The Wafforne Family – Part Two

In my last post I talked about how the surname Wafforne had become very interesting to me in my research into my husband Paul’s family tree. That post detailed the line going back from Paul’s maternal grandfather’s mother – Mary Ann Brightwell Rawlins to the link to the Wafforne family through her grandmother Julia.

Julia Wafforne was Paul’s 3x great grandmother, born in 1848 in Leicester the daughter of William Wafforne born in Leicester in 1824. William in turn was the son of another William Wafforne b. 1786 – my first post had told William’s story from his marriage to Sarah Ann Burr in 1806 and some information about their children and what became of William and Sarah. This post will focus on William’s line going further back.

William Wafforne was born on 22nd November 1786 in Market Harborough, Leicestershire and was baptised at the Independant Chapel there a month later. His parents were William Wafforne and Ann Green who had married earlier that year on the 16th February at Market Harborough. William was noted as being from Lutterworth while Ann was from Market Harborough. Their marriage was reported in the local paper with Ann being described as “an agreeable young lady with a handsome fortune.”

Clipping from Northampton Mercury 18 February 1786 from Findmypast

A month later William advertised in the same paper for his business in Lutterworth.

Clipping from Northampton Mercury 18 March 1786 from Findmypast

William and Ann had a son Thomas around 1788 although I have not found a baptism for him.

I then went on to find a record of a widow Ann Wafforne getting married in Market Harborough on 26th December 1791 to an Ebenezer Cooke. Three of the witnesses to the marriage were related to Ann – her brother George Green, and her married sister Susannah Hughes and her husband John Hughes. So what had happened to William Wafforne? I couldn’t find a burial for him in any nearby parishes but did find a burial for a Thomas Wafforne on 29th July 1790 at the Independent Chapel in Market Harborough aged 27 – giving a year of birth around 1763. It is possible the clerk made an error in the register calling him Thomas rather than William, as there are no other possible entries and this would fit well with Ann being a widow in 1791 to marry again.

Ann and Ebenezer had two children, George b. 1793 and Ann b. 1794 but it appears that Ann may have died sometime after having her daughter as there is another marriage for Ebenezer Cook(e) in 1805 to a Mary Gregory in Leicester. It doesn’t state if he was a widower or a bachelor. He and Mary had two children, William b. 1808 and Mary b. 1812 – Mary was baptised later in 1820 and her baptism entry gives her father’s occupation as Tailor. It looks like Ebenezer died in Leicester in 1843.

The History of Market-Harborough, in Leicestershire, and It’s Vicinity dated 1808 mentions a Mr Wafforne who is renting a house on the estate in Thorpe Lubbenham (Lubenham) – this may relate to William or possibly his brother Thomas.

I haven’t found any details of any wills for either William Wafforne or his widow Ann, and it isn’t clear who raised their two sons William and Thomas, but Thomas married Frances Linnett in Heyford, Northamptonshire in 1810 and was a Tailor like his brother. He and Frances had nine children, William b. 1810, Ann b. 1813, Dinah b. 1819, Frances b. 1822, Frederick b. 1824, George b. 1828, Charlotte b. 1830, Lavinia b. 1832 and Henry b. 1837. Thomas and his family lived in Nottinghamshire and he died there in 1865.

I had a bit of a time trying to find out more about William Wafforne who had married Ann Green, the marriage entry stated he was of Lutterworth but of course that didn’t mean he was born there. There was a congregation of people named Wafforn in Welton in Northamptonshire and I had found an apprenticeship entry for a William Wafforn in nearby Sawbridge in 1773 with duties being paid for his apprenticeship to John Williams – a Tailor. I then found a baptism in nearby Daventry, Northamptonshire on 10th March 1762 for a William Wafforn – spurious son of Grace. So William was an illegitimate child, however Grace wasn’t some young unmarried mother, she was a widow aged about 36. There was a reference to a settlement certificate for Grace and her son William settling in Welton later in 1762.

Grace Wafforn(e) was born Grace Crow in 1726/7 in North Kilworth, Leicestershire the daughter of William Crow and Ann Thornton. She married John Wafforn on 15th October 1753 in Towester, Northamptonshire. John was born in Welton in 1731 the son of a Joshua and Elizabeth Wafforn. He and Grace had two children together while living in Welton, Ann b. 1754 d. 1756 and Frances b. 1757. John was buried just five months after his daughter Frances was born on 6th May 1757.

It isn’t clear who William’s father was – but he most definitely wasn’t the son of John Wafforn(e) so therefore he has no biological connection to the Wafforn(e) name.

William’s widowed mother Grace went on to remarry several years later on 13th February 1773 in Daventry to another widower Thomas Cook when William was 11 years old. Thomas had been married twice before, first marrying Elizabeth Hunt in 1755 with whom he had five children, James b. 1755, Mary b. 1756 d. 1759, Elizabeth b. 1758, Ursula b. 1759 and Thomas b. 1760. Elizabeth died in January 1761 and Thomas married again just six months later to Margaret Price. She died six years later and they did not have any children together.

Grace’s son William was a witness at his stepsister Ursula’s marriage in 1780. His stepfather Thomas was buried in 1803 in Daventry and his occupation is noted as being a Coal Carrier. His mother Grace was buried in Daventry on 22nd April 1807 aged 78.

Wafforne Family Tree

It is interesting how a young man who was the illegitimate son of a widow ended up being seemingly reaching quite a higher status by the time he married aged 24. Presumably his work as a Tailor had been relatively profitable by that point, and he did well with his marriage to Ann if her “handsome fortune” was as good as it sounded. Also his two sons seemed to also do well for themselves, despite being orphaned sometime between 1794 and 1805.

