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19 Nov 2016

In which I look for Mary Evans as Ann Evans, 1700s Monmouthshire

Trying to make sense of these Welsh registers is not proving easy. Charles Evans's wife Mary should have been born around 1757 in Monmouthshire (when Charles was born) and their marriage should appear 21 years later. Instead of which Mary appears as still alive, 1841, living with her son, age 96 years old.

This puts her date of birth at late 1743 or early 1744, twelve years ahead of her husband, and suggests the possible twins arrived (including my forebear) when she was nearly 50. But it does explain why they were the last kids despite hubby only being 35.

Having got over that shock I had to be ready for another. Mary reaches the age of 101 and the family paid for two weeks of death notices, which went out for 'Mrs Ann Evans', right age I guess but now wrong name! Mary (Ann)'s age is given as 101 years and 3 months with a helpful note that she hardly ever been ill except very recently.

So now I'm looking for the birth not only of a Mary but also an Ann, in the above 1743/4 timeframe.

I was pretty excited as you can imagine to find an Ann Lewis baptised Dec 1743 in the right parish (Bassaleg) with parents John and Ann. Living with Ann (Mary) in 1841 had been a John Lewis.... Also this Ann had a sister with the strong family name of Blanch. And even more also, a theory forms which hangs it all together! For about ten minutes...

It's quite common for parish clerks to fudge around the names of mothers and daughters, giving them both the same name. How about if young Mary got baptised or recorded under her mother's name, Ann. That would explain how the name lingered into the newspaper records 96 years later. But it wouldn't entirely explain her burial as Mary not perhaps her children's baptisms (mother's name always given as Mary). And most damning of all is the birth of a sister to Ann 9 years later, called Mary. No, no, no!

So whilst it was lovely finding a baptism of the wrong name in the ' wrong' decade with no surname at all to go on, I'm now far from convinced about anything at all.

Mary's grandson John Evans appears in two possible places in 1851, and imagine my gladness at killing off the rogue John with a confirmed sighting at Tredegar Lodge, Bassaleg (he was a groom not born in county). However the right John has a mysterious wedding witness, Henry, whose possible path  takes us to the door of... Tredegar Cottage, Bassaleg in the very same census year - he too was a groom.  Vexating. Too many connections of no apparent value.

But I'm pretty sure about John now, at least, just not his very long lived and never ill grandmother.

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