Welcome to Romford


an Essex Market Town  

The ancient Trinobantes tribe lived in these parts, living off the land, using the marshes for protection and taking advantage of the forests which covered south east England for shelter, food and fuel.  When the Romans came the Trinobantes joined the Iceni and, led by Boadicea, almost managed to drive the invaders from our shores.  To protect their military road, which ran from their capital at Colchester to London, the Romans built an encampment in the Romford area.  They called it Durolitum and to this day no one knows for sure where it was. 

When the Romans left, the Saxon kings rapidly realised the importance of the area, with its forests alive with deer and wild boar and its marshland teeming with game.  Edward the Confessor particularly favoured Havering and the rich sport it offered.  The Normans arrived and organised the land, royal favourites being given valuable tracts of land to administer and develop as feudal estates. 

In Plantagenet times Henry III granted a charter in 1247 to the Sheriff of Essex to hold a livestock market every Wednesday. This assured the town's future and has continued over the centuries to develop into what we now know as the Romford market that exists today.  In no time it became a centre for all kinds of trade and a place where people of influence met. As the town grew, merchants and professional people came to live here, businesses were set up, institutions established and a civic identity began to develop.

Romford Market Day

Edward IV recognised the growing stature of the town in 1465 when he granted the Charter of the Liberty of Havering-atte-Bower with Romford as its capital.  This gave the inhabitants of the Liberty, which stretched from Havering in the north to the Thames in the south, a remarkable degree of independence.  Wrongdoers could only be tried before a court set up by the people of the Liberty regardless of their alleged crime, the only exception being treason.  All conditions of trading, standards and quality of goods and commercial agreements were determined by the Liberty's elected officers.  The Liberty's independence from the County of Essex remained until it was abolished on 9 May 1892. 

The town of Romford has always had its economy governed by major transport routes. Studies of a document dating from the 2nd century AD (called the Antonine Itinerary—a register of the stations and distances along the various roads of the Roman empire), together with archaeological evidence, reveal a Roman staging post called Durolitum somewhere in the vicinity of Romford.  The Middle Ages saw the small hamlet that was in the area grow to a market town.  The leather industry started in Hornchurch found a ready market in the number of travellers using the old Roman road to Colchester and Norwich. 

Annoyed by the distance it was necessary for them to travel to worship in Hornchurch, the people of Romford petitioned for a chapel nearer to the town.  The first chapel, dedicated to St Andrew, was built at the east end of Oldchurch Road in 1177.  Another petition was submitted some years later and in 1405 a new chapel was erected in the Market Place, dedicated to St Edward the Confessor. This became the new church, and the former chapel was known as the old church, a name continued in that road and hospital today. The current St Edwards church was completed in 1850 and occupies the same site as the earlier church. 

St Edward the Confessor Church

With the arrival of the Eastern Counties Railway in 1839, Romford grew rapidly.  Although the line was originally designed to move freight, it soon saw an increase in passenger trains.  From 1850 Romford's growth has been rapid. 

The only buildings more than 100 years old are the Golden Lion on the corner of High Street and North Street; the Church House in the Market Place, for some years the home of a chantry priest and recently restored to church use after some years as an inn; and the mid-19th century Lamb public house. 

The names of some of Romford's residents are still well known; Francis Quarles, the 17th century poet; Sir Anthony Cooke, the Tudor court official and royal tutor; and Colonel Blood, who plotted to steal the crown jewels, once ran an apothecary's shop in Romford Market, and of course Benjamin & Alice Rawlings.   

Benjamin was a solicitor in Romford and London and was appointed by a ratepayer poll to the position of vestry clerk for the parish of Romford in August 1842.  He was also granted 'Freedom of the City of London'.  This is one of the oldest surviving traditional ceremonies still in existence today.  It is believed that the first Freedom was presented in 1237.  The medieval term 'freeman' meant someone who was not the property of a feudal lord, but enjoyed privileges such as the right to earn money and own land.  Town dwellers who were protected by the charter of their town or city were often free—hence the term 'freedom of the City'. 

