John Griffin and Sarah Jane Goodland

John Griffin

When John Griffin was born on February 5, 1860, in Kingston Seymour, Somerset, England, his father, Samuel Bird Griffin (1834-1890), and his mother, Jane (nee Wallis) (1835-1909) were both 25. He had nine brothers and two sisters.

John married Sarah Jane Goodland on March 24, 1884, in the parish church of St. Paul in Kewstoke, Somerset, England. The banns were read on March 16, 1884.  John was 25 and Sarah Jane was 28.

Sarah Jane Goodland

When Sarah Jane Goodland was born on April 13, 1857, in Lovington, Somerset, England, her father, Daniel Goodland (1829-1881), was 28, and her mother, Ann (nee Grimes) (1838-1901), was 19. Sarah Jane had two sisters and one brother.

They had six children during their marriage:

John and Sarah Jane settled in Somerset, England, and their first son followed almost exactly nine months after their marriage. John Harold Griffin was born on December 28, 1885, and baptized in the parish church at Kingston Seymour, the Church of All Saints, on January 15, 1886. John Sr.’s occupation is listed (as in future records) as a farmer, and Sarah Jane is simply “Jane”.

All Saints Kingston Seymour Baptismal Register (image via

John Harold is followed by a brother, Phillip, who survives only four days from his birth on April 4, 1887. He’s baptized in the same church as his older brother on April 7, and laid to rest there the next day.

All Saints Kingston Seymour Baptismal Register (image via
All Saints Kingston Seymour Burial Register (image via

By the time Arthur Bird is born, the family has settled in Backwell, England, where they’ll stay. Arthur’s middle name is the same as his grandfather, Samuel Bird Griffin, who was named for his mother, Mary Bird. Arthur is born on November 1, 1888, and baptized on the 25th in St. Andrew’s Church in Backwell.

St. Andrew’s Backwell Baptismal Register (image via

Roger Martin is baptized just one day short of a year later on November 24th. His birthdate is October 10, 1889.

St. Andrew’s Backwell Baptismal Register (image via

And one year after Roger’s baptism, Dorothy Griffin is born on November 24, 1890. She’s baptized on January 25, 1891.

St. Andrew’s Backwell Baptismal Register (image via

As they married after the 1881 Census, we find the family almost complete in 1891. The address reads 80 Park Farm (not found on current GoogleMaps—but this may be it).

Photo labelled “John Griffin’s house”

John and Sarah Jane are shown with their four children, Dorothy entered almost as an afterthought between her older brother Roger and her uncle. John Sr’s brothers are also in the household: James Bromley and Ernest Bernard Griffin. The family also has one servant, indicating that they were doing reasonably well.

1891 England Census (image via

On March 15, 1892, a final son, Charles Owen Griffin, is born. Charles is baptized at St. Andrew’s, on May 29th. John’s occupation is still listed as “farmer.”

St. Andrew’s Backwell Baptismal Register (image via

In 1901, the family is at 30 Hill View in Backwell. Again, it’s hard to distinguish on GoogleMaps which home this is. John is a “relieving officer” and son John Harold is a baker’s assistant. They don’t have a servant listed, but John’s aunt Jane, who is widowed, is living with them.

1901 England Census (image via

The job of a “Relieving Officer” was a precursor to modern day social services. They were responsible for assessing the poor of the districts and their eligibility for assistance.  It’s still John Sr.’s job in 1911, with the added responsibility for “registrant of births and deaths.” Apparently, the combination of the two offices of relieving officer and of registrar of births and deaths frequently occurs and is found to be convenient. In the latter capacity the official deals with all births and deaths in the population. The eldest of their children have left, and John and Sarah Jane are living just with Roger (a baker’s assistant) and Dorothy (a governess). The youngest, Charles, is living with one of his uncles. They’re living at “Fairleigh, Flax Bourton.”

1911 England Census (image via

An article appeared in the Western Daily press upon John’s retirement. He was gifted an armchair by his co-workers:

Western Daily Press May 14, 1925

Sarah Jane’s died on March 8, 1931, in Somerset, England, at the age of 73.

Western Daily Press March 13, 1931

John Sr. survived her by six years, and died on December 3, 1937, still living at Fairleigh.

Western Daily Press December 4, 1937

His effects were auctioned the first week of January.

Western Daily Press January 15, 1938

The probate calendar records his death:

National Probate Calendar (image via

Main image: All Saints’ Church, Kingston Seymour, Somerset (image via Wikimedia)

About Author

AG Knapper

AG has been researching her family tree since 2004, and it now includes over 7,000 ancestors and their descendants. She aspires to permanently record the stories before they're lost to time. Do you want to read her latest research? Use this link to sign-up for a weekly newsletter so you never miss a story! Do you know this family? Comment below or use the contact form and help make these stories richer.

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