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Not Brentford

Foord Family

I am the great granddaughter of Sarah Foord and started researching the Foord family, which originates in Kent, in the 1970s. So far I have traced the family back to the early 1700s in the Brabourne area of Kent, but what follows is about the Brentford branches of the family.

Celia Cotton, 2008

Grandma’s Memories

My grandmother Florence Maria Dunn, nee Taylor, said her mother Sarah was formerly a Foord. There was also an indication of some inter-marrying, but the details weren’t very clear by the time I discussed this with my mother in the 1970s. However she thought my grandmother had a half sister as well as full sister/brothers.

The Illegal Marriage

Research showed that my grandmother’s two elder half sisters, Ethel Kate and Ellen, were daughters of George Taylor and Ellen Foord, Sarah Foord’s younger sister. George Taylor & Ellen Foord married in 1874 in Brentford. When Ellen tragically died in 1877, shortly after giving birth to her second daughter, it is supposed that Sarah Foord, the girls’ aunt, came to help look after Ethel Kate and her baby sister Ellen (known as Nell).

This led to the second illegal marriage (marrying one's deceased wife's sister was prohibited at the time) later in 1877 between George Taylor and Sarah Foord, at St Dunstan in the West, Fleet Street, London.

This may explain why children from the second marriage were not baptised as babies; Florence Maria and her sister Hilda Sarah were baptised as adults at St Paul's Church, Brentford in 1906.

It is not known for certain how the Taylor and Foord families, who all lived in Brentford, reacted to the illegal marriage, although there is no evidence of estrangement. George’s father, John Donville Taylor, had died well prior to the first marriage and his mother, Maria Sarah, who had by 1877 remarried William Grew, remained in close contact with the Taylor family.

As for the Foord family, Sarah and Ellen’s father, William Foord wrote his will a couple of years after the illegal marriage and referred to Sarah as '…Sarah Foord (including her issue by George Taylor her real or reputed husband)…’. However in terms of bequests he treated all of his children equally.


The previous Foord generation

The starting point to find details of Sarah Foord's parents was the census of Old Brentford, where it was known George & Sarah Taylor settled and brought up their family. It was possible to find Ellen & Sarah Foord living with their parents William and Mary Ann Foord in 1851 and 1861 censuses, and Sarah as a wife to George Taylor in 1881, 1891 and 1901.

The censuses all show that Sarah was born in Old Brentford and her birth certificate (1846) confirms her parents’ names as William Foord and Mary Ann nee Bridge. Searches of the earlier censuses revealed Ellen and Sarah’s parents, William and Mary Ann Foord, living in Old Brentford from 1871 back to 1841.

A Kentish family

In census returns William Foord gives his birthplace as the village of Brabourne, Kent and his wife Mary Ann as the nearby town of Ashford. They were born in 1815 and 1818 respectively and I have found their baptisms in the parish registers (available at Maidstone Centre for Kentish Studies).

William and Mary Ann married at Tonbridge Independent Chapel in 1840. Their marriage certificate shows William’s father as John Foord.

The earliest census for Brentford, 1841, shows the newly married William and Mary Ann living on the High Street with two of William’s sisters and a younger sister of Mary Ann, Elizabeth Bridge.


Brentford flooded!

The newly married Foords arrived in Brentford shortly after a flood, which affected particularly the western part of Brentford, ‘New Brentford’, in January 1841.

The flood occurred after a period of cold weather was followed by a rapid thaw and the river Brent and Granbd Junction Canal broke their banks, causing a lot of damage to properties on the High Street.

Did the flood result in lowered property prices which encouraged the couple to settle here? As far as I can tell, they were the first 'strands' of the family to move away from Kent and settle here. Perhaps Brentford offered more opportunities for employment than rural Kent at the time.

William’s trade in 1841 was ‘plumber’ and he is described variously as a plumber, glazier, house decorator throughout his working life. By the time he died, in 1879, he had also accumulated an impressive number of properties in the Brentford area and also a property in Brighton. William was buried at South Ealing Cemetery: there is a headestone.

William and Mary Ann Foord had ten children and all survived to maturity. Ellen Taylor (Nee Foord), my great great aunt, was the youngest to die, presumably as a complication following child birth.

After her husband’s death, Mary Ann Foord moved to the Brighton property with her two youngest daughters, Ada & Kate. Mary Ann died 11 years after her husband at Woodlands House, Tenterden, Kent in 1890 and left a will that lists bequests of personal items to her sons and daughters. She was buried in her husband's grave in South Ealing Cemetery.


