The Buzzard

Photo above by Tom Lee at Flickr

The first wild buzzard that I ever saw was on Dartmoor.  That must have been during the 1980s.  A little later, I saw them in Scotland.  There were no buzzards in East Anglia when I was a kid.  The Victorian gamekeeper had shot and gin trapped them to extinction in SE England.

Move on to the 21st century, and you can see buzzards all over East Anglia.  Over fields, woodlands, even marshes.  They came back, and they came back in force.


My last post about biophillia wouldn't be complete without mentioning the buzzard.  I've seen and heard several individuals on a single day's hike across Norfolk.  You hear or see them, often in pairs, gliding along the headlands of fields, before settling in a copse of trees.  You witness a pair, and just as their calls start to fade, you hear more ahead.  I've found their feathers.  I've had several close encounters.  Magical moments, where I've spotted their silent flight from a spot only metres away.  Every time is magic 


The above woodlands provide one example, during a hike, along the Wherryman's Way, on a hot summers day earlier this year.  As I approached in the day's heat, I could hear buzzards in those trees, either side of the narrow path.


As I pass through, I see large brown wings launching from branches.  I can't describe the feeling that these sightings give me, except that it's as close to anything that this atheist experiences to spiritual.

A buzzard above the Wherryman's Way in Norfolk, being mobbed by a hobby.

I've seen them launch from nearby foliage, as I cross the footbridge over a stream.  I've seen one sitting on a dead rabbit in a field.  I've seen one land on the road in front of our car, before launching up again, providing a magical spectacle.  I've seen them among the back headed gulls following a plough for worms and bugs.  I've seen many of them being mobbed on the wing by rooks and carrion crows, that clearly regard them as a threat to the rookery.  I've seen them soaring over medieval churches, on fence posts by busy roads, over marshes, flying over the suburbs of Norwich, on the ground in horse paddocks.

Now red kites, another raptor that has returned to East Anglia, are a wonderful sight.  But for myself, it's the common buzzard.


Buzzard over the Boadica Way, Norfolk.

Biophillia and other things

Waterloo Plantation, Hainford.

An attraction to woodlands.

I've not posted much recently, because I've spent my online time doing other things, including reviving a blog dedicated to bikejoring and other dog activities.  I'd abandoned it eight years ago, and forgotten all about it.  The Bikejoring Blog.

I don't really have any news on population genetics or genetic genealogy, except to say, that I'm growing bored with some aspects of it, and have lost a lot of faith in general DNA testing for ancestry.

On documentary genealogy, yes I still pursue from time to time, and I'm sure that I'll be posting more family history and discoveries soon.  I'm still that time traveller.  In archaeology - I need to plan and book a place on a dig next year.

I've spent a lot of time training and playing with my pup, Byker:

Indeed exercising the dogs appear to take up an awful lot of my time these days.

When I was age, around 10 - 11 years, I would often visit a private commercial woodland near to where I then lived in Thorpe St Andrews.  It was rich in bird-life.  I'd see nuthatches, great spotted woodpeckers, treecreepers, long tailed titmice, and blackcaps.  The forester would catch me and politely turf me out.  He'd explain to me, that he knew that my pursuits were innocent enough - but it would be opening the gates to other kids, including those with lighters and matches.

The photo at the top of this photo was taken in Waterloo Plantation, Hainford.  When I was age 13 - 15 years, during the 1970s, I lived nearby.  And again for a while age 18 - 24 years.  Only a small patch of woodland, but I'd always be attracted to it.  Dog walking, bird watching, hunting rabbits with ferrets, hunting insects to feed avairy birds, collecting moss and lichen to decorate my bird's show cages. 

Later, for several years, I lived in the Thetford area.  I'd use the surrounding forest so much.  Dog walking, deer spotting, bikejoring, canicross, archaeological surveying, mushroom foraging, and offroad cycling.

