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.