Bishop or a King?

This is the 12th in my series of blogs that recounts the wonderful lives of my 2 x Great Grandparents, so sit back pour yourself a drink and see how much I struggled to untangle the mysteries of Elizabeth Bishop and her family.

Elizabeth was one of those difficult and frustrating Ancestors to research and one that caused me lots of sleepless nights falling down rabbit holes. The Bishop family were one of those families that appeared in various records, but there was always an element of doubt and uncertainty with a lot of the early records and even now, some of my theories are only that, theories.

As Genealogists, we are accustomed to putting all the pieces together and we like an ‘order’ to things, so when the pieces don’t quite fit, it makes the task doubly more difficult. I think I tried hammering a few square pegs into round holes at first, but we got there eventually, I think! If you ever feel like a challenge, or get bored with your own tree, then by all means have a look at the Bishop family. They are guaranteed to give you sleepless nights.

Elizabeth was the youngest of three children born to John Bishop and Caroline King, or that’s how it seemed at the start. She was Born on 21st March 1849 in Romford in Essex and her Father John is listed as a Labourer. It was only when the birth records and census records didn’t match, that I found myself digging a bit deeper into Elizabeth’s records and the records of her immediate family.

Elizabeth Bishop Birth RIGHT

(Elizabeth Bishop Birth Record)

The first records that I sourced for Elizabeth, after finding the right Birth Record for her, were the various Census Records available from Ancestry. The first anomaly was the 1851 Census, which although straight forward enough to find, raised more questions than it did answers. Elizabeth Bishop was listed with both her parents, John Bishop and Caroline Bishop and the family are living in Romford, Essex, also listed were two siblings, Eliza Bishop aged 7 and Henry Bishop aged 4. Elizabeth herself was 2 at the time of the Census.

1851 Census

Elizabeth Bishop Census Return 1851

(Class: HO107; Piece: 1772; Folio: 172; Page: 23)

The tracing of Elizabeth’s two siblings should have been straight forward enough, however despite checking Ancestry, Find My past, FreeBMD and the GRO website itself, there were no obvious ‘Bishop’ entries that matched the Census details that I had already found. It looked like the Birth for the two Siblings had either not been registered, or they were registered under a different name?

I re-visited the 1851 Census again, checking across all the major websites and there were no other suitable census returns, apart from the one that I had. I decided to ‘park’ this for the time being and concentrate on adding more details about Elizabeth herself and it was when I looked at the original Baptism entry that all was revealed!!

Elizabeth Bishop Baptism

(Essex Record Office; Chelmsford, Essex, England; Essex Church of England Parish Registers)

Elizabeth was Baptised on 13th April 1849 at St. Edward The Confessor Parish Church in Romford in Essex, her parents were listed as John and Caroline Bishop. It was only by looking at the other entries on the same page, that I was able to solve the first puzzle. Baptised the same day were Clara King and Henry King, Mother’s name Caroline King, single woman, no Father’s name was listed for either child. The two siblings that I had found, listed two years later on the 1851 Census, were in fact born out of wedlock to Caroline King, but listed with the Surname Bishop on the 1851 Census, presumably for respectability reasons. John could indeed have fathered both Clara and Henry, but of course, we will never know this for certain, unless I can find a DNA match.

John Bishop and Caroline King were Married on 10th October 1847 in the Chapel of St. Edward the Confessor, in Romford, Essex, at the time of their Marriage John and Caroline both list their place of residence as Romford. John was recorded as being aged 20, a bachelor, with the occupation recorded as labourer, whilst Caroline was recorded as being 23 and a Spinster.

John Bishop Caroline King Marriage 1 copy

(Essex Record Office; Chelmsford, Essex, England; Essex Church of England Parish Registers)

John Bishop Caroline King Marriage 2 copy

(Essex Record Office; Chelmsford, Essex, England; Essex Church of England Parish Registers)

1861 Census

Elizabeth Bishop Census Return 1861

(Class: RG 9; Piece: 1069; Folio: 68; Page: 27)

The 1861 Census also proved a little difficult to break down, again, not all the names lined up, but after a process of elimination, I was left with the Census detailed above. This listed James Bishop as the Head of the Household, which I now believe to be an enumerator error, all the other details ‘fitted’ with what I had already established about the family. James was listed aged 36 an Ag. Lab, his Wife Caroline was listed aged 35, Henry Bishop was listed aged 14 and Elizabeth Bishop, aged 11. What about Clara I hear you shout? I did manage to find a ‘suitable’ Clara living away and working in service and I will explain why this becomes relevant shortly.

