Martha Dix, her son Daniel Dix and his family
  Antingham, Bradfield and North Walsham, Norfolk, England
  Bermuda,West Indies - Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada - Williton, Somseret, England
Parents of
Martha Dix
Father: Matthew Dix
Mother: Martha Thornton
Martha Dix: 
Born 1806, Antingham, Norfolk, England
Child of
Martha Dix

Daniel Dix - Born 1834 North Walsham, Norfolk, England

The third child and second daughter of Matthew Dix and Martha Thornton was named after her mother.

Martha was probably christened about 1806 in one of two churches that, oddly, stood right next to each other in the village of Antingham - St. Margaret’s, which fell into ruin in the late 1900s, and St. Mary’s, which still stands. Martha appears on the first English census in 1841, and one senses immediately a life of hardship. She was by then about 35 (although the unreliable census in 1841 says she is 30), and she is living in the Sheringham workhouse, in a coastal village a few miles northwest of her birthplace. She is listed, of course, as a pauper, and her 7-year-old son, Daniel, is with her. He is Daniel Dix - an illegitimate child - and Martha’s aging father is in the same workhouse. The definition of a pauper was, historically, a person who had to depend on government relief or public charity for survival, and the workhouse was the only option for many.

Some time in the next few years, Martha’s fortunes lifted. In 1848 she married a 52-year-old labourer, William Puley, in the village of Bradfield, just a mile or so to the east of where she was born. It would have been the first time that 14-year-old Daniel had a father in the home. There is no proof, but it’s even possible that William Puley was the natural father. A common occurrence in those times was for a man to father a child, but only later to marry the mother.

The little family evidently lived in Bradfield, because both bride and groom gave the village as their place of residence for their marriage certificate. Sadly, however, the marriage was to be short-lived. William died some time in the first three or four years after they married. The cause is yet to be discovered, but there is a William Pooley in the death registers who died in Norwich in 1850 who may be the same person. Certainly, by the time of the census in the spring of 1851, Martha is a widow, and Daniel, now 17, is working as an agricultural labourer. His wages would have been enough to support his mother along with what she could earn herself- she never returned to the workhouse.

Some time before 1861, Daniel joined the Army. His mother by then had moved to North Walsham, and lived on her own in Back Street, earning her living as a charwoman, or house cleaner. In the 1871 census, Martha gave her age as 67 and described herself as a “former servant.” She died in 1878 at the age of 74.

Daniel’s life in the army was fairly successful and varied (see below). He is listed as a sergeant on the 1871 census of the barracks at Stoke Damerel, Devon, when he was just 27. He traveled a good deal with the 61st Foot Regiment. He married a very young Irish girl, Jane, and their four daughters were born in Bermuda, West Indies (Alice), Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (Edith and Gertrude) and Wilton, Somerset, England (Lila).

Sadly, Daniel died when only 46, two years after the death of his mother, leaving his widow, Jane, to raise four daughters. Jane remarried a little over a year after Daniel’s death to another soldier who, like her, was from Ireland. He was Joseph Patrick McCaffrey, who died before the 1891 census which shows Jane once again as a widow.

Top: Antingham countryside today.

Above: The former Sheringham workhouse as it is today. Photo courtesy and copyright of Peter Higginbotham, at  www

Left: Insignia of 61st Foot Regiment




North Walsham


Great Yarmouth



Bury St. Edmunds



The Wash

The Otterson Families of Northeast England and related lines                                  To share information or comment on this site, contact the webmaster: Michael Otterson

Far left:

Coat of arms of Antingham village, Norfolk.


Inside of St. Mary’s parish church, where Martha Dix may have been christened. A similar church and tower stood a few yards away - St. Margaret’s - but fell into disrepair and collapsed under the growth of vines and vegetation in the early 2000s.


Daniel Dix and the 61st Regiment of Foot, 1870-1880

In the mid-1800s, the parish of Stoke Damerel, in Devonport borough, Devonshire, England, housed substantial naval and army forces - part of the vast military machine charged with sustaining and expanding the British Empire. The parish embraced not only Devonport town and dockyard, but a few smaller villages and the north-western suburbs of Plymouth. Devonport itself was known as Plymouth Dock until 1824, and by 1861 the borough’s population had grown to just over 50,000.

The census of Stoke Damerel on April 7,1861 is the first indication we have that Daniel Dix had left his native Norfolk and joined the Army, some time in the preceding decade. His name appears first in the list of soldiers and their families from the 61st Regiment of Foot, who were either living in the Royal Military Hospital or were patients there - nearly 400 people in all including many also from the 53rd Regiment. Most of the residents of the hospital are privates in their 20s, but a few families are included, belonging to hospital sergeants like Daniel, or to medical staff.

Alongside Daniel’s name is written “Head of Family Hospital Sergt.” followed by “Married,” his age at 27 and details such as his birthplace of North Walsham, Norfolk. On the line below is the name of his wife, Jane, born in Ireland and, in the clear bold hand of the census taker, the age of 15.

Daniel’s army career to this point is yet to be unearthed, and it’s likely that the National Archives in London will hold some details. Until then, or until other sources are discovered, some things can be inferred but not proved. Where did Daniel receive his sergeant’s stripes? A sergeant at 27, he could have earned them in England or overseas. From 1845, the 61st South Gloucestershire Regiment had been serving in India, and was stationed at Ferozepore when the Indian Mutiny erupted in May of 1857. Some 400 men of the 61st Regiment were responsible for the recapture of Delhi and the suppression of the mutiny there. By the following year, the mutiny had dissipated and in 1860 the 61st returned to England.

Certainly it’s possible that Daniel could have served in India, being sent out with other new recruits during the 1850s. However, we also have to explain his very young wife, Irish-born Jane. They were evidently not married in England, and she could have been the daughter of one of the many Irish soldiers serving with the 61st in India, perhaps marrying shortly before they arrived home. The British Army recruited heavily from Ireland in those days.

The 61st served in Ireland from 1865, but it was not its first term there. Inquiries are continuing to see if soldiers of the 61st were in Ireland in the 1850s, in which case Daniel’s young Irish wife is more easily explained.

Canada and the West Indies

In September of 1866, the 61st left Ireland for the West Indies, first stopping over in Newfoundland and Quebec and leaving Canadian shores on October 13. Other drafts of the 61st came later, and it is not yet certain when Daniel and his family crossed the Atlantic. Until 1868, British army units in Bermuda were part of the Nova Scotia Command in Canada. After the American Civil War, the five colonies which made up British North America - Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick - united in a confederation to form the country of Canada in 1867, reducing the threat of annexation and invasion from the United States. After confederation Halifax kept its British military garrison until British troops were finally replaced by the Canadian army in 1906.

The birth of Daniel and Jane’s first child, Alice, in the West Indies about 1871 (according to a later English census), ties the family to Bermuda at this time. The 61st regimental history says the body of the regiment was posted to Canada again in 1870, arriving on Christmas Eve, and stayed until 1872. However, Daniel must have been with a contingent that stayed behind with the garrison, because they were at the military barracks at Halifax, Nova Scotia, when Edith and Gertrude were born in 1873 and 1875.  How long they stayed in Canada is also unknown at present. By the birth of daughter Lila early in 1880, they were back in England, at Williton in Somerset, a village about 12 miles northwest of Taunton, where there was a large army barracks.

But Daniel didn’t stay in Williton because of the army. Like many soldiers and sailors, he had earned enough to run a business, and he became an innkeeper in the village. But on 11 July 1880, he lost his balance on some stairs, fell and fractured his skull. An inquest by the Somerset County Coroner two days later rendered a verdict of accidental death.



Modern map of Somerset