The Family of Christopher James Best of Durweston, Dorset

Church records are confusing for this family. Although Christopher James Best was christened and maried Peggy Roberts in 1789 and Ann Howse in 1794, there are no baptismal records for any children of Christopher James. James and Margaret had one son, James, in 1794 and Margaret died soon after. James and Ann had nine children baptised between 1795 and 1817. Christopher James was buried in 1836. We assume that Christopher James went by the name of James.


  1. James – born 1789 in Durweston, son of James and Margaret. He married Philadelphia (Phyllis) Elford in 1818. James developed a carrying business and lived at Langton Long Blandford and Blandford. They had ten children, of whom only three – Maria, Peggy and Charles – survived infancy.

  2. George – born 1795. George married Elizabeth Melmer in 1816 and they had three children. Elizabeth died in 1821. George married Sarah Cuff at Blandford St Mary in 1830 and eight further children were born. They lived first at Durweston, then at Bryanston (1832-45), then returned to Durweston. George died at Durweston in 1852 and Sarah died there in 1881.

  3. Martha – born 1797; married Job Sturgess, from Gussage, in 1820. It appears they spent several years in Martin, Witshire, before returning to Blandford in about 1835. Martha and Job had six children
    • Louisa STURGESS, born 1822, Durweston
    • Isabella STURGESS, born 1830, Martin, Wilts
    • Sarah STURGESS, born 1831, Martin, Wilts
    • James STURGESS, born 1834, Blandford
    • Jane STURGESS, born 1836, Blandford
    • John STURGESS, born 1838, Blandford

  4. Deborah – born 1801; married George Butt in 1826. Deborah was a widow in 1871 with an unmarried 22-year-old daughter, Sarah BUTT .

  5. Sarah – born 1804; no further details

  6. Esther – born 1806; married Edward Hayward in 1829. They had eight children
    • George HAYWARD, born 1830, Durweston. George married Maria Green of Iwerne and they had a son, Alfred, born 1872.
    • Mary Jane HAYWARD, born 1839, Durweston
    • Sarah HAYWARD, born 1841, Durweston
    • Agnes HAYWARD, born 1843, Durweston
    • Ann HAYWARD, born 1843, Durweston
    • Hannah HAYWARD, born 1846, Bryanston
    • Samuel HAYWARD, born 1846, Bryanston
    • James HAYWARD, born 1849, Bryanston

  7. Hannah – born 1808; married Robert Kearly in 1830. They had children
    • Richard KEARLY, born 1830
    • Ann KEARLY, born 1832

      It appears likely that Hannah and Robert moved to London and may have had more children including Hannah. The 1881 census lists George and Hannah Hawkins at Lambeth Dairy, together with Hannah Kearly, aged 72, born Durweston, wife's mother.

  8. Joseph – born 1813; married Charlotte. Joseph became a minister of the Primitive Methodist Church. They had at least one daughter,
    • Sarah M H, born 1857 at Tiverton, Somerset

  9. Samuel – born 1815; married Jane Haine and had one daughter, Lydia, born 1841. After Samuel's death, Jane married Richard Cross at Durweston

  10. Nehemiah – born 1817; married (1) Elizabeth James in Durweston in 1837. They had five children. Nehemiah moved to Kensington, London, where he married Emma Keeley.