I recognised back then, that I was a biophilliac.  I don't state that as a matter of fact, or as some sort of special gift, or hocus pocus.  Just a fact.  I seem to get something a little bit more than other people do, from being out in what might be described as Nature.  In contact with dogs.  Alert to wild-life.  Surrounded by greenery and perhaps a bit of wilderness. On my own, sure, sometimes.  It's something that I acknowledge about myself.  It is one of the drives behind my hikes.  It's no accident that I've been attracted to woodlands all of my life.  It brings me calm.  I seem to need it.  My meditation. Time in the woods, forests, fields, marshes, or walking ancient green lanes.  It's as though I sometimes need a top up to keep me sane.  I think that reflects in my photography, that has become far more about how I feel, than about the art, or popularity that I once sought through the medium of black and white film.  Now I see more in colour.

Horsford Woods.

The Sleeve Tattoo - first phase.

My latest tattoo.  Black and grey realism work by Ross Lee of Ink Addiction tattoo studio in Norwich.  This is the first phase of a full sleeve project on my right arm and shoulder.  Hopefully complete by Summer 2019. If you can't see it - then you're not a NW European prehistorian.  It's a British landscape scene, with boulder rocks in the foreground.  On those rocks are a series of carvings pecked into rock, during the Later Neolithic and Earlier Bronze Age.  They consist of a class of Rock Art markings known as cups and rings, or cup and ring markings.

No-one really knows what they symbolised.  I can't think of a more worthy tattoo for a time traveller.

My right arm will eventually be covered with a series of panels displaying cup and ring marks in British landscapes.

Genetic Genealogy Updated October 2018

My current (2018-10-07) Pedigree chart by recorded genealogy:

Verified by DNA matches:


The yellow shaded areas are on my father's side - but contentious, small segment matches (6 cM and 8 cM), through my paternnal line great grandfather, that I'm investigating.


Three Generations of the Curtis Family of Norfolk

Above, Samuel William "Fiddler" Curtis, born in 1852 at Hassingham, Norfolk, the grandson of William Curtis (senior).

My 5th great grandparents, John Curtis, and Ann Annison, were married at Hassingham, Norfolk in 1801.  I have so far been unable to trace where either of this couple originated, or their parents, but there were already Curtis and Annison families in that part of Norfolk prior, and I currently have no reason to think that they had moved into the area from elsewhere.  I just lack their baptism records.  Maybe one day I'll find them.

Hassingham in it's landscape in 1797.

Over the following eleven years, Ann Curtis (née Annison) had five children baptised at the Hassingham parish church of St Mary's, including a John, Richard, Theodosia, William, and finally in 1812, a Priscilla Curtis.

St Mary's of Hassingham.

William Curtis (I)

Their third son, William Curtis, was born at Hassingham during the winter of 1807/1808, and baptised in February at St Mary's.   His father, John may have rented a tract of land, to farm himself, or he may have relied on selling his labour to other farmers.  He may have done both.  The rural poor had lost all of their ancient rights, with the enclosures, but they were free to sell their labour and skills to whoever.  However, as the Agricultural Revolution gained pace - so the market for their labour was reducing, with the gradual introduction of new machinery and agricultural processes.

In 1827, William Curtis married my 4th great grandmother, Mary Ann Rose, at nearby Strumpshaw.  They were both marked down as of being of that parish, both were single, both were illiterate.  An interesting twist for myself looking at that marriage register, is that their witnesses were Mary Ann's sister, Rebecca Rose, and her fiancé, John Shorten.  I only posted about their life a week ago "From Norfolk Labourer to Yankee Gunner".  That couple were to marry in the next entry of that Strumpshaw Marriage Register, in November.  They ended up as farmers in Illinois, USA, with five of their sons serving in the Unionist Army in the American Civil War.  I keep seeing this theme in my Family History.  My direct ancestors were the ones that usually stayed - often never moving far from their village of birth.  But many of their siblings didn't stay.  I'll come back to this theme later in this post.

