George, one of the sons of William Bird of Newnham (week 43), was born in Lambeth in 1806 and baptized at St Mary, Newington in Surrey. On the 1841 census he is living at Clapham Road Place, one of the houses his father built, with his widowed mother.
He married Margaret SPARKES on 28th September 1843 in The Parish Church, Gravesend, Kent. Margaret was six years younger than him as she was born around 1813 in Oxford, Oxfordshire.
- Their eldest child, Eliza Margaret BIRD was born on 21st November 1841 at 38 Manor Place, Lambeth, Newington, another of the properties built by George's father. George and Margaret were not married at the time so perhaps describing himself as "Gentleman" on the birth certificate was wishful thinking. Eliza went on to marry her cousin Henry Ross (week 41) in 1878 and lived at the manor house at Chestham Park, Henfield.
- Sarah Harriett BIRD was born in 1844 in Rainham, Kent. No other information is known about her apart from the fact she was living with her parents in 1851 (Swanscombe) and 1861 (Chessington Court Farm) and then again at Chessington Court Farm with her bereaved father in 1881. I have not yet found her after this.
- Louisa BIRD was born in 1846, also in Rainham. She was still living with her parents on the 1871 census. Again, she disappears after this.
- Emily Margaret BIRD was born in 1850 in Rainham and after the census of 1871 married Captain Jorgen WILDFANG, a German national. I have not yet researched this line although I know she was a beneficiary in her father's Will and Anthony Bird remarked in his unpublished autobiography that his father "felt a grievance against life that he received only a small income from a trust fund and the bulk of the estate passed to some dim relations on the distaff side who bore the improbable name of Wildfang".
- George Coveney BIRD (Georgie featured week 4) was born towards the end of 1851 in Chessington. He was also living at Chessington Court Farm in 1881 with his bereaved father. Georgie, was a fascinating character who was opposed to the new fangled motor car and was eventually run over and killed by one !
- Henry Ross BIRD, my great grandfather who I will tell you about next week, was born on 18th January 1854 in Chessington.
By looking at places where the children were born, it seems the family moved from Sitton Street in Swanscombe, where George was on the 1851 census, to Chessington Court Farm by late 1851 when Georgie was born. The family remained there on each of the next three census, with George described as :
1861 - farmer of 150 acres, employing 8 men and 2 boys.
1871 - farmer of 150 acres, employing 7 men and 2 boys.
1881 - farmer of 400 acres, employing 8 men and 4 boys.
In 1874 George took out a new 14 year lease on the land on which the farm was situated to end in 1888. His Will, written in 1879 says he had “some time since given to my said two sons all my farm and agricultural implements and all my carts, horses and all other things whatsoever necessary to carry on the farm with and which business my said two sons now carry on together, I having given up all my interest therein to them.” So presumably he must have effectively passed the business over to them and retired.
The photograph on the right was taken just before the farm was cleared in January 1938 to make way for a housing estate and shows the barn from where they used to sell home grown produce.
George died aged 75 of "cardiac dilatation and bronchitis" on 7th November 1881, 6 years after his wife Margaret who had died in December 1875 - this was one of the events transcribed by Henry Ross in the family bible (week 35).
I have a copy of George's Will. He mentions “my two sons” and “my two daughters” – and names them in the bequests, BUT there is no mention of his daughter Eliza Margaret Bird who is still very much alive and married to Henry Ross. Was she considered catered for or had they fallen out? His estate was valued at £6,150. Today’s value would be about £484,000 using the retail prices index. This obviously EXCLUDED the farm business which he gifted during his lifetime.
I have visited Chessington Church to look for gravestones, especially that of Margaret BIRD who, according to the transcription by Henry Ross in the family bible, was buried in the churchyard on 11th December 1875. Sadly, the graves are not in very good condition at all and I couldn't find any BIRD graves.