Stretham and Soham Branch

Little Thetford Branch


The Dewsbury family of Cambridgeshire

The earliest record of the Dewsbury family comes from the village of Soham, Cambridgeshire, England, in the mid-18th century.

This reference, the marriage of 'John Dowsborough' to Edith Langford, took place in Soham in 1749. It is swiftly followed by the baptism of their nine children, before what appears to be a potential burial for John in 1769 at Ely Holy Trinity. This is not a definite match, but it coincides with the location (this John is noted as from 'Half Acre in Soham' (rather than someone from itself), and might also account for there only being 9 children - John and Edith's last was baptised in 1768.

Over the following generations, the family shift to Wilburton, Stretham, and the hamlet of Barway - all just a few miles from Soham.

Dewsbury of Little Thetford

In nearby Little Thetford (described as a hamlet of Stretham), a second Dewsbury family connects with my own in 1905 when Laura Dewsbury marries Owen Yarrow at Little Thetford parish church.

Despite this branch and my ancestral one living only a few miles apart, I've so far failed to link the two together. Geographically, there's only a mile or two between them, so it seems unlikely that the families are two separate ones, especially as the surname isn't particularly a common one.

Laura's large Dewsbury family lived at The Water Mill (roughly where the pinpoint shows in the map above) in Little Thetford, Cambridgeshire and the family operated the chain bridge (as remembered by my Gt. Grandmother, Maude) which was usually very busy as it was used as a handy shortcut across the river. On one side of the River Ouse is Little Thetford, the other, Barway.

Henry James Dewsbury (Laura's father) ran The Water Mill and her mother, Mahala (née Randall) ran the Chain Ferry between the two places. Years later, one of Elsie Dewsbury's (Henry's daughter) sons recalled that Henry had a beard "just like Father Christmas'".

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