This story starts with James Smith. (1)


He was born in High Roothing, Essex in 1803 and was the eldest of five siblings.


He married Emma Willson (2) in the early 1830’s.


Marriage of James Smith, High Roding to Emma Willson of White Roding  28th September, 1832



She was born in White Roothing in 1811.


Her parents were George Willson who had married Mary Mumford. He died in High Roothing, Essex on 12th February, 1842.


“This is the last Will and Testament of Me George Willson of Kingstons Farm White Roothing in the County of Essex Farmer


First I direct all my just debts Funeral and testamentary Expenses and the legacy hereinafter given to be paid by my Executor and Executrices hereinafter named out of my Personal Estate


I give and bequeath all my ready money and securities for money, monies in the Public Funds Book and other Debts Stocks in Husbandry both alive and dead Crops of corn Grain Hay Tillage Household Goods and Furniture and all other my goods Chattels and personal effects whatsoever and wheresoever and of what nature and kind soever unto my esteemed Friend Peter Portway of Abbotts Roothing and my two daughters Elizabeth Ninde and Emma Smith Widow the Executors and Administrators upon the Trusts and for the Intents and purposes hereinafter expressed and declared of and concerning the same, that is to say, in trust that they do and shall call in all my debts and sell and dispose of my said goods  Stocks in Husbandry both alive and dead Corn Grain Grass Hay Tillage Chattels and effects so bequeathed in Trust as aforesaid not consisting of ready money and Monies out at interest either by private sale or by Public Auction and at such time after my decease as they shall think proper and the monies to arise and be made therefrom (after deducting all expenses attending such sales) do and shall in the first place pay and discharge the Rent of my Farm and all outgoings relating thereto and all my just debts the legacy hereinafter given Funeral and Testamentary expenses and retaining to himself the said Peter Portway the sum of ten Pounds which I give to him for his care and trouble in the execution of this my Will  in case he shall take upon himself the proof and Execution thereof and in the next place do and shall divide the residue of such trust monies into three equal Parts or Shares One third part or share whereof I give and bequeath unto my said daughter Elizabeth Ninde he executors or administrators and in case my said Daughter Elizabeth Ninde shall happen to die in my lifetime leaving issue her surviving then I give and bequeath such third part or share unto and equally between such her issue Share and share alike and if only one Child then to such only child


One other third part or share thereof I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Emma Smith Widow and Relict of James Smith her Executors and Administrators and in the event of her dying in my lifetime leaving lawful issue my lifetime leaving issue her surviving then I give and bequeath such third part or share unto and equally between such her issue Share and share alike and if only one Child then to such only child