Between 1828, and 1850, the couple were to have a total of at least eight children, all baptised at nearby Buckenham church: Anne Amelia Curtis (1828), my 3rd great grandfather, William Curtis (the junior, 1830), Henry Curtis (1833), Alfred Curtis (1836), George Curtis (1838), Priscilla Curtis (1841), Sarah Curtis (1848), and Henry Curtis (1849).  A lot of mouths to feed.  How was William supporting these children?  If I look at the 1841 census, I find the family, as it was then, located at Buckenham (Ferry), Norfolk.  William was a 34 year old agricultural labourer.  These had been hard times for agricultural labourers in Norfolk.  Machinery and new agricultural techniques continued to replace much of the traditional labour.  Workhouses had been constructed - and Poor Laws were halting any provision of parish relief for the poor, outside of the workhouse - where inmates would be segrated from their families, and punished for being poor.  The small farmers, once the brothers of the free labourers, were increasingly associating more with other figures of the rural establishment - the squires, the land owners, and the parsons.  They often sat on the poor law union boards, determined to punish the poor.  The Established Church just watched on - and the rural poor were turning to Methodism, and other Non-conformist chapels.

In 1830, the countryside erupted in violence - as labourers swarmed the countryside, attacking workhouses, farms, and in particular, the new threshing machines that were replacing much of their labour.  They often did this under the name of a mythical Captain Swing, and hence this period of machine breaking and rioting was known as the Swing Riots.  Another of my ancestors, on my father's side, was gaoled for leading a local Swing riot, at Attleborough.  It was a period in which many local establishment figures were seriously concerned - the fear of Revolution was still in the air from France - indeed, French spies were often conjured up as being at the root of the problem - rather than their treatment of the rural poor.

It passed.  But things did not improve for the East Anglian rural working class.

In the 1851 census, William, his wife Mary Ann, and their eldest children, were all recorded iin Buckenham as being agricultural labourers.  Only there was now a ninth child.  Richard Curtis.  But he wasn't born at Buckenham Ferry, nor even in the County of Norfolk.  He was born in 1850 at Firsby, Lincolnshire.  This may infer that the family (if not just Mary Ann), had between 1841, and 1851, moved for a a period, to the Skegness area of East Lincolnshire.  People were on the move.  The rural poor were being squeezed out of East Anglia by the unemployment, poverty, and the workhouse.  Perhaps William found more profitable labour in Lincolnshire for a while.  Perhaps his skills with horses, or perhaps - like others he was attracted by the Fen drainage schemes, working as a digger - maybe like other that I've seen - it was work laying the railways?  Firsby railway station opened for business in 1848.  The railways were a part of a phenomena of migration that occurred across Norfolk during the Mid to Late 19th Century - they brought work, often attracted labourers away - and eventually carried many Norfolk families away to the Industrial North, to London, or to sea ports for migration elsewhere.

But by the 1851 census - they were back in their ancestral lands - back in Buckenham, Norfolk, by the River Yare, as though nothing had happened - except for that place of birth for young Richard.

Move on another ten years - the family are not in Buckenham in 1861.  I cannot find William at all.  However, I do find his wife Mary Ann Curtis, with some of their children, living in the Rows at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.  Mary Ann records her occupation as charwoman - a woman that worked hard, washing clothes and linen for a living.  Their daughter Priscilla Curtis, is recorded as a silk weaver:

I wonder where was William?  He could be at sea, or working away, sending money home.  Too old for the military.  I can't find anything on him in Criminal Records.  What I do find, in the British Newspaper archives, are some references to a cork cutter by the name of William Curtis, living in Great Yarmouth, dating to 1858 and 1864:

Was this our William Curtis (senior)?  Above he was working on Charlotte Street (since renamed Howard Street), Great Yarmouth.  In 1864, he was addressed to the Church Plain, Great Yarmouth.  If it was our William, perhaps he was living with Mary Ann and the children - but was away on business, or perhaps some other work (fishing?), on the night of the census.

William and Mary Ann Curtis, age 61 and 62 years of age, appear to have settled in the Yarmouth and Gorleston area.  On the 1871, William and Mary Ann Curtis were addressed on "the footpath to Burgh".  William recorded his occupation as a marsh man.  Marshmen were responsible for the livestock kept on the marshes - horses, cattle, and sometimes sheep, fattening on the rich drained marsh grasses.  He would have tended to cattle and other livestock along the southern edge of Breydon Water - an enclosed sea estuary, with the ruins of an old Roman shore-fort called Burgh Castle, on the higher ground immediately above the marshes.  I posted an article of Burgh Castle here.

The view over the marshes from Burgh Castle.

