Where were the Wayts?

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April 7, 2016 by auntkatefirmin


A “wait” is a town watchman-musician. Drawing circa 1680, attributed to Marcellus Laroon.


Returning to the Blackford family at the time of the death of Robert in 1802 I am proceeding on the assumption that none of the extended Blackford family was in a position to assist Rebecca (Wayt) Blackford either financially or by providing homes, employment, or introductions for the children.

What about Rebecca’s family, the Wayts? I have come to the conclusion that her oldest brother, John, did assist the family to some degree. In this post I will summarize what I know of Rebecca’s immediate family, saving the details of the cousins for another post.

Rebecca was the sixth of seven children of John and Elizabeth (Horsell) Wayt of Swindon. Rebecca may not have remembered her father, as he died when she was about two and half. I am proceeding on the assumption that Elizabeth was a married a second time, to John Holloway in 1765, when Rebecca was six. I have not been able to find death dates for Rebecca’s mother or step-father so I don’t know if they were alive in 1802. They would have been elderly by the standards of the day; about 78 for Elizabeth and with the ambiguous evidence for John he could have been as young as 66, though I suspect he was closer to Elizabeth’s age.

Five of the seven Wayt children were alive when John Wayt wrote his will; one child, Thomas, died prior to 1761 and another child, Thomas, was born after his father’s death.

Of the children alive in 1761, I’m not certain about the adult lives of Ann (born 1745) and Thomas (born 1761). The records may be hidden under some elusive spelling or they may have moved outside the area of greater Swindon. There are other Wait/Wayte families in the area but I’ve not been able to connect them.

As for Sarah (born 1756) there’s a very interesting possibility that she married William Richens of Berwick Bassett in 1787. There is a person, S Richens, who appears in a London marriage register as a witness at the marriage of Martha Wayt to Edward Sheppard in 1801; if this is Sarah, Martha is her niece, the daughter of her brother John. Further back in the Blackford-Seymour family tree, there is an indirect connection to a Richens family in Ashbury, Berks. I haven’t found any other evidence about Sarah or William Richins/Richens or any children they might have had.

Elizabeth (born 1754) is the Elizabeth Wayt of Swindon who married Charles Norris of Lydiard Tregoze in 1774. Elizabeth and Charles had at least six children before his death in 1791. As early as 1784 they were being referred to as paupers in their children’s baptismal records causing me to wonder if Charles was disabled in some way or chronically ill. (Norris is not an uncommon name in Lydiard Tregoze, and Rebecca and Elizabeth’s uncle John Horsell married a woman named Mary Norris from Wootton Bassett in 1735.) I have not yet discovered Charles’ occupation. I don’t know if Elizabeth had enough connections or charm to find a second husband willing to support all the children; I can’t find records for her in Lydiard Tregoze after 1791 as Elizabeth Norris. However much Elizabeth may have wished to assist Rebecca, it seems likely that she had enough on her hands with her own children. Of the six Norris children, I think William died in Lyneham in 1851, and Charles was living in Swindon as late as 1851, but I’ve not yet found the others.

That leaves the oldest son, John (born 1747). John was 14 at the time of his father’s death. In 1771, John married Martha Dore in Swindon and they had at least five children. John appears to have been a successful butcher in Swindon. What is interesting in this context is that a number of the children of John and the children of his sister Rebecca moved to London in the period around and after 1801. The details of the cousins’ relationships may remain lost in time, but given the importance of personal references for making connections it seems more than likely that it was John or his children who provided introductions and other support to their Blackford cousins as they were getting established in London.

John Wayt was twelve years older than his sister, though he was older when he married, with the result that Rebecca’s oldest children were close in age to their cousins. Going back to their father, John Wayt, we know that his executors were prominent Swindon residents who also had London connections. It is very likely that John Junior had contacts in London as well.

John & Martha’s children (the cousins of the Blackford children) were John, Thomas, Martha, Mary Dore, and Richard Wayt. I believe all the children moved to London but the evidence is better for some than others. The Wayt and Blackford cousins lived in a time from which more records have been preserved and there are many interesting stories that I hope to recount in future posts.

In summary, of the children of John Wayt, I think that John (Jr) was in the best position to assist his sister Rebecca Blackford in seeing that her children had a path to financial success despite the money troubles of the Blackford family. While there is no direct evidence, I think that at least in the years after 1802 the Wayt and Blackford cousins were assisting each other in adjusting to life in London after growing up in Swindon.


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