Which said two third parts or shares I direct may be paid to my said two Daughters or to their respective issue as aforesaid as soon as conveniently may be after my decease and the Sale of my said personal estate and effects can be affected and my debts collecting in And the monies arising therefrom can be fully ascertained in order to en able them to make a correct Division thereof and as to the remaining third part or share of such Monies I give and Bequeath to the said Peter Portway and my said two Daughters Elizabeth Ninde and Emma Smith in Trust that they and the survivor of them or the Executor or Administrators of such survivor do and shall as soon as they conveniently can after making such Division as aforesaid place out at interest the said remaining third part or share of such monies in their joint names on Government or good real Securities and to  apply the Interest or Dividends and Annual proceeds arising therefrom from time to time And so much of the Principal money as shall be thought necessary for the Maintenance Education and support of my Grandson George Willson now an infant and only child of my son George Willson late of Southgate in the County of Middlesex Schoolmaster deceased or for putting him out apprentice to some good and respected trade or Business he may be fit for and desirous to follow or otherwise for his better advancement in Life until he shall attain the age of twenty one years And then in trust to pay assign or transfer the Principal money and the Securities whereon the same shall be vested unto my said Grandson George Willson his Executor or Administrators or Assigns And in case my said Grandson shall happen to die in my lifetime under the age of twenty one years unmarried and without leaving any lawful issue him surviving Then I direct my said Trustees or the Survivors or survivor of them or the Executor or Administrators of such survivor to pay assign or transfer such third part or share so given to my said Grandson or so much thereof as shall then remain unapplied unto and equally between my said two Daughters Elizabeth Ninde and Emma Smith share and share alike and to their respective issue in Case of their death such issue to take their parents share only Provide nevertheless and my Will further is And I do hereby order and direct that my said Executor Peter Portway shall give to my said two Daughters or either of them the option to purchase and take the live and dead stock crops of corn grain Hay Tillage and other matters and things belonging to and being on my Farm at the time of my decease they or either of them may think proper and agree to purchase Then and in such Case I do hereby order and direct the said Peter Portway to cause a Valuation and Appraisement thereof to be made  within one Calendar month or as soon as conveniently can be after my decease of such my said live and dead stock crops and other matters and things which my said two daughters or either of them shall be minded and desirous to purchase by two skilful and indifferent Persons to be chosen and appointed by the said Peter Portway or an Umpire if necessary And I do hereby declare that my said two Daughters or either of them shall be the purchasers or purchaser of such live and dead Stock and other matters and things as aforesaid and for such Price or Sum of Money as the same shall be valued and appraised at as aforesaid if they or either of them shall think proper And I direct that the receipt or receipts of the said Peter Portway shall be sufficient Discharges or sufficient Discharges to them or either of them for the same But in case my said two Daughters or either of them shall decline to become the Purchasers or Purchaser thereof Then my will is that the same shall be sold as hereinafter directed And I will order and direct that the monies arising from such sale or Appraisement may be added to my other personal estate and be divided in to three equal parts or Shares and be divided between my said two Daughters and my Grandson or their respective issue as I have hereinbefore directed my Personal estate to be disposed of And I give and devise All the real Estate to which I shall be entitled at my decease Freehold to my said Trustee Peter Portway Upon Trust to sell the same together or in Parcels by Public Auction or private contract as soon as conveniently be after my decease And such as is Copyhold I order and direct my said Trustee to sell in the same manner as my Freehold And the monies arising from such Sale together with any Rent that may be due I direct may be added to my Personal Estate and divided therewith between my said two Daughters and my Grandson or their respective issue as aforesaid


I give and bequeath unto my present Housekeeper Elizabeth Petts the sum of Nineteen Pounds Nineteen Shillings in case she shall be living in my service at the time of my decease the same to be paid to her within three Calendar months next after my decease over and above her wages then due And I empower my Trustee the said Peter Portway to give Receipt for all monies and effects to be paid or delivered to him by virtue of this my Will And I declare that such Receipts shall exonerate the Persons taking the same from all liability to see to the Application or disposition of the money or Effects therein mentioned And I Exempt my said Trustee and Executrices of my Will from liability for losses occurring without their own wilful default and Authority and I authorise them to retain and allow his or her co Trustee and Executrices all expenses incidental to the Trusteeship or Executorship

I appoint the said Peter Portway and my said two Daughters to be Executor and Executrices of my will


Lastly I revoke all former Wills and declare that this Writing consisting of three sheets of Paper contains the whole of my Will


In Witness whereof I have hereunder set my Hand and affixed my Seal this eighth day of December in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand eight hundred and forty two


The 22nd  of March 1843


Peter Portway and Elizabeth Ninde and Emma Smith Widows the daughters and the Executor and Executrices within named were sworn to the truth of this Will and to the due performance thereof and that to the best of their knowledge and belief the whole of the goods chattels and credits of the deceased are under the value of eight hundred pounds.


The Testator died at White Roothing on the 18th day of January last (1843)”


This generation, all born between 1803 and 1812 looked like this:







Born 1803

Born Circa 1803

Born 1806

Born 1809

Born 1812

In High Roothing

In High Roothing

In Takeley

In Takeley

In Takeley



By 1841 James and Emma were living in the Mill House, High Roothing, Essex. James was listed in the census of that year as a Miller. We know that his father willed the Mill to two of his sons and it appears that James ended up with Mill whilst Christopher inherited the farmland.



