Our Dead IV

Part III, Part II ½, Part II, Part I.

Handgrip Oulton CemetaryMy great-great-great grandfather Alfred Parker Balls lived the early part of his life in a Dickensian nightmare. We celebrated Memorial Day this year in his old haunts in the Lowestoft area, England’s most easterly point, where he experienced a combination of Great Expectations, Hard Times, and Bleak House during his childhood.

We were on a fact finding mission, of sorts. Unfortunately, we forgot our camera so the resulting pictures were taken with my blackberry and are quite grainy and washed out. The picture above shows the decoration on a gravestone in the graveyard of a meaningful village church in our family history, as described below.

Born in 1829 in Lowestoft, Suffolk, England, young Alfred was orphaned at age 10 in 1839 when his father left him and his siblings to take care of themselves six years after his mother died when he was only four years old. He ended up with his father’s sister and her husband, who were the Board of Directors of a work house (it appears that the master and matron of a work house earned approximately £80.00/year at the time, whereas by comparison the warden of a prison earned closer to £600.00 per year). Unfortunately, because his aunt and uncle did not want to take care of him, they placed him in the work house itself as a poor orphan rather than bringing him into their own household. We can imagine that his existence was dreary and bleak at the very least during this time.

St Michael's Church in OultonLuckily, he attended the local parish church (possibly a condition of living in the work house?), which we discovered was almost certainly the Church of St Michael in Oulton (pictured), one mile from Lowestoft, with the other boys from the work house. While attending church one Sunday sometime between 1840 and 1843, Alfred saw his sister sitting with an aunt (his mother’s sister) in another pew. Apparently, Alfred had had bad luck in ending up with Balls relations but his sister had fared better landing with Parker relations. The next Sunday Alfred “broke ranks”, as the family history puts it, after church and “made his way to the door that his sister would come out of, and spoke to her”.

Our girls at the church door where Alfred likely met his sister.

Our girls at the church door where Alfred likely met his sister.

Telling the tale in 1915, Alfred remembered it as a joyous meeting because his mother’s family (Parkers) had lost touch with him after his father had abandoned the children he had had with Alfred’s mother, Susannah Parker. They sent him back to the work house but got him out the following Wednesday to live with them.

The first part of our fact-finding mission was to locate the church where this occurred, if possible. The history recorded by Alfred’s grand-niece Hazel Ballard Jones in 1915, who wrote it down as Alfred told it to her, referred to the village where the church was located as “Altoan”. We had searched high and low in maps and on the internet for a town called Altoan, first near Lowestoft but then in all of England and the UK but unsuccessfully. Only after searching in vain for “Altoan” did we look more closely at the immediately surrounding environs of Lowestoft, at which time the village of “Oulton” seemed to jump right out of the map at us. Considering that Hazel, an American, recorded the story in 1915 from the lips of her great uncle, an 86 year old Englishman only months or weeks before his death, it is entirely understandable that Oulton was recorded as Altoan. This discovery allowed us to focus our search on Oulton to find the actual village or parish church where this happened. The good people at the Lowestoft Museum assured us that there was only one church in Oulton for hundreds of years before the Methodists set up there in 1901 — the Church of St Michael. Based on this information, we felt confident that we had found the actual site of an important event in our family history when we pulled up to St Michael’s.

Finding St Michael’s was more than a sentimental effort. One dead end in our family history is with Susannah Parker’s parents (as noted, Susannah was Alfred’s deceased mother). We are searching for the name and details of Alfred’s Parker grandfather — Susannah Parker’s father. In recounting his history to his grand-niece in 1915, Alfred mentioned that after he was taken from the workhouse to live with his maternal aunt and his sister, he immediately went to work in a flour mill owned by his Grandfather Parker, his deceased mother’s father. In an effort to find out who this Grandfather Parker was, we first thought to look in the graveyard of the village church in Oulton. We arrived in Lowestoft too late to get actual cemetary plot details or death records from the county office so we thought we would just look around the graveyard ourselves. We were pleased to find both Parkers and Balls in the graveyard of St Michael’s, although not anyone that could have been Alfred’s Grandfather. We will find out his details by searching for the owners of flour mills in the area during the time period, so we feel one step closer by having straightened out the “Altoan”/”Oulton” issue.

Searching the graveyard at the Church of St Michael's in Oulton.

Searching the graveyard at the Church of St Michael's in Oulton.

