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Week 23: Wedding

John and Emma Tompkins 1890

Marrying the sister of a deceased wife was illegal in Victorian England.

” …under the Marriage Act of 1835, which had the support of the established Anglican church, it was prohibited for a widower to marry his wife’s sister on the grounds of a passage in Leviticus, which suggested that such a relationship was incestuous (the same biblical extract Henry VIII had used to cast doubt on his marriage to Catherine of Aragon). If husband and wife were made one flesh upon marriage, then sleeping with your sister-in-law was incestuous, or so the reasoning went.” HISTORY MATTERS: If This Be Error

But it is more common than people realise. I have seen vociferous arguments on Facebook where people don’t seem able to get their head around the fact that the person they are looking at may have been a second wife “because it was her sister” and “they wouldn’t do anything illegal”. Given the large families of the times when the first wife died, it made sense to call on the help of a maiden or widowed aunt.

John Tompkins, my great x 2 grandfather, married his dead wife’s sister, Emma, in  September 1873, 18 months after the death of his first wife, Sarah. Emma was also a widow with one stepdaughter and Sarah had died at the age of 42 leaving 9 children aged between 2 and 17 years old, one of their 10 children having died, so maybe it was a marriage of convenience, but it makes sense. Emma was no stranger to the family – she was with them in 1861 before her marriage to John Gillett in 1864. Emma’s first husband died in December 1871, a month before Sarah, leaving Emma to bring up the daughter of John’s first marriage. So raising the 10 children together seemed eminently sensible and marrying and then moving away from the area would still the gossiping tongues.

My grandmother, the daughter of John’s son from his first wife and his ward, the step daughter of his second wife and also the wife of John’s grandson from a daughter of the first marriage, used to tell us that John and Emma had gone abroad to get married. More wealthy people may well have done so, but actually they married in London and it looks as though one of Emma’s maternal uncles, Thomas Smith, a grocer in Paddington, may have been a witness. Their marriage was announced in several local newspapers in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire where their families will have been known. Whether it is of importance, I don’t know, but Sarah and Emma’s mother had died the previous June.

Births, Deaths, Marriages and Obituaries
Jackson’s Oxford Journal (Oxford, England), Saturday, September 27, 1873; Issue 6287.

Sept 18, at St. Saviour’s Church, Paddington by the Rev. McNeil Mansfield M.A., Mr. John Tompkins, Town Farm, Ivinghoe, to Emma Gillett, sixth daughter of the late George Godfree Esq., Great Rissington, Gloucestershire. No cards.

Crown copