John Beck = Dennis Manhood Russell
| ↳ other children
William Beck = Ruth Tuck
| ↳ children of 2nd marriage
Emma Dennis Beck = ____ ____
Reuben Beck = Louisa Jarvis
| ↳ other children
Reuben Alexander Beck = Ruth Elizabeth Baggs
Emma Beck was born in White Waltham, Berkshire, and baptised as "Emma Dennis Beck" on the 27th September 1835, in Hurley, Berkshire.1
In 1841 she was living with her grandparents Beck and her father's siblings, in Littlewick Green, Hurley.2
In 1851 she was living with her father and stepmother in Littlewick; she is described as unmarried, working in the fields.3
In the week ending on the 18th October 1854, Emma entered the Cookham Union workhouse, in an advanced state of pregnancy. She remained there for 67 days. On the 8th November 1854, according to the minute book of the guardians of Cookham Union, it was "Ordered that the Overseers of the Poor of the parish of HURLEY do forthwith proceed against EMMA BECK for wilfully refusing or neglecting to work by which refusal or neglect she has become chargeable to the said Parish." She gave birth to her only known child, [A3] Reuben, in the workhouse, on the 25th November; marking her name with a cross on the birth registration.4
About the beginning of February 1860 Emma admitted Reuben into the workhouse on his own, and left him there for the next seven years. Throughout this time he is described as a "labourer's child," which probably refers to Emma's occupation rather than that of his unknown father. The 1861 census records her as a female "E.B.", farm servant, an inmate of the Clifton Union workhouse, Stapleton, Gloucestershire (i.e. Bristol).5 In October 1866 Emma returned to Cookham workhouse; she is described as an able-bodied, unmarried woman, "Church", a servant.6
It appears that her return to Cookham workhouse was caused by her increasing ill-healthshe was suffering from tuberculosis. Described as a domestic servant, Emma died in the workhouse, of phthisis, on the 1st April 1868; phthisis has been defined as chronic bronchogenic tuberculosis. She was buried in an unmarked grave in the churchyard at Knowl Hill, on the 5th April 1868.7
Emma Beck was the eldest child of [B2] William Beck and his first wife [B13] Ruth.8
*** For an exhaustive treatment of the life of Emma Beck, see this pdf (updated January 2023). ***
1 TNA: HO 107/1694 f249 p40; parish register. Maidenhead Guardians records, Berkshire RO 9/4 & RO 3/2 give her year of birth as 1830; RO 3/6 gives a year of birth of 1831; letter to me from Peter Newton, Vicar of Knowl Hill, would give a year of birth of 1831/2; census returns of 1841 and 1851 give a year of birth of 1834/5; TNA: RG 9/1741 shows "E.B."'s birthplace as "Whitewalton", Berkshire. Given that her parents only married in October 1834, it is possible that the census entries disguise Emma's birth out of wedlock.
2 HO 107/11/5 f6 p6
3 HO 107/1694 f249 p40
4 Maidenhead Guardians records, Berkshire RO 9/4 & RO 3/2; Cookham Union records, Berkshire RO, minute book; son's birth certificate; parish register
5 RG 9/1741 f133 p6. Ancestry.com's online index to the 1861 census includes no other possible Emma Beck; given this entry's close match with birth year and occupation, and especially the reference to her place of birth as "Whitewalton", Berkshiresurely 'White Waltham' , spelt as heardthe identification seems reasonable. Regrettably, virtually all records of this workhouse, and of the Clifton Union, were destroyed by bombing in the Second World War.
6 Maidenhead Guardians records, Berkshire RO 3/6
7 Maidenhead Guardians records, Berkshire RO 3/6-7; death certificate; John Francis (1958) Tuberculosis in Animals and Man. (London): 296; Berkshire Burials CD, 11th edn; letter to me from Peter Newton, Vicar of Knowl Hill
8 parish register
William Beck was probably born in Littlewick, Berkshire. He was baptised in Hurley on the 14th June 1812.1
He married, first, [B13] Ruth Tuck, on the 19th October 1834, in Hurley. They had one child, [B1] Emma (18351868), in 1835, at which time William was described as a labourer of Hurley.2
In 1841 he was living in Littlewick Green, White Waltham, and working as an agricultural labourer. Living with him was a Jane Beck.3
On 3 January 1849, at the Berkshire Epiphany Sessions at Abingdon, William Beck, 37, was charged with stealing a piece of elm wood, at White Waltham, the property of J. Clark, Esq. He was found guilty of larceny by servant, and sentenced to three months' hard labour.4
On the 24th June 1849 he married, secondly, Jane Green (cal 1814 ?), in Hurley; he was described as a labourer, of Littlewick.5
In 1851 he was a farm labourer in Littlewick; his household consisted of himself and Jane, Emma, Jane's two children from an earlier liaison, and a lodger.6
William and Jane had four children: William (18521910), Emily (18531891), Mary Ann (18561936), and Samuel (18601930). William was born in Littlewick, his father a labourer. The other children were born in Burnham, Buckinghamshire.7
On the 18th October 1854 the Cookham guardians' minute book records that it was "Ordered that the Overseers of the Poor of the Parish of HURLEY do forthwith proceed against WILLIAM BECK of LENT, nr. BURNHAM, for wilfully refusing or neglecting to maintain his daughter by reason of which refusal or neglect she has become chargeable to the said Parish." The guardians were evidently obliged to give ground before long, however, as in the first three months of the following year they gave out-relief to William Beck's familythree times they were issued with 40 oz of bread, once with 3½ oz of meat; William remained chargeable to Cookham parish.8
In 1861 he was an agricultural labourer, living at the Barracks, Burnham; all his and Jane's children were still living with him, with the exception of Emma.9
On the 12th July 1863 William Beck, now a hay-binder, died of phthisis at Burnham. He was buried in Burnham parish churchyard on the 16th.10
William Beck was the eldest child traced of [B3] John and [B8] Dennis Beck.11
1 TNA: RG 9/854 f21 p10; parish register. TNA: HO 107/1694 f249 p40 gives place of birth as Henley, Oxon, which I take to be a misreading by the enumerator.
