Wednesday, 3 July 2019

A Whitechapel Butcher


Continuing on my stories about tradesmen ancestors, this is the tale of Nicholas Foskett*, ten generations back.  In addition to being a butcher, he had an uncommon (but difficult to spell and transcribe) name, which has helped with uncovering the story of his life.

Nicholas Foskett was born in Whitechapel, London, England, around 1716.  In his baptism record, his family’s address was given as “Over against the church”.  I am not quite sure what this means but it doesn’t sound very salubrious.  The mentioned church must have been St Mary’s Whitechapel, where he was baptised.  Nicholas was the eighth of nine children of John Foskett, a Throwster (silk weaver) and Isabel Mallard.  The two oldest children, Samuel and Sarah both died infancy.  I am not sure what happened to most of his other brothers and sisters: Elizabeth, John, Richard, Thomas, Mary and George.  In spite of their unusual surname, the only one I can find record of as an adult is John, who married Elizabeth Christian.  I wonder if Foskett might be an anglicised version of a French name.  Many East End silk weavers were of French Huguenot background.  

Mother Isabel died when Nicholas was only six years old and his father, John, remarried to Alice Cornwell with indecent haste (the likely subject of a future story).  It seems likely that Nicholas’s childhood was not easy with his parents perhaps not having a happy marriage and his mother being replaced when she was barely cold in the ground.  He may not have had much education as he does not appear to have been literate; he marked rather than signed his name on his marriage records.

Probably around the age of 14, Nicholas would have been apprenticed as a butcher.  I haven’t found a record of this, so it seems likely that he worked for a relative, although not his father, as more formal apprenticeships at the time were recorded and taxed.  I need to track down a Foskett or Mallard butcher.  Apprenticeships typically lasted seven years.

At about the age of 21, presumably having just completed his apprenticeship, Nicholas Foskett married Margaret.  I haven’t found their marriage, so don’t know Margaret’s surname.  The marriage St Mary Whitechapel registers for several years around 1737 are missing.  Yes, there are some gaps in this story and I have avenues for further research about Nicholas’s early life. Nicholas and Margaret had four children: Samuel (my ancestor), John (who died in infancy), Mary and Henry.  Margaret then died in 1745. 

Unlike his father, Nicholas didn’t rush into his second marriage, although his third was another matter.  He married Sarah Bennett in Jul 1769 by licence.  As marriage licences were expensive, he must have been doing reasonably well in his butchery trade by then.  Sarah died in August 1787, and Nicholas married Mary Pether at the end of September the same year, weeks later, by banns.  Mary outlived Nicholas by several years.  I haven’t found any record of Nicholas having children by his second or third wives.

I have found Land tax records showing that Nicholas lived in Whitechapel for most of his adult life.  He lived in good enough circumstances to be able to pay Land tax (this was before the days of income tax), which not everyone could manage.

Nicholas plied his trade via a butcher’s cart rather than selling from a shop. He cart features in his grandson James’s story.  Butchers took meat around to streets to prospective customers.  Butchery was (and is) a messy business but meat was to some extent a luxury item, so while  butchery was consigned to the East end and other not so nice parts of London, a butcher could do well taking his product to nicer parts of town.  However, in 1759, I have a record of Nicholas working as a coal dealer.  Maybe there was a downturn in the meat trade so he put his cart to other uses or perhaps the work was seasonal.  The butchers trade was also closely associated with leather, for obvious reasons, and Nicholas’s son Samuel was a leather worker.  It seems likely that Nicholas took on his grandson James as an apprentice, or at least played a role in his career choice.  However, as per James’s story, that didn’t work out so well and he disinherited James.

A butcher's cart (Public Domain via Wikipedia)
Although a long time Whitechapel resident, when he died in February 1792, Nicholas Foskett was living in nearby Stepney.  His cause of death was given as “decline” and he was buried at Whitechapel.

