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.