Alfred soon left the flour mill to become a sailor (convenient considering Lowestoft’s prominent position on England’s eastern coast) and apprenticed on a ship for over six years, crossing the Atlantic nine times (mostly to Quebec). He married Elizabeth Boyd of North Shields, Northumberland, England in 1849 and ended up having ten children with her. Around this time he gave up sea life and began working on tug boats in the North Shields area instead for several years, during which time he met and was baptized by J.J. Foster, President of the North Shields branch, in 1854, together with his wife and mother-in-law. He became a fireman and then worked for 23 years as an engineer at the Billy Mills Water Works before emigrating to Utah in 1896. In Utah he settled down in Sugarhouse with his daughter Mary Ann, working for five years at the Granite Lumber Mill before retiring. He then worked at the temple until he was too unwell to do so.

Spending the day looking for and then finding the Church of St Michael in Oulton felt like a magical experience considering the life-changing import of his encounter with his sister in that church. In fact, he might never have found the Restored Gospel if he had not been found by his family at that time and removed from the work house — instead, it is not unrealistic to think that he might have met an untimely death from hardship or malnutrition in the work house.

As an added treat, as we drove from Oulton to Lowestoft to find the road back home to London, we unexpectedly came upon the local ward house, with Union Jack proudly flying.

The Union Jack was waving above the Lowestoft Ward Building as we left the area.

The Union Jack was waving above the Lowestoft Ward Building as we left the area.

64 Responses to Our Dead IV

  1. J. Stapley says:

    Beautiful post, John. Really good stuff.

    I especially enjoyed the fist image of the grave stone.

  2. Wonderful, john f. I’ve posted one or two pictures of Latter-day Saints in Lowestoft in the early part of the 20th century — now I’ll think of the as your people, or at least their neighbors.

  3. psychochemiker says:

    John, whose gravestone was the first image on?

  4. Jenna says:

    Very fascinating stuff!

  5. Peter LLC says:


  6. uday teki says:

    Good work mate…

  7. john f. says:

    Thanks all. Ardis, Alfred joined the Church in the North Shields branch — not sure whether he was ever associated with members from the Lowestoft area, though it is certainly possible.

    As to the image of the hand clasp, that was on an old gravestone in the graveyard at St Michael’s but I didn’t make a note of whose gravestone it was — it wasn’t a family gravestone though. I just really appreciated the symbol.

  8. annegb says:

    wonderful post, thanks

  9. Cath O'Hanlon says:

    I have been researching a John Balls b.1849 in Lowestoft who eventually settled in Byker not far from North Shields.In my quest I came across Alfred Parker Balls and worked out some of his story so it was great to be able to read your account of his life and complete the puzzle.
    Did Alfred re-marry? I have an Alfred Balls with a Grace on the 1881 Census. There are quite a few other Balls families from the Suffolk area living in the North East on the censuses.
    I’m not sure whether Alfred and John were related but it would seem possible. I’m having trouble with my research and was wondering whether you may be able to help me.
    Cath O’Hanlon

  10. john f. says:

    I’m not sure that Alfred and John were related, based on what you’ve said, unless perhaps John is Alfred’s nephew. Alfred married Elizabeth Boyd in North Shields in 1849 and was married to her still in 1881.

    • Martie says:

      Alfred Parker Balls had an uncle John Balls born 4 Nov 1807 who married. Maybe John Balls born in 1849 was a son of this John Balls and a cousin to Alfred.

  11. Gerry Parham says:

    According to our findings I have the Father of Susannah Parker as James Parker b abt 1777 – 1862 who
    married Rebecca Tripp – both from Lowestoft – there is more going back 2 or so generations – We also find that there are records which show that Elizabeth Boyd married Alfred William Chambers Balls who we later have to assume ‘became’ Alfred Parker Balls

    • Martie says:

      I have record of Alfred Chambers Balls marrying Susannah Catchpole 12 Dec 1829–witnesses were Sarah Balls and Jane Boyce. Film 152139, Item 12 in the LDS Family History Library, SLC, Utah.

  12. john f. says:

    Wow, Gerry. Thanks for that. We will look into this — it sounds like a mystery that has perplexed a fair number of genealogically-minded Balls descendants for three or four decades, maybe more, might well be solved with this information.

  13. Gerry Parham says:

    Have now got a copy of the Marriage Certificate from my Cousin – It shows Elizabeth Boyd (Father Robert Boyd) married to Alfred William Chambers Balls (Father William Balls)- 18 Nov 1850. Further when he registered the birth of a son Robert Boyd Balls – 24 Nov 1851 he gave his name as Alfred William Chambers Balls and the Certificate has his Mother as Elizabeth Balls (nee Boyd)
    Our theory is that later he calls himself Alfred Parker Balls probably because he was ‘brought up’ by his Parker relations and that he was very unhappy because his Father deserted the Family when he was 4 years old

    • Martie says:

      It would be great to get a copy of the marriage certificate. Chambers is the maiden name of William’s mother. I have the Lowestoft Christening/Baptism record of Alfred Parker Balls, son of Wm & ____m.n. Parker) 25 Feb 1829 (copy from microfilm).

