From the beginning of my research, I have been fascinated with this weeks ancestor, as very little is known about her family. Her parents are a frustrating puzzle that never seems to let up and give me clues. Her Husband also fascinates me because his life before the age of six is a complete mystery and very upsetting. To find any of your ancestors in a Workhouse is always hard, but to find a 6-year-old child, with no parents beside him, is heart wrenching to say the least.
Their names have stuck with me since the very beginning and they hold a humongous place in my heart. I very much wish I could find the answers I seek and that they can finally rest in peace. Hopefully one day, I’ll be able to find the missing piece and be able to complete their stories but for now all I can do is tell you what I know about the history of Catherine Fielder.
The surname Fielder is derived from the ancient Saxon word “fidulaere” meaning “fiddle player.” However, another reference claims the name was derived from the expression “atte felde” which meant “one who lives in the fields.”
The surname Fielder was first found in Sussex where the first recordings of the name indicate that Geoffrey le Felder held estates in the southern county of Sussex, listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1327.
A Coat of Arms granted to the Fielder family is divided quarterly gold and blue with a cinquefoil (five-leaved flower) in the first and fourth quarters. A lion rampant holding in the dexter (right) paw a fleur-de-lis is on the crest.
The Fielder family name was found in the USA, the UK, Canada, and Scotland between 1840 and 1920. The most Fielder families were found in the UK in 1891. In 1891 there were 496 Fielder families living in London. This was about 25% of all the recorded Fielder’s in the UK. London had the highest population of Fielder families in 1891.
In 1881, Agricultural Labourer, Carpenter and Labourer were the top 3 reported jobs worked by Fielder. A less common occupation for the Fielder family was Laundress. The most common Fielder occupation in the UK was Agricultural Labourer. 8% of Fielder’s were Agricultural Labourers.
A few notable Fielder descendants from other Fielder families are,
- Colin Michael Raynor Fielder (b. 1964), English former footballer
- Walter Fielder (1899-1968), English cricketer
- Richard Fielder (1758-1826), English professional cricketer who played in major cricket matches between 1790 and 1801
- Albert Edward Fielder (1889-1947), English cricketer who played for Hampshire in 1911 and 1913
- Arthur Fielder (1877-1949), English cricketer who played for England in 1904 and 1908
- George Bragg Fielder (1842-1906), American Civil War veteran and politician, father of Governor James Fairman Fielder
- Guyle Abner Fielder (b. 1930), retired American-born Canadian professional NHL ice hockey centre
- John Fielder (b. 1950), American landscape photographer and nature writer, three-time winner of the Colorado Book Award
- James Fairman Fielder (1867-1954), American politician, 35th Governor of New Jersey (1914-1917
- Harry Fielder (b. 1940), English film and television actor, active since the 1960
Let me tell you the life story of my 3rd Great-Grandmother, Catherine Fielder.
Unfortunately I can not find a christening or baptism, to help confirm her year of birth.
The first record I have for Catherine, is the 1841 census which was taken on June 6th, 1841.
Catherine Fielder lived at, Bevis Street, St Mary’s, Southampton, Hampshire, England, in 1841, with her Mother Mary and her Sister Sarah.
I’m not entirely sure where her Father, Thomas was, I assume he is away working.
The 1851 was taken on March 30th 1851.
Catherine Fielder was residing at, Number 25, Bevis Street, St Mary’s, Southampton, Hampshire, England, with her mother Mary Ann and a Visitor William Mitchell. Catherine’s Mother was working as a Baker.
Again her Father isn’t present.
On October 23rd, 1851, Southampton turned out in droves for the arrival of Lajos Kossuth, a freedom fighter and former president, on his visit to England. I wonder if Catherine would have been part of the crowd as they welcomed him.
Catherine married Jesse Townsend, Son of Jesse Townsend and Ann ?, on June 18th, 1855 at St. Mary’s, Alverstoke, Hampshire, England.
Catherine was a spinster and Jesse was a bachelor, they were both of full age.
