William Miles, junior, was born in 1792 in Stokes D’abernon, Surrey, England to parents William Miles (1769-1841) and Hannah May (1770-1840).
William was baptised on 26 August 1792 at St Marys, Stokes D’abernon.
William had one brother James who was born in 1794 and died aged 42 in Fetcham.
The church is one of the oldest churches in Surrey. It was built in the 7th or 8th century AD re-using a large number of Roman bricks, probably from a nearby Roman building.
The village is in the Oxshot hamlet in the Epsom district of Surrey and lies on the river Mole, 3 miles from the larger town of Leatherhead. In 1870 it had a population of 368 in 69 houses.
William’s father was an agricultural labourer in Fetcham, Surrey (3 miles from Stoke D’Abernon) all his life until his death in 1841 when William junior was 49. His mother Hannah had died the previous year in 1840.
William junior married at the age of 25 to Charlotte Skilton, at St Giles in Ashtead, Surrey.
They were both stated to be of the parish of St Giles, bachelor and spinster, and were both illiterate, making their mark ‘x’. Witnesses to the marriage were Luke Richardson and John Lennet.
Charlotte was aged 20 at the time of their marriage and was born on 12 May 1798 at Fetcham in Surrey to parents Richard Skilton (1763-1825) and Ann Hide (1767-1851).
William, like his father, worked as a poor agricultural labourer, picking up work where he could labouring around the areas farms. Despite having very little income, the couple had a huge family of 11 children –
- Hannah b 1819 Fetcham d 1890 Great Bookham. Illegimate child Amelia in 1840, then married Francis Amey in 1843, 5 more children, then 2nd married Edward Farley in 1859 , 3 more children.
- James b 1821 Fetcham d 1908 Cranbourne, Vic, Australia. Marr Sarah Wyatt 1856 Newington. 10 children. Immigrated to Australia 1853.
- Frances b 1823 Fetcham d 1866 Leatherhead. Marr Francis Simmons. 3 children.
- Eliza b 1825 & d 1847 Great Bookham
- #Mary Ann b 1827 & d 1904, Great Bookham, married William Rollison. 3 children.
- Helen b 1832 & d 1833 Great Bookham. Aged 1.
- Charles b 1834 Great Bookham, d 1887 Leatherhead. Marr Martha. 6 children.
- Emily b 1836 & d 1924 Great Bookham. Not married.
- Frederick b 1839 Great Bookham. Marr Mary Ann Giles. 4 children.
- Henry b 1843 & d 1907 Great Bookham. Marr Hannah Tickner. 8 children.
Four illegimate children, grandchildren of William and Charlotte, were baptised at St Nicholas, Great Bookham.
Its likely that Hannah’s illegimate child was fathered by her husband to be Francis Amey, as he was living in the same Almshouse with her in the 1841 census. She married him in 1843.
Mary Ann had three illegitimate children in Great Bookham, Ann in 1845, Ellen in 1859 and George in 1864, before she married William Rollinson in 1871 and had two more legitimate children with him – William in 1871 and Eliza in 1873.
We can see by the children’s birthplaces that the family moved from Fetcham, one mile away to Great Bookham after 1823 and that William’s occupation remained as a labourer. Sadly, all of his children were illiterate and also signed using their mark ‘x’ when they married.
Fetcham is a village on the road from Guildford to London. In 1911 the population was 409, and the chief crops were wheat, barley and oats.
By 1841 the family were living on the parish, in a charity almshouse in Great Bookham. William was then aged 47 and Charlotte was 44, with eight children.
In the 1841 census there are seven large families all living together in the almshouse.
The original almshouses were built near to the chalk pit on the Fetcham/Great Bookham border, with inhabitants allowed to sell chalk from the pit to help maintain themselves.
In the early 1800s, new almshouses were built at a time when the population of Fetcham numbered around 300.
By 1851 the family were slightly better off and living in No 2 Westfield Cottage in Great Bookham. William was now 58 and Charlotte 55, and living with them were Mary Ann, 24, Emily 13, Frederick 11, Henry 7, and Ann their granddaughter, 5.
The family continued to lived at Westfield Cottage and can be still found there in the 1861 census.
William is still working as a farm labourer, aged 68 and living with them now are his wife Charlotte, daughter Mary Ann, sons Frederick and Henry, both farm labourers, and two year old grand daughter Ellen.
William died in May 1866 at Great Bookham aged 74 years, and was buried at St Nicholas, Great Bookham on 12 May 1866.
Charlotte lived another twelve years, dying in June 1878 aged 79 and was buried at St Nicholas on 8 June 1878.