A History of the Robert Bezzant Family

Robert Bezzant was christened 8 August 1790, the son of William Bezzant and Ann Bewley (Bishop’s Transcripts of Clyffe Pypard, Wiltshire, England). Sarah Loveday or Lowder was christened 25 September 1796, the daughter of Jonathan Loveday or Lowder and Sarah Tuck. Her family used the two surnames interchangeably. They grew up in the small hamlet of Broad Town, a tything in the parish of Clyffe Pypard, although portions of it were situated geographically in the parish of Broad Hinton. In fact, the manor of Broad Town lay just to the east of the boundary in Broad Hinton. Thornhill Manor Farm, however, was just within the parish of Clyffe Pypard, northwest of Broad Town village. Broad Town was approximately south and east to west. To the south of the parish lay the Lower Chalk Terrace. Binchnoll Wood, the only woodland in the parish, lay in the southeast corner of the Terrace. A stream flowed from the escarpment north through the town. Southeast of the town, on a chalk promontory were the remains of Binchnoll castle, presumed to be of medieval construction. A white horse was cut in the chalk just above Broad Town in 1863.

Robert probably didn’t get the opportunity to attend the school of 50 poor children taught by a schoolmaster furnished by Thomas Bennet of Wroughton, in a house in Broad Hinton. Books were in short supply and the education provided was meager.

Robert and Sarah undoubtedly knew each other as children, since the town was quite small. Banns for their marriage was “published” from the pulpit of the Broad Hinton parish church on three Sundays in July and August 1815 prior to their marriage on 14 August 1815. The witnesses to the marriage were her aunt, Mary Tuck, and Thomas Eatwell (a Bridget Eatwel witnessed his father’s marriage in Berwick Bassett). Robert and Sarah made their marks. They had their first child, William Lowder (who had been born prior to their marriage), christened on the same day. William later took the Bezzant surname. Tem more children were christened at the parish church in Broad Hinton at approximately two-year intervals.

Robert and Sarah and their family lived at 121 Broad Town Lane, one of the two roads that ran through the parish from Broad Town to Wootton Bassett. Their house was probably a small, undistinguished, but picturesque timber-framed and thatched cottage.

At Broad Town, nonconformity was popular during the nineteenth century, perhaps due to the distance of the hamlet from the parish church. Although Robert and Sarah christened all of their children in Church of England, the Biblical names of the children appear to indicate that their parents were somewhat non-conformist at heart. This was to be further borne out as the children later affiliated with other religious denominations.

A society of Primitive Methodists was created in Broad Town in 1824, with a chapel built in 1827. By 1835, the Broad Town Society enrolled over 100 children in Sunday school and had more than 78 members. By 1842, a new chapel was built to accommodate the increase in members and twenty years later, the incumbent of Broad Town complained that there were some 400 Primitive Methodists in the area and that, among his own congregation, more than half attended both the Methodist chapel and the Church of England. In 1866, a third chapel was built and the 1842 chapel used as a Sunday school. In 1846, a house in Broad Hinton was licensed for dissenter’s meetings. In 1864 there were 50 nonconformists, including Baptists, Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists and Mormons.

The Bezzant family soon became spread throughout England, Wales and the United States.

William Loveday Besant married Sarah Nuth of Wootton Bassett in Clyffe Pypard on 15 October 1835 They lived at 135 Broad Town Lane near his parents and had seven children: Sarah Ann (14 August 1836), Elizabeth (29 September 1835), Jane (7 September 1840 and christened 24 January 1841), Rebecca (20 August 1843), Robert Jonadaab (25 November 1845) Johnadab (25 July 1848) and William John Fuller (31 August 1850). William worked as an agricultural laborer during this time. Sometime between 1851 and 1861 the family moved to London where William operated a milk route until at least 1864 when we lost track of him.

Ann, Robert and Sarah’s first daughter, was christened 30 March 1817. she may have been a servant in 1841. She apparently had a child, William Robert Bezzant, born out of wedlock (23 July 1842), christened in the parish church in Broad Hinton. He was buried 7 January 1843, prior to her marriage to Jacob Chivers, 25 October 1845 in Wroughton, the parish next door. The marriage was witnessed by her brother, Mark, and by Caroline Townsend. Both of their fathers, Robert Bezzant and Humphrey Chivers, made their marks because neither could write. Jacob and Ann Chivers moved to Wales shortly after their marriage, where they became acquainted with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They were baptized into the church in November and December 1848 in the Cardiff Branch. When the branch was divided, they were transferred to the Cog Branch. They lived in Cogan, where we fine them in the 1851 census living next door to her brother Mathew and his wife Ann.

John, christened 10 January 1819, married Sarah Jurden 25 December 1840 at the Primitive Methodist Chapel of the Cricklade and Wootton Bassett Union District of Wiltshire. They made their residence at first with his parents and then in Clyffe Pypard and had two children, Henry and Ellen–and perhaps Hannah.

After Robert Bezzant died 5 February 1837, Sarah lived with her son John and his family at 121 Broad Town Lane. When John’s wife died, he married Elizabeth Richens, a spinster, and daughter of David Richins, on 22 February 1847, in the Primitive Methodist Chapel. His brother, William, signed as a witness and Mary Ann Willis made her mark. John and Elizabeth lived at 47 Broad Town Lane. They had five children: Henry, John, Mary Jane, Mark, Charles, and Sarah.

Hannah, christened 8 April 1821 may have been a servant in Stratton St. Margaret before her death at the Marlborough Union Workhouse at age 22 on 8 March 1843. She was buried in Broad Hinton.

Elizabeth was the only child to die befor reaching maturity. She was christened 12 February 1823 and was fifteen weeks old at her death. Her burial 1 June 1823 was in Broad Hinton.

Mark was christened 14 March 1823. he worked as a laborer before his death at age twenty-six on 1 January 1851 of typhus fever. His aunt, Loetisha Loveday, was present at and reported his death to the civil authorities. He was buried in Broad Hinton.

Matthew was born 10 August 1826 and christened 3 September 1826. He was listed as a servant in the 1841 census of Broad Hinton. While still a teenager, he moved to Wales where he was employed by Squire Surrage as a farmer. While he was there he met and married Ann Savior from Somersetshire on 2 November 1850. Mathew and Ann had two sons; Mark (22 August 1851) and Samuel (13 July 1854) and two daughters, Emily (9 November 1857) and Emma Ann (6 April 1860). Matthew and Ann were baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1851 and Mathew became president of the Cog Branch of the church. They planned to emigrate to Utah. However, Emily died and then Ann died in 1861, shortly after the death of their second daughter, so Matthew sent his eleven year old son, Mark, the oldest child to America with his brother-in-law, James Chivers’ family on the ship William Tapscott. Mathew then moved with his son Samuel to London to work for his brother delivering milk. The next year he sent Samuel to America to live with Mark and their Savior grandparents. Mathew continued to work for William until he immigrated to Utah in 1864. on 21 April 1865, he married Mariah Ann Cook, whom he had met when he was president of the Goswell Road Branch in London and who preceded him to Utah. They had five children: Alfred (5 February 1866, Emily Ann (23 May 1869), Martha Mariah (21 April 1872), Matthew Joseph (26 April 1874), and Mary Jane (19 June 1876). All were born in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

Luke was born 5 March 1829 and christened 19 March 1829, married Elizabeth Williams, a clerk at the railway office on 9 October 1853, in Cardiff, Wales. Luke was a railway excavator and followed the construction of the railroad to Hereford and later to Abergavenny, Monmouth. He married Ellen Ball who was from Hereford and they had at least four children: Luke (14 March 1863 in Hereford and buried as Luke Brigham in 1865), Matthew John (17 January 1866 on Friars Street in Hereford), Mary (7 May 1867 on Friars Street, went by Polly), and Sarah Elizabeth (October 1869 in Abergavenny). Only Mary and Sarah Elizabeth survived their infancy. Luke and Ellen were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter0day Saints on 17 October 1861. they were later members of the Cog Branch in Cogan, Wales. Luke and Ellen planned to emigrate from Wales to the United States but just before they were to leave Ellen died at Abergavenny in 1872. (They were living at 60 Monk Street in Abergavenny in the 1871 census.) Luke then married Eliza Abbott, a widow, 17 January 1874 at Tabor Chapel, Brynmawq, Breconshire, Wales. At that time he was working as a plate layer. They had no children of their own. They sent his two small children to Utah to live with Eliza’s daughter, Elizabeth Lineham (by Eliza’s former husband, Nehemiah Abbott). Mary and Sarah Elizabeth, just nine and eleven years old, left England on the ship Wisconsin and settled in the Salt Lake City 6th Ward.

James was born 6 January 1831 and christened 6 February 1831 in the Broad Hinton Parish church. On 14 April 1859 James married Harriet Sarah Dixon, daughter of Robert Dixon, a spinster of Grittenham, in the parish church of Brinkworth, where he was working as an agricultural labourer. The witnesses were John and Mary Ann Dixon. James and Sarah returned to Broad Town to live at 61 Broad Town Lane, where he became a preacher of the local Primitive Methodist church. They bad four children: Robert George (8 January 1860), Frederick (16 September 1851), Hugh and Albert.

Mary Jane was christened 17 August 1834. she left home in her teenage years to work as a servant for the Humphries (?) family of Wootton Bassett. She later went to London, where she met and married William Skillen, son of William Skillen, at St. Giles Cripplegate on 20 January 1861. Her brother William and Mary Munn were the witnesses.

George was christened 1 December 1836 and was apprenticed to Mr. Charles Cannon, a tailor and outfitter, of 44 Newport Street in Swindon, at the age of fourteen. As a poor boy of the Broad Town manor, he was the beneficiary of a charity trust established by Sarah, Duchess of Somerset, who had died in 1692. in her will, dated 1686, she stipulated that part of the rent of Broad Town Farm and her estate at Cotmarsh in Broad Hinton be used to apprentice twelve boys each year from her manors at Broad Town, Thornhill, Froxfield, Wootton River, and Huish. The manor boys, generally, chose their own masters, subject to the approval of the steward of the trustees. Fifteen pounds was allotted to each boy apprenticed. George learned the trade of a tailor and then went to Stroud, Gloucestershire, where he met and married Susan Hulbert, a spinster, the daughter of Benjamin Hulbert, a tailor on 2 April 1859. He was evidently working for Susanna’s father, Benjamin Hulbert, who was also a Tailor. George was the father of eight children, all born in Stroud except Amy Jane who was born in Painswick, Gloucestershire. On the children’s birth certificates George is listed as a Master Tailor. The family had a servant girl in their household in the 1871 census. George and Susanna’s children are: Amy Jane (28 December 1859), Annie (26 November 1862), William Stapleton (12 May 1864), Henry Montague (7 September 1866), Sidney George (12 May 1868 and died 28 March 1869), Ellen Maud (24 August 1870), George Sidney (28 March 1872), Winifred Mary (23 June 1873). In the 1881 census of Stroud we lost track of the family, their house is uninhabited and a search of the complete census did not find them in Stroud.

NOTE: More grandchildren may exist than those listed. These are the known ones at the time of this writing.

Joyce M Harrison 1 September 1986

From the following Sources:

1. Victoria County History of Wiltshire, G.S. 942 Vi 66 wi: Broad Hinton, pages 105-119

Clyffe Pypard, including Broad Town, pages 23-43

2. 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, and 1881 censuses of Broad Town, Wiltshire, England

3. Bishop’s Transcripts of Broad Hinton, Clyffe Pypard, Wroughton, and Broad Hinton, Wiltshire, England

4. Phillimore’s Marriages, 942.31 v25p, volume 10 and G.S. 1,279,361

5. Birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates

6. Parish registers of Wroughton and Broad Town, Wiltshire, England

7. 1851 census of Cogan, Wales G.S. 104,197

8. 1841 census of Stratton St. Margaret G.S. 464,197

9. 1861, 1871, 1881 census of Stroud, Gloucestshire, England G.S. 542,866 and G.S. 835,322

10. History of Mathew Bezzant and Ann Savior

From the files of Mary Jean Caldwell

Join the Conversation


  1. Hi there. Thank you for recording this history – it has proved really useful for me in researching my own family’s history. George Bezzant (Robert’s youngest son here) was my great great great grandfather. I thought you may be interested to know why he is not in any census information after 1871. Some time after then (I am yet to learn when) he moved with his family to New Zealand. This is quite an extraordinary thing to do with a wife and 7 children at that time. He died in Timaru, which is in the South Island of New Zealand, in August 1883. He practiced as a tailor there, also. His son Henry Montague Bezzant is our ancestor.

    Another interesting thing is that our family are practicing Catholics. I’d be fascinated to learn how that happened, too, especially given the various religious bent of George’s siblings.

    1. Hello family. Matthew Bezzant is my great great grandfather. His oldest son Mark my great. My grandpa Elmer died before I was born. My father is Elroy and I am Eden Bezzant. I’m looking forward to meeting all of them.

  2. Very interesting reading. I have now found a link for Jacob Chivers and was not aware of a link to Cardiff, Which is where my father was born.I was already aware of the fact that James Hunt Chivers had emigrated to Utah, but now due to your research, we have Jacob and other members of the Bezzant familly going together!!
    I am very gratefull for the imformation you have put together.
    Yours etc,

  3. I have been researching one of the Maslen families from the area surrounding Devizes, Wiltshire and notes the youngest daughter of James Maslen and his wife Ann Sophia (nee Greenslade) – Margaret Sophia born 1849 Edmonton married Jonadab Bezzant born 15 July 1848. They had five “Bezzant” children.
    Your description of the villages and hamlets in the area of Broadtown is of immense help. Many Maslen families later moved to London.
    From whence came the name Jonadab? Is this of any special Wiltshire significance?
    Thank you for all the time and effort spent in producing this most helpful family history.

  4. I can add some information you may find of value. My great great grandmother Sarah Bishop Bezzant (born 25 May 1853 in Broad Hinton) was the youngest daughter of William Bezzant and Sarah Newth. As you say, the family moved to London. In the 1871 census William, his wife and Sarah were living at 21 Paradise Street, St. Luke’s, Finsbury. William is described as a Bread Trimmer and Dairyman. William died at Paradise Street on 21 June 1874. His will was proved on 14 September. His wife remarried a Thomas Garrett in Wiltshire in 1877 and died in Islington in 1887. Sarah Bishop married my great great grandfather Edwin George Thorp. I have not found them on the 1861 census – as you knew William had a milk round I suspect you may have some information from this period. I would love to hear from you.

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