Sims Family Generations

The Sims family story is described by generation, starting with our "Brickwall"; the parents of Robert Sims, of Dover, in Kent, England.

Robert Sims is the first generation of which we have clear evdence. He died in Dover in 1789 and left a widow, Sarah (nee Baker).

Robert and Sarah had three children; James, Elizabeth and Robert.  A James Sims married Jane Castleman and lived in Plumstead. We think this is the same James Sims, but proof is elusive. They had three boys;  Ebenezer William, Henry and James John.

Ebenezer William married Francis Warren and they moved to Van Dieman's Land, now Tasmania.

James John Sims married Elizabeth Chammings. The couple had seven children before he died prematuely at age 38. Elizabeth returned to Devon where she grew up.

James John and Elizabeth's oldest son was Ebenezer Edwin Sims. He married twice and had a total of eight children.

Their fifth child Montague Sydney Sims married Emma Lucy Cullen and they had four boys; Leonard, Donald, Jack and Sydney.

Jack had a son, Andrew and he is this site's editor.

James John Sims

Early Years

James John Sims was the third son to James and Jane (nee Castleman) Sims. He was born on June 6th, 1813 in Woolwich. It is likely that he had an older sister who died in infancy, and he had brothers Ebenezer Edwin, born in 1806 and Henry, born in 1810. We know nothing of substance about Henry.

John James' Baptism

He was baptised five days later at the Salem Independent Chapel on Powis Street, Woolwich. We know nothing of his infancy or early adulthood, except that,like his elder brother Ebenezer, he trained as a bricklayer .


St. Dunstans in the West Church

On May 12th, 1836, 23 year old James John married Elizabeth Chammings at St. Dunstan in the West Church, London. Elizabeth, born in 1815, was the daughter of John and Mary (nee Buckingham) Chammings of the small farming village of Broadwood Kelly, in Devon.

James John Sims and Elizabeth Chammings Marriage Certificate.

 In 1841 the family is listed on the census return living at 16 Coleman Street, Woolwich, in the Woolwich Docks area. James' occupation is listed as bricklayer. In a directory published in 1843 he is listed as a builder.


After they were married, the couple had seven children in quick succession.  They were:

  • Mary Jane Sims, born February 15th, 1837
  • Elizabeth Buckingham Sims, born May 12th, 1839
  • Susannah Sims, born in 1841
  • Ebenezer Edwin Sims, born on July 13th, 1843,
  • Emily Sims, born in 1845
  • Ellen Sims, born in 1848
  • James John Sims, born in 1850

We believe, shortly after her husband died, in 1851, Elizabeth gave birth to a daughter Jessy, in the Exeter area.

We have been unable to locate Mary Jane and Elizabeth on the 1841 census.  It may be that a relative or friend was looking after then for the period just after Susannah was born.

Early Death

James John Sims appears to have died early in 1851, at age 37, leaving his widow to raise a large family alone. Elizabeth is listed as a widow on the census for that year.

A James John Sims is recorded in the register of burials of the Union Chapel in Woolwich as having been buried on April 30th, 1853 in the old ground. We believe this was the infant son born in 1850 rather than the father.

Sometime after her husband's death, Elizabeth took the younger children and moved back to Devon. We do not know if this was before she remarried or as a consequence of her remarriage.

Elizabeth Sims' Second Marriage

Elizabeth Sims married Joseph Dunn on December 15th, 1860 at St. Dunstans in the West Church. The witnesses were her eldest daughter Mary Jane Sims and her son-in-law, Joseph Rothery, (husband of her daughter Elizabeth).

Marriage Register for Elizabeth Sims and Joseph Dunn

At first, Joseph and Elizabeth lived in Bideford, where he was a Corn Merchant.  By 1871, they were farming at Parkham on a farm called Bankhole.

Bankhole Farmname
Bankhole Farm, Parkham, Devon

They were still at Bankhole farm in 1881. Daughter Jessy had married Samuel Baghole and they had three young children.

Elizabeth Buckingham Chammings - Sims - Dunn died in mid 1887, in the Bideford area. Husband Joseph married again shortly thereafter, to another Elizabeth; Elizabeth Scott.

Census Records


1841 Census - James John and his wife Elizabeth are living with their newborn daughter, Susannah, at 16 Coleman Street, Woolwich, Kent
James Sims Head 28 Bricklayer Kent
Elizabeth Sims   14   Not Kent
Sarah Graves 38 Kent
Susannah Sims   3 wks   Kent
William Weele     68 Inf Not Kent,
1851 Census  James John has just died. Elizabeth is living with her six children at 3 Chapel Street, Woolwich, Kent
Elizabeth Sims Head Widow 36   Devon, Broadwood
Mary Jane Sims Daughter 14 Scholar Devon, Broadwood
Elizabeth Sims Daughter   11 Scholar Devon, Broadwood
Ebenezer Sims Daughter (error:Son) 7 Scholar Devon, Broadwood
Emily Sims Daughter   5 Scholar Kent, Woolwich
James John Sims Son   14m Inft. Kent, Woolwich
Rebecca Lever Servant   25 General Servant Kent, Woolwich
Ellen Sims Daughter 3 Scholar Kent, Woolwich
1861 Census- Elizabeth, remarried to Joseph Dunn, is living in Woodland Terrace, Bideford, Devon with the younger children Emily, Ellen and Jesse (James John).
Joseph Dunn Head Married 45 Corn Merchant Parkham, Devon  
Elizabeth Dunn Wife Married 45   Broadwood Kelly, Devon  
Emily Sims Wife's daughter Unm 16   Kent, Woolwich  
Ellen Sims Wife's Daughter Unm 14   Kent, Woolwich  
Jessy Sims Wife's son Unm 11   Kent, Woolwich  
Julia Dunn Visitor Unm 16   Parkham, Devon  
1871 Census - Elizabeth Dunn is living with her husband in Parkham, Devon where he is farming.
Joseph Dunn Head Married 54 Farmer 36 acres Parkham, Devon  
Elizabeth Dunn Wife Married 54 Farmer's wife Broadwood Kelly, Devon  
Jessy Smith (Sims?) Boarder Unm 21   London  
Titus Tythecott Servant Unm 13 Farm Servant Alwington, Devon  
1881 Census - Elizabeth Dunn is living with her husband Joseph at Bankhole, Parkham, Devon. Daughter Jessy, now married, lives next door.
Joseph Dunn Head Married 64 Corn Merchant Broadwood Kelly, Devon  
Elizabeth Dunn Wife Married 64 Parkham, Devon