Snowden (nee York), Naomi

The 1851 Census records Naomi York as the village schoolmistress, aged 22 and with Islington as her place of birth. She had arrived into the parish with John and Mary Hughes with whom she had been with in 1841, in Penkridge, Staffordshire.

Naomi was born in Islington in 1828, baptised in Shoreditch in October 1830, to parents James and Naomi York.  Naomi’s mother is named Naomi Hughes in the marriage register in October 1818 at St Mary’s Church, Lambeth, the same church at which Mary Hughes and John Shaw had married in August 1810. The 1841 Census listed James York as a sawyer, as was Mary’s father and many of her brothers, and Naomi listed as  a seamstress. Their ages were recorded as 50 and 51, respectively, suggesting years of birth at or before 1800. The son William was also present, as a labourer,  in a multi-household dwelling on Payn(e) Street, St Mary, Islington. That was the same street in which Mary’s brother Daniel Hughes, another sawyer, stayed in 1841 and 1851.

Naomi York was not the first of her parents’ children. At least one child born to of James York had died in 1821 when aged 16 months.  Indeed, Naomi may have been predeceased by another of the same name, baptised in 1826. The population in London was growing and over-crowded. There was more sewage than could be managed and it was contaminating London’s drinking water.

Naomi York was in the same household in Staffordshire as Mary and John Shaw in 1841. Her move from Islington could have resulted from wish by her parents to protect their teenage daughter from the crime, disease and child mortality, to which London was prone.

By 1851, Naomi York had become the village schoolmistress, moving into her own accommodation near the Parsonage. It is not clear by what the criteria Naomi would have secured that appointment, nor the preparation she would have had to undergo from 1845 onwards.

Naomi married a year later at St Michael’s Church on May Day, 1852. The groom’s name was Edmund Snowden, the son of Richard Snowden from Farnham. Their first child was baptised there as Mary Ann in December 1852.

It would have been a proud day for her grandmother when Naomi became the village schoolmistress; she had also lived to see her married. However, it is unclear what Naomi’s parents knew of this. Both had died in their fifties in Islington. Her father in Islington during the last 3 months of 1847, at age 57 (confirming c.1790 as year of birth); her mother’s death is recorded in the second quarter of 1852. It is not known where the Naomi’s mother was living in 1851.

What remains speculative is the relationship of Naomi’s mother, also called Naomi, to the Hughes family in Aldershot.

Naomi’s mother’ maiden name was Naomi Hughes. However, no child named Naomi  is found in the registers of baptisms of Anglican churches said to born, at range of appropriate dates, to John Hughes and his wife Mary (Chalton) at the churches of St Michael’s Aldershot or St Peter’s Ash, nor in London.

There is, however, a record of baptism found in Seaford (near Lewes) in Sussex for a Nanny Hughes with parents John and Mary Hughes, but as early as August 1778,  The parents had married in that same parish in July 1775 and there is record of a second child born in 1779 in Rotherhithe, by the Thames in London, the father then said to be a waterman. The following family tree includes that speculation, as well as that part for the more certain marriage of Naomi Hughes to James York and their two surviving children, William and Naomi.  (Some doubts remain about the age at which Nanny/Naomi was still bearing children.)

William York gave his birthplace as Aldershot in the 1871 and 1881 Censuses, his ages indicating a birth year of 1819.   This lends credibility to a family connection between his mother Naomi and the Hughes family in Aldershot.

There might be other explanations, including Naomi had changed her named from Sophia or Ann, the two sisters about which little is known, having traveled up to London. Alternatively, it might be that Naomi was not baptised, her parents then perhaps being Baptists.

Another Islington connection, and mystery

Naomi’s father-in-law Richard Snowden was as a painter. He had a grandson, George, aged 3, in his Farnham household in 1851. George was the son of his daughter Mary Ann Snowden and born in Islington in 1848 and baptised in Farnham on 4th March 1849. This repeated link to Islington seems overly rich and confusing. Could the Snowden family have had some form of prior connection with the York or Hughes families?

Naomi’s Return to Aldershot

By 1861 Naomi and Edmund were back in Aldershot, Edmund listed as an agricultural machine maker. The couple lived in Barnard’s Lane in the West End, next door but one to ‘Aunt’ Mary and John Shaw, recorded as a farmer, and her ‘Uncle’ John Hughes, recorded as a sawyer. Between them was enumerated a grocer living in “Snowden’s Cottage”. On the other side of the Shaw’s house was the new Pavilion Hotel.