Woolston and Anne Dring of Somersham

This is a first outline family tree for my maternal Dring ancestors and is far from complete.  It lacks full source referencing and no doubt contains some errors-  these defects I hope to eliminate in time. Other information is  available which I hope to incorporate as I obtain access to it.
Do you know anything about anyone listed on this family tree?  Alan Bednall


A Shepherd And His Wife


Woolston, who appears to have been named after his mother’s family, seems to have become a farm worker at an early age (probably between 11 and 14) moving from place to place in search of work to help reduce the burden on his mother.
Wisbech Market Place about 1905 Sometime before 1815 he was working (probably) as a shepherd at Upwell Fen on the Cambridgeshire-Norfolk border, and it may have been there that he met his wife to be -orphan Anne Beagle. Woolston and Anne got married in Anne’s village of Wisbeach St. Marys, in 1815 and lived in Upwell until about 1832 when they moved to Somersham, a Huntingdonshire village, two miles to the South East of Warboys, on the edge of the Chatteris Fen.

In 1841 Woolston, then a shepherd, his wife Anne and their seven children were living in Dring’s Cottages, Parkhall Drive in Somersham. At least three of their children  (William, John Woolston and Edward) were by then already raising families of their own.  William’s wife Hannah had just given birth to her first child -named Woolston after his grandfather- and John Woolston’s first child Susanna was just 17 days old when the 1841 Census was taken.  Ten years later the family’s fortunes had improved for Woolston described himself as a farm bailiff and his wife Anne as a dairywoman; their two youngest sons Charles and David were both farm labourers. Two of their three eldest sons John Woolston and William Dring had by then married and were living elsewhere in the village. Ten years later when all their family had left home, Woolston was still farming 3 acres although approaching 70 years of age at the time. For most of her 60 years of life in Somersham Anne had been surrounded by her family.

Woolston and Anne Dring’s marriage lasted for 65 years until Woolston (who was two years younger than his wife) died in 1870 at the age of 83. His wife, orphan Anne, was to outlive him by 20 years and lead a healthy and an active life. She was never confined in bed (except presumably when bearing children) until a fortnight or so before her death. Up to the age of 100 she was (it was reported) able to get about without the aid of a stick and to the very last retained her eyesight, hearing and other faculties, rarely finding it necessary to use glasses. Her husband had left her financially independent and following his death she had the companionship and help of one of her grand daughters who lived with her. 

Anne's 100th Birthday


After her hundredth birthday she was very reluctant to receive the many visitors who came to get a glimpse of and chat with "this curiosity", a centenarian, on the grounds that one of the visits might be reported in a London paper. When her attention was drawn to this she said she would receive no more strangers adding "I’m not going to be made a penny peep show of by being put in a penny daily paper". The total number of her descendents was estimated in 1892 to have been 151 of whom 116 were then living as is shown in the lists below:

The Descendants of Woolston and Anne Dring of Somersham, Huntingdonshire 1892 (Newspaper report of about 1892)

Children Age Grandchildren
    Living Dead
John 76 2 1
Edward 73 8 3
William All 4 1
Sarah 66 1 1
Mary 62 5 6
Charles 60 2 0
David 58 8 1
Total Grandchildren   30 13
    Great Grandchildren
    Living Dead
John   20 4
Edward   22 2
William   18 8
Sarah   1 0
Mary   9 1
Charles   7 2
David   3 3
Total Great Grandchildren   71 21
    Great, Great Grandchildren
    Living Dead
John   3 1
Edward   4 0
William   1 0
Total G.G. Grandchildren   8 1
TOTAL   109 35
Anne Dring nee Beagle, died on the 9th December 1891 and was buried in her husband’s grave in the churchyard at Somersham. The headstone records that

"They both came to their grave in full age like
as a shock of corn cometh in his season.
Even to old age I was with them."

Alan Bednall