2 parish register. But see note 1 to Emma's entry above, which suggests she may have been born earlier.
3 HO 107/11/14 f9 p12. There are problems with the identification of this Jane Beck, which there isn't space to go into here; she may have been the Jane he later married, using his name in advance of the event, but there are arguments against this. These problems may cast doubt on the identity of William Beck himself.
4 Reading Mercury, 1849-01-06; Oxford Chronicle and Reading Gazette, 1849-01-13; Berkshire criminal registers
5 marriage certificate; parish register
6 HO 107/1694 f249 p40
7 RG 9/854 f21 p10; William's birth certificate; GRO index
8 Cookham Union records, Berkshire RO minute book; Maidenhead Guardians records, Berkshire RO 9/4
9 RG 9/854 f21 p10
10 death certificate; parish register; death certificate erroneously gives his age as 41; parish register has it correctly as 51.
11 parish register
John Beck was born in 17834, and baptised on the 18th January 1784 in Hurley, Berkshire.1
On the 26th March 1804 he married [B8] Dennis Manhood Russell at Hurley parish church, at which time he was a volunteer, resident in Hurley. Their known children, all baptised in Hurley, were: [B2] William (18121863), Samuel (18141870), Emma (18171872), Reuben (18201849), Maryann (18221852), Leonard (18241825), Caroline Rachel (18261902), and David (1830 after 1881).2
In 1841 he was an agricultural labourer in Littlewick Green, Hurley; his household consisted of his wife, five children, and two grandchildren.3
The tithe map of 1843 shows John Beck as the owner and occupier of a cottage and garden in Littlewick Green, of a total area of 20 perches.4
In 1849 he was still described as a labourer. But in 1851, now a widower, he was described as a cow doctor, living in Littlewick Green with one daughter and a grandson. By November that year, however he was receiving poor relief. He appears as a cow doctor in the Post Office Directory for the Home Counties, in 1854. But on three occasions in late 1854 he was again given relief, in the form of one shilling and four ounces of bread. About October 1854, no longer able-bodied, he spent a week in the workhouse at Cookham. In March 1855 he was again given 1/- and 4 oz of bread, chargeable to Hurley parish.5
Over the winter of 1858/9 John spent two and half months in Cookham workhouse, where he was described as a labourer, his religion "Church". On the 27th February 1859 he died at Knowl Hill, Hurley, of old age; he was described as an agricultural labourer. He was buried in Knowl Hill churchyard on the 6th March; he was said to have been resident in Knowl Hill.6
John Beck was the youngest child traced of [B4] William and [B5] Anne Beck.7
1 death certificate; parish register. Maidenhead Guardians records, Berkshire RO 3/2, give year of birth as 1782; RO 3/3 gives it as 1779.