Another ten years later, William Curtis (the senior), and his wife Mary, are now living in Litchfield Place, Southtown, Gorleston.  Age 72, he now lists his occupation, for the very last time, as a Steam Engine Driver.  Now that was a surprise.

William passed away in Gorleston, in March 1888.  He was eighty years old.


William Curtis (II)

I mentioned above, that my 3rd great grandfather, William Curtis (the junior), was born at Buckenham, and baptised at Strumpshaw, Norfolk, in 1830.

William Curtis married Georgianna Larke, at Hassingham Church (photo further above) on the 11th February 1852.  They appear to have lived in the village of Hassingham, Norfolk for several decades.  No evidence this time of flits to Lincolnshire, or down river to Yarmouth.  This generation stayed put.  Georgianna was descended from two parish clerks for nearby Cantley.

Georgianna gave birth to at least nine children at Hassingham: my 2nd great grandfather (pictured at the top of this post) Samuel William Curtis (1852), Theodosia Curtis (1854), Priscilla Curtis (1856), Alfred George Curtis (1858), Sarah Ann Curtis (1861), Mary Curtis (1863), Walter Curtis (1865), Eliza Curtis (1867), and finally, Henry Curtis (1870).

Nothing unusual in their 1861 census record - Will was a 30 year old agricultural labourer with his family living in the parish of Hassingham:

Ten years later in 1871 - living at Hospital Cottages in Hassingham, still all as would be expected:

Another ten years later, William, Georgianna, and their sons and daughters Walter, Eliza, and Henry Curtis, are living on Church Road.  No change, William is an agricultural labourer.  Nothing on record happens to this family.  They are the stereotype of the Norfolk rural working class family.  William's 72 year old father was by now a steam engine driver living at Gorleston.

Move on to 1891.  Not a lot of change.  Except that they are living on Hassingham Road (High) and only their daughter Mary remains with them in the household.  Mary is recorded as an assistant teacher.

1893.  I have a record from the British Newspaper Records that looks like our William Curtis (II).  A farmer named John Draper at Burlingham St Edmund, accuses him in court of cheating him of a toll fee.  He had accused William - described as a teamman (a person that has skills at working a team of horses), of fraud.  Draper suggested that he paid Curtis to take two wagons and several horses to Yarmouth via the new toll road - but that he in reality took them via the old roads and pocketed the toll fee that he had been given.  The only witness backed up Will's account - and the case was dismissed:

However, I suspect that William's reputation was tarnished by this case - and there were few employer farmers in the area.  He survived this.  Maybe his personality and reputation was strong enough for other farmers to trust him.  In 1901, he was living at Broad Farm, Hassingham.  Yes, he was now a 70 year old agricultural worker.

He still had labour to sell.  His beloved wife Georgianna died at Hassingham on the 1st April 1911 age 79.  A few months later, the 1911 census record's Williams status.  Age 80, he is still recorded as a working, employed, agricultural labourer.  Now a widower, he had two of his daughters living with him.  Mary who was single and age 45 (a teacher?), and Sarah, now under a married name - Sarah Stephenson.  She had moved many miles away - but as we will see in the next generation with her sister Theodosia, not everything had gone well.  In the wake of her mother's death, she was back home with her elderly father William.

William continued on.  The Curtis's keep doing this - they had longetivity for a number of generations.  He died at nearby Lingwood, age 96 in 1926.  A grandson, J.P. Curtis, registered his death.  Cause, senility and haematemesis. 


Theodosia and Sarah Ann Curtis - sisters.

As I noted above, two of William (II) and Georgianna's daughters, were named Theodosia Curtis (born 1854), and Sarah Ann Curtis (born 1861) at Hassingham, Norfolk.  They had an elder brother named Samuel William Curtis - pictured right at the beginning of this post.  He was my 2nd great grandfather.  This makes Theodosia and Sarah Ann - my 3rd great aunts.

Theodosia met a fisherman at Yarmouth.  Maybe she was visiting on a market day.  The boys working in the fishing fleet must have been exciting - they risked their life's out at sea, they didn't just work the land - they would sail out.  His name was John Mitchell.  In 1874, Theodosia married John.

