William Gough 1723-1793: a cautionary tale

Many years ago – December 2000, if not before – I appear to have imported a Gedcom file relating to the Gough family into my database.  The relevant emails have long since vanished but ten years later another Gough descendant wrote an excellent article for ‘Origins‘, the Buckinghamshire Family History Society magazine, which still makes me blush.  In it he said:

“A relatively short time ago I discovered a Gough family tree posted on a certain popular family history website … I was disheartened to find this same attribution had become an online commonplace, apparently accepted without question.”

Yes, that “popular family history website” was mine, and once again guilt drives me to repeat what Graham proves beyond all reasonable doubt – that the William Gough who married Alice Bland nee Hatton  was baptised in Heyford Warren (now Upper Heyford) in Oxfordshire, not Upton-cum-Chalvey in Buckinghamshire.

Anglicans, Baptists and Mormons – the Johnson family

On 26th February 1837, two-month-old Sarah Fountain Johnson from Northall (Bedfordshire) was baptised at Tingewick parish church along with her parents.  Adult baptisms – although unusual – are not unheard-of: my late father-in-law’s father was born in Padbury in 1871, shortly before the family moved to Tingewick.  He was, as far as I can discover, never baptised until a week before his 60th birthday, when he travelled to the family’s original parish (Lacey Green near Princes Risborough) for the ceremony.

Sarah’s parents were Benjamin and Charlotte (nee Budd); her grandfather, William  Johnson, was baptised at Tingewick in 1775, as had been his sister Ann in 1771.  Ann had married in the parish church in 1795, (witnessed, perhaps, by another sister, Catharine) but neither William nor their father John is recorded in Tingewick in the Posse Commitatus of 1798.

An email two years ago directed me to a history of the Johnson family on the FamilySearch website.  The link at the time failed to load … or it may be that, as now, the file viewer takes so long to display that I had given up.

That history quotes “The Baptists of Northall 1802-1969” by R.F. Broadfoot:

“In one of these churches [founded by John Wesley], at Eaton Bray, in Bedfordshire, a young lay preacher, William Johnson by name, was actively engaged in his itinerant ministry among the surrounding villages.  For some time his superintendent minister and the circuit officers had been critical of the young man’s independence of outlook, and sought to confine his preaching activities to those places to which he had been allocated by the Methodist ‘plan’.  To this he could not agree and accordingly, late in the year 1802, he left the Methodists and, together with some twenty others, formed an ‘independent church’ at Northall, just over the borders of Buckinghamshire.”

In 1805 he was pastor of the new church, and in 1807, when the group adopted Believers’ Baptism, William was in the first group to be baptised.

Why, then, did his son and daughter-in-law take their new baby  30-miles back to Tingewick in late winter – and be themselves christened at the same time?

One family story says that the child was named after a maternal aunt, who promised a legacy; another suggests (wrongly) that only children who appear in Church of England registers can inherit property from their fathers.  The second reason is wrong – it is the legitimacy of the parents marriage which matters, and  even if Benjamin and Charlotte believed it to be the case, they would surely have gone to the local church where they were living.

The obvious explanation is that they had become unhappy with William’s Baptist church, but – to avoid embarrassing William by a public split – had gone to a church where his parishioners would be unlikely to learn of it.

Matters did not end there, though.

In April 1846, Benjamin was baptised into the Mormon church Whipsnade by an American missionary; three weeks later, Charlotte joined him in their new faith.  By the end of the year, Benjamin had been ordained and under his leadership the Edlesborough branch became the largest in nineteenth century Buckinghamshire.

Benjamin died in 1853, just weeks after his father.  Charlotte sold everything, intending to to move to Utah to join the church community there.  Alas, all the money was stolen by a missionary entrusted to take it to Liverpool to pay the families sea passage.  It would be another eleven years before they finally embarked and, eventually reached Salt Lake City.

The Steeden family in Tingewick

richard_steedenI have just heard from a Steeden descendant, fifth cousin (I think) to my daughter.   She was enormously excited to be able to trace the family name back to 17th century Northamptonshire, using information from the Tingewick family group sheets.

Ah, but can she?

