From Antipodes to Eisey

Family History Search Success

Dr Doug Stace and wife Nitia recently travelled from New South Wales, Australia to The Lock Cottage at Eisey near Cirencester. They were on a quest to link them with Doug’s great, great, great, great grandparents Joseph & Jane Fox.

Cotswold Canals Trust Volunteer Jon Pontefract is the project manager for the restoration of Eisey Lock so, who better to host the Stace’s visit?

Jon explains…

"Doug Stace had contacted the Trust and asked to see the work at Eisey Lock and the associated lock cottage. I met Doug and Nitia at Eisey Manor Farm and took them to the recently cleared towpath and restored lock. Doug told me that his research had shown his '4 x great grandparents', Joseph & Jane Fox, had originated in nearby Highworth and moved to Eisey Lock Cottage in 1810. Joseph was a tenant farmer on the Eisey Manor Farm and also served as Parish Clerk at the ‘long lost’ Eisey Church for 32 years.”

“The research also revealed the birth of a son, William Fox, in 1817. The records show that William grew up and worked in the 1840’s as ‘locksman’ at Eisey Lock. He married a Maria Smith, the daughter of the ‘lock master’, William Smith in 1845. The records also divulged that Maria bore two children, Amelia Maria and Joseph (junior) at The Locks, Eisey.
(Joseph senior & Jane lived out their lives at Eisey and are both buried in the now overgrown Eisey churchyard.)

1848 – William & Maria Emigrate

On 22 December 1848 William and Maria Fox, with one year old Amelia and a 2 ½ month old Joseph, left Plymouth on the immigrant ship The Tory. They were bound for Australia under the Assisted Immigrants Scheme. The immigration papers confirmed their place of origin as The Lock Cottage, Eisey. William Fox took up work as a farm assistant on one of the large squatter properties in the New England area of New South Wales. He eventually amassed his own land holding.

The Cottage at Eisey

Eisey Lock Cottage is a simple two up – two down dwelling but, being built into the raised embankment of the canal; it has a basement containing two stable / storage rooms reached by an outside door.

Doug & Nitia Stace at the Fox family home

Eisey Lock Cottage – A lonely location

Photograph believed to be circa 1920

Despite having no electricity or sewers the cottage was still inhabited until the late 1960’s. Access to this remote spot could only be achieved by towpath or boat. (see picture above) The cottage is now on the Co-operative Farms – Down Amney Estate and is not accessible to the public.

New Learning – New Members

Jon commented, “It was a really interesting visit. I enjoyed learning more about the history of the cottage & lock while Doug and Nitia enjoyed seeing the locations associated with their forebears."

"They readily agreed to join the Trust and have undertaken to watch the restoration developments on the eastern Thames and Severn Canal with interest”.