  14. Gerry Parham says:

    John f.
    I you would kindly email the address for Martie then I can attend to her request
    Gerry Parham

  15. L&A says:

    We’ve been involved in the Alfred Parker Balls debate since before the internet began! We believe that Susannah Parker, born 22nd March 1809 in Lowestoft, daughter of James and Rebecca (nee Tripp), married her first cousin Richard Conyerds Tripp in 1830, not William Balls. We think we may have now found the marriage of William Balls and Susannah Parker – certainly a couple with those names marry on 14th July 1825 in Burgh St Peter in Norfolk, but we have yet to see the original register for further detail. Also, your Susannah is buried in Lowestoft in 1834 and the age given is 31, leading to a possible date of birth of 1803, much earlier than Susannah, daughter of James. Obviously, these are just the conclusions we have come to based on the evidence we have gathered, but thought we would throw it into the debate. We do have more facts and thoughts if anyone is interested.

  16. john f. says:

    L&A, thank you for writing. This certainly is an interesting conundrum. The key seems to be finding a marriage certificate for Susannah Parker, or her birth certificate? What we’re really trying to do is find out who her father is.

    My grandfather, Walter Eugene Fellows, was corresponding with someone in Luton about this particular issue surrounding Alfred Parker Balls’ parents back in 1993.

  17. L&A says:

    Hi John,
    It was us! We lived in Luton then and corresponded with Gene for a couple of years. We still have his letters showing our discussions about the matter, but obviously had a lot less information on which to base our conclusions then.
    The problem, as we see it, is that the marriage will only be from the church records at that time and will only show, at best, the marital status, parishes of residence at the time of marriage, occupation and the names of witnesses. Being prior to civil registration, it will not give names of fathers. With no census information for your Susannah to go on, there is nothing that will indicate her place of birth. There are no birth certificates prior to 1837, only baptismal records.
    We are not related to the Balls family, but Susannah Parker, daughter of James, is part of our family tree so it is important to us that she is married to the right person. We know little of the Balls family, other than what Gene told us and what we have seen on the Internet, but believe that the only other surviving child of William and Susannah Balls was Mary Ann. If that is the case, then we may have a lead on her. We have written a lot of detail about our line of thought which we can send direct to you, or we can outline it here on your blog if you prefer – but it will be a long post! Best Wishes, Lynne and Alison

  18. john f. says:

    L&A, that is very interesting and exciting. I live in the London area so would love to receive details of your research on Susannah Parker and her line. I’ll send you my home address in an email.

    By the way, this is great timing to connect with you like this as my mother Martie (Gene’s daughter and the one pursuing this, who commented above) will be visiting us here in London next week, so would love to see such information while she is here.

    Thanks again!

  19. john f. says:

    Did your Susannah Parker’s father own a flour mill in the Lowestoft/Oulton area?

  20. john f. says:

    By the way, it is interesting that you note that the only other surviving child of Susannah and William was Mary Ann. This might well have been the sister that Alfred met at church in Oulton and, from our side of things, we know that Alfred named his daughter Mary Ann and lived with her in the United States after they both emigrated in 1896. The Mary Ann bit, to my mind, is another piece of circumstantial evidence that you might have it right because it stands to reason that Alfred would name his daughter after his sister who essentially rescued him from the work house.

  21. Oh, but if you move this to private email, then the rest of us who love a great genealogical detective story won’t be able to follow it! You have to promise to come back and summarize your findings and the trail that takes you there — don’t leave us wondering what happened. Please.

  22. L&A says:

    James Parker stated on the 1851 census that he was a fisherman, which is very much in line with previous generations. However, there is a John Parker in Lowestoft in 1851 who was a corn merchant!

  23. john f. says:

    Here’s a thought: what if Alfred Parker Balls, speaking to his grand-niece in 1915, months or weeks before his death, mistakenly said that it was his grandfather’s flour mill he worked at and it was really his grandfather’s brother’s mill? The story does mention a problem that Alfred had with his cousin, who could have been Alfred’s grand-uncle’s grandson, at the flour mill that caused him to have to leave the mill and become a sailor.

