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The Blythe Family of Castle Ditch
Thames Street, Windsor

Beryl (Blythe) Mann
9th January 2011
Updated 7th May 2011

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One of my many cousins in the Blythe family to become united through family searches on web sites about eight years ago is Sylvia. Many of our relatives are living in Australia, New Zealand and America and some still in Wales. It is Sylvia in Australia who has recorded at great length in her own handwriting (with occasional help from some of the family) the family history, which she embellished with relevant pictures and historical facts of Windsor in Victorian times, making it a very special and informative document to be passed on to future generations of the Blythe Family.

I have extracted the following from Sylvia's history and information from other members of the family, not least that which was passed down through our grandfather to give an insight into our ancestors who lived at Castle Ditch.

This Blythe Family Story (I am dealing with only the beginning) is dedicated by Sylvia to her mother, Edith who passed on the memories, documents and photographs "without which this book would never have been written."

Now is a good time to mention that we were delighted to learn of Vivienne (a New Zealander) who first posted on the Castle Ditch thread that Mark had been previously married and was widowed. After much searching she (our newly found cousin if somewhat removed!) was thrilled to find that my Great Great Grandfather was indeed her Great Great Great Grandfather. He had one son by his first marriage also named Mark, Vivienne descending through that line. Mark Blythe jnr. (from Vivienne's official information) was born in Windsor abt. 1810. It was later that Mark jnr. moved to Nelson, South Island, New Zealand via Australia in 1846 and started his Windsor Brewery business. His travel documents show that both his parents were dead. He, Mark jnr. married at West Brampton, London and had one son who sadly died when only seven weeks old then nine more children - the second daughter was Vivienne's Great Grandmother who she has been able to trace in the last few weeks... at least to find out more about her and to see where she is buried.

Marriage Certificate 01

Marks Wilks Blythe and Mary Child Marriage Certificate (Top entry)

This account commences with Mary Child (b.1798) who came from Eton. She married my Great Great Grandfather Mark Wilkes (Wilks) Blythe (b.c.1781) and married on 24th March 1818 at St. James, Westminster, and they had seven children. Their address was 91 Castle Ditch where Mark ran his business. He was a cordwainer - "maker of bags and boots in fine leather".

The first child was John born 1821 Eton
followed by Mary 1823 Eton
Matthew 1825 Eton
  Robert 1830 New Windsor
(1861 census states Eton)
1835 Bier Lane, Windsor
Sarah 1837 Windsor
(as stated on birth certificate)
1838 91 Thames Street, New Windsor

John - like his father, was listed as a cordwainer when living in Windsor. Nothing seemed to be known of him by Sylvia and the present family but something did emerge recently, thanks to Jane who posts from Australia onto the Royal Windsor Forum, when she came across the information of John and his wife, Harriett, whilst she was researching for a member of her own family and was able to tell me that John was living in St. Pancras, London with his wife (her birthplace) where John was listed as a labourer and of more of their children, including(?) Ellen, b. Uxbridge 1850 on 1851 census who had up until then been a mystery as to whom her parents were, so... suffice to say that she was Mary snr's granddaughter! In a recent letter Sylvia told me that this was not so, although the original information came from one of her nephews separately from the previous information and I had also come across it in the census records - in a way it made sense but I wouldn't want to upset Sylvia by insisting it must be correct unless there is proof. One thing which would have made this possible was to alter John's year of birth to fit as everything else fitted in regarding his wife's name, age and birthplace. However, far be it from me to re-write the Blythe family history! Perhaps that is why I would never have made a successful researcher or historian - jumping on things that fit in and so finish the jig-saw puzzle! I am still grateful to Jane who first contacted me to say that "I think I have found your Ellen", so until confirmation on that could be forthcoming, I must place John back where I found him - as Mary's firstborn and leave Ellen to her own place in history.