2 parish register; TNA: HO 107/11/5 f6 p6; GRO index; Berkshire Burials CD, 11th edn
3 HO 107/11/5 f6 p6
4 BRO DP72/27A,B
5 son's 2nd marriage certificate; Cookham Union records, Berkshire RO; Maidenhead Guardians records, Berkshire RO 9/4 & RO 3/2; Post Office Directory Home Counties; HO 107/1694 f249 p39
6 Maidenhead Guardians records, Berkshire RO 3/3; death certificate; letter to me from Peter Newton, vicar of Knowl Hill
7 parish register
William Beck was born in 17489. He married [B5] Anne Meads on the 30th December 1769, after banns, at White Waltham, Berkshire. Their known children were: Anne (17701774), Elizabeth (1771 ?), Dennis (1773 ?), William (1775 ?), Anne Jerver (1781 ?), [B3] John (17841859), Dinah (17841854), Thomas (17851859), and Susannah (1792 after 1851). The first three were baptised in White Waltham, the rest in Hurley. Of Littlewick Green, White Waltham, he was registered to vote in 1832, but didn't do so. William Beck was buried in Hurley on the 2nd April 1834.1
1 letter to me from Diane Woods; parish register; letter
to me from Peter Newton, vicar of Knowl Hill;
Berkshire Burials CD, 11th edn;
Anne Meads was born in 1750, and baptised in Hurley on the 29th May 1750.1
She married [B4] William Beck on the 30th December 1769, after banns, in White Waltham. Their known children were: Anne (17701774), Elizabeth (1771 ?), Dennis (1773 ?), Dinah (17741854), William (1775 ?), Anne Jerver (1781 ?), [B3] John (17841859), Thomas (1785 after 1821), and Susannah (1792 after 1851). The first three were baptised in White Waltham, the rest in Hurley.2
Of Littlewick, she was buried in Hurley on the 15th January 1837.3
Anne Meads was the daughter of [B6] John and [B9] Elizabeth Meads.4
1-2 letter to me from Diane Woods; parish register
3 letter to me from Diane Woods
4 parish register
John Meads was baptised at Hurley, Berkshire, on 28 April 1700. A husbandman, of Hurley, he married [B9] Elizabeth Ivers on 24 November 1723, in a clandestine marriage at the Fleet Prison in London. Their known children were: John (1725 ?), Richard (1728 after 1773), both bapt. Hurley; Thomas (1729 ?), Joseph (17321753), Susanna (1734 ?), George (1737 ?), James (17391810), Elizabeth (1742 ?), William (1745 ?), and [B5] Ann (17501837), all bapt. Wasing, Berkshire. Of Littlewick, John Meads died in 1753, and his body was buried at White Waltham on 13 March that year.1
John Meads was the fifth child and second son of [B7] Thomas and [B8] Jane Meads.2
1 parish register; "England Births and Christenings, 15381975," database, FamilySearch: accessed 24 October 2015, John Meads, 28 Apr 1700; citing HURLEY, BERKSHIRE, reference FHL microfilm 88,293; Fleet Prison marriage register, TNA: RG 7/68; Berkshire RO, D/P 72/1/2; Henley on Thames parish register; FamilySearch. FamilySearch shows the baptism of a John Meads, son of John and Elizabeth Meads, in Hurley, on 17 September 1725.
2 "England Births and Christenings, 15381975," database,
accessed 24 October 2015, John Meads, 28 Apr 1700; citing HURLEY, BERKSHIRE,
reference FHL microfilm 88,293
Thomas Meads married [B8] Jane ______. Their children were: Thomas (1690 ?), Catharine (1691 ?), Anne (1693 ?), Jane (1697 ?), [B6] John (17001753), Edward (1702 ?), Mary (1704 ?), William (1706 ?), and Francis (1709 ?).1
He died in 1735, and his body was buried at White Waltham, Berkshire, on 27 October 1735.2
2 "England Deaths and Burials, 15381991," database, FamilySearch: accessed 24 October 2015, Thomas Meads, 27 Oct 1735; citing reference items 12-13; FHL microfilm 1,040,710
Jane ______ married [B7] Thomas Meads. Their children were: Thomas (1690 ?), Catharine (1691 ?), Anne (1693 ?), Jane (1697 ?), [B6] John (17001753), Edward (1702 ?), Mary (1704 ?), William (1706 ?), and Francis (1709 ?).1
Elizabeth Ivers, of Hurley, Berkshire, married [B8] John Meads
on 24 November 1723, in a clandestine marriage at the Fleet Prison in London.
Their known children were: John (1725 ?),
Richard (1728 after 1773), both bapt. Hurley; Thomas (1729 ?), Joseph (17321753),
Susanna (1734 ?), George (1737 ?), James (1739 ?), Elizabeth (1742 ?), William (1745
?), and [B5] Ann (17501837), all bapt.
Elizabeth Meads died in 1774, her body being buried at White Waltham on 19 August that year.2
1 parish register; Fleet Prison marriage register, TNA: RG 7/68; Berkshire RO, D/P 72/1/2; FamilySearch; another child is listed in the Meads Family Tree, but no sources are given
2 "England Deaths and Burials, 15381991," database,
accessed 24 October 2015, Elizabeth Meads, 19 Aug 1774; citing , reference items
12-13; FHL microfilm 1,040,710
It would be good if problems associated with the identity of [B2] William Beck (as mentioned in fn 3 to that entry) could be resolved, but this may not be possible.
Tracing the Beck line further back depends on discovering the baptism of [B4] William Beck. Parentage details on Ancestry trees are not sustainable.
More work on the Meads ancestry would be useful. Ancestry public member trees are unsustainable.
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