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

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The Randells of North Norfolk

This project is a work in progress. I invite and welcome any comments, observations or corrections.

See The Early Randell Family Tree

When I first looked at the Randell/Randall family in Norfolk I was stuck that people bearing that name where concentrated into two loose areas. One mob were south of Norwich concentrated around Wymondham and the other group, which comprised my family, were on the north coast splashed around Holt, Cromer and North Walsham.
In 1841 the northern 'tribe' had three significant figures John of North Walsham, John of Holt and Thomas of Cromer and each of these 'leaders' followed the occupation 'Ironmonger'. They were more or less the same age and two of them were born in Bessingham (1861 census) plus each had children called William, James and John. I immediately leapt to the unlikely conclusion they were three brothers, later amended to 'Well, possibly distantly related'.
In the great tradition of modern politics I've reversed my position again, they are not brothers but they are related. This is my current thinking.

Thomas son of Clemence

Thomas Randell, Clockmaker of Cromer is unequivocally the head of this family tree, a continuous line of documents support this claim. Birth, Marriage & Death certificates, the National Census, Parish Registers and other publications are the evidence which allows us to confirm this. However, Thomas was born in the period prior to the introduction of central record keeping. Birth certificates were introduced in 1837 when Thomas was already in his fifties and he's never listed in a census with his parents, in fact, nothing definitively links him to any earlier generation.
Naturally this applies to almost everybody of his period. The only source of information for researchers often becomes the Parish Registers and these can be frustratingly incomplete and the spelling of names can be extremely interpretative.

The 1861 Census ~ Clemence & Sarah

The best evidence we have linking Thomas to his past is the 1861 national census, when he's recorded 'born 1787, Bessingham, Norfolk', an assertion that is supported by Bessingham's, St Marys Church Register which records the baptism of 'Thomas Randle, 19 September 1784, the son of Clemence & Sarah Randle (nee Powdich)'.
Quite obviously the location is correct but the date differs slightly. Many people simply had no idea of their actual age. Birthdays weren't celebrated in the same way as today and whilst most people had a rough idea, it all gets a bit loose in your seventies anyway.
Of course, another register, possibly lost, may contain a better option but at this point no other Thomas Randell or close variation appears in any known North Norfolk register within five years of 1787.

Which leaves us with Thomas, son of Clemence and Sarah as our only contestant.

19 September, 1784 ~ Thomas Randle

Thomas Randle appears in St Mary's register with the note 'born & privately baptised 19 September, 1784. Received into Church, 3 October, 1784.' A private baptism, at home on the day of a child's birth usually implied that the infant was unlikely to see the following dawn. In this case, the addendum, that he was received into the Church a couple of weeks later shows he survived and received a further blessing during the regular Sunday Church service.
The Randle's anxiety to see their son baptised may be explained by an earlier entry in St Mary's register. Clemence Randall infant, was buried 5 January 1784. An infant was defined as less than one year old. Despite this I was unable to find a baptism for infant Clemence.
Parents Clemence & Sarah make no further appearances in St Mary's Register but taking a step back, 15 July 1783 'Clemons Randal' married 'Sarah Porrit' in nearby Matlaske. The register notes the bride and groom as single and both 'of this parish'. Clemons completed the proceedings with his mark whilst Sarah contradicted the Vicar by signing her own name using a slightly different spelling of, Porret. The witnesses Gregory Pank signed and Stephen Bix used his mark. All the formalities were in place and Banns had been read on three occasions in July prior to the service.
Chronologically the next surviving document naming Thomas is a 1792 Sheringham Settlement Certificate. It states that Clement Randall, an Agricultural Labourer of East Beckham was a resident of Sheringham and that he was accompanied by his wife Sarah and sons, Thomas, James, William and daughter Sarah. A cross reference of local records confirm Sarah Randell was born in Sheringham in 1790 but doesn't record the two middle boys.

The Bodham 1821 Census

1841 is regarded as the first national census, but others were conducted from 1801. Incredibly 'Clem' Randall turns up in one of the few remaining fragments of the 1821 census. He was recorded by name in Bodham and identified amongst 298 residents, as a neighbour, on paper at least, of James Randall. (Nb The list is not in alphabetical order but it doesn't indicate an address).
The 1821 census is not as comprehensive as the later versions but it details 'head of the household', Clem Randall born approximately 1761, living with an unnamed wife of the same age. James Randall on the other hand, born around 1756, lived with a wife and two children, one male and one female, each born between 1801 & 1806. Both James and Clem were rather hazily recorded as working in 'Agriculture' as oppose to a 'Trade'.
It was put to me that James being the elder brother ran the farm and Clem worked along side him, presumably as a minion.

John & Elizabeth Randell of Aldborough

Clemence, Clement, Clemons, Clem are not common names and only one Clement Randall turns up in the entire Norfolk Baptism record conveniently as the son of John & Elizabeth Randall, baptised 29 May 1761 at St Mary the Virgin, Aldborough.
James Randall has the potential to be a far more common name but extending our good fortune, James appears in the same register, as an older brother of Clement. James was baptised 13 June 1756, same parents, same place. Again no other James Randall is recorded in any known register within five years of that date.
In conclusion, the paper trail directs us to our Thomas Randell as the son of Clement & Sarah Randall. There are other considerations but in all probability I accept this as correct and using the same standard of proof Clement Randall was unambiguously the son of John and Elizabeth Randall of Aldborough.

James Randell & Esther Spooner

James Randall born 13 June 1756, also son of John & Elizabeth Randall and therefore brother of Clement, appears in the Matlaske Parish Register in 1776 marrying Esther Spooner. The details recorded are 'James Randal, Batchelor of the Town of Barningham married Esther Spooner a single woman of Matlaske on the 23 September 1776. The service followed the reading of the Banns and was witnessed by Joseph Spooner possibly the father of Esther. The second witness was Gregory Pank and seven years later he also witnessed the marriage of Clement and Sarah in the same church.
James and Esther's first child, John Randell was born 12 July, 1777 in Barningham. He became an Ironmonger and head the North Walsham Randell's. Fortunately for us, John Randell married twice, on the occasion of his second marriage to Jane Osborn, his wedding certificate confirms his father as James Randell, and additionally states that he was a Farmer. Tying in fairly neatly with James Randall in Bodham of 1821.
English villages conform to two basic medieval layouts, either a centralised hub around a church or a scattered settlement of a few houses and farms. In the days of James & Clement, Barningham was clearly a 'scattered settlement' enjoying ill-defined borders with all the locations listed above.
This area was once the seat of the Palgrave family who lived at North Barningham Hall. The National Archives hold the Palgrave documents which make several passing references to John, Laurence and Robert Randal but one reference in 1630, 'John Randall, copyhold tenant of the said manor' places a significantly earlier Randall farming the same location.

James & Clement Randell Brothers

James and Clement were two of the nine children born into the marriage of John & Elizabeth Randell.
The children in age order were:
William Randell baptised 25 March, 1750
Lucretia Randell baptised 15 December, 1751 ~ Died 16 May, 1757
John Randall baptised 31 March, 1754
James Randall baptised 13 June, 1756
Felix Randall baptised 18 April, 1758
Matthew Randall baptised 25 January, 1760
Clement Randall baptised 29 May, 1761
Henry Randall baptised 4 April, 1764
Peter Randall baptised 12 September, 1767 ~ Died 25 October, 1767

Having satisfied myself that the marriage of John & Elizabeth produced these children, the obvious next step was to find a marriage, fitting the date, names and location of the union. John Randal married Elizabeth Handcock, 7 November 1748 at All Saints Church, Briston a few miles from Aldborough. The date is perfect, the location is reasonable and the names are a match, but much more significantly the groom John Randal was almost certainly baptised 26 November 1727 at St Mary Church, Erpingham, Norfolk the son of William & Lucretia Randal.

William & Lucretia Randal

It's said 'coincidence is everything', but I don't think even the most sceptical could doubt that John Randal was the son of William and Lucretia, after all he named his first two children after them.
Lucretia, possibly known as Lucy is a mystery. The only evidence I have of Lucretia, other than she was the mother of five children, is that she was buried next to her husband at All Saints Church, Thwaite, 13 November 1784 and at the time she was recorded in the register as the widow of William and receiving parish relief.
William however, seems almost certainly to be the son of Lawrence & Elizabeth Randel baptised 11 February 1699/1700 at St Michaels Church, Aylsham, Norfolk.
Beyond this William Randel had two brothers John & Henry, baptised on the same day, 27 June 1703 also at St Michael Church, Aylsham. Nb. This does not guarantee they were twins, it may have been a job-lot discount.

Lawrence Randel

William Randal son of Lawrence Randel opens a gateway to a confusing collection of seventeenth century Lawrence, William and John Randels. As an example, St Michael Church, Aylsham on 26 June, 1664 records the baptism of Guilielmus Randel son of Lawrentus & Margetia Randel. This was the days of Latin, so we read William son of Lawrence and Margetia, Margery or Margaret. Accordingly, the marriage of Lawrence Randel, a single man to Margery Pegg a single woman appears in the same Parish register, ten years earlier 10 December, 1655 but where are the children before William to fill the nine year gap. Of course all this information comes from a hand written 350 year old faded parchment book.
Significantly, the introduction of seventeenth century Lawrence Randel also opens a path to John Randall in Holt. We know John Randall (1805 Roughton) was the son of Laurence Randall, who in turn was the son of an earlier Laurence Randell a Farmer in Hindolveston.
There is then a conspicuous gap between the two Lawrences which I intend to fill.

Hi, I would love to hear from you. I would be thrilled to receive any contributions or even corrections.
If you are connected to this family tree please say hello, Martin -