Mary - the oldest daughter from Mark's second marriage married a man by the name of Seymour and they had two children who were born in Uxbridge, Middlesex. - Robert H. b.1848 and Louisa M. b.1851. I am including this information because it might help someone else with tracing their family history. I remember an enquiry sometime ago on one of our forum threads mentioning the name Seymour. Mary became a widow when she was quite young. The handwritten census form of 1851 records that she, Mary Seymour, was 28 and living at St. Pancras, London where she worked as a house servant, no mention of her children - for Henry Wrothitt (sp) (Head) aged 27 and his cousin Henry Baldwin aged 19 who were clerks in the city. On the 1861 census she was living at 76 Bexley Street, stated as Head, aged 38 and widowed, embroideress, with her son aged 13 and her daughter aged 10. Sarah and Henry had also lived for some time with their sister Mary at No. 65. The 1871 census shows Mary Seymour aged 47 living on her own (Head) at 65 Bexley Street with Margaret Winder, a boarder. On 1891 census Mary was at 164 Charriotts Almshouses, Victoria Street, Windsor. In 1901, aged 79 she was living at 49 Charriotts Almshouses and living with her was her granddaughter (although we could see no mention of any of the females in the family having the married name of Pike) - Ada Pike aged 16, described as a 'nurse girl'. Aunt Ada and Aunt Alice (very genteel ladies in their sixties or so but seemed old to us). lived together in Maidenhead Road opposite the Boys' Grammar School during the 1940s and we as children used to stop and talk to them when we saw them, not realizing the family connection with Ada and possibly Alice, and not questioning why we called them Aunt!

Matthew - the family think he was a professor - later lived at one time with his younger brother Robert in Alma Road. I will add a little more about this later but that is really all that anyone seems to know about him... other than that he worked at a "Windsor College." My grandparents had moved to Australia with their two youngest (of nine) children in 1920 after the loss of their youngest son aged seventeen during the First World War. One of his older daughters had already moved there with her husband, hence a large proportion of the family are Australians. Some of the family remained in Wales and others immigrated to America and New Zealand so that several family members immigrated world-wide many years ago. I mention this because although my grandfather died five years after settling in Australia all of the family history would have been passed down from him and there were many photographs, letters and documents kept by various family members which over the last eight or so years have been merged to compliment and bring to life most of the family history.

GHawtrey School

Robert Blythe and members of the Drum and Fife Band

GHawtrey School

The list of donations for the new St Marks School

Robert, we know, did become a school master and was in at the start of St. Mark's School in 1845 when it was founded by the Reverend Steven Hawtrey. The original premises were at the corner of Goswell Road and Oxford Road (formerly Clewer Lane) in an old cottage (described as a washerwoman's cottage with a small drying-ground attached) which had been vacant for some time. Robert would have been only fifteen years old in 1845 so it is possible that he attended the school as a pupil, which is verified in the short paragraph from the book about the Hawtrey family and St. Mark's School. The photograph shows Robert as a young master with pupils who were in the school drum and fife band. The school was run from these premises for seventeen years before moving into new buildings in Alma Road. The photograph shows the names under each person and has a date on the lower right 9th June, which unfortunately doesn't state the year. (Photo is cropped from top and right-hand side cutting out the date).

I endeavoured to seek copyright information to include the following paragraph but the link for the Royal Free School which I originally found on the forum could not be traced...

"It's now eight years since I [Revd. Hawtrey] resigned the Incumbancy (1851). On my resignation it was given to my younger brother, but the school has not been the less prosperous since then.

Mr. Morgan [another tutor] remained with us long enough for the boy who took his place at the head of the Boy's table, on the first morning the school was opened (now the Rev Robert Blythe, rector of Ogbourne St. George, Wilts. in 1900), to go through his training at St. Mark's College, Chelsea, and return to us as Master. Since he was nine years old, I have watched over him with something of parental care, and now he repays me by the loving spirit in which he carries on for others that system of training which formed himself."

