Fry family can be traced back to Rooksbridge in Somerset. We can
be fairly certain
of this as it is verified by two independent sources.
The first is the Fry family bible, which records Isaac’s
birthplace as Rooksbridge in 1824. The other source is the 1851
census. On this census Isaac himself says that he was born at Rooks Bridge.
Rooksbridge was at that time a small rural community in the
parish of East Brent.
Rooksbridge community was too small to support a church of its own.
This meant that the Frys had to travel into nearby East Brent
(which was about 3 kilometres away) to worship and have their
children baptised. While church and electoral records give East Brent
as the place where the family lived, I suspect the family home was
located in Rooks Bridge.
grandparents were James and Ann Fry nee Edwards.
Ann may have been the daughter of James Edwards of East Brent.
They were married in
the East Brent church in 1769.
A record of their marriage appears in…
register book of christenings, burials and marriages within the parish
of East Brent bought Anno Dom: (in the year of our Lord) 1719 by us
Richard Hardwidge and John Browne, Church parsons.
They were married by licence on the 14
December 1769 by the vicar Thomas Sparry.
James signed his name in the marriage register in a neat hand,
suggesting that he may have been able to read and write.
Ann Edwards signed with an X.
It’s worth noting that the
couple were married by licence.
Marriage licences were expensive and seen by some as a status
symbol. Usually only the more wealthy members of the parish were able
to afford them. One of
the advantages of a marriage licence was that it allowed the marriage
to proceed without the reading of banns in the church over 3
consecutive Sundays. Banns
made public a couples intention to marry. Anyone who knew of a lawful reason why a couple should not
marry had the opportunity to make this known to the minister.
Fry was a farmer and landowner in the tithing of Snighampton, East
Brent according to a land tax assessment made on 22 April 1767. The
parish of East Brent was divided into four regions or tithings, one of
which was known as Snighampton. Rooks Bridge appears to have been
included in the Snighampton tithing. A rate of 5 shillings was levied
against his name that
year. There is an entry
for the previous year, 1766. The surname Fry appears with the given
name erased by a watermark on the page.
A tax of 6 shillings and 8 pence was levied on the property.
The tax collectors that year were William Dinwidy and Richard
Day junior, two local men from the parish.
Land tax records only exist from 1766 up until 1832.
Records do not survive for the years 1768 through to 1781, a
gap of thirteen years. The
Frys were more than likely landowners in the parish well before the
start of these records in 1766.
Fry and Ann Edwards had at least six children, three sons and three
daughters. The eldest
Hannah was baptised in 1771, Ann in 1772, James junior in 1774,
Deborah in 1777, John (Isaac’s father) in 1780 and William in 1782.
They were all baptised in the parish church of East Brent.
On the 9 January 1782, James Fry senior was buried in the East
Brent church. On that
same day his son William was baptised there.
In June of 1782 an entry appears in the tax
assessments for the widow Fry. This
was Ann Fry, James’s wife. She is shown as the owner and occupier of
four properties in the tithing of Snighampton. Two of the properties
appear to have belonged to Ann’s father the late James Edwards. They
now belonged to Ann. The Edwards and Fry properties appear to have
been next to, or very close to each other. Their names follow each
other on the land tax assessments.
A little over
eighteen months after James’s death Ann remarried.
In 1783 she married Thomas Stevens of Barrow. They were married
on the 10 August by licence in the East Brent church.
Ann no doubt would have been left in difficult circumstances
when James died. She had a farm to run and a young family of six to
support. The oldest child
was Hannah who was about 12 and the youngest was William who was
probably only a couple of years old.
There are no tax assessment records available
for the years 1784 and 1785. In
1786 Thomas Stevens appears as the owner of land that once belonged to
Sometime between 1783 and 1788 Ann’s second
husband Thomas died. Ann
was left a widow once again.
In 1788, (the year that saw the first
settlement of Australia by Europeans) the widow Stevens (Ann) appears
in the land tax assessments with Thomas Haines.
Thomas Haines married Deborah Fry in 1774.
Deborah was Ann’s daughter from her marriage to James Fry.
Ann Stevens was the owner of the land and Thomas the occupier.
Similar entries appear for the years 1790 through to 1797.
1798 John Fry, Ann’s son (Isaac’s father) appears for the first
time in the land tax assessments. He was about 18 years old by this
date and recorded as
the owner of the land. Thomas
Haines was still the occupier. In
1805 John Fry was the owner and was also listed as the occupier along
with Thomas Haines. Deborah
and Thomas Haines were John Fry’s aunt and uncle.
It would appear that the land was handed down to John about the
time of his eighteenth birthday.
