My maternal great-grandmother was Ellen May Jolly.

Ellen's parents were William Jolly and Emma Clarke.

William Jolly

William Jolly was born in Bungay in 1854. He was the last born son of Josiah Jolly and Susan Short. In 1873 William married Emma Clarke, d/o Thomas Clarke and Emma Barber, who was born in Bungay in 1851. William and Emma Jolly had at least eleven known children:
William (1874)
Louisa (1877)
Alice (1878)
James (1880)
Charles (1882) (died 1887)
Herbert (1885)
Charles (1888)
Barney (1890) (died 1890)
Frederick (1891) (died 1892)
Ellen May (1894) My great-grandmother
Frederick (1896)


The Jolly ancestry has been traced back as far as the 1600s. It is believed the line originates from Wortham, county Suffolk although this is yet to be proven. In the mid 1700s the Jolly family moved to Laxfield, county Suffolk - they were all Agricultural Labourers by trade.

Laxfield High Street

The first Jolly (in my direct line) to move to Bungay was Josiah Jolly (b. 1806) with his new bride Susan Short. See my blog about Josiah here.
Josiah's brother Robert Jolly (b. 1795) who married Honor Miles in Laxfield in 1821. They had at least nine known children, one of whom was William Jolly (b. 1823). William married Rachel Barber and after having three sons they immigrated to Australia in 1852, sailing on "The Bombay". Still today there are many Jolly descendents living in Victoria. This photograph, courtesy of Mrs MacWhirter, shows William and Rachel Barber taken around 1900 in Australia:

William and Rachel Jolly

Josiah and Susan Jolly were married in 1829 in Laxfield and moved to Bungay sometime around 1830. Finances must have been at an all time low as both Josiah is recorded in the Shipmeadow Workhouse (Wangford Union) minute books as having been admitted in 1830. Susan received parish relief for herself and her child (Mary b. 1829) in July 1830. Susan gave birth to a son at Shipmeadow Workhouse in October 1830 - their second child, Josiah (jnr).
Josiah Jolly was, according to the Beccles Quarter Sessions, sentenced to twenty-one days imprisonment on 8 February 1831. The reason gives that "Josiah Jolly, Pauper, aged 25, refused to work at Shipmeadow Workhouse". This would have been a serious crime in those times and subsequently, Josiah spent three weeks in Beccles Gaol for his troubles.
Following this little "incident" Josiah and Susan found ways to better improve their finances and lived in the town of Bungay, remaining there until their deaths. Josiah and Susan had at least thirteen known children, despite their financial challenges, the last of whom was my 2xg/grandfather, William Jolly:

Mary (1829)
Josiah (1830)
Maria (1834)
Emma (1836)
Eliza (1839)
Charles (1840)
David (1842)
Rachel (1843) (died 1844)
Elizabeth (1847)
Ellen (1848) (died 1849)
Charlotte (1851)
Susan (1852)
William (1854)


  1. hello
    I am living at shipmeadow in one the houses which used to be the workhouse I am trying to find out as much as possible from back then. I find it most interesting a lot of great history. if anyone know the history of the then workhouse I would love to hear from you my name is sue thank you.

    1. Hello Sue, thanks for your message. I don't know a lot about the history of the Shipmeadow Workhouse but you could try visiting the Bungay Museum. They would probably hold some information which would be helpful to you. Good luck.