A family tree of the Randell family originating in North Norfolk
Thomas Randell ~ The Randell Warm Seawater Baths ~ Clockmakers ~ Ironmongers ~ Postmasters ~ Sailors ~ Victorians

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Thomas RANDELL 1786

In the 1861 census, Thomas Randell, Watchmaker of Cromer, was recorded as born 1787 in Bessingham. This slim fact represents the best evidence we have in linking Thomas to his parents and the baptism register of St Mary's Church, Bessingham confirms the baptism of 'Thomas Randle, 19 September 1784, the son of Clemence & Sarah Randle (nee Powdich)'. Whilst the dates differ slightly, no other Thomas Randell was born in Norfolk within 5 years of that date and people had no idea of their age anyway. This was time when you were a young man, a man, a married man, and if you were lucky, an old man.
The Randell family home in Cromer, was identified by Cromer Museum as Woodford House, Jetty Street, Cromer. It is a three storey property, with a doubled fronted shop into Jetty Street and extensive ocean views from the rear. This property still exists and whilst today it doesn't enjoy all of it's former glory, it does provide an insight into their world, status and daily lives. The family lived at Woodford for an extended period and all the children were born and raised there.
Thomas and family are recorded at Jetty Street in 19841 and again in 1851. As far as I'm aware Thomas doesn't make a personal appearance in the 1851 census but wife, Mary, and the children are at Jetty Street.

Thomas Randell declared his occupation as Watch & Clock Maker in the census information but the commercial directories of the period add other strings to his bow. The earliest reference I have found is, Pigots Directory of 1822. On this occasion he was recorded simply as a Watch & Clock Maker but by 1830 this had been amended to include "Proprietor Randell's Warm Sea Water Baths, & Bathing Machines."
An 1825 book, "A Norfolk Tour", wonderfully illuminates life in Cromer during that period and specifically alludes to the owner of Cromer's Bathing Machines. Whilst the entire book is a delight, several small passages are relevant. "Cromer was first frequented as a watering place about 1785. The Bathing Machines, nine in number, are commodious and the Bather is a careful and attentive man" and in a later publication "Cromer now ranks as one of the most fashionable sea bathing places in the kingdom. On the beach are Mr Randell’s Warm Baths and Bathing Machines for immersion in the open sea."
By 1846 Thomas Randell had evolved to be recorded as Brazier, Bathing Machine Proprietor and Fish Curer. In 1850 Hunt & Co were recording Thomas as the owner of Randell's Baths but they also state that he ran a fish curing enterprise and Randell's Lodging House. Also in this issue, Thomas Randell Jnr appears for the first time as an Ironmonger in Brooke Street. By 1854, Whites Directory has Thomas as a Fish Curer and shopkeeper in Jetty Street and Thomas Jnr as an Ironmonger in Brooke Street. Two years later, in 1856, Craven & Co have only Thomas junior's son, Ephraim Randell in Cromer and he was noted as a shopkeeper in Brooke St.
Strangely, in the directories of the time, Thomas Randell is only described twice as Watch & Clock Maker. Despite this, Clifford and Yvonne Bird's definitive catalogue of 'Norfolk and Norwich Clocks and Clockmakers' lists Thomas Randell as a 'Clock and Watch Maker, Ironmonger, Tinman & Brazier and the proprietor of the Warm Sea Water Baths'. It states 'Made the old church clock now at Alby. Mahogany long case clocks, (Christie's, 1983)'.
(Alby Church Clock, image).
Bird's also document that he voted Whig in both the 1833 and 1841 National Elections. A snippet of obscure trivia but a significant one. Up until 1831 the number of people eligible to vote in Norfolk as a percentage of the adult population was less than 5.0%. This improved significantly to 7.1% after 1832 Reform Act. The Reform Act allowed a greater number of land or property owners the vote but didn't quite embrace the great unwashed. The Whigs at the time stood for a newer more egalitarian way of thinking presenting a reformist agenda.
Thomas Randell's death certificate states; died 26 July 1864 aged 80, "Cause of Death - Draining of abscess on neck - Certified". At death he was said to be eighty which differed slightly from the earlier census records. The cause of death is interesting, the implication is that he was undergoing a medical procedure and died presumably under the care of a doctor, more than likely the same one who certified the death. His youngest son John was present at his death.

