Origins - England
Ambrose Austen is believed to have been born in Kent, in the parish of Marden on 17 June 1757. Although no confirming record has been found, Ambrose's marriage record refers to Marden. Marden is within a relatively small area of west Kent where Austen families, including Jane Austen's ancestors, had lived at least since the late 1500s and probably earlier. Nearby parishes where Austen families are known to have lived in the early 1700s or earlier include, Staplehurst, Yalding, Horsmonden, Goudhurst, Tenterden, and Headcorn.
His father was Thomas, yeoman farmer, first mentioned in reference to the Heresfield Farm, roughly halfway between Marden and Headcorn, leased by Ambrose from the Dean and Chapter of Rochester. The confirming link to Thomas is provided by Thomas' will, proved at London in 1801.
The will refers to children of Thomas as Sarah, married to Thomas Clark, William and Ambrose. In a Marden Church record of a marriage between Thomas Clark of the parish of Horsmonden and Sarah Austen of the Marden parish by licence on 21 April 1778, (making Sarah's birth between 1755 and 1760), an Ambrose Austen is listed as a witness by curate J Andrews. Thomas and Sarah Clark had six children registered at Headcorn Baptist Chapel and born at Horsmonden (1779 - 1783) and Aylesford (1785 - 1794).
The will also refers to "my now wife" Mary Martin, daughter of Henry Martin, and their children; Mary, who married Thomas Welfear 22 May 1794, and John. A nephew, John of Penshurst, was named as an Executor.
Thomas married Mary Martin in Keymer, West Sussex in 1762. Therefore it can be assumed that Ambrose's mother died between 1757 and 1762.
Records from the Parish of East Peckham show daughter Mary and Thomas Welfear having children, Mary, Thomas, Elizabeth, William, Henry and Anna. Mary died at Wateringbury, 25 Sep 1854. Nothing of son John has yet been found.
It is speculated that nephew John of Penshurst may be the John who married Elizabeth Bradley of Womenswold, November 24, 1782, aged 37. The Will made him an Executor.
According to the original narrative, Ambrose had a brother Charles who served in the navy. Despite extensive research this can not be confirmed; the Naval history library at Portsmouth has no record of a Charles Austen other than the brother of Jane Austen who later became Admiral of the fleet. There were also other Austens in Marden but no connection to Ambrose has been discovered.
On 23 November 1779, aged 22, Ambrose married Susannah Beard. She was the daughter of Nathaniel Beard and Mary (unknown) of Rottingdean in Sussex, the fifth of nine children: Thomas, John, Nathaniel, Maria, Susannah, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Barbara and Eleanor. (Mary's surname unconfirmed. There was a Nathaniel Beard and a Mary Weller who married at Staplehurst in 1757.) No one knows when, where, or how they met. The witnesses included Charlotte Beard, Sarah ?, John Farncombe, Mary Oridge, William Knight and John Hamahar. (East Sussex record Office, reference 455/1/1/3).
The Beards were a well established family of the south coast of Sussex. Nathaniel's father was Daniel, the fifteenth son and twentieth child of Nicholas Beard, one of the first members in Sussex of the newly-founded Society of Friends, or Quakers. Nicholas, whose father in turn may have been Richard, owned Down House, an historic house with deep cellars and secret passages, of Rottingdean, known as the Smugglers Village.
Just under six years after his marriage to Susannah, (an unusual and unexplained delay suggesting that perhaps Ambrose was absent) Charles was born on 7 August 1785 and later christened at Headcorn Baptist Church, not far from Marden. [The region, particularly Smarden, and Staplehurst had been a very strong area of Baptist faith since the early 1640s] Then came Nathaniel, Henry, Susannah, Mary and John, all thought to have been born in the Marden-Headcorn area.
Between about 1795 and 1801, according to an entry on John and Joseph's christening records, the family was living in Dorsetshire (on the southern coast of England west of Hampshire and Sussex) where Charlotte and Ambrose were born. It is not known where in Dorset they lived, but the timing is consistent with the lease arrangements on Heresfield Farm which expired in 1796. It is probable, that Ambrose was a Minister of the Baptist Church and is the Ambrose recorded in the book The Baptists of Smarden and the Weald of Kent 1640-2000 by Norman Hopkins as the Minister in Dorset and later was a Minister with Samuel Love performing divine worship at Bessells Green in the parish of Chevening as recorded in the Will of John Iggelsden (PROB 11/1514/quire 424).
From about 1801 he was growing hops (as reported in the Ashland Press, of 21 December 1893 in an obituary) on the Panthurst Farm near Sevenoaks. It was here where the nineth, and last child Joseph, was born on 7 April 1802. Land tax records show Ambrose living here between 1802 and 1810. It is believed (but not sub-stantiated) that the farm was owned by a relative, John Austen, perhaps Ambrose's cousin or Uncle.