The English Census of 1841 records Benjamin and his family living at Romford in the county of Essex. Ten years later the 1851 census places the number of Rawlings in Essex at 83. In Middlesex they numbered 347, and in all of England the numbers ran to over two thousand, three hundred.  On 30th. of March, 1851, the night of the census, Benjamin (38) and Alice (37) were living in Holborn, in the parish of St. Andrew, an inner suburb of London close to the ‘Old Bailey’ courthouse, England’s central criminal court.  The family numbered 11, including 5 children, 2 female visitors and 2 female servants, Elizabeth Hitchcock and Elizabeth Lewis. Nine-year-old Francis, appears to have been staying with the Palmer family close by in Islington.  The other children were Alice aged 12, Claude aged 7, Percival aged 5 and Constance aged 2.  One of the visitors listed as a sister was 35-year-old Charlotte M. Rawlings, the other being 51-year-old Frances Samuel from Swansea, Glamorgan in Wales, who may have been Alice’s aunt.  If the information recorded about Charlotte is correct then when the 1841 census is checked, we find Charlotte (25) living with parents Samuel (66) and Hannah (56) Rawlings at Oakham in the small county of Rutland, together with two other sisters Hannah (15) and Eliza (7).  

Constance, above, later married Llewellyn Thomas Sully and appears to have died in the childbirth of their only child and daughter Lily, who received parcels at Southampton from my mother, Ida Mary Chamberlain during the tough times of World War II.  Although apparently born in August 1850, Reginald’s name does not appear as part of the family on the 1851 Census, so perhaps he was born 5 months later in August 1851. 


Open: The Pardoe-Rawlings Far Side of the World-III
(Far Side of the World-III)



 Historical Family
1. Ancient Beginnings
2. English Family
3. Parliamentary
4. Coming to N.Z.
 Persons of Renown
Sir John & Sir William Chamberlayne
Sir Roger Chamberlayne
Sir Leonard Chamberlain
Sir Thomas Chamberlayne I
Sir Thomas Chamberlayne II
Major Thomas Chamberlain III
Edward Chamberlayne
Thomas Pardoe
John Chamberlain
Gen. Joshua Chamberlain
Col. Thomas Chamberlain IV
Henry Bowland
Joseph Chamberlain
Giles E. Chamberlain
Sir Austen Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain
Gertrude (Burford) Rawlings
Isaac Sykes
Owen Chamberlain
Robert E. (Bob) Chamberlain
 Particular Places
County Down
Preston Capes
Woodford Halse
 Supplements, Historic, Biblical
Mail Box
The Reason Why?
Destiny's Lodestone
The Feud For Zion
What A Difference A Name Makes
 No Simple Passage
 Preston Capes
 Wilton Family
 Genealogy Software
No Simple Passage
The Journey of the "London" and her passengers from England to New Zealand in 1842. Thomas & Susannah Chamberlain, together with their four children sailed aboard the London on this voyage to Port Nicholson. The author is Jenny Robin Jones a descendant of one of the passengers. The book was published in 2011 by Random House ISBN 978 1 86979 510 8
Wiltons Galore

The Pioneer Story of Robert Wilton and Elizabeth Denman from Montacute, Somerset, England and continued through their children and grand-children in New Zealand. Mary Wilton married Arthur Joseph Chamberlain, and this is the story & record of her family.
This book was compiled by descendant Jo Wilton and published in 2007 by Colin Watson & Colin Liddell
ISBN 978 0 473 11318 6

Petticoat Pioneers
Petticoat Pioneers 

Stories of New Zealand's North Island women of the colonial pioneering era compiled and recorded for us by author Miriam Macgregor. Two of the women featured in this book are Susannah Catherine (Bull) Chamberlain and her daughter -in-law (Catherine McKenzie) Kitty Chamberlain.
This book was published in 1973 by A.H.& A.W. Reed, Wellington, New Zealand.
ISBN 0 589 00771 8

Paddy the Wanderer
Paddy the Wanderer 

The true story of an Airedale dog who captured the heart of the city of Wellington during the dark days of depression. Also captured here is Paddy's association with Blue Taxicab manager, Merlin Chamberlain. The author is Dianne Haworth, a dog-lover and editor of Animal's Voice, who lives and works in Auckland.
The book was published in 2007 by HarperCollins NZ.
ISBN 978 1 86950 625 4

On the Trail of
Parker & Walker

Parker-Walker Families

This 2015 self-published family history has been put together by Marjorie Prictor on the trail of Parker and the Walker families who came to New Zealand in the 1860s. Marjorie is a descendant still living in the Northland district of Port Albert where each of these families settled.

Douglas Family Reunion

A family history of the Douglas Family in Australia, compiled in 1981 for a family reunion by sisters Grace Douglas & Rosalie Vanstan of Bendigo, Victoria.
Downloadable as file-093 from the Supplements Page.