Seeking Surrey Ancestors!

July 14, 201711:36 amLeave a Comment

Hello, and welcome to the Seeking Surrey Ancestors Family History Blog.

My name is Jane Lewis and I am a qualified genealogist working at Surrey History Centre, the county archive and local studies library for Surrey. With thousands of enquiries and visitors every year, we can advise and assist with all aspects of family history and we encourage people to visit and share our wonderful collections. I love to teach family history and though my workshops I’ve met some fascinating people over the years as we take our ancestral journeys together.

The great thing about my job is that I get to learn something new about family history every day. Everyone who visits or writes to the History Centre has a unique and special story to tell. As no two stories are ever the same, it opens my eyes to the infinite variety of sources and resources we can explore as genealogists. Many of these sources are not unique to any one particular record office or local studies centre and, to this end, I hope that everyone can take some inspiration from the ideas, news, tips and techniques that I want to share.

Seeking Surrey Ancestors has been live for some time and now with the help of our friends at Exploring Surrey’s Past, we can reach out to family historians from all over the world and invite them to walk with us in our ancestors’ footprints.

The aim of this blog is not only to explore some of the basic sources that provide the building blocks of our family history research (and hopefully share some tips and techniques on researching them) but also to suggest sources and resources that are perhaps less well known or under-utilised. If I find any nice juicy morsels of family history news or discover books or articles that I really enjoy, I will be happy to share them with you and of course, I would be delighted to hear about any wonderful websites or great sources that you come across.

Family History research should, above all things, be fun. It is by its very nature a collaborative process and sharing information provides us with so many new avenues to explore.

So join me as we go Seeking Surrey Ancestors together!

If you’re interested in seeing more of my musings click this link to see all my Seeking Surrey Ancestors blog posts.

Written by Jane Lewis - Modified by ESP Admin

25 thoughts on “Seeking Surrey Ancestors!”

  1. Al Holmes says:

    Hello, I am in Saskatchewan Canada and have been researching my Surrey roots for about 14 years. My direct ancestors were the famous John Waterer & Sons nursery owners in Woking. I applaud the English for their availability to records, In Canada, namely Saskatchewan, records are sealed for a minimum of 70 years for deaths and 100 years for Marriages and Births, silly really. That being said, it is still some what harder to find stuff about the family being that I am in Canada. My question would be, Is it possible that there are any photos in the history centre that pertain to John and Mary Elizabeth Waterer ( my 4th great grandparents )?

    1. Jane Lewis says:

      Hi Al

      We do hold Waterer records here at the History Centre and I’ll try and have a search through this week to see if they include any family photographs.

      Best wishes


  2. Shaun Doust says:

    Hi I am Shaun Doust, I live in South Africa and I am researching my Ancestors from Surrey and Greater London in the UK.
    I look forward to sharing with you all

    1. Jane Lewis says:

      Great to hear from you, Shaun – all the way from South Africa! We look forward to hearing about your research and sharing ideas with you.

      Best Wishes


  3. Nick McDonald says:

    Hi Jane

    Remember me?

    How wonderful that you are starting up a blog, although last time I saw you you hinted that you were going to!

    I was one of those honoured to attend the course at Surrey Heritage Centre. Not only was the course content illuminating and inspiring, it was highly interesting to discuss with other students the subjects they were studying, whether it be family history, naval history, Street or house history. Plenty there for everyone. I highly recommend this course.

    I myself have been searching for living relatives using the family history subscription sites, DnA testing electoral rolls at record offices and using social media. I have had some considerable success in finding close relatives which in itself has reunited families and find photographs of forebears.

    I also have an insatiable appetite to learn more about my Surrey ancestors in the Guildford Woking areas.

    I look forward to reading your blog and I wish you every success.

    Best wishes


    Nick McDonald

    1. Jane Lewis says:

      Lovely to hear from you, Nick and glad that you are doing so well with your research. If you are like me, the more you find out, the more you want to know! That’s where communication is all important and so I look forward to sharing lots of tips and techniques in the future.

