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Ronald Basil Girdler

1925 - 2017


Helene Girdler

1927 - 2020


The earliest date that I have so far found in my direct GIRDLER lineage is 1621, when William Girdler married Margaret Crooke at Hurley (Berkshire) Parish Church. In my wide searches of the parish records of Berkshire and N. E. Hampshire, the parishes in which the name GIRDLER has been found have increased with time as a result of migration from parish to parish. During this period, they spread from two parishes in the area (Swallowfield and Odiham) to 15 parishes. Although I have so far been unable to discover where William Girdler was born, it was certainly not in Hurley as previous records in this parish show no evidence of any Girdlers prior to 1621. It could possibly have been in Swallowfield or Odiham, or perhaps from over the county border in Oxfordshire or Buckinghamshire.

Margaret Crooke (wife of William Girdler) was the daughter of Lawrence and Margery Crooke. She was born in Hurley and was baptized in Hurley Parish Church on 15th February 1595. She had two younger brothers - Thomas (b. 1598) and John (b. 1601). John Crooke later became Sir John Crooke and married Sarah Lovelace, the daughter of Sir Richard Lovelace (Lord Lovelace of Hurley). Sir Richard Lovelace had been knighted at Dublin in August 1599 by the Earl of Essex, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, "at the rising of the camp after the fight in Ophaley" (for service against the Irish), and subsequently elevated to the peerage by Charles I on 30th May 1627. He was referred to as a "gentleman of met tal" and succeeded in lighting upon the King of Spain's West Indian Fleet during the reign of Elizabeth I "where with he and his posterity are warmer to this day".

Lawrence Crooke died in 1636 and was buried at Hurley Parish Church on 8th March of that year, A copy of his will was obtained from the Bodleian Library in Oxford, in which he left most of his estate to his wife and sons, but bequeathed to "Margaret Girdler, my daughter, four pounds of lawful money of England, one half to be paid the first year after my wife's decease and the other half the second year after her decease". The will is shown in Figure 6, and includes a detailed inventory of his belongings, including items such as "one hog of bacon, five small puter dishes and sault seller, one boarded bedstead, three flocks of bees, one hayfer, four bushells of maulte, one ould mare, one kettle, one skillet" and many other miscellaneous items. William and Margaret Girdler lived in Hurley and had 7 children, four sons and three daughters, all baptized at Hurley Parish Church, These were John (b. 22nd Sept. 1622), Mary (b. 20th Nov. 1624), Joanne (b. 17th June 1627), William (b. 4th Dec. 1631), Richard (b. 8th May 1636), Thomas (b. 8th Apr. 1638) and Elizabeth (b. 24th Sept. 1643), There was no record of William's (the father's) death, but there was a burial record for "the widdow Girdler" on 14th August 1661. Presumably William Girdler died before this date but was not buried at Hurley Parish Church.

It is interesting to note that during the Civil War between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians from 1640-1651, a number of battles took place in Berkshire, in which Reading changed hands many times. The Girdlers at Hurley must have experienced the difficulties of this troublesome period in English history. The Lovelaces were staunch Royalists and it seems possible that William Girdler was involved in the war and perhaps died in battle.

Of the children, no further information was found about John, Mary, William or Elizabeth, except that John paid the Hearth Tax for 2 hearths in 1663, indicating that he had a reasonably large house at that time, Joanne gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, Maria, who was baptized on 13th March 1652. Richard married Elizabeth White at Hurley Parish Church on 2nd July 1666 and they had 5 children - Elizabeth (b. 1667), Jane (b. 1668), Nathaniel (b. 1670), Richard (b. 1673) and John (b. 1685) Richard's wife, Elizabeth, died in 1694 and was buried on 17th April in that year.

The other son, Thomas, married Mary Gunnell at Hurley Parish Church on 10th August 1671. They had 5 children - Mary (b. 6th May 1677), John (b. 2nd April 1682), Thomas (b. 1st Feb. 1685), William (b. 25th Sept. 1687) and Richard (b. 7th Dec. 1690). Of these children, no further record was found of Mary, and Richard died at the age of 4 and was buried at Hurley Parish Church on 21st April 1695, Thomas married Sarah Gooden of White Waltham (the neighbouring parish to the S. E. ) at White Waltham Parish Church on 7th Oct. 1707. They had 7 children, but 4 of them died by the age of 10 (this includes the first-named Martha, who presumably died before the other Martha was born). His 2 remaining sons both married and gave him 11 grandchildren as shown in the chart opposite, William married Ann --- (marriage as yet untraced) and had 2 children in Hurley parish (Abraham b. 1722 and Mary b, 1727), then moved to Bisham parish (the neighbouring parish to the E. ) where they had another daughter, Susannah (b. 1728) plus 2 other children as yet untraced. This information was obtained from the Quarter Sessions Records for Berkshire, where it was recorded that "William Girdler, Ann his wife + 5 children were removed from Bisham parish to Cookham parish on 11th Oct. 1734". They had presumably established Cookham as their main dependent parish at some previous period, either by virtue of residence or employment there, and were returned to that parish under the settlement laws when they were on hard times and needed parish relief. It is possible that Ann originally came from Cookham and that they were married there, but no trace of this could be found in the Cookham records.

As seen above, Thomas Girdler's son, John, was baptized on 2nd April 1682. From a comprehensive study of all Girdlers in the E. half of Berkshire and surrounding counties, the next positive record fitting in with a John Girdler born around 1682 is in Eversley parish, which is just over the county boundary on the N. edge of Hampshire next to Finchampstead and Swallowfield, Berkshire. The records in the Eversley parish register read as follows: -

Mary, ye daughter of John Girdler baptized April ye 1st 1707. Mary, ye daughter of Mary Girdler (alias Cowdrey) b. Apr ye 1st 1707.

An extensive search has failed to find any record of a marriage between John Girdler and Mary Cowdrey and it seems probable from the above record that they were living together and that Mary was his "common law" wife, Mary Cowdrey was the daughter of John and Mary Cowdrey of Eversley and was baptized at Eversley Parish Church on 2nd April 1682, From 1707 onwards, John and Mary appear to have led a very itinerant life. They first returned temporarily to Hurley parish, where their daughter Mary died (only 1 month old) and was buried at Hurley on 11th May 1707. They then travelled steadily southwards presumably in search of work.