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Ann Sargeant 1837-1894 & William Stribbling

COMPILED BY JIM SARGANT (5) Benjamin (1), William (2), Jesse (3), William Henry (4)

The birth of Ann, the eldest daughter of Benjamin (1810-1870) and Amelia SERJANT (Vigar), coincided with the beginning of the Victorian era in Britain. She was born probably in early February 1837, her christening being registered at Nutfield on February 12 1837. At that time, Benjamin and Amelia, with their eldest child, toddler Philip were probably living at Alderstead Heath, Merstham, in Surrey. Certainly the family were at Alderstead Heath when Ann was four years old at the 1841 census. This was on the old turnpike road between Merstham and Chaldon, close to Nutfield.

Being the eldest girl, Ann would have been expected to help with her younger siblings as she grew older and events in her later life suggest that she was a very caring young lady.

Church of St Peter & St Paul, Nutfield
Ann was christened at the Church of St Peter & St Paul, Nutfield

By 1851, the family address was Pigeon House, Chipstead, but the 14-year old Ann was working as a live-in nurse to the large family of a well-to-do farmer, John Symonds in nearby Reigate.

Our next record of Ann is her marriage in 1860 to William STRIBBLING. This was no normal marriage, William being 12 years older than Ann and a widower with two children. William (born STRIPLING) had originated in Hawkedon, Suffolk, and his first wife had been another Merstham resident ? Ann Gubby, who had died in December 1857. William and his first wife had lived and raised their children in the Joliffe Row home of Ann Gubby Senior (his mother-in-law) in Merstham, he being shown as a lodger in the 1851 census. The new family was to spend their entire married life in Joliffe Row, Merstham, although they seemed to move from cottage to cottage according to the various censuses.

Marriage to William must have been a complete change for Ann, moving into her husband?s existing home with a ready-made family - two step-children (William, aged 10, and Harriet, aged 6) and William?s first mother-in-law (Ann Gubby?s mother ? also Ann). It is interesting to speculate how the 23-year old bride got on with the mother of her husband?s previous wife, 45 years older than her and head of the household. She must have loved children, immediately taking to her ?instant family?.

By the end of 1861 or the early days of 1862, Ann started her own family, Marianne?s christening being recorded on January 5 1862. Further children followed at regular intervals ? George, christened March 19 1865 : Andrew, christened October 10 1867 : Phoebe, christened October 30 1870 : Alice Maria, christened June 25 1872 : and Fanny, christened June 6 1876. It is intriguing to wonder how a family of such a size managed in the small workers? cottages that were Joliffe Row. Ann Gubby Senior probably died before 1871 and two of the children may have not survived childhood, Marianne being omitted from the 1871 census return and Alice Maria not appearing in the 1881 return.

The photograph below shows seven traction engines owned by Ann?s son George towards the end of the 19th century. George is seated at the unit on the extreme left. His wife Polly is at the front. George?s four sons & four other drivers are in front of the engines. The house is 15 Albury Road, Merstham. At this time, George lived at Brook Cottage, Albury Road & later at The Nest, 1 Albury Road (possibly the same house re-named). On December 4 1894, George was one of seven men elected to form the Parish Council of Merstham, the first meeting taking place on January 11 1895 with Lord Hylton as Chairman. The Parish council ceased to exist on March 31 1933, the following day being amalgamated into the Borough of Reigate.

Having started his life with Ann as a labourer, and being from a farming background in Suffolk, William seems to have acquired some engineering skills, his occupation in the 1871 census appearing to read ?foreman threshing machine?. Ten years later, he was a ?machinist? and by 1991 ?agricultural engine proprietor. In that same 1891 census return, Ann and William?s eldest son, George, was living next-door to his parents, with a wife and young family, so Ann doubtless enjoyed close contact with her grandchildren. George?s occupation was ?agricultural engine assembly?, so it may be assumed that father and son were in business together. By 1913, G. Stribbling, of South Merstham, was an agricultural machinery owner, so we can assume that was George continuing the family business, his father having died by then.

