Search for descendants

Published: Friday, 16 July 2010

THE SEARCH is on for the descendants of the eight signatories of the petition for a waterway connecting the Grand Union Canal with the River Great Ouse.

The meeting where the petition was signed was  called by then Mayor, Charles Short, for noon on 4th November 1811 at Shire Hall.

Next year sees the 200th anniversary of the meeting in Bedford when a navigable waterway between the Grand Junction Canal (now the Grand Union at Milton Keynes) and the River Great Ouse at Bedford was first proposed. The search is on to trace the original signatories.

Coincide with lobbying

The search has been launched to coincide with the Bedford River Festival by the Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust (B&MK) which, as a result of over ten years of lobbying, has placed the proposed waterway—the missing 26km link in our waterway network—at the heart of local plans and onto the agenda of the bodies that have the resources and the scale to make it happen.

The signatories were:

John Foster ( 1765-1831, a landowner of Brickhill House, who also owned sugar estates in Jamaica); John Rawlins (wine merchant); R. W. Robinson; John Emery; Samuel Gifford; William White (corn merchant and miller at Kempston Mill, who died in July 1815 after falling from his horse in Clapham Road); Charles Bailey and Richard Leach.

This is the gravestone in Bedford Cemetery of Charles Robinson, whom  the trust believe to be the son of R.W. Robinson—one of the signatories of the petition proposing the canal nearly 200 years ago.

Jane Wolfson, Trust Chair, explained:

"The Trust is planning a celebration to mark this anniversary, and show how much progress has been made with the current project. It has been agreed that we should try to trace as many as possible of the descendants of everyone named on the petition, including the then Mayor, and invite them to join our celebrations."

The trust would like to hear from anyone who is a direct descendant, or if they know someone who is. However, details of the ancestry line would be needed.

If you can help, or have any information, please contact Alan Mayo (tel. 01234 409737 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Neil Hayes tel. 01234 826216 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).