Sarah Holt

 BORN 6 October 1793 at Lexden, Essex, England.
 BAPTISED 5 November 1793 at Lexden, Essex, England.
 DIED 15 March 1889 at Brimscombe Court, Thrupp, Stroud, England. Link 
 BURIED 20 March 1889 at Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington (Grave 9361)
 FATHER Daniel Holt (1768-1836)
 MOTHER Ann Clarke (1764-1823)
 MARRIED James Thurtell-Murray (1790-1867) on 25 October 1818 St Leonard’s, Shoreditch, England. Link 
 CHILDREN   Anne Thurtell (1820-1905)
Frances Jane Thurtell-Murray (1822-1902)
Ellen Thurtell (c1823-)
James Thurtell (c1825-)
Walter Murray (1826-1875)
Emma Thurtell-Murray (c1828-)
Sarah Josephine Thurtell-Murray (1832-1852)
Alexander Murray (1834-1870)

Sarah Holt (some add a middle name Ana) was second daughter of Mr Daniel Holt of Lexden. Daniel Holt was a miller who went bankrupt.

Mrs Clist recounts that Sarah Holt of Lexton, Colchester, was engaged as governess to James Thurtell-Murray’s cousins. Her grandfather, Rev. John Gordon, Rector of Assington, Suffolk, is recorded in an old gazetteer as having bequeathed £100 to be used in the education of poor children in the parish in which he ministered.

Sarah was almost certainly employed by another James Thurtell (1770-1831), uncle of her future husband. Perhaps her father’s bankruptcy created a need for Sarah to have employment.

Other than the matter of her employment as a governess, we know little about Sarah’s young days, but before agreeing to marry James Thurtell, she had a sweetheart, one William Tills of Bow who, though described by James as an honourable man, refused to compromise his position as a Gentleman by marrying beneath him. [William Frederick Tills (1791-1864) was a naval officer.] This must have been a pretty serious business, since even 50 years later, Sarah and James went on a pilgrimage to the man’s grave in Edmonton Church Yard. The breakup with Tills may have had something to do with the suddenness of Sarah’s decision (as described by Mrs Clist) to marry James.

Sarah was living with daughter Anne Evans at time of 1881 census.

The only family of Thurtells who lived close enough to Hobland Hall for James to be able to visit for lunch (see Clist account) is the Loddon Thurtells, who lived somewhere in Hopton at the relevant time (they moved to Loddon in 1817-1818). They also had seven daughters (aged about 9, 8, 7, 5, 4, 3 and 1 in the spring of 1818), and thus were very likely to have employed a governess, as they would have needed one for another 15 years or so. The only other female cousin that James had in the area was Phoebe Thurtell (aged about 8), daughter of his uncle George (who lived in Flixton). Sarah might have been Phoebe’s governess, but she doesn’t really fit the description of cousins, although she did have a 3-year-old half-sister. Sarah also clearly kept in touch with Helen Joyce, daughter of the Loddon Thurtells, which of course she might have done anyway.

Genuki records show that in 1868 a John Gurdon [sic] was patron of the living of Assington, not the Rector. [The patron of the living was the one who appointed the incumbent. It usually went with being the Squire, but not always; Alexander Thurtell’s parish was in the gift of Caius College Cambridge, which was how he came to have it.] In any case, the living of Assington was a vicarage, not a rectory. Ernie Spinks has noted that the surname Gurdon is oft repeated on memorial stones in and around the church. One Brampton Gurdon was rector in 1732. [Gurdon family history says the family arrived in England with William the Conqueror.]
      — Sukie Hunter

Left assets valued at £701/14/6.

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⬩⬩⬩ web page made 21 January 2006; edited  ⬩⬩⬩