This development of engineering skills seems to have been echoed some years later in the life of his nephew Jesse Sargant, son of Ann?s brother William. Jesse?s daughter Jean recalls her father talking about the Stribblings

Ann died in 1894 ? a true Victorian lady who spent virtually her whole life in Merstham.

Ann Sargeant's Descendants
26 years on, in 1920, descendants of Ann took part in a pageant to celebrate the 700th anniversary of St Katherine?s Church. The adults are Ann?s grandchildren ?Alice, Mary, Andrew & Ada (children of George & Polly). The children are Ann?s great grandchildren ? Jim Francis & Joan Stribbling and Nancy Palmer, a family friend.

BENJAMIN SERJANT, 1810-1870 & AMELIA VIGAR, 1814-1897

Compiled by Jim Sargant, great great grandson of Benjamin & Amelia

Benjamin SERJANT is a bit of a mystery at present. With no birth or christening records found so far, we rely on census returns for the information that he was born in 1810 in Horley, Surrey. It is likely that he is the Benjamin Sargeant among the many family adult christenings recorded at St Bartholomew?s Church, Horley, on January 15 1832. This record names his father simply as Benjamin. If this was our Benjamin, a christening at about this time would have been a prerequisite to his Church of England marriage in 1834. Most likely is the theory that Benjamin was the eldest son of Philip Serjant (1785-1833) & Mary Cook (1792-1874). Records indicate that Philip had two wives, some of his children?s mother being named as Mary, others as Sarah. The sequence of the children?s births, plus the absence of any information about Sarah makes it likely that Mary Cook was also known as Sarah.

So far, the name Benjamin does not occur among any of Philip?s recorded children, but several of his offspring had Anglican christenings in adulthood. A Philip Serjant, who was a member of the Baptist Church in Horley, was probably our Philip, which would account for the absence of infant christenings records for most of his children, including Benjamin.

Church of St Peter & St Paul, Nutfield
Church of St Peter & St Paul, Nutfield

Apart from the census material, the first date we have relating to Benjamin is April 13 1834, when he married Amelia Vigar at the Church of St Peter & St Paul, Nutfield, Surrey. Nutfield Parish Records include another very interesting event on that same day ? the adult christening of Thomas Serjant, son of Philip & Mary Serjant. Thomas has not been found on any other record of Philip?s children. Significantly, the witnesses at the wedding of Benjamin & Amelia were Thomas Serjant & Catherine Brown ? surely a strong indication that Thomas & Benjamin could have been brothers. Thomas & Catherine were to marry two weeks later at Horley. Only Amelia was able sign her name in the Parish Register. She was a daughter of John Hewitt Vigar & Ann Mitchell, and had been christened at Burstow, Surrey, on May 15 1814.

The 1841 census shows Benjamin & Amelia with their early children living at Alderstead Heath, Merstham, Surrey. This is a wooded area on the North Downs, on the old turnpike road between Merstham and Chaldon. It is said to have been used to store tanks prior to D-Day in World War 2.

By the 1851 census, the family were at Pigeon House, Chipstead, Surrey. Since Benjamin was an agricultural labourer, like the majority of our male ancestors, addresses such as this probably refer to farm cottages adjacent to the house named, although it is a matter for conjecture how their usually large families fitted into the small cottages.

Census areas seem to have had strange boundaries in the mid 19th century. The 1861 census has our family living at Joliffes Road, Leigh. Ten years later, the were at Joliffe Row, Merstham, which is some miles from Leigh, so maybe Joliffe Row had been in the census district of Leigh.