  24. L&A says:

    We love a good detective story too! We’ve been busy with this one since 1991! It’s a great idea but there are a few other matters which have to be taken into account. One is that James did have a brother John, but he died in 1791. Secondly, the John Parker who was a corn merchant in Lowestoft was born in Rockland St Mary not Lowestoft. And, best of all, there’s the small matter of John Parker the corn merchant having a granddaughter living with him in 1851 who happened to be 19 years old, was born in Lowestoft and went by the name of Mary Ann Balls! The only evidence we have that Mary Ann Balls survived is that Alfred indicated in his narrative that she did, so we’re not likely to argue with that. We can’t prove that the 19 year old Mary Ann is Alfred’s sister, but the balance of evidence so far seems to indicate that Susannah Parker may well have been the daughter John Parker from Rockland. We’re happy to keep this discussion here if other readers are interested as it’s very complex and sometimes a new view on a subject if helpful. Lynne and Alison

  25. john f. says:

    Is there anything from your research that would be problematic for John Parker being Susannah’s father? That seems to be the solution, doesn’t it, especially if a 19 year old Mary Ann Balls is living with John Parker in 1851?

    What arguments was my grandfather making back in the early 1990s?

  26. Gerry Parham says:

    Well this is certainly hotting up – 11 postings all at once and interesting – I may take some time to digest these latest comments ! For the moment regarding the William Balls & Susannah Parker topic
    may I refer you to what I have seen on the FamilySearch LDS site where the parents of both & 4 children are listed – Sarah, Mary Ann, Susanna Parker & Alfred Parker – it also gives the death of Mary Ann as 1902 in Hastings

  27. L&A says:

    The problematic part is that we can’t find a baptism, so far.
    We’ve just looked out our letters from your Grandfather. Initially, we made contact because of a mutual published interest in Simon Parker but once we’d shared some information it was evident that we were both claiming the same Susannah Parker as our own when, as Gene stated, it was evident there were two. As we were able to provide census evidence showing our Susannah’s life after her marriage to Richard Conyerds Tripp, he concluded that we were probably right. We have to admit, we felt so bad about taking people off his family tree (particularly as he said that he was unwell) that we set about trying to solve the mystery of the other Susannah Parker, but with no success. Gene said that he had continued the tree on the basis of what an aunt (Alice?) had done, but obviously she was working without the luxury of census returns which give places of birth. His conclusion seemed to be that with no marriage, no date of birth,no place of birth, and at that time, no burial for your Susannah Parker there was nothing to indicate that she actually was born in Lowestoft. We have found the baptism of John Parker of Rockland because we read those registers in the hope of finding Susannah, but no luck there. We’ve never given up on this search, but have never found conclusive evidence. It was brought back to out attention when we recently looked at published trees on the internet and realised how many people have James Parker as part of Alfred Balls’ tree. Having made this contact, we’ll see if there’s anything else we can find, although we’ve probably run out of resources here at home.

    • Martie says:

      What baptism are you having trouble finding–for whom? I have a record of Mary Ann Balls, daughter of Wm. & Susannah-Oct 27,(1831) from the Parish church record of Lowestoft (Suffolk). Also of Sarah, daughter of Wm. & Susanna (m.n. Parker) I sure would like a baptism record of Susanna Parker.

  28. john f. says:

    L&A, thank you for the further detail. Unfortunately, my grandfather died at the end of June. It would be fascinating to see the correspondence you had with him.

    Gerry, any light you can shed would be much appreciated.

  29. L&A says:

    Sorry to hear about your Grandfather. I have today photocopied the letters we have – they were done on an old dot matrix printer so they’re a little faded and won’t scan too well. If you’re happy to email a postal address, then we will send you the originals. He does tell us a little about his family and was obviously proud of everyone, so it would be good to add them to your family files. His observations of the two Susannah Parkers will be of interest to you.

    • Jordan F. says:

      For some reason I am only just now catching up with this discussion. Fascinating on so many levels!

      I had to chuckle a but about Grandpa’s letters “done on an old dot matrix printer.” I have seen many letters that were probably printed from that very same printer. Grandpa was very good about writing a family letter every single week, and he printed them on that printer.

      Interesting, too, that we have in the next generation (our children) a few Elizabeths, an Eliza and a Mary Ann.

  30. john f. says:

    Thank you — I have tried to email you. Please let me know if you have received the email.

  31. Gerry Parham says:

    I would also like to see the letters as my Cousin & I are deeply involved with the Susannah Parker ‘mystery’

  32. john f. says:

    I think that L&A is going to post an informative and persuasive summary as a comment here.

