Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Alden Family

As much as it shames me to confess this, I really haven't given much conscious thought to my step-family's ancestry. My grandmother Lilian married Alfred James Sampson (who I knew as my Grandad Buster when I was a child). I knew that Lilian was a widow when she married Alfred and I also knew that Alfred was a widower.

When Lil and Alf married my relations increased from three aunts and uncles to eight aunts and uncles. Until much more recently I hadn't paid attention to the fact that my Grandad Buster's first wife Jean - the mother of my step-family - had her very own family story too. Better late than never, I am now working hard to rectify my oversight.

Jean Sampson (nee Alden) with her niece & nephews
in Beccles, around 1950

Jean Nora Alden was born in 1929, the illegitimate daughter of Mollie Alden. In 1948 Jean married Alfred Sampson and they had five children (my step-aunts and uncles). The family were dealt a cruel blow when Jean died of cancer in 1964. She was only 34 years old.

Mollie Joan Alden, Jean's mother, was born in Beccles in 1910. She was the second youngest of fourteen children born to Robert Alden and Emily, nee Gilding. Robert and Emily were married at Saint Michael's Church, Beccles on 28 April 1892.

The 1911 census states that Robert Alden was a Brick Layer by trade, which caught my attention as my Grandad Buster (Alf Sampson) was also a Brick Layer. The 1891 and 1901 census returns show Robert as a Maltsters Labourer. Interestingly, Robert and Emily's childrens names were written on the 1911 census form rather haphazardly which made double-checking them against the GRO Birth Index challenging. They were as follows:

Ernest Leonard Alden
Annie Norah Alden (known as Norah/Nora)
Ellen Catherine Alden (known as Nellie)
Emily Hilda Alden (known as Hilda)
Robert Benjamin Alden
Harry Edward Alden (known as Edward)
Frederick George Alden
Agnes Mercy Alden (known as Mercy)
Florrence Alden
Nancy Alden
Ivy Elizabeth Alden
Mollie Joan Alden
Frank Stanley Alden (was born in 1912)
There was also a 'Female' Alden born (possibly stillborn) and died in 1894

Robert English Alden was born in 1872, some records state Beccles as his birthplace and others say Bungay. He was the son of James Alden and Mary Ann, nee English. James Alden was previously married to Elizabeth Aldred (m. 1845) who died in 1859. James and Mary Ann English were married at Saint Michael's Church, Beccles on 6 August 1871. Both signed their names with an "X".

Robert Alden (right)

James Alden was born in 1818 in Ringsfield. He was an Agricultural Labourer by trade and lived for most of his life in Ingate Road, Beccles. He also lived in Puddingmoor and Hungate Lane, both in Beccles. James died in 1897, aged 79. After his death James's wife Mary Ann made her living as a Charwoman and in 1901 was living in Ingate Road with two of her daughters. In 1911 the census returns show her working as a Housekeeper for the Ashley family of Newgate Street, Beccles. It is believed that she died in 1914 in the county of Essex.

My next blog will concentrate on Emily Gilding and her ancestry (the mother of Mollie Joan Alden). Mollie Alden's father Robert died in 1950, aged 78 and her mother Emily died in 1929, aged 57. Mollie married in 1941 to Samuel Barley, known as Toby. She died in 1987.

I must acknowledge and thank S. Howlett for sharing the photographs you see on this blog post, via the Ancestry website.


  1. Great post! And I love the photos, too.

    1. Thanks very much Frances, I really appreciate that. xx

  2. Hi Debs, my name is Linda and my grandfathers name was Robert Alden. I never met my grandfather as he was divorced from my nanny I believe before I was born. I know he came from Beccles and was born about 1900 so I think he is the child you have listed above. I have never even seen a photo of him, so is the photo above of my grandfathers father? Many thanks Linda x

    1. Hello Linda, thanks for leaving a comment. Apologies for the delay in responding. If you mean that your grandfather was Robert Benjamin Alden, then yes the photo above shows his father, Robert. x

    2. Hello Debs, Thanks for getting back to me. Do you have any photo's please of my grandfather Robert Benjamin Alden. I have never seen a photo of him, and never met him either. Many thanks. Best wishes Linda x

    3. Hello Linda, sorry I don't have any photographs of the Alden family. The photographs you see on this blog post were reproduced with kind permission from Sheila Howlett via the Ancestry website. Sorry I can't be more help than that I'm afraid x

  3. Do you know what happened to Annie Norah Alden ?