Thomas was the eldest son of Jasper James Duffield of Swaffham - whose environs we explored previously. Thomas was born born in 1781, like his younger brother and sister, near Swaffham. In 1819 he married Elizabeth Minns in Heacham. They had six children, all baptised in St. Mary's Heacham.
Thomas married again in 1837 - Mary Ann Shirly. The censuses of 1841 and 1851 reveal that Thomas was a farmer in Heacham, with a holding of 93 acres and employing two men, a boy and a house servant. Did the land come as part of Elizabeth Minns' dowry? Had his parents held land in Heacham while living in Swaffham? Was he granted land in return for services?
Whatever the story, Thomas's eldest son, Jasper James, left the farm to train as an apprentice carpenter in Heacham. When qualified, he moved to London, where he married and set up as a journeyman carpenter. He is my 2x Great Grandfather.
The younger children stayed in Norfolk. It is not entirely clear what happened to the farm when Thomas died in 1856. Thomas's widow worked as a housekeeper, then lived as a visitor with friends in Edmonton Middlesex. Two of the girls went into service - Ann (who never married and finished her life as a seamstress in Heacham) with an elderly woman in Kings Lynn and Elizabeth with Strickland Charles Edward Neville-Rolfe, vicar of Heacham. Mary, the youngest daughter married Horatio Shilling, a local blacksmith.
The two younger boys appear to have inherited some of the land. Thomas Jnr married in April 1850 and farmed 10 acres in Heacham before operating as a carrier, also in Heacham. William White's 1883 Directory of Norfolk lists Thomas as 'farmer and coal merchant'. He retired to 1 Chapel Row Heacham in 1901 and died there in 1905. He is buried in St Mary's churchyard. James, the youngest son became a ship owner, then a grocer and provision merchant in Hunstanton. It is likely that the remainder of the Duffield land was purchased by the Rolfe family as part of enclosures - but that has yet to be confirmed.
St Mary's Heacham was therefore, central to the life and death of the generations of my Duffield ancestors living in the 19th century. It is a 13th century church and very much in use today. It has a grand piano and a variety of instruments, indicating an active musical tradition. There is evidence everywhere of children's activity.
Hatchments of the Rolfe family hang high in the nave.
also a lovely inlaid Nunc Dimitis.