  33. L&A says:

    As you requested, John, here is the rather lengthy outline of our research.
    This is what we know about the Susannah Parker who married Richard Conyerds Tripp on 14th September 1830.
    • The marriage register shows that one of the witnesses was a Rebecca Parker.
    • The 1841 Census states that she was 30 years old (therefore in the age range 30-34) and was born in Suffolk. Ref: HO107/1030 Book 7 Folio 13 p19/20
    • The 1851 Census states that she was 42 and was born in Lowestoft. Ref: HO107/1805 f293 p26
    • The 1861 Census states that she was 52 and born in Lowestoft. Ref : RG9/1187 f108 p22
    • The 1871 Census states that she was 62 and born in Lowestoft. Ref: RG10/1780 f16 p24-5
    • Her burial in December 1879 in Lowestoft gives her age at death as being 70.
    • While naming patterns are not clear evidence, they do provide clues and it is noticeable that Richard and Susanna Tripp call their eldest son Simon Parker Tripp (Simon Parker was the father of James Parker).
    From all of this, and given that in the years that we have been looking we have never come across any other Susannah Parker who was born in Lowestoft, we have surmised that the Susannah who married Richard Tripp was daughter of James Parker and Rebecca (nee Tripp). She was born on 22nd March 1809 and baptised the following day. (from the Register and Bishop’s Transcripts of St Margaret Lowestoft). She had an older sister, Rebecca. We are not aware of any other children born to James and Rebecca, but assume, if there were, they died young as the 1821 census for Lowestoft shows the couple had only 2 daughters.
    Our first reference to this Susannah Parker possibly marrying William Balls came from contact with your grandfather and he advised us that his conclusion was based on work done long before census returns were available, from church records which ended in 1812 thus leaving quite a gap before the start of civil registration in 1837, and was based on family tradition that William Balls and his wife Susannah Parker came from Lowestoft. That very early research had been entered onto the IGI and has since been taken as facts by others, despite the fact that, to the best of our knowledge, no one knew the place of birth of either and the marriage could not be found.
    With little knowledge of the Balls family, we have tried to come up with some supporting evidence, but you may be able to tell us much more and explain where we have gone wrong. These are the facts that we have found:
    • We can find no marriage for William Balls and Susannah Parker in Lowestoft. We have now explored all surviving registers of Lowestoft several times, as well as those of other local parishes. In the past few days, we were amazed to find the marriage in Burgh St Peter, as mentioned earlier on the blog. It would seem highly probable that this is the marriage needed and the witnesses may provide additional clues.
    • We have found the burial of Susannah Balls in 1834 as is suggested by other researchers. This gives an age at death of 31, putting her possible date of birth around 1803, not 1809. The baptism of Susannah (daughter of James) does give her exact date of birth, so there is no question of that baptism being of an older child.
    • Only two children of William and Susannah Balls seem to survive. In 1841 Alfred is in the workhouse as he stated. We can’t find any trace of Mary Ann Balls (born 1831) in 1841 which is very frustrating because Alfred indicates that she survives and finding her would provide clues about the “relations” who took her in.
    • We can’t find Alfred on the 1851 census, but would guess that, knowing his occupation, he was at sea. However, we have found an interesting entry on the 1851 census which shows a John Parker from Rockland St Mary living in Lowestoft. He was a widower aged 80 and was a retired corn merchant, living in Nelson Street. With him, is his granddaughter, Mary Ann Balls, who was 19, worked as a shop woman and was born in Lowestoft. Could this be Alfred’s sister? Alfred does mention working as a miller. We have searched the Rockland St Mary records for a baptism of a Susannah Parker, but found nothing.
    • Reading through all that Alfred said, he seemed sure that his sister lived with his mother’s relatives. If their mother was in fact the Susannah daughter of James Parker, then the only possible sister was Rebecca Parker and she remained unmarried throughout her life and lived in Dorset from 1841 to 1861. However, we do concede he may have meant a cousin of his mother.
    • Alfred called one of his sons Thomas Allerton Balls. Was this after a relation? Several trees on the internet show that Alfred’s sister Mary Ann married a Thomas Simpson Allerton. They also indicate that she dies in Hastings in 1902. We can’t comment on where she died but she is certainly buried in Lowestoft, assuming we’ve got the right girl.
    That about sums up where we are up to with this mystery. We would welcome any corrections or additions to the information we have.
    Best Wishes, Lynne and Alison

  34. Brita Beatty says:

    OK, I am just finding this blog. I have spent hours researching Alfred Parker Balls. He was my 2nd great grandfather through his son William Kell Balls.

    Alfred’s grandfather was John Parker b.1770 in Rockland St Mary, Norfork. John’s wife was Susannah Bull of Blundeston, Suffolk. I have come to this conclusion for various reasons.

    1. His sister Mary Ann Balls was living with grandfather John Parker in the 1851 census. Mary Ann Married Thomas Simpson Allerton.
    2. Careful examination of the IGI (I think you have to be logged in to see this, but Alfred did his own families genealogy in 1902 for John Parker (he thought his grandfather was born in Lowestoft) born in 1772. You can actually see that Alfred P Balls submitted the name himself. He knew his grandfathers name. If you then search the film number you will find Maria Parker and Margaret Parker also submitted by Alfred plus their husbands and some of the children. If you limit the county to Suffolk you don’t have as many names to look at. Maria married Samuel Sparham (also submitted by Alfred) and was born in Somerleyton, Suffolk on 29 Aug 1811 with parent John Parker and Susannah Bull. Alfred also submitted some of their children and the records are consistent with civil registration records. After Maria died her husband Samuel had 2 housekeepers listed in the 1871 census Mary Ann and Susan Parker. In the 1881 census they are listed as nieces born in Porington, Norfolk. Their father was John Parker born 1801 in Blundeston Suffolk. John Parker born 1801 married his first cousin Mary Parker of Porington born in 1806 (I have the actual marriage date which can be found on genucki Norfolk church records) daughter of George Parker also born in Rockland, Norfolk. I believe there is another brother William born in 1798 but I do not have any documentation, just census records saying he was born in Blundeston. John Parker’s born 1801 older children were born in Burgh St Peter, Norfolk the same place William Balls and Susannah Parker married on 14 Jul 1825. Another of John Parkers b1801 son’s Edward Parker lived with his maternal grandfather in the 1851 census and he also seemed to take over the family business in Lowestoft as a corn merchant after John Parker sr died. Susannah Bull was born in Blundeston Suffolk and if you look on the new.familysearch she is listed as marrying John Parker although there is no marriage date listed. I have not had a chance to look at the Blundeston parish records. They are not covered by the IGI and have not been extracted. The Rockland St Mary records can be accessed through genucki and the free parish records search. I have added the census records to my familytree on ancestry. I also have several photos of him and his wife. The tree is called Anderson/Balls.

    PS Your photos are delightful.

    Also Alfred lists another daughter Margaret who married John Knights of Oulton. Other than a birth registration of the son who Alfred also submitted I have not found any records on this sibling of Susannah. It is interesting that on of his sons had a middle name of Knight.

  35. L&A says:

    Thanks for agreeing to post your research, Brita. We think it will be really useful to everyone.

  36. john f. says:

    Brita and L&A — thank you both so much for this information. This is very persuasive. I think my grandfather was also convinced by the letters that L&A had sent him in the early 1990s. How interesting that kind people such as L&A in Luton, England corresponding with a man they did not know in the San Francisco area have now come into contact with and have greatly enlightened that man’s grandson (me)!

    Brita, thank you for your comments about the pictures! We were a little sad that we had forgotten our camera but the blackberry pictures worked out reasonably well. Something that might be of further interest to you is that, in the picture of my daughters in front of the church door where we think Alfred Parker Balls met his sister, whom we now presume to have been Mary Ann, the tallest girl in the picture is my daughter Marianne! It has been a very fun coincidence for us to learn that one of Alfred’s sisters was named Mary Ann, possibly the very sister who helped him out of the work house. We think there is reason to think this considering that he named his own daughter Mary Ann, the one with whom he lived after emigrating to the United States.

  37. Bonnie Jean Ball Anderson says:

    Thank you so much Brita, for making me aware of this blog. It has been fun to read, although it has my mind spinning. To john f, I am a cousin to your Grandfather Gene. I have met your mom, Martie, although it was when she was young & I remember going to a shower for her at my Aunt Belle’s home. I am not very literate with computers or family history, but I love finding and looking. I am suprised to find that all my info may be wrong, because what I have I think came from Gene. I haven’t worried about this side of the family because Gene had done so much and my Mom’s side which is Price/Lewis needs so much. My Dad was Alfred Parker Balls, and did you know that all the children of Thomas Allerton Balls dropped the “s” from their last name? So my dad and me and my sisters are just Ball. Well I am going to read all this again and try and digest it and get to understand all the historical part. I have the history of Alfred Parker written and signed by Ethel Balls Hendrickson.

