TitleThe Bean Family of Peldon Hall
AbstractSome time around 1827, Samuel Edwin Bean, farmer, his wife Frances and their children moved to Peldon Hall from New Hall, Little Wigborough; the family was to remain in Peldon for approximately the next sixty years.

Peldon Hall and lake

We know the history of this well-to-do family through two hand-written books by members of the family, one The History of The Bean Family, Catherine Frances Burgess and the other by Willoughby Bean a well-known Mersea oyster merchant and landowner in Mersea who died in 1938. Both books are on the Mersea Museum website.

Samuel Edwin Bean was born on 11th January 1779 to parents Alexander and Ann and baptised at St Giles in The Fields Camden. His father died when Samuel Edwin was only about 11 years old.

Miniatures of Ann and Alexander Bean (courtesy of Commander Timothy Burne RN)

Samuel Edwin's father, Alexander, had become right hand man to a Mr John Dickinson, originally a Huguenot, whose daughter Alexander married. Mr Dickinson had a tailor's business in Whitechapel and contracted with Army Officers to clothe whole regiments with practically everything except guns and ammunition, he also lent money by lending to officers.

Willoughby John Bean (Samuel's grandson), in his memoirs, implies the money-lending was how Mr Dickinson got his contracts with the army. Marrying the boss's daughter, Alexander was to succeed to the business after Dickinson's death. Alexander's wife, Ann, was described by Willoughby having been accustomed to having plenty of money was one of those ladies who lived for society and position with great predilections for the army.

Reflecting the attitudes to trade at the time, Willoughby makes an interesting observation it was pride which spoiled the show with Alexander's family and I am sorry to say ours too it seems queer that a man must not make garments, that is trade, but he may as a farmer, clean out pigsties.

Samuel Edwin was Alexander and Annie's 8th child. Like his older brother, John, his career was intended to be a military one but, as his mother's youngest and favourite son, upon his being ordered to India, she insisted he leave the army.

John Bean 1770 - 1810, Samuel Edwin's older brother who died unmarried in Bangalore in India. He was a Captain in the Light Dragoons
(miniature courtesy of Commander Timothy Burne RN)

It was from this life of privilege and money that Samuel Edwin seems to have run away and, following his marriage, came to this part of Essex to take up farming.

Samuel married Frances Green (born in 1783) from Brentwood on 5th June 1808 at Westminster St Marylebone. They were to have 8 sons and 4 daughters. Samuel and Frances moved to New Hall, Little Wigborough soon after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. In an obituary for a family member from the Essex County Standard on 13th September 1968 it states

Their branch of the Bean family settled in the Peldon area soon after Waterloo [1815] and farmed land at Peldon, Wigborough and Mersea and, for a time, at Ongar.

Samuel Edwin's daughter, Ann Louisa, is recorded as being born at Little Wigborough in 1817 so the family were clearly already in this area by then.

Willoughby writes of his grandfather

Samuel Edwin the youngest of Alexander's family was a schoolboy when his father died, and there is no mention that I can find of his mother spending money on him other than the school bills, but he evidently was like his mother and father - resolute and with commercial instincts. 
He ran away with his wife Miss Green - I guess but do not know that old Green was in business with Alexander; his son who had a tailoring business afterwards made the uniform for our Uncle Joseph Alfred Bean when he became an army doctor

When S.E. Bean married [1808] his friend Billy Newman was agent for W. Quincey and he turned over to S.E. Bean the agency as well as the tenancy of New Hall, Little Wigborough which was very very generous. Farming on heavy land did not require much tuition in those days. Samuel Edwin Bean moved from New Hall to Peldon Hall at some date subsequent to 1827. I do not know how many of his children were born at Wigborough but they were all brought up at Peldon, neither do I know precisely the order in which they were born, but it was something like this - Edwin Samuel (note the names are transposed in this case), John, Henry, William Newman, Fanny (Mrs Carter), Emily (spinster lived to be 96 was considered delicate in her young time and always wore a shawl to my recollection) Willoughby (helped S.E.B. in his last years to farm and farmed Peldon Hall for one year on his own after S.E.B. died and then died himself), a girl who died young whose name I am not certain but think she was called Louise [Ann Louisa], Alexander, our father, and Joseph Alfred the last. 