Joliffe Row Cottages, Merstham
Joliffe Row Cottages, Merstham

The fact that so few people could read or write in those days accounts for the diversity of spellings of our family name, it usually being a matter for the discretion of the person recording an event. Most records show Benjamin as Serjant, yet records of his children have different spellings :

Philip Serjant      christened  Nov 14 1835     at Nutfield
Ann Serjeant        christened  Feb 12 1837     at Nutfield
Ellen Sarjeant      christened  April 28 1839   at Chaldon
Mary Sergeant       christened  March 21 1841   at Merstham
Thomas Sergeant     christened  July 16 1843    at Merstham
James Sargeant      christened  May 10 1846     at Merstham
Benjamin Sargeant   christened  March 11 1849   at Merstham
Amelia Sergeant     christened  June 1 1851     at Chipstead
John Sergeant       born        Dec 3 1853      at Merstham
William Sergeant    born        Dec 3 1853      at Merstham

Several of these children later changed their spelling of the surname ? especially Philip & William adopted Sargant, John adopted Sargeant.

Benjamin died on April 15 1870, the cause of death being stated as chronic cystitis on his death certificate. Amelia survived him, marrying again in 1877 to Joseph Atkins, and eventually passing away in 1897.

I am in touch with many ?family members? ? descendants of Benjamin and relatives of various spouses who married into the family, also descendants of the wider family of Benjamin?s probable siblings (children of Philip Serjant & Mary Cook). The uncommon first name Hewitt ? Amelia?s father was John Hewitt Vigar ? was to be repeated three generations later, with John Hewitt Sargant, grandson of Benjamin via his son William.



SON OF BENJAMIN & AMELIA (Original November 2006)

Benjamin (1), William (2), Jesse (3), William Henry (4)

Destined to become the founder of a new dynasty of Sargeants in the New World, John was born on December 3 1853. He and most of his descendants spelt the family name Sargeant. John and his twin brother William (who adopted the Sargant spelling) were the youngest children of Benjamin and Amelia. They were christened at St Katherine?s Church, Merstham two days after their birth.

He first appears on the census in 1861 as a child living with his parents and siblings. Ten years later he is living-in as a ‘farm servant indoor’ for Sarah Brown of Merstham. Some time afterwards, he went to work in the local lime pits. It was there that he was employed when he married Jane Blaker on May 19 1877. The marriage is recorded as being at Reigate, but this could mean Reigate District, which included Merstham.

At the 1881 census, John was a labourer at the chalk pit and was living, with Jane and children Olive Elizabeth (2) and Thomas Frederick John (1), plus a lodger, James Carpenter, at 115 Worsted Green, Merstham, which was also the home of Jane?s father, John Blaker, and her brother George. Whether the family abode changed frequently or Jane had her children in nursing homes or hospitals is unclear, but sequentially Olive was born in Merstham(1878), Thomas in Oxted (1880), Alice Amelia in Oxted (1881), George in Merstham (1884), William in Woldingham (1887), May in Tatsfield (1894) and Ruth Emily in Oxted in 1896. Two further unidentified children were born in 1889 and 1891 ; presumably they did not survive their birth.

By the 1891 census, the family was living in Chalk Pit Road, Oxted, and John was foreman at the nearby lime works. It was in this same road that John?s nephew Jesse Sargant, son of John?s twin brother William, brought his new bride, Kathleen to live after their marriage in 1903.

Around the turn of the century. Left to right: Back row : William, Thomas, John, George. Front : Alice, Jane, Olive. Children: Ruth, May & Doll

The family were still in Chalk Pit Road, Oxted, with John foreman at the lime works at the 1901 census, but John?s in-laws, the Blakers, started to get ?itchy feet? around the turn of the century, leaving England for the United States of America. By 1907, John?s sons William and George had followed them, joining Joe Blaker at Church Villa, Mumford, in Monroe County, New York State an area close to Lake Ontario.

On April 25 1909 John, Jane, Thomas, William and May arrived at Ellis Island aboard the ss Arabic, to start a new life in America.

ss Arabic

Only John?s eldest daughter Olive Elizabeth remained in England, having married Pharoah Brown Lucas in 1897.

