Royden Family History Pages

Cheshire Origins

Royden Family History - Chester Origins

Most Roydens in the UK today are descended from Alexander Royden of Cheshire who died in Chester in 1721. Of course, there are smaller pockets of Roydens originating elsewhere, mainly in the London area, which are not, or unlikely to be related. Links to Alexander have also been proven to several families in Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S.A. (However, there are several families in the USA who are descended from Roydens who migrated from the London area in the 17th/18th century and are not related to Alexander).

Alexander Royden is known to have been an apprentice tradesman to William Hughes of Whitchurch and Chester in 1690-91, probably in the building trade. Regarding Alexander's origins, it is more than likely that he came from the Holt area (about 6 miles directly south of Chester) where a Royden family had been established for a couple of centuries. The family seat was Royden's Hall in the hamlet of Holt-is-y-coed, a large yeomans farmhouse, now incorrectly recorded on modern O.S. maps as Roden's Hall. Chester was the nearest town to migrate to for employment, but it isnt known when Alexander arrived and where he lived. Alexander took a wife named Martha Jones, and an early document to bear his name was when his son Joseph was baptised at St.John the Baptist Church (the former abbey adjacent to the ruins of the Roman Amphitheatre - pictured above).

His son Joseph was also bricklayer. The baptism register entry reads:

Joseph, son to Alexander Royden was bapt this 12 (November 1692)

Bridge Street, Chester

In 1707 Alexander took on an indentured apprentice called James Gerrard. Indentures lasted for seven years, during which time Alexander was bound to teach him the trade of bricklaying. The full transcription of the register entry, held at Cheshire Record Office, Chester, is given below. (Apprentice Indenture Register 1690-1708 ref. ZM/AB/2/f.22   Cheshire Record Office)


James Gerrard

By Indenture bearing date the 24 th day of November (1707) in the sixth year
of her Majesties Reign Queen Anne James Gerrard son of William Gerrard
of the City of Chester, Husbandman hath put himself apprentice to Alexander
of the City of Chester Bricklayer, for seven years to learn the
trade of a Bricklayer.

John Royden, son of Joseph and grandson of Alexander, baptised at St. Johns Chester 14 June 1719, and the font used.

Tragedy struck the family in 1721. On 20 July, Alexander was buried in St Johns, Chester. He was probably aged 50-55 years. However, within two weeks he was followed to the grave by his son Joseph who was now married with a two year old son. Could they have died from the same illness, or possibly been involved in the same accident?

Joseph was buried in St John's on 3 August 1721 aged only twenty-nine.

Burial record of Joseph Royden, son of Alexander Royden 3 August 1721, St John's Chester

Joseph left a will (copy obtained) leaving his possessions to Mary, his widow. Mary was the daughter of John Bennett of Heswall, Wirral. In the space of two weeks, Mary's life had been turned upside down, first with the death of her father-in-law, then more tragically, her husband shortly after, leaving her as a widow with a 2 year old son. It is unlikely that she had means to support herself and her infant, although she may have turned to her mother-in-law, Martha Royden (Martha lived until 4 May 1737 - buried in St Johns Chester).

It is more likely that Mary returned to the comfort of her family in Heswall. This was to be a significant move as it was the first time a Royden was to settle in the Wirral which has continued to the present day.

John Royden, whose baptism is shown above in 1719, by now a house carpenter and getting married in West Kirby, Wirral, in 1758. His wife is Elizabeth Guile. Although he is named as John Rowden, he signs his own name Royden. Elizabeth could not write and her cross is visible in between the words 'The mark of Eliz Guile'.

John Royden lived in Caldy House, Caldy, West Kirby (Wirral) and died there in 1799. He was buried in St Bridgets (where he had been married in 1758) in what was to be the family church for next two centuries. From this line are descended the Wirral families and the Liverpool Roydens after John's sons and grandsons migrated across the Mersey.

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