Nicholas left a detailed will written after his marriage to Mary Pether with a codicil added after his son Henry died around 1788.  In that short time, James had caused his grandfather enough offence to be cut out of the will.

I think knowing even a little about an ancestor’s work makes them fell much more real than just a few dates and places can do.


Notes on lineage: Me > Mum > John Macdonald Charley > Walter George Charley > John Joseph Charley > Catherine Thompson > Catherine Foskett > James Foskett > Samuel Foskett > Nicholas Foskett

*Also Fosket, Faskett, Fosset, Fosgate, plus other spellings and poor transcriptions, including Sosket.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

What is a cordwainer?


I thought it would be interesting to investigate some of the trades my ancestors had.  I will start one that sounds exotic but isn’t – a cordwainer (which Microsoft Word doesn’t have in its dictionary).  I have several forebears who were cordwainers and will share the story of one of them, William Ayers*.  The word cordwainer is derived from the Spanish word “cordovan”, a type of leather, and people who worked with cordovan to make shoes were known as cordwainers or shoemakers.   A cordwainer is different to a cobbler, a cobbler repairs shoes, whereas a cordwainer made them.  Shoemaking was a very traditional trade with the process changing very little from the Middle Ages until the mid-1800s when it became industrialised.  Here is a picture of a shoemaker at work.
Public domain photo found via Google images.

William Ayers was born around 1755 in Fairford, Gloucestershire, the seventh of eight children of Richard Ayers and Mary Hughes, although at least three of the children had died before William was born.  The other children were: John (died young), Elizabeth, John, James, David, Temperance and Richard.  With a Temperance in the family, I wonder if the Ayers family had puritan tendencies.  The children were all baptised in Fairford parish church.  Curiously, another line of my family also lived in Fairford at this time but those two lines didn’t join until 1878.

In 1767, age about 12, William Ayers of Fairford was apprenticed to Thomas Bond for £8 bond.  Like all trades, an apprenticeship was the first step in a career and typically lasted 7 years.  Sometime after completing his apprenticeship, William moved to nearby Coln St Aldwyns, Gloucestershire.  In 1788, he took on his own apprentice, John Porter.  It is likely that William was the only cordwainer in Coln St Aldwyns and he would have made everyone’s shoes, so he would have been an important figure in the village (Coln St Aldwyns is still a village).  In spite of this, shoemakers often had to take on a second job to be able to afford to maintain their families, perhaps something like farming.  As mentioned further on, I have some reason to think that the Ayers family had some money or another source of income.

In January 1782, William Ayres married Mary Mihill by licence at Coln St Aldwyns.  Mary was underage, 19 years old, and her father Thomas was also named in the licence.  The money for the licence may have come from the Mihill family, who were Yeoman farmers, rather than from the Ayers family, although I haven’t found any record of Richard Ayers prior to his marriage to Mary Hughes, to indicate anything about the family background.  In any case, William’s family appear to have been well off enough to afford property and further marriage licences.  I know from land tax records that William owned the property in Coln St Aldwyns.

William and Mary had seven children: Thomas, Lydia, Mary (my ancestor), David, Lucy, Rose, Jane.  All of the children were born in Coln St Aldwyns.  I am curious about the children’s names as Lydia, David, Lucy and Rose were not common names at the time.

Before 1811, the family moved to Chedworth, Gloucestershire.  Chedworth’s claim to fame is the ruins of a Roman Villa, which I have visited.  I am not sure what took them there but several of the children, including my ancestor Mary, were married in the village.  The children married by licence rather than banns, suggesting that the family continued to have funds available to them.

I am not sure what happened to William’s wife Mary.  She may have been buried in Fairford in April 1792, although daughter Rose wasn’t baptised until May the following year.

William lived to a good age of 84 before he died and was buried in Chedworth.


Bibliography:
Waller, Ian 2015 “My Ancestor was a Leather Worker” pub. Society of Genaologist.


*Spelling variations include Ayres, Eyers & Eyres.


