Gene Surfing

Adventures in Family History

The Sidney Line

Farmer BullshotThis is my direct Sidney line as far back as I can get at the moment, but am always hopeful of a new piece of information that will get me back a bit further.

I can only trace my direct male line back to a Thomas Sidney, born about 1715.

This is based only on a death record for Thomas Sidney in Bristol in 1756 and the reference to the father’s name of his children in the same area, but does not mean he was actually born in Bristol or is even the correct Thomas.

I have no idea, at the moment, who he married – his eldest son is named Thomas so his eldest daughter, Sarah (who married Thomas Tucker), was probably named after her mother.

Thomas and William

Eldest son Thomas was born 1749 and William [my 4x great-grandfather] born in 1750, and there was also another son Samuel born 1753.

Another Thomas and William were born in St Philips in 1737 and 1739 and I have assigned these to another branch of the family.

The fathers of both of these sets of boys were named Thomas so they are likely to have been cousins, and are only identified through their children’s baptism records.

There are two death records for Thomas Sidney in 1749 and 1756 so I have assigned the 1749 death to the father of the earlier Thomas and William.

St George

Thomas (d.1756)
.. Thomas (1749-1799)
.. William (b.1750)

St Philip

Thomas (d.1749)
.. Thomas (b.1739)
.. William (b.1737)

I have tried to group together all of the Sidney families in Bristol at about this time, using the parishes they were baptized or married but this is not an exact science.

The Sidney family of Temple go back to John in 1650, but there are no records of a Thomas or William in this family – John and Benjamin seem to be the predominant names.

Many of the records just say “Bristol” which could mean that baptisms were in  Bristol Cathedral rather than any specific parish, or just that the record was held centrally and did not identify the parish.


William Sidney married Esther Tippet in Saint George, Bristol on 8 Oct 1769 and several of their children were married in the same parish.

St George ChurchThere are other Tippets baptised later in this parish however there is no birth record for either Hester or Esther Tippet, which is hardly surprising, as the parish did not exist when she was born.

St George was originally part of the parish of St Philip & Jacob, Bristol, which covered an area to the east of the the castle precinct.

The area was divided following an increase in population (probably due to increased mining in the area) and a new church was completed in 1756.

Saint George was the eastern part of this division and was an area originally part of the county of Gloucestershire and covered by the forest of Kingswood.

I have matched ESTHER to HESTER Tippet who was baptised in Bristol in 1748 for several reasons.

1. The birth dates are a close match – Hester was born in 1748 and was about 2 years older than William.

2. The area of Bristol matches – there are other Hesters but mainly in BITTON which is a little way out of the central area – and some further afield.

3. The baptism record of their child Josiah shows his parents as William and HESTER Sidney.

4. The name Josiah is frequently used in the Tippet line (both Hester’s father and grandfather) and is not seen in the Sidney family until this point.

5. The name HESTER is also used twice for grand-daughters but not ESTHER.

6. There are other references in Bristol parish records to “Hester or Esther …” which indicates that the two are often interchangeable or just commonly misused or misheard.

Son Samuel was born and died in 1791.


My 3x Great-grandfather, also Samuel after his brother, was born the following year and baptised 14 Oct 1792.

He married Eleanor Chapman of St Paul’s in Bristol in February 1812 and they had four children before Samuel died aged just 27.

Elizabeth 1812 (born in December)
George 1813
Hester 1818 (possibly named after her grandmother)
Jane 1819

There are records that show the death of Samuel in 1819 and this would fit in with the birth of his  last daughter, Jane.

Jane was married twice, first to Alfred Willitts and secondly to Alfred Edwin Biggs, and the second marriage gives us some useful information, specifically the profession of her father Samuel – who was a Mill Wright.

However, unless the death record is incorrect, she would never had known him.

But her husband was also recorded as a Miller so it maybe that the Sidney family had been involved with the mill trade and the marriage – which was not in Bristol, but in Pendleton, Manchester – was probably arranged through contacts in the milling trade.

It is possible that Samuel’s widow Eleanor remarried but I have found no record of this and there is a death record for Ellenor Sydney in 1838 which I have assumed if her.


Son George, 2x great-grandfather, certainly did not move much from the area and he married Hannah Appleford in St Thomas, Bristol 1839.

Hannah had previously married Elijah Milsom in 1833 but was widowed in 1835 leaving her with 2 young daughters. She came from a family of potters who lived in the same area (The Dings) of Bristol as George.

George was an engine fitter in the 1860 census as was his son, George, who was 16 – he later became a marine engineer.

George died in 1891 at the age of 78.

See The Wreck of the Constance for more information about George and his son George.


Younger son Joseph is a Clerk of the Court at the age of 17 in the 1871 census and younger brother Frederick an Engineer’s apprentice.

