Many Marys

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February 23, 2016 by auntkatefirmin

The Horsell family, like many others, included several women named Mary. Today’s post looks at three of the Marys in the 7th generation from Henry & Edith to see if there is enough evidence to be certain which Mary married William Parham, and which Robert Hunt. I’ll save the Bartholomews and Annes for another day!

There are are least three women born within a four year span in Wootton Bassett named Mary Horsell (that lived long enough to marry):

-Mary (baptized 02 Oct 1767) the daughter of Bartholomew & Anne.
-Mary (baptized 23 Apr 1769) the daughter of Bartholomew & Martha.
-Mary (baptized  26 Dec 1771) the daughter of John & Mary. John was a cordwainer and had freehold property.

There are two known (logical) marriages for a Mary Horsell of this age:

-Mary, said to be age 23 in the Sarum bond records, who in 1794 married William Parham, a yeoman of Leigh (near Ashton Keynes). They were married by license and the bondsman was a Bartholomew Horsell, farmer of Wootton Bassett. There are several Bartholomew Horsells and this man is not necessarily her father.
-Mary, who in 1795 married Robert Hunt of Wootton Bassett – presumably by banns.

1795 royal wedding.

The marriage of George, Prince of Wales, to Princess Caroline of Brunswick in 1795 – the same year Mary Horsell married Robert Hunt. Image via wikimedia.

Mary (Horsell) Parham was reported to be 49 when she was buried in 1815. Using her marriage information she was born around 1771; using her burial transcription she was born closer to 1766. This five-year span includes all 3 women.

Mary (Horsell) Hunt was reported to be 96 when she was buried in February 1865 which places her birth around 1769. All we know from her marriage is that she was probably not a minor in 1795, which fits all the possible Mary Horsells. Using the census data from 1841, 1851, and 1861, her birth comes closer to 1770 or 1771.

So far we don’t know enough about the occupation or status of the parents, especially the two Bartholomews, to draw any conclusions about the marriage partners. For example, we don’t know where there might have been business connections, or if someone’s wife had cousins in Leigh. Robert Hunt was a laborer, and William Parham a yeoman, so the wife of Mr Parham was likely to have come from a family with both wealth and status.

None of the sources are absolutely reliable. The burials because the birth year information was provided so long after the birth by a third party, and because ages (especially as the person gets older) can tend to be reported as higher than factual. I have not found the ages when recorded in the Sarum bonds to be exceedingly accurate. Since the 1841 census rounded ages to the closest five years, we can’t rely on that. Given that there are two census returns available for Mary Hunt that agree on a birth of 1770-1771, that lends some credibility to that date range – although even if it was Mary providing the information it’s long enough after her birth for her to have used “selective” memory if it suited her to be younger or older.

I believe the Parhams lived in Leigh, though Mary was buried in Wootton Bassett. To date I have not located baptisms for any of their children; that leaves open the question of when their last child was born.

The Hunts lived in Wootton Bassett and their last child appears to have been Lucy, baptized in Wootton Basset in 1815 when the youngest Mary would have been at least 44 and the older women 46 or 48.

Based primarily on the assumption that Mary the mother of Lucy Hunt is the woman born as Mary Horsell (rather than a second unknown wife named Mary), I’ve come to my current conclusion that of the three possibilities Mary Hunt is most likely to be the youngest; this is supported by the census which places her birth closer to 1771.

I don’t have an answer for the question of who married William Parham. So far nothing either rules out one Mary or makes the other Mary more likely.







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