Posted 17 July 2015 by Kirsten English

Download Earwaker Chart (PDF, 8k)

My husband's great grandfather, Alfred English married Eliza Jane Earwalker in Southwark, London in 1905. Because the name was new to me, I wondered if there were any male ‘Earwalker’ lines that I could trace forwards to find out if there were any living relatives. To trace forwards you usually need to go backwards first (confusing?!)

The first census that is available in the public domain is the 1911 census. The census is taken every 10 years and released every 100 years. Everyone in the UK filled out a census return in 2011, the next one is due in 2021. I looked for Alfred and Eliza English in the 1911 Census and found them living in Southwark at 27 Prices Street in a one room house. Alfred was a window cleaner and they had 2 children at this point. The census record tells you where and when someone was born so this record told me Eliza was born in 1878 in Southwark.

From Alfred and Eliza's marriage record I could see that they married on 11th June 1905 in Southwark and that Eliza’s father was called John James Earwalker.

With these pieces of information (birth year and place, and father’s name) I was able to find Eliza in earlier census records. In 1901 (4 years before her marriage) she was living in the same house on Prices Street, Southwark with her parents and siblings, and Alfred English is listed as their boarder. Her occupation is given as a cigar maker. The first census she appears in is 1881 when she is just 3 years old tells us she was living at 101 Suffolk Street, Southwark. Her father is a dock worker. Unhelpfully, but quite amusingly their surname is transcribed as 'Earnosher'!

These census records confirm her parents were John James Earwalker and Elizabeth. These records also tell us who her siblings were: John (born 1873), Thomas (born 1875), Emma (born 1877), Thomas (born 1882) and Sophia (born 1884). Eliza was born in 1878, the fourth child of the six.

Now, you will note I have already used 2 different spellings of their name. The online records are transcribed and sometimes the handwriting is so difficult to read we have to make an educated guess as to what it says. The most common way of spelling their name seems to be ‘Earwaker’ but I have also found ‘Earwalker’, ‘Earwaker’, ‘Errwicker’, ‘Sandaker’ and of course 'Earnosher'.

None of this makes searching for our ancestors any easier!

Incidentally, when I researched further back, Eliza’s grandfather is John Eawaker. His birthplace is Droxford, Hampshire. I am in the process of continuing the Hampshire research - but that will be the subject of another article.

My next task, then, was to trace forward the male siblings to see what happened to them. If you’re interested, Emma Earwaker married Charles Boston in 1900 and Sophia married Thomas Thomas (yes, really!) in 1910.

John and Frederick did not marry, but Thomas married Eliza Haywood in 1899. They had a child in 1900 but unfortunately his wife, Eliza, died around that time as well. Thomas then was left with a new born boy also called Thomas (keep track of the names, this gets confusing, our ancestors weren’t very imaginative with names!). I found Thomas senior in the 1901 census living with his siblings, including Eliza, as above. However, he is listed as single rather than the widower he was, and his son, who would have been about 6 months old is not there. This could have been a mistake on the enumerator's part or little Thomas could have been being looked after by a wet nurse somewhere.

I have also searched for his mother's family to see if he is with them, but he isn't. In 1911, the 3 brothers, John, Thomas and Frederick are living with their mother at 27 Prices Street and Thomas junior, aged 10 is with them. Now, as mentioned above Alfred and Eliza are also living at 27 Prices Street in 1 room. Thomas's record says it is a dwelling with 4 rooms. We can probably assume it was one dwelling and the rooms were rented out.

As census records are not available after 1911 I looked at the London Electoral Registers for what happened next to this family. This confirmed Frederick, John and Thomas continued living at 27 Price's Street until. In 1924 Thomas junior, the son, starts appearing on the Register as well. Incidentally Alfred English was living next door with the Hilder family.

So my Alfred married Eliza Eawaker, the girl next door!

But back to the other Eawakers. In 1936 Thomas junior disappears from the census whereas the three brothers remain. They never married and Thomas senior didn't remarry and I have their death entries as John in 1935, Thomas in 1955, and Frederick in 1939.

What happened to Thomas junior? I couldn’t find a death entry for him in Southwark. If he moved elsewhere I have no idea where. I would have to visit every record office in the country and go through their records to find him. I wasn’t prepared to do that. He was 36 years old at the time when I 'lose' him. Could he have married and moved away? I started searching marriage records. Luckily as Eawaker is not a common name I found a possibility straight away. Thomas Eawaker married Margaret Medcalfe in 1938 in Croydon, Surrey.

Croydon electoral registers are not online so I couldn’t track where they lived but I found 2 children for them who as far as I could tell are still living.

I published a shorter version of this blog a few years ago but never kept the blog going. Must try harder with this one! I finished my previous blog with the question: should I contact these living Eawaker's to see if they were relatives, but I never did. However, they contacted me!

Last year (2014) someone emailed me stating he was the son of Thomas Eawaker and the information I had was correct. He confirmed his parents were Thomas and Margaret. He did correct me on one very important matter; I had assumed their surname was pronounced ‘Earwalker’ as that was a spelling variant I had seen of it in several census records. But he told me the name is pronounced ‘Erriker’. There is a website dedicated to people with that name and the variant spellings of it -

We have worked out that this man is my husband's second cousin once removed. We have been in contact by email and phone and hope to meet this year.

(Sounding like my dad...) the possibilities with the internet are amazing for genealogy.

This relative had just put his name into Google and my out-of-date and not used anymore blog came up in which I had included my email address so he could get in contact. Here’s hoping that this blog generates some interest and other unknown relatives make themselves known.