They had a son:

He was baptised at Yarmouth in November 1877.  It appears that like many Yarmouth fisherman wifes, Theodosia lived in the Yarmouth Rows.  Her grandmother Mary Curtis, had lived there no more than ten years earlier - and with her grandfather, now lived nearby in Gorleston.

Something happened.  You get that sometimes in genealogy.  a family appears smashed up, removed from records.  I'm going to make a guess.  A lot of fishermen were relocating from East Coast harbours like Great Yarmouth, to Kingston Upon Hull, Yorkshire.  My guess is that they moved there as a family between Nov 1877 and 1889.  I don't know what happened to their child.  He disappears.  But so does his father, John Mitchell.  He dies.  I can't find them on either the 1871 or 1881 censuses.  In future, Theodosia, now living in Hull, Yorkshire, declares herself as a widow.  Pushed to guess, I'm going to say that John was lost at sea.  It was a hazardous living then.

On the 1st March 1890 at Hull, Yorkshire, the widow Theodosia Mitchell, married a James Petersen, son of a Christiansen Petersen, an officer.  I'm going to guess that these Scandinavian names may be Norwegian.  James Petersen, like her late husband, is recorded as a fisherman.  I have one record of him - that marriage to Theodosia - then he also disappears.

But .. before I continue on Theodosia, let me move back in time to Hassingham in Norfolk, and to her little sister Sarah Ann Curtis.  

In 1881, 20 year old Sarah, was working as a servant in a Yarmouth household.  Was she still in contact with Theodosia - I think so.  

Like her sister, she moved up to Kingston Upon Hull, in the East Riding of Yorkshire.


The Great Unwritten Migration from Norfolk to Sculcoates, Hull, Yorkshire.

Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration - but I keep seeing Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire - particularly it's district of Sculcoates, in my Family Tree - as a place that a number of siblings of my direct Norfolk ancestors, moved to.  Both on my mother's, and my father's side.  I feel that this is a history that someone needs to write.  It seems that the establishing of the railways, with stations both in Norfolk, and in Kingston Upon Hull in Yorkshire, facilitated a migration event that is unwritten.  The squeeze was being put onto the Norfolk poor.  Hull offered higher wages, expanding fishing and ship building industries, and a higher living standard.  The word spread through the Norfolk countryside.  It can't just be my family!


Back to Sarah.  In late 1890, Sarah Ann Curtis married Albert Edward Stephenson at Sculcoates, East Riding of Yorkshire.  Somehow she had also ended up in Hull - and my best guess is her closeness to her sister Theodosia.  Her groom was, again, a Hull fisherman.  Perhaps he knew Theodosia?

During the 1891 England & Wales national census, I find this:

The two sisters from Hassingham, Norfolk were living next door to each other in Hull.  That brings them together.  Things didn't go well though for Sarah.  Her husband had some severe financial problems.  Perhaps gambling?  He ends up in Wakefield Prison in Yorkshire, guilty of debt, no less than three times between 1896 and 1907:

No wonder perhaps, that Sarah was keen to be with her father in 1911.

Back to Theodosia.  Her second husband, the fisherman, James Petersen, also just vanishes from record.  Abandonment, lost at sea, I don't know, but for the second time, she starts declaring that she is a widow.

In 1896, the widow Theodosia Petersen (née Mitchell, née Curtis), married a George Theakston at Sculcoates, Yorkshire.  George wasn't a fisherman.  He was a carter and van driver.  Perhaps that saved his life - for he was Theodosia's third and final spouse.  In the 1901 Census, they were living at 60 frances Street, West Sculcoates, Hull, Yorkshire.  They had a daughter called Evelyn:

Theodosia Theakston survived long enough to be recorded onto the 1939 Register at the oset of WW II:

She finally passed away at Hull in 1942, age 87.

The Baxter-Hudson Enigma

My great great grandfather, William Bennett Baxter.  Born 8th January 1846 at Gressenhall Union Workhouse, Norfolk.

I'm creating this post in order to try to make sense of a family history that has a confusing, sometimes conflicting series of evidences.  I'll start with the order of discovery.

I learned nearly 30 years ago, that my paternal grandfather's maternal grandfather was named William Bennett Baxter.  He was named as such on my great grandparent's marriage certificate.  I met aunts that remembered a few accounts of him.  My grandmother had the above photo of him.  My late grandfather, Reginald Brooker, had been raised by his grandparent's, the Baxters, in the wake of his parent's marital breakdown.