Certainly, I am confident that ALL the Steeden folk from Tingewick are descended from one couple – James Steeden and Sara Markham who married on Christmas Day 1770.

Sara was Tingewick born and bred – baptised in October 1741, her parents were Thomas Markham (1716-1769) and Catherine Poulton (bur. 1752 at Tingewick).  The Markham line is reasonably clear, linking back four more generations to the start of parish registers and beyond in Tingewick.

James Steeden, though, was an incomer.  According to the marriage register, he was from Charleton … but the next question is, which one?  There are three obvious candidates – two in Oxfordshire and one in Northamptonshire – but my money is on the one in Northamptonshire.  It’s now combined with Newbottle (which used to be the dominant hamlet) two miles east of Kings Sutton.  When I visited the graveyard some years ago I found – not Steeden graves – but Markham ones in quantity.  My main reason for linking the family to Chartlton/Newbottle, though, was finding (pre-internet search) what appeared to be plausible entries for the family on the old fiche-based IGI.

steeden_bros_1Now of course I knew that the IGI was seriously flawed: but (for my sins) I built the hypothetical tree  in my database which in due course grew into the Tingewick website.

Do I still think the family came from Newbottle?  I’m not sure.  The old IGI entries I found have not been carried through to the modern, cleaned-up online FamilySearch IGI.  But that DOES have a plausible baptism in 1745 in Bloxham – less than ten miles to the west of Charlton/Newbottle – and still with William as the father’s name.  And I have found references in the London Gazette to the bankruptcy of a Daniel Steeden in 1845.  He was a cattle dealer … the same trade followed by the Steeden families in Tingewick.

Conclusive?   No, but a straw in the wind.


The Coates family in Tingewick

I recently received an enquiry about Henry Coates, baptised in Tingewick in 1864, the third son of William Coates and Ann Stuchfield, who married on the last day of 1854.
[UPDATE: a Thomas Coates was appointed one of the Parish Overseers of the Poor in March 1838 – see vestry minutes page 82]
Ann was born in Tingewick in September 1834: her father was born in Tingewick in 1797 and her grandfather was buried there in 1813.  Her father was a saddler / harness maker and so far has not appeared in the Overseers Records of 1829.  She was 20 when she married William Coates, only a couple of years older than her but already a widower.  I haven’t found his first marriage, but he appears on the 1851 census of Syresham with his wife Elizabeth (who was born in Claydon, Oxfordshire), living in his father’s household along with his two unmarried aunts and his cousin, daughter of one of them.  There is a possible death for Elizabeth in the 4th quarter of 1851.
I’m not aware of any connection between the Coates family and Tingewick: there was a Humphrey Coates, farmer, listed in the 1847 Post Office Directory for Tingewick, but he doesn’t appear on the 1851 census there (there is a death in Q2 of 1851 in Buckingham District that may be his) – perhaps William’s father (also William) inherited Humphrey’s property?
There are no Coates entries in the Tingewick section of the 1854 Post Office Directory, or Kelly’s in the same year:  the 1861 census records the whole family  in Tingewick – William and Ann with their first two sons and Ann’s father living with them; and – in another house – William senior, with his two unmarried daughters and his grand-daughter.
William and Ann baptised four sons in Tingewick: Richard James, in 1858; William John in 1861; Henry in 1864; and Nathaniel in 1868.  I also wonder if Isaac and Rebecca – presumably twins, born in January 1867 and buried barely a month later in Tingewick churchyard – were also their children.  And there was a Harriett Mary whose birth was registered in Buckingham District in the final quarter of 1856, and her death in Q1 of 1857.  Was she their first child?
Ann died in early February 1869,  followed in April 1870 by baby Nathaniel, not yet two years old.  A year later, at the 1871 census, Richard – the oldest boy, now 12 – is still living with his maiden aunts and cousin in Tingewick (his grandfather had probably died in 1867).  The two surviving younger boys – William and Henry – are in Union Workhouse in Buckingham.  I have not been able to locate their father William anywhere on the 1871 census – did he go abroad, perhaps to America, to seek his fortune?  I only have a handful of copies of the Post Office and Kelly’s directories, but each (1869, 1877 and later) continue to show William’s name, and in 1881 he is back in Tingewick, living  again with his surviving sister (one died in 1875) until her death in 1894.
Meanwhile, it may be that the young boys did not stay in the workhouse for long.  In 1873, Jackson’s Oxford Journal of February 22 reported that:
“[at] BUCKINGHAM … DIVISIONAL PETTY SESSIONS, SATURDAY … Before the Hon. P. Barrington and Chas. Higgins, Esq. …