Notes on lineage: Me > Dad > Helen Francis Ruth Akeroyd > Florence Ruth Kirby > Oscar John Kirby > Henry Kirby > Mary Ayers > William Ayers

Sunday, 27 January 2019

An Ordinary Life


My prompt for this week is “Would like to meet”; well I would like to meet any and all of my ancestors.  To be honest, the ancestors I would like to meet most are the stuff of history books (and Wikipedia entries) rather than blogs posts, being royalty and nobility.  If I met Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, I could ask him what happened to the Princes in the Tower and maybe solve a 500 year old mystery.  However, in my blog I am revealing the lives of "ordinary" people from the past who otherwise would remain unknown.  So for this post I am writing about Eliza Roberts.  I would like to meet her to ask her who her mother was because I am not sure; not quite as big a mystery as lost princes but still something I would like to know.

Eliza Robert was born about 1831 in Hendon according to most records, now part of London and not far from where I used to live, or Highgate, London, according to her baptism record.  She was the daughter of George Roberts and Charlotte (maybe nee Hollingsworth).  I have found a possible marriage record for Eliza’s parents but nothing further about her mother’s past.  George Roberts was a shoe maker who belonged to a family of prominent blacksmiths and iron founders in Deanshanger, Northamptonshire.  I am not sure what brought him to London but perhaps it was an apprenticeship?  Eliza Roberts was baptised on 22 January 1832 at Highgate Chapel in the parish of Hornsey.

In 1833, Eliza’s brother George was born in Hendon.  He was followed a couple of years later by Frances Elizabeth Roberts, born around December 1834 in Hendon.  Sadly, mother Charlotte died in December 1835, aged just 24.  She is buried at St John’s, Hampstead; a picturesque grave yard that is the last resting place of a number of famous people.  Sister Frances died in a few months later in 1836, in Hendon, when she was only 16 months old.  It must have been a very difficult time for George Roberts (senior) who was left a widower aged only 25, with two young children. 

The young family returned to Deanshanger, where George married Susannah Harding in 1838.  He also seems to have taken up work at the family iron foundry. Susannah had a son from a previous relationship, Frederick, who was aged 7 in 1838.  This created a blended family and gave Eliza an older brother.  George and Susannah had two more children that I know of, William, born 1839 and probably died before 1851, and Elizabeth, born in 1841.  In August 1841, Eliza’s brother George died, leaving Eliza as the only surviving child of Charlotte.  Eliza’s paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Robert nee Davies also died in 1841.  It must have been a traumatic year for the family.

Ten years later, at the time of the 1851 census, Eliza was living with her step-mother Susannah in Bicester, Oxfordshire.  I am not sure what took them there as George was in Deansahnger at the time, although maybe he was just visiting his family on the night of the census.  In any case, this explains how Eliza Roberts met John Smith, her future husband and a carpenter from Bicester, whose biography I wrote a couple of years ago.  Eliza married John Smith on 17 April 1854, in Oxfordshire.  Eliza signed the marriage register with a very shaky signature, so it seems that she was educated but perhaps wasn’t used to writing much.  

The story of John and Eliza’s family together is recorded in detail in his story.  In summary, Eliza and John had four children: Emily, Harry (my great great Grandfather), Mary Ann and Elizabeth Ann.  The family travelled and lived in various places around South East England before ending up in Woolwich, Kent.
Eliza died in Woolwich in 1904, aged 72.  By this time she was grandmother of at least 14 children, four of whom lived in Australia.

Eliza had a turbulent childhood, as many have had throughout history.  She lived in London and around South East England, moving frequently.  She must have seen a lot of changes in the world between 1831 and 1904.  When Eliza was born, Hendon was a little village a day trip from London.  In 1904, it would have been a short train ride from the city centre.  In many ways, her life was nothing special but with all she experienced and saw, I am sure Eliza Roberts would have been an interesting person to meet with lots of stories to tell to fill in the bare bones that I have discovered so far.


Notes on lineage: Me > Mum > Daphne Madge Smith > John Henry Smith > Harry Smith > Eliza Roberts

See 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks regarding the prompts.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Thomas Bisgood Times Three


This story is inspired by the prompt “first” and actually covers the lives of the first three Thomas Bisgood’s that I have uncovered so far in my research.  Only the first Thomas Bisgood is my direct ancestor.

The first Thomas Bisgood was born around 1757.  I haven’t found a record of his birth or baptism yet.  The name “Bisgood” (and its variations) is rare in England.  As there are similar names that occurred in Scandinavia and the Netherlands, I wonder if Thomas was a migrant from Northern Europe or the descendant of recent migrants.

I think Thomas Bisgood married Alice early in the 1780’s.  Thomas and Alice Bisgood had a daughter, Elizabeth, born 12 October 1782 and baptised 1 January 1783, in the parish church of St John the Evangelist, Westminster.  I have not found any other records relating to Alice or Elizabeth.

St Martin-in-the-Fields Church
(public domain photo from Wikipediea)
On 4 June 1788, Thomas Bisgood married Mary Head at St Martin-in-the-Fields, the famous church now next to Trafalgar Square in London, by banns.  Both signed the register, so must have been educated.

Thomas and Mary had at least eight children: Elizabeth, Charlotte, Mary Ann, John, Harriet (my ancestor), Henry, Thomas (the second one) and Nelson.  Nelson and Mary died in infancy.  The first two children were baptised at St Dunstan in the West, the third child at St Andrews, Holborn, while the family were living in Cursitor St, near Chancery Lane.  The remaining children were baptised at St Leonard’s Shoreditch, by which time the family were living in Gray’s Inn Lane (now Gray’s Inn Road).

I don’t know Thomas Bisgood’s occupation but I wonder if he was something like an attorney’s clerk, or even an attorney, as he always lived near the Inns of Court and his son and grandson, the other Thomas’s, were both lawyers.

This first Thomas Bisgood died late in 1816 and was buried on 29 December at St Leonard’s Shoreditch, age given as 59.

The second Thomas Bisgood, was born on 22 February 1805, in Shoreditch (as mentioned above), so was not quite 12 when his father died.  His mother, Mary, died only 6 years later in 1822. By then, his surviving older sisters were all married, so one of them may have looked after him until he came of age.

By 1824, Thomas Bisgood was training as a legal clerk – I found a newspaper mention of this.  He became an attorney 1834.  In 1842, according to various newspaper articles, his partner, Samuel Richardson Gilbert, went insolvent.  His name crops up in various newspaper articles about court cases through the 1840s and 1850s.

This Thomas Bisgood marries Maria Oakes on 11 January 1829 at St Mary-le-Bow, another famous London church.  Thomas and Maria had at least six children, including Thomas Fallows Bisgood, born 11 December 1829 and baptised at Old Church St Pancras the following year.

Sometime before 1861, Thomas Bisgood migrated to New York, USA, leaving his family in London.  I assume that he was estranged from his wife.  At this time in England, divorce was not an option for most people.  In 1864, he because a naturalised US citizen.  He lived in Brooklyn, New York and died there in 1878.

Meanwhile, son Thomas Fallows Bisgood also trained as a lawyer.  According to an obituary, he practiced in Paris as well as in London.

The third Thomas married Annie Martha Yates in Kensington in 1849.  They had several children, including another Thomas (who I will not write about).  However, like his father, Thomas’s marriage appears to have failed.  He left his wife with his brother, Henry, who was already living with them (in the 1861 census), and joined his father in New York before 1870.  Thomas became a naturalised USA citizen in in 1874.  His son Henry had joined him in New York by 1880.  Within months of Annie’s death in 1886, Thomas Fallows Bisgood remarried to an Edith.  He married a third time in 1889 to Alice Maude Whitaker and had two more children, one of who died in the 1960s, extending this story over 200 years.
Sag Harbour c. 1880s
(photo from Wikipedia, no known copyright restrictions)

Thomas Fallows Bisgood lived in Sag Harbour, New York, where he became a police justice.  He also stood a Democratic candidate in a judicial election.  He was certainly a prominent citizen of the area.

