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Severn prehistory

As far as most of us can remember, we are descended from Joseph and Louisa Severn, or James and Martha Severn or George and Martha Severn. They are the patriarchs of this great family.

But of course, they were kids too, once upon a time, as were their fathers and mothers before them.

The Severn clans haven't moved far from the Severn valley and by far the greatest Severn population is contained in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. In fact the IGI (international Genealogical Index) lists very few Severn families outside of these 2 counties before 1800 - in fact none at all in Yorkshire.

However, there have been a few dedicated Severn researchers who have done lots of work to uncover their roots. Thanks must go to Duncan Hudson who produced a huge family tree linking thousands of Severns, of which ours is a tiny part. I have copies of that tree – or find it in my family tree on

The names in the early days were often mispelled in the records. I have put these in.  The names in bold are our direct ancestors.

Generation 1  James Severn/Ceafern

The earliest known of our ancestors is James Severn/Ceafern born circa 1696 and buried 24 Feb 1774 in Heanor. About 1715 he married Ann Cooper at St. Werburgh's, Derby, Derbyshire. Ann was born about 1696. She was buried 13 Jan 1772 at Shipley Wood Heanor. We don’t know how many children they had… but we know of:

  • John Severns baptised 12 Feb 1716;

  • James Severns/Seaverns baptised 12 Oct 1718 d 1795 see Generation 2

  • Phillip Severns baptise 3 June 1721 in Heanor.

About this time we believe that the men started leaving the and and going to work in col mines. The industry was beginning to develop as the industrial revolution started. There is a good article on coal mining in Nottighamshire here.

Generation 2  James Severn/Seaverns 1718 - 1795

We think he married Catherine Rowbottom on 4 Oct 1754 in St Mary’s church, Nottingham. He married again to Catherine Catorn/Catron (she was born 1725 and was buried 2 Apr 1795 aged 70 years), also in Shipley Wood. James was buried at Shipley Wood in 1795    James and Catherine had the following children:

  • John Severns bapt 25 Dec 1758 bur 20 May 1759

  • Mary Severns bap 11 May 1760 Heanor

  • Hannah Severns bap 31 Mar 1762 bur 4 Dec 1763

  • Hannah Marrina Severns bap 22 Apr 1764 Heanor

  • James Severns see below Generation 3

Generation 3  James Severns 1765 - 1846

James Severns 1765-1846 married Catherine Clay born circa 1767 in Heanor, the daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth CLAY. She died before 1841.  James and Catherine had a large family, many of who have given birth to numerous clans. Their children were:

  • Bessey Severns bap 7 Feb 1786 Heanor

  • Sharlot (Charlotte) Severns bap 26 Feb 1788 Heanor, marr 20 Jul 1807 Ilkeston to Thomas Cope (b 1789 Derby). She died 1841-1851

  • Anne Severns bap 17 Mar 1790 and bd 16 Feb 1792 Heanor

  • Samuel Severns bap 8 May 1792 Heanor; married Mary Adams

  • James Severn bap 24 Nov 1794; bur 28 Jan 1796 Heanor

  • Mary Severn bap 26 Jan 1797 Heanor

  • John Severns bap 2 May 1799 Heanor

  • Thomas Severns bap 25 Sep 1800 d 1886; marr Grace Durow 27 Aug 1822. Grace born 16 Jan 1803 Ilkeston; bap 20 Mar 1809 Independent Ilkeston

  • Hannah Severn bap 18 Jan 1803 Heanor

  • Joseph Severn b 13 Jun 1805 marr Jane

  • George Severn baptised 9 Jan 1809 Heanor. In 1851 he was a miner living in Shipley Common. In 1827 he married Rebecca Hart (she was born 1810 in Ilkeston)

  • Ruth SEVERNS bap 29 Sep 1812; marr John Henshaw (he b 1810 Cotmanhay)

  • James  Severn  c1806. We believe he was married firstly to Mira Sisson  who was the daughter of James and Mary Sisson and was born 13 Dec 1808, baptised Apr 13 1812.  She died aged 23 and was buried 7 Jun 1831 in Ilkeston.   James and Myra had:

    • George Severn 1828 - 1838

    • James Severn 1828 - 1898 - see Generation 4

James then married Hannah Beardsley born 4 Aug 1805 dt of William Beardsley & Elizabeth. They were married before 1841. She died in 1872 aged 67. Their children were:

  • Joseph Severn b 1832; marr 1854 Elizabeth Walters- He moved to the Doncaster area see this link for more details

  • Sarah Severn bc 1835 died bef 1871; marr Samuel Cook

  • William Severn b 1836 d 1891 Doncaster md Lucy Barber. He also moved to the Doncaster area

  • Elizabeth Severn b 1839 marr Enoch Beardsley

  • Catherine Severn b 1841 d 1874; marr William Rowe


Generation 4  James Severns 1765 - 1846

James Severn the surviving twin from James and Hannah's marriage was b 20 Oct 1828 Cotmanhay; bap 18 Nov 1828 Shipleywood & Beverley & Slade Ilkeston Primitive Methodist chapel. He married Mary Sanders (also in some records Sanderson). She was bc 1828. In 1861 they were living at Wheaton Terrace, Cotmanhay. Their children were:

  • George Severn 1852-1934 marr Martha Jane Hill  - see Generation 5.1

  • Martha/Moira Severn bc 1854; bap 11 Sep 1859 Cotmanhay- then disappears

  • James Severn 1856 -1924 marr Martha Burkinshaw - see Generation 5.2

  • William Severn or  William Henry SEVERN. Not sure if this person was christened twice or the first William died. No further information. Possibly b 1860

  • Joseph Severn 1863 – 1942 marr Louisa Goddard - see Generation 5.3


A Methodist minister said about the people of Ilkeston:   “The condition of the people as to roughness and rudeness is like that of the natives of Mow Cop in 1800 before the first Revival.”The Mow Cap comment was: “There was not in England a neighbourhood that was more ungodly and profane. A stranger could hardly go over Harris Head without insult and sometimes not without injury.”

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