Martin Lucas, of Tingewick, baker, was charged with assaulting Henry Coates, a lad ten years of age.  It appeared that defendant had some snow-balls thrown at him, and believing the compainant was the lad who threw them, he sent his small dog after him, which complainant alleged bit his leg.  The Bench dismissed the case.”

However the older boy William, died in 1878, when he was still only 17.
The remaining boys married: Richard was still in the parish in 1901, with his wife and six children: Henry also married a Tingewick girl but I think moved away – hopefully my enquirer will fill in some more of the details.

“From Tingewick to Tioga” – a history of James Holton (1831-1917)

James Holton was born at Tingewick  in 1831, eighth child of James and Maria.  At around the same time, his uncle Thomas emigrated to Tioga in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.  Twenty years later, James joined him.


Some years ago, two of  his 3-great and 4-great granddaughters took a family history written by his son and collaborated on turning it into a book.    We transcribed the diary – exactly as it was written – then I checked and wrote footnotes about all the people mentioned.  Mary Holton Robare assembled a wonderful selection of family and local photographs: Jan Ezell Anderson cross-checked my notes and tracked down nearly 1,000 direct descendants.

The result was, though I say it myself, rather impressive.


Today I learned – thanks to Sue Dudley – that it appears in the National Library of Australia online library list.

If anyone is interested in a copy, I believe they can still be bought from Creative Continuum.

William Stockley 1812/1815-1887

I recently heard from John, a descendant of William Stockley who died in 1887. More accurately, I received a nudge from John, who had asked me – more than a year ago – for information on William Stockley’s birth and parents and also his possible 2nd marriage to Ann.

The basics of William are easy: his marriage to Frances Ford appears in the parish register in 1833: the first four children died in infancy and there is a gap in the baptisms where one or even two more children might have been stillborn or miscarried.  Then, at last. a child survives to adulthood: John, who moved to Cheshire in the 1870s and became a cab-driver; then Mary who ; and finally Caleb, who also died as a baby.  In 1860, Frances died; in 1871, William is living with a new ‘wife’ Ann – though no marriage in the Tingewick registers – who I think died in October 1880; and finally William’s death in 1887.

Meanwhile he is faithfully recorded in all the census returns – a small farmer with wife and surviving children.  In 1851, his aged father-in-law is lodging with them; in 1861, he has a child from London visiting – perhaps a nephew of his late wif’e’s since the surname is the same.  In 1862, Jackson’s Oxford Journal reports that he was appointed one of the parish constables.  Through the 1860s and 70s, he is listed as a farmer in the Post Office directories.

None of this brings us any nearer to the question of his birth and parentage.  His year of birth is perhaps a bit fuzzy: in 1841 he is recorded as 25 – which should mean anywhere between 25 and 30.  In successive census returns he claims to be 37; 49; 56 and 68 – and in every case, he is said to have been born in Tingewick..  In 1887, in the burial register, he is said to be 74.  His birth, then, should be between 1812 and 1815.

Around that time, there were two couples with children appearing  in the parish baptism register: George and Elizabeth had children baptised in 1802, 1804, 1806: Edward and Elizabeth in 1809, then a gap till John and Sarah in 1817.  My transcript of the first years of the 19th century is unchecked, and taken from a poor copy of the microfilm: there was a possible entry in October 1811 where the parents were Thomas and Mary but I couldn’t read the surname – the IGI says it was Barnes, and ten months earlier there was a marriage of Thomas Barnes to Mary Everett in the marriage register so that is probably correct.

In the absence of another, entirely different branch, Edward and Elizabeth seem to be the most likely probability.   Perhaps they became non-conformists after that first baptism?

