When Maria Ellis (nee Lambert) came to Wire Farm in Chrishall, probably on her marriage to George Ellis in 1847, she was to start an association with the farm that last around 40 years.

Maria Lambert, according to FamilySearch.org, was baptized on 24th August 1823 in Fenstanton, daughter of Joseph and Ann Lambert.  On the 1841 census she is shown aged 18 living with her parents, two sisters and a brother at Fenstanton.  Her father was a Malster.

Some time in the next six years she was to meet George Ellis of Chrishall Grange. George born around 1819 to David and Mary Ann Ellis, and they were farmers at Chrishall Grange for many years. Maria and George married in June 1847 and the marriage was registered at St Ives.

Wire Farm at that time was part of the Chrishall Grange estate.  Unfortunately I cannot see from the 1841 census who was actually running the farm before George and Maria but it seems quite likely that they came to the farm on their marriage (although that is not proved currently).

In the 1851 census George, aged 31 and Maria (26) ran the farm of 420 acres with 24 labourers.  They had also started a family and had Amily aged 1 and Maria Agnes aged 5 months.  To help run the house Maria had two servants Ann aged 21 and Sophia, 19.  They were both called Norris and were both from Heydon so I presume they were sisters.  Ann was a house servant, and Sophia was nursemaid.

In 1852 Maria and George had a son who they baptized George David but sadly George Ellis, Maria’s husband, died in March 1855.   The death was registered at Saffron Walden but he does not appear to have been buried at Chrishall.

At some point between 1855 and 1861 Maria left Wire Farm but she didn’t sell.  Instead she brought in a farm bailiff as the 1861 census shows:

1861 census: Robert Crane and Mary Crane, Farm Bailiff for Maria Ellis of Suffolk, employing 13 men and 5 boys.

In fact Maria wasn’t in Suffolk but had taken her family to Cambridge where she is listed living at 40 New Square, Cambridge with daughter “Mary” Agnes aged 8 and her son George David aged 7. There is no mention of Amily who would only have been 9 (but do not despair – she is OK!).  Maria has two servants, again perhaps related: Ann Walters aged 17 and George Walters aged 14 both house servants and both from Chrishall.  Although living right in the centre of Cambridge (New Square is near Christ’s Pieces right in the middle of town) she is still keen to keep her connections with the farm and is listed on the census as “farmer” in brackets of 300 acres.  This is 120 acres less than when she was on the farm with George but she is obviously still very much connected with the farm.

So much so in fact that by the 1871 census we find her back at Wire Farm again:

1871 census: Maria Ellis, widower of 46, farming 300 acres and employing 11 men, 1 boy and 2 girls.

Maria has her daughter Mary with her aged 18 and Susan Brand a domestic servant of 17.  There is no sign of Maria’s son George at this time but Maria is certainly back at the farm for a time.

In 1881 Maria has bailiffs in again at the farm taking care of it for her, William and Emma Nichola.  However life has moved on for the Ellis family in the last ten years.  Mary has married Thomas Savill and is living at Barley.  Thomas is a Master Builder and employes 10 men and boys.  They have one son, also called Thomas, and in 1881 Maria is lodging with them.  However she is still firmly registered on the census as a farmer of 307 acres (she has gained 7 acres in the last 10 years) employing six men and three boys.  They have two servants in the house: Julia Robinson and Ellen Guiver.  Ellen was born in Barkway but there were Guiver’s living in Chrishall so maybe part of the same family?

Saffron Walden Year Book of 1886 lists for Chrishall Mrs Ellis, Farmer.  But whether she was actually living at the farm again or not I’m not sure.  Two years later in 1888 the Saffron Walden and North Essex directory lists Lord Dacre with H Unwin as foreman for Wire Farm.  And Henry and Lydia Unwin are still listed as farm bailiffs in the 1891 census.  So is 1886/7 the time when Maria Ellis finally left the farm for good?

In the 1901 census Maria is back in Cambridge, this time living in Mackenzie Road but is clear that she is “living on her own means”.  And, she has Amily with her!  Well, “Emily” as it seems she was properly called.  Emily is aged 51 in 1901 and is now a widower having married someone called Catling.

The story ends here in Cambridge with Maria Wilson Ellis dying aged 83 on 7 December 1906.  Maria was living at 31 Montague Road, Cambridge and left effects to the value of £63.

I’m sure she would be glad to know the farm continues to thrive.

Update November 2016 – the benefits of ‘the Web’!

When we were researching the article above, we were unable to find burials for Maria or George and as such I rather felt that I could not complete their story. Rather wonderfully this has now been solved.  Michael French of The Friends of Histon Road Cemetery got in touch to say that George and Maria are both buried there and has very kindly sent me the photograhs and information below.

In his email Michael says: “Maria is buried in HRC with her husband George sharing a family vault with George’s parents David and Mary Ann. I notice that you noted that George was not buried at Chrishall so thought you should know about the grave. Mary Ann is listed as a member of St Andrew’s Street Baptist Church in 1830 [ a number of the more prosperous farmers from the villages around Cambridge seem to have joined this congregation as they no doubt could afford the pony and trap needed to get to town ] so this could have been how George and Maria would later meet.”

Many thanks to Michael for getting in touch and I’m sure Maria and George would have had a pony and trap – although I still think it would have been some ride from Wire Farm to Histon Road for the Sunday service!

ELLIS family inscriptions

A13.284 / 5 amended   Flaming Urn on large square pedestal on double plot with sunken curb and yew bush.

On north face,

TO THE MEMORY OF

MARY ANN WIFE OF

DAVID ELLIS

OF CHRISHALL GRANGE ESSEX

WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE

FEB 7 1856

AGED 70

AND OF DAVID ELLIS

WHO DIED AT CAMBRIDGE

JUNE 7 1861

AGED 76.

*************************

On west face,

SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF

GEORGE ELLIS

OF CHRISHALL ESSEX

WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE

MARCH 20 1855 AGED 36

AND OF

MARIA WILSON ELLIS

WIFE OF GEORGE ELLIS

BORN JULY 31 1823

DIED DEC 7 1906.

*************************

On south face,

IN

AFFECTIONATE REMEMBRANCE OF

DAVID ELLIS

ELDEST SON OF

DAVID & MARY ANN ELLIS

OF CHRISHALL GRANGE ESSEX

DIED MARCH 30 1883

AGED 66.