The Garnham Family of Martham

The Garnham’s are one of a small group of families at the top of society in Martham during the 18th/19th centuries. Living around the Village Green and White Street they were inter-related by marriage to the Clabon, Creasey, Cubit, Manship, Proctor, Rising and Robins families. The group was made up of yeoman, landowners and shopkeepers and would have socialised together as well as meeting via common business interests.

Originally the Garnhams hailed from Itteringham(1), near Alysham, North Norfolk where they held significant leasehold farms at The Manor and its dairy farm at nearby Elmerdale. They first made an appearance at Martham when John Garnham (1719-1787) was listed in the West Flegg Poll Book on account of being a property owner at Martham although the property was occupied by a Thomas Playford.  

1768 West Flegg (Martham) Poll Book

John Garnham (1719-1787) & Kezia, nee Eldridge (1723-1801)

Family tree of John & Kezia Garnham

John was born in 1719; his parents were John & Mary Garnham but regrettably lost Martham church registers for that period mean we only pick him up working as a cooper in about 1750 at Martham(1).  Similarly, there is no record of his marriage but we know he married Kezia Eldridge sometime before 1755 and they went on to have the following children:

  1. Kezia Garnham who was born in about 1755. She married Thomas Gardiner on 7th  February 1775 at St Mary the Virgin, Martham. She has a grave next to her parents at St Mary’s – see below.
  2. Richard Garnham was born in 1759 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin on 25th February that year. He married Mary Cubit on 19th October 1780 at St Mary’s. They had 14 children and there is more about them below.
  3. William John Garnham was born in 1761 and was baptised at St Mary’s on 11th August that year. He married Susanna Ivory on 30th September 1783 at Saint Peter Parmentergate, Norwich. They had five children but very sadly Susanna died in child birth with another in 1797 and is buried at St Mary’s, Martham. There are records that indicate William married a second time to a lady called Elizabeth but I cannot find any other information about her. William died at Norwich on 11th May 1829, aged 68.
  4. Robert Garnham was born in about 1764 but little else is known about him(1).
  5. John Garnham was their fifth child of which almost nothing is known but he seems to have lived until at least 1802 based on tentative inheritance records(1).

Two of the above became established at Martham. Firstly Richard & Mary, nee Cubit who had the large family and secondly, William (1761-1829) who married Susanna Ivory – see below.

John Snr. died, aged 68, at Martham on 3rd June 1787 as did Kezia, aged 78 in 1801. They were both buried at St Mary’s in adjoining graves in the neat little row of Garnham graves that are at plots C2 to C8 in section F near the great east window of the church. John was buried on 7th June 1787 and Kezia on 6th April 1801.

Five of the eight Garnham graves in section F, plots c2 to c8 at St Mary the Virgin.

Richard Garnham (1759-1836) & Mary, nee Cubit (1759-1810)

Family tree of Richard & Mary Garnham

Mary was born at Martham as the daughter of Benjamin Cubit & Mary, nee Proctor. Her maternal grandfather was Phillip Proctor (1704-1778) who lived at The Hall, Hall Road and was Lord of the Manor from 1741 to 1778. His son, Robert, who was Mary’s uncle, then became the Lord of the Manor until 1781.  This high-level family connection may have been one of the reasons the Garnhams were attracted to Martham. Mary died in 1810 and is buried at Itteringham. Richard Garnham spent many years at Itteringham where he was the tenant farmer of one of the largest farms in the village. He was a church warden and overseer of the parish poor rate, collecting  funds from land owners and managing distribution. Land Tax records show that he was at the Manor House farm at Itteringham from 1789 to about 1823(1). He was also listed in the Martham poll book of 1802  as Richard ‘of Itteringham’ based on property or land he owned there but by 1823 he had moved to Martham permanently and died there in 1836. He was buried at St Mary the Virgin at Martham. Broken parts of his gravestone have been laid near the west wall of the graveyard and consequently his exact burial plot is unknown but it would be surprising if its original position was not with the other Garnham family members at plots C2 to C8 in section F.

