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Foord Family

I am the great grandaughter 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 Thames broke its 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

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