Crossed paths of Mumford and Mallalieu

My husband’s great uncle (who he grew up calling grandpa) was a Mallalieu, born in St Kitts in 1919. His middle name was Mumford, which would be considered unusual by most Americans today, but in his Kittitian family, it wasn’t the first occurrence. There was an earlier family member who was christened William Henry Mumford Mallalieu in 1861.

Where did his middle name come from? As a surname, Mumford appears many times in civil and religious records of the mid 1800s in St Kitts, because of a Moravian missionary named William Mumford, who came to the island from England in 1850. William was born in 1818 in Woodford, Northamptonshire, and baptized in the Moravian church. His father was a farmer. After serving as a scripture reader in Northern Ireland, in quick succession William was ordained as a Moravian deacon on December 23, 1849, married Mary Ellis on December 27th, and sailed with his new wife for St Kitts less than a month later.

When a devastating and deadly cholera epidemic hit St Kitts in 1854, William Mumford was on the front lines with his Moravian parishioners. He was singled out in a report by British medical authorities for his “unwearied attentions” to local victims living in poverty. William had to deal with tragedies within his own family, as documented in Kittitian civil death records. In May of 1859, his five-year-old son John Alfred Thomas Mumford died of yellow fever. In March of 1860, William lost his wife Mary in childbirth, along with a stillborn baby daughter.

By 1863, William was transferred to Antigua. In 1868, after one of the Moravian ministers on St Kitts retired to England, William was back serving in St Kitts. By 1872, when he finally retired to the UK, William had remarried. He died in England in 1889, at age 71.

As the civil birth records of St Kitts were begun in 1859, earlier births have to be looked for in other sources. One of the Mumford children left a paper trail that can be followed from St Kitts to England. William Ellis Mumford was born in St Kitts about 1855. He was trained as a physician in the UK, gaining admission to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1876. Williams Ellis’s earlier history reveals another path crossing of the Mumfords and the Mallalieus.

In the 1871 England census for Droylsden, Lancashire, 19 year-old William Ellis was recorded as living in the “Fairfield Moravian Settlement Boarding School”, working as an assistant master. Another 19 year-old assistant master was listed just after William – a Thomas Mallalieu. Thomas was born in Fulneck (another Moravian settlement in Pudsey, Lancashire). His father, James Clifford Mallalieu, was a Moravian minister. His mother Harriet Montgomery was the sister and daughter of Moravian ministers. Thomas himself went on to become – of course – a Moravian minister.

To circle back to the Mumfords and Mallalieus of St Kitts, could a Moravian connection account for the middle name Mumford? The original Mallalieu immigrant to St Kitts was Frederick Walton Mallalieu, who was baptized in the Droylsden Moravian church in 1802. In 1836, Frederick’s will was witnessed in St Kitts by three Moravian ministers (one of them an Ellis), and the document was held by the Moravian church of Basseterre, St Kitts, before being transferred to the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where it resides today. Frederick Walton died in 1851, almost a year after William Mumford arrived. Frederick Walton’s son William Mallalieu was the father of William Henry Mumford Mallalieu, who was born when William Mumford had been living and working in St Kitts for 10 years.

It’s very likely that Frederick Walton and his son William knew William Mumford, and it seems quite probable that the Mallalieus felt strongly enough about their friend that they passed the unusual name Mumford down as a middle name.


  1. England & Wales Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1970
  2. The Moravian Church Miscellany, Volume 1, J. W. Held, 1850
  3. A fog of ignorance in the cholera epidemic of 1854, At the corner of history and genealogy blog, 2017
  4. Familysearch.og, Civil Registration, 1859-1932, Basseterre (St. Christopher) Registrar, filmed 1990
  5. Periodical accounts relating to the missions of the Church of the United Brethern established among the heathen, Volume 30 1876-1878, Harvard University
  6. 1871 England Census
  7. Moravian Archives, Moravian Church in the West Indies, St Kitts, Basseterre

One Comment

  1. […] my husband’s ancestors from the tiny Caribbean nation of St Kitts and Nevis, including the use of surnames as middle names in his Mallalieu tree. This can be very helpful in looking for the names of ancestors going further […]

    July 23, 2022

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