      Best Wishes


  4. Simon Oliver says:

    Hi, the majority of my ancestors were from Ewell Surrey, and were gardeners from the large houses, one is listed in the census as being head gardener living at the gardeners cottage, Ewell Grove, Surrey- I would like to find pictures of the house he worked for and perhaps the gardeners cottage and anything else that can be found. however now live in Lancashire so unable to get down to research. any help would be appreciated

    1. Jane Lewis says:

      Hello! It’s so frustrating that we can’t always get to ALL the record offices we want to visit! However, I shall have a rummage through our indexes and catalogues and we’ll see if we can find anything relating to your Ewell Grove ancestors. I’ll reply by email in a few days. Best wishes


  5. Joan Jurkovich says:

    My great grandfather lived in surrey his name was William Bennett I have a cup engraved with him winning first and second prize for ploughing 30th Sept 1830 Surry Agricultural show.
    There was some mention within the family of hotels as well or a brewery.

    1. Jane Lewis says:

      Hi Joan
      This sounds intriguing! There were many competitions in the 19th century for ploughing, animal husbandry, vegetable and crop growing, etc and often cups and monetary prizes were donated by the ‘great and the good’. Newspapers can be a useful resource for this type of thing, and it might surprise you just how many of our ‘ag lab’ ancestors appear in the local press. If you want to drop me an email at Surrey History Centre ([email protected]) with a few more details about your family, where they lived, etc, I could have a quick look to see if we have anything which might be helpful. I look forward to hearing from you!

  6. Shirley Judge says:

    My 3rd Grt Grandfather was one John Jones who lived at 1 St Marys, Grove Richmond, he died,in 1883 and was a businessman also owning a Livery Stable at 230 Westminster Bridge Road, between 1871 and 1874 he seems to have married his second wife Mary, she was born approx 1837 in St Clement Danes but I cannot find a record of their marriage, he owned a lot of leases particularly for houses belonging to the Hickey Trust that he then rented out , and when he died so did she rent them, I can’t find her death recorded either, she was alive in 1897 as she is mentioned in a sewer application in the National Archives, we know that all the land which contained the family home at number One was sold at some point but we don’t know who to as it now holds a lot of flats built in 1974, if anyone knows anything about this family or what happened to Mary and the land I would be extremely grateful. Thank you

    1. Jane Lewis says:

      The Probate Index entry for John Jones’s will in 1883 states that there were two executors, a Samuel Robert Lovett (a London physician) and Mary Jones of 1 St Mary’s Grove, Richmond. A copy of this will (which includes a codicil) may give more details of the properties involved and how they were divided between the inheritors. You can obtain a copy of the will from HM Courts ( The Probate Indexes are available on and several other family history websites. The same source might be worth searching to see if Mary left a will.

      The 1881 census shows John and Mary Jones living with their grand-daughter Alice at 1 St Mary’s Grove . If John and Mary had any children (although if Mary was born in 1837 and they were not married until the 1880s, it is less likely) it is possible that Mary went to live with a son or daughter following John’s death, or even a child from John and his first wife’s marriage. It’s always worth extending a search laterally to include siblings and cousins.

      We hold two documents you might be interested in seeing; a copy of a mortgage dated 8 January 1866 (re-assignment by the executors of the will of Jane Julia Conyers who died in June 1877) for £1000 by John Jones of St Mary’s Grove, Richmond, to Jane Julia Conyers, of Regents Park, Middlesex, widow, of 2 houses, called St Mary’s Grove, and 4 houses, Marshgate, Richmond (SHC Reference 767/8/1). We also hold a lease for 20 years dated 2 August 1881 between John Jones of St Mary’s Grove, Richmond and William Brown of 7 Belvedere Place, Richmond, florist (already in occupation) for a piece of nursery ground in Adelaide Road, Richmond (details given). SHC Reference 848/2/56.

      If you haven’t already done so, I would recommend contacting Richmond Local Studies library as they may well have records relating to John Jones’s business activities and also Hickey’s Trust. I found several references to the latter in an online index to the Journal of the Richmond Local History Society ( and Richmond Local Studies Library may hold copies of this journal among their collections.

      I have sent a more detailed reply by email but please do not hesitate to contact us again if we can help further. Good Luck!