Census Date



Living at






Eton, Iver












St. George

When the new school buildings were erected in Alma Road, Robert and his family moved into school accommodation (address not pinpointed on any census, except as Alma Road) and this appears to be where he was joined for a while by his brother Matthew. By then Robert was married to Elizabeth who gave birth to two of their three children William R. b.1858, Elizabeth b.1861 and Sarah b.1863 the year following the school's move. He moved to Ogbourne St. George in Wiltshire with his wife and two daughters, neither of whom had married, where he became the rector of the church and I think that is all we knew of them to that time. Robert's son William attended Oxford University (1881 census) but what he read at Oxford and of his career thereafter, I have no idea. We know he remained at Clewer, Windsor after his father's retirement and it is mentioned on a census form that he was - aged 44 - "caretaker at the church".

Margaret was an embroiderer and never married. Later (Sylvia has recorded) that "she too lived with her older brother Robert at some time but "always had her own money." The last we know of Margaret is where she was named in a local newspaper cutting from the Deaths column, which must have been inserted by her...

Seymour, - On 20th inst., at 11, Eventide, Windsor, Margaret Harriet Seymour, aged 75 years, the dearly loved sister of M. Blythe, formerly of
5, St. Leonard's-road.

The cutting had been kept by my father with other family papers and information which remained with my mother when he was killed during the war in 1943. It is rather puzzling because Margaret's sister's name was Mary, unless she (M. Blythe) was referring to an un-married sister-in-law of Mary's who may have died and who could have been her friend.

Sarah, the youngest daughter - "nothing much seems to be known of her" but by the time of the 1851 census Mary snr. was living with her daughter Sarah, aged eleven years, her son Henry, aged thirteen, and one year old granddaughter Ellen at 22 Oxford Road, where Mary worked as a house-keeper. Mary was a widow by this time, Mark having died before or about 1846. She would certainly have had to earn a living but may have vacated the property at Castle Ditch when demolition commenced, unless her house-keeping job required her to live-in. I was very interested to discover from a typed list on the Oxford Road business thread that 22 Oxford Road had become familiar to our immediate family in the 1940/50 era as it was a shoe shop run by Mr. Heather where we used to take our shoes for repair in the early 1950s, having no idea of the family history that had gone before!

Henry who we believe to be the youngest son and last child of Mark and Mary was our Great Grandfather (that is, of Audrey, Betty, Margaret, Beryl and Edna Blythe who were brought up in Albert Street, Windsor, in the late 1920s/53 era - and of our forty five cousins!) Henry worked his way up through his various jobs with the railways to become Station Master at Culham, Yiewsley, then Windsor, Great Western in 1876 when he would have been thirty eight years of age. This photo of Henry Blythe shows him wearing a badge in his lapel which could have been in support of his office. Sylvia's family history records indicate that Henry was residing in South Africa at the time of his death in 1902.

Henry Blythe

Henry Blythe

I will now go as far as to mention Henry's son who was our Grandfather - only to say that when he was young, Sylvia records (due to the domestic circumstances at the time) that he went to stay with his uncles at Alma Road. Morse code had just been invented about that time and he was taught this by his uncles, which was probably what helped him to obtain his own various good jobs with the railway, along with excellent reports from his schools, copies of which we have in our possession. I wish he had written down any stories he may have heard from his father, uncles and aunts of their years spent as children at Castle Ditch, but sadly there do not appear to have been any, apart from the reported reference to Robert I am thankful that he passed on as much of the history as he was able.

Sylvia could hardly believe that there were so many people living in one house in Castle Ditch all those years ago when I told her that there was another family there too but in a television documentary I recently learned that families often lived together in one room. I can't imagine how difficult that must have been - even if they were in two or even three rooms... like most of the children we have seen in the Victorian images placed on the Royal Windsor website, I think they would have looked very clean, neat and tidy. I can recall my mother telling me that my father's and all the family's shoes were kept very shiny and in good condition. Perhaps the importance of this was passed down from Mark himself!

The Royal Windsor Website Home Page

Royal Windsor Website History Index

A History of Rev Stephen Hawtrey, the early days of St Marks School and Imperial Service College

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