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Henry Dryden - Flax Dresser

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Henry Dryden - Flax Dresser

Posted: 1348490384000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Dryden, Watkins, Miles, Stevenson

I'm researching the Dryden family of Hounslow, Middlesex, headed up by Henry Dryden, a flax dresser. He married a Sarah (possibly Sarah Watkins, on 10 July 1814 in All Saints Church, Isleworth, though the marriage record on doesn't provide any more information than that).

Henry and Sarah had at least four children, where Henry's occupation is always given as flax dresser; the children were all christened in Heston, Middlesex:

- Matilda Dryden, born 1814

- Sophia Ruth Dryden, born 1815

- William Henry Dryden, born 1817

- Alfred Dryden, born 1820

I don't know what happened to Matilda or Sophia, but I suspect that Alfred Dryden is my third great grandfather who, after the death of his first wife (Margaret Miles) immigrated to Cape Town, South Africa, c.1860, where he re-married and died. Alfred's 28 Oct. 1850 marriage record to Margaret Miles gives his occupation as Twine Spinner (although in the 1851 Census he was working as a policeman) and his father, Henry's occupation was flax dresser.

William Henry Dryden, a Twine Spinner and Rope Maker, was married to Jane Dinah Stevenson on 8 Feb. 1842 in Lambeth, London. It is possible though that William was previously married as in the 1841 Census he has a young son, William jnr., who also appears in the 1851 Census, and his date of birth, c.1838, is clearly earlier than William's marriage to Jane.

Also in the 1841 Census is William's mother, Sarah, who gives her date of birth as c.1776; unfortunately, the marriage record of Henry Dryden and Sarah Watkins doesn't give their ages, so I'm unable to confirm this, though if correct it would mean she married somewhat late in life.

While attempting to find further information on Henry Dryden, the flax dresser, I came across the flax and twine Drydens of Northumberland; specifically I came across a reference to a Henry Dryden, Flax-Dresser and Twine-Spinner, in the 1806 "A Directory, etc., for Berwick-upon-Tweed" (Source:, living in Church-street, which made me wonder if it might be the same man, who had perhaps immigrated from Berwick-upon-Tweed to London, but unfortunately I've been unable to confirm.

I do note though that the Dryden family have lived a long time in Berwick-upon-Tweed, and that according to FamilySearch, a Henry Dryden was christened in Berwick-upon-Tweed on 22 Sept. 1779 to parents Henry Dryden and Jane. Perhaps both Henry and Sarah Watkins got married in their thirties (their marriage record describes them as a bachelor and spinster)?

I've also come across a reference to an earlier Henry Dryden, perhaps the father or grandfather of the one found in FamilySearch, who worked as a flax dresser in Berwick-upon-Tweed around the 1750s; tragically he lost his first wife to the hangman after she was convicted of murder, according to the book "A place by itself: Berwick-upon-Tweed in the Eighteenth Century" by David Brenchley. This would seem to be Margaret Dryden who was hanged on 3 May 1758 for the "murder of her bastard-child".

Is anyone else researching this Dryden line and can provide information on Henry Dryden, flax dresser, or his children?

Craig Sheldon

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