  38. Gerry Parham says:

    Reference L&A’s note of the marriage of William Balls and a Susannah Parker at Burgh St Peter … I decided to find out the distance between Lowestoft and Burgh St Peter and find that my routing programme gives the distance as about 13 miles ! but that’s on modern roads of course and the route has to cross the Norfolk Broads so such roads would probably not have existed in the early 1800’s – the next obvious thing to do was to Google for Burgh St Peter – today it’s on the border between Suffolk and Norfolk but in our time of interest it might well have been in Suffolk
    There are many references to Burgh St Peter – go take a look as it has a most interesting church – St Mary’s
    Further if you look at the Francis Frith reference you will see an old photo in which is a rowing boat which his Gt-Grandfather rowed to Lowestoft and he was known as “Busky” TRIPP & it also states that the organist was a Marnie TRIPP – hope this is of interest and maybe others have been along this route

  39. Martie says:

    Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this thread. I really appreciate the new leads to Alfred P. Balls mother’s line. My dad and I have been stuck on it for years!

  40. Gerry Parham says:

    Francis Frith reference is …


    2 photos 1893 – The Church and a River view


  41. Brita Beatty says:

    The Blundeston microfilms came in a couple weeks ago. Everything was consistent with census records. John Parker and Susannah Bull were married 22 Jan 1797 in Blundeston. Their first son was William b 23 Jan 1799 (lived in Burgh St Peter Norfolk which is close to Blundeston and is where William Balls and Susannah Parker were married), then John b 5 Oct 1801 (this one lived in Porington and his daughters were housekeepers for Samuel Sparham), Susannah born 10 Mar 1803 (age consistant with death record), Mary Ann born 10 Apr 1805 (Alfred 50+ years later thought her name was Margaret but she did marry John Knights as he thought, she is probably the sister that Mary Ann Balls lived with prior to living with her grandfather and then she got married to Thomas Simpson Allerton, Mary Ann & John Knights lived in Oulton), and then Maria born 29 Aug 1811 in Somerleyton (married Samuel Sparham). I have ordered the Burgh St Peter records. It looks like the John Parker family originally lived in Blundeston then moved to Somerleyton and then to Burgh St Peter. I have updated my records on my ancestry family tree and also new.familysearch if you live in an area where you have access to that. If anyone is interested I would be glad to email a gedcom of the family.

  42. Gerry Parham says:

    My Cousin Vic & I are still working on the ‘who married Susannah Parker’ problem ! although we currently think it was William Balls but that still leaves the question of the origin of the marriage of a Susannah Parker to A Richard Conyers Tripp of course – Should like to see the Burgh-St-Peter records at some time and would like to have the gedcom that Brita refers to as I have no access to his site – then wondered about the references to the surname Sparham – the origin seems to come from a village of that name in Norfolk

  43. Brita Beatty says:

    I mentioned that I ordered the Burgh St Peter records. The records I ordered finally came in. Unfortunately the familysearch catalog leads to to the wrong parish records for Burgh St Peter. The link on the Norfolk record site leads you to the wrong catalog info. Further research has shown at least as far as I can tell that these records are only available in London or the Norfolk records office under Wheatacre parish. So if anyone is going to England or lives in England and is willing to do some research. Hopefully as more and more records become available we will have access to them.

    Also there are 2 Susannah Parkers. One born in Lowestoft Suffolk England in 1809, not Alfred’s mother. The second born in Blundeston Suffolk England in 1803 who married William Balls. Her death record age in Lowestoft is consistant with the birth in 1803 and certainly not 1809.

    I checked the http://www.familysearch web site. If you go to advanced search and then the IGI you can find the information Alfred submitted himself. I believe you have to have a log in in order to see it. I have cut and pasted the information.

    John Parker Pedigree

    About 1772 Lowestoft, Suffolk, England
    About 1864

    LDS Ordinances:
    Baptism: Completed Baptism:
    12 NOV 1901
    Endowment: Completed Endowment:
    18 SEP 1902 SLAKE

    Alfred P. Balls

    Record of LDS Church ordinance (living or proxy). The record often shows the name of the individual and his or her relationship to a descendant, shown as the heir, family representative, or relative. The original records are arranged by temple, ordinance type, ordinance date, and the relative’s name. A family group record for this couple may be in the Family Group Record Collection; Archive Section. (See the Family History Library Catalog for the film number.) These records are alphabetical by name of the father or husband.

