Will of Mrs Sarah Sanders

Will of Mrs Sarah Sanders
Detail from the will of Mrs Sarah Sanders


It was in March 2011 that I first wrote anything for this website and that was the product of several years of previous research by a distant cousin and me about his Epsom ancestors, the Barnards. We are still researching them, on and off, but haven't made much progress, other than to establish that the family name was originally Barnett and that it changed somewhere around the time they moved from Chertsey to Epsom in the very early 1800s. The culprits appear to be old Timothy Barnard's parents, John and Alice, who were Barnett in Chertsey and then Barnard of Epsom. Having got nowhere much with the aforementioned John, a short while ago I decided to look at Alice, who was a Chertsey Sanders (often written in parish registers as Saunders). It didn't seem promising, so imagine my surprise when I discovered that some of the clues and answers had been right there in front of our noses in the churchyard of St Martin's, Epsom. And we'd missed them, twice, because we were too busy with people actually called Barnard.

John Barnett and Alice Sanders were married at St Peter, Chertsey on 25 November 1779 and we know that they are buried in Grave 9 at St Martin's with two of their children, although the bottom of the stone, which contains their names, was partially sunken. Nevertheless, they are in there and they were both buried on 10 January 1826. What we didn't realise when we visited was that we should have looked at the 'next-door neighbours'. It's often the case that members of the same family are buried in adjacent graves, but the immediate neighbour was a young man called Richard Martin and we'd never heard of him.

South West quadrant of the churchyard
This is a section of the larger plan on this website which shows the South West quadrant of the churchyard.

To recap, number 9 is John and Alice Barnard and Number 10 is this as yet unknown Mr Martin. So who is in Number 11? A gentleman called John Swayne, late of CHERTSEY, who died on 12 December 1817, aged 87 years. I doubt we even noticed Mr Swayne when we were there - we had never heard of him either - but the Chertsey should have put up a red flag. Had we noticed it, we would have seen that the other occupant of Number 11 was his sister, a lady called Mrs Sarah Sanders, 'of this parish', who died on 13 March 1819 in her 89th year. CHERTSEY and SANDERS should have been double red flags.

Mrs Sanders

Mrs Sarah Sanders was the mother of Mrs Alice Barnard - she said so in her will, a hugely helpful document which has identified most of the Sanders children for us. I don't believe that Sarah and her husband John lived in Chertsey to begin with (Harlington, Middlesex and London probably) and that Alice was possibly born in Hammersmith. Alice was 69 years old when she died, either at the very end of 1825 or early in January 1826, so an Alice Saunders, christened at St Paul Hammersmith on 11 February 1757, with parents named John and Sarah, is quite likely to be her (as I said, sometimes the family are shown as Sanders and sometimes as Saunders). I am not speculating further on any other children who might have been born before Chertsey, but those born afterwards were as follows.

NameApprox. year of birthOther information
James1764Died before 1811. Had at least two daughters, one of whom was called Rebecca - see later.
Rebecca1765Married twice and lived in Epsom - see later.
William1766May have lived in Epsom - see later.
Harriott1774Died before 1835 but did marry - see later.

Given the gap between William and Harriott, it is possible that there were other children (I think there was one who died in infancy in 1773), but I cannot find any others who are definitely the right family and who survived to adulthood.

Rebecca 1

Rebecca 1 is the 1765 lady, daughter of John and Sarah Sanders. She could be in the churchyard too, but I am getting too far ahead. Her first husband (married at St Clement Dane's, Westminster 1808) was …. Richard Martin. We now have a full house from Graves 9 to 11. Richard seems to have been much younger than Rebecca, but the burial register itself verifies the memorial inscription - he died in 1812, aged just 31.

Thanks to the copious selection of records on this website, we find that in 1809 Richard had a fire insurance policy with Royal Exchange and that says he was a Coffee House Keeper. It doesn't specify the address but I can tell you that it was what became the Albion pub on Albion Terrace in Epsom High Street (more shortly). In 1815 that insurance policy was cancelled and Mrs Rebecca Martin of Epsom, widow, took out a new one. Then, on 14 January 1824, at St Benet, Paul's Wharf, City of London, Rebecca married widower Thomas Baker.

Albion Terrace from an early photograph of Epsom High Street c.1890
Albion Terrace from an early photograph of Epsom High Street c.1890
Image courtesy of Epsom & Ewell Local And Family History Centre

Thomas was born in about 1780 and in August 1811 at Chislehurst, Kent he married Sally Maria/Mary Porter. Their son, Thomas, was born in May 1812 but sadly died in August, followed by his mother on 31 December 1812. Sally and young Thomas were buried at St Nicholas, Chislehurst. I don't know what exactly Mr Baker did for a living but his address was Doctors' Commons in the City of London. This was already so in 1812, when his son was born, and continued to be the case at least until his marriage to Rebecca Martin. Indeed, I think that he still kept rooms there until the day he died.

Doctors' Commons was situated near St Paul's Cathedral and housed such things as civil courts, ecclesiastical courts and the Prerogative Will Office. It was a bit like the Inns of Court, in that it was a kind of legal community: the people who worked there often lived there too, so there were porters, housekeepers and all kinds of support staff. I think that Mr Baker was an official or senior servant of some kind, rather than a lawyer; he was also a friend of William Barnard, brother of Old Timothy, who was a porter at the Doctors' Commons complex. At any rate, his experience, whatever it was, probably stood him in good stead when he came to the Coffee House at Epsom.

