A Family History


Christopher J Farrow and Judith A Constantine


The Barchams of Edingthorpe traces the history of the Barcham Family from 1600 to the present day. It includes information about the places where the Barchams lived, their occupations, their homes, and the historical events that shaped their lives, as well as genealogical details about individual family members. Illustrated with maps and many old photographs, it is a fascinating story about a family who, over the centuries, have been weavers, farmers, mariners, shipbuilders and ship owners, blacksmiths, millers, grocers, innkeepers, veterinaries, and schoolteachers, initially in Norfolk, later in London and overseas. Some sailed in fast clippers trading in the Far East, while others prospected for gold in Australia and New Zealand. In the 20th century Sydney Barcham was Captain of the P&O passenger liner SS Arcadia, others served their countries in two world wars, and Pat Barcham climbed in the Himalayas with Sir Edmund Hillary.


Chapter 1 introduces the early Barchams of Norfolk. The earliest known member of the family is John Bawchen, who lived and farmed at Honing. John died in 1610. These early Barchams were weavers. Later they became farmers, and it was when William Barcham Senior (1694–1748) married Mary Bacon in 1713 that he acquired what was to become the Edingthorpe family farm. Their eldest son, William Barcham Junior (1717–1782), inherited the farm. He married Sarah Dyball on 12 May 1743 and they had eight children. Three of their sons, William, John and Benjamin, each have sixth- and seventh-generation descendants living today in the United Kingdom and around the world.


Chapter 2 tells of John Barcham (1749–1828), who lived at Church Farm, Edingthorpe, and his relationship with the Baptist chapel at Meeting House Hill, Worstead. He was a deacon and benefactor of the chapel and his wife, Elizabeth (née Helsdon) (1752–1845), ‘a Christian of a most dedicated character and devotional spirit’. They had 12 children. Their youngest daughter, Naomi, married John Rix Blakely, who was pastor of the chapel from about 1832 to 1836. Ezra Barcham (1792–1870), their youngest son, was the farmers’ leader in the agricultural revolt of 1830, when he had an altercation about the tithes he was paying to the rector of All Saints’, Edingthorpe. This led to his appearance in July 1831 at the Norfolk Assizes.


During the 18th and 19th centuries, descendants of William and Sarah Barcham dispersed to various town and villages in North Norfolk and further afield. Chapter 3 explains how the roots of the various branches of the Barcham family became established in Norfolk and gives some idea of village life in East Anglia.

William Barcham (1744–1782), the eldest son of William and Sarah Barcham of Edingthorpe, moved to Great Yarmouth about 1764. It was his son, Captain William Barcham, who founded the seafaring dynasty that continued through to World War II. Chapter 4 describes the shipbuilding and seafaring activities of the Barcham family in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, some of the ships commanded by Barcham masters and their voyages, and the branches of the family who lived in Cromer, Mundesley and Sheringham.


The story moves away from Norfolk around 1825 when William Ayres Barcham (1794–1841), the eldest son of William and Judith Barcham of Great Yarmouth, went to London. He was a master mariner who traded from London and Rotterdam. He made several voyages to Batavia (now Jakarta) where he died. He married Anne Edwards (1807–1877) who came from the Scilly Isles. Chapter 5 describes the lives of William and Anne and their seven children, three of whom were mariners. Their fourth child, Henry Barcham (1833–1910), emigrated in 1854. Henry and his wife, Jane Richards, whom he had met on board ship, founded the first Barcham family in Portland, Victoria, Australia.


Chapter 6 of The Barchams of Edingthorpe covers the establishment of various branches of the family in Australia, New Zealand and Canada from 1850 to 1970. It gives details of the ships the immigrants sailed in and their voyages to the New World and goes on to describe how they and their descendants fared. Some Barchams were participating in the Otago gold rush, while others were building up their businesses or farming their land, and one, Richard Barcham Shalders, was setting up the first YMCA branch in New Zealand. One hundred years on, a member of the younger generation tells what it was like growing up ‘down under’ in the 1970s.


The next chapter relates the contributions of members of the Barcham family in World War I and World War II, including some fascinating, and, not surprisingly, some tragic, wartime experiences. This chapter includes several significant achievements that have been made by family members during the 20th century, and in a century of profound changes, a Barcham born in 1918 recalls some memories from her long life.


The Barcham family history concludes with some interesting connections within the wider family, a report of the Barcham Gathering held at Worstead in June 2003, and an addendum with a miscellany of information that has come to light since the publication of the first edition.