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The LACOHEE exodus from Norwich to London

researched and contributed by Hazel Lacohee and Diana Divo

The contact for the London Laccohees is Hazel Lacohee

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and the contact for the Norwich Laccohees is Diana Divo

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Hazel and Diana would be glad to hear from anyone with information to share. Please retype when emailing, and note the single c in Hazel's surname.

The background: Norwich in the last half of the 18th century

The Laccohees were weavers from Wallonia who moved to Norwich, England. By the last half of the 18th century they had been settled in Norwich for some 200 years. Then its weaving trade crashed due to wars, lost markets and different fashions, and many of its citizens sought their luck elsewhere.

This local disaster could not have been foreseen when Thomas Laccohee married and started a family there in the 1740ís. In fact the Norwich weaving trade had never been more prosperous. The family must have been glad when five boys were born over the next decade as there never seemed to be as many boys as girls, and it was men who wove the fabric. The sons were Thomas II, William I, Isaac, Jacob and John. Sadly, though, John and his mother Ann died shortly after he was born. (The Laccohees followed the general practice of naming children after previous generations, so the numbering of Thomas I, William I etc is for convenience here. Doubtless there were earlier Thomas and William Laccohees, and the numbering may have to be revised later to accommodate them.)

Faced with the crash of the weaving trade, Thomas I may have stayed in Norwich for a while, north of the River Wensum where, the family had its roots and where his elder sons Thomas II and William I probably served their apprenticeship in the family firm in the St Martin at Oak/St Augustines area. However in 1758 when Thomas I remarried in St Stephens, the sons were probably out of the house and had more in common with their cousins and second cousins north of the Wensum than with their baby sisters and stepmother, by then in St Gregorys parish.

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The key figure in the move to London

William I who married a Mary appears to be the crucial figure in the exodus to London. Records of two daughters* survive, one born in St Martin at Oak, Norwich in 1776, then another christened in London in 1790. Until more christenings turn up, it can only be surmised that William I left Norwich sometime during the intervening 14 years. Elizabeth, the elder married Henry Bishop in Norwich while Sarah, the younger, married John Lowe in Bethnal Green. The first stop for Norfolk folk was probably East London near Bishopgate where the Norwich coaches arrived, and within striking distance of Spitalfields, the silk weaving Huguenot stronghold.

The next stop was Southwark on the south bank of the River Thames, then Surrey, now London. Why did Southwark attract William I? Probably he had friends there and saw a future for his sons. Thomas (born 1783, probably in Norwich) was apprenticed to weaver, William White, but like his cousin Jacob in Norwich became a publican later. Other sons were coopers, the navy must have seemed an insatiable customer for barrels. How else could the supplies for the navy be stored: down the road was a brewery and towards Bermondsey they pickled herrings. He might have been influenced by his fatherís friendship with the Calthorpe coopers back in Norwich, who lived near the Laccohees both north and south of the Wensum. They were prosperous, and some were south of the Thames too.

By the end of the 1800s, the family was firmly ensconced in Southwark. William I's daughter, Elizabeth Bishop (see below) christened three children there between 1797 and 1802, as did cousin Elizabeth (the daughter of Thomas II, married to Daniel Spinney), between 1801 and 1804. Also in 1798 son Thomas was apprenticed there. In 1807 Williamís younger daughter Sarah, who although married in Bethnal Green (to John Lowe), christened most of her children in Southwark. (The other children were christened in Finsbury).

The following Laccohees born in the 1780ís and 90ís are probably children of William I and Mary.

Isaac Laccohee who married Rachel Young in 1794 at Bethnal Green could also have been Williamís son, but he could have been his nephew, the son of Isaac who married Elizabeth Hewitt.

Anna Maria Laccohee (Elizabeth Spinneyís sister) married William Scales in Shoreditch. And in the city Thomas (possibly the son of Thomas, the brother of Ann Scales and Elizabeth Spinney) married Sarah Shearman who was born in 1791 in Norwich. Another William married Sarah Mathews in St Brides in 1822. It could be that Isaac and Jacob served in the army. They are the right age to be been conscripted (their contemporaries in Norwich were) which explains the lack of offspring in their youth.

Williamís death is unknown. If his life span was the same as his father and grandmotherís then he probably lived on until the 1820ís, though his half sister Mary Bexfield was about 93 when she died in 1853. His sons remained around Southwark while his daughters returned to Finsbury where John Lowe may have had relatives. The families must have been very close because two of the Lowe girls married their Laccohee cousins and in fact the two families lived in the same house in Bartholomew Square. John Lowe was executor for brother-in-law Thomas as most of his brothers were ill or dead.

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* Anyone wishing to verify the Laccohee data needs to be creative in the spellings of the surname. Some examples in the records include Lacohee, Laccohee, Laquohee, Lackokee, Lackaree, Lackolie, Laccobee, etc.

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