Ancestor Story : Alexander Ford 1789 – 1851

Alexander Ford was born in 1789 in Isleworth, Middlesex,  a small community consisting mainly of market gardens and orchards. George III was on the throne and William Pitt the Younger was the Prime Minister.

Marriage and Family

He and Elizabeth Jones married on 11th July 1808 at St John, Hackney, the parish where they both lived. Both of them were literate and able to sign their names in the register. Elizabeth was about 18 at the time of the marriage and Alexander about 19.

They are my 5x G Grandparents and their first son, Alexander William Ford and my 4xG Grandad was born 22nd February 1809.

He was christened in the Parish of St Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch.

Alexander and Elizabeth went on to have a further 9 children,

Name Birth Death Where Born
Alexander William 1809 1852 Georges Yard
Elisabeth 1811 May Bush Court
William Henry 1812 May Bush Court
Amelia Middleton 1814 1885
Maria 1816 1874 May Bush Court
Emma 1818 May Bush Court
Frances 1820 Ann Street
Matilda 1823 Pollard Street, Bethnal Green
Robert 1825 Pollard Street, Bethnal Green
Louisa Duesbury 1826 1870 Pollard Street, Bethnal Green


Alexander started his working life as an oil-cloth painter. Before the invention of plastic, and modern waterproofing materials the only way to make cloth waterproof was to impregnate it with linseed oil. Oil cloth was a hard wearing, practical fabric used for everything from luggage bindings and waterproof coats, to tablecloths and floor coverings. It was popular because it was much cheaper than leather, the main alternative.

Alexander’s progression in business can be seen through his children’s baptism and marriage records and the censuses.

In records from 1814- 1823 he is described as an oil-cloth painter. From 1825, when his son Robert was baptised has is described as an oil-cloth manufacturer.  The will that  Alexander made in 1836, shows this was a family business. In the will leaves his business holdings in the firm of  George Ford, Alexander Ford, and Daniel Ford to his wife Elizabeth. Censuses and electoral rolls indicate that  Daniel and George are both of an age to be his brothers

His standing was obviously quite high in later life. His youngest daughter, Louisa, married a Gentleman- a man of independent means.

1841 Census

The family was living at 3 Cambridge Place, Shoreditch. This is no longer standing. A comparison of old and modern maps indicates this house was probably swallowed up when the railway was built.

1851 Census

By 1851 the only child left at home was Maria, who was unmarried. The family was living around the corner from Cambridge Place at  25 The Oval, where Alexander remained for the rest of his life. Again, this building is no longer standing.


Alexander died in 1851. His goods and chattels at that time were recorded as being worth less than £450.

Transcript of Will

In the name of God Amen

I Alexander Ford in the Parish of Saint Leonard Shoreditch in the County of Middlesex Table Cover Manufacturer being of sound mind memory and understanding but knowing that it is appointed for all men to die do make this my last will and Testament. I give and bequeath all my Property invested in the Firm of George Ford Alexander Ford and  Daniel Ford  and all my money Household goods and Chattels and effects of what nature or kind soever and where soever the same shall be at the time of my decease I give the same and every part thereof to my wife Elizabeth Ford for her sole use and benefit and I do nominate constitute and appoint my said wife Elizabeth Ford my Sole Executrix of this my last Will and Testament in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and Seal  this Twenty Seventh day of February in the year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty Six.

Alexander Ford

Signed sealed and published by the above named Alexander Ford in the presence of us who at his request and in his presence have subscribed our names as Witness there to

Amos Boorman

James Amos Boorman”