Tim Sunter's family history

A web log of my family history research

Dyer’s cruise in to family history

Ada Hill Birth Certificate

Confirmation has arrived that Alice Hill, Fred’s grandmother, was born as Alice Dyer. This provide a crucial link to the Dyer family – who, born in Stratford on Avon – worked on canal boats during the 19th Century.

The first trace of Thomas Dyer is in the 1841 Census when he is listed as a ‘boatman’ working at Old Stratford, Stratford on Avon, Warwickshire. Next to his name in the left margin of the census is the word “William” – presumably the boat on which he was working.

Thomas’s age is listed as 20 – although he was actually born in 1820. Enumerators working on the census were instructed to round down ages to the nearest five years.

The Census data reads:

1841 Old Stratford, Stratford on Avon, Warwickshire

William( in margin)Thomas Dyer, 20, Boatman

Thomas seems to have been staying on the boat alone as no others are listed within the household.

By 1851, as we would expect from a boatman, the family is on the move.

Thomas has married Hannah and they have four children listed as being born at Middx (Middlesex?), Buckinhums (sic, Buckinghamshire) and Thestfords (?). Thomas and Hannah’s birth places are listed as not known which suggests that whoever was giving the enumerator the data, it was NOT one of these two. Sadly the name of the boat is not recorded.

1851 Paddington, All Saints, Marylebone

Canal South Way

Thomas Dyer,31, Head, Canal boatman, not known

Hannah Dyer, 29, Wife, not known

William Dyer, 8, Son, Mddx

Frederick Dyer, 6, Son, Middx

Sarh Dyer 2, daughter, Buckinhums

Emma Dyer 3 months, daughter, Thestfords

By 1861 the family are now on “The Leeds” at Marsworth, Buckinghamshire

Alice, Fred’s grandmother, has now been born.

Thomas Dyer, Head, Married, 41, Master, Warwick, Stratford on Avon

Hannah Dyer, Wife, Married, 40, Warwick, Stratford on Avon

Frederick Dyer, Son, 16, Mater, Warwick, Stratford on Avon

Elizabeth Dyer, Daughter, 9, Warwick, Stratford on Avon

Alice Dyer, daughter, 7, Warwick, Stratford on Avon

Thomas Dyer, Son, 4, Warwick, Stratford on Avon

Joseph Dyer, Son, 2, Warwick, Stratford on Avon


The canal at Marsworth, Buckinghamshire (grev16, Google Earth)

By 1871, the last Census before Alice married Arthur Hill, the family is moored at Tardibigge. Alice, though, is not present and despite searches I cannot find where she is. The rest of the family on the Leeds are:

Thomas Dyer, Head, Married, 50, Captain of Canal Boat, Worcester, Stratford on Avon

Hannah Dyer, Wife, Married, 49, Worcester, Stratford on Avon

Thomas Dyer, Son, Unmarried 14 , Apprentice (?), Worcester, Stratford on Avon

Charles H Dyer, Son, Unmarried, 8 Worcester, Stratford on Avon

Waller Dyer, Son, unmarried, 4 Worcester, Stratford on Avon

Perhaps a clue to the location of 14 years old Alice is that also at Tardebigge, a few boats away, are some more Dyers:

Francis Dyer, Heard, Married, 24, Captain of canl both, Worcester, Stratford on Avon

Emma Jane Dyer, Married 20,Worcester, Stratford on Avon

William Dyer, Unmarried, 16, Assistant

John Learson, 14, Assistant

Could it be that she has been left with relatives?


3 thoughts on “Dyer’s cruise in to family history

  • Tim Sunter says:

    Since writing this article I have found that Alice Dyer was working as a domestic servant also at Tardebigge in 1871.

  • David Dale says:

    I am a relative of Thomas and Hannah Dyer they being my Great Great Grandparents
    and Like you I could not someone, my Great Grandmother Mary Ann Dyer was not on
    any of the boats in the census of 1851 1861 1871, Then I found her in the 1871 Census
    visiting in Islington London with her Sister Sarah Jane and her new Husband John Townsend

  • David Dale says:

    in 1881 she was then a servant living with the Hunt Family she is down as a niece
    and she went on to marry my Great Grandfather Charles O Hunt, so it looks
    like Thomas Dyer sent his young Daughters out into domestic service when he
    had to

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