Shadrach Byfield - 41st Regiment of Foot
born 1789
Shadrach Byfield P01
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Marriage Certificate
Sarah Byfield 1851 Census
Byfield 1841 Census P3
Byfield 1841 Census P4
41st Regt Dress

Temporary Reference List::
[Shadrach Byfield et al]

Morgans Hill Register
Wilts Records Office

Bearfield Register

1841 Census
1851 Census


From the 1841 Census Return for Woolley, Bradford on Avon, Shadrach Byfield was a Weaver. According to his own story, he was born in Woolley in the parish of Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, in 1789

As was frequently the case with weavers, his parents, Aaron Byfield and Martha Hart, were dissenters and attended the Morgan's Hill Independent Chapel in Bradford of Avon. His sister Naomi appears in the Chapel Register both for Christening and later in 1806 for membership, but Shadrach does not.

Shadrach was Christened in another Independent Chapel, the Countess of Huntingdons Bearfield Chapel, Bradford on Avon, on 16th October 1891. Evidence for a possible reason for the change of place of worship is given in an entry in the Morgan Hill's Chapel register dated November 1788 where Aaron was reported as having been involved in a fight. No more is to be found regarding this, but it appears that daughter Naomi returned to the Morgan's Hill Chapel in 1806 to become a member there.

The page 20 entry from the Morgan Hill Church is as follows;

May 8
At a church meeting Mr Aaron Byfield was accused of fighting & if being proved the church withdrew from Communion with him till the truth of his professed concern for his misconduct shall be discovered by his future* behaviour

*[On reading the register it was at first thought that the word "future" might have been feckless. However, on making this transcription, it seemed logical to interpret the word as being future. It is hoped that a photograph of the entry will become available on site - GGD]

Whilst the original Morgans Hill Register is available in the Wiltshire Records Office in Trowbridge, the Countess of Huntingdon Bearwood Church Register has been deposited at the Public Records Office in Kew; Kew Reference RG4 3429. It is now becoming apparent that there a number of Countess of Huntingdon Churches throughout the country with one of them not far from the writer's home. It is located in Tyldesley, Greater Manchester and is believed to date from c1788.

Following his return from North America where he fought and lost part of an arm, with the 41st Regiment of Foot, Shadrach married Sarah Tucker in Holy Trinity Church, Bradford on Avon on 18th September 1815 as shown on the marriage certificate No. 130 on Page 44 of the Parish register.

His account of his experiences on the Canadian - American border during the War of 1812 - 1815 was apparently prepared in 1840. However, it must be noted from his marriage certificate that neither Shadrach nor his bride Sarah could write as neither signed the certificate; both made their mark, as can be seen.

The 1841 census return for Woolley - page 3, shows Shadrach to be a weaver. The entry continues on page 4 and shows a Joseph Byfield who was still at home at the age of 20 years and born in Woolley in 1821. The end of household marks are indistinct at Joseph's entry so thatf George Kiltelty(?) may well be the son in law of Shadrach Byfield.

It must be remembered that the 1841 census returns gave the age of adults to the nearest 5 years. There is no sign of Joseph in the 1881 census return for the UK and there is no information about other children in the 1841 census apart from perhaps Eliza who may have been daughter of Shadrach and Sarah Byfield. Clearly, further research is needed on the Parish and Chapel Registers for Bradford on Avon as well as into any papers extant in relation to Shadrach's war pension and the war records of the 41st Regiment of Foot - which became the Welch Regiment (41st Regiment of Foot) in 1831 and then the 1st Battalion, The Welsh Regiment, in 1881.

The 1851 census return for Woolley showed a Sarah Byfield to be a widow, a pauper and wool picker. With limited access to census returns, I looked no further - sorry

N.B. This observation turned out to be erroneous. I am grateful to Eamonn O'Keeffe who, after a visit to Bradford on Avon, took a keen interest in Shadrack and his life. It turns out that Shadrack moved to Goucestershire to become keeper of the Somerset Monument at Hawkesbury Upton in South Glos. from its completion until his dismissal in 1853. He actually died on 17th January 1874. He became a widower and remarried in 1861. Further, whilst he was probably illiterate when in the army there is evidence, seen by Eamonn O'Keeffe, that he became literate and was able to prepare a narrative of hisNorth American exploits. GGD 7th March 2016 following email correspondence with Eamonn O'Keeffe.

As regards Shadrach's war experiences, these are described in a recent manuscript edited and annotated by Jim Jaworsky.