The next step in discovery, was when I bought copies of his marriage and birth certificates from the GRO in London.  They told me that he was the illegitimate son of an Eliza Baxter, born in 1846 in the workhouse at Gressenhall, Norfolk.  I've made many visits to Gressenhall Rural-Life Museum since then - set in the old buildings of that workhouse.  Eliza would have been punished for being a single mother in need of relief.  She would have been marked out, made to wear a yellow jacket of shame.  His marriage register record at Swanton Morley, Norfolk, also suggested that his father was a labourer, named William Bennett.  I know that on marriages, illegitimate born people often claimed an imagined or faked father, to avoid what was then, a shameful thing.  But his full name would support that his biological father was indeed, named William Bennett.  It might be a coincidence, but there was a young miller in the area at the time named William Bennett.  It's just difficult to prove - although perhaps one day, another DNA match?

I couldn't find any references to 3rd great grandmother Eliza Baxter - for many years.  I eventually lost interest in genealogy.  When I returned to it, three years ago, Internet Online Genealogy, and even Genetic Genealogy had emerged.  Indeed, I'm looking into this now, because I have a DNA Match in South Africa, that I suspect, relates to myself with shared ancestry somewhere around the Baxter Line.  I'm writing this partly for her.

Online Genealogy has allowed me to greatly extend my family tree, and often, to fill it with actual stories - which as some of my recent posts suggest - I love to do.

More Recent Discoveries - the Censuses 1861/1851

I found his mother, I believe that I found Eliza Baxter.  I thought maybe she died soon after 1846 - the poverty, or perhaps married someone, took a new name - left her son behind.  I was wrong.  At least I think that I was.  How did I miss her?  In 1861, she was still in Swanton Morley:

Eliza Baxter, an unmarried servant in a household headed by a Robert Hudson.  Wait a minute, below her are a William Baxter age 15 years of age (born circa 1846 - that HAS TO BE our William Bennett Baxter), and he has a little sister, a Faith Baxter age 12 years.  My great grandmother - William's daughter, was born later in 1885 as Faith Eliza Baxter.  She was named after her aunt here, and her grandmother.  Although Eliza is an unmarried servant, quite clearly, they are her children.  Surprised that Robert Hudson is okay with that.  wait a minute, William and Faith are recorded in the census as grandchildren of the householder, Robert Hudson.  Ah, so they are family.  Eliza isn't just a servant there.  William - as I explained above, might have had a biological father named William Bennett.  But here, William is recorded as a grandson of Robert Hudson.  Which son of Robert, is claiming to be the father of William and Faith Baxter?  The only contender in the household there in 1861 is Robert's son, John Hudson.  A 42  year old labourer.  Even if he wasn't the biological father of William - it looks as though he may have had a relationship with Eliza, he may even have been the biological father of Faith, but the record in the census keeps it all respectable.  It says Eliza is an unmarried servant.

But turn the page of that 1861 census - and there are more grandchildren of Robert Hudson in that household:

Two granddaughters born at Swanton Morley of John Hudson called Faith in the same house?  One Faith Baxter born circa 1849, the other Faith Hudson born circa 1855?  Confusion.

You'll see these people appear to keep changing surname, age, and place of birth.  In genealogy, that normally suggests that you are tracing more than one individual - making genealogical mistakes.  But you'll see, there is a common thread uniting these people, suggesting contradictory evidence.

In that 1861 census, Eliza is recorded as being born at Runhall around 1823.  However, who was talking to the census enumerator?  Our Eliza was born in 1820 at East Dereham.  Not an awful distance from Runhall - but the first contradiction.  As for William - he is perfect, and the name of his sister fits the family history perfectly.

Let's go back in the census.  I appear to find the family 10 years earlier, but with contradictions.  Let's go to the 1851 census.