Prerogative Will Office, Doctors' Commons, London
Prerogative Will Office, Doctors' Commons, London
Thomas H. Shepherd [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Coffee Houses varied a great deal as between different establishments, much as pubs do, but we know that the one in Epsom, apart from being a place for refreshment, debate and transaction of business, also hosted auctions and sittings of the Bench of Magistrates. This is an extract from Gordon Home's book 'Epsom: Its History and Surroundings' (originally published in 1901).
'The "Albion", formerly known as the "Coffee House", at the south-west end of the High Street, is an old establishment, smaller than those just mentioned, but it has a very old-fashioned aspect, and is conspicuous by its large projecting upper window. About sixty years ago this inn was kept by Mr. Thomas Baker, a retired worthy of Doctors' Commons. This gentleman produced such a high-class tone about the inn that it was playfully named "The House of Lords", while the magistrates' courts were for many years held in the large front room on the first floor.'
Mr Baker had a nephew and four nieces, the children of his brother, John Turner Baker, a former naval man who died in 1840. Latterly John had resided in Ipswich. There is a fair amount of evidence that most, if not all, of the children had close connections with Thomas, for two of the girls were married at St Martin's and another was with him in Epsom in the 1841 census The nephew was John Thomas Baker, a student at University College Hospital in London. Rebecca died in the spring of 1841, aged 76, followed by young John (aged 27) about a year later and then Thomas himself died at the end of 1842: all three of them are in Grave 332 at St Martin's.


The spelling of this name varies but we shall stick with Harriott. She appears to have married William Evans (born c.1785 Maidstone) early in 1803 and a daughter, Mary, was born in November of that year. I am not aware of any other children. Harriott died at some point before 1835 - I have yet to find her date of death or burial place. William was a distiller (the Evans of 'Seager & Evans', who made Seager's gin) and magistrate and, in 1840, a Sheriff of London and Joint Sheriff of Middlesex. Despite the fact that he came from a land-owning family, there is evidence in Mrs Sanders' will that she had lent him money, possibly in connection with the distillery enterprise, which began in 1805.

William Evans by (Isaac) Weld Taylor
William Evans by (Isaac) Weld Taylor
Images source: NPG (D36596) (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

As you will have noticed, Epsom and Chertsey are constantly popping up in this piece. So, on 24 September 1835 at St Martin's Mary Evans married Benjamin Ward, who was, I believe, a surveyor of taxes. Both were said to be 'of this parish', but whether they were long-term residents or not I don't know. It wouldn't surprise me if Mary at least was with the Bakers.

To return to William Evans, on 13 March 1838 at St Marylebone he married Louisa Forth and once again Epsom rears its head, since Louisa was a daughter of John Forth the racehorse trainer, who had trained at Down Hall for some years. They lived in London and on William's country estate, 'Twynersh' in Chertsey. William died in 1856 and was buried at St Peter, Chertsey.

William Evans' grave at St Peter, Chertsey.
William Evans' grave at St Peter, Chertsey.
Image courtesy of Gravestone Photographic Resource.

Memorial tablet to William Evans in St Peter, Chertsey.
Memorial tablet to William Evans in St Peter, Chertsey.
Image courtesy of Gravestone Photographic Resource.

(Note: Lavinia Evans Jennings [nee Shaw], who erected the tablet, was the wife of the Reverend John Jennings of Westminster. Both William Evans and James Lys Seager, joint founders of the distillery, were witnesses at their 1840 wedding.)

Louisa died in 1880 and was buried in St Martin's with other members of the Forth family (Grave 58).

Rebecca 2

This Rebecca was even more of a revelation than the other members of the Sanders family, as I have met her before; the entire Sanders discovery has come as a surprise to me, and all because we couldn't originally find a christening for an Alice Sanders (Mrs Barnard) in Chertsey and didn't look at the neighbours in the churchyard. Rebecca 2 seems to have been born in Epsom, according to censuses, but I am suspicious about that. I only knew who she was at all thanks once again to Mrs Sarah Sanders' wonderful will, because she told me that Rebecca was the daughter of her son James. We know that James died before 1811, which was when Sarah made the will, because she refers to him as her 'late son'. It has been a major task tracking down the wife of James, and I can't say that I have for sure, but she might have died early on too and perhaps Rebecca thought she was born in Epsom because she was brought up there by the Sanders clan. She got married on 19 July 1825 at St John the Evangelist, Westminster; the witnesses were Thomas Baker and Mary Evans, two people you have already met, and the groom was John Bailey (Junior), the Epsom draper. Fortunately, I don't have to tell you anything about the Baileys as I've already been there and done that more than six years ago - in the article entitled John Bailey, draper. And I can now see why the Baileys' daughter, Ann Baker Bailey, had the middle name she did - she was Mr Baker's god-daughter, which was mentioned in his will - and probably ditto for their son, Edwin Saunders Bailey. Rebecca 2 died in 1864 and is buried in St Martin's with her husband (Grave 307).


William was certainly alive when Sarah wrote her will in 1811 and presumably she would have changed it had he predeceased her, so where is he? There is a man who roughly fits in St Martin's Churchyard (Grave 380), but I can't say it is him for sure - if it is, he died in 1831.


As you now know, it's very possible to make 'schoolboy errors' when doing family history research. I have made many, but this one takes the biscuit. So, if you're just starting out on your family research and you visit a churchyard or cemetery, it might be worthwhile to photograph or jot down the names and dates of the neighbours for later reference.

Linda Jackson 2018