The Gerrard Family

From Beaminster  to Swanage, Dorset, UK

1800 to 1921

Beaminster is an attractive town, set amidst steep hills dividing deep cuts of farmland. Centred on a square and a 1906 market cross, it is largely made of yellow-golden stone from Ham Hill and local quarries. The church of St. Mary (see right) has an early 16th Century tower - -  magnificently pinnacled and figure sculptured-- and is rated as one of the most splendid in the county of Dorset.  More about this church can be found at


= My direct ancestors


Richard Gerrard  

In 1800, on June 3rd, Richard Gerrard married Elizabeth Pullman, in St. Mary's Church, Beaminster, Dorset.  From the baptism records, they had 5 children.

William Gerrard, baptised 19 September 1800

Henry Gerrard, baptised 23 February 1803

Mary Gerrard, baptised 31 March 1805,   born on 11 Feb 1805  

Elizabeth Gerrard, baptised 20 September 1807

Thomas Gerrard, baptised 29 October 1809,  born 29 Sept 1809


Thomas Gerrard

  On the 29th September, 1809,  Thomas Gerrard was born in Beaminster, Dorset, and baptised in the Norman font pictured, on 29th October 1809. 

beaminsterfont.jpg (44945 bytes)     This font comes from the Norman church which was pulled down and replaced by the present church in the  mid fifteenth century. It was thrown out as part of the church's restoration in 1863, but found in the stonemason's yard in 1927 and returned and restored to its rightful place. (Click to enlarge photo).



 He married Ann Vile, also born around 1810.  However, it is not clear yet whether she came from Ilminster, Somerset or Beaminster, as the 1851 and 1881 censuses give different information. The writing on Harriet's birth certificate, giving Ann's name , shows how V's and N's were very similar.

vileornile.jpg (18764 bytes)

     Birth certificate details - click to enlarge      

 I am still searching for their marriage, but I know it did not take place in Beaminster. I would guess it was in Ilminster where Ann was born.   Thomas was a carpenter and moved with his family  from Dorchester to Lytchett  Matravers.

According to the 1851 census, Thomas and Ann had four children. 

Harriet Vile Gerrard, born 5 May 1838 Fordington, Dorchester 
Lydia Gerrard, born 1841 Dorchester
Henry Gerrard, born 1848 Dorchester
George John Gerrard, born 1850 Lytchett Matravers

In 1881 we find Thomas and Ann Jarrard living at 3 Stanley Street, Melcombe Regis, Dorset, both aged 71.  Melcombe Regis is now part of Weymouth.


 Harriet Vile Gerrard  was born 5th May, 1838 in Fordington, near Dorchester, Dorset  at 12.15am.


Painting of Fordington

At the age of 28 she married  Henry Walter White,  a carpenter (born around 1844 in Swanage),  in the Parish Church of the Holy Trinity, Dorchester, Dorset on 26th December 1866.  Witnesses were Thomas Gerrard and Annie Davis White.  

Harriet, around 1895

Harriet had 9 children when this photo was taken. She and Walter were living in Swanage, at Mount Pleasant.  Their nine children were 

Ann Joice White, born 31 Oct 1869

Alice Mary White, born 26 Dec 1870

Julia Harriet White, born about Jan 1873

Emma Elizabeth White, born about 1874

Lydia Amard White, born about 1876

Harry Walter White, born about 1877

Thomas Gerrard White, born about 1879

Lucy Katherine White, born about November 1880

William Gerrard White, born about 1881

A photo of this family can be seen on the White Family web page.  Lucy White, known as Kitty,  was my  grandmother. Both Harriet and Walter were alive in 1901, still living in Mount Pleasant Lane, Swanage, with Walter being a builder, carpenter and joiner.  Harriet died around September 1921 and is buried in Northbrook Cemetery, Swanage.

Swanage, Dorset


George John Gerrard, Harriet's brother, married Elizabeth Lovelace Martha Groves in 1872 and had four daughters, Bessie, Florence Susan, Harriet Lily and Alice Lydia.  

geogerrard.jpg (26100 bytes)


To the left  is a photo of George, with a "grandmother" and two of his daughters, Florence Gerrard on the left, and Harriet Lily Gerrard on the right. They were twins, born 28th February 1878.

