Monday, 14 August 2017

A Kentish Family

I have had break from writing for a while due to moving house.  As I have just moved to Kent, I thought I would write a short story about an ancestor from that county.  My earliest ancestors that I know of on my maternal line are from Kent.

Alice Wilson was possibly the daughter of Edward Wilson and Joanna Kent, baptised 10 Apr 1636 in Boughton Monchelsea, near Maidstone in Kent, however at the time of writing this is still under investigation.  Where ever she was born, Alice’s early years would have been a tumultuous time, with England being in the middle of the Civil War.

On 1 November 1669 or 1670 (the indexes can’t agree and I haven’t seen the original record yet), Alice Wilson married Thomas Millison* in Loose, Kent.  Thomas’ residence was given as Hawkhurst, so it is likely that Alice was living in the vicinity of Loose prior to her marriage.  Loose is next to Boughton Monchelsesa.  Hawkhurst is a parish about 15 miles south on Loose, most famous for a notorious gang of smugglers in the 1700s, perhaps I am related to some of them.  Thomas Millison was married at least once and probably twice before he married Alice.

Alice and Thomas went to live in Hawkhurst.  On 31 Mar 1684, Alice and Thomas had 5 children baptised: Martha born 1662, daughter of Thomas’ first wife, Joan Spice; Alice born 28 Dec 1671 (my ancestor); Mary born 18 Mar 1674 (also my ancestor, on my maternal line); Thomas born 8 Oct 1675 and Elizabeth 18 Mar 1676/7. 

At first glance, it seems strange for one adult and four older children to be baptised on the same day.  However, the winter of 1683-4 was very harsh with a frost that lasted from December to March.  I found various articles online saying that it was the coldest winter recorded in English history (instrumental weather records started in the 1660s), with the Thames frozen for two months and a frost fair held on the river.  Because the ground was frozen through the winter, in many areas crops couldn’t be planted and there must have been famine.  People who had fallen on hard times would have had no choice but to turn to their parish church for support.  The Church of England provided what social services there were at time.  For some reason, whether because they were non-conformists or had no religion, Thomas and Alice hadn’t had their children baptised as infants, so to get support from the parish, the family had to be baptised.

Alice and Thomas stayed in Hawkhurst.  Thomas died and was buried there in 1699 and Alice in 1708.

Notes on lineages:

My maternal line: Me > Mum > Daphne Madge Smith > Esther Ilma Lees > Fanny Sarah Eliza Briggs > Fanny Sarah Perigo > Sarah Elizabeth Playford > Sarah Goodsell > Sarah Luck > Sarah Susans > Mary Minnage > Mary Millison > Alice Wilson

Alternative line: Me > Mum > Daphne Madge Smith > Esther Ilma Lees > Fanny Sarah Eliza Briggs > Fanny Sarah Perigo > Sarah Elizabeth Playford > Sarah Goodsell > Henry Goodsall > Elizabeth Chester > John Chester > Alice Millison > Alice Wilson

*There are lots of variations of Millison and as it is not a common name, I don’t know which spelling is the “standard” version.