The Walker family of Littleport

My maternal Walker family appear in the fenland village of Littleport, just a few miles north of Ely in Cambridgeshire, England during the mid-late 18th century.

The family's earliest confirmed appearance in records takes place in Littleport in 1768, when my 6x Great Grandparents Francis Walker and his wife known only as Sarah so far, took their first-born child Francis Walker to be baptised at St. George's Church.

The couple would bring a further seven of their children to the church over the next 21 years, with their penultimate child, Elizabeth Walker being my 5x Great Grandmother. She married my 5x Great Grandfather Wenham Barber nearby in 1804 at his native village of Witcham.

A Littleport Dame School

Between 1841 and 1851, and now as a widow, Elizabeth Barber in her 50s and early 60s, is noted as 'Schoolmistress' at a 'Dame School' in Littleport. She is noted as living in Sandhill on the east side of Littleport, but it is not clear whether this school was at her home, and it's also not clear what kind of status this school had.

It's name suggests that it may be for young ladies, rather than girls, but there is no other reference to it beyond these two consecutive census mentions. Dame Schools in the area, seem to be deemed of a lower standard than other schools, and with religious scripture studies taking the majority of school work.

In January 1850, Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools, Rev. Mitchell, examines two schools in Littleport - one with 99 boys in attendance, and one with 86 girls. Whilst the boys school seems to be deemed somewhat favourably, the girls school is less well received.

'The mistress has not physical force for so large a school, and seems defective in manner, though respectable in appearance.'

He notes that these two schools have only been open for two years, so it is unlikely to refer to Elizabeth.

Walker family connections

I only know of one other Walker family ancestral link so far, and that's to my maternal Barber family through the marriage of my 5x Great Grandparents.

My Walker family has been a little tricky to trace, due to a large number of Francis Walkers in the area - finding the right candidates has been a slow process of building timelines and eliminating those who simply can't have been ancestors.