James Gorrod (Goddard)

Speen Church
St Mary the Virgin, Speen, Newbury, Berkshire


Zach’s eldest son, James Gorrod (aka Goddard) married Mercy Elizabeth Gulliver on 14 July 1834 at St Peter in the East Church, Oxford. They lived in Benham and he was a huntsman and whipper-in. He died on 9 Jan 1843 from “Delirium Tremors” (DT’s) in the presence of a nurse. We cannot know what caused the tremors because as well as alcoholism tremors can be caused by a head injury from a fall.

James died 9 January 1843 aged 35 (according to the family bible and headstone) and was buried on 15 January 1843, aged 36 (on the vicar’s church record) at St Mary the Virgin Church, Speen, Newbury, Berkshire. Was his birthday between 9th and 15th January and a misunderstanding of age occur with the vicar? If so, Hannah would have been 2 months pregnant on her wedding day. Unfortunately, the baptism records for 1808 were badly damaged and impossible to read.

Church records show that –

  • His burial record stated his name as James Goddard or Gorrod, aged 36
  • His daughter Harriett was baptised on 3 January 1836 as Goddard
  • His daughter Rose was baptised on 17 December 1837 as Goddard
  • His son Thomas was baptised on 7 June 1840 as Gorrod alias Goddard

Thomas was baptised at Stockcross Church, Newbury, Nr Benham.  Benham village is tiny and has no church of its own. Stockcross Church was built in 1839. All the records of St Mary the Virgin, Speen, had been deposited at Reading record office but to access Stockcross Church records we had to visit the church itself.

Children of James & Mercy Elizabeth Goddard

Harriett (Harriot) appeared on 1871 census living in Luton, unmarried, working as a char woman, with a young daughter Emma*, aged 4, but with a nurse living in.

(*Emma, Emmy and Emily etc on censuses were often interchangeable in those days.)

We found Thomas on a military census in 1871, working as a private in the Royal Marines on the vessel Achilles, Isle of Portland, Weymouth. He was 32 years old and single, although he was probably married later that year.

On the 1881 census he was at the Royal Marine Barracks, Forton, Alverstoke, Hampshire as Private RMLI (servant) and from information on other censuses we can assume working as a batman to an officer possibly in some capacity with horses.

He was married to Charlotte who was a cook and they had a son John aged 3 and daughter Annie aged 10, but also, interestingly, their niece Emily (Harriet’s daughter), aged 13 was living with or visiting them. In 1911 Emily’s  mother was living with her and her husband.

Emma is not with Thomas in 1891 when she would be aged 23, she married Edward Smith in London, having worked as a housemaid in Beckenham, Kent.  The 1901 census shows her living in Deptford, Kent with her children Benjamin, Edward and Winnifred.  In the 1911 census she has a further 3 children, Frank, Harold and Muriel Ivy and is living at 27 Windmill Lane, Deptford with husband Edward and her mother Harriet Goddard, a widow!, born in Benham, Berkshire aged 74.  It is quite usual for unmarried mothers to become widows in later censuses!

The 1891 census showed Thomas living at a School of Art on the Isle of Wight, aged 51 and working as a coachman, whilst his wife was a caretaker. He was still living there on the 1901 census, his wife was still caretaker but he was ‘living off an army pension’.  On a visit to the National Archives, Kew, London, we found Thomas Goddard’s attestation papers when he joined the Royal Marines 23 June 1859, aged 19. These included ‘defaulter’ records which showed that he was drunk five times from 1865-1868. It is surprising that his character was judged as ‘good, fair’ as he was sent to gaol from HMS Revenge on 20 October 1862, although the captain of his new ship could not find out why he had been punished. It would appear that he was married around 1871 (his daughter Annie was born in 1871), his behaviour improved and he started to collect GCB’s (good conduct badges).

He was illiterate upon joining in 1859 and made his mark instead of signing his name. The documents show his father and mother as John and Elizabeth (he was only five years old when his real father James died) and the censuses show his father as John from the marriage of John and Mercy Elizabeth in 1845.

Rose married a butcher/farmer Robert Horspool in 1872 when she was 35 years old. They were still living in a farmhouse in Loddington, Leicestershire in 1901 which incidentally is still there. By 1911 she was a widow and living with her sister, Sarah Ann Goddard, who remained unmarried, and her nephew, James Edwin Goddard, who is working as a grocer’s assistant.

Gorrod Family Bible

The Gulliver/Gorrod Family Bible, which is still in existence today, was originally owned by Mercy Elizabeth Gulliver who was born 21 May 1815 in Bucknell, Oxfordshire. She had the bible as a child and wrote her name on the side when she was ten years old. On the edge of the pages when the bible is closed is written “Mercy E Gulliver, G Bucknell 1825”

Handwritten on the inside cover of the bible are the following inscriptions:

“James and Elizabeth Gorrod, married July 14th 1834”
“Harriot Gorrod, born November 23rd 1835”
“Rose Gorrod, born November 20th 1837”
“Thomas Gorrod, born May 13th 1840”
“James Gorrod, died January 1843, aged 35”

Gorrod Family Bible
Gorrod Family Bible


It has taken quite some time to prove that Mercy Elizabeth firstly married Zach’s eldest son James and then married her dead husband’s brother, John.

A Parish Register transcription had mistakenly transcribed ‘Thomas’ as ‘James’ and when we checked the Bishop’s Transcripts via the micro fiche records in the Morman Temple, Chorley, we found that this marriage was indeed possible.

In additionwe found in the chapter ‘Horn and Hound’ it stated that Zach’s son “Jem, [was] a very determined fellow who died when first whip to Ben Foote with Mr Villebois”

Grave: James Gorrod
Grave of James Goddard, Speen (1843)


Further research of the 1841 census showed James Gorrod with wife Elizabeth, daughters Harriott and Rose, and son Thomas living at Benham Gardens. We found Frederic Villebois living in the manor house ‘next to Benham Gardens’ with 14 servants. In addition, we found Ben Foote on the same census living nearby. This was proof that ‘Jem’ was our ‘James Gorrod’.

James Gorrod’s headstone reads:



There was then, of course, the problem of the Church of England Kindred and Affinity laws not allowing marriage between a man and his brother’s wife.

It is significant that John and Mercy Elizabeth married by special licence in 1845.

Whilst researching another line recently we found evidence that if you were rich enough you could marry by special licence, and if you were even richer a ‘backhander’ to the vicar could bend church regulations and enable ‘banned kindred’ to marry.

Thomas Goddard…