The US census for 1910 records John and Jane plus Ruth and May living with their daughter Alice and her husband William Habgood, who came from Oxted, in Wheatland, Monroe County. William was a farmer and John a farm labourer.

By 1920, the Habgoods, William and Alice, had moved to Leroy, Genesee County, New York State. Living with them were John and Jane, Ruth and John?s granddaughter Elizabeth, daughter of George and Maria. John?s occupation was farmer.

The Ellis Island records show a William Sargant arriving aboard the Majestic in November 14 1922. It is tempting to think that this could have been John?s twin brother visiting after the pair not seeing each other for many years.

The family in Leroy c1920.
Back left to right : Ruth, George, John, Jane, Rose (George?s wife), May, William Habgood, Alice.
Front : Elizabeth (George?s daughter), Wanda Hammond (May?s daughter), Myrtle Habgood.

Sadly, Jane died on January 30 1923. John continued to live with Alice and William in Leroy. He passed away in Batavia, Genesee County on August 28 1933. He and Jane were buried in Machpelah Cemetery, North Street, Leroy.

John has many descendants today living in New York State and elsewhere in the United States and Canada, as well as descendants of his eldest daughter Olive in the UK.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT.....William Sargant

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT.....William Sargant

(Last amended August 2009)
Benjamin (1), William (2), Jesse (3), William Henry (5)

My great grandfather and his twin brother John were born on December 3 1853 to Benjamin and Amelia Serjant (note different spelling). He and John were christened in St Katherine?s Church, Merstham on December 5 1853.

He married Agnes Gadd at Holmwood, near Dorking, on March 25 1872, when the surname was spelt Sargeant. Agnes came from Newdigate ? not far from the Surrey/Sussex border. The marriage certificate shows both residing in Holmwood and neither was able to write at this time, making their marks on the certificate.

Two of their children died very young ? William aged 2 years on February 27 1877, and Albert Edward aged 9 months on February 18 1878. By the 1981 census, the name was spelt Sargant. William and Agnes were living at Bores Green, Merstham with their children Amelia (8), John Hewitt (5) and Jesse (1). William was a farm servant. There were three lodgers ? Jessie (31), John (24) & Annie (19) Gadd ? probably siblings of Agnes.

Harrie was born in 1884 and his mother died on June 7 1885. It has been suggested that Agnes died in childbirth, but this could have been as a result of Harrie?s birth.

William married his second wife, Dora Louise Penny in 1890. At the 1891 census, they were living at Fore Bridge Cottage, Gatton with Jesse and Harry. William was an agricultural labourer. Ten years later, William and Dora were at 6 Albury Road, Merstham with their daughters Florence (9) and Eva ((5) and William was a coal merchant.

Jean Austin insists that her grandfather was William Henry, although there is no trace of a second name on William?s birth certificate. The family was quite religious and Jean thinks that William was in the Church choir.

Maria Gadd, William?s mother-in-law

Louise, William?s 2nd wife

Having worshipped at Merstham Parish Church, St Katherine?s, for all his life, William seems to have played a part in the introduction of a new church to serve the growing population of South Merstham. All Saints? was constructed mainly using local bricks in a 13th century style. It was opened for worship on February 6 1898 & consecrated by the Bishop of Rochester on July 4 of the same year. This photograph of the dignitaries of the new Church may have been taken at either of these events.

William (arrowed) appears to be holding a staff shorter than those held by the man in the front row. Merstham historian & author, Alex Hunter suggests that this indicates that William was a deputy Church Warden, the larger staffs being the symbol of office of the Church Wardens.

William?s sister Amelia died young but worked for a time for a Rev Wagner, a Roman Catholic clergyman who became well-known for revealing a confession ? of a murderer. This was the subject of a television play some years ago.
His brother John Hewitt, according to Jean Austin, married a posh lady called Julia. Jean knew him as Uncle Jack. He was steward of the Brighton Conservative Party. After Julia died, he re-married a cook ? Kate Louise. He died on August 8 1950 aged 75. Kate Louise died on August 23 1969.

