"... for really I think that the poorest he that is in England, have a life to live as the greatest he." -- Colonel Thomas Rainsborough, 1647

An English Family

cruikshank detail

Detail from George Cruikshank's cartoon of 1840 The British Beehive.

~ Welcome.
~ This is the story of a working class, and lower-middle-class family from the late eighteenth to the mid-twentieth century: weavers and bricklayers in the East Midlands, poor labourers in the Black Country, rural peasants from Dorset and Buckinghamshire, and tradesman and shopkeepers in Wiltshire and London. But, it includes a Dorsetshire family who were at the Battle of Waterloo, some Australian pioneers who were Utilitarian idealists, and a Radical librarian. Although it is my personal family history, I think it also works as an illustration of aspects of English social history from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century.
~ I'm from London, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, so I was surprised and mildly disappointed that so far I've only found one ancestor who was not English, a Welsh woman who was one of my great-great-great grandmothers. The rest of my family all come from an area no further north than Nottingham or west than Beaminster in Dorset, which is why I've called this site
An English Family. Despite that, not everyone in this story is white, English and Protestant; my family history includes Romanies, American Cherokees and German migrants.
~ I've organized the information into four for each of my grandparents. My paternal grandmother Florence Annie Watkins has the most interesting family history so I start with her. Chapters 1 to 17 are about Florrie's ancestors. Chapters 18 to 22 are about my paternal grandfather Thomas Leaper's family. Chapters 23 to 25 are about my maternal grandmother Emily Webb, and chapters 26 and 27 are about my maternal grandfather Harry A. Johnson.
~ It's taken me more than a decade of occasional researching to compile this information, yet I still come across fresh material, some of it sent to me by people who have found my website. As I find out more, I revise the pages from time to time. You can keep track of changes on my blog page.
~ I've written these pages primarily for my relatives, near and distant, whoever and wherever you are; I hope you find them interesting and useful for your own family history research. And if you are not a relative of mine (though we are all related one way or another) then I hope you still find this site entertaining, and thank you for visiting.

~ All of the images used on this site that are not my own, are, as far as I know, free of copyright. If I'm wrong, please contact me. I'd be glad to continue using the image with acknowledgement, or remove them if the owner insists.