Jesse was working as a Labourer.
They were both residing at Forton, a village and a chapelry in Alverstoke parish, Hants. The village is suburban to Gosport, which stands outside of the fortifications, on the Gosport railway, at the upper end of a sort of lake of Portsmouth harbour.
Catherine’s Father Thomas was working as a Mariner and Jesse’s Father Jesse, was a Labourer.
Their witnesses were Frederick And Martha Reeves.
Their marriage was announced in, The Hampshire Advertiser newspaper, on, Saturday 23rd June, 1855.
Their first child was born on the 8th March 1856, in the Southampton district.
They named her Sarah Ann Townsend.
Sarah would later marry, John Henry Grant in the Poplar district, in the October-December quarter of 1879.
Jesse and Catherine Townsend Nee fielder, Daughter, Sarah Ann Townsend, was Christened, June 15th, 1856, at St Mary’s Church, Southampton, Hampshire, England.
Followed by the birth of their first Son, Thomas William Townsend.
He was born on the 10th March 1858, at Number 15, Grove Street, Southampton, Hampshire, England.
Jesse was a Seaman in the Merchant service.
Catherine registered Thomas’s birth on the 19th April 1858.
Thomas William Townsend, was christened at, St. Mary’s Church, St Mary’s, Southampton, Hampshire, England, on the 21st November 1858.
When baby Thomas was 13 months old, he contracted Rubeola and Pneumonia. He died four days into fighting the nasty viral illness.
Thomas died at Number 9, Melbourne Street, Southampton, Hampshire.
M A Sclater was present at his death. She registered it on the 1st April 1859.
Catherine and Jesse, laid their baby boy to rest, at Southampton Old Cemetery, Southampton, in Row C, Block 14, Number 195.
I know I say it all the time but it must have been so very traumatic for them to lower his tiny coffin into the ground.
I know they say that death happens or a reason but why a baby boy who has the world at his feet. I just can’t comprehend child death, any death really but a child’s death, hits a different level of heartbreak.
While the Townsend’s were in the depths of grief, the human race were trying to get their heads around Charles Darwin’s concept that all animals even humans evolved over the course of time when his publication, “The Origin of the Species” hit bookstores across Great Britain, on the 24th November 1859. Its ideas sparked outrage and intrigue across the United Kingdom and beyond. In his work, Darwin argued that all animals evolved over the course of generations through a process he named natural selection. Though evolutionary theories had previously been proposed, Darwin’s reputation as a respected and prominent scientist added legitimacy to this controversial principle. Initially, his text sparked outrage. He only hinted at human evolution in the final chapter of his book, but his critics connected the dots. With strong ties to the Church of England, the scientific community largely condemned evolution because it was incompatible with the Bible. Outside of elite circles, the text was popular among the masses that also engaged in the fiery debate. In the decades to follow, additional evolutionary research continued to bolster Darwin’s provocative claims.
The following year, Catherine gave birth to their second Daughter, Eliza Jessie Townsend.
Eliza was born in the January-March quarter of 1860 in the, Southampton district.
As you can see the birth indexes have different middle names for Eliza.
I believe Eliza went on to marry either William Henry Chase or John Hicks at Portsea, in the December quarter of 1879. Of course I can not confirm this without buying the certificate.
The census was taken on April 7th 1861, which shows, Catherine Fielder living at Number 27, Bevios Street, North, St Mary’s, Southampton, Hampshire, England, in 1861, with her Husband Jesse and Children Sarah and Eliza. Her Husband Jesse, was working as a Fireman in Steamer. Her Mother Mary Ann, was lodging a few houses up the street, at Number 25 and was working as a Bakeress. She was inhabiting 1 room.
Mary Ann Fielder was now a widow. I think I have pin pointed her Husband Thomas, death down to the year 1859 in the July/September quarter in South Stoneham.
This is one possibility of many, but I feel the age coincides with his rough year of birth. With Christmas a stones throw away, I just can’t risk ordering the wrong certificate and wasting money, sorry.