From 1801 through to 1832 when records of the last land tax
assessments were made, the owner and occupier of the property was John
parents were John and Ann Fry. According
to the registers of the East Brent parish church
John Fry was baptised in 1780.
His wife Ann, nee Norvill, was baptised there in 1782. Her
parents were James and Mary Norvill.
and Ann Fry had at
least 8 children baptised at East Brent, 6 sons and 2 daughters. The
oldest child James was baptised in 1805, Joseph in 1806, Ann in 1808,
John in 1812, and Thomas about 1816.
A second daughter Jane was baptised in 1821, a son Francis in
and his twin brother Abraham were born in 1824. Tragically for the family Abraham, Isaac’s twin died when he
was 4 months old. Another
son Robert may have been born about 1810.In
1832 John Fry appears in the Somerset electoral registers
as the owner of a house and land in the parish.
The house referred to here could quite possibly be the same
house, which appears in a very old family photograph.
The photo is of a charming old-English farmhouse.
A family story has it that it once belonged to the Frys back in
Perhaps the house in the photo is the same house in which Isaac
was born in 1824. The
house no doubt was
built many years before. I
suspect the family occupied the property and the house for at least
several generations perhaps even more.
between 1832 and 1841 the house passed out of the family’s hands.
In a population census taken in 1841 there is no mention of the
family living in Rooksbridge. This
supports another family story, which says that back in England the
family lost their money and their home.
It is worth noting that by 1851, John Fry was
destitute and boarding at a small farm (30 acres) owned by
William Ball Hatch. William
was just 24 years old and a widower.
Sometime after 1832 John and his family’s fortunes had taken
a tumble for the worse. He was now a pauper and no longer living in
the family home in Rooksbridge. His
wife Ann had died in August 1847, age 66. John now at least 70 years old was living away from his large
March of 1851 Isaac Fry was living at Brean in Somerset.
He was listed on the census as a 25-year-old farm labourer who
was born at Rooks Bridge. On
census night Isaac was lodging with Frederick and Hester Lewis and
their baby daughter Mary Ann. Their
address was given as Chapel House, Brean.
Quire appears on the same census page as Isaac.
On census night, Eliza was working as a house servant, employed
by Henry Adams Hicks. The
Hicks family owned Southfield farm, a property of 65 acres.
Hicks employed five labourers, one of whom could very well have
been Isaac. Hicks
and his 21 year old wife Maria Board Hicks employed two other
Fanny Board described as a housemaid and thirteen year old Jane Pin,
who like Eliza was employed as a house servant.
Eliza was 26 years old and according to the census was born in
In 1852 Isaac and Eliza were married at Brean.
The only picture we have of the couple together is one kept by
descendants of Minnie Kelly, nee Sherwood. (See top of page.) It is a
painting done on cardboard.
Isaac has a faint smile on his face; the artist has captured
his large, dark, smiling eyes.
more about Isaac and Eliza at Brean
face is thinner, and longer, made more so by his full beard.
His hair is wavy, parted to the side of his high forehead.
grandfather Arthur Gordon Sherwood had this to say about Isaac in a
letter to his sister Minnie. ‘Grandpa
Fry…had a wonderful voice if he got cross with anyone, and it did
not take much to upset him.’
after they were married a daughter Jane was born in March 1853. She was baptised on Christmas day 1854 at Burnham.
The family were living at Edith Mead at the time.
A son Frank Norvill Fry was born in June 1855.
The family left Somerset in February 1859 and arrived in
Melbourne the following June.
R J Sherwood. 2001
1832 Isaac's father John Fry owned a house and land in the
parish of East Brent, Somerset. The
house referred to here could quite possibly be the same house, which
appears in this very old family photograph.
The photo is of a charming old-English farmhouse.
A family story has it that it once belonged to the Frys back in
Perhaps the house in the photo is the same house in which Isaac was
born in 1824. The house
no doubt was built many years before.
I suspect the family occupied the property and the house for at
least several generations perhaps even more.
This is a photo of the
Christening Bowl given to Eliza Fry by her mother Fanny Quire. It was
given to Eliza just
before she emigrated to Australia in 1859.
close to seventy when she gave the bowl to her daughter as a parting
gift. Fanny was born
Fanny Fisher about 1790 in Burnham, Somerset. She died in Edith Mead,
Somerset in 1879, age 89.
The Christening Bowl is 60mm high, with a 120mm diameter opening at
the top. The walls of the
bowl are 8mm thick. There
is a 10mm diameter hole in the base.
The bowl tentatively dated at around the mid 1800’s, is an
emerald green colour.
The bowl is kept by Joan Lynch, Nhill, Victoria.