Joseph, my great-grandfather, seems to have taken a more academic career path than the rest of the family and was an Accountant by 1881.

Frederick died suddenly in march 1874 at the age of just 17, and I have have yet to find out how he died – his death is announced in the newspapers.

Frederick Sidney 18740314

Joseph and his wife, Caroline Anne Sebry, had two sons – Arthur Ernest and Walter Stanley, my grand-father.

Joseph died in 1911 but his wife Caroline was alive until 1935.


Walter was a clerk at the Bristol Wagon Works and married Emily Codrington in January 1914 at the age of 31.

bristol wagon works

Older brother Arthur was also still living at home in the 1911 census so it seems the boys were late-starters as far as marriage was concerned.

Emily was a barmaid and the daughter of Robert Codrington of the Lamb Inn, Iron Acton – a direct descendent of Sir John Codrington, as mentioned elsewhere. [i]

Their only child Arthur Walter was born in 1915 but sadly Walter died a horrible death the following year from tuberculosis.

emily codrington

Emily remarried some time later to William Davey, but son Arthur Walter was brought up mainly by his aunt, Bessie Codrington, the eldest of the three younger daughters of Robert Codrington and his wife Mary.

The three girls are now buried together in Arnos Vale cemetery in Bristol, along with Henry Tozer the husband of youngest daughter Annie.

Bessie had quite a forceful personality and may have taken over where she saw her sister was not coping well as a single parent. As a single mother Emily is described in letters from other family members as “useless, not even able to iron a shirt”.

[i] Robert Codrington was actually a butcher and his Mary wife ran the inn – many of his family and children worked in the trade, often running pubs and hotels. [more of this later]


Arthur Sidney and RustyArthur, like his father and uncle, did not marry until later in life at the age of 41 – he met my mother through his work as a clerk and office manager for “Uncle Bob” and married in 1956 at St. Mary Redcliffe in Bristol.

Bessie never married and lived with Arthur – I’m not sure she would have been too happy to see him get married, even though she came to live with the family in Pensford, Somerset.

Sadly my father died in 1962 when I was just 3, having moved the family to the north of the country for a new job, and I have no real memories of him.

Consequently, and because Arthur had never known his father, me and my sister have very little family history, photos or stories passed down.

Until very recently we were not even aware of his uncle Arthur and of cousins living just a few miles away who we have never met.


There are two Thomas Sidneys that suddenly appear in Bristol in the early 1700’s, both with sons having the same names – William and Thomas.

There is about a 10 year difference between the birth of the boys, but the important thing here is that there are no records of any Sidney’s in St George or St Philips before these boys.

There are earlier Sidney records in the Temple Parish going back about another 70 years, but the names used in this branch do not match.

There are also records of other family members – that married into the Sidney family – going back much further, so I can only conclude that both of them came from outside Bristol.

In the early 1700’s Bristol was a boom-town and the largest city outside of London.

Workers were moving here from all over the country – the Applefords from Wiltshire and the Burnells from Exmoor, just within my family.

The sugar, slave and tobacco industries were based around “Brightstow” and the parish of St. George – where my family came from – was a big mining area.

Both Thomas Sidneys probably came from London and there are some records that seem to match.

One record from the Shadwell area (St George in the East) shows the marriage of Thomas Sidney and Martha Chatterton.

This was a clandestine marriage and there are two records one of which shows that it took place in at the Kings Head and another that he was a cordwainer.

The Chatterton name is quite unusual and there are not many in Bristol – and a few in London – so I think that Martha may have come from Bristol originally where there is a birth record.

However there is record of William Chatterton in Shadwell so maybe he moved to Bristol, at least for a while – there are tax records for a William Shadwell in both cities but I cannot find a birth for Martha in London.

There is a daughter Martha in the family, who died in infancy – Sarah may have been the name of Thomas’ mother if this link is correct.

If this is the same Thomas then he was a cordwainer (shoe-maker), a reoccurring trade within my family.

Possibly his father – also Thomas – was a Taylor in Gray’s Inn Lane [abbreviated to G: Inn Lane in some records] in Holborn.

Although there are other Sidneys in Shadwell, where he married, there is no Thomas.

There is another Thomas born in London about 1720 who could be the Thomas from the Bedminster (St. Philips) Sidney’s, and possibly they were cousins – or it was just a coincidence that they moved to Bristol at about the same time.

If they did.

 Chris Sidney 2014

2 responses to “The Sidney Line

  1. Teri Hiatt January 27, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    You mentioned here that your 3x great grandfather Samuel. = Eleanor Chapman in 1812, the year Titanic sunk……that was actually 1912. Just an FYI.
    Teri Hiatt


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