In 1895, Thomas Fallows Bisgood died of Bright’s disease (kidney disease).

While I know a lot about the second and third Thomas Bisgood, I am continuing to look for any records of the first Thomas Bisgood’s life before he married Mary Head.  Perhaps there is an earlier Thomas Bisgood yet to find.


Notes on lineage: Me > Dad > John Edward Blake > Alice Mary Elliston > George Elliston > Samuel Joseph George Elliston (first cousin of Thomas Fallows Bisgood) > Harriet Bisgood (sister of Thomas Bisgood) > Thomas Bisgood (the first)

The "First" prompt is part of 52 ancestors in 52 weeks.


Thursday, 18 October 2018

Hannah and Her Sister


Hannah Blakeley was born on 29 April 1765 in Batley, Yorkshire, the third of John Blakeley and Sarah Swallow’s nine children.  Her eight siblings were: William, Maria, Sarah, Jane, Mary, John, Abraham and Elizabeth, all born between 1761 and 1780.  Hannah was baptised just over a week after she was born on 7 May 1765 in Batley Parish Church.  In 1765, her father, John, was working as a labourer.  He later became a clothier, probably a cloth maker (clothier can also refer to selling clothes); a common occupation in Batley at the time.

It appears that Hannah may not have been educated; she did not sign her marriage certificates.  Her sisters also did not sign their marriage certificates, although her oldest brother did.

On 4 December 1786, 21 year old Hannah married Joseph Talbot at Batley Parish church.  Hannah and Joseph had five children over the next ten years: Letitia, John, Jane, Stephen and Joseph.  Sadly, Hannah lost her husband Joseph in January 1797 and her baby son Joseph only 6 months later, leaving her a 32 year old widow with 4 young children and probably dependent on her extended family for support.  The two Joseph’s were buried together and their monumental inscription says they were of Havercroft, Batley.

Meanwhile, on 29 November 1790, Hannah’s younger sister, Jane, married George Newsome, another Batley clothier.  Jane and George had four children: Sally, John (died 1798), Mary and Abram, before Jane died on 5 July 1800, at only 30 years old, leaving George a widower with three young children.  George seems to have what many men in his position did and immediately looked around for another wife to take care of his children.  I have come across this a number of times in my family tree…

On 20 September 1800, just a couple of months after Jane died, Hannah Talbot nee Blakeley and George Newsome applied for a licence to marry in Batley Parish church.  In England prior to 1907, a marriage to a deceased wife’s sister (or deceased husband’s brother) was not valid due to the relationship being within a prohibited degree of affinity, so George and Hannah had a problem.  It seems that they were not able to marry in Batley, so a couple of days later, on 23 September 1800, having tweaked a few facts, such as their ages, they applied for a licence to marry in nearby Rothwell Parish Church.  This time, the wedding went ahead.  John Sheard, one of the witnesses, was Maria Blakeley’s husband (Hannah’s older sister), so presumably the Blakeley family were happy enough with the marriage.  In any case, Hannah and George must have been determined as a marriage licence would have been a considerable expense.  By a quirk of marriage law, their marriage became legally valid in 1835, while they were both still alive.

Hannah and George, already having seven children between them, had three more: William, Hannah (my ancestor) and Jane.  Sadly, Hannah’s children John and Jane died in September 1802 – perhaps there was a bug of some sort doing the rounds.  In addition, three more of the children died as adults before Hannah and George, including my ancestor, the younger Hannah (who also married a Talbot).

Hannah Newsome (nee Talbot and Blakeley) died on 28 September 1838, age 73.  She was buried at Batley Parish Church on 2 October 1838 with memorial stone commemorating her, her sister Jane, nephew John and husband George.  George died in 1845.

