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Sophia Tredwell (born 1814) was my Gt.Gt.Grandmother. Her second husband was Francis Pigg and they had 3 children, one of whom was Eliza who married Frederic Bradley (my Gt.Grandparents).

Sophia was one of nine children born to William and Elizabeth Tredwell.

Francis (1801-1847,) Charles (1802-1816), John (1805-1875), Thomas (1807-1861), David (1812-1844), Sophia (1814-1873), Mary (1817-1859), William (1819-1871), Solomon (1821-1859).

The Tredwells have proved to be a really interesting line of research. The start of my enquiries stemmed from an old album from Cousin Eliza Bradley (with no names or dates on any bar 2 photos!) in which there is one photo of a military gentleman that had a pencil marking on the back. The writing looked like ‘Sargent’. In my ignorance I presumed this was his rank, but on further investigation and with the help of various military bodies it was decided this was not the case judging by his medals and other items of uniform that suggested otherwise. Apparently he was a Brevet Major. This, along with the medals, made him easier to identify and it was only when a gentleman who knows about these things found a list of Brevet Majors with one who was named John Neptune Sargent, that the penny dropped – his name was Sargent!!

John Neptune Sargent, Brevet Major
John Neptune Sargent, Brevet Major

Now, I thought it would be easy to find out what his connection was with the family. Obviously I thought he had married a Bradley somewhere along the line. On obtaining his military records it was discovered he had two sons. This fact helped me to determine his wife`s name and maiden name – surname Champion! No luck there. At this stage I was thinking perhaps he was just a distinguished person of the time – a bit of a hero – and they had his photo. Some time later I came across his name where it was stated he was mentioned in the ‘Dictionary of National Biography’. This was a bumper find as right at the end it stated that he had been married twice – first to R S Champion and secondly to Alice M, second daughter of Thomas Tredwell!! Bingo! I had always found the name of Neptune intriguing – apparently he was born at sea on the East India Ship ‘Atlas’ which ran to New South Wales and China. He served with the 95th Regiment of Foot in the Eastern campaign of 1854-55 including the battles of Alma and Inkerman, and siege and fall of Sebastapol. He served in the campaign of 1860 in North of China. (Medals and clasps, Brevet of Major, Knight of the Legion of Honor, 5th class of the Medjidie and Turkish Medal and CB). So that was that mystery solved in that he was Sophia Tredwell`s nephew by marriage.  The interesting paths this family history research can take you down, never cease to amaze.

This Tredwell line has proved very interesting in regard to their industrial connections with the canals and railways of the early and mid 19th century around the Midlands in the UK and also in foreign parts. 

I am also aware of and in touch with, other members of a Tredwell line descended from a John Tredwell who married Maria Pittaway in Dodderhill, Worcestershire in 1823.  We are all convinced that ‘my’ Sophia and ‘their’ John were more than likely first cousins but there lies the challenge – proving it!  Both these Tredwell families were around the Worcestershire area in the early 19th century and there are too many coincidences for them not to be related, in particular with Francis and Esther and their family.  John Tredwell was 18 years younger than William. Were they brothers? A large age gap but then William`s own children had an age span of 20 years so not impossible. See – Outline Descendants of John Tredwell.

Sophia was one of 9 children born to:

WILLIAM (1777-1840) AND ELIZABETH (1779-1827)

William was buried in 1840 in Hadzor and according to the burial details he was age 63 – hence the birth date. His death certificate states he was 63 and died of dropsy. He was a road contractor and George Bourne was present at his death. George`s residence was Old Rising Lane. There is a William Tredwell, illegitimate, bapt. son of Elizabeth Tredwell and James Edmond in Southam, Warks. 17 September 1797 but as his oldest child we know of, Francis, was born 1801 they cannot be the same William. The Southam reference appears again with a John Tredwell (married to Maria Pittaway, and the ‘other’ Tredwell line, and also a Charles Tredwell. Both Charles and John appear to have the birth date of 1795. The gravestone of Mary Bourne (William`s daughter) states she was the daughter of William Tredwell of Hanbury, Worcs.! All still to be researched.

William Tredwell (married to Elizabeth (?)) was a canal digger according to the baptism entry for son Thomas in Burbage (1807), and then a wharfinger on later entries. It would seem likely that William went to Devizes to be involved in the construction of this part of the canal. Unfortunately I have been unable to find any marriage details relating to William and Elizabeth and apart from the baptism entries for the children, which show a progression in relation to the canal construction, the earliest knowledge we have of him is from a Court record for Worcestershire dated 30th April 1810.  William, of the parish of Tardebigg in the County of Warwick Labourer, and a police constable Norris Walker of the parish of Bromsgrove in the County of Worcester appear before a Justice of the Peace to give account of the theft of a measuring tape belonging to William while working from the Wharf of the Birmingham and Worcester Canal on the 21 day of April. The tape was later found in the lodgings of a man called Johnson, in Bromsgrove. Mapping the baptism places for William`s children leads me to believe that the family moved around the country while William was working on the canals.  This appears to be the case also with the children and their families: Hampshire proves a familiar place with Francis and Esther, Mary and Joseph Bourne and also the ‘other’ Tredwells e.g. John and Maria from the years 1835-38.

Charles, second child of William and Elizabeth was born 11 December 1802 and baptised 27 June 1803 at St Mary`s Devizes, Wilts. Sadly he died in 1816 age 14. If this death date is correct he died between the births of Sophia and Mary.

The Tredwell family appear to have done well for themselves. A local (Gloucester) canal historian Hugh Conway-Jones has furnished me with the following information. He had come across the name William Tredwell of Hadzor coal merchant, as one of the contractors who was involved in building part of the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal 1819-20. William was in partnership with Charles Pearce of Frampton-On-Severn, Glos, canal contractor.

Hugh has proved very helpful through his extensive researches into the canal and railway systems of that time, particularly in Gloucester   – please see Hugh`s website Gloucester Docks & the Sharpness Canal.  Hugh also gave me information contained in Alan White`s book ‘The Worcester and Birmingham Canal – Chronicles of the Cut’ which states that in 1812 William took over Messrs Heminsley`s contract to cut two miles of the canal at the Hanbury end of the Five Mile Pound, and then in 1813 he was awarded the contract for cutting the canal from Blockhouse Fields to the Severn and in September had another contract for cutting a length further up the canal. After the canal was opened in 1815 William set up as a coal merchant at Hanbury Wharf, Hadzor and in March 1816 was permitted to build a house on the wharf, which later became a public house known as the Wharf House. In April 1821 William was instructed to complete the excavation and puddling of side ponds for the barge locks at Diglis. In 1824 William was also involved in extending the south end of Worcester Wharf and then in the period 1825-29 he carried out maintenance work on the Coombe Hill Canal which had been leased by the Worcester and Birmingham. Finally in 1831 he was awarded a contract for work on the Dunhampstead Tunnel and building a railway about four miles long to serve a limestone quarry in the parish of Himbleton.  Hugh has also been so helpful in furnishing me with further information regarding the work of William`s sons who became involved and expanded their father`s interests.

William died in 1840 and was buried at St James Hadzor. According to the burial details he was 63 years old.