      1. Shirley judge says:

        Thank you Jane very much for this I will lookout for your email, he did indeed have many children with his first wife Mary, some of which emigrated to New Zealand, Alice was my great grandmother, it would seem he was extremely wealthy leaving a trust fund described in the will you mention, he also owned the Sussex Arms in Twickenham, a farm in Wales I think may have been Conyers and shares in the Great Western Railway, a canny businessman I think, thank you so much for your research, he is just so interesting.

        1. Nerissa dexter says:

          Hi Shirley,
          It is a great pleasure to discover you as I am the grand daughter of Ethel’s daughter, Nerissa Boerner, My name is Nerissa Dexter. I would like to share what I know with you. I hereby request that my email address be forwarded to you. Thank you.

          1. ESP Admin says:

            Dear Nerissa

            Many thanks for your comment, I’ve forwarded it to Shirley with your e-mail address as requested.

    2. Jeannette Cummins says:

      Hello Shirley
      John Jones of 1 St Mary’s Grove in Richmond is also my third great grandfather. I have lot of information about him that I can share with you.

      1. Shirley Judge says:

        Hi Jeanette, I think I may have also left you a message on the Alice online website just last week . Jane at the History Cente has asked if she can send you my email address so I have said yes, My great grandmother was Alice sister of Ethel. Hope to hear from you soon x

        1. Jane Lewis says:

          Hi Shirley

          I’m delighted to put you both in touch and hope that you have a successful collaboration! Let us know if you have any Eureka Moments!

          Best wishes


          1. Jeannette Cummins says:

            Thank you so much for connecting us!

  7. Karen Lee Gibson says:

    Hello Jane
    I am looking for Woking gaol records for a gentleman named Alfred Thomas Jackson who was convicted of Manslaughter and given life and penal servitude, sent to Western Australia in 1866 he was sentenced in 1864, what I am trying to find out is what happened to him while he was in prison and if there is any documents containing information on him, I am doing an essay for the Family History course at the Tasmanian University. If your able to help me I would be very grateful
    Kind Regards

    1. Jane Lewis says:

      Hi Karen

      Generally, if prison records survive, they tend to be held at the National Archives in Kew. This is certainly the case for Woking where they are held under TNA Reference PCOM 2/141-151. However, do explore their catalogue ( as you may find further references to the prison there.

      Prisoners were often sent to Milbank Prison or to the Hulks while awaiting their transportation. Again, if they survive for the period you are interested in, the National Archives should have these records.

      Good luck with your research and with the Family History course. This enquiry has been answered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act (2000), Data Protection Act (1998) and the Environmental Information Regulations.


  8. Jo says:

    Hi Jane

    I am eager to find some information on the Lewis family that lived in Sutton Abinger, Surrey in the early to mid nineteen hundreds. My great grandfather was Edward Lewis and he had a daughter called Marjorie.
    Thank you !

  9. Jane Lewis says:

    Hi Jo
    What a lovely part of the world to explore your family history! I spent a very enjoyable day in this area trying to track down an old cottage with the aid of the census enumerator’s description, a copy from an old 25” ordnance survey map and a satnav! Even my unwitting and long-suffering husband enjoyed tramping along wet muddy lanes in glorious countryside to try and find an obscure house in the woods. Of course, it might have been the promise of a pub lunch, though …!
    We have some great resources to help you trace your family history here at Surrey History Centre. In addition to parish registers and the census, we also hold maps, poor law records, rates, local directories and so much more. You are welcome to visit us (it’s free!) and you can find further details about our services, facilities, opening hours and the resources we hold for Surrey’s history on our website at
    I hope we can see you here soon!


  10. Gray W Abbott says:

    I am looking for the records of my ancestor Maurice Morris Abbott, he was born in 1565 and died in 1642, can you please help. I also understand that he had a son named Robert Abbott born in 1613 and he died in 1642, is this true

    1. Jane Lewis says:

      How great to get back to the 17th century! The first thing we need to establish is where in Surrey Maurice and Robert Abbott came from and how we know when they were born and died! If you can let me know I’d be delighted to try and help get back even further. Sadly, the further back we travel with our ancestors, the fewer records we have to help us but let’s see what we can do!


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