Who are this Ivens family?

A marriage announcement in the Bedford press in 1905. But where is the Groom’s family, and what happened to the Bride and Groom afterwards?

Bedfordshire press - Ivens - Folkes marriage part 1.png

On the face of it, this family should be easy to find. The groom, John Richard Ivens son of Richard Ivens, late of Bedford. The Bride, Annie Folkes daughter of James Folkes of Bell End, with siblings M. J. (Micky) Folkes, Lilian Folkes, Charlotte Folkes, Kate Folkes, and Mary Folkes.

Then there is an Alex Folkes, possibly a brother or uncle, who acted as Best man, and a Jack Folkes and a Talbot Folkes.

This is a big wedding with 80 guests and the gift list suggest a family with simple but traditional taste.

The marriage is in August 1905, and indeed one can find an index record of the wedding. However it only includes the name of the Groom, the Bride and the place ‘Bedfordshire’. No other revealing information.

Census information in the preceding years, 1881, 1891, 1901 should reveal something about who these people were.

A key piece of information will be determining what age they were when they married.

The 1901 Census reveals a Bell End in Kempston, Bedford, where at No 8. lives Alexander (b.1877) a journeyman bricklayer, and Mary R. Folkes with their son William (b.1900). Alexander would have been 28 at the time of the wedding and could well have been the Best Man.

Bedfordshire press - Ivens - Folkes marriage part 2.png

At No 16 Bell End lives Caroline Folkes (b.1849) widow and Laundress, with children Joseph (b.1881) bricklayer, Kate (b.1883) Electric lamp worker, John M. (b.1889), Talbot J. (b.1891) and Lily (b.1894) – all scholars. Talbot J. Folkes (1891-1948) would have been 14 at the time of this wedding. There is also a nephew Harry Cook aged 12 (b.1889). So the cook family in the list of guests are indeed family, and there’s a large Cook family living at 34 Bell End, including Thomas Cook, gravedigger, and Kate Cook his daughter, and Fred Cook, a son.

The Devereaux and the Bell families also live in Bell End, so this is a tight neighbourhood.

Annie Folks (transcribed as ‘Folker’ in 1901 census) is working as a domestic cook / servant just up the road in Bedford St Paul at 81 High Street. She was born in 1870.

The 1891 census, 10 years earlier, shows James Folkes (b.1847) Bricklayer, living at 22 Bell End, Kempston, with wife Caroline (b.1849), and 8 children: Joshua (b.1874), Alexander (b.1876), Charlotte (b.1878), Meshelmiah (b.1881), Catherine (b.1883), Mary M. (b.1885), Ezerckiel (b.1889), Talbot (b.1891).

Bedfordshire press - Ivens - Folkes marriage part 3.png

Thomas Cook is living at 1 Bell End, and there’s an Ada Folkes, school teacher aged 19, living with her aunt Mary A. George at No. 6. There’s also a Mary Folkes, 65, living on her own at No. 15.

In 1881 census, the family is visible still, at Kempston with father James (b.1846), Caroline (b.1849), and 7 children Laura (b.1867), Anne (b.1870), Ada (b.1872), Joshua (b.1873), Alexander (b.1876), Charlotte (b.1878), Meshemiah (b.1881), (with Thomas Cook living next door)

So, Anne (b.1870) is 35 when she marries, which suggests that her husband was of a similar age. So, we are looking for a John Richard Ivens, (b. circa 1870), ‘son of Richard Ivens’.

First, there’s the most probable entry: John Richard Ivens (b.1863) in Bedford, but the census of 1871, 1891 and 1901 all suggest his father was Joseph Bland Ivens and mother Sophia. There is no record of this family in the 1881 census. Even though John’s elder brother George Richard is with his mother throughout, and the address is consistently Albert Street, Bedford. Mystery 1: I cannot find the census return for this family in 1881.

Nevertheless, subsequent records for this family are generally sad. His eldest brother George Richard Ivens eventually died in 1930 in Biggleswade, Beds., aged 80, but who knows what relationship he had with his brother 13 years his junior. Joseph Eaton Ivens had been an engine driver all his working life but was recorded as a Pauper in the workhouse in 1911 aged 60, while his elder sister Maria Sophia died at the age of 21 in 1874. The youngest sister, Mary Ellen died at the age of 16 the previous year in 1873.