Photographed 1986. R J Sherwood.
and Eliza Fry nee Quire
The original is a painting on cardboard.
Photo courtesy P. Kelly, Wodonga, Victor
Fry nee Quire
Sherwood nee Fry
This was not one of Minnie's favourite photos. She is remembered as
saying it gave her the appearance of having a "Bung eye."
Sherwood nee Fry.
and Helen Bone nee Fry
Helen was Minnie Sherwood's
How the Quire family is connected to
the Sherwood family.
Isaac and Eliza Fry, nee Quire's daughter Minnie married Arthur
Sherwood in 1882.
The Quire name is also spelt Quier in some records.
Fry’s father was John Quire and her mother was Fanny Fisher.
John was baptised at South Brent, (also known as Brent Knoll)
Somerset 7 August 1796. He
was the son of William and Mary Quire and the second youngest of five
children. His siblings
were Elizabeth, James, William and Ann.
Fanny Fisher was born in Burnham, Somerset
about 1790. Her parents may have been James and Elizabeth Fisher. This
couple had at least five children all of whom were baptised in the
Burnham parish church.
and Fanny married on 24 April 1819 in St. Marys Church
Bridgwater. Bridgwater is about 20
kilometres south of Burnham.
marrying, John and Fanny settled in Cannington, 5 kilometres from
Bridgwater. Their first two children were born at Cannington.
William Ephraim in 1820 and Eliza, in 1823.
Eliza Quire later married Isaac Fry.
The couple and their young family emigrated to Victoria in
FULL STORY OF THE FRY's VOYAGE TO AND LIFE IN AUSTRALIA GO
And click the Fry family link
Baptised at South Brent/Brent Knoll, Somerset.
Married Fanny Fisher at Bridgwater, Somerset.
child Ephraim baptised at Cannington, Somerset.
Daughter Jane baptised at East Brent, Somerset.
Son John baptised at Burnham, Somerset.
John died at Edith Mead, Somerset.
Born Burnham, Somerset.
Fanny dies at Edith Mead, Somerset age 89.
Fry nee Quire's Family
between 1823 and 1826, the Quire family left Cannington and settled in
East Brent. East Brent is only a couple of kilometres from Rooks
Bridge where the Frys were living at this time. Eliza’s younger
sister Jane and brother Giles were baptised at the East Brent parish
church in 1826 and 1827. In the baptism register, John Quire’s
occupation is given as servant. By
1829 the family moved again this time to nearby Burnham. A third son John was baptised there in November of that year.
Another daughter Sophia was baptised
in 1833. Sophia died in 1839 when she was just five years old.
She was buried at Burnham by the curate Charles Scott.
Every 10 years
starting in 1841, a
detailed census of the population was taken.
With the 1841 census, names, ages and occupations were recorded
and whether or not the person was born in the county they were
presently living. Local
people were recruited as enumerators or census collectors.
Their job was to visit each household or dwelling in the parish
and record the names of those who spent the previous night there.
It is estimated that as many as 10 percent of the population
were either missed by, or avoided the enumerators.
On the 1841 returns the age of a
person 15 years and over, was usually rounded off to the next lowest
multiple of 5 years. For
example someone who was 29 was recorded as 25.
Sometimes the actual age was given. It all depended on the
enumerator as to how ages were recorded. The census was taken during
the night of Monday 7 June. Those who appear spent the previous night (Sunday) in the
gives us a remarkable snap shot in time of where our ancestors were on
each census night and who they were staying with.
John and Fanny Quire and two of their sons William Ephraim 20
and John 10 were living in
Burnham. John was 40 and Fanny 45.
(It’s important to remember that their ages were most likely
rounded down) John and
William worked as farm labourers.
Staying with the family was an Elizabeth Fisher, age 75.
Elizabeth could very well have been Fanny’s elderly mother. The word
‘inmate’ appears next to Elizabeth’s name and has a line drawn
through it. She may have at
one stage been an inmate at a workhouse. Elizabeth died in Burnham in
1849, she was 89 years old.
John and Fanny’s daughter
Jane was just14 years old and living and working away from home.
She was employed by James Hembry on his farm in Burnham as a
15-year-old brother Giles Quire was working as a live in servant for
John and Ann Board, who were also farmers of Burnham.
Employed by farmer Board were two young domestic servants
Harriett Letheby 16 and Emma Lauford 26.
Giles later married Harriett Letheby.
They married in Burnham in 1848.
Giles was 22 years old and working as a butcher when they
Fanny’s daughter Eliza, who later married Isaac Fry wasn’t staying
with the family at Burnham. She was. living in Mark, an adjoining
parish, working as a female servant. Eliza and Maria Coomer, both 18, shared accommodation in the
same building with a number of others.