ANCESTRY ~ Clement / Thomas

Jetty Street, Cromer in June 2007

Mary Anne GRAY 1798

An entry in the Parish Register of St Peter and St Paul Church, Cromer, written Monday, 6 May 1816 records the union of Thomas Randell and Mary Anne Gray. The details of the marriage are recorded with the utmost brevity, Thomas, a bachelor, married spinster Mary Anne Gray and the ceremony was witnessed by Sarah and W. Fuller. There are no notes and no indication of any family or origins of any of the four participants.
So who exactly was Mary Anne Gray?
'Mary Randell', wife and mother, appears in three consecutive census records. On each occasion consistently identified as born Southrepps 1798. Unfortunately, no Mary Anne, Mary Gray or Grey appears in any of the published baptism registers from that year or the years close to 1798.
Just to confuse the issue further, her death certificate, filled out by her daughter, states 'Mary' died 1864, aged 71 years. Using simple maths this suggests she was born in 1793, five years earlier than the census records indicate. This date is not unreasonable as there's no reference to her being under twenty-one at marriage.
Southrepps is one of a few places in the country were the 1800 National Census survives and incredibly records names. In 1800 Southrepps had nine households named Gray, totalling 30 individuals. The households, identified by 'Head of Household' only, included Matthew, Francis, Thomas, William, a second Thomas plus 'Ann Grey' a spinster (note spelling) and finally a brace of unnamed Widow Gray's. The Grays of Southrepps followed the occupations of Butcher, Carpenters and to be expected Farm workers.
None of the assembled evidence makes any headway in identifying Mary's parents but the recently published Wesleyan Registers, identify Mary as the daughter of Matthew & Mary Gray in the 1834 baptism record of her youngest son John.mary ann gray
Unfortunately, this doesn't quite open up a clear viewof the Gray's to the Middle Ages or even Southrepps. I'm still unable to offer anything significant about either Matthew or Mary Gray of Southrepps. It does seem reasonable that all the Grays of Southrepps were related, and descended from the 1727 marriage of Frances Gray and Ann Cubbitt but, who knows...
Matthew Gray, an agricultural worker in the 1800 census, had an adoring wife and four obedient children. Beyond that scant information I can find no further reference to either of them, possibly because they were non conformists and outside the control of the Church of England, the source of most surviving records.
It's worth noting that the early labour movement came directly out of the non conformist churches of around this period. Chapel service at the turn of the eighteenth century might have included hymns and parables but the underlying message of the progressive thinkers in the Methodists was “we are all equal under God”. It was this sentiment that gave us the quote 'Socialism in Britain owes more to Methodism than Marx".
Mary Randell (nee Gray) was primarily a wife and mother but she does appear in the 1861 census assigned an occupation, a Lodging House Keeper presumably at Randell's Guest House.
Prior to the introduction of government-financed public education around 1870, almost half the men and woman of England signed marriage certificates with their mark, as they were unable to write even their own name. Defying the statistics, it seems probable that Mary could read and write, at the very least her own name. Certainly, Mary's children were educated and literate as some examples of their writing survive today.
Despite being the younger partner in the marriage, Mary was the first to die, 4 February 1864. Thomas and Mary were married for nearly 48 years and saw the birth of ten children and eighteen grandchildren.
The death certificate of Mary Randell "wife of Thomas Randell" records the cause of death as "General Paralysis" an archaic term which approximately described what today would be referred to as Alzheimer's Dementia. Her daughter Mary Love was present at her death and witnessed the certificate.
Unfortunately, possibly because they were non conformists, no easily accessible record of their burial place is available.

Thomas and Mary had the following children:

Thomas RANDELL 1817 Cromer, Norfolk
Mary Ann RANDELL 1819 Cromer, Norfolk
Ephraim RANDELL 1820 Cromer, Norfolk
James RANDELL 1822 Cromer, Norfolk
Sarah RANDELL 1824 Cromer, Norfolk
Mary RANDELL 1826 Cromer, Norfolk
Martha RANDELL 1828 Cromer, Norfolk
Nathaniel RANDELL 1829 Cromer, Norfolk
James RANDELL 1832 Cromer, Norfolk
John RANDELL 1834 Cromer, Norfolk

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