Digging Deep to Find My Roots

We all have that one elusive ancestor on our trees that is difficult to find and for many different reasons, they just don’t want to be found. For as long as I can remember, one of my 2 x Great-Grandparents identities has been unknown to me, the father’s name of Marguerite Longland Lukes was ‘missing’ from her birth certificate.

The task of finding the father of an illegitimate child seemed impossible, but thanks to the wonders of DNA, the missing piece to the jigsaw was completed in 2020 and you can read how I made that discovery here;

My DNA Breakthrough

In this blog, I will tell you a little more about the life of my ‘newest’ ancestor, my 2 x Great-Grandfather, John William Longland, plus you can see how I was able to ‘Dig’ that bit deeper into my ‘Roots’ to tell his story.

John William Longland was born on 21st March 1859 at Yardley Hastings, he was the oldest of five children born to John Longland, a farmer of Yardley Hastings and Elizabeth Robinson.

John William Longland Birth

John William Longland was baptised on 22nd April 1859 at Yardley Hastings, Northamptonshire his parents were recorded as John and Elizabeth Longland and John’s occupation was a Farmer. John William Longland was the 5th generation (at least) of Longland’s born in the parish of Yardley Hastings.

John William Longland Baptism

(Northamptonshire Record Office; Northampton, England; Register Type: Parish Registers; Reference Numbers: 377P/5)

There is an interesting naming pattern with the Longland family, although not unusual in the family history world itself, it was the first time that I had encountered this directly on my tree and it helped with the additional proof that John William Longland was indeed my 2 x Great-grandfather. The Longland’s appear to have given their firstborn child the maiden name of the Mother, as a middle name, but not it would appear consistently. John William Longland was actually the firstborn child, but it was the second child, Arthur Robinson Longland born a year later in 1860, who took the Mother’s maiden surname of Robinson. There could have been a number of different reasons that John William was overlooked, he could have been a sickly child and considered unlikely to survive and hence why they named the second child with the mother’s maiden surname. Another one of those family tree anomalies that we can’t explain with total certainty.

If you want to see more about the more traditional naming patterns, they can be found on the Family Tree Magazine website, link below;

Traditional Naming Patterns

The naming pattern provided me with a big clue as to the identity of Marguerite Longland Lukes father. You did not need to be a genius to work out that the unknown father’s name, was likely to have the surname Longland.

1861 Census

John William Longland Census 1861

(Class: RG 9; Piece: 930; Folio: 22; Page: 12; GSU roll: 542723)

The first Census return that we find for John William Longland is the 1861 Census and he is living with his parents John and Elizabeth Longland in Yardley Hastings, Northamptonshire. John senior is listed as a farmer and Corn Merchant, also recorded at home is John William’s younger brother Arthur Robinson Longland and the family also have a servant in the household, Emma Ship. The fact that the family had a servant, although it does not necessarily demonstrate wealth, is more of an indication that the family were living comfortably.

Corn Merchants were agents who typically bought grain from farmers and sold it either for feed or seed depending on such factors as bushel weight, quality, malting suitability, purity of the sample. Even today, grain is sold for different purposes depending on its quality. Milling wheat and malting barley attract a premium, while poorer samples are used for animal feed. Most large cities, London and Manchester as examples, traditionally had a ‘Corn Exchange’ where the trading of Corn would take place. I went on to discover that the Longland family had a long tradition of working in the Malting business.

1871 Census

John William Longland Census 1871

(The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1871 England Census; Class: RG10; Piece: 1477; Folio: 25; Page: 15; GSU roll: 838794)