They were Albert and Martha Day, and their baby son John. Albert was a 29-year-old blacksmith. Two other young men, 22 year old James Banwell and 16 year
old apprentice John Parsons, were also living there. The location of the dwelling was the Cawseway, Mark.
the census, John’s brother
James Quire worked
as a tailor in South Brent. He was 45 years old.
He and his wife Ann had at least 3 children, William 15,
Ephraim 14, and 12 year old John.
It’s interesting to note that an Ephraim Quire, who was born
in Somerset about 1825, later settled in Australia.
It may have been 14 year old Ephraim who later settled in South
Australia . William
Quire, another of John’s brothers was living in Purvingstow
Lympsham, not far from South Brent.
According to the census he was a 54 year old farm labourer.
He was living with his wife Mary age 52 and their children
Martha 15, Jonas 12, Jane 10 and Peter 7.
Ten years later
in 1851 another census was taken.
information. The census
collectors were required to record each person’s exact age (where
known) along with their place of birth.
In 1851 John
and Fanny were
still living at Burnham. This
is where Fanny was born about 60 years earlier.
With them were their daughter Jane 24 and son John 21.
Ephraim (Eliza’s brother) had
married by 1851 and
was still living in Burnham.
William was 31 and his wife Maria was 34.
They had 3 daughters, 5 year old Sophia, 3 year old Jane and
Ann Maria just one year old.
1851, Giles who married Harriett Letheby, had two daughters, Mary 2 and
Fanny age 1. Fanny was
quite possibly named after her grandmother Fanny Quire nee Fisher.
The family were living at Burnham and Giles was working as a
butcher. His wife
Harriett was listed as a ‘butcher’s wife’.
In the house on census night was
George Butt, a 15 year old servant and 72 year old Ruth Harden.
She was described as a widow and a pauper and lodging with the
brother James and his wife Ann had left South Brent and were now
living in The Clyze, Huntspill. John
was 63 and wife Ann 59. He
was still working as a tailor. Ann was listed as a tailor’s wife and
was born in Ireland.
Quire was living at Edith Mead when he died in 1859. He was 63 years old. He
was buried by Thomas? Williams the vicar of the Burnham parish church
on the 6 February. His
wife Fanny died at Edith Mead
in 1879, age 89. She
too was buried in Burnham.
By 1881 Eliza’s brother Giles had left Burnham and was living
in nearby Berrow. He was still working as a butcher. His daughter
Fanny Quire had married Thomas Press.
They were living at Princess Street, Burnham.
Thomas was 29 and Fanny was 30.
They had 2 young sons Ernest 1 and Archibald 3 months.
Thomas and Fanny were Grocers in Burnham.
They had 2 young assistants William Rice and William J
Hutchings working for them. Staying
in the family home on census night was 24 year old Ellen Quire, who
was visiting the family. Thomas,
Fanny and family not long after emigrated to Victoria where they were
reunited with their aunt Eliza Fry.
Eliza travelled to Melbourne from Nhill to meet her niece. This
would have been in the early 1880’s.
According to my grandfather Arthur Gordon Sherwood,
‘Granny Fry (Eliza Fry) was so excited about the prospect of
meeting her niece that she bought a new bonnet when she travelled to
Melbourne to meet her.’ According
to Arthur Gordon’s sister Minnie Kelly nee Sherwood, Minnie and her
mother Minnie senior visited Fanny at her home in Kew during World War
1. Minnie senior and
Fanny Press were cousins. Fanny’s
son Archie was said to have visited the Sherwood family at Woorak
R J Sherwood. 2001
Do you recognise this House ?
Fry Family Home
Rooksbridge or East Brent, Somerset.
photo was brought to Australia in 1859 by my great, great grandfather Isaac
Fry. The house was owned by his
father John Fry. The house passed
out of the family’s hands about 1830.
have just come across your Rooksbridge web site and hope that you might be
able to help me. My ancestors (Fry) lived in Rooksbridge prior to 1830.
The family owned a house and land there around this time. I have a very
old family photo of the Fry family home which I believe was located in
Rooksbridge. I am sending a copy of the photo in the hope that someone
might recognise it if it still exists today. I would love to learn about
the history of the house ie previous owners etc if this is possible. I
assume the photo was taken not long before the family left for Australia in
forward to hearing from you.
you can shed some light on the whereabouts of the house in the photo, Rob
would be over the moon!!
Thanks to Rachael Frost we now think it could be North Yeo Farm. White
House Lane? But do not know how to confirm this?
John at: 'The Bungalow' Mendip Road
01934 750274 or