Rhoda BUTLER(167) is my current best guess for the maiden name of my great-great-grandmother. As Rhoda LAWRENCE, she appears in the 1881 census at 27 Cambridge Terrace, Paddington, London1, aged 60, a widow, lodging house keeper, born in Westhall, Suffolk. With her were her daughter Alice BERTRAM(168), aged 29, born in Southwold, Suffolk, and son Charles Anthony BERTRAM(106), aged 28, and also born in Southwold, who was my great-grandfather.

Her given age at the 1881 census suggests that she was born in 1820 or 1821, and there was a Rhoda BUTLER, daughter of Francis BUTLER(1713) and Amy, who was born on 26 Dec 1820 and baptised on 08 Feb 1821 at the Independent Church, Halesworth, Suffolk2. The register indicates that her parents were of the parish of Westhall, where the census data indicate she was born. Westhall is 3.5 miles NE of Halesworth.

There were six earlier possible siblings, including one set of twin boys who may not have survived. All of the children were baptised at the same church, with parents Francis BUTLER and Amy:

A recent communication indicates that Francis BUTLER married Amy HOWLETT in the parish of All Saints with St Nicholas, South Elmham, which is about a mile and a half NNW of Rumburgh. The marriage was by banns and was on 2 Aug 1802. Francis was a single man from the parish of Halesworth, and Amy a single woman of the parish of South Elmham. The witnesses were Amy HUFFLET (Hufflet not clearly written) and Wm CHAPMAN. All, bride, groom and witnesses, made their mark 3. For the moment, Amy HOWLETT is the best guess for Rhoda's mother.

From the registry entry4 for the marriage of Charles Anthony BERTRAM to Emily TEMPLEMAN we know that Charles' father was George BERTRAM (163). There is a marriage record for 14 Nov 1842 between a Rhoda BUTLER, spinster, of full age, servant, residing at Sotherton, Suffolk, and a George BERTRAM, bachelor, of full age, labourer, of Wangford, which was celebrated at Sotherton and registered at Blything5. Blything was a registration district in Suffolk which operated between 1837 and 1935 and included Southwold, where both the known children of Rhoda LAWRENCE listed in the 1881 census were born. However, the births were nearly ten years later, suggesting that there may have been earlier children. Rhoda's father is given as Francis BUTLER, which agrees with the baptismal information above.

At the time of the 1851 census6 Rhoda BATRAM was at 32 High Street, Southwold, aged 30, born in Westhall, Suffolk, and the wife of George BATRAM, also aged 30, farmer of 23 acres, born in Henham, Suffolk. There were three children present, Maria, aged 7, born in Wangford, Suffolk, William, aged 5, also born in Wangford, and Ellen Maria, aged 10 months, born in Southwold. It therefore seems that Rhoda may have had four children:

While the earlier children explain the gap between the marriage in 1842, and the births of Alice Maria in 1850 and of Charles Anthony in 1852, it gives a different name to the daughter born in 1850. The entry on the census form is clearly for Ellen Maria, not Alice Maria. It is possible that the person filling in the form heard the name wrong, but the inconsistency remains.

At the time of the 1861 census10, Rhoda BATTRAM was at 20 East Street, Southwold, aged 40, housekeeper, born in Westhall. With her was Alice BATTRAM, aged 11, a school girl, born in Southwold. They were both in the household of Hugh LAWRENCE, a widower, aged 39, a fish merchant, born in Walberswick, Suffolk. Also present were Edwin LAWRENCE, son of Hugh, aged 14, a clerk, born in Walberswick, and Elvina LAWRENCE, daughter of Hugh, aged 11, a school girl, also born in Walberswick. It can reasonably be assumed that Alice BATTRAM was the daughter of Rhoda, though both are simply listed as servants. Alice would have been born in 1849 or 1850. Was she the same person as the Ellen in the 1851 census, and where were the other children? I have not found any of the three earlier children in the 1861 census. There was however a Charles BATTRAM, aged 9, at 154 High Street, Southwold, a boarder and a schoolboy, born in Southwold 11, which could be Charles Anthony.

Hugh LAWRENCE was probably born in Walberswick, across the River Blyth from Southwold. There is a baptismal record for a Joseph Hughes LAWRENCE, son of William LAWRENCE and Sarah, who was baptised at Walberswick on 20 Jul 1823 12, which quite probably refers to him. According to the baptismal record of his son Edwin Ernest Charles LAWRENCE13, Hugh's first wife was called Rebecca. She died in 186014.

There is a reference15 to a marriage, in 1867, which reads:

April 16 Married at Norwich Hugh Lawrence to Rhoda the wife of --- Battram!!

Did the double exclamation marks mean that there was thought to be something dodgy going on? Maybe George BERTRAM had disappeared. At any rate, this marriage provides an explanation for Rhoda BERTRAM becoming Rhoda LAWRENCE. However, the marriage as registered16, which took place at St Stephen's, Norwich, was between Joseph LAWRENCE, aged 44, a widower, dealer, and Rhoda BUTTLER, aged 37, spinster, daughter of Francis BUTTLER, farmer. So Rhoda, if this is the same Rhoda, was pretending she was not married and was ten years younger than her real age. Also, why was Hugh LAWRENCE using his middle name Joseph? The two witnesses were Caroline H. CHILD, and Joseph BAGSHAW.