According to the original narrative, the Tice genealogy and subsequent references, Ambrose purchased a commission in the army and/or navy for son Charles. Charles would have been 18 in 1803 when England was at war with Napoleonic France. The story suggests that Charles was in the army and navy for eight and a half years which provides ample time before his marriage in 1813. According to a biographical piece on a descendant, John Thaddeus Austen, "Charles [was] a distinguished soldier of England, holding the position of captain in the guards and also serving as a lieutenant in the Royal Navy". The story also says that this gave him contact with the Royal family of King George IV; meeting Princesses Adelaide and Charlotte, perhaps as an official escort. Despite extensive effort nothing has been uncovered to substantiate this story.
At some point, date unknown, Ambrose appears to have moved from Sevenoaks to Bulls Cross near Enfield in Middlesex about 12 miles north of London on the Theobald's estate. Land tax assessments for Enfield, 1813, show that Ambrose was the occupier of a house at Bulls Cross paying a rent of 100 pounds.
According to the University of Nottingham Library, "Theobald's was the first property to be granted by William III to his follower, Hans Willem Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland (in 1689) and the first to be sold by the 3rd Duke in the 1760s for about 75,000(pounds) to the banker George Prescott, the sitting tenant)."
However it is not confirmed that Ambrose actually lived here; the payment may have been a wedding present for Charles since in May 1814 Charles had taken over the payments.
On 21 June 1813 Charles married Sarah Pearce in a double wedding ceremony with his sister Susan marrying Sarah Pearce's brother Richard at St Marylebone Church in London (near to what is now the famous home of cricket, Lord's Cricket Ground), Middlesex. The marriage record describes Charles as a "gentleman" which suggests that he had left the army/navy by this time. Richard and Sarah Pearce were born in Broham, Wiltshire. According to the marriage records Charles Austen and Richard Pearce were from the Marylebone parish (it is thought staying with an unknown Austen) and Susan was from Enfield. Sarah Pearce was from the parish of Hemley Hemstead not far from St Albans in Hertford County where her sister Charlotte was living and not all that far from Enfield just over the border in Middlesex. The witnesses were Sarah's sister Charlotte and her husband Ralph Hale, and Mary Austen, presumably Charles' sister.
A number of famous people had been members of the St Marylebone parish. According to the research by Fred Tice: "John Wesley, the founder of methodism had been a member of St Marylebone. Also, Charles Dickens, Lord Nelson, Lord Byron, Francis Bacon, and Charles Wesley.
The original congregation built a small church in the thirteenth century near the Tybourn stream in a district called Tybourn, famous chiefly as the locale of the Tybourn Tree where criminals were hanged. (In fact, according to Dr Willard Austen of New York, the last pirate hanged on Tybourn Tree was a man of the name Austen!) The tree was located near the site where the Marble Arch now stands in Hyde Park and is marked by a white stone set into the pavement.
The church was called St John the evangelist at Tybourn. In 1400 a new church was built about a half mile higher up the bourne and was dedicated to St Mary -St Mary by the Bourne (a stream). By the middle of the fifteenth century the name Tybourne had given place to that of Marybourne because of unpleasant associations with the hangings. This in turn became St Marylebone.
This was the church building in which the double wedding took place. Being a very small structure, and the city of London having enveloped the area, it needed to be replaced by a larger structure. This was done in the same church yard. In fact, the foundation stone for it was laid on July 5th, 1813, just two weeks after the day of the double nuptials. And the little old church had stood nearby until World War II, roughly 450 years, at which time it was damaged by bombs and had to be razed."
Tyburn had another Austen connection. According to documents of the House of Commons, Tyburn Manor was one of the estates of Thomas Austen and Arabella Forset; a son John, born after 1674 and created a baronet at the accession of George I was MP for Middlesex in 1722.
Both the "original narrative" and the Tice genealogy quoting the earlier document attributed to Mrs Grubbs (but probably Susan Gordon) have Charles living at "Castle Gate Manor", a large sheep range, after he left the army. As there was no "Castle Gate Manor" it was probably Cattlegate Farm, a part of Theobald's estate in Middlesex and where their first child, Susan, was born on 11 March 1814. The "original narrative" says that after four years, (The Tice quotation simply says "after some years') Charles sold his large sheep herd and went to live at St Albans in Herfordshire, (but not far from Cattlegate Farm) where both documents record him staying for four years. Hertfordshire County Record Office shows Charles Austen paying rent for property in Holywell Ward, St Albans from 10 April 1818 to 24 September 1818. Charles Jr was born at St Albans on 23 January 1818 and was baptized at St Albans Cathedral and Abbey Church on 25 September 1818.
In the meantime, in mid 1815, Ambrose is reported as having taken son Joseph to London to what today would be called a "tickertape parade" in honour of the Duke of Wellington's victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. As reported " the city of London gave the Duke a grand ovation, at which demonstration almost the whole of England turned out to do honour to their military chieftain. Mr Austin [Joseph] then a mere lad, and his father attended this great gathering. It was on this occation [sic] that he saw and shook hands with England's gallant warrior." Perhaps Ambrose had moved to London.