    Source Information:
    Film Number: 184094
    Page Number: 384
    Reference number: 13811


  44. L&A says:

    We’ve just returned from a few days visiting Suffolk, so decided to detour on our way home to visit Norfolk Record Office in Norwich. Finding the Burgh St Peter marriages was a bit of a problem. Turns out that the parish is also known as Wheatacre Burgh and tends to get confused with Wheatacre itself which is very close by. Anyway, we eventually found the marriage in the register. It took place, as previously thought, on 14th July 1825 and was by licence. William Balls was described as being a bachelor of Lowestoft and Susannah Parker a spinster of the parish of Burgh St Peter. Both signed their names and the witnesses were John Parker, Maria Parker, Mary Ann Parker, Jane Boyce Balls and Sarah Balls. A great list of witnesses to prove links to both the Balls and Parker families! Furthermore, we also found the baptism of their son William. We knew he died in Lowestoft, but now know that he was baptised in Burgh St Peter on 6th October 1825, so was the eldest child of the marriage. Most interesting part of that was the occupation column which instead of saying farmer or labourer as for everyone else said “gentleman, I suppose”. Can’t decide if that was the vicar’s view of William or his own! Very strange indeed.
    As luck would have it, while trying to find the correct place on the film for the marriage, I stopped a couple of times and on one occasion, to my amazement, there in front of me was the burial of John Parker of Lowestoft, aged 91 on 9th May 1861! Now that’s what we call luck! Hope that’s of use to you all. Best Wishes, Lynne and Al

  45. Brita Beatty says:

    You are awesome.

  46. Gerry Parham says:

    Thank you L&A for beavering away at the Norfolk Record
    Office & finding the Marriage of William Balls & Susannah Parker – great list of witnesses which add so much – The John Parker was either her Father or Brother I assume but guess we don’t know which
    As for the other Susannah Parker, well I don’t yet know where she may fit in to our data
    All of which leads me to wonder about the William & Susannah details found on the LDS site – where it gives Susannah as born 1809 (other details are consistent) Did perhaps Eugene confuse the 2 Susannah’s or it simply a transcription error
    (I was also on holiday in Suffolk at Easter and went to Norwich – great place – I hadn’t got involved in this until after !)

  47. Brita Beatty says:

    First it must be remembered that the LDS site has different kinds of records. Some of the records are extracted and they are very accurate. Other records which are submitted by members may or may not be accurate. I think in this case the records that we have available to today make research much easier. Most data from the LDS site needs to be documented. It can be considered a starting point. The 2 Susannah’s was not a transcription error. The wrong assumptions were made.

    Now as to the comment about William Balls being a “gentleman, I suppose.” We know he abandoned his 2 living children. If you read his father’s will ( I have put a copy on my ancestry Page) you will find the following: “and I do further declare that my said son William Balls shall not have nor be entitled to any share or shares or interest in the monies to arise from the sale of my real Estates by my said Will directed to be sold nor in the rents and profits thereof until sold nor in the monies to arise from the residue of my personal Estate but that such monies rents and profits go to and be divided amongst my other children the said John Balls, Octavious Balls, Edgar Balls, Jane Balls, Sarah Balls, and Emily Balls, and my said grandchild Hannah Ann the daughter of my said son Chambers Balls and their issue under the trusts of my said Will as if my said son William Balls had died in my lifetime without leaving issue living at the time of my death and as if the name of the said Hannah Ann Balls had been inserted in my said Will instead of the name of the said Chambers Balls her father.

    I think it is odd that he made provisions for his grandchild Hannah Ann Balls but not his other grandchildren Alfred and Mary Ann Balls.

  48. john f. says:

    You are all doing amazing work which is also benefitting us, so we are grateful to you for your efforts. Thank you for the continued updates on this project.

  49. Martie says:

    I am very grateful for all of this new information! Please, everyone, know that my father Gene knew that the Susannah he had submitted was the wrong Susannah and not linked to the Ball family. Hence the birth year (1809) was probably for the other Susannah.

  50. Martie says:

    Brita–how would we access your ancestry page to read the will?

  51. Duane Spicer says:

    I have enjoyed the posting on this site of the Parker-Balls family. Although, that is not my family. I am looking for help in finding a christening of Robert Kittle abt 1821. I have found mention of Burgh St. Margaret and then Fleg Burgh. I am interesting in determining if his parents are Robert Kittle abt 1800 and Elizabeth (?) Any help in directing me would be greatly appreciated. I live in Michigan USA, so I am strange to the names variance. In 1841 the senior Robert and Elizabeth were living at Wheatacre All Saints.
    Duane Spicer

    • Brita Beatty says:

      There are some Wheatacre records on the familysearch pilot site. The actual films are not available in the United States.

  52. Stephen Hill says:

    Really enjoyed reading the thread. Not related at all, just a passer-by. I like family history

    Steve Hill

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