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Ancestors – flowing down the Wandle

Each generation of Waglands moved further down the Wandle from its source in Carshalton, though we don’t know whether their work was related to the river or whether it was purely a coincidence. Starting with Philip in Carshalton, his son Isaac moved to Tooting Graveney, and his son James moved to Merton which is where James, our subject, was born and who then continued the move downstream to Summerstown.

Family tree (ancestors) of James Wagland

There are no Waglands (or Waylands or Wagnells as the family has been recorded at times) listed in Surrey in the Hearth Tax records between 1662 and 1689. The earliest known ancestor, Philip Wagland, lived in Carshalton parish in the 18th century. Some family trees uploaded to genealogy websites, hypothesise that this Philip was the same person who was baptised in Knights Enham, near Andover in Hampshire, in February 1721. However there is no evidence linking these two people or places.

The same family trees also allege that Philip married Anne Gosden on 11th January 1742/43 in All Saints’ Church, Carshalton. She had been baptised at the same church on 4th April 1725 and was the daughter of Charles and Ann. However so far we have not located the marriage record.
What is certain is that Philip Wagland was married to a woman named Anne and that they had at least 13 children who were baptised in Carshalton between 1744 and 1756.

There are Land Tax records in Carshalton parish for a Mr. Wagland up to 1780 and a Mrs. or Widow Wagland from 1781 to 1785. Although these records may refer to other family members, it might indicate that Philip died about 1780 and Anne about 1785.

According to Daniel Lysons’s book “The Environs of London” (1792), Carshalton was only a small village consisting of 165 houses at the time and:

“On the banks of the Wandle are established several manufactories; the principal of which are, two paper-mills, occupied by Mr. Curtis and Mr. Patch: Mr. Savignac's mills for preparing leather and parchment: Mr. Filby's mills for grinding logwood: Mr. Shipley's oil-mills, which were burnt down in 1785, and rebuilt: Mr. Ansell's snuff-mills, and the bleaching grounds of Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Cookson. At these manufactories an extensive trade is carried on; but their nature is not such as to employ a great number of hands.”

Isaac Wagland was the ninth child of Philip and Ann. He was baptised in Carshalton on 22nd July 1759 and married Sarah Brown on 11th October 1779 at St. Andrew’s Church, Holborn. Both were illiterate at the time, signing the register with a cross (his/her “mark”). Unfortunately we have no information that explains what Isaac was doing in central London at this time nor anything about Sarah’s family or background.

Marriage register entry for Isaac Wagland and Sarah Brown

Their first child, James, was baptised at St. Nicholas’s Church in Tooting Graveney on 16th August 1780. Nine more children including two sets of twins were born in Tooting Graveney. Sarah died, aged 41, soon after giving birth to their last child John; she and her son were buried together on 2nd January 1798.

Isaac remarried just nine months’ later to twice-widowed Ann (maiden name unknown, first husband William Miles, second husband Thomas Huckstep) at St. Mary’s Church in Lambeth on 15th October 1798. They had one son in 1801. Isaac died in April 1813 and was buried in Tooting Graveney on 1st May 1813, aged 55.

Like Carshalton, Tooting Graveney was only a small village in 1792 consisting of 150 houses, according to Daniel Lysons’s book. Although there is no mention of any “manufactories” in Tooting, it is only one and a half miles (2.5 km) from the Wandle and Merton’s mills.
Seven months after his mother’s death, James Wagland (eldest son of Isaac and Sarah) married Mary Bond on 5th August 1798 at St. Mary’s Church in Wimbledon. Mary was illiterate, signing the register with her mark. She was the daughter of John and Elizabeth (née Craft) and had been baptised on 19th February 1775 at St. Mary the Virgin’s Church in Merton, making her at least five years’ older than her husband. She had eight siblings including a brother named James (Bond).

Marriage register entry for James Wagland and Mary Bond

Her mother, Elizabeth, died in 1801, aged 58, and her father, John, died in 1811, aged 77; both were buried at Merton church.

James and Mary Wagland had eight children between 1800 and 1814, two of whom died during infancy. Their fifth child is the subject of this biography.

James also had an illegitimate daughter in 1815 with a Mary Attridge; she was aged about 25 and 10 years his junior at the time. Presumably it was common knowledge in the parish as they had the baby baptised in the local parish church under his name. Mother and daughter continued to live in Merton until their deaths in 1865 and 1893 respectively. Mary Attridge never married and was recorded as a pauper in the 1861 Census.

From the various baptism, marriage and census records, it is clear that James was a silk printer in Merton. We don’t know for certain at which mill he worked but, given that he lived in Nelson’s Fields in 1841, it is highly likely that it was the Merton Abbey Silk Printing Works as it was only about quarter of a mile (400 m) away.

There is also an apocryphal story from “Reminiscences of Old Merton” by W. H. Chamberlain (1925) regarding a Mr. Wagland and Abbey House which belonged to the Merton Abbey Silk Printing Works:

“Opposite to the above gateway [to Gate House] is one of the gateways to the Priory. This still exists, and inside stood an old mansion recently demolished. At the beginning of the 19th century, it stood unoccupied for several years, and had the reputation of being haunted because of the weird noises heard there at night time, and the villagers were afraid to pass it after dark. About 1820 Messrs. Bradshaw and Wagland, the silk printers, together with several others, decided to visit it at nightfall armed with sticks and candles. In due course the ghostly noises commenced up and down the stairs, and making a sudden dash, they discovered that swarms of water rats were in possession.

With the mysterious sounds thus explained, Bradshaw and Wagland decided to follow the rats' example and they moved into the building. The creatures were dealt with and the printers obtained the house at a low rental, made repairs and kept the property for several years. They were succeeded by a Mr Littler who took over their silk printing business and moved into the building with his family.”

From this story it appears that Bradshaw (probably Charles, 1790-1862) and James Wagland rented Abbey House from about 1820 until 1833 or 1835 when Edward Littler took over the leases for the two print works on the site. We have not yet found any records of a business partnership existing between Bradshaw and Wagland.

By 1841 James’ daughter Emma and her husband, (Zachariah) James Batterbee, had moved to Preston (now a suburb of Brighton & Hove) in Sussex where James was working as a toll collector on the Lewes Road. By 1851 James and Mary Wagland had also moved to Preston and James had taken over the toll collection job from his son-in-law who was now an innkeeper (presumably of the Windmill Inn on Shoreham Road in Southwick, now a suburb of Brighton & Hove).

Mary Wagland died on 28th February 1852, aged 77, of “disease of the heart, dropsy and old age”. She had travelled back to Merton from Sussex because her address at the time of her death was recorded as Nelson’s Fields (where her eldest son was living) and she was buried at St. Mary the Virgin’s Church in Merton on 9th March. It is not clear whether the James Wagland who registered her death was her husband or son.

By 1861 James Wagland (senior) had retired and was living with James and Emma Batterbee. He died at the Windmill Inn, aged 86, on 1st December 1865 of “senile debility” and was buried on 7th December at the nearby St. Michael & All Angels' Church.

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