Meanwhile, the 1911 census introduced the question ‘Completed years the current marriage lasted‘, and so is helpful in tracking down the right family.

In 1911, there’s a John Richard Ivens (b.1864), married for just 5 years (therefore 1906), but whose wife is Mabel Letitia Ivens (aged only 29), and the eldest child, Alfreda Eleanor, aged 11 years. So, Mabel Letitia was the 2nd wife. His first wife, however, was Mary Elizabeth Thacker. And all this happened in Northamptonshire where he, John Richard, had lived for 57 years before dying in 1946.

Then there’s a John Richard Evans (b.1863) with Annie Evans (b.1871) living in Denbighshire, but they had been married 9 years, and their eldest child, Annie was 8 years old.

So, mystery No 2 – there’s no apparent record of John Richard and Annie in the 1911 census.

Did they emigrate? Not likely as there is a record of a John R. Ivens (b.1863) dying in 1930 in Bedford, and Probate to “Sarah Anne Ivens, widow”.

In 1939 there is a Sarah Ann Ivens, born 22 April, 1869, a widow living at 26 Hazelwood Road, Bedford. There are 5 other people in the house, but 3 records are still ‘closed’. The remaining 2 have no obvious relevance.


Was the newspaper article in error by identifying John Richard’s father as Richard?

Why is there no census record for John Richard’s family of Bedford in 1881? Where were they?

Why is there no census record for this new young family in 1911?

Is Sarah Anne actually Annie Folkes?

While the details resulting from this press announcement are mystifying, the list of wedding gifts is revealing about what this community perceived a new bride needed.

Mounted tobacco pouch; gold curb brooch; oil painting (probably family heirloom) and jugs; knives, silver teapot and silver forks and spoons; coal scuttle, dinner service; dining room clock; copper kettle and carving knife and fork; vases; candlesticks; sugar basin and cream jug; cheque, tea service; silver toast rack, more knives; silver spoons; bronze flower vase; photo frame; lamp; jugs; silver candlesticks; silver jam dish and spoons; glass dishes; more glass dishes; cake stand and jam dishes; another cheque; sheets; more knives; bronze crumb brush and tray; Bedfordshire lace handkerchief; hemstitched pillow cases; trinket set; more jam dishes and vases; fire screen; tablecloth; more silver candlesticks; drawn-thread work tablecloth; antimacassar; more vases; more photo frames; yet more photo frames still; afternoon tea tray; silver top vases; door mats; cheese dish; more silver top vases; inkstand; pickle fork; teapot; butter dish; tobacco jar; another pickle fork; sugar sifter; pair of copper vases; tumblers; yet more vases; and a set of jugs.


4 responses to “Who are this Ivens family?

  1. Here is the answer to mystery no 1-the 1881 census mistranscribed ‘Ivens’ as ‘Irons’ (look out Jeremy!) for John Richard and family. Mother Sophia is now a widow, annuitant. George Richard is a butcher; Joseph Eaton an engine driver; John Richard a joiner and carpenter, and there is a Mary Ivens, visitor, aged 41, born in Dentford, Northants.


  2. Thanks Jan [ I am now back online! 🙂 ] I can see that now, but I’m still curious as to what happened to them AFTER the marriage. I’ll keep looking. Thanks for your contributions. I must add you to the list of Ivens Genealogists.


  3. Here’s a 1911 census which would fit, again, the surname has been mistranscribed, this time as ‘Ivers’.
    John Richard Ivens, aged 48, a Joiner. Wife Annie, aged 41, born in Hempston Parish, Bedford. They’ve been married for five years, no children. Living at 15 Prebend Street, Bedford. They have a boarder named Mary Farrell, aged 22, born London, an Actress!


  4. Oh excellent Jan. Having explored so many different spellings of the Ivens name (but avoiding being caught up in searching ‘Evans), I will now have to make a study of the individual records behind likely Ivers entries. It never ends!


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