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There has for many years been a family story about us being related to Charles Dickens. Stories like there was always a picture of him in our family houses and claims of home owning bust of him.

However following some basic researching I can confirm that we are not directly related to him. Sure we have a Dickens connection but our Dickens, Emma was born in 1830 six years before Charles Dickens was married. Emma is not a sister of Charles or a daughter, although strangely enough Emma was christened in the same church as Charles Dickens was married in St Lukes, Chelsea, picture below.

St Lukes Church

Emma was born in 1830 to parents Samuel and Anne Butler who were married 17th January 1828 in St. Martin’s in the Field. Below are the parish records showing the birth of Emma, 7th entry down and the marriage of Samuel and Ann.

Emma Dickens Parish Birth

Emma Dickens Parish Birth

Samuel was born in 1807. He was christened in St Lukes Church in 1808, shown below is the christening record from the parish registers. The age comes from the 1851 census where he can be found aged 43. Another clue that the below is him is that one of his children was called Phoebe. The Samuel below has mother Phoebe.

Samuel Dickens Christening Parish Records

So his parents would be Samuel Dickens and Phoebe Jones married 5th January 1805 details from the parish register are below, 4 lines from the bottom.

Samuel Dickens Marriage Parish Records

Samuel and Phoebe had 3 daughters that I have found so far. Phoebe, shown as Phebe on IGI, christened 5th Feb 1806, then cam Samuel 1808, Elizabeth followed christened 23rd Jan 1811, and then came Jane 2nd May 1813. All were christened at St Lukes, Chelsea. Hopefully with this new data I can trace Samuel's parents.

Link to Samuel Dickens Family tree is below and you can already see that we are moving ever more distant to the great author, if indeed we are near him at all.

Samuel Dickens Family Tree 3 Generations

In the mean time, I have done some research on the IGI using known facts of Charles Dickens line. Charles grandfather, William Dickens actually married twice. Charles comes from the marriage to Elizabeth Ball, but we may came from his first marriage to Elizabeth Palmer. 

If I have proved nothing else, I have proved that there is no direct connection with the Author and the story has probably filtered down through the surname.

However in April 2006 a relative through the Harris side of the family claims to have evidence of the connection. Having received the document of the tree it connects us via Samuel Dickens up through 3 generations to a John Dickens whose brother William is from where Charles Dickens is descended. It is the only document that shows the connection and I was desperate to talk to the author. I wrote to my only contact and about a week later the person who put the tree together rang and left me a message. The number left did not work and it took us weeks to track down the correct dialling code. However we did and I rang a few times and left a message. So far no one has rung back. I would really love to talk to them so if they are reading this please call me.

Anyhow, doing some more research myself I found our Samuel on 1841 and 1851 census, it is a different Samuel to the one shown on the tree and searches on the internet showed that the Samuel used to make the connection died in 1808, and was married not to Phoebe but to Rebbecca Green. He also was born and died in the US. So it is a shame but I think the tree is wrong. For sure all the information up from it and to Charles Dickens seems to be correct, but still there is no link to our family. Maybe there is another connection through to them.

Emma is connected to our family by the marriage in 1850 to William Farrall. This is covered in an earlier chapter. She was married to him until at least 1865 when she had her last child that we know of.

By 1881 Emma is widowed and working a charwomen in the Chelsea Workhouse in Arthur Street. This is from the 1881 census information and she is classed as a pauper, aged 53, by 1891 she is still in the Chelsea Workhouse now aged 62, and seems to be still going strong in 1901, when she is found on the census aged 72, in the Chelsea Workhouse, working as a shirt needlewomen.