Having been an agricultural labourer all his working life and unable to write in 1872, William started a coal merchants business in Merstham in 1890 ? presumably influenced by his new wife. At some stage, the family moved from 5 to 32 Albury Road, Merstham, which doubled as the headquarters of the business and a home.

This photograph (overleaf) of 32 Albury Road has been copied from a pictorial history of Merstham. The caption reads:

Mr Sargant?s House. William Sargant lived at ?Belvedere?, number 32 Albury Road. The board between the upstairs windows gives the information that W. Sargant, Carman and Coal Merchant, was established in 1890. The postcard dated 1915 was written by Mrs Sargant and sent to Ruth to inform her that ?They arrived home quite safely and that the train was on time, just right for the bus. Dad thanks you so much for his tobacco?.

After the Second World War, the downstairs front room was used as an office where callers could place their orders for fuel with Sargant & Martin (coal depot at Merstham Station) : a warm welcome awaited them in the shape of a continuously burning stove that was never allowed to go out during the winter, a good advertisement for solid fuel in the days before gas central heating.

The postcard referred to was obviously sent by William?s second wife Dora Louise, but who Ruth was is unclear. Did William and Dora have another daughter? Or could this be Ruth Sargant, daughter of William?s nephew Frederick (son of Philip, William?s eldest brother)?

The Merstham address in this advertisement does not tally with other information

Florence, a daughter from William?s second marriage, married a Frederick Martin. Presumably he joined the coal merchants business, hence its later name Sargant & Martin Ltd. It can be assumed that the name change occurred after 1913, since Kelly?s Directory of Surrey for that year list ?Sargant William, Albury Road, South Merstham & Station Merstham, Redhill? under the heading Coal & Coke Merchants.

William & Dora

William?s twin brother John emigrated to America with his family in the early 1900s. On November 14 1922, arrivals at Ellis Island for New York aboard the Majestic included a William Sargant. Was this a final meeting of the twins ?
William passed away on March 30 1927 (see death certificate on following page).

Florence continued running the business until after World War Two. David Davis, who lived next-door to the coal yard in Albury Road between 1946 & 1958, remembers Florence, her husband Bert/Burt & son George. Florence sold the business and emigrated to Canada to live with relatives. There is no evidence to suggest that these relations were Sargants, so the assumption is that they were associated with the Pennys. It is probable that someone else ran the business for some years after Florence left. The company was dissolved in 1975 as recorded in The London Gazette dated June 26 1975.


(Note: The spelling of the surname varies)

This article has been compiled from various sources by Jim Sargant ? great great grandson of Benjamin Serjant, b 1810 Horley, Surrey.

In the 18th and early 19th centuries, the Sargants living in the countryside adjacent to the Surrey/Sussex border seem to have been very involved with the Baptist Church, especially those in the Horley area.

The Philip Serjant who may well have been the father of Benjamin (b 1810 Horley) was a member of the Horley Baptist Church in the early 1800s and there is a record of other Sargents associated with that Church in the 1700s.

In the Surrey Quarter Sessions records is a certificate of approval of Nathaniel Palmer Jun of Oxted as a preacher and of the use of houses of David Sargeant at Nutfield and Nathaniel Palmer Sen at Oxted as places of worship. It is dated April 13 1787 (Easter). No connection has yet been established between this David Sargeant and our family. Possiblities include David Sargant, christened February 4 1749 at Petworth, Sussex, parents David & Martha Sargant ; David Serjeant, married 21 Oct 1754 at East Grinstead, Martha Ingerfield.

