Who Was Jane Weight?

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April 10, 2016 by auntkatefirmin

From the first, there was a tantalizing theory based largely on name and location – the wife of Robert Blackford, Jane “Weight,” was one of the Wayt family of Swindon and related somehow to the Rebecca Wayt who married Jane’s grandson Robert Blackford.

Though as researchers we are handicapped by the minimal information provided in the parish registers, this is another instance where the tax lists of 1695-1705 have been of great usefulness. I’ll start with the conclusion: Jane was the daughter of Silvester Wayt, and the great-aunt of Rebecca Wayt. To put it another way, Rebecca Wayt was a second cousin of her husband Robert Blackford because they had shared a set of great-grandparents. Cousin Liz had the theory long before I had sorted out who was who in the Wayt family, and as time goes by I’m more and more convinced that she is correct.

Reconstructing the family of Silvester Wayt from the marriage register and tax lists we have six children: Elisabeth, George, Henry, Jane, John, and Thomas, and his wife Sarah (born Hopkins). Silvester is fascinating and deserves his own post so I will simply say that he was a miller and would have known a wide variety of people from the neighboring area. Leaving the exact movements of Silvester’s family aside, they can be found in tax lists from 1697, 1700, and 1701. Jane appears with the family in 1697 but not 1700 or 1701. She appeared to be overlooked, until she was found as Jane Waite in Lydiard Tregoze, just a short distance from Lydiard Millicent where she would marry in 1707/08.

To re-state:

-There was a Jane Wayt, child of Silvester & Sarah Wayt based on the 1697 tax lists for Badbury.

-Jane Wayt was most likely born after Silvester & Sarah were married 1678 as there is no evidence that Silvester had an earlier wife; it is more likely she was born closer to 1683 as she was not the oldest child and Jane (Wayt) Blackford was still of child-bearing age in 1727.

-Jane Wayt was missing from the family of “Selverster Waite” in the 1700 and 1701 tax lists.

-In 1700 there was a Jane Waite, status & family unknown, listed in the Lydiard Tregoze tax lists.

-The Jane Weight who married in Lydiard Millicent in January 1707/08 was born prior to 1687 as she was not mentioned as being a minor.

-The places Jane appears, Liddington, Badbury, Westlecot in Wroughton, and the Lydiards, are all within a ten-mile span roughly centered on Swindon.

Jane is certainly a common name, Wayt is less so. While it may be that more research will turn up other candidates for the Jane Weight who married Robert Blackford, at this time I don’t doubt that she was the Jane living in Lydiard Tregoze in 1700. On the other hand, there were Wayt/Waight/Wait families in Grittenham/ Brinkworth, Swindon, Wootton Bassett, and Uffcot that bear further consideration as relatives of Jane and/or Silvester.

In the meantime I will make another guess, that Jane was about 15 when she was living in Lydiard Tregoze, and thus 24 when she married and 43 when she died after the birth of her last child. To date I don’t know enough about the families of Silvester Wayt or his wife Sarah (born Hopkins) to make a good case that Jane was either living with a relative, working as a servant, or some combination of the two. She was certainly old enough to be helpful, however there are no clues as to how much education she might have had and whether she had any particular skills, or if she was especially attractive due to her looks or her personality.

While Jane was a younger child, I would like to think that her father Silvester earned a good living working the mill and that the family would not have required her income. I suppose she could have some quality that caught the personal attention of one of the local gentry and was working as a companion or house servant; maybe she could even write or keep an account. As I learn more about the opportunities in Lydiard Tregoze, and the status of servants around 1700, I will attempt to review the options.

So far the pieces fit well. Jane, the daughter of a miller, and potentially related to the Hopkins family of masons in Swindon, was married at a usual age, in a reasonable location to Robert Blackford, and while Robert’s occupation and status are not clearly known his family was somewhere nearer yeoman status than not. The son of Robert and Jane,  William Blackford, married Dorothy Seymour, who while not known to be especially wealthy, was the daughter of a yeoman.

Possible ancestors of Harriet Blackford.

Proposed family relationships for Jane “Weight,” wife of Robert Blackford (simplified to show only direct ancestors of Harriet Blackford).

The next question to address:
Assuming she was the daughter of Silvester, how was her family related to John Waite, miller in Liddington in 1697, and Guy Hopkins, mason in Swindon in 1697?


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