Edward Croasdell and Thirza Joyce


Edward Croasdell was born in the hamlet of Old Hall near Bouth and baptised at Colton on 11 June 1786. By the age of 3 he was orphaned and had lost his older sister, but his grandfather and at least two maiden aunts were nearby and possibly brought him up. At any rate his grandfather bequeathed him 10 guineas in his will - to be given him at age 21, receiving interest on the amount whilst he was a minor. In today's terms that would be in the region of just over £400. Edward was also remembered in the will of his uncle Richard, but Richard's own children would have taken precedence and it is unlikely Edward would have inherited much, if anything. Edward became a cordwainer (a leather worker) and it is probable that he was apprenticed to John Walker a cordwainer of Bouth, either privately or as a parish apprentice. John Walker died in January 1812 and in his will left various bequests to nephews and nieces, including £9 and a third share of his wearing apparel to Edward. William Walker was most likely a relative on Edward's maternal line as his grandmother was Margaret Keen nee Walker.

After 1812 there is a gap in our knowledge of Edward's life. As Edward Croasdell he is not seen again until 1848 when, described as a gentleman of Ulverston, he was investing money in Liverpool Docks; and in 1851 he and his family were counted in the Ulverston census living at Moss Side. Between 1812 and 1848 Edward had taken on a different name and had moved many miles away to Dunmow in Essex where he married and raised a family. His life during this time has gradually been revealed by research and there is documentary evidence to prove that Edward Croasdell and Edward Simpson were one and the same person. The reasons for the change from Croasdell to Simpson have still to be discovered but there is now recently discovered evidence of what prompted him to revert to his original surname and of how he came to end his days in more comfortable circumstances. The following account sets out the chronology of events known so far. Any other information would be gratefully received.


On 9 August 1825 Edward Simpson married Thirza Joyce at St Mary's church in Great Dunmow, Essex. Thirza was probably the child baptised as Thesda at St Mary's on March 18 1798, the daughter of Thomas Joyce, a gardener and his wife Sarah. She had been born on 2 February, The couple had 6 children and for most of his time in Dunmow Edward carried out his trade of shoemaker. Several members of the Joyce family were shoemakers in the area and it may be that it was through his job that Edward met Thirza. The family seem to have worshipped at the Dunmow Congregational Church and most of the children appear in the baptism register there. Unfortunately the register was not always kept in good order and there is some discrepancy about certain dates. Sometime in the late 1840s the pastor, Richard Frost made a formal note that Edward and Thirza had added the name Croasdale to the surname Simpson and he recorded the names of the children he had baptised originally as Simpson, confirming that their names had changed. Unfortunately no other evidence of this formal name change has been found. Edward and Thirza's children were:


In 1841 Edward and Thirza Simpson were in Dunmow with their first 5 children and Edward was described as a shoemaker. During the 1840s there are several notes in the records of Dunmow Congregational church to indicate that Edward and his family were receiving financial assistance from the Church. The records start in 1838 when a Richard Frost became pastor and was much more conscientious about keeping records than his predecessor had been. Between 1838 and 1847 Edward Simpson received money each year except one. The amounts were usually 15 shillings (£36) but in 1845 the family was given £1-12-6. (£91) There are no further entries for the family after 1847. Even more interestingly in a book listing members of the church the name of Edward Simpson is annotated with the words "removed to Ulverston, Lancashire" But this isn't dated.

From being in receipt of charity in 1847 the fortunes of the Simpson family must have changed suddenly and dramatically since in 1848 a document, now at Barrow Record Office, records an investment loan made by Edward Croasdell to the Trustees of Liverpool Docks in the sum of £1200 in July 1848. (Worth over £66,000 today) Edward is described as a gentleman of Ulverstone.

Further, more recent  research has thrown some light on what happened next. Documents found at Cumbria Record Office, Barrow, from solicitors deposits, contain fragile copy letters, not totally legible, recording transactions featuring Edward Simpson also known as Edward Croasdell. Piecing the incomplete selection together it appears that Edward decided to claim a right to an inheritance left by a relative on his grandmother's side (Margaret Towers). He seems to have made a bit of a nuisance of himself, together with a distant cousin, and the pair were paid off to go away and avoid lengthy legal proceedings. This intriguing episode is in the course of being written up and more will follow in due course.

In 1851 Edward & Thirza with all 6 children were living at Moss Side Ulverstone. The entry clearly shows that whereas Edward was born in Bouth, Lancashire, everyone else in the family was born in Dunmow Essex. After 1851 the family split in two directions and for as yet unknown reasons went to live in either Manchester or Liverpool. William, who always seems to have kept Simpson as a middle name, moved to Liverpool and his younger brother John went with him. The rest of the family moved to Manchester where Edward died on 21 January 1861 at 22 River Street, Hulme, aged 75. A notice of his death appeared in the Manchester Weekly Times on February 2nd 1861 stating that he was of this city, but late of Ulverstone, but so far his burial has not been found and he doesn't seem to have left a will, unfortunately. Shortly afterwards in the 1861 census Thirza was still living at River Street, now nos 22 & 24, as Head of the Household, with sons Edward and Henry and described as a housekeeper for her son Edward. By 1871 Henry was described as the Head, at the same address and Thirza was described as his mother. Henry's widowed sister Priscilla Cooper had also moved in with her three children. But by 1881 Thirza had moved away from River Street with her daughter and the Cooper children to 25 Duke Street Court, presumably after Henry's sudden death.


Thirza herself died in the June quarter of 1881 in the Chorlton registration district of Manchester, which would include the Duke Street address. She was recorded as being aged 83 although the census had given her age as 84.



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