Catherine gave birth to Thomas Fielder Townsend on the 29th September 1862 at, Number 24, Bevois Street, Southampton, Hampshire, England.
Jesse was working as a Stoker in Steam Vessel.
Catherine registered his birth on the 14th October 1862.
Thomas Fielder Townsend, was christened at, Holy Trinity, Southampton, on the 5th January 1864.
I always find it strange when ancestors name a child after one of their children that has died. And maybe it was a oman as 15 month old Thomas Fielder Townsend started having convulsions and died two hours later on the 5th January 1864.
He died at, Number 24, Chichester Terrace, Southampton.
M Garrett was present at his death and registered it on the 7th January 1864.
Catherine’s Husband Jesse was working as a Stoker at the time of their son’s death.
Catherine, Jesse and family, laid Thomas Fielder Townsend, to rest at, Southampton Old Cemetery, Southampton, Hampshire, England, on the 09 January 1864, in Row A, Block 2, Number 192.
Between January and March 1865,, in Southampton, Catherine and Jesse, welcomed another daughter into the world. They named her Rosina Rhoda Townsend.
Rosina was christened at, St. Mary’s Church, St Mary’s, Southampton, Hampshire, England, on the 28th June, 1867.
Rosina would later marry either, Alfred Adolphus Jones, William James Squibb or Ralph William Watson, in the March quarter of 1890 in the Southampton district.
Catherine give birth to a baby girl, whom they named Alice Susan Townsend.
Alice was born in the Southampton District, between the months of April and June 1867.
Catherine and Jesse, christened Alice at St. Mary’s, Southampton, Hampshire, on the 28th June 1867.
Alice would later marry either Gerar Jowett or George Augustine King in the Southampton district, in the July/September quarter of 1894.
On the 2nd December 1869, Jesse and Catherine give birth to their first son, Alfred Jesse Townsend, born at 40 Chapel Road, Southampton, the family residence.
Jesse’s occupation is listed on Alfred’s birth certificate as a stoker on steam vessel.
Alfred was christened at St. Mary’s, Southampton, Hampshire, on the 20th February 1870
Alfred would go on to marry, Ada Morgan in the September quarter of 1906 in Portsmouth, Hampshire.
By the time the 1871 census was taken, the Townsend have moved residence, they were now residing at, Number 1, Dock Terrace, St Mary’s, Southampton, Hampshire. Catherine age was given as 32, Jesse as 31, Rosina is 6, Alice is 3 and Alfred is 1. Jesse’s occupation has now changed and he was working as a Labourer at an iron works.
On the 17 June 1872, Edward Henry Townsend, was born at their home, Number 1 Dock Terrace, Southampton. Jesse is still a labourer.
Catherine registered his birth on the 13th July 1872.
She signed with an X.
Edward Henry was christened on the 10 July 1872 at St Mary’s, Southampton, Hampshire.
Edward would later marry Rose London Hitchcock in the September quarter, of 1891, in Southampton. They unfortunately got divorced in 1902.
Catherine’s child-bearing days are still far from over, on the 10 March 1875, my Great, Great-Grandfather, Charles Frederick Joseph Townsend is born at 29 Anglesea terrace, Southampton. Jesse is still working as a labour BUT Catherine’s maiden name has been listed as Carter and not Fielder. I believe this to be a simple mistake on his birth certificate???
Catherine registered his birth on the 14th April 1875.
She signed with an X.
Charles would later marry Rosa Alice Freak, you can read all about her life here. You can also read all about Charles life here.
On the 15 June 1778, Catherine and Jesse, had another daughter, Catherine Annie Townsend. She was born at home, Number 5 Winchester Terrace, Southampton. Catherine is once again listed as Catherine Townsend nee Fielder and Jesse is once again working as a Marine Stoker. I wonder what could have happened to drive him back to the docks?
Catherine registered Catherine’s birth on the 26th July 1878.
I’m not sure if Catherine had learnt to write her name because she did not sign with an X.