More Brentford Foords

William and Mary Ann Foord registered the births of ten children in Brentford Registration District between 1841 and 1854. A summary follows, the date following each name is the birth registration quarter.
  • Mary Ann Dec 1841; Married Charles Michael Conway in 1868 at St Saviour Paddington, sons Charles Rogers, Frederick William and Ernest John born between 1868 and 1874 in Paddington; her husband was clerk of the Grand Junction Canal in 1881; received ‘the old china tea service which belonged to my grandmother’ when Mary Ann senior died in 1890; returned to Ealing after 1911 census, at Drayon Avenue by 1913; Charles died 1923 and Mary Ann 1926
  • Elizabeth Harriet June 1842; A scholar in the 1851 census; married John Bunyar, an upholsterer, at St Peter Paddington in 1871; moved to Devizes Wiltshire, Emily born 1872 and Frederic John 1874; Elizabeth died following the birth of Frederic; referred to as ‘deceased daughter Elizabeth Harriet Bunyer’ in the will of her father William in 1879; her husband remarried Elizabeth Pack in 1877, Newton Abbot, Devon
  • William Mar 1845; Unmarried in 1881, living at 62 High Street Brentford, a house decorator; his aunt and cousin, Ann and Richard Bridge were living with him (Ann – widow of Mary Ann’s younger brother James Bridge); executor to both his parents wills, he lived at 45 Hamilton Road Brentford in 1890; he married Harriet Louisa Morrell at St Mary, Ealing in 1891 and by 1901 was living at Clarence Villa, Ealing Road South. Harriet died in 1895. Ellen Taylor (niece) was his housekeeper. William died Dec 26 1918 aged 73 and was buried in his parents’ grave at South Ealing Cemetery
  • Sarah born 26 September 1846; Married George Taylor in 1877 at St Dunstan in the West; George has previously married Sarah’s younger sister Ellen; Sarah had two daughters and two sons by George (read more about the Taylor family); Sarah remained in Brentford, living at 237 High Street until George’s death in 1914; she moved to 12a St John's Road, Isleworth and died there in 1935
  • Alfred Jun 1848; Married Susan Humphreys in 1874 (Brentford); Alfred was a plumber living in Half Acre in 1881; he died in 1888 and was buried in South Ealing Cemetery; his last address in 1888 electoral register; Carlyle Road Ealing; no children; his wife died in 1916 and is buried with him
  • Ellen Sep 1850; Married George Taylor of Brentford, a baker, in 1874 and bore two daughters, Ethel Kate and Ellen; Ellen senior died in 1877 shortly after giving birth to her second daughter
  • Frederick Mar 1852; Married Mina Jane Reed in 1874 at Heston parish church; he was a house decorator living at 63 High Street Brentford in 1881; he had six children : Harriet Jane, William Reed, Frederick, Arthur, Edgar and Ida Ellen; he and family lived at 63 High Street in 1891; Frederick died July 26 1893 aged 41 and is buried at South Ealing Cemetery; Mina survived until 1935
  • John Robert Dec 1854 ; A joiner by trade, he married Thomasine Taylor in Brentford RD 1877 by Banns, which were read in Peckham; one daughter Ellen born Chiswick; the family moved to Brighton (1881 census); his only daughter Ellen died in 1887 and was buried at South Ealing Cemetery; John and his wife were in Reigate (1891); he died in 1897 and was buried in South Ealing Cemetery in the plot opened for his daughter; his widow was housekeeper for Henry H Howard, corn merchant’s manager in Twickenham, 1901; she married widower Robert Hardy, a grocer, at All Souls, St Margaret, Twickenham in 1906; Susan Foord (wife of her brother-in-law Alfred Foord?) & Ann Hutchinson were the witnesses
  • Ada Emma Jun 1857; In 1881 living at 43 Brunswick Place, Brighton with her widowed mother; mentioned in her mother’s will, 1886; married Thomas William Goodman, a grazier, at St Paul, Brentford in 1891 and by 1901 they had moved to Tenterden Kent
  • Kate Sep 1859 ; In 1881 living at 43 Brunswick Place, Brighton with her widowed mother; mentioned in her mother’s will, 1886; married her first cousin Richard Bridge at Tenterden the following year and they had six children born in Tenterden between 1888 and 1903; Kate died in 1923 and Richard in 1933, both in Tenterden; Richard was a house decorator who was living in Brentford in 1881 with his cousin William Foord and ; in 1891 he was an inn keeper, the Black Horse, Tenterden

Thus three of the sons of William & Mary Ann Foord: William (1845 - 1918), Alfred (1848 - 1888) and Frederick (1852 - 1893) married and settled in Brentford. William and Frederick worked as house decorators and are shown in the 1881 census at numbers 62 and 63 High Street, two of the copyhold Brentford properties mentioned in their father’s will. Alfred worked as a plumber, living with his wife Susan on Half Acre Brentford in 1881.

If you have an ancestor called Foord who was born in Brentford then we are likely to be related - do get in touch.


Census records through visits to London in the 1970s
Birth and marriage certificates
"Flood! The Brentford Flood of 1841", Valerie Bott, Brentford & Chiswick Local HIstory Society 2002
Will of William Foord
FreeBMD web site web site
Family memories including those from my second cousins, Wendy Dudleston and Elizabeth Plummer


Published 2008; updated March 2018