By 1871 the family are residing at The Red Lion Inn, in Yardley Hastings. At home are John Longland Senior, our John William Longland aged 12, along with siblings Arthur Robinson Longland aged 10, Henry Palmerston Temple Longland aged 5 and John Senior’s sister-in-law Caroline Robinson aged 18, along with a Servant, Elizabeth Wooding aged 15. As well as residing at The Red Lion Inn, John Senior is recorded as being a Farmer of 40 acres and an Innkeeper. Noticeable by her absence, is John William Longland’s Mother, Elizabeth Longland. At the time she was recorded as being at the home of her sister, Sarah Ann Benbough (nee Robinson) and her Brother-in-law Isaac Benbough. She is visiting their home in Tottenham with her 2-year-old daughter Clara. Sarah and Isaac Benbough look to be interesting people, both emigrating to San Diego in California later in life. At the time of the 1871 Census Isaac is listed as a Cloth Merchant home and foreign. The Red Lion, like any Village Pub across the Country, was the centre of Village life, being used for a multitude of different tasks, including Public Auctions and even Coroner’s inquests. The Pub was in the Family for at least two generations, but maybe more, I will need to follow this up at a later date once I can get to the Northamptonshire Record office. 

(The Red Lion Inn as it looks today)

There is no record for John William Longland in the 1881 census which could be for a number of different reasons. John Senior is listed as a lodger in 1881, living at the home of a widow named Charlotte Simpson, at Meacocks Row, South Northampton. By this time, John’s wife Elizabeth had sadly passed away (1877) and the five children were being boarded or living elsewhere. It seems that at some point between 1871 and 1881 John and his various business got into financial difficulty which culminated in him losing both the Farm and the Pub, quickly followed by the death of his wife. By this time I can only imagine that John Senior must have been a broken man.

Although I can’t find the two eldest boys on the 1881 Census, not long after, the two Brothers go into business together as Butcher’s, following in a family tradition and it’s quite possible that they were both apprenticed somewhere in 1881.

The plot gets really interesting in the mid-1880’s, remembering of course I was originally looking for a ‘Male Longland’ with any connections to Essex or Kent. My illegitimate great-grandmother Marguerite Longland Lukes was born in 1883 in Gravesend in Kent and the family later moved to Grays in Essex. My initial thoughts were that this was a massive leap to go from a family that had lived for 5 or more generations in a tiny village, Yardley Hastings in Northampton to a village in Grays or Kent. Well, I was pleasantly surprised! Not only was there one Longland in Grays in Essex but two!! John William Longland. and his younger brother Arthur Robinson Longland both were living in the prime location at exactly the time I was looking for! Arthur Robinson Longland married Emily Clara Gay in 1882 in Gravesend in Kent, literally six months before Marguerite Longland Lukes was born in Gravesend in Kent. For a long time, Arthur was the prime suspect, but thanks to the wonders of DNA and some help from my Longland cousin in America, we were able to switch the spotlight to Arthur’s older brother John William Longland. Like his younger brother, John William shows up at exactly the right time, in exactly the right area! John William Longland married Annie Louise Wallis on 2nd Feb 1885 and believe it or not, they married in the very church that I was baptised in myself! St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church in Grays in Essex.

DNA proves that before his marriage to Annie Louise Wallis that John William Longland had a liaison with my 2 x Great-grandmother Emma Sophia Lukes and as a result, my Great-Grandmother, Marguerite Longland Lukes was born on 25th May 1883 in Gravesend in Kent. No father’s name was entered on the birth certificate for Marguerite and there is no way of knowing even if John William Longland knew he had a daughter. 

Emma Sophia Lukes had a difficult life, whether this early liaison was the cause or not is impossible to say, but the records show that she didn’t have the easiest of lives after giving birth to an illegitimate daughter. You can read Emma’s story here;

Emma Sophia Lukes Life Story

1882 Brings some more interesting developments between the two brothers. There are multiple entries in The London Gazette detailing the Bankruptcy of the Butcher’s business of Arthur Robinson Longland, situated in Church Street, Grays, Essex. Arthur is listed as residing at two addresses 162, Parrock Street, Gravesend and 5, New Road, Gravesend in Kent. Carrying on the business is John William Longland, his older brother.


(The London Gazette dated 20th October 1882; Issue 25158; Page 4723)

I still have no real explanation as to why John William Longland and his brother Arthur Robinson Longland both ended up in the Grays area, the natural assumption is for work. They were both Butcher’s by trade, but why they were drawn to Grays, in particular, is difficult to say for certain.

We now know the circumstances around how the Longland family became connected with my own and for the remainder of the story, I will tell you what happened to my ‘new’ 2 x great-grandfather, John William Longland.

