Greg's Family History

Abraham Lewin, The Gardener of Wormingford.

Abraham Lewin was baptised in Great Waltham, Essex on 11th June, 1786. He was the fourth of nine children born to Abraham Lewin and Rachel Morrill.

For most of his life, Abraham's occupation is recorded as ‘gardener’. This probably implies that Abraham had served an apprenticeship. As a 'master' he was probably employed at a largish house with several other staff working under him.

Several of the Lewins, including Abraham's sister Mary and her husband Joseph Tyler, were employed by the Tufnell family - the owners of 'Langleys', the 'big house'. Abraham may have started his career as an gardener at Langleys - he may even have learned his trade while the famous Humphrey Repton was designing the gardens there. It seems likely that it was through the Tufnells' influence that he moved to Wormingford some time before 1810. The Tufnell family owned the 'living' of Wormingford and usually appointed one of their sons as the vicar. It is not known if Abraham went to work at the Vicarage or one of the other big houses in Wormingford - some of which were occupied by members of the family of the painter John Constable.

In 1810, ‘Abram Lewin, occupation gardener’ married Elizabeth Knopp at Wormingford. Their witnesses were Samuel Knopp and Ann Shed. Samuel made his mark, the others signed their names. Elizabeth does not seem to have been born in Wormingford, though the name is common in the area. It seems probable that she was the Elizabeth Knopp christened in Boxted on 13th October 1782, the daughter of Wm. Knopp & Sarah. This Elizabeth had two brothers: Samuel christened on 25 Jan 1778 and John christened 9 April 1780. In the 1841 census there is a Samuel Knopp (age rounded down to 60) living in Great Horkesley with (his children?) Sarah (25) and Samuel(20). The older Samuel might be Elizabeth’s brother and the witness at her wedding.

William and Elizabeth's first child, Joseph, was born in Great Waltham and christened at Little Waltham on 4th November, 1810. He later became a fishmonger in Colchester. This strange report appeared in the Essex Standard on Friday, January 16, 1835. I'm not sure if it refers to a genuine local election or whether local tradesmen were just having a 'lark' around the Parliamentary elections that took place that week.

On Friday last the election of a representative for Middlesborough took place. At an early hour the friends of Loyalty and Toryism, and the friends of Anarchy and Whigism assembled in battle array to make their return. Mr. Joseph Lewin and Mr. Beales were the candidates; the former a compromising Tory, the latter an uncompromising Whig. Mr. John Nunn, Tonsor and Persquier in a short speech proposed Mr. Joseph Lewin as a fit and proper person, &c. which address was thrown into the shade by the brilliant aud classical oration, which had for its object the seconding the nomination; it was delivered by Mr. Robert Seaman, of North Hill, whose claims to Demosthenic eloquence had long been admitted; it was not the thing of "shreds and patches" which the Whigs anticipated. Mr. Beales had for his proposer, a gentleman named Noah Agus, the keeper of the Cock and Crown Hotel,and for his seconder, an individual named Hacklett, who, although a little Crusty at the probable success of Mr. Lewin, nevertheless acknowledged that Baker as he was, he could not do without a Peel. The returning officer having gone through the usual forms and a poll being demanded, appointed Mr. Zachariah Payne as his poll-clerk, whose main-spring was loyalty, and whose hand minuted down the votes with precision, and at the winding up of the day, declared the Rads were dead beat and that the victory should never escape his memory. The poll was kept open till four o'clock, when at the final close the numbers stood:
Lewin.................. 102
Beales.................... 84
Majority for Mr. Lewin...... 18
The successful candidate then ascended the hustings and addressed the Electors.
Mr. Beales also delivered himself of a short speech.
The Chairing.— A band of music, banners with appropriate devices preceded a large party of the electors arm in arm; next came the honorable member himself, in a car borne on the shoulders of a party of friends. The cortege proceeded over North Bridge towards the Cock aud Crown tavern, and shortly returned. When upon going over the bridge a second time, water! (that fatal element to representatives for maritime jurisdictions, of a similar description to that for which the honorable member had just been so triumphantly elected) was plentifully bestowed upon his person, and sorry are we that fair Colne lent her aid to such a proceeding; the procession then ascended North Hill, and from thence went to the Cups, where the member again addressed the populace and shortly returned to his committee-room at the Marquis of Granby Inn, where a plentiful stream of Sir John Barleycorn gladdened the hearts of the friends of the cause. A Conservative dinner is to be given in Middleburgh to the honorable member, when a large party is expected, and there is every reason to believe it will be on a grand scale from the fund collected; every person who polled paying 2d for the exercise of his franchise.

Joseph Lewin died in 1858.

Abraham and Elizabeth had five more children: William (1814), Rachel (1817), Mary (1818), Eliza (1821) and Abraham (1822). Abraham died aged two weeks, Mary died at the age of eleven.

William, my great-great-grandfather, went into service and later became a pub landlord (see Greatgrandfather William). Rachel married William Hatswell and died in Kilburn in 1889. Eliza is recorded in the 1841 census apparently working as a servant in a small (7 pupil) boarding school in Great Horkesley. She appears to have married in 1843.

Abraham's wife, Elizabeth, was buried at Wormingford on 13 April, 1830, aged 47, just three months after the burial of their 11 year old daughter, Mary. Elizabeth and Mary may have been victims of the influenza epidemic which occurred in that year.

The Wormingford enumerator's book for the 1831 census is a rare survival. It records 'LUEN Abm.' who was employed in agriculture and lived in a household consisting of 1 male and 2 females.

Abraham remarried on 2nd November, 1832 at Wormingford. His second wife was Mary Hellen, born in ‘Burch, Ess.’ but ‘of this parish’ at the time of the marriage. The marriage was witnessed by Amelia Frost (who was herself married in Wormingford 29 June, 1837) and John Hellen. There do not seem to have been any children from the marriage.

The Hellen family was quite numerous around Colchester. They appear to have been living in Birch until the end of the 18th century, when they spread out around the Colchester area. The 1851 census has 50 - 100 individuals, all apparently related.

White’s 1848 Directory of Essex has ‘Lewin Abrm. Brewer, & Mrs. school’. Abraham may have changed his occupation or this entry may reflect the activities of his son, William (aged about 34 in 1848) who became landlord of the Anchor Inn at Hullbridge at about this time. He may have been encouraged by Mary’s family (who seem to have had some link with the licensed trade).

Whites lists no other schoolteacher in Wormingford but refers to a National School, so it is possible that Abraham’s second wife (Mary Lewin, née Hellen) was the teacher there. Possibly Mary first moved to Wormingford on her appointment to the school. It was not unusual at that time for married women to be teachers in small National Schools.

The 1851 census records Abraham Lewin, 63, retired gardener, born Gt. Waltham (Ess) and his wife Mary, 42, born Burch Ess.

Mary Lewin was buried at Wormingford on June 1st, 1855, age given as 53. Abraham survived for another ten years. In the 1861 census he is living on his own in Wormingford and is described as 'yeoman'. Abraham was buried at Wormingford on June 9th, 1865 aged 78. His will was proved a month later - one of his executors was Thomas Pilkington Tufnell, the Vicar of Wormingford who also officiated at his burial.