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Prentices of Foulness Island, Essex, England

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Prentices of Foulness Island, Essex, England 2002
Fall 2002 and Revised 10 Aug 2002

In checking the IGI, we found an interesting location called Foulness Island, Essex County, which lies on the tip of a peninsula, a few miles SE of Chelmsford and a few miles north of the Thames Rivera.

Intrigued by that curious name, we used Google to find out more about Foulness Island. It is described as remote, isolated, bleak in winter and refreshingly cool on the hottest of summer days. Foulness is the largest of the Essex Islands and the fourth largest island off the coast of England consisting of about 6,310 acres. The landscape is typically Essex coastal marsh, flat with occasional scrub and low growing trees. Two villages, Churchend and Courtsend are located at the north of Foulness. These villages, plus isolated farmsteads make up 83 dwellings in which live about 200 people.

Evidence exists to show that there was once a Romano British settlement here. Much later the area was a notorious smuggling centre for which the deserted coast and innumerable creeks offered ideal conditions.

A few old Postcards provide a feeling about the nature of the island and its environment.

Today Foulness is mostly under military control as it is a base for artillery ranges over the unique Maplin Sands. Large areas of the island, however, are farmed and there is a very long established and close-knit community, which co-exits with its military neighbours. Foulness and the adjoining Maplin Sands are internationally famous as a haven for wildlife. It has the second largest colony of Avocets and is a winter home for thousands of wading birds and Brent Geese.

Not surprising, given Foulness' isolation, we found in the IGI only 2Prentice families for that location:

  1. John Prentice, b. c. 1715-20, m. Hannah Preston on 30 Dec 1740 at Foulness Island, Essex, England. He is likely the John Prentice of Foulness who d. in 1748.

  2. We do know that there was at least one other Prentis family living on Foulness Island in 1843. We don't know the names of the parents, but we do know that they had a daughter, Georgiana Prentis, b. c. 1843. She appears in the 1881 Birmingham, Warwick, census working as a Drapers Assistant in the shop of Albert B. Anthony at 129 Broad St. in Birmingham.

If you have any information about the folks mentioned in this article, please contact us at dewald@prenticenet.com.


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