Discovering Digweeds and Tuttles in South East England

As part of my family research I have been following the Digweed family in my tree back in time. The earliest record I have for my seven times great grandparents, Thomas Digweed and Abigail Shepherd, is a record of their marriage on 10 (possibly 16) July 1653 in Thatcham, Berkshire. Over the summer I have been visiting some of the places the family lived in in Berkshire and nearby places in Wiltshire.


St Mary The Virgin, Thatcham

Thomas and Abigail had at least seven children: three boys and four girls. Finding their records has been challenging though as there are many and different spellings of Digweed. A couple of examples are: Digwidd and Diggweed. While some members of the family remained in Thatcham others moved to nearby villages in Berkshire.


All Saints, Ham

My five times great grandfather Charles Digweed (1703-1760) was born in Thatcham and died in Greenham. Charles and his wife Ann Chapman (born about 1717) had at least eight children: four boys and four girls.  Their grandson and my three times great grandfather, John Digweed (1791-1851), settled with his wife Rachel Hillear (1793-1851) in Ham in nearby Wiltshire. John and Rachel had at least eight children: seven boys and one girl and John was recorded as an agricultural labourer living in Ham in the 1851 census. Their son Thomas (1836-1910) was my two times great grandfather. He too was an agricultural labourer who seems to have moved around somewhat probably in order to find work. With his wife Mary Ann Tuttle (1837-1900) he had at least twelve children: six boys and six girls. One of their sons, Francis Edward Digweed (1873-1959), was my great grandfather.


Great Grandfather  Francis Edward Digweed

By the 1901 census Francis was married to my great grandmother, Violet Kate Richardson (1878-1971), and living near Skipton in Yorkshire when he gave his occupation as a coachman. By 1911 he was a domestic coachman to the Lawley family in Escrick, Yorkshire. As an aside, I was looking at the records of the family (Forbes Adam collection) at the Hull History Centre and came across a number of mentions in the Estate account books for the mid-1910s of payments to Digweed for “clipping the mare”. A later photograph of Francis, provided by a family member, shows him in his chauffeur outfit standing by the Lawley family car.

I do remember my great grandmother Kate and I am lucky to have some family photos provided by one of my relatives. Also, some of the photographs of churches in Berkshire have been taken by me. What I didn’t find in any of these churches’ graveyards were any memorial stones for members of the Digweed family, indicating perhaps that they largely remained as agricultural labourers over quite a long period of time.


St Michael and All Angels, Shalbourne

When I visited Shalbourne though what I did come across were members of the Tuttle family buried in the graveyard: Stephen Tuttle (1803-1876) and his half-brother John Tuttle (1805-1887). Stephen was my two times great grandmother, Mary Ann Tuttle’s (1837-1900), father.


2nd Afgham War memorial

There were also some members of the Tuttle family on two war memorials. The oldest memorial was a cross dedicated to three soldiers of the parish who were “Soldiers of the 66th Royal Berkshire who fell at the Battle of Maiwand, Afghanistan”. One of these soldiers was Lance Corporal George Tuttle (1847-1880), my first cousin four times removed, who died in Afghanistan during the second Afghan War.


G D Tuttle

The WWI memorial in Shalbourne churchyard also has two Tuttle men on it: T(homas) Tuttle (1888-1917) and G(eorge) D(avid) Tuttle (1889-1917). Both were privates in the Royal Berkshire Regiment and are my second cousins three times removed. G D Tuttle’s grave in Shalbourne churchyard is marked with a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone.

No members of the Digweed family featured on any of the WWI memorials in the churchyards I visited indicating that they had largely moved away from the area by the start of WWI. It was interesting though to find members of the Tuttle family. Just also to say that my photographic skills are not great and all the photos on this blog post, bar the one of Francis Digweed, have been taken by me, so apologies for their quality. It has been interesting visiting parts of Berkshire which were unfamiliar to me despite the fact that I gained my first degree from Reading University.

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