For some reason unknown to me, many years later in 1862, son William applied for probate for both of his parents.  Hannah’s estate was valued at less than £20, as was George’s.

Hannah’s life seems to have been typical of women of her time and station.  Even her questionable second marriage was not that unusual and certainly understandable.


Notes on lineage: Me > Dad > Helen Francis Ruth Akeroyd > Percy Tomlinson Akeroyd > Frederick William Akeroyd > Sarah Talbot > Hannah Newsome > Hannah Blakeley

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Malcolm’s Life of Adventure


I am a keen traveller.  One of my ambitions is to visit 50 countries by the time I am 50.  I am up to country 42.  Being an Aussie, I have numerous ancestors who travelled vast distances so am spoilt for choice by the prompt “Travel”, so I have decided to write about an ancestor who lived in at least 3 countries (like me).

USA

Malcolm Macdonald* was born in North Carolina, USA, around 1806.  His death certificate gives his place of birth as Williamsburg and there is a tiny place (still) of that name in Rockingham County, North Carolina, although I can’t find any trace of Macdonald’s living in that area  in the early 1800's.

Scotland

I don’t know anything about Malcolm’s childhood in North Carolina or how long he lived there.  By the early 1820’s, Malcolm and his family had moved (or returned) to Scotland.  Family legend says that there was a connection to the famous Flora Macdonald, who did spend some time in North Carolina, but I have no evidence to support the claim.

Malcolm’s father was Angus Macdonald, a flour miller, and his mother may have been Janet McLean.  Janet was the mother of his sister Mary who was born about 1825 in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland.  Malcolm also had siblings Angus, Marion and possibly Neil, born about 1822 in Greenock.  Angus, a sailor, Marion and Mary all feature in family correspondence that I have copies of. 
Janet McLean died in 1854 just months before Scotland introduced civil registration with certificates containing lots of family information.

On 25 February 1826, Malcolm married Agnes Donaldson in Greenock.  They had five children: Malcolm (my ancestor), Agnes Kay, Angus (1831-1831), Angus (1833-1837, died of whooping cough) and  Annabella.  Sadly, only Malcolm and Agnes survived childhood.  Agnes Donaldson died not long after Annabella was born, leaving Malcolm a widower with two young children.

On 4 October 1836, Malcolm married Rachel Macdonald in Kilmuir, Inverness.  Malcolm and Rachel had eight children, six born is Scotland (Annabella, Flora, Mary, Roderick, Rachel and Marion) and the last two (Charles David and Margaret) born in Liverpool, England.  Roderick died young but the others all survived to adulthood and feature in the family correspondence.

England (and France?)

From at least 1835, Malcolm worked as a clerk for shipping companies, so his move from Glasgow to Scotland is not surprising.  From letters, it looks like his work took him to Le Harve in France and maybe other places.  I have not been able to find Malcolm in the 1851 census (for either Scotland or England), so I wonder if he was out of the country at the time.  He wasn’t in Liverpool with his wife and children.  At the time of the 1861 census, Malcolm was living with his family in Liverpool and the census record says that he was a naturalised British Citizen born in North Carolina.  At the time, it seems that marrying a Brit was enough to gain citizenship and he had married two.

At some point in the 1860’s it seems likely that Malcolm and Rachel’s marriage broke down.  Whatever happened, one of his daughter’s had not forgiven him by the time he died. Of Malcolm Macdonald’s thirteen children, Malcolm jnr is the only one I know married; Charles and two of the daughters I am not sure about yet. I wonder if their parent’s marriage failure put the daughters off marriage.

Australia

Before December 1873, Malcolm moved to Melbourne, Victoria (now Australia), leaving his wife and daughters behind in Liverpool.  Both sons, Malcolm and Charles, were living in Victoria by this time, one in Ballarat and the other in Hotham.  In Melbourne, Malcolm snr worked as a collector for Messers Campbell and McCullock and lived in lodgings at 145 William Street.