1891 Census

John William Longland Census 1891

(The National Archives of the UK (TNA); Kew, Surrey, England; Census Returns of England and Wales, 1891; Class: RG12; Piece: 408; Folio: 71; Page: 20; GSU roll: 6095518)

By the time of the 1891 Census, John and his family have moved to Brixton in Lambeth, John is still working as a Butcher and at home with him is his wife Louisa, their daughter Theophilia aged 5 and two cousins Arthur Clarke, also a Butcher and Sarah Wallis. Visitor Mary Edgecombe aged 23 is also recorded. The family are living at 26 Kepler Road in Brixton and it would appear that they are living above the Butcher’s Shop. Neighbouring shops include a Grocer’s, Bakers, Greengrocer’s and a Dairyman, obviously a major shopping area of Brixton at the time.

In March 1896 John William’s younger brother Arthur Robinson Longland sadly passed away, aged just 35 years. Arthur died on 6th March 1896 and was buried at All Saints Church, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey on 11th March 1896. So it would appear that the brothers had both moved away from the Grays area and had both settled in the Kingston-upon-Thames area.

1901 Census

John William Longland Census 1901

(Class: RG13; Piece: 671; Folio: 173; Page: 7)

1901 Brings another move for John William and his family, they have moved to 2, Beaumont Cottages, Hampton Wick, in Kingston-upon-Thames. John William is listed as a Butcher and worker this time which indicates that he no longer has his own Butcher’s Shop. Also counted on the Census are his wife Annie and his youngest Daughter Daisy aged 6. Their oldest Daughter, Theophelia is by this time in service aged 15, but still local in Kingston-upon-Thames. Sadly the couples middle child, Eleanor Louise Longland, born between the Census years in 1886, had passed away by the time of the Census, in 1891.

1911 Census

John William Longland Census 1911

(Class: RG14; Piece: 3438; Schedule Number: 40)

By 1911 the family have moved again and this time it looks like John William is back owning his own Business and living above the Butchers Shop at 6, Tramway Terrace, Carshalton Road, Mitcham in Surrey. Also recorded are John’s wife Annie, who is recorded as a Business Assistant along with their Daughter Theophelia who is listed as a Hotel Assistant and a lodger, William Lowe who is recorded as a ‘Skinner’.

Between 1918 and 1928 the family are recorded in various electoral registers entries in the Mitcham area of Surrey, John William is listed each time with his wife Annie and their Daughter, Theophelia who by this time was married and she is recorded as Theophelia Hucklesby. Theophelia had married Sydney Hucklesby, but sadly Sydney, like so many others, was to lose his life during WW1.

The last records we find for John William Longland areas death and burial records. John died on 18th August 1928 at 77, Wolseley Road, Wallington, Surrey, cause of death was Morbus Cordis and Chronic Nephritis or heart disease and kidney failure. His Daughter Theophelia Hucklesby was present at his death and the informant.

John William Longland Death Certificate

John William Longland was buried on 22nd August 1928 at Bandon Hill Cemetery in Croydon, Surrey, grave reference N151.

John William Longland Burial

The assumption is that John William Longland never knew he had fathered an illegitimate child, but of course, he could have known and for whatever reason, the couple decided to go their separate ways. Like all the things we discover about our ancestors, we are nearly always left with more questions than answers. What caused the decline in the fortunes of John Longland senior and the collapse of his businesses? Why did the brother’s John William Longland and Arthur Robinson Longland decide to move to Grays? Did John William Longland know he had an illegitimate daughter? Why did the couple split up? So many unanswered questions, although the main question that has been eluding me all these years, who is the father of Marguerite Longland Lukes, has now been answered.

The Longland voyage of discovery has only just begun, I am certain that there will be lots more for me to discover and share with you over the coming months. I would like to say thanks to my newly discovered ‘Longland’ cousins for sharing their trees with me and helping me to piece together the story.


Why not visit my new website:


All My Blogs For Family Tree Magazine in one handy place

Copyright © 2021 Paul Chiddicks | All rights reserved

6 thoughts on “Digging Deep to Find My Roots

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s