Farming was a simple business in those days and especially on heavy lands sheep were seldom kept, it was not so much intensive farming, with good weatherproof building, well made farmyard manure, Cattle were fattened on bean meal, pigs on barley meal, no oilcake, no artificial manures, mangolds were only just introduced and not cultivated much, a few swedes turnip. 

The system was to fallow and hoe and generally keep the crops clean and take such growth as the season provided and as the wretched labourers lived on coarse bread, port and pease pudding hot, pease pudding cold, pease pudding in the pot, nine days old, the cultivation was cheap, prices were high and profits large. 

S.E. Bean supported church and state and the militia of which he was a Captain and he brought up his family to do the same and as he had 10 of them there was not much money spent on education for either business or profession. and I expect he saw that the army was no use without spending money in addition to pay, so his boys, except three, were just brought up to work or farm, that is Edwin, Henry, William and Willoughby, they all began and those four finished their education in a school kept by an old chap named Haxell, brother to a working Farmer who lived at Haxells Farm in Peldon on the Colchester Road. The two Haxells being able to read and write fairly well and above the average farmer of the times were the overseers of the parish, an official position which placed them above their neighbours. The school which one of them kept was at the bottom of the hill from the Hall gates on the Mersea Road, a corner double cottage all my time and Haxell's reputation was so good that boys as far as Layer de la Haye came over daily to be taught

The tithe maps from Little Wigborough in 1838 show S E Bean farming land owned by Mrs Sarah Quincey including New Hall and also Glebe land held by the rector of Little Wigborough Church, the Reverend Richard Pain. The Peldon tithe maps show S E Bean again not as an owner of any of the land, but an occupier. The owner of all the land he farmed in Peldon was John Mann. Edward [sic] Bean is listed as a farmer in Little Wigborough in the 1848 White's directory.

The author of The History of The Bean Family, Catherine Frances Burgess (née Bean) writes of her grandfather, Samuel Edwin.

Often has my mother described him to me! Tall and very upright with a quiet dignified presence and a countenance of the kindest and gentlest expression. He always wore long black coats with velvet collar and flowered satin waistcoats, then the fashion of the day: his ankle shoes tied with black ribbon. He was devoted to his charming pretty wife; she was considered extremely pretty and was loved by all who knew her.

Samuel Edwin's wife, Frances died in 1848 and was buried on 20th February 1848 aged 65.

Samuel Edwin died aged 72 on 21st June 1852. His property and effects at Little Wigborough, New Hall were sold in 1853. Both he and Frances are buried in St Mary's Churchyard, Peldon.

Samuel's probate names his sons William and Henry as his executors. William ran the family farm at Paslow Hall, High Ongar as listed in Whites Trade Directory of 1863. Alexander took over Peldon Hall and Henry, after farming in West Mersea, was to take over the running of Paslow Hall after William's death in 1866, offering a home to his brother John, a retired surgeon.

Willoughby Bean's account of his family recalls when his Uncle Willoughby, briefly took over Peldon Hall following Samuel Edwin's death in 1852

Willoughby lived at Peldon with his father until his father died, and for one year longer when he too died a bachelor. 
The two girls Fanny [Frances] and Emmy lived at Peldon with their father as well as Aunt Louisa and the boys as they grew up and the family must have been packed a bit close for I remember two additional bedrooms being built and we were fairly thick then. 
Fanny married Challis Carter and lived at Copped Hall Little Wigborough. Probably she married not long before her father died and after her Aunt Louisa had died. 

Both Fanny Carter and Aunt Louisa (1778-1840), Samuel Edwin's sister, are buried in Peldon Churchyard

Following the death of his brother Willoughby, Alexander, moved into Peldon Hall with his wife and infant son.

Alexander Bean

Alexander was the seventh child of Samuel Edwin and Frances Bean. He was born on 21st February, 1819, at Little Wigborough. He married Eliza Henrietta May of West Mersea on 26th October 1852 at old St Pancras Church, London. Eliza and Alexander had 7 sons and 4 daughters.

Their daughter, Catherine, was the authoress of The History of The Bean Family and she takes up the story of her father's life.