Broken gravestone of Richard Garnham
Graveyard section 'F'
The Garnham plots are from C2 to C8

As mentioned previously Richard & Mary had 14 children but six died in infancy who were Robert 1781-1782; Mary Clementina 1782-1782; Kezia who died 1784; Edward 1795-1795;  George who died in 1785 and there was a daughter called Elizabeth for whom nothing is known except that she died in about 1790 at Itteringham probably again shortly after her birth.
Another son called Cubit died aged 10 in 1801. There were further tragedies in 1832 when two of their daughters Jane and Rhoda both died of consumption within a week of each other at Itteringham. Jane was 18 and Rhoda was 22. Their other five children were:

  • Hannah who was born in about 1787 at Martham and married her cousin Robert Garnham (1790-1863) on 19th October 1822 at Norwich. Hannah died at Martham and was buried at St Mary’s on 6th August 1857.
  • Charles Smyth who was born at  Itteringham in about 1790, married Sarah Pratt and he died at Alysham in 1849.  
  • Robert who was born at Itteringham in 1793 and married Martha Dalliston in 1824. He spent many years farming at Elmerdale and retired to Moregrove in Martham where he is believed to have died in 1852. They had a daughter called Elizabeth who married twice, once into the Purdy family and a second time into the Knights family of Martham. You can read more about the complex family connection with the Moregrove Estate by clicking on its link.
  • William Henry who was born at Itteringham in 1797, married Elizabeth Clabon and went on to be a successful and wealthy silk draper in London at the same time as owning (by inheritance) the Moregrove Estate in Martham. You can read more about them below.
  • Mary Clementina (the 2nd) who was born at Itteringham in 1797 and married Benjamin Rising at St Mary’s, Martham on 15th March 1827 thus linking the two farming family dynasties of Itteringham and the Fleggs. Benjamin was the owner of Moregrove for a long while and again you can read more about him by clicking on his name, in fact he left Moregrove to Mary’s brother William Henry in his will.

William Henry Garnham (1797-1862) & Elizabeth Clabon (1802-1881)

William was born in 1797 at Itteringham where he was baptised on 2nd April that year as the eleventh child of Richard Garnham & Mary, nee Cubit. When he was 33, he married Elizabeth Clabon, the daughter of George Clabon & Rebecca Rising, on 25th May 1830 at Potter Heigham, Norfolk. They had the following six children in Holborn, London where William had a flourishing business as a silk draper at Red Lion Square. Other than Richard the other children were baptised at St Andrews, Holborn.

  1. Elizabeth Mary Garnham who was born about 1826.
  2. Benjamin Rising Garnham who was born on 23rd August 1832.
  3. Richard William Garnham who was born in about 1835 and was baptised in Martham.
  4. William Henry Garnham who was born about 1837. He died in Edmonton, London in 1872.
  5. Jane Sarah Garnham who was born on 6th May 1839 and married William George Marsham. She died on 6th March 1915.
  6. Hannah Maria Garnham who was born in 1840.

William inherited the Moregrove Estate in Martham from Benjamin Rising, the husband of his sister Mary. As a result, by 1842 he owned just over 227 acres of land as shown in the  Martham Tithe Award. The estate was situated mainly along the east side of Ferrygate and was let to Silvanus Grove Hillersdon. At the same time his brother Richard owned the adjoining Clarkes Farm and its surrounding land. William’s ownership continued until 1853 at which time he sold all his Martham property for £10,900, to Reverend George Pearse. William  was not interested in a farming or country life as his business grew in London.  You can read more about this landholding by clicking on Moregrove.

He died in 1862 at Edmonton, Middlesex aged 65 whilst his wife, Elizabeth lived until she was 88 and died in 1881 also at Edmonton.

William John Garnham (1761-1829) & Susanna Ivory (1761-1797)

Family tree of William & Susanna Garnham

We have seen above that John Garnham (1719-1787) & Kezia, nee Eldridge (1723-1801) also had a son called William who was born in 1761 at Martham and was baptised at St Mary’s on 11th August that year. When he was 22, he married Susanna Ivory on 30th September 1783 at Saint Peter Parmentergate, Norwich and they went on the have six children at Martham as follows:

  1. Maria Elizabeth Garnham who was born in 1785 and baptised at St Mary’s on 9th January. She died in May 1851 at Martham aged 66.
  2. William Garnham who was born in 1787and was baptised on 27th May. He died aged 24 at Martham on 4th June 1811 at Martham.
  3. John Garnham who was born on 14th February 1789 and went on to have an honourable career in the Royal Navy. You can read more about him below.
  4. Robert Garnham who was born in 1790 in Martham, married his cousin Hannah and took over his father’s grocer’s shop. You can read more about him below.
  5. Richard Garnham who was born in 1793, owned land in Martham and married Eliza Wilton. You can also read more about him below.
  6. Edward Garnham who was born in 1794 and baptised at St Mary’s on 19th April 1795 but died aged only two on 28th October 1796.

