Sarah (Moodey) Howcutt (1808-1886)


Barlavington, a parish in the South Downs of Sussex, had a population of 78 in 1811. Amongst those living there and in the neighbouring parishes of Sutton and Duncton at various years in the early 19th century were Robert Moodey and his family. Robert was already 48 when he married his second wife, 25-year-old Ann Rich, in 1806. They went on to have 11 children, the second being Sarah who was born at Barlavington in 1808 and baptised there at St Mary's church.


St Mary's church Barlavington

(courtesy Chris Pearson under licence CC BY-SA2.0)


In the earlier part of his life, Robert had been a farmer but by the time of his second family his position had declined to an agricultural labourer and at times a pauper.

Though picturesque, rural Sussex offered few opportunities for Robert's children, most if not all of whom survived infancy. By 1830 Sarah was living in central London. It was there that she married John Howcutt at St James church Piccadilly. By the time their first child arrived later in the same year the couple had moved to Brighton. There they remained until about 1840, as the census held in June 1841 records them with their four children (who were all born at Brighton) living at Brixworth, Northamptonshire.

Sarah's journeys included over 50 miles from the Barlavington area to London, a similar distance from London to Brighton and over 120 miles from Brighton to Brixworth. These would have been horse-powered as the railway system only started to develop in the 1830s and did not reach Northampton until 1845. Nor did trains run between Brighton and London until September 1841.

All but two of John and Sarah Howcutt's nine children reached adulthood. John died of lung disease in 1859, five years after the last child was born. Sarah was still at Silver Street Brixworth in 1861 but by 1871 had moved to live with Thomas, her oldest son, at Lurke Lane Bedford.

The final 15 years of Sarah's life are shrouded in mystery as she has not been found in the 1881 census. By the time of her death of "senile atrophy" in March 1886 she had returned to Northamptonshire where her home was 93 Lower Adelaide Street, a short distance north of the centre of Northampton but in the parish of Kingsthorpe.


Lower Adelaide Street (courtesy Alan J Clarke)


The unique ID for Sarah Moodey on the shared Tree at FamilySearch is MN9L-P29. It identifies 32 of her grandchildren and 31 of her great grandchildren. There are probably many more from the latter generation yet to be harvested.