It would be interesting to know what happened during the period from about 1830 and 1845, when there was a spate of adult christenings in Anglican Churches among the Sargants. Among these is one for David Sargeant at Horley on January 15 1832 : could this be the same David who was such a devout Baptist that his home was a place of worship 45 years previously ? Other family members recorded as being christened at St Bartholomew?s Church, Horley on that day ? Robert & Abraham, sons of Philip Serjant & Mary Cook ; Dinah Sargeant, possibly a daughter of David Sargeant & Elizabeth Ridley ; and Benjamin Sergeant (possibly my great great grandfather), son of an unknown Benjamin; Mary, Benjamin, Eliza, George & Ambrose, children of Benjamin Sargent & Elizabeth Strudwicke, and William, son of Isaac & Mary Sargent (unidentified relationship with our Sargants). Also christened on this day at Horley was Elizabeth Huggett. Could this have been the same Elizabeth who was to marry another of those christened then, Abraham, on April 10 1847 at East Grinstead?

Another four sons of Philip Serjant & Mary Cook were christened at Horley on January 5 1834 ? Matthew (6), Mark (4) and twins Luke & John (this was the day of their birth).

In the Burstow Parish records, four Sargents (children of Thomas & Ann Sargent1) were christened, having been born between 1818 and 1827. The record book explains that the family converted from being Baptists.

Other notable adult christenings include Thomas Serjant (son of Philip and Mary) on April 13 1834 at Nutfield, when and where he & his wife-to-be, Catherine Brown, were also witnesses at the marriage of Benjamin & Amelia Serjant. There is also a record an adult christening of a Benjamin Serjant at Merstham on May 11 1845. This seems unlikely to be ?our? Benjamin (b 1810 Horley).

Subsequently, we know that several members of our family became leading members of various Anglican Churches.

Will we ever learn what caused an apparent mass conversion of the Sargants from Baptists to Anglicans over 160 years ago ? One possibility is related to one of the firm beliefs of the Anabaptists and more strict elements of the Baptist Church in pacifism. In the turbulent times of the 18th and 19th centuries, could the patriotism of our ancestors have been a factor ?

Although there is not the slightest indication of a link to our ancestors from Sargant Country, there was a number of Sergeant and Sergent christenings at two of the Huguenot Churches in London between 1677 and 1787, in most cases the parents having been born in France.

Nonconformist Movement in Sussex ? probable background to the Baptist/Anabaptist faith of many of our ancestors

It seems likely that our Surrey Sargants had their ancestry in Sussex. The late 1500s marked the advent of Puritanism, which eventually led to the establishment of nonconformist Churches, At first, Puritanism was a new way of being a member of the Church of England, although Puritans disliked ritual & hierarchy and questioned the need for bishops.

At the Eastern end of Sussex, Puritanism became especially strong. After Oliver Cromwell?s parliamentarians prevailed in the Civil War, the Puritan tendency held the upper hand. Parliament established the Westminster Assembly of Divines to reform the Church of England along Presbyterian lines. One duty of the Assembly was to decide which incumbents were doing their job diligently enough to retain their livings. All incumbents had to sign a new Act of Uniformity by 1662. In Sussex, many refused and about one in four of all incumbents resigned or were ejected from their livings.

This was what pushed Nonconformists into splitting into separate denominations, though attendance at Church of England services was compulsory and probably many turned out occasionally for the law?s sake, before attending a nonconformist service in a private house. Such were the circumstances which prevailed for our Baptist forebears in the Horley area, as it is recorded that the first Baptist Chapel there was not opened until 1846. Most of adult christenings in the Anglican faith were earlier than this.

Browsing through the IGI records on the Family Search (Church of Latter Day Saints) site, it is evident that many of the Sargant* family in other parts of England also had affiliations with the non-conformist movement.

To add to the confusion about the possible religious origins of our ancestors, IGI records also include several Sergeants & Sergents christened in French Huguenot Churches in London.

1 This Thomas was probably a brother of the David who married Elizabeth Ridley, & Philip who married Mary Cook, and whose wife was Ann Huggett (married December 22 1817 in Nutfield). These do not appear on our family tree ? at present.