[3GGP] James William KEECH & Joannah COTTON

My 3rd great grandfather James William KEECH was born 30th (or 16th) Jan 1830 in Turvey, Bedfordshire. He was the last of five known children born to Thomas KEECH and Mary BURRIDGE, a lacemaker. There is another family by the name Keech in my tree, which so far are unrelated.

My 3rd great grandmother Joannah COTTON was born 1822 in Turvey, Bedfordshire. She was the fifth of eight children born to Reuben COTTON, an agricultural labourer, and Rachel STOCK.

Nine years prior to Joannah and James’s marriage, Joannah gave birth to a child from an unknown relationship (unmarried). She was about 20.

  1. Henry Cotton (1842) – agricultural labourer

James and Joannah married on 3rd Aug 1851 in Turvey when they were 21 and 29, and had six children together (all born in Turvey). My 2nd great grandmother Eliza was their first. James worked as a master tailor and Joannah was a lacemaker, a career all five of their daughters also followed.

  1. Eliza Keech (3 Feb 1852 – 21 Apr 1841) – married Joseph James Cowley 1881; lacemaker
  2. Joannah Keech (1854 – 1921) – married John Law 1854 (a bricklayer’s labourer); lacemaker
  3. Mary Ann Keech (1857) – married Frederick Jones 1880 (a brewer’s labourer); lacemaker
  4. Emma Keech (16 Feb 1860 – 1945) – married James Sargent 1878 (a labourer); lacemaker
  5. James William Keech (1863 – 1923) – married Annie Hardwick 1887; coachman and groom
  6. Jane Keech (26 Aug 1865 – 1936) – married Henry Spyer 1887 (a groom); lacemaker

The family lived on Mill Green/Mill Lane right next the River Great Ouse to the west and the corn mill at the end of the road. The Three Fyshes Inn is still there to this day.


Maps reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

James died on 27th Dec 1885 at home from cirrhosis of the liver aged 55, and Joannah died in the Union Workhouse in Bedford on 19th Mar 1910 age 88 of “natural decay”. She received a short obituary in the paper, which stated she had been a member of the Congregation Church for many years.


Newspaper article reproduced with the permission of the British Newspaper Archive and The British Library Board