It seems that Susanna died in, or shortly after, childbirth on 12th August 1797 when she was only 36. The Norfolk Chronicle of 12th August published an obituary that said:
“Last week died at Martham after a few hours illness, Mrs Susanna Garnham, wife of Wm. Garnham, and daughter of John, of this City. She left a disconsolate husband and five small children to lament the loss of a good wife and tender mother.”
Susanna was buried at St Mary’s in plot C4 of section F and her gravestone is shown on the left.
William is believed to have married a lady called Elizabeth after the death of Susanna but I cannot find any records about her.

William had become a grocer at Martham as early as 1802 according to business directories but may well have taken over William Creasey’s shop after he retired to Great Yarmouth in around 1795. His sons Robert and Richard helped in the shop as youngsters.

By 1812 at the time of the Martham Inclosure Award William had become the owner of nine acres and one rod of land that included three houses with outbuildings and gardens which he held freehold or copyhold from Martham Manor. One house was occupied by Thomas Lusher, a tailor, whilst another also had tenants. The land is shown, outlined in pink, on the map to the right. It is not entirely clear if it also included the area outlined in green but when he died, he left all of it to his sons Richard and John which at the time of the 1842 Tithe Award included the plots outlined in green.

William died on 11th May 1829 at Heigham Hamlet, Norwich; he was 68. He was returned to St Mary’s and buried on 15th May 1829 in the family ‘row’ at plot C2, section F of the graveyard. His gravestone is shown on the left.

There is a monument to William & Susanna and some of their children in St Mary the Virgin which is shown below.

Garnham monument inside St Mary the Virgin, Martham.

John Garnham (1789-1872)

John was born on 14TH February 1789 at Martham and was baptised at St Mary’s on 31st May that year, the register record of which confirms his parents were William John Garnham &  Susanna, nee Ivory.

John volunteered for the Royal Navy(2) on 13th February 1805 and joined HMS Monmouth 64. From then on, he was steadily promoted and built a successful career serving on the following ships: (2&3)

  • On 29th  May 1805 he became Midshipman of the HMS Stately 64.
  • He had short spells on the Cumberland and the Princess Caroline 74.
  • He served very actively on the North Sea, Baltic and Channel stations and for four  years as Master’s Mate, until January 1813.
  • He then proceeded to the West Indies as Midshipman of the Vengeur 74.
  • In 1814 he served abroad the Volontaire as Master’s Mate on the Lisbon and Mediterranean stations.
  • He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 18th February 1815 and retired from sea-going service.

John married Elizabeth Sparke Edgar on 8th January 1824 at Onehouse, near Stowmarket, Suffolk. She was the sole heiress of Thomas Edgar, Esq. of Buxhall Vale in Suffolk and they lived in the rather grand Grade II listed Georgian manor house(1).

John’s first wife, Elizabeth, died in 1835 and he was married for a second time to Caroline Phoebe Williamson on 13th March 1846 at Saint Mary’s, Portsea, Hampshire. He did not have any children with either wife.

In around 1826 John had Hill House, High Road built overlooking the river at Gorleston. This landmark property was later to become better known as Koolunga House.

Koolunga House, formerly Hill House, Gorleston

In 1826 it was called “Hill House” and its grounds included the cliff from the High Road down to the river. After John died the house was inherited by Commander Addison Williamson, the nephew of John Garnham’s second wife Caroline.  Commander Addison took a great interest in the Scouts, British Legion and the Cottage Hospital. In 1935 he was sawing a branch off a wych elm at Koolunga when he fell and was so badly injured that he died. In 1937 his widow, Jessie, gave the Great Yarmouth Corporation the cliff slope in front of Koolunga to be kept as a public garden. During World War II the house became a land “ship” – HMS Koolunga and was used for training. It later became Training Ship Wishbone used by the Sea Cadets. It is now divided up into flats but remains known as Koolunga.

Taking us back to Martham John appears in all the Electoral Registers for the village between 1832 and1872  because, even though he did not live there, he qualified because he owned a house and land there.  In 1841 he was living at Gorleston but he had inherited part of the same land his father owned in 1812 which was on the south side of the Village Green and it was listed in the 1842 Martham Tithe Award as plots 174,175 & 311 which are shown outlined in pink on the map below.

John Garman’s 1842 Tithe Award plots.

The Tithe Award list also tells us that his brother Richard lived in a house at plot 311. The house there appears to be quite large and square and was the predecessor of the present building we know as Martham Lodge Care Home, formerly Clarence Villa. You can read more about this property by clicking on its name.  

In addition to property and land ownership in Gorleston and Martham in 1844 he also owned land at Onehouse, near Stowmarket, Suffolk and about 20 acres at Shelland, Suffolk between 1844-1855.