It did though seem that the fortunes of the Wafforne family declined during the 1850s with William Wafforne having died in 1853 upon seeking a new life in New Orleans, his son William and his family suffering tragedy after tragedy with the loss of four children in three years, culminating in the death of William himself in 1858. To his widow Maria being a single parent to their remaining three children for several years before marrying again, only to lose that husband four years later. To her daughter Julia and her own losses as a mother and becoming the surrogate mother to her own granddaughter – orphaned at just six years old.

Google Maps view of the key areas the Wafforn(e) and related families lived between 1700s to mid 1900s

I still find the surname Wafforn(e) interesting and at some point may still research further down John Wafforne’s family tree to see what else I can discover about the name, even though my husband sadly has no biological connection to the surname. Do you have any similar name fascinations – even if they are no connection to your research?

6 thoughts on “The Wafforne Family – Part Two

  1. When I read your posts and realize how far back you can go in England through church records, I realize how different our two countries are. Most people in the US do not have roots here that go back to the 18th century and certainly not the 17th century or earlier. And there are so many different religions here and have been for at least the last 150 years. I know that England has also become more diverse as more and more immigrants have arrived more recently, but I guess Brexit in part was a reaction to that “dilution” of English culture. Of course, there are many in the US who also see immigrants as destroying American culture—even though we have always been a nation made up of those descended from immigrants—except for those descended from indigenous people and slaves.

    It must have been frustrating to learn that your husband has no biological ties to the Wafforne name after all that research!

    • Our country has had a turbulent past with religion (like many I suppose) with the monarchy flipping back and forth between protestant and catholic beliefs and in turn making catholic adherents criminals. There are parts of my tree where I have a huge chunk of missing information because the family were catholic and because they were banned from attending their own church, often many of the key events in their lives went unrecorded. Sometimes you may find a marriage or a burial entry where they wanted the marriage to be officially recognised and indeed have a proper burial but often no baptism as it was too much to baptise their child in another faith’s church. Plus there were the other non-conformists and while there are some records they don’t often go as far back as the “Church of England” records.

      Essentially the country has always been a melting pot of people and their faiths, if you consider the picts and similar who followed pagan religion, then their gradual conversion to Christianity, the Romans being here and their influence too as well as the Vikings, the changes with the Norman invasion and having a gradual influx of other people including Jewish people. With the laws around things like not practising catholiscm or other denominations and being made to attend regular church , Jews and Quakers were exempt from that.

      I guess with America it was the arrival of people trying to escape various forms of religious persecution that allowed there to be a greater amount of different branches of faiths to spring up. The Puritans from England etc aboard the Mayflower, immigrants from Germany and Scandinavia etc with Lutheran faith and Amish etc. This country also took in those fleeing from religious persecution but more from the protestant faith with the arrival of Hugenots and Walloons in various waves from the 1600s onwards.

      I would say that really since the 1950s the UK has become much more diverse with the arrival of families that were invited to come to work here from the Commonwealth, like the Empire Windrush ship from the West Indies etc. and more and more families coming from India and Pakistan. Unfortunately many of those families were met with intolerance and suspicion and sadly some still are. Our government has especially treated the Windrush generation extremely poorly.

      It is always much more tricky when I am researching a line and they aren’t standard Church of England (created following Henry VIIIs break with the Pope when he wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon) as you have to find those records and hope that they go far enough back! Or find you have a Baptist family who didn’t baptise their children near birth and believe in adult baptism and often those records don’t name who their parents were!

      It is always frustrating to have that kind of a dead end when illegitimacy is involved and what you thought was a fairly sure thing in terms of a surname, isn’t correct, especially in cases where a widow has had a child. I had a similar thing with my maternal grandmother with her being born under her mother’s widowed surname and for a long time not having a clue about a potential father for her until doing my DNA testing and investigations. Sadly going back this far, trying to untangle those kinds of illegitimacy knots isn’t quite as easy. It is fab if you find some sort of record where a reputed father has been petitioned to pay some relief towards his child, but you are pretty lucky to find things like that. Who knows – maybe William Wafforne’s father had an even more interesting surname!

      • Thanks, Alex, for enlightening me on English cultural diversity. I knew things had changed in the post war era and particularly in the last twenty years, and, of course, we learned in school about Oliver Cromwell and the evolving Church of England. I do think, however, Jews were very much oppressed in England for much of its pre-19th century history. I am now reading a book called The Weight of Ink that describes quite graphically how poorly Jews were treated in 17th century England. As with the rest of the world, Jews were often scapegoats for all the ills people found in their lives. (And there was plenty of that here as well.)

        I think that the linguistic and literature and social culture England has shared for most of its history also gives it more homogeneity than the US where people came speaking all kinds of different languages and practicing all kinds of different cultural traditions, even when they shared similar religious backgrounds.

        At any rate the reason for my comment was just my amazement (and envy) that you can trace relatives so far back in those church records! I wasn’t trying to disparage England. Far from it. I am a diehard Anglophile!

      • Yes, definitely the Jewish people have been subjected to thousands of years of persecution and indeed Great Britain/UK was complicit in that over many centuries. In some ways I was encouraged that the Jews were exempted from some of the issues put upon the other “non-conformist” religions – being able to hold their own ceremonies in their own places of worship, however generally treatment of them – and of others of differing religions was still very poor.

        Yes – in some ways we are lucky to have records dating back that far, but not all records survive. While it was made law to keep parish registers from 1538, not all go back that far, and some are in such a state!

        Once you get back so far, it is definitely only really the people who are more wealthy that you stand a chance about finding out much more about them, through other records like wills, tax etc. The poorer people didn’t leave much trace.

        I do find it fascinating to think about how many different religions and branches of religions there are and how people have fought and died for them, been persecuted for their beliefs, travelled thousands of miles to be able to try to have the freedom to live somewhere they can exercise that belief in.

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