The Meadows family of Baptist Chapel Yard

(Looking out over the burial ground of the old Baptist Chapel ..)

I want to thank Keith Sandy for prompting the inclusion of this page and for much of the information within it.

At the beginning of April 1851 census enumerator Richard Vickerstaff was putting the finishing touches to his part of the Ilkeston census — Enumeration District 3g.
Richard was a well-educated man, the collector of Poor Rates, living in Burr Lane which lay within his district.
This same district also included the east side of South Street, within which was a cluster of dwellings named by Richard as Baptist Yard — but sometimes referred to as Baptist Chapel Yard, its location obvious by its name.
And in this yard lived an interesting family.
— The head was John Meadows, a hawker in smallwares. He was born in Leicester in 1816, the son of framework knitter Thomas (and Hannah nee Bennett).
In 1844 John had married Rebecca Daykin at Ilkeston Independent Chapel and their daughter Hannah was born on July 12th 1845.
On April 23rd 1849 Rebecca died in Ilkeston, aged 24 — and three months later John, then described as a boatman, married his second wife at Radford St. Peter’s Church in Nottingham.
— She was spinster and lace runner ‘Mary Freeman‘ — described on the marriage certificate as the daughter of labourer Thomas Freeman — though she was (probably) ‘ Mary Stenson’, the illegitimate daughter of Sarah Stenson, baptised at Aston on Trent in October 1814.
Thomas Freeman and Sarah Stenson had married in August 1819.
— Also in the household was Ann Freeman, a young lass aged 11, described by Richard Vickerstaff as a ‘daughter in law‘ — this was a convention adopted by many enumerators, describing a ‘step-child’ as an ‘in-law’. (Obviously Ann could not have been a daughter in law in our accepted sense of that term.  She was more likely the child of Mary Freeman, born before her mother’s marriage to John Meadows).
There was a Sarah Ann Freeman, born in Ilkeston on October 21st 1839 to Mary Freeman (and a month later an illegitimate Sarah Ann Freeman was baptised at St. Mary’s Church, her mother recorded as Sarah Freeman … a mistake ?)
— there was also Hannah Meadows, aged 5, listed as a daughter … of John and his first wife Rebecca (above).
— and Thomas Meadows, a son, aged 9 months, born on July 12th 1850 … of John and Mary (nee Freeman)
— which leaves one other member of the household, who was … like a cuckoo in the nest …. Elizabeth Hardy, a daughter in law, aged 4.
I have long puzzled over who this Elizabeth might be. Logic would dictate that, like the other daughter in law, her mother would be Mary Freeman alias Stenson, born before Mary married John Meadows.
But where did the ‘Hardy’ surname fit in ?? 
Thanks to Keith we have an answer … he writes ….
I am a descendant of Elizabeth HARDY, aka Elizabeth FREEMAN born 1847.
Elizabeth was the illegitimate daughter of Mary FREEMAN and I believe that Mary was also illegitimate and adopted her stepfather’s name, FREEMAN, after her mother, Sarah, married Thomas FREEMAN.
There are several references on your site which indicate that Sarah and Mary originally had the surname STENSON and I have followed this up and found a Sarah STENSON b. 1789 at Weston on Trent and Mary STENTON b. 1814 at Aston on Trent, daughter of Sarah STENTON. 
However, following the family through census returns raises a few doubts. The ages given are very variable and both Mary and Sarah give their place of birth as Ilkeston.
Also, the only wedding for Thomas FREEMAN and Sarah STENSON I can find took place in Manchester.
The  full story of Elizabeth Hardy is very complicated.
Throughout her life she appears in various documents under FIVE different surnames yet she married only once, to my great grandfather Samuel Sandy, aka Samuel Dore — see what I mean ! (* see below). It took me about twenty years of on/off research to finally sort it out.
I could not find a birth registration or baptism in the Ilkeston area for Elizabeth as Hardy or Freeman but I found her marriage to Samuel Sandy at Babbington chapel in 1866. The certificate gives her father as Abraham Hardy which explains the entry in the 1851 census.
In the 1861 census she is under her stepfather’s name of Meadows; her mother Mary married John Meadows in 1849 in Radford.
In 1871 she is named as Elizabeth Doar, married with three children; her husband is missing but I later found him in Derby jail, another little mystery I would like to solve! (**see below)
The family moved to Yorkshire around 1874 and settled in the Wakefield area, my home town.
Census returns from 1851 to 1891 give Elizabeth’s birthplace as Ilkeston but in 1901 Walsall, Staffordshire is given and in 1911 it is Leek, Staffordshire. It seemed very unlikely that Elizabeth would have been born in either of these places and I ignored them for quite a long time. When I finally got around to looking again for Elizabeth’s birth I found it in Leek. The certificate confirms her father is Abraham Hardy and her mother is Mary Hardy formerly Freeman. I am convinced that Mary and Abraham did not marry as I cannot find a marriage. (*** see below)
The story that can be pieced together is quite a sad one.
The Freemans and Hardys were ‘next door neighbours’ in Workhouse Hill. Mary was about ten years older than Abraham and already had one illegitimate daughter. The couple moved to Leek when Mary became pregnant, possibly to avoid family disapproval. They may have intended to marry, albeit after the birth of Elizabeth but, sadly, Abraham died in the Leek workhouse two months after his daughter’s birth and Mary had no choice but to return to Ilkeston.
To complete Elizabeth’s story, she had seventeen children with my great grandfather and died in Wakefield in 1931 aged 83.

* Keith points out that Samuel Sandy alias Dore was born in Nottingham on December 10th 1845, the illegitimate son of widow Elizabeth Sandy (nee Sissons) and Samuel Dore.

** The Derby Mercury (Feb 8th 1871) records that at Ripley Petty Sessions, on February 6th, Samuel Doar was charged by James Merry, the Market Place ironmonger, with stealing one shilling in copper, from his shop, on January 31st. The charge was not proved and thus the case was dismissed. However, at the same court, Samuel was found guilty of being in the ironmonger’s shop for an unlawful purpose and was sentenced to two month’s imprisonment. And so off to Derby Jail !!

*** After the marriage of John Meadows and Mary Stenson in July 1849, the births of several of their children were registered at Ilkeston, when Mary was recorded as ‘Mary (Freeman)’ or ‘Mary (Hardy)’ or ‘Mary (late Hardy formerly Freeman)’.

Now on to the Baptist Chapel of Ilkeston