He was listed in the 1851 and 1861 census returns as living at Buxhall Vale, Buxhall and died there on  26th November 1872. He was buried at St Mary’s Church, Finborough near Buxhall where there is a memorial to him.

John Garnham’s monument at Finborough.

Robert Garnham (1790-1863) and Hannah Garnham (1787-1857)

Robert was born in 1790 at Martham where he was baptised at St Mary’s on 23rd December  that year with his parents being recorded as William Garnham & Susanna, nee Ivory. He grew up working with his father in the family grocer’s store and when he was 32, he married his cousin Hannah Garnham, the daughter of Richard Garnham & Mary Cubit, on 19th October 1822 at Norwich and they had two children at Martham who were William, born in about 1826 and Ann who was born in about 1832.

Robert’s father died in 1829 and he took over the grocer’s store which White’s Directory listed him at in 1836 and from 1832 to 1862 he appeared in the Electoral Registers as the owner of a house and land by The Green. In 1841 Robert & Hannah were living at The Green in Martham on land he had inherited from his father (that he had owned in 1812) and it was listed in the 1842 Martham Tithe Award as plots 173, 179, 225, 226, 227, 312, 313 & 533 amounting to  just over 17 acres.

Robert Garnham’s 1842 Tithe Award plots

Plot 312, shown in green, was owned by Robert but was listed as being occupied by ‘Linford’ at what we now know as Greenside, 28 The Green. This was probably William Linford who we will meet again in a little while. Robert and Hannah lived in the house on plot No313 which today we know as Selwyn House. Plots 225, 226 and 227 were on the Hemsby Road on the south side of the road as you approach Gibbet Hill and plot 533 was a meadow at Cess next to others owned by his brother Richard.

In November 1841 Robert sold the family grocer’s to W & J Linford. This must have been the same ‘Linford’ that lived at Greenside. They were brothers William & James Linford. The source of this information is an advert published in the Norwich Mercury – shown below on the left – reporting the transfer of the business from Robert Garnham to W & J Linford. From this it becomes apparent that Robert and his father, William the grocer, had their business in White Street that, much, much later became Pyman’s Store after the Linfords sold it. You can read more about Pyman’s Store by clicking on its name.

The second newspaper advert – above right above – shows that Robert sold his remaining business stock in trade in June 1843.

Robert had sold the grocer’s business but Business Directories and census returns confirm that he did not move and stayed living at The Green where he became a seed merchant as well as farming the 17 acres, listed in the Tithe Award, up until his death in 1863.

Hannah died in 1857 and was buried at St Mary’s on 6th August but her exact burial place is unknown.  Robert continued to live at what was probably Selwyn House although it was not called that at the time. The Norfolk Chronicle of 18th April 1863 reported that Robert died at Ripley, Derbyshire (late of Martham), aged 72. At the time of his death he was staying with his son George who was a surgeon and lived at Ripley.

Richard Garnham (1793-1873)

Richard was born in 1793 at Martham and was baptised at St Mary’s on 24th February that year with the church register confirming his parents were William Garnham and Susanna, nee Ivory. Richard grew up helping in his father’s grocery store but local business directories tell us that by 1836 he was a gentleman farmer.

The 1842 Martham Tithe Award tells us that Richard lived at plot 311 which was on the south side of the Village Green and was actually owned by his brother John who also owned plots 174 and 175 as shown in the map above. John was the former naval officer and had his own home at Hill House in Gorleston. The house that Richard lived in on plot 311 was the predecessor of the present building we know as Martham Lodge Care Home, formerly Clarence Villa. It is likely that Richard also farmed the neighbouring plot numbers 174 & 175 that John owned. In addition, Richard owned plots 527a, 528 and 529 which amounted to 1 acre, 3 rod & 30 perches just off the west side of Cess Road on the private section on the way to Martham Boatyard on the River Thurne.

Richard Garnham 1842 plots 527a, 528 & 529 at Cess.

The 1841 & 1851 census returns also confirm that Richard lived at The Green, Martham with his sister Maria. He was listed as being a farmer although by 1851 he had retired. Rather late in life, when he was 61, he married Eliza Wilton on 25th October 1854. She was from Ipswich where they married and they moved to her home at Great Bealings in Suffolk which is near Woodbridge. There they lived in retirement until Richard died on 25th August 1873 aged 80. Eliza died at Ipswich in 1892, aged 84.

The following chart gives an indication of the complicated links by marriage there are between the families mentioned above:

(1) With grateful thanks to Jonathan Neville and his website at for much of the Garnham Itteringham information.
(2)Naval Biographical Dictionary by William Richard O’Byrne.
(4) and

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