Hugh LAWRENCE died on 22 Oct 1877 at Lowestoft17 and probate was granted to his son Edwin Ernest Charles LAWRENCE of Great Yarmouth on 23 Jan 1878. There was an earlier grant of probate18, on the same will, dated 14 Nov 1877, which was to Rhoda BERTRAM (wife of George BERTRAM), and William Echlin WAYTH, who were two other executors. However, the entry in the GRO death register is in the name of Hugh Joseph LAWRENCE, aged 5419. It is unusual for the probate register not to use his full name, and there may be some confusion here.

In his will20, signed on 6 Oct 1866 at Southwold, and codicil signed on 1 Mar 1876 at Lowestoft, essentially Hugh LAWRENCE directed that after funeral and testamentary expenses, all the residue of his personal estate of any kind was to be converted into money to form a single fund which was to be divided, in the original will into three, and following the codicil into four equal parts. Those four parts were:

Rhoda's share was to be for her sole and separate use independently of any husband she may marry, and it was probably to protect this inheritance, which may have been substantial by the standards of the day, that the application for a Protection Order was lodged even before the initial grant of probate (see below).

In the will, which was originally signed before Hugh married Rhoda, in the list of executors, Rhoda Battram "who resides with me" is how she was described. Interestingly, all three of the shares going to females were, in the codicil, declared as " for her sole and separate use independently of any husband she may marry". So Hugh was no believer in wife as chattel, and this may have enabled Rhoda to apply for the protection order later.

That Hugh LAWRENCE and Rhoda moved to Lowestoft is evidenced by the 1871 census21, when Hugh LAWRENCE was head of household at The Norfolk Hotel, 37 and 38 Denmark Road, Lowestoft, aged 48, married, a Fish Merchant and Hotel Keeper, born in Walberswick, Suffolk. Also present was Rhoda LAWRENCE, his wife, aged 50, born in Westhall, Suffolk. There were three servants, but no children of either parent was present. Hugh's name also appears in various Suffolk directories of the time. I wonder whether the move was to get away from local disapproval of their living arrangements in Southwold.

Further light is shed by an application in the High Court (Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division) on 7 Nov 1877 on behalf of Rhoda BERTRAM. The application was for a Protection Order, and was granted on 23 Nov 1877. It would appear that the protection sought was for property. Rhoda made two submissions in support of this application. The first, sworn on 7 Nov 1877 was as follows:

I Rhoda Bertram - of Lowestoft in the County of Suffolk, Wife of George Bertram - make oath and say
1. That on the 14th day of November 1842 I was lawfully married to George Bertram at the parish church of Sotherton in the County of Suffolk.
2. That I lived and cohabited with the said George Bertram for sixteen years or thereabouts at Wangford in the County of Suffolk and at Southwold in the same County and have had four children issue of my said marriage all of whom are now living and have attained their majority.
3. That in or about the year 1856 the said George Bertram without any reasonable cause deserted me and left all the said children wholly dependent upon my earnings and hath ever since remained separate and apart from me.
4. From the time of the said desertion the said George Bertram never corresponded or communicated in any way with me and I never heard, after such desertion, from or of him and I maintained myself and my said children by my own industry and on the 16th day of April 1867 as I believed the said George Bertram to be dead I was married to Hugh Lawrence then of Southwold in the County of Suffolk, Fish Merchant, Game Dealer and Hotel Keeper, at the parish church of St Stephen in the City of Norwich.
5. That the said Hugh Lawrence died on the 22nd day of October 1877 having appointed me one of the Executors of his last will and testament with a codicil thereto and I am a legatee named in the said will and codicil.
6. I have recently been told by Albert George Sharpe of no.12 Maida Vale, Edgware Road in the County of Middlesex, who is my son-in-law, that he has seen the said George Bertram within the last twelve months but that he does not know where he lives nor where he can be found and from indirect reports that have reached me lately I believe that the said George Bertram is now living but I have no knowledge whatever of his residence or where or how he can be found.

The second affirmation, sworn on 17 Nov 1877 and filed on 19 Nov 1877 gives rather more information both about the origins of her husband George and her children. Of particular interest is that one of her children was at sea, which chimes with what is known about the life of her elder son William George, and that her youngest, namely Charles Anthony, was put out to nurse. Her second deposition was as follows:

I Rhoda Bertram of Lowestoft in the County of Suffolk wife of George Bertram make oath and say,
1. I refer to the affadavit sworn by me in this matter on the seventh day of November 1877, and further say that the said George Bertram was formerly a labourer on Lord Stradbrook's estate at Henham in the County of Suffolk and his wages were about 1 a week. He always said that if I bore children he would not live with me. There were four children of the marriage and they were all born during my said husband's cohabitation with me. My said husband afterward became a cattle dealer at Southwold. There were constant disagreements between my husband and myself owing to the children as my husband said he would not keep them. My husband was always very dissipated and drunken in his habits and he never allowed me more than ten shillings a week to keep myself and children and to pay rent and all the expenses of the house. My husband also frequently left home for five or six weeks together and left me with no means whatever of subsistence.
2. After our marriage my parents gave me some money with which some cottages were purchased but before he deserted me my husband sold the cottages and spent all the money realizes by the sale. My relatives and friends also frequently made me presents of cattle and other things but my husband always sold them and spent the proceeds himself.
3. In consequence of my husband having sold off everything we had including our furniture and supplying me with so little money and latterly with no money at all I was obliged to do something to obtain means of living and sometimes went out as a monthly nurse. One of our children was then at sea, another was left at home to mind the house and to look after my husband when he was at home, another child I always took with me when I went nursing, and the youngest child I put out to nurse. I used frequently when out nursing as aforesaid to go home and look after the comfort of my husband when he was at home.
4. On one occasion referred to in the this paragraph of my before mentioned affadavit when I was out nursing in Southwold my husband sent me word by a child that he was going away and he never returned home again.
5. My husband left me as aforesaid against my wish, and after I found that he had really deserted me I consulted with the mayor and magistrates at Southwold as to throwing myself and family upon the Parish but they advised me not to do so while I had health and strength to work and they promised to do all they could to help me which they did.

Rhoda presumably moved to London some time between Hugh LAWRENCE's death in 1877 and the time of the 1881 census, and perhaps that she is listed as a lodging house keeper in that year has something to do with Hugh LAWRENCE becoming a hotel keeper in Lowestoft, amongst his other trades.

A Rhoda LAWRENCE died, aged 67, in 1888 in London22, but the death certificate says she was the widow of John LAWRENCE, gentleman, of 24 Cambridge Terrace, so, despite the location at Cambridge Terrace, where she had been at no. 27 at the 1881 census, and despite the age matching her presumed date of birth,this was possibly not her. I have not found any other entries which match her date of birth under any of the three surnames which she might have used.


1) 1881 England census, Paddington, London,
2) Familysearch, based on FHL film 825404, item 5, which contains manuscript records of births and baptisms, 1796-1836, for the Independent Church, Halesworth, from the original at the then Public Record Office, London, now the National Archives, RG4/1842. A page image is avaliable through the website BMDregisters.co.uk, and indicates that Francis Butler and Ame his wife were of the parish of Westhall. Rhoda was baptised by John Dennant.
3) This information comes from transcripts held by Pamela Palgrave, of the Suffolk Family History Society, and was communicated to me by email on 26 Aug 2015.
4) London, England, marriages and banns, 1754- 1921, Ancestry.com. Marriage register for St. Mary's church, Bryanston Square, Westminster, 04 Sep 1882, from original in the London Metropolitan Archives.
5) GRO marriage index, Blything, Suffolk, Dec quarter of 1842, vol.13, p.245.
6) 1851 England census, Southwold, Suffolk, HO107, piece 1803, folio 803, p.7, through Ancestry.com.
7) GRO births index, Blything, Dec quarter of 1843, vol.13, p.391. Maria is also named in the 1851 census, see note 5 above.
8) GRO births index, Blything, Sep quarter of 1845, vol.13, p.400. William is also names in the 1851 census, see note 5 above.
9) GRO births index, Blything, Jun quarter of 1850, vol.13, p.439. As infant Ellen Maria she appears in the 1851 census, see note 5 above. As Alice BERTRAM she appears in the 1881 census, see note 1 above.
10) 1861 England census, Southwold, Suffolk, RG9, piece 1183, folio 50, p.4, through Ancestry.com.
11) 1861 England census, Southwold, Suffolk, RG9, piece 1183, folio 63, p.29, through Ancestry.com.
12) Familysearch, based on an unknown source.
13) Familysearch, based on FHL film 918664, Bishop's transcripts for the archdeaconry of Suffolk, 1685-1875.
14) GRO deaths index, Blything, Suffolk, Jun quarter of 1860, vol.4a, p.444.
15) The Southwold Diary of James Maggs 1818-1876, Volume II, on Ancestry.com. Also available through Google books. This entry is on p.120.
16) Marriage certificate. The marriage was by licence. It was registered at, Norwich, Jun quarter of 1867, vol.4b, p.253.
17) The date of his death is given in the England and Wales National Probate Calendar for 1878, on Ancestry.com, with his name given as Hugh LAWRENCE, formerly of Southwold late of Lowestoft, fish merchant, game dealer and hotel keeper.
18) National Probate Calendar for 1877, p.402.
19) GRO deaths index, Mutford, Suffolk, Dec quarter of 1877, vol.4a, p.447.
20) A copy of the will and codicil and double probate has been obtained from HM Courts and Tribunals Service at the Leeds district Probate Registry, 26 Jan 2012.
21) 1871 England census, Lowestoft, Suffolk, RG10, piece 1779, folio 36, p.28, through Ancestry.com.
22) Death certificate> GRO Deaths Index, Marylebone, June quarter of 1888, vol.1a, p.406.

© John Stowell 2015             This file last edited on 29 Aug 2015.

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