In the winter of 1877, Malcolm contracted pneumonia following a fall where he injured his chest.  He took to his bed and treated it with port and whiskey.  I know from his inquest report that this remedy failed.

Following Malcolm’s death, his son Charles was eager to split the inheritance, of £121, between himself and Malcolm jnr.  However, Malcolm jnr, somewhat surprisingly, given his reputed poor character, waited waiting a reasonable time (several months) for return mail from Liverpool whereby the sisters could claim their share.

So Malcolm was born in the USA, married in Scotland, lived in England, probably visited France, and died in Australia; definitely an intrepid traveller at a time when all that travelling had to be done by long sea voyages.


*This is the spelling that my modern Macdonald relatives use, however every version you could think of occurs in the records.

Notes on lineage: Me > Mum > John Macdonald Charley > Constance Mary Macdonald > James Gordon Macdonald > Malcolm Macdonald > Malcolm Macdonald

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

A Family Chapel


Back in 2000, in spite of petrol shortages due to refinery strikes, I did a road trip through southern England and visited villages where some of my ancestors lived.  I found several churches that had monuments to branches of my family tree who were landed gentry.  This is the story of one of those ancestors; a man whose monumental inscription I particularly liked.

Taken by me, 2000
My ancestor John Ernley* was born soon after 1507, which is when his parents, John Ernley and Lucy Cooke** were married.  He was probably born in or near Bishops Cannings in Wiltshire, where his family had property.  This photo shows the outside of the parish church at Bishops Cannings.

John had at least three siblings, younger brother, William, and two sisters, Margaret and Jane.  His great uncle (or less likely, grandfather***), also John Ernley, was Solicitor General, Attorney General and Justice of the Common Pleas in the courts of Henry VII and Henry VIII, so the Ernley family was prominent at the time. 

John Ernley married Mary Hyde, daughter of William Hyde of Denchworth.  The Denchworth Hydes were apparently a Catholic family so fell out of favour in the reign of Protestant Elizabeth I. John and Mary were probably married around 1540; this is a rough assumption extrapolated from the dates I am sure of.  Parish registers for Bishop’s Cannings start in 1591, so there are no parish records from the time John and his family were alive and I am reliant on other sources of information.  John and Mary had four children that I know of: Anne (my ancestor), Michael (born c. 1542), Thomas and Francis.

Mary must have died young, as John married a second time to Joan Reade, a widow, who was named in his will.

Photo taken by me, 2000
A part of the landed gentry, John held property in several parishes near Bishop’s Cannings, as well as in other parts of England.  In particular, he inherited the manor of Bourton, in Bishop’s Cannings from his father and this seems to have been his home.   John also held roles that fitted with his position in society.  He seems to have been sheriff of Wiltshire in the 1550s as he is apparently mentioned in Privy Council records from the period.  In 1559, he was Member of Parliament for Wiltshire.

John Ernley died on 1 February 1571, 1572 according to the Gregorian calendar, or as per his monumental inscription: fifteen hundred three score and eleven.  It is this way of expressing the date that particularly appeals to me because it is different and quaint.  John was buried in the Ernley chapel in Bishop’s Cannings parish church, as requested in his will.  Right is a photo of the chapel and below is the inscription.

Photo take by me, 2000
I think there might be much more to discover about John and his family but records from the 1500s are more or a challenge to research than those relating to more recent periods of history.


This blog post is inspired by the 52 Ancestors prompt for this week “Going to the Chapel”.


*Earnley is the parish in Sussex where the family come from.  Other spellings include Ernle and Earnlie. 
**Or Cook
***There were several related John Ernley’s whose lives and career’s overlapped, likely including two brothers, so it makes trying to work out who was who somewhat complicated.


Notes on Lineage: Me > Dad > Helen Akeroyd > Florence Ruth Kirby > Harriet Partridge > Thomas Partridge > Nathaniel Partridge > Thomas Partridge > John Partridge > Nathaniel Partridge > Henry Partridge > Henry Partridge > Anthony Partridge > Anne Ernley > John Ernley