This HAS to be them ten years earlier.  A John & Elizabeth Hudson, with children William and Faith Hudson.  The entry is actually outside of Norfolk, over in the Fens at Ramsey, Cambridgeshire.  John is recorded as working as an excavator, without much doubt - working on a Fen drainage system.  Hang on - here he claims Leicester as being his place of birth!  Is this the same John Hudson as in 1861 - because he recorded Swanton Morley as his place of birth, where he then lived with his father.  Elizabeth (Eliza?) claims Hardington, Norfolk as her place of birth, and that she was born circa 1822.  I don't believe that there is a Hardington in Norfolk.  You might think that this is the wrong family.  But, William "Hudson" was born around 1846 at Swanton Morley, Norfolk.  Perfect for our William Bennett Baxter - Faith fits perfect as well born circa 1849 for Faith Baxter rather than the six year old Faith Hudson in the 1861 census. I have no idea where her claimed birthplace of Grassland, Norfolk is.  How could there be another family with so many correlations in 1851 that matches in our family in 1861?

I at this point, should state a doppelganger couple.  There was a contemporary John & Eliza Hudson at Necton in Norfolk.  But the bride was named Eliza Ollett, and no children called William or certainly Faith.  I'm aware of their existence.

When I think it over, I'm reasonably happy that this 1851 family residing at Ramsey, are the same as the family residing with Robert Hudson at Swanton Morley, in 1861.  But I can't explain the contradictions.  If I accept them - then William Bennett Baxter, my 2nd great grandfather, was the same person as William Hudson, born Swanton Morley (neighbouring Gressenhall Workhouse), in 1846.  He had a younger sister born circa 1849, named Faith Baxter or Faith Hudson.  John Hudson was perhaps her biological father.

Do you see the contradicting evidences?  They continue.

Faith Hudson-Baxter

Faith was baptised as Faith Hudson at Swanton Morley church, in Norfolk, on Christmas Eve, 1848.  That suits Faith Baxter better than the six year old Faith Hudson in 1861.  Her parents are recorded as John & Eliza Hudson.

I can't find their marriage records.  John Hudson is stated as a labourer:

I don't find a baptism or a birth certificate for a brother in 1846 called William Hudson, but I have a copy of a birth certificate for William Bennett Baxter.  Let's face it - they are the same person, born 8th January 1846 at Gressenhall Union workhouse, near to Swanton Morley in Norfolk.  I don't believe that John and Faith were married.  Not an uncommon situation in the 19th century working classes - nor for this area of Norfolk I suspect.  I've seen local rectors complaining about the situation (what they referred to the sad state of concubinism in the district) of their lack of parental marriage, or didn't care.  He baptised Faith.

There's more - more contradictions.

I believe that my 3rd great aunt Faith Hudson-Baxter married a William Codling at Litcham, Norfolk in 1866.  If it was her, she recorded a John Baxter as her father.  But that could have been the normal cover up to explain the surname that she was now using.  After all, in 1861, she was called Faith Baxter, granddaughter of Robert Hudson.

I haven't yet found her in the 1871 Census.

But in the 1881 Census?  Would you believe it:

Is this really her?  In Sculcoates, Yorkshire (where I know a lot of Norfolk people moved to) not as Faith Codling, but as Faith BAXTER, widow, born circa 1849 in Swanton Morley?  Not many Faiths born in that village then.  She is a widow but she has reverted to the surname Baxter?

The Marriage - that never happened.

Months before that critical 1861 census that this puzzle began with, on the 29th December 1860, the marriage banns of John Hudson and Eliza Baxter were finally read out for the third and final time:

But they didn't appear to marry.

No ensuing marriage record at Swanton Morley church.

Instead, four months later, on the 7th April 1861, we get that record where Eliza Baxter is a servant in the household of Robert Hudson in Swanton Morley.  John is there as well.  The marriage doesn't appear to have taken place.

Instead...

John Hudson appears to die sometime between November 1861 and January 1862.  Eliza disappears from record.  William Bennett Baxter - he goes on to marry my 2nd great grandmother Harriet Barber who had also been born in Gressenhall workhouse - as were their first two daughters.  Their last child was my great grandmother, Faith Eliza Baxter, born at East Dereham in 1885:

She had an older brother named Robert Baxter, born at Swanton Morley in 1873:

He served in the Norfolk Regiment in the Boer War in South Africa, as well as later, British India.  He might have nothing to do with it - but he may be our link to that South African match?