Catherine Annie was christened on the 14 July 1878 at St Mary’s Church, Southampton, Hampshire, England.
Catherine Annie would marry Samuel Sidney Allen in the Winchester district, in the September quarter of 1894.
Catherine’s Mother, Mary Ann Fielder Nee Davis, passed away in the Southampton district, in the October-December quarter of 1879. She would have been 85 years old.
I’m 100% sure this would have been a great loss to Catherine. Losing a parent, rocks your world, spins it around at force and spits you out the other side, broken.
Unfortunately I do not know where Mary Ann would have been laid to rest, I have a strong suspicion she would have been buried at the Old Cemetery in Southampton, as most of the Townsend seem to be resting there.
Catherine Fielder residing at, Number 5, Winchester Terrace, St Mary’s, Southampton, Hampshire, England, on April 3, 1881, with her Husband Jessie and their Children, Catherine, Rose, Alfred, Edward and Charles. Jessie was working as a S.S Fireman, Seaman and Rose was working as a Laundress.
They were sharing their home with the West family, Harry, Clara – lodgers, also Ada Scott – lodger, George Lucas and his wife Mary.
I lose track of Catherine and Jessie, until the 1901 census, where I find them living at Number 43 New Road, Southampton. Catherine is 66, Jesse is 65, and still working as a stoker on a steamship. All their children I’ve mentioned above, seem to have moved out of home and started their own lives and families.
In the 31st March, 1901 census, they do have two children living with them, who are named as their sons, Frank Townsend , who is 17 years old, a shop porter, also Fred Townsend, 13 years old, an office boy.
These two young men puzzle me, I can not find a matching birth index for their ages listed on the census. Also while I have been carrying out my family research, since I was a wee 18-year-old, I haven’t heard anything about them, which is rather strange. Could Fred be Charles Frederick, my Great, Great-Grandfather – No, as I have located him living with his wife on a different census record. Just another piece of the puzzle that needs investigating.
Catherine was widowed, on the 17 march 1905, when Jesse died at, 31 Derby Road, Southampton, at a grand old age of 62, not bad innings for back then.
He died of Pneumonia, 6 days.
His death certificate gives his occupation as a Marine Engineer. His son Edward Henry, registered his death on the 17th March 1905. Edwards residence at the time was, 35 bridge road, Southampton.
Jesse Townsend was buried on the 20th March 1905, at Southampton Old Cemetery, Southampton, Hampshire, England in Row N, Block 153, Number 91, Int Number 74294.
Poor Catherine must have been devastated and I’m sure rather scared of how she would support herself in her final days. Jesse would have supported her financially all her married life, he would have been the main breadwinner if not the only. Heartbreakingly she didn’t live for much longer after her beloved husband died. She became ill shortly after she had laid Jesse to rest and died on the, 4th April 1905. She died at 52 Melbourne Street, Southampton, at the age of 65 years old from Chronic Bronchitis and Acute Bronchitis. I’m sure her broken heart would have been a huge part of her passing.
Once again poor Edward registered the death of his mother, Catherine. What an awful thing to have to do, registering both parents deaths in less than a month apart. How he kept it together, I do not know but my heart breaks for him.
Catherine Townsend nee Fielder was laid to rest, on the 7th April, 1905, at Southampton Old Cemetery, Southampton, Hampshire, England, in Row N, Block 153, Number 91, Int Number 74418. Catherine is buried with her Husband Jesse, their Son Edward Henry Townsend, Andrew Vane and Margaret Rose Vane.
A family reunited in death. Regrettably they do not have a headstone, which seems to be common among the Townsend’s. How I wish I could buy the rights to the grave and purchase a headstone for them, unfortunately it’s not as easy as that. I would need permission from all living descendants and would cost nearly £2000. I believe they are worth every penny but how do I even begin to track every descendant of the Catherine, Jesse, Henry, Andrew and Margaret?
I hope it’s enough, that I honour their lives by remembering them and telling their stories.
Catherine Townsend Nee Fielder
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