George Gerrard was a watch repairer with a shop in St. Vyvyans Street, Camborne.  In 1881 he was staying at a lodging house in Redruth, Cornwall.  His wife Elizabeth Gerrard was living at 11 Walpole Street, Melcombe Regis, Dorset with their four daughters, and a grandmother, Ann Prangley. 

Elizabeth Gerrard met with a untimely death.  She was shot by James Hawke in Penzance on 28th July 1886. Four people were killed in this incident.

I am indebted to Ian Fraser for sending me the following newspaper cuttings; 

Click  to enlarge 



Elizabeth Gerrard met with a untimely death.  She was shot by James Hawke in Penzance on 28th July 1886. Four people were killed in this incident.

I am indebted to Ian Fraser for sending me the following newspaper cuttings; 


Murder in Penzance! 


The coroners inquest respecting the terrible tragedy in Penzance was held yesterday, The evidence showed that the murderer Hawke, on returning from fishing joined the two Wrens and two Gerrards over some refreshment. He left the room for five minutes and on returning said "If you are not out of this I will settle you". He then rushed upstairs and meanwhile Gerrard, now felt uneasy, spoke to his wife, and they rose to leave. Almost immediately he came down, fired two shots at Uren, and another at Uren's wife, both falling dead. By this time the Gerrards were outside, but Mrs. Gerrard went back and met Hawke in the doorway. She did not say anything to Hawke, and on seeing him point the revolver at her, turned and fled, but received two shots, killing her on the spot. Hawke handed his watch and money to a woman, saying "Give them to Clare" meaning Urens niece, and then shot himself dead. The jury returned a verdict against Hawke of "Willful Murder and Filo de se ".

Note: WREN quoted in original report instead of UREN in all references above. The text has been corrected.




Four Persons Killed

About half past one o'clock yesterday afternoon a shocking crime was enacted at Penzance by a man named James Hawke, who shot his sister, her husband and the wife of a neighbour and to complete the tragedy shot himself.

The press association's Penzance correspondent supplies the following details:- The murderer was the son of a shoemaker and was 52 years of age. He had passed many years in Australia where
he attained some success in the wool trade, and returned to this country about the end of last year. He had latterly visited Bristol, and came back to Penzance some six weeks ago. He was of a quiet and amicable disposition. His sister Mary was many years his junior and her husband, Charles Uren, a shoeman was the son of Mr. John Uren, Printer. They all lived together in Marine
Place. The other victim, Mrs. Gerrard was the wife of a watchmaker in the town. Hawke had been in conversation with several young men at the bottom of Queen Street, and in going to his house one of the young men, who had occasion to go to the same court, followed him. The deceased went in and a few moments afterwards shot his sister and then the husband. Coming out to the door he followed and shot Mrs. Gerrard in the side. All three expired almost immediately. The young man previously referred to, spoke to him, when he put up his hand and said "Stand back". Placing the muzzle of the revolver under his ear, he fired and fell dead in the doorway. The house is situated in a tolerably spacious courtyard behind the Queens Hotel. The stone steps inside the little iron garden gates were stained with blood, inside the house the kitchen floor was also similarly marked, and the entrance to the small back yard was also stained with gore. The murderer and his victims were discovered stretched on the floor side by side in a large pool of blood. Uren was shot in the right breast. The murderer lay next to him - a short thick set man, dressed entirely in blue serge. The faces of all wore a peaceful expression. Mrs. Uren had evidently been shot near the mouth, a portion of the nose being blown off as also the right upper portion of the mouth. Mrs. Gerrard's body lay to the right of the others. She had been struck in the back as she attempted to escape, she evidently died at once. Supt Nicholas, with a sergeant and two constables, was soon on the spot and Drs Henfell, Hooking and others were prompt in attendance, but no sign of life was visible in either of the victims. The murderer had been going about during the morning conversing with friends, and nothing unusual was noticeable in his manner or appearance. There was no motive known which can explain the frightful tragedy. Mr and Mrs Uren leave seven
children and Mrs. Gerrard leaves six children.

Note: WREN quoted in original report instead of UREN in all references above. The text has been corrected.



  George Gerrard survived and later remarried a lady named Emma.  George Gerrard died in 1909 in Redruth.


At the moment I know very little about the Gerrard family and their ancestors.  Perhaps you can help?

If so, I would be pleased to hear from you! 

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Last update on 14 January 2010