The 1861 Census record has Elizabeth and John living at Chadwell Heath, in the Civil Parish of Dagenham which is within the Registration District of Romford. The key thing for me is that The head of the household John (James) Bishop has a Birthplace of Hornchurch, which fits with all the other evidence. Of course, the Bishop family couldn’t make things that easy for me could they? John Bishop Born in 1827, had a younger brother, his name of course was James Bishop, so I therefore, had to ‘rule him out’, to be certain that my assumptions were correct. Sadly James Bishop died just 5 weeks after being born and is Buried in Hornchurch, Essex.

From the records that I have found for the extended family, it would appear that they were listed as ‘Bishop’ on the Census returns when they were still living at home and they used either the name Bishop or King as Adults. Elizabeth is consistently listed as ‘Bishop’, but of course she was born after John and Caroline were Married, whereas Henry and Clara have been ‘fluid’ with their choice of surname.

If we look at Elizabeth’s older sister, Clara in the 1861 Census, the reason that I suspect that the Clara King I found working as a Servant in 1861 is the right one, is the fact that she was working in Prittlewell in Essex, in fact, just a stone’s throw away from where her Sister Elizabeth Bishop’s future Husband, Joseph Keyes lived! Now I realise I am making a big leap of faith here, but without any further indications that Clara can be found on the census as either Clara King or Clara Bishop, I am as certain as I can be, that this is her.

1861 Census Clara King/Bishop

Clara King:Bishop 1861 Census

The difficulties with the ‘Bishops and Kings’ continues in 1871, I am unable to locate a Census for Elizabeth Bishop, that I can say categorically, on the balance of probability, is her. There are several good possibles, but given these Elizabeth Bishop’s were all working as servants, there is very little to corroborate the evidence.                                     

Fortunately from this point forwards, the records for Elizabeth become easier to find. On October 17th 1874 Elizabeth Bishop Married Joseph Keyes, a Labourer originally born in Prittlewell in Essex. The Marriage took place at St. Peter and St. Paul Parish Church in Grays, the very same Church that I was Baptised in, around 90 years later. At the time of the Marriage, the Bride and Groom listed their residence as Grays Thurrock. Another mystery on the entry for Elizabeth is the fact that her father, John Bishop, is listed as a Greengrocer. Not an unusual occupation in itself, but in keeping with every single discovery on this line, it’s the only mention of John Bishop as a Greengrocer.

Joseph Keyes Elizabeth Bishop Marriage 1
Joseph Keyes Elizabeth Bishop Marriage 2

(Essex Record Office; Chelmsford, Essex, England; Essex Church of England Parish Registers)

Joseph Keyes Elizabeth Bishop Marriage

(Elizabeth Bishop Marriage Certificate)

1881 Census

Elizabeth Bishop Census Return 1881

 (Class: RG11; Piece: 1753; Folio: 60; Page: 29)

By 1881 Elizabeth and her family are fully settled into family life in Grays in Thurrock in Essex an area that I know very well indeed, being my home town. In 1881 Elizabeth and her Husband Joseph are living at 18 Chapel Row in Grays, and by this time they have three children, Caroline Rosina (My Great-Grandmother) aged 5, Clara Elizabeth aged 3 and William Henry aged 1. Joseph’s occupation at the time was a Labourer at the Cement Works, which was a large employer at the time and one of the major industries in Thurrock at the turn of the Century. Elizabeth and Joseph’s future son-in-law, William Chiddicks was also employed in the Cement Industry in Grays. Chapel Row was part of a number of terraced walkways built mainly to house the rapidly expanding Chalk Quarry and Cement workers that were rapidly increasing across Grays and West Thurrock. To the north of Grays, massive chalk quarries were growing at a fast pace and all along the west of the town (West Thurrock) saw a huge rise in Cement based industries, with shipping and wharves being built, to satisfy this growing industry. Houses were being built closer to the Industry to facilitate the number of workers required as the Industry expanded enormously around the turn of the Century. The three maps below were copied from Grays Library and give an insight into the local area and Industry.

Screen Shot 2021-03-08 at 14.48.47

Chalk Row can be clearly seen in the centre of the map, Gravel Row and Chapel Row are also in the same area. You can see the close proximity of Chalk Row to the first of several cement works.

Screen Shot 2021-03-08 at 14.49.00

West Thurrock is shown here with its multiple cement works and piers and wharves, although the majority of the industry has sadly long since closed, the majority of the wharves and jetties are still used today by a number of different industries including, various Petrochemical storage facilities. This heavy Industrialised area has barely changed over the years and my first job after leaving school was working for a Ship Repairing Company based on this stretch of the River Thames and involved a cycle ride along the London Road which you can see on the map.

