Family History


Laurence SKILDER / SKYLDER / SKELDER died in or prior to 1695. His will was proved on 14 June 1695.

Further details as to his birth are not known. However the name is of Dutch origin and it is quite likely that he or his father was one of the Dutchmen brought to Essex by Croppenburg to help construct the sea walls along the Thames and associated marshes in Essex. Or possibly Croppenburg sold some of his share of Canvey to other Dutchmen, friends, relatives or associates, who immigrated after his work on flood mitigation.

To quote the book 'The People's History of Essex' :-
"Prior to 1622, the whole island (Canvey) was subject to be frequently overflowed by the tide, and the proprietors agreed to give a Dutchman named Joas Croppenburgh one-third of the land, on condition that he should, at his own cost, protect the whole by embankments. He accordingly first formed the sea-walls, which now effectually secure it from the inroads of the sea, except occasional floodings of some parts of it at very high tides, which enrich rather than deteriorate it."

And 'Canvey Island' by Geoff Barsby :- 
"In the middle ages a malarial marshland, was won back from the sea by the enterprise and engineering backing of the Dutchman, Joas Croppenburg. Dutchmen stayed on as farmers and were an important element in the first real community"

See also "Canvey Cyclopaedia, The Dutch Period" By D M Dowd.

And 'Islands of Essex' by Ian Yearsley.
"What is know, is that some 300 Dutchmen were involved in the project, which successfully enclosed some 3,600 acres. A third of this was handed over to the workers as payment for their efforts and many stayed on after the work had been completed to farm the land they had reclaimed. "

This all fits in with the history of the Skilders. Laurence and his brother were farmers/yeoman as evidenced by their wills. Laurence bequeathed three houses with land in two Parishes. Laurence's daughter Mary owned a farm on Canvey Island called Westwick (as per her Will) which was previously owned by Croppenburg. It is possible that this property came to her via her father although not mentioned in his will, perhaps before his death. Also his daughter married into similar land owning yeoman. The earliest Skilder baptisms, marriages & burials that I have found so far, are all in the 1660's. However none relate to the Laurence, not his  baptism, nor his marriage, nor his daughter Mary. So whether the family came from Holland before or after these events is still to be discovered.

Hearth tax of 1670 - Bowers Gifford - Laurence Skelder - nov erect [newly erected] 1 hearth. (Also Johannes Skelder - 5 hearths).

See his Will. He was also a beneficiary in the will of his son-in-law John Malstaffe in 1686

He was married to Susan (as per his Will), however no other details are known about where he married or as to Susan's heritage.

Children were:

childi. Moses SKILDER.
childii. Sarah SKILDER.
childiii. Mary SKILDER.
childiv. Daughter #3  - name not known, was the wife of John Malstaffe. In his will John Malstaffe named Lawrence as his father-in-law.
childv. John SKELDER? The Fobbing Parish Register records a burial in 1701 :-
              'John Skelder ye son of Laurence Skelder of ye parish of Dunton was buried December? 17? 1702'.
                Dunton also encompassed some Marsh lands on Canvey Island, and, according to Randall Bingley, 
                the author of 'Fobbing life & language', parts of Corringham marshes as well - Ouzedam and Shellhaven.
                Laurence Skilder had been dead since at least 1695, so is this reference to him? No other Laurence 
                has been found to date.

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