With the information about John Springfield and his family gathered from his records (SHC ref: 1714), Surrey History Centre looked for him on the Surrey census returns held on microform at Surrey History Centre.

John Springfield on the 1881 census for Guildford

John Springfield appears on the 1881 census for Guildford (National Archives ref: RG11 776 53A), confirming his African origin, and his occupation as a bootmaker. His wife and daughter also appear along with a boarder. This is an interesting discovery as Alice M Randall, the boarder, is only one month old.

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John Springfield does not appear on the 1891 census . The newspaper article (SHC ref: 1714/10) gives this year as the date of his death. Eliza Springfield still resides on Stoke Road with her daughter. She is shown as a widow living by her own means. There is again a lodger, but it is not the child, instead an 18 year old labourer to a bricklayer, William Powell (National Archives ref: RG12 0559 57A).

The 1901 census (National Archives ref: RG13 622 65B) shows Eliza and her daughter living in Church Street Cottages, Dorking. They are both needlewomen. It seems that in the space of ten years her daughter has been married and been widowed. The census return shows two children, a girl aged three (the granddaughter who deposited the archive) and a boy aged two. The collection includes copies of the girl’s birth certificate (SHC ref: 1714/5). There was also a second girl but she died aged 6 months.

John Springfield’s burial entry in the parish records for St John the Evangelist

To confirm the date of John Springfield’s death, his burial entry was found in the parish records for St John the Evangelist (SHC ref: STK/5/5).

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According to the newspaper article (SHC ref: 1714/10), however, John was a Methodist and it is likely that he attended the Wesleyan Methodist Church on North Street.

Surrey History Centre has delved deeper into the story of Guildford’s first black man.

Follow the life of John Springfield and find out some of the types of sources useful for tracing family history.

Find out more…

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