Screen Shot 2021-03-08 at 14.49.25

To the North of the town was where all the chalk quarrying itself took place, which left the whole landscape scarred for decades with vast open quarries. As the town expanded between the wars, my Grandparents moved into a newly built Council House in the 1930’s which backed onto the chalk pits. This was an Aladdin’s cave for the kids growing up in this area for many generations. During the 1980’s the whole area was completely redeveloped with around 10,000 houses being built in the Chafford Hundred Development and of course The Lakeside Shopping Centre was built in what was the old chalk quarries.

1891 Census

Elizabeth Bishop Census Return 1891

(Class: RG12; Piece: 1377; Folio: 5; Page: 3)

In 1891 Elizabeth and her family have moved to 28, Prospect Row in Grays, which again, similar to Chapel Row is a group of terraced houses, primarily for the workers of the Cement Industry. At home with Elizabeth and Husband Joseph are Daughters Caroline Rosina aged 15, Rose Amelia aged 5, Alice Maud 4 along with siblings William Henry aged 11 and Albert George aged 6

1901 Census

Elizabeth Bishop Census Return 1901

(Class: RG13; Piece: 1660; Folio: 14; Page: 19)

Elizabeth and her family are still residing at 28 Prospect Place in 1901 and the family has grown since the last Census, still living at home with Elizabeth and Joseph are their children, William aged 21 a Dock Labourer, Albert George aged 17 a Chalk Carrier, Rose Amelia aged 15, Alice Maude aged 12, Harry Joseph aged 10 and Bertie James aged 4. Interesting to see Albert George following his Father’s footsteps and working in the Chalk/Cement industry.

1911 Census

Elizabeth Bishop Census Return 1911

(Class: RG14; Piece: 9975; Schedule Number: 288)

The family have moved again by the time of the 1911 Census, but remain living centrally in Grays Town at 57, Stanley Road, Joseph by this time, aged 57 was naturally slowing down with age and is listed as a Nightwatchman. At home with Elizabeth and Joseph are Sons, William aged 32, Albert aged 27, Harry aged 19 and Bertie aged 14. The house is listed as having 5 rooms and is a traditional 2 up 2 down style house, typical of the time. Sadly from this Census, we can see that the couple lost one of their children, Arthur Ernest sadly died aged just 2 in 1883. 

The advent of The First World War was just around the corner for Elizabeth and her family and like millions of other families across the Country the Keyes family felt the full consequences of War. Three of the Keyes boys went off to War, but sadly only two of the boys returned. Albert George Keyes served with the 2/8th Essex Cyclists and survived the War, Bertie James Keyes was in the RAF and survived the War, but sadly Harry Joseph Keyes lost his life at Passchendaele (3rd Battle of Ypres) on 9th October 1917. One can never imagine the impact that the loss of a Son would have on a family and the consequences, but less than one month later, Elizabeth sadly also passed away. 

Harry Joseph’s War story can be found Here

The Newspaper notification of Harry Joseph Keyes sad death on the Battlefields of Ypres can be seen below. Chelmsford Chronicle, dated 9th November 1917.

Mr Keyes, 7, Oak Villa, Sherfield Road, Grays, has received news that his third son, Pt. H.J.Keyes Gloucester Regt, was killed in action on October 3rd. Deceased was 26.

Harry Keyes Death Notice Newspapers

I looked into the likely timings of news from the ‘frontline’ reaching home, regarding the death of a loved one and it’s my belief that if Harry Joseph Keyes died on 9th October (Newspaper incorrectly reported 3rd October), then word would have reached home before Elizabeth died and is likely to be the ‘main cause’ of her death, although of course, that is just my theory. They say people die of a broken heart and the sentimental part of me wants to believe this to be the case. The shock of receiving the news about her son could easily have been enough to cause her heart to fail, but we will never know for certain.

Her ‘official’ death certificate records the fact that she died on 3rd November 1917 at the family home, 7, Sherfield Road, Grays, aged 65, cause of death was (1) Bronchitis (2) Dilation of heart. Her son, William Henry Keyes was present at the time that she passed away.

Elizabeth Keyes Death Certificate

(Elizabeth Keyes Death Certificate)

.Elizabeth was buried at Grays New Cemetery Grave 1056 Section 3, the gravestone is pictured below and includes her Husband Joseph and son Harry.

Keyes Gravestone

(Picture from my collection)

Elizabeth was one of the most difficult Ancestors on my tree to research and even now, there are still gaps in her story and I wonder if I have captured everything about her life. Although a difficult person to research, I have a deep affection for her and have grown close to her whilst I have carried out my research. The impact of losing her son to the ravages of War really hit home to me and as a parent, the thought of losing a child is the hardest thing to bear.

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10 thoughts on “Are you a Bishop or a King?

  1. Great job sorting out her story! I can appreciate the hours of slogging through records, headaches, lost sleep, and general frustration caused by these difficult to trace ancestors.

    Liked by 1 person

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