My father Alexander Bean at the age of 16 began his career at a distillery in London where his father placed him under the care of some gentleman, who remarked on being introduced that he was one of a 'great name'. He afterwards became engaged in the Reversionary Interest Society under another friend of his Father's Mr. C.G. Christmas an exceedingly good Christian gentleman. There he remained till his marriage, when an opportunity opened for him to lead a country life, which he much desired, and he returned to Little Wigborough, where he only resided for one year, owing to the departure of his brother Joseph for India, and the death of his brother Willoughby and the marriage of his sister Frances. He then, with his wife and infant son, Alexander Thomas, moved to Peldon Hall two miles off, resided there some years. He also lived for a few years at Paslow Hall, High Ongar, Essex, and again returned to Peldon, and finally to his own estate the 'Firs', West Mersea, where after a few years of failing health he died.

My father was enrolled as a special Constable during the Chartist Riots in London*: and served in one particular part which is now forgotten.

* This is likely to have been in 1848 when tens of thousands Special Constables were sworn in to maintain law and order during the Chartists' marches in London. We know Alexander was living in Shoreditch in 1851.

In the 1841 census Alexander, aged about 22, is living with his brother William, who is listed as a farmer, while Alexander is listed as a distiller. They are both living in Little Wigborough.

In the Kelly's Trade directories for Peldon in both 1844 and 1851 his father, Samuel E Bean is given as resident at Peldon Hall

In 1851 Alexander is in Shoreditch living with two of his brothers, Joseph and William, the former listed as a surgeon the latter again described as a farmer, Alexander seems to be a sort of clerk. Joseph was to serve in the army as a surgeon and died in Bangalore in India. He is commemorated in St. Mary's Churchyard, Peldon along with his brother, William Newman.

Gravestone in St Mary's Churchyard commemorating
William Newman Bean and Joseph Alfred Bean
To the memory of
of High Ongar Essex
who departed this life
May 26th 1866
aged 50 years
also to the memory of
Assistant Surgeon 8th Regiment
Madras Native Infantry
who died July 31th 1862
at Mangalore
in the East Indies
When Christ who is our life shall appear then
shall we also appear with them in glory
Coloss 3 Chap IV ver. 1

In the Kelly's directory for 1855 (three years following the death of his father) Alexander is listed as the farmer at Peldon Hall having taken on the farm following his brother Willoughby's death in 1854.

Alexander, as was the case with so many of the local farmers and landowners, was churchwarden at St Mary's, Peldon. He is listed in parish records as being warden in 1858 along with Charles Tiffin (it was usual to have two churchwardens, a Rector's Warden and a People's Warden). In 1871 with Frank Bawtree, again with Charles Tiffin in 1873 and with Thomas Nevill in 1876. He was a warden off and on from 1858 to 1883, a total of 25 years. In the vestry minutes, he is regularly present at meetings and when it is proposed, in 1872, the school be enlarged he joins the vestry school committee to oversee the building works. His brother, Henry, is a parish overseer for a short period between 1860 and 1863.

In the 1861 census he is living at Paslow Hall in High Ongar and appears in the White's directory for Ongar as a local farmer. He farms 705 acres there and employs 20 men and 7 boys.

The Kelly's 1863 directory lists S E Bean (executors), Peldon Hall

In the Peldon school logbook between 1869 and 1879 Mrs Bean and her daughters visit the school and take a particular interest in the girls' needlework, often bringing some work for the girls and at Christmas 1870 Mrs and the Misses Bean came to the school this afternoon and distributed prizes to the Sunday school children and a bun to each child present.

In the 1871 census, Alexander, aged 52, is a farmer occupying 741 acres, employing 23 men and 5 boys at Peldon Hall, living with his wife, family, a governess, a general servant and a nursemaid. He appears in the trade directories for 1871, 1874 and 1882 living and working in Peldon Hall. In the 1881 census he is at The Firs, West Mersea, a farmer of 180 acres employing 9 men and 3 boys while his son Samuel E Bean is the sole occupant of Peldon Hall farming 210 acres and employing 6 men and 2 boys.

Alexander died aged 67 on 21st May 1886 at the 'Firs', West Mersea and was buried in Little Wigborough churchyard beside the graves of his brother Algernon and his sister Eleanor.

In the 1891 census his widow, Eliza, is living with her son, Samuel, at Copped Hall in Little Wigborough She died in 1901 after 3 days' illness at Whitchurch, Hants, at the residence of her daughter, Catherine, and son-in-law, Dr Edward Burgess, and was interred there in the same grave as her son Harry. She is commemorated on her husband's headstone in the graveyard of St Nicholas, Little Wigborough.