In 1818, Charles is recorded in the narratives as moving from St Albans to Litchborough in Northampshire about 40 miles northwest of St Albans and two years later (ie 1820) starting for America, with Richard Pearce.
Charles, born 7 Aug 1785
Nathaniel born 16 Jun 1787
Henry born 1788
Susannah born 2 Apr 1791
Mary born 4 May 1793
John born 28 May 1794
Charlotte born 31 Dec 1798
Ambrose born 22 Jan 1800
Joseph born 7 Apr 1802
AUSTEN, Sir John
"Austen's family had considerable estates in Middlesex, which he represented as a Whig under William III and Anne. Created a baronet at the accession of George I, he stood unsuccessfully for the county as a Whig in 1715, was returned for it in 1722, but declined to stand again. He gradually disposed of his estates, selling the manor of Tyburn to the Duke of Newcastle for 17, 500 pounds in 1710, the manor of Highbury in 1723, and the manor of Derhams in 1733. He died 22 March 1742."
(House of Commons, London)
Austen families from Thanet, Kent, UK
- John married Elizabeth in Ramsgate, c1780
- John Austen married Mary Philpot of Ramsgate in 1788
- Edward Austen b 1786 and Rebecca Lawson
- Abraham Austen, b c1776, of Stourmouth married Elizabeth Standen
- Benjamin Austen b1774, married Jane Laming in Margate
- James Austen b 1761 married Susannah Belsey in Ramsgate
- Nathaniel Austen b 1675, and Mary Tickner of Ramsgate
- Thomas Austen b 1785 of Sarre
- Thomas Austen b 1810, married Mary Ann Sergeant in Ramsgate
Austen families of East and South Kent
- John Austen of Northbourne, Kent. 1575 - 1624
- William Austen (b c1813) and Alice Jenner
- Richard Austen and Ann Longley at Lydd, 1797
- Robert Austen (b 1772) and Sarah of Dymchurch
- Robert Austen of Wickambreaux m Elizabeth, 1504
- John Austen, b 1767, m Sarah Baker of Rochester & Ashford
- James Austen, b 1727, and Elizabeth Pierce of Goodnestone
- Robert Austen m Elizabeth Ashby, Hythe 1763
- Thomas Austen (b 1806) and Winifred Wyles from Dover
- William and Richard Austen of Monks Horton, 1800
- John Austen b 1691, Chillenden, m Ann Naylor
Austen families from West Kent
- William and Elizabeth Austen of Heronden, Tenterden
- Edward Austen & Elizabeth Vane, m 1711
- Thomas Austen m Anne Button
- Thomas Austen of Yalding, b c 1730.
- Thomas Austen (b 1748) m Mary Randalls of West Farleigh
- Richard Austen b 1544, Tenterden and Elizabeth Kenworthy
- William Austen and Catherine Edwards of Cowden
- William and Sarah, Sevenoaks, c 1800
- John and Hannah Austen of Benenden, b c 1766
- Thomas Austen b 1815 in Tenterden and Sarah Wightwick
- Ambrose Austen of Marden Kent >
- Jonas Austen (b1598) and Constance Robinson of Staplehurst
- John Austen of Goudhurst m Joan Berry, 1584
- George Austen (b 1823) married Sarah Hammond
- David (b c1670) & Ann Austen of Hawkhurst
- John Austen of Staplehurst (1700s)
Austen families from Sussex
- James Austen and Sarah Clout of Frant, c 1659
- Richard Austen, 1750 and Elizabeth Forster of Walberton
- Henry Austen of Barcombe m Lucy Adams in 1806
- Thomas b 1770 and Mary Austen
- Edward and Anne Austen of Burwash, c 1700
- William Austen m Mary Payne of Ticehurst, 1778
- Richard & Margaret Austen of East Grinstead, 1694
- Austen families from Surrey >
- Austen families from Suffolk >
- Austen families from Thanet, Kent, UK >
- Ernie Austen, 1924 Olympian
- Colin, Cecil and Geoff Austen, Australian Rules footballers
- Jane Austen's sailor brothers, Francis, Charles
- John Archibald Austen, illustrator
- Peter Townsend Austen
- Sir Robert Austen of Bexley
- Frank Henry Austen, radio relay pioneer of Thanet
- Edward Austen, painter
- Sir Robert Austen, 1697 - 1743
- Ralph Austen
- Alice Austen, photographer
- Staffordshire >
- Kent >
- Herefordshire >
- John and Elizabeth Austin of Grays Thurrock
- John and Ann Austin of Hartley, Kent and Thomas Austin and Rachell Sudell of Chatham
- Thomas and Elizabeth Austin of London
- John Austen m Elizabeth Purvy, c 1700
- John Austin & Eleanor Vine
- John, Ann and Barbara Austin of Pevensey and USA
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