Although William and Frances baptised their children in the parish church, it is quite possible his parents were non-conformist.  Even so, his family should show up on one record or another in the parish.  So, my next step will be to analyse those – the Posse Commitatus, the Inclosure Act, and of course any wills I might have seen.

Henry Bartlett Pulley 1826-1882

When I first became interested in family history, some 25 years ago (jings!) it didn’t take me long to discover that my in-laws were descended from Richard King (1810-1891) and his wife Matilda nee Pulley (1805-1870) – photos here – who married at Akeley in 1831.

Richard and Matilda King on the 1861 census of Tingewick

Richard and Matilda King on the 1861 census of Tingewick

When I looked at the 1861 census of Tingewick I found on page 18 details of Richard King, aged 51, Parish Relieving Officer (administering Poor Relief) and Registrar.  Matilda was 55.  Two of their children – William aged 21 and Amelia aged 17 – were in the household.  There was also a ‘visitor’ – Henry Pulley, aged 5, a carpenter’s son born in Lambeth. Presumably a relation of some sort; I made a note and passed on, trusting to future research to uncover the link.

Fast-forward nearly twenty years, then,  to 2004, and I received an email – now, alas, lost in moving from one system to another – from a John Dews who was researching the Pulley and Butler families.  He told me that Matilda had given birth to an illegitimate son, Henry Bartlett Pulley, in 1826.  Sure enough, the Oxfordshire FHS transcript fiche for Weston-on-the-Green shows a baptism on 9th March:

1826 baptism of Henry Bartlett son of Martha Pulley

1826 baptism of Henry Bartlett son of Martha Pulley at Weston on the Green

Henry Bartlett son of Matilda Pulley, Spinster

No father named … but … nine months previously, at the marriage of Matilda’s sister Martha, the two witnesses were Matilda  and one William Bartlett.


1825  30 May  John Baker of Blechington, Oxfordshire, bachelor & Martha Pulley OTP spinster by licence witnesses William Bartlett, Matilda Pulley

Did “Something Happen”  that night between the barely-twenty-year-old Matilda and William, under the influence of too much romance and wedding wine?  Was William be the father of Matilda’s child?  If so, since he was presumably a close family friend, why did he not marry her?  Or was he just that – a dear family friend who was supportive and was honoured – perhaps as a godfather – by the use of his name for the baby.

A search of the OFHS fiche transcription doesn’t reveal much.  Mary, daughter of John and Mary was baptised in 1777 … and was buried soon afterwards, with her mother.  Two years afterwards, John married again: and 1782 they had a son William – who was buried in 1806, aged 24, followed a year later by his mother, aged 62.  His father died nearly ten years later, in 1816, aged 78: but this seems to be the only family named Bartlett recorded in the parish.  Oddly, though, there is a document mentioned on the Oxfordshire roots list that apparently says there was a William Bartlett resident in the parish in 1807: perhaps, though, they were in fact a landowner in the parish but living elsewhere.

What happened to Henry Bartlett Pulley?  I wonder if he was fostered, perhaps by a trusted family servant.  Someone must have paid for his indentures as a carpenter’s apprentice: in 1881 he was a 55 year old carpenter in Southwark, Surrey (now part of London) with a wife nine years his junior .  Henry jnr, who had been in Tingewick twenty years before, was in the household and had followed his father into the carpentry trade.  There were two daughters, and another son.  He died in London a year later, aged 56.

Tingewick Virtual Cemetery

Plan of Tingewick cemetery

Plan of Tingewick cemetery


J.F. sent an email to the e-group saying he could no longer see the map / plan of the Tingewick churchyard had vanished .  In fact, he was emailing the wrong person!   The plan on the Rootsweb Tingewick People website is of the Tingewick CEMETERY on Water Stratford Road which was first used for burials around 1900.  It can still be seen on this page: but the plan of the CHURCHYARD on the wonderful Tingewick Churchyard Project website (i.e. the graves round the church) has vanished.

However, if you try the link and then look at the address it is trying to take you to, you might spot the mistake – it ends in not one but TWO .pdf’s.  Sure enough, removing one of them works: try  http://www.tingewickchurchyard.co.uk/pdf/historical/churchyard+map.pdf