John Buswell – Brixworth

Thomas Buswell (1787-1858) was a miller in Clipston, Northamptonshire.  As a small village such as Clipston could only accommodate a certain number of millers/bakers only his first son, Thomas, continued to be a miller & baker there.  Edward, his second son, went to Creaton and his third son John (our direct ancestor) went to the nearby Brixworth both to become bakers.

Brixworth Wesleyan Chapel_600
Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Brixworth, Northants


John Buswell appeared in the 1861 census working as a baker and living in a street called Backside along with Rebecca, his wife and 4 daughters, Margaret, Miriam, Elizabeth and Lily Jane, as well as a servant, Hannah Buswell.

John Buswell and Rebecca Dickins were married on 8 May 1851 at Moulton Baptist Chapel.  Their first child was Margaret Buswell who was was born on 29 July 1851 and baptised on 19 July 1854, aged 3 years at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel (pictured and now a private residence).

Children of John & Rebecca Buswell

Name Place(s) of Residence Life Dates Married
Margaret Buswell Northamptonshire Warwickshire & Cornwall 1851-1933 William Goddard (1850-1936)
Herbet Buswell Brixworth & Kettering & Nether Heyford 1854-? Catherine Sweetman (1856-?)
Miriam Selina Buswell Brixworth 1856-1909 Alfred John Brown (1854-1905)
Elizabeth Ann Buswell Brixworth & Bishop's Stortford (Herts) 1859-? George Allan Sansum (1859-?)
John Charles Buswell Brixworth 1868-? Gertrude Eliza Butcher (1864-?)
Mary Ann Buswell Brixworth & Chipping Norton (Oxfordshire) 1869-? Alfred Frederick Wilson (1866-?)

   Chart: Ancestors of John Buswell

Brixworth old bakehouse
Brixworth Old Bakehouse

John Buswell and his family continue to appear on the census’ between 1871 and 1891.  John continued to work as a baker in Brixworth for at least 20 years and may have lived in the Old Bakehouse (see photo). His son Herbert followed his father into baking but, as his father did, he had to move away (to Kettering) in order to continue his trade.

John died on 10 Feb 1900 and Rebecca died almost exactly 9 years later on 16 Feb 1909.  We’ve not yet managed to find their burial place. John left £205 to his widow on his death.

All Saints, Brixworth
All Saints, Brixworth, Northants

This is where the Buswell and Goddard family trees join together.  William Goddard married Margaret Buswell on 26 March 1875 in Brixworth, Northamptonshire at All Saints’ Church. It is the largest surviving Anglo Saxon building in the country. All Saints’ church was built around 680 AD and extended and repaired over 1300 years of continuous use. The stonework is most impressive and the Norman chevron type brick pattern can be seen quite clearly.

The witnesses at William and Margaret’s wedding were named on the marriage certificate as Alfred John Brown (who was a plumber on the 1881 census) and Miriam Selina Buswell, Margaret’s younger sister. Incidentally, she was named after a sister Selina who was a twin born with brother Herbert in 1854 and who had died aged 12 months, the year before Miriam was born. As we opened the gate to take photographs from the back of the churchyard the first gravestones we saw were of this couple, Miriam and her husband Alfred – the witnesses.

Grave: Miriam Selina Brown (Buswell)
Grave of Alfred & Miriam Brown (nee Buswell)
(click image to enlarge)

The reason for William’s residence in Brixworth was due to the fact that the Pytchley hounds were kept in kennels in the village, except in the summer when they were kept at Althorp.   Kennel Terrace (which still exists) had a row of stone cottages which originally housed some of the Pytchley Hunt staff.  The present library is adjacent to the site of the old Workhouse which apparently was renowned for extremely harsh treatment of the inmates. It opened in 1837 and only closed in 1935. It is unlikely that any Goddards would be inmates, however, because a revealing piece of information emerged in the record office regarding a local custom held before the start of the hunts in 1878. “In those halcyon days before ‘capping’, it was ‘gooston’ for strangers to bestow a piece of gold on the huntsman and his whippers-in”.

He was not the first of the Goddard family to live in Brixworth, however.  The 1841 census showed William’s uncles Thomas (1812-1844) and Christopher (1822-1889) Goddard, stayed at the Red Lion Inn in Brixworth.  Thomas had also worked as First Whip to the Pytchley Hounds.  He died in Brixworth aged 34 just 2 years after his older brother James Goddard (who was married to Mercy Elizabeth) had died from ‘Delirium Tremors’ in Benham, Berkshire.  The death certificate of Thomas Goddard showed that he died from ‘hydrothorax from pneumonia neglected’ which according to certain sources may have resulted from excessive alcohol and liver damage.


Grave: Thomas Goddard_Brixworth
Grave of Thomas Goddard at All Saints, Brixworth
(Click to enlarge)

His gravestone  is in All Saints Churchyard and states that:

This stone was erected by his 

friends in testimony of their

sincere affection and love

You have to wonder whether the tradition of butlers and parlour maids offering half a tumbler of neat whiskey to the whipper-in on returning from the hunt, when he had been deprived of food for many long hours, had anything to do with the deaths of Thomas and James. It could have encouraged further drinking but it should be remembered that their father Zac lived to 71,  William lived to be 86 and his brother, John Christopher also lived to the age of 80 despite being whipper-in’s.


Margaret Buswell
Margaret Buswell

Margaret was over seven months pregnant on her wedding day on 26 March 1875 and we found that her first born, Gertrude Mary, born 10 May 1875 had been baptised with her brother John William on 24 Dec 1876 when she was 19 months old and he was 2 months old. But why did she wait until she was over 7 months pregnant before getting married? Was there family opposition to the marriage because of the supposed ‘gypsy’ connection?

There has been a long standing belief within the family that somewhere there was a gypsy connection.

The Goddard family did, indeed, move more than most in following their work but they could not be called gypsies in the conventional sense. ‘Boswell’ is a gypsy name and Margaret Buswell had a slightly swarthy or perhaps weather beaten complexion and ‘lidded’ eyes but her grandfather Thomas Buswell, born in 1788 and her father, John Buswell, born in 1823 were both in settled occupations, millers and bakers, and family marriages and christenings were in the Baptist and Methodist churches. Her father lived in the same house from the census of 1851 to his last census of 1891, Back Side becoming part of Kennel Road, so we found no evidence of a gypsy-style existence. On her mother’s side also the Dickins were in the settled occupations of millers and bakers. Perhaps there is an Eastern European gene or DNA yet to be found!

   Chart: William Goddard & Family 

Margaret Buswell’s mother, Rebecca Dickins, and the Dickins ancestors were baptised, married and buried at All Hallows church at Lamport. They lived in Hanging Houghton and used the church at Lamport because their village consisted of just a couple of streets (even today). Clipston and Creaton, where many Buswells lived, were also very small villages and all close to each other.