Sophia Reeve and the Reeve Family

I really haven’t been keeping up on this lately — been busy, mostly, but I will try to be more consistent.

I realized that after posting The Jones Family in Kent, England, where I found Frank Reeve Jones’s parents William and Sophia, that I had spent quite a lot of time following up on William Jones’s family back in Shropshire, but had not written anything more about his wife Sophia. So here goes!

According to the census records discussed in the prior post, Sophia was born around 1826 in Waltham or Stebbing, Essex.  Sophia’s mother Rhoda (by then, Jackson) is living with William and Sophia in multiple censuses, and is said to have been born in Felsted or Stebbing, Essex.  Her birth date varies dramatically census to census.

In the 1851 census (the first after William and Sophia’s marriage, where Sophia is 25 and their oldest child Emily only 2), William Jones is identified as a draper and warehouseman, and Sophia as a milliner.  Another milliner with them is Anna Unwin, age 24, from Braintree, Essex. Sarah Unwin, age 22, also from Braintree, is a shopwoman. I could not make out the handwritten and did not recognize the name when I covered this census before, but now with more context I do, and as discussed later the Unwins are likely relatives of Sophia.

The marriage record for William and Sophia, is dated 23 Dec 1847 at Bocking Independent Chapel in Essex, and gives her age as 22 and his as 25. He is a warehouseman of No. 27 Jewin Crescent, London, and his father is Edward Jones, a farmer (as discussed in other posts). Her residence was Bradford Street, Bocking, and her father is Samuel Reeve, gentleman. Witnesses are John Bright and Robert Davis, and the marriage ceremony was performed by Thomas Craig, the minister at Bocking Independent Chapel. The Jones family was Church of England, and they are marrying where Sophia lived, so the church was probably hers.  One name that stood out as worth following up on was John Bright, since in Sophia’s son Frank’s biography it mistakenly gave Bright as Sophia’s maiden name. A little searching revealed that a John Bright married Samuel’s sister Sophia (perhaps the person who his daughter Sophia was named for) in Bocking in 1827.  More on this in a later post, as I am jumping ahead.

Sophia is found in the 1841 Census at age 15 as an apprentice milliner in Rayne Road, Bocking, Essex. The name of the head of house cannot be read for certain, but it seems to be Emma Luttell (or according to a transcription, Lindsell), age 20, and Sophia Luttell/Lindsell, age 50, both milliners (why they are not listed in the standard age order or why the house would be Emma’s, I do not know).

Sophia’s father Samuel was not too hard to find. A Samuel Houston Reeve married Rhoda Barker (of Little Waltham, Essex) at St. Mary Stratford Bow parish in Middlesex in 27 Jan 1824. Samuel was listed as of the parish. Given that Sophia’s mother is named Rhoda (as well as the overall information I have gathered), this is likely the right Samuel, although the marriage site was not what I expected. St Mary Stratford Bow Church is and was a Church of England parish church. It has a website (source of the information below), and is also discussed here (also the source of the photo, copyright John Salmon, made available under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License):


On 17 November 1311, Bishop Ralph Baldock of London licensed the building of a chapel at Bow. This act began 700 years of worship on this site. 

The majority of the building that currently stands on the site dates from about 1490 when the earlier church buildings were in need of major repair.

In 1719, Bow Church finally ceased to be a daughter chapel to St Dunstan’s Church in Stepney when it was consecrated on 6 April as the independent parish of St Mary, Stratford Bow.


To give some context, here’s a map — the star in the right top corner (northeast of Chelmsford) is where Little Waltham is, and Braintree and Bocking are just a bit further that way, off the map:

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 11.35.10 AM

So perhaps at the time of his marriage Samuel was working closer to London, as his son in law William later did.

With the middle name Houston, it was easy to find Samuel in the birth and baptism records. He was born 25 Aug 1795, and baptised at Bocking Independent Church on 17 Sept 1795. He died in Highbridge, Essex and was buried at the Little Waltham, Essex, Independent Burial Grounds on 27 Oct 1826, at 31 years old. So it appears the family went back to where Rhoda was from, at least for a while, and of course that is not so far from Samuel’s birthplace in Bocking. Both are near Braintree. Not sure what Highbridge is here, perhaps a neighborhood or street.

The birth and baptism record for Samuel provides lots of information:  he was the fifth son and eleventh living child of Jonah Reeve, a grocer of Bocking, and his wife Elizabeth. (Baptized on the same day was also Elizabeth Houston Reeve, the second daughter of William Reeve, a grocer of Chelmsford, and Mary, his wife.)

One of Jonah and Elizabeth’s many other children was Sarah Reeve, born on 23 Nov 1775 and baptized on 22 Dec 1775, also in the Bocking Independent Church. Sarah married Fisher Unwin in 1800, and the two had at least six children, Henry Fisher, Jonah Stephen, Sarah Reeve, Elizabeth Houston, Rebecca, and Emma, born 1801, 1804, 1806, 1808, 1809, and 1813, and all christened in Bocking Independent Church. Like Samuel, Sarah died young, in 1817 and was buried in “the Protestant Dissenter Burial Ground in Bocking.” Birth and baptism records generally identify the Unwin children’s parents as Fisher Unwin, a farmer of Black Notley, Essex, and his wife Sarah (Reeve). The Unwins with Sophia Reeve Jones and William Jones in 1851 were Anna, born around 1827, and Sarah, born around 1829, so too old to be the children of Sarah and Fisher Unwin, but likely related, and indeed when I searched for their birth records I found Anna Unwin, daughter of Henry Fisher Unwin of Bocking and his wife Anna, baptized in the Bocking Independent Church.  Thus, the Unwins living with William and Sophia in the 1851 census are likely Sophia’s cousins.


One thought on “Sophia Reeve and the Reeve Family

  1. Pingback: Jonah Reeve and Elizabeth Houston of Bocking, Essex | My American Journeys

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