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Oxfordshire Blacksmith families.


Joseph ALLEN [1259] was a dealer in pigs in Middle Barton, Oxfordshire but two of his sons, James  [1176] and Abraham  [1272], became blacksmiths. Joseph is the earliest we have traced on that line and do not know his parents or whether he had siblings. We know he was born c. 1772 from his age at death. He married Ann COX [1260] in Deddington, Oxfordshire in 1797. They had children in Deddington and Westcott Barton before settling in Middle Barton.

James ALLEN [1176] was born in Deddington c. 1797 but we have not found a baptism for him. He married Elizabeth MESSER in Middleton Stoney but his abode at the time of the marriage was recorded as Bicester. They had children baptised in Steeple Barton between 1823 and 1842 where he is recorded as being a blacksmith.  He is also a blacksmith in Steeple Barton on census returns until 1861. He died in 1865.

The parish was Steeple Barton but the family home was in Middle Barton next to The Three Horse Shoes Inn diagonally opposite a Methodist Chapel in North Street. Middle Barton being the largest centre of population in the parish.

One of their daughters, Mary Tabitha, was born in Hook Norton in 1833 and baptised in Duns Tew. Her mother Elizabeth was from Duns Tew and her father was still living there. Elizabeth’s mother had died in December 1832.

Two of James’ sons be came blacksmiths -

James ALLEN [1186] married Ann CANNING on 16 June 1851 in Duns Tew when he was a  blacksmith living in Middle Barton but have failed to find him on the 1851 census. They had children born and baptised in Great Rollright, Duns Tew, Middleton Chenney and Steeple Aston which suggest that he was possibly working away from the Middle Barton Smithy. He was in Steeple Barton in 1861 when he had William HIGGINS a journeyman blacksmith boarding with him.

He had children baptised in Duns Tew between 1866 and 1871 and was living in Duns Tew in 1871 with his wife Ann and their children Sarah, Gertrude and Susan. Their other children Ellen Laura, Jane, and Joseph were in Steeple Barton with James  [1188], then 19 year old, the head and a blacksmith. This was possibly because when Ann’s mother died in the March quarter of 1866 they went to Duns Tew to help her father and while there James was offered work at the Duns Tew smithy. In 1874 James, with his wife and children Sarah, Laura, Jane, Joseph, Gertrude, Elizabeth and David left Plymouth aboard  The Crusader for New Zealand. They settled Oxford, Canterbury where he continued working as a blacksmith.

James ALLEN [1188] was in born Middle Barton and baptised on 2 May 1852 in Steeple Barton. As mentioned above James ALLEN 19 was a Blacksmith from Steeple Aston and head of the household with sisters Laura and Jane and brother Joseph. He married Laura Elizabeth EBBORN on 23 Apr 1873 in Steeple Barton. He was then living in Duns Tew. James was back in Steeple Barton in 1881 we then loose track of him. Did he also emigrate?

Joseph ALLEN [1772] became a blacksmith in New Zealand. His son Lawrence Raymond ALLEN also took up the blacksmith trade.

David ALLEN [1193], younger brother of James  [1186] emigrated to Springfield, Otsego County, New York State, USA and in 1860 was a blacksmith. He was living in an hotel next to his uncle Abraham ALLEN [1272] who was also a blacksmith. We then loose track of him.

Abraham ALLEN [1272] was born in Middle Barton in 1816 was a blacksmith in Stanton, Derbyshire in 1841. He emigrated, first to Canada where he had a daughter Anne and then to the USA where we find him in 1850 in Springfield, Otsego County, New York state, a blacksmith married with three children. There was also a James ALLEN 18 a blacksmith born in New York State with him. We have found no family connexion between them. He was in Springfield in 1869 when his nephew David was in an hotel next door. He moved to Richfield Springs, Otsego County where he was a blacksmith in 1870 and 1880. In 1870 his son James  [26285] was also a blacksmith with him.


Joseph SODEN [10816] was a blacksmith in Kidlington in 1841. His sons Thomas [10808] and Joseph [10823] were also blacksmiths in Kidlington. A small community like Kidlington would not have been able to support four blacksmiths so the younger son moved to a different village nearby.

James SODEN [10064] was a master blacksmith  in Yarnton 1841-1864. He and his wife Elizabeth nee TAYLOR had four known children. In 1851 James's birth was given as about 1804 in Yarnton but his occupation and age fit perfectly to James SODEN, son of Joseph [10816] and Sarah SODEN a blacksmith of Kidlington. James named his first child Sarah which could indicate Sarah was his mother's name. Unfortunatly the 1861 census is missing for this area so no confirmation of his birth place can be found. .

Their son George [10025] was a Blacksmith with his father in Yarnton in 1851. He married a girl from Kidlington. Another of James's sons Peter [10797] became a blacksmith and Publican in Kidlington,

William GREEN who was James’s apprentice in 1851 moved from Yarnton between 1855 and 1858. In 1881 William was in 45 Wellington Street, St Thomas, Oxford (RG11/1504 fo127 p38). William’s son Joseph was born in 1858 in Summerton and also became a blacksmith.


Richard SIMKINS [9751] was the nephew of Ann CANNING who married James ALLEN [1186]. In 1871 Richard was a journeyman blacksmith with John WHITTON in Fringford. By 1881 he had married and moved to Cherrington, Warwickshire where he was a blacksmith and had his nephew William CANNING [21487] working with him.

In 1891 he was a shoeing smith employing his son Albert William SIMKINS [21513] and an apprentice John CLAYTON. Two of his other sons Francis Richard [21519] and Harry Ernest [21502] were working for him in 1901. By 1911 he had taken on the sub post office and working at home was a general blacksmith and sub postmaster, employing his wife Harriet as a Post Office assistant and his son Fred [21521] as a shoeing and general smith.

Nephew William CANNING [21487] married and became a blacksmith in Sutton, Warwickshire living with his father in law.