THE MUDDLE FAMILIES
THE LINEAGE & HISTORY OF THE MUDDLE FAMILIES OF THE WORLD
INCLUDING VARIANTS MUDDEL, MUDDELL, MUDLE & MODDLE
The earliest known member of the Harrietsham Muddles is Andrew Muddle who was born about 1500, he married Isabella and they had at least eight children. They lived at Harrietsham in Kent where Andrew owned a house and land when he died in1546. The Muddle name then continues in three lines by three of Andrew’s sons.
Andrew’s son Richard
Originator of the Hollingbourne, Eastchurch, Loose, Gillingham and Deal lines
Richard married Elizabeth and they had nine children while living at Hollingbourne and nearby Thurnham. When Richard died in 1600 he owned several properties in different parishes. His eldest son, eldest daughter and youngest daughter all moved to Winchelsea in Sussex and his widow joined them there, but as his son was childless the Muddle name never became established in Winchelsea. Richard’s other three sons all married and had children.
Richard’s son William married Joan; they lived at Harrietsham and had three daughters and a son. Their son lived at Hollingbourne and only had daughters resulting in the Muddle name dying out in this line.
Richard’s son John married Rebecca and lived in Hollingbourne but his three sons moved to the Isle of Sheppey where they lived in Eastchurch and adjacent parishes, but after only another generation there the Muddle name seems to have died out on the Isle of Sheppey.
Richard’s son Arthur married Bridget; they lived at Hollingbourne and had eleven children, but after only two generations this line nearly dies out, with the exception that their son Nicholas had a son William who moved to Loose, about six miles west of Hollingbourne, where he married Elizabeth Munn in 1686. This William and Elizabeth lived all their married life of 61 years at Loose where William was a shoemaker. They had eleven children, five of whom died in childhood.
Of William and Elizabeth’s six children that survived to adulthood, who were all sons, two, John and William, stayed in Loose and four, George, Edward, James and Thomas moved to the Isle of Thanet in the north-east corner of Kent. There George became a butcher at Ramsgate where his business prospered and he invested in property and had shares in merchant ships, but he only had daughters to leave his money to. Thomas lived in Ramsgate; he married and had two children who died soon after birth. He died at the age of 81, but the records do not tell us what his occupation was.
William and Elizabeth’s son James was apprenticed to a shipwright and afterwards went to sea, probably as a ship’s carpenter. He married and had four children, but is presumed to have died at sea in about 1742 when he was about 40. His youngest son became a successful ironmonger in Oxfordshire but didn’t have any children. Another son, John, lived at Ramsgate, married and had six children. It was the youngest of his children, James, who moved down the east coast of Kent to Deal where he married in 1799 and had four children, which resulted in the small group of Muddles living at Deal and nearby Walmer during the 19th and early 20th centuries. One of this group, Elizabeth Ellen Muddle, was killed by enemy action, presumably bombing, at Walmer during the Second World War.
It was William and Elizabeth’s son Edward, who was a shipwright, who was the most successful of those that had moved to Thanet. He married twice and had eight children born at Ramsgate and Broadstairs. Then in 1756 he purchased a shipyard at Gillingham on the north coast of Kent and moved there with his family. He died in 1761 and his will showed that as well as his shipyard he owned other land and properties at Gillingham and also at Broadstairs. He left his shipyard to his son Edward who over the next sixty years built the business up further, some of the ships he built being for the Royal Navy.
When this second Edward died in 1821 he left most of his business interests to be equally shared by two of his surviving sons, Edward and John, who became prominent business men in Gillingham, each being High Constable of Gillingham for a year in the 1830s, and as well as their shipbuilding and barge owning interests, Edward also became a fruit grower and coalmerchant, and John a farmer and brickmaker. Edward’s third surviving son, James, became the captain of merchant ship’s sailing to Australia and the Far East from the 1820s to 1840s. Four of his voyages were transporting convicts to Australia, and on another voyage he went whaling in the Southern Ocean.
Of these three sons of Edward only John married and had children, his wife was Jemima Josepha Strover a member of another prominent local family. This resulted in most of the family wealth ending up in the hands of John’s daughter Anna who married late in life and so didn’t have direct heirs. When she died in 1888 Anna left her considerable fortune in property and Bank of England stocks in trust for the benefit of various members of the family and to be finally inherited by her six grand-nephews and grand-nieces, the grandchildren of her brothers Edward and John.
The name Muddle has now died out in this branch of the Harrietsham Muddles as the last males in the line changed their surname to Strover in the late 19th century.
Andrew’s son Robert
Originator of the Boxley, Chatham, Lenham and USA lines
Robert married Jane in 1549 and they lived at Harrietsham and then Lenham, but their 44 year marriage was childless. Then after Jane’s death Robert married Joan, who must have been much younger, because they had three children, and it was their son Nicholas, who by 1620 had moved to Boxley, who was to continue this branch of the family. Nicholas married twice and had fifteen children that included three sets of twins, but at least nine of these children, including all the twins, died in childhood. The only one of all these children that is known to have continued the Muddle line was the eldest son, Walter.
Walter lived at Boxley and also married twice, his first marriage was on the same day and in the same church as his father’s second marriage. Walter is thought to have had at least three sons by his first wife, but as this all happened during the period of the English Civil War and Commonwealth when there is a nearly 30 year gap in Boxley parish registers it has not been possible to find definite proof. Of these sons, the one named Walter after his father lived at Lenham where he had nine children, but only one of these, a daughter survived childhood. This Walter is notable for being before the church court twice and the resultant records giving a more detailed than normal insight into his life.
Another of the sons of Walter of Boxley by his first wife was Stephen who married twice and had fourteen children, at least nine dying in childhood. Three of his sons continued the line for another two generations before the line died out. The two youngest of these sons moved to Chatham were some members of this line served in the Royal Marines.
By his second wife Walter of Boxley had five children, three of whom died in infancy. His surviving son, John, lived at Maidstone from at least 1714; he also married twice and via a son from each marriage he fathered the most numerous branch of the Harrietsham Muddles.
John’s son from his first marriage was James, who was a carpenter, lived at Gillingham from 1744 and had eight children. Two of James’ sons, James and William, became shipwrights, and the other son, John, was a scavelman, but the most notable thing about this line is that many, particularly grandchildren and great-grandchildren of James, moved to London where some were successful businessmen. At least two of the granddaughters of son James married foreign businessmen living in London.
Two of the sons, William and Thomas, of James’ son John had upholsterer’s businesses in the City of London, and the eldest, William, was very successful having other businesses as well, such as coffee house proprietor and wine merchant, finally becoming a common councilman of cordwainer ward in the City of London.
Returning to James’ son William, who was a shipwright; his daughter Charlotte married John Conjuit at Lieutenant in the Royal Navy and then a Chief Office in the Coast Guards at Hastings. William’s son William was a shipwright like his father and worked in Chatham Dockyard and his son William George served in the Royal Navy, dying off the coast of South Africa.
William’s son James Arthur became a goldsmith in London, two of his daughters and some of his grandchildren spent time, from 1857, living in Melbourne, Australia, and his grandson, Claude, migrated to Alberta and then Vancouver in Canada in 1886.
William’s son John had a very chequered life. He was initially a businessman in the City of London, trying several things, such as upholster and coffee house proprietor, and went bankrupt three times. His second marriage was to Charlotte Alexander, a member of a well-to-do Irish family, and for a time he was a purser on passenger ships. He retired to a home near Maidstone and had by then changed the spelling of his surname to the up-market Muddelle. He was now well-off and was a director of a number of start-up companies whose shares were offered for sale in the pages of The Times. His daughter Emma married Frederick York St Leger in 1856 and migrated to South Africa were Frederick became a prominent minister and newspaperman.
Returning to John of Maidstone; from his second marriage his surviving son, Arthur, married twice but had just one son, James, who survived infancy. This James was a tailor and lived at Lenham where he had eight children. Two of his sons, Arthur and John, also became tailors and lived at Hollingbourne. Another son, James, was first a linen draper at Deal from 1814 and then a silk mercer in Dover from about 1829. This James went bankrupt and ended his days in Dover Workhouse.
But it was another son of James of Lenham, William, who, like his father, was a tailor at Lenham, who was to produce the only branch of the extensive Harrietsham Muddles family where the name Muddle still survives to the present day. And this surviving branch of the name is in the USA and was the result of three of William’s sons, William, John and Arthur, migrating to Albany and then Gloversville in New York State in the 1840s and 50s.
William was the eldest and the first to migrate; he married three times, having children by all three wives, but committed suicide at the age of 48. One of William’s sons, Arthur, was in trouble with the law from boyhood and had a drink problem that probably resulted in his violent death when only in his 20s. William’s other three sons made good and were active members of the Methodist Church. One of them, William, moved to Gloversville where he had a bookbinding business, and two of his sons, Charles and Frank, had a real estate and insurance business. The other two sons, John and Albert, stayed in Albany and were active members of the local Republican Party. John’s grandson, James, and Albert’s son, William, became Methodist ministers, and Albert’s son, Frank, was a well respect Albany police sergeant.
The second brother to migrate to the USA was John who married and had twelve children. This family lived in Albany and Watervliet before finally moving to Gloversville where John was sexton at Prospect Hill Cemetery for 20 years. Several of John’s descendants worked in Gloversville’s glove industry.
The third and youngest brother to migrate to the USA was Arthur who married and had six children. His two sons, Thomas and Arthur, ended up living in New York City, but his four daughters remained in Albany, the two youngest both marrying locomotive drivers.
Andrew’s son Henry
Whose great-grandson was the originator of the Devon line
Henry married Elizabeth in about 1568 and they lived at Wouldham where they had seven children. It’s not known what happened to most of these children, but the line continues with their son William who married and had six children while living at Wouldham. Two of William’s sons, Edward and William, moved to Rochester in about 1655 where they were fishermen. Edward married twice but none of his children are thought to have survived childhood. William married and had four children, his son Henry lived at Chatham where he had five children.
But it was William’s son Edward who was the footloose mariner; he married at Alverstoke in Hampshire in 1693 and had a child at Alverstoke and then Rochester before finally settling at Stoke Damerel near Plymouth in Devon by 1699, where he had three more children before dying at the age of 36. His son Edward married but is thought to have been childless, the line continuing with his son Joseph, who was a carpenter and married in 1729 and had three sons while living across the Hamoaze estuary in the parish of Antony in Cornwall. By 1751 this family had returned to Stoke Damerel.
Of Joseph’s three sons only John, who was a house carpenter, is known to have continued the line, having seven children while living at Stoke Damerel. But again it was only his eldest son, also called John, who was to continue the line. This John had children while living at Stoke Damerel but by 1806 had moved to Portsea in Hampshire, where he, his wife and his son Joseph all died. With these deaths it seems that the Muddle name died out in the Devon branch of the family.