The Playfords

Playford family
Gladys and George Playford

One of the most common surnames in our village is Playford. The name has been in the local registers since the 1700s and we have an on-going project to build a Playford family tree in the hope that we can eventually link all the present families together through one common ancestor who arrived in Docking in the early 18th  or late 17th century.

Following a very successful May Bank Holiday exhibition in 2012 we were able to extend the Playford family tree to over 800 names. Since that time many more people have been added and the tree now contains over 1000 names. It’s available to look at in the Heritage Room which is open most Wednesday mornings between 10am and 12 noon.

Charles Playford pumping bellows in blacksmith’s shop

One sad story we have come across is that of Robert Bell Playford, the son of James Frary Playford and his first wife, Susan Sadler. After she died James remarried to Susan Bond and it’s then we find Robert and his brother Edward in the Workhouse. James and his new wife began a new family, Susan Bond had brought several children with her to the marriage as well and James was obviously finding it difficult to support his expanding family on his agricultural labourer’s wages. It appears that Robert may have been a difficult and perhaps ‘different’ child for he ran away from home several times and stole dinners from other children at school. One morning a neighbour heard moaning coming from the woods in Mill Lane and found an undernourished child laying there, she recognised him as ‘Bobby’ Playford and with help took him home. Even though the doctor was called he died some hours later. There was an inquest held at the King William pub the following week. It makes for sad reading as various friends, neighbours and others stand up and make their depositions about the treatment of Bobby Playford by his stepmother and father. Mr Chinnery from the workhouse tells how he took Robert and Edward in and clothed and fed them and returned them to the parents in good condition only to have them returned some months later malnourished and badly looked after. Although the coroner  had harsh words for the parents it seems they were not prosecuted. Descendants of Robert’s older surviving brother came to Docking for the 2012 exhibition and met up with local cousins.

Jimmy Playford
Jimmy Playford
Robert, Herbert and Elizabeth Playford


In the Norfolk Chronicle of Saturday Sept 3rd 1898 it was reported that Sarah Ann Playford had appeared before the magistrates charges with stealing a silver watch, value £2, from her mother in law, Thirza Playford. During the hearing it transpired that the local policeman had gone to find Sarah on Wells beach and asked her about the watch. She maintained that she had only borrowed it ‘out of pride’ to impress a brother she had not seen for 15 years. The case was dismissed but ‘her conduct justified suspicion’.





At our exhibition in 2012 we had Playford’s from all over the country visit us to find out about and meet up with long lost relations The picture below shows a reunion of five members from the Playford dynasty.

Five members of the Playford family

Our exhibition in 2014 featured stories about men who went away to fight in WW1 and returned to their village. We know of several Playfords but would like your help in putting together their stories. If you have Playford ancestors or are a Playford yourself then please contact us.