Ideth Horsell


January 30, 2016 by auntkatefirmin

I’m rather pleased with myself. I had what I hope is a moment of insight as I was following the Horsell line back in time. Bartholomew and Dorothy Horsell had a number of children including “Ideth” or “Jdeth.” (Depending on the era and the script, capital I and capital J may be difficult to distinguish.) Many of the online trees I have seen have concluded that this was an abbreviation for Judith. This didn’t seem quite right to me.

Certainly, many times the registers will use an abbreviation; I have seen this in different eras and different languages. Much of the time there is a indicator that the name (or word) has been shortened. One convention that is still used occasionally is an apostrophe: Nathan’l  for Nathaniel. One other option is for the letters to be raised above the writing line; I didn’t find a sample of that usage in the Wootton Bassett register  pages I’ve viewed so far. Some writers place a bar over the place were letters were omitted or should be doubled, some add a colon where modern usage is a period. Sometimes there is no indication: in the Norwegian records; it’s fairly conventional to see dtr or datr for “datter,” as in Olesdtr. All this, of course, makes transcriptions and indexes full of pitfalls for researchers and transcribers.

Note the lovely scroll at the change of the year.

A sample from the early Wootton Bassett parish registers showing the colon indicating that the name Henry has been abbreviated to “Hen:”.


I would transcribe Jan: 27 as “Anne” as the bar over the “n” indicates the letter should be doubled.

Something about “Ideth” for Judith didn’t feel right to me. It also turns out that she’s not the only Ideth  in the parish registers, there are at least ten in Wootton Bassett in the era prior to 1837. If it’s an abbreviation, it was reasonably common. However, usually it’s more than one letter in a long name, towards the back of the name, that tends to be abbreviated.


March 2 Ideth daughter of Bartholomew Horsell.

Now that, at last, I have found the entry I don’t see any indication from the writer that this is an abbreviation. The judgement call is whether this is an “I” or a “J.” I will concede that the letter is formed identically to that in “John” and “Joan.” I’m still looking for the word “Item” in hopes that I can firmly establish that this writer does not distinguish between capital “I” and capital “J,” but the letter “J” is not generally a vowel and I can’t think of a word in English that could start with “Jd.”

The other issue in this case was that it was the first instance of the name Judith in a place and time where Judith didn’t seem to be a common name, in a family that was fairly limited in the names they used. That was when the light dawned – Edith. This girl’s grandmother was Edith; she was most likely to be a namesake of her grandmother.

English saint, Edith of Wilton.

Saint Edith of Wilton.

I checked to see if there was more about Edith, as there is no indication (so far) that a Judith of that generation was married or buried in Wootton Bassett. My conclusion is that “Ideth” was the Edith who married John Maskelyne in 1673. She would have been 29, older than the average bride, but perhaps she had family responsibilities as the oldest daughter that prevented her from marrying until after her father died in 1669.

I’m not certain how many children Edith had, as John Maskelyne may not have been the only person of that name with a family in Wootton Bassett at that time; some of the children of John Masklin/Maslin/Maskelyne were baptised only four months apart and John continued to have children until 1690, when Edith would have been 45. Edith appears to have died at age 57 in 1701. For the moment, I’ll leave the details of the children for the Maslin/Maskelyne researchers to sort out.

I’m certain I’m not the first person who has come to the conclusion that Ideth and Edith Horsell are the same person. I’m simply pleased that the examination of the document reinforced my feeling that Ideth/Idith in this context was not intended as an abbreviation for Judith.



One thought on “Ideth Horsell

  1. Further evidence that this is the correct Edith: one of the individuals that conducted the inventory for Edith’s sister in-law, Mary Horsell, was William Ogbourne, Edith’s son-in-law and the husband of her daughter Edith.

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