James’ death was recorded in the Chelmsford Chronicle of 18th February 1842, as follows:


“SUDDEN DEATH – On Saturday last, the 12th inst. At High Roothing, Mr. Jas. Smith, miller and farmer, who has been ailing for several months past, but was well enough to pursue his calling, and was about to go on a journey at the time, was taken in a fit, and expired in about an hour, leaving a disconsolate widow (now enceinte) and five young children to lament their loss.”


He was buried at Abbess Roothing.


An extract from the church records


Headstone Details:


“Curved top headstone with shaped shoulders.

Sacred / to the memory of / JAMES SMITH / late of High Rodin. (sic) / died Feby. 12th

1842 / aged 38 years / also EMMA / his daughter who lieth by his side / died Octr. 1st 1842 /

aged 6 months / The rising morning cant assure / that He shall end the day /

For death stands ready at the door / to take our lives away /

also / EMMA SMITH / wife of the above / died July 12th 1887 / aged 76 years /

With Christ which is far better /“


         Abbess Roding Church



High Roothing was one of the villages in the Dunmow Hundred along with:


Parish          Acres  Population 1841      Parish          Acres  Population 1841

Barnston       1394   197              Roothing Aythorpe  1351   285

Broxted        3093   737              Roothing Berners    1030   103

Canfield Gt   2471   496              Roothing High        1803   446

Canfield Li    1479   258              Roothing Leaden     873    171

Chickney      700    59               Roothing Margaret   1222   272

Dunmow Gt  6746   2792            Roothing White      1820   488

Dunmow Li  1683   385              Roothing Morrel     652    32

Easter Good  2042   594              Berwick Hamlet      390    0

Easter High   4648   975              Shellow Bowells     451    134

Easton Great  2537   929              Thaxted                 6025   2572

Easton Little 1557   343              Tilty                     1004   96

Lindsell        1919   393              Willingdale Doe      1702   529

Mashbury     810    85               Willingdale Spain   1200   207

Pleshey        695    337                      



The children left without a father were:







Born 1834

Born 1835

Born 1838

Born 1839

Born 1840

Born 1841

In High Roding

In High Roding

In High Roding

In High Roding

In High Roding

In High Roding


Another child, Emma, died on 1st October 1842 aged six months.


Emma outlived James by 45 years, but she never remarried. She shows in the Census of both 1871 and 1881 as a widow living at Kingston’s Farm, White Roothing in Essex. She died 12th July 1887 and was also buried at Abbess Roding.


The post mill was blown down in 1877. It had been built originally in 1609. The tower mill with a round weatherboard cap an a small ball finial which replaced it was built with yellow brick and was working until 1931. Said to be the last Windmill built in Essex.

The new Mill  .


Kingstons Farm was sold in 1895 with the following brief description:


“Great and Little Kingstons Farm, High Easter comprising dwelling house and farm buildings at Great Kingstons, and barn and shed at Little Kingstons with about 59 acres of arable and pasture land; 12 acres of arable land at Brickford Bridge, High Easter; Porter's Hoppet, 1 acre of pasture land at High Easter.”


In 1871 Emma is farming on her own account on 150 acres employing four men and a boy. Both George and Jane are living with her. In that year she experiences a day in Court with the following article taken from the Chelmsford Chronicle of 3rd February, 1871:






The James Dunmow referred to in the article was Emma’s immediate neighbour living at Snows Farm. He was an agricultural labourer with a wife and four children. He had been born in 1843 in Leaden Roding.


The 1881 census shows that Emma still lives at Kingstons with her daughter Jane as a companion. However, the farmer is now Edmund Grove, who is her cousin, and his family. Also living with them is her 41 years old daughter, Jane, acting as companion.


Emma died on 26th July, 1887 at Kingstons Farm. The following is a report from the national probate records: