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Happy 200th anniversary Oct 13

The latest series of Who Do You Think You Are? has served as a useful reminder that I’ve been neglecting the old family history of late, so in the last few weeks I’ve rejoined Ancestry, hunted through census records, and buried a host of ancestors whose deaths have now been added to the FreeBMD index. I noticed today is the 200th anniversary of the marriage of Richard Diggens and Mary Matthews, my great-great-great-grandparents, so thought I’d write a little bit about them and their family.

Richard was born in Berkshire (most likely Brimpton or Sulhampstead Abbots) around 1780; Mary was born in Brimpton c.1785. They married (obviously) on 13 October 1806. In common with many of my ancestors, Richard was an agricultural labourer. He died of influenza in 1848, leaving Mary a pauper until her death ten years later. They had nine children, two of whom died as infants.

Their son Richard was, in 1831, a carter’s boy earning three guineas a year, his “contract renewed each year at the Michaelmas Fair”; he was subsequently a farm labourer. He married and had six children. His family fell on hard times when he beame ill and more than once he was subject of a parish removal order. He died c.1865, many of his descendents settling in nearby in Reading.

Richard and Mary’s youngest son, Henry, was also an ag lab in Brimpton, before marrying Mary Hampshire in London in 1856 and moving to Sydenham, now part of the London Borough of Lewisham. By 1891, he worked at the gas company there; he died in 1899. Henry and Mary had at least five children and many of their descendents remained in South London and neighbouring Kent.

Henry’s older brother William, born c.1823, moved from Brimpton the short distance to Woolhampton, where he worked as a gardener’s labourer. He and his wife, Harriet Malt, had eleven children. Their one son, also William (good name), was variously a servant, a plasterer’s labourer, and a warehouse foreman for the “India Gov Stores” – perhaps related to the East India Company? He lived in London and Brighton before, following the death of his first wife with whom he had five children, returning to London where he remarried and had three more.

William the Younger’s many sisters had families of their own: Mary married into the Steanes; Alice into the Chivralls; Clara into the Smiths (aka the Kings); and Edith in to the Goddards. Kate Diggens, my great-grandmother, moved from Brimpton to London where she married my great-grandfather, Albert Pinnock, a hotel worker.

Should you come across this post while Googling your own ancestors and recognise these names, please drop me a line at

One Response

  1. 1

    Hi Will. Re that Republican senator and the cheeky emails to ambitious pages. It turns out that (I think Fox) news referred to him repeatedly as a Democrat. You couldn’t make it up.