The Family History Project

By Sally Pudney on 10th April 2023

You may remember in my New Year plans I explained that I was going to paint all the places in North Essex where my Pudney family, and those who had married into my family, had lived, since the first record of the name in 1372 . . . .

I’ve made a start with the first two paintings, both of Fordham.

Fordham Barn and Church

The first record of my family in Fordham is the marriage in 1752 of my 6x Great-Grandfather’s in this church. He was William Pudney, and he married Susannah Sawyer on 19th December that year. They had a sad start to their marriage, as they had three baby boys, in 1755, 1756 and 1758, all called William – and all died in infancy. Their next child they called James – and he is my 5x Great-Grandfather, baptised in 1766, although I think probably born earlier, as on that day they had another son, not a twin, also baptised. It was quite common for families to get their children christened in batches!

The family stayed in Fordham until my Great-Grandfather, James Edward Pudney, moved to be a shepherd at Frating Hall Farm on the other side of Colchester, sometime in the 1890s.

In the 1891 census, James Edward was living in Colne Road, Copford, which is now part of Eight Ash Green, with his wife Rebecca (nee Firmin) and their four children, Ada, Walter Berned, Bertha and George who became my Grandfather. Their cottage was next door to Jubilee Cottage, near the Brick and Tile Pub. His brother Joseph was living in Porter’s Lane, which led then, as it still does today, to Great Porter’s Farm. I think it is highly likely that Joseph worked at this farm, and fairly likely that James did, too. So my second painting is of the fields of Great Porter’s Farm looking across the Colne Valley. You can just see a glimpse of the river to the right of the little white fence in the middle distance.

Certainly at the time James was working as a shepherd, and the farm still has sheep – including many rare breeds – so this is a good example of the farmland in Fordham where they lived and worked.

Great Porter’s Farm

As my Pudney family lived in Fordham for about 150 years I am planning on one more Fordham painting before I move on to Wormingford – back in timeĀ  – to where William was born.

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