Eleanor, Rhoda, Elizabeth and Ann

My great grandmother Eleanor Rose  Payne was born on 23 August 1892 in Biggleswade.  She was the daughter of  Charles and Rhoda Payne (nee Brown) who was born in 1860 in Potton, Bedfordshire. Rhoda’s mother was Elizabeth and her mother was Ann. Their lives can be tracked by census returns. 


  • Bedfordshire County Record Office have advised there were two Rhoda Brown’s born in Stotfold within a year of one another. One was the daughter of Elizabeth, the other the daughter of James.  I believe my family is descended from the daughter of Elizabeth.


The 1861 census shows Ann, a widow, aged 65, living at Queen Street, Stotfold, Biggleswade with her daughter Elizabeth, aged 35 (born 1826), who is unmarried. Elizabeth’s daughter Rhoda is living with them and is less than one year old.  Ann was born in Arlesey, Bedfordshire, Elizabeth and Rhoda were born in Stotfold. 


The 1871 census shows Elizabeth, aged 46 and Rhoda aged 10, at Brook Street, Stotfold, Biggleswade.  Elizabeth’s occupation is a straw plaiter.  


The 1881 census shows Elizabeth, aged 56,  at Meeting Lane, Potton, Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, England. Her marital status is shown as married, however there is no husband recorded. Elizabeth is working as a char woman. She is living with Rhoda, aged 20, who is working as a domestic servant.


I believe that Rhoda had a daughter called Annie born outside of marriage on 20 June 1884. Rhoda would have been 24 at the time. No details of the father appear on the birth certificate. However Annie appears to be living with Rhoda on the 1901 census and recorded as ‘Annie Paine’.


Rhoda can be found on the 1891 census of Potton, aged 31 and now married to Charles Paine. They have one son called Charles, aged five and a daughter, Ellie, aged two.  Elizabeth Brown can also be found on the 1891 census, at Meeting Lane, Potton, Biggleswade, living with with her granddaughter Annie Brown.


The 1901 census show Rhoda and Charles are still at Horselow Street. The family has grown and now comprises six children – Annie (aged 16), Charles, Nelly (aged 8, born 1893), Minnie, Florence and Bertie. 


The family are still at Horselow Street on the 1911 census but Eleanor Rose is not with them.   

Charles Payne

My great great grandfather Charles Payne was born in Stotfold, Bedfordshire in 1860.  His  life can be tracked by census returns.

Note: Although I use the spelling of Payne on this page, historically the surname can also be spelt Paine and Pain


Charles can be found on the 1891 census living at Horselow Street, Potton, aged 32 and married to my great grandmother Rhoda.  They have one son named Charles, aged five and a daughter, Ellie, aged two.  He is employed as a farm labourer.


The 1901 census show Charles aged 41 and Rhoda are still at Horselow Street. The family has grown and now comprises six children – Annie, Charles, Nelly (aged 8, born 1893), Minnie, Florence and Bertie. Charles is employed as an ordinary agricultural labourer.


The family are still at Horselow Street on the 1911 census, Charles is aged 50. His occupation is given as Gardeners labour.

Ellen Kefford

Ellen Kefford was born on 25 December 1880 in Sawston, Cambridgeshire. She was the daughter of James Kefford and Harriet Coleman.

The 1881 census shows Ellen, aged less than one year old, living in Sawston with her  father James, a shepherd, mother Harriet and four brothers and sisters – John, Rebecca, Thomas and Jane. 

Ellen married my great grandfather David Brooker in Biggleswade on 2 December 1903 and the 1911 census shows them living together in Wrestlingworth with a four year old son called David Arthur. 

Ellen died suddenly in 1932 at the age of 54, at the Southend Municipal Hospital in Rochford, Essex following an accident. Her death and the inquest that followed was reported in newspapers at the time.ellen-brooker-death





David Brooker

David Brooker was born on 16 January 1879 in Biggleswade. He was the son of George Brooker and Mary Ann Darts.

David Brooker

The 1881 census shows David aged two, living in Wrestlingworth with his parents and five brothers and sisters – Arthur, Alice, Jane, Harriet and Louisa.   In 1891, David aged 13 can  still be found living with his parents and working as an agricultural labourer and the same on the 1901 census, aged 22.

David Brooker

David married my great grandmother Ellen Kefford in Biggleswade on 2 December 1903 and the 1911 census shows them living together in Wrestlingworth with a four year old son called David Arthur.  The 1939 register shows David to be widowed, living in Biggleswade and working as a horseman on a farm.  Living with him are Arthur D Brooker and Ellen Brooker, my great grandmother.

David died in Biggleswade on 3 February 1957, my mum’s birthday.

Pam and Dick

Pamela Ann Payne was born to my grandparents Frederick and Ellen in 1940. Pam was a twin but her sister Freda only lived to be three days old. Freda’s death certificate states she was a premature twin born at  seven months.


Both from Bedfordshire, Pam married Richard Wade (known as Dick) in Biggleswade in 1962. My cousins, Steven and Paul were later both born in Luton, Steven in 1963 and Paul in 1965. Pan and Dick subsequently moved to Cheshire where they lived for the rest of their lives.


Dick played bass guitar in bands throughout is life but he played the accordion too and can be seen at the back of the float in the photo below.


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Mum and dad

My mum and was born in Biggleswade (sometimes referred to as Giggleswade in our family) in 1948.  Biggleswade is the home of Jordans cereals and at one time it was recorded that it had 52 pubs. (Mum has told me on several occasions that her Uncle Arthur once saw a ghost skating on Biggleswade pond … there may be a connection between the ghost and the number of pubs).

Mums parents were Ellen Brooker and Frederick Charles William Payne. Mum had two sisters who were twins – Pamela Ann and Freda, seven years older than herself but Freda died when she was only three days.

Mum spells her name Diane but on her birth and baptism certificates, her name is spelt Dianne.  The house she grew up in was known as a pre-fab and was one of more than 150,000 prefabricated buildings built all over the UK between 1946 and 1948 to rehouse ex-servicemen and their families or bombed-out people.  They were only supposed to last 10 to 15 years but many are still standing.

Mums first job was working for a company called Kayser Bonder in Biggleswade as a sewing machinist, she also worked for Skirtex as a sewing machinist and Electrolux as an amateur winder, both in Luton. As a sewing machinist she did piece work, a type of work which pays a fixed rate for each unit produced or action performed regardless of time. After having my sister and me, she worked as a childminder and later worked for Tesco and Mothercare. On retiring, she took up quilt making, something she had always wanted to do and it turns out she is amazing at it.

Dad was born in August 1944, the only child of my grandparents Louis Bowers Abram and Delia Eileen Clarke. When he was young dad spent a lot of time at airfields watching aircraft and was a member of The London Gliding Club in Dunstable. In his late teens he became an airport fire security officer, which was the starting point for 35 years as a fire/security officer protecting people, fine arts (including works by Leonardo da Vinci), power stations and research facilities. The roles were very active and often involved climbing vertical ladders of 90 – 100 feet.

Dad told me his earliest memory is aged three – four years old sitting on the tailboard of a removal lorry with a wire haired fox terrier, moving from a city side street house in Northampton to a bungalow in the Northamptonshire countryside, two miles from the nearest small town with open country side front and back. When he was younger he also enjoyed CB radio and later progressed to ham radio, studying with City and Guilds to obtain the required licence and becoming involved with local scout group who had a radio jamboree once a year.

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