Peldon Hall was sold at auction on August 2nd 1888.

On Thursday Mr R J COLLIER offered at
the Mart, Token-house-yard, the manor or lordship of
Peldon, near Colchester, and the freehold estate
known as 'Peldon Hall, with house, agricultural buildings, and farm of 232 ½ acres
The biddings started at £2,000 and the property was bought in at
£3,500. It was then put up in two lots, the first lot
being bought in at £1,700 and the second at £1,800
The Essex Standard, West Suffolk Gazette and Eastern Counties' Advertiser Saturday August 4 1888

After some sixty years of being in the hands of the Bean family, Peldon Hall is recorded as being the residence of Gaius Foskett in Kelly's Trade Directory in 1894.

By the 1901 census there are no members of the Bean family in Little Wigborough or Peldon.

Of Alexander and Eliza's children, Samuel Edwin remained in farming until retirement having started in Copped Hall, Little Wigborough. He then moved to a dairy farm in Brightlingsea and went on to buy Stewards Farm in Leavenheath and Hill Farm, Boxford, both of which he sold in 1941. In retirement, he kept on Stewards Farmhouse and a few acres and died on 1st May 1952 at the age of 92. He is buried at Stoke By Nayland. His son, Henry, born in 1894, who appears in the 1939 register, unmarried and living with his parents in Leavenheath, was to move to West Mersea where he died in 1968. There is a gravestone to Henry (1894), May (1891) and Rose (1892) in Firs Road Cemetery, West Mersea.

Another of Alexander and Eliza's sons, Willoughby John Bean, settled in West Mersea and married although had no children. He was a well-known oyster merchant and was actively involved in village affairs, standing as a Parish Councillor, a West Mersea District Councillor and was a founder member of the West Mersea Yacht Club. In his obituary in 1938, it says that he with his forebears had in the past played a very large part in the history and making of Mersea Island and he had from time to time owned many of the larger properties in the district.

This included, between 1887 and 1891, owning Packing Shed Marsh Island.

His name is still remembered in the residential street in West Mersea called Willoughby Avenue.

Elaine Barker
Peldon History Project

Thanks to
Sheila Gray
Lavender Jones

Read More:
History of the Bean Family by Catherine Frances Burgess
Bean Family History by Willoughby John Bean.


There are seven gravestone memorials in Peldon Churchyard commemorating eight members of the family. Over time the wind and the rain have eroded the surfaces and some cannot now be read. Below are some photographs of those that are still just about legible with a transcription. For the others we owe a huge amount to the Monumental Inscriptions book researched and written by the Essex Family History Society who noted down the graveyard inscriptions in 1999. A copy of Peldon's book is available for reference in St Mary's and in the Essex Records Office.

SAMUEL EDWIN BEAN His gravestone is now illegible, it read

to the memory of
who departed this life
June 2nd 1852
Aged 72 years
one line of indistinct text

FRANCES BEAN was Samuel Edwin's wife

to the memory of
the beloved wife of
who departed this life
February 20th 1848
aged 65 years
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord

LOUISA BEAN was the unmarried sister of Samuel Edwin Bean. Along with his wife and daughters, she would visit the school. The grave plot is No. 143 and now it is only possible to make out her name.

to the memory of LOUISA BEAN
who died Jun 9 1840
aged 62 years
Jesus said unto her: I am the Resurrection
and the Life, he that believeth in Me though
he were dead yet shall he live
St John Chap XI Ver 25

ANN LOUISA BEAN was one of Samuel Edwin and Frances' children who died at the age of 19.

who died May 2 1837
Aged 19 Years
For I know that my Redeemer liveth and
that He shall stand at the latter day
upon the earth
Job Chapt 19 Ver 25

FRANCES CARTER née BEAN this headstone is no longer legible

to the memory of
the beloved wife of CHALLIS CARTER
who departed this life
Aug 28 1871
aged 78 years

WILLOUGHBY BEAN Another of Samuel Edwin and Frances's children. No longer legible

to the memory of
who departed this life
April 5 1850
aged 35 years
4 lines of indistinct verse

Read More
Will of Samuel Edwin Bean 1848

Keywordscopt hall
PublishedAugust 2020
SourceMersea Museum
Related Images:
 The Hall and lake, Peldon  PH02_297
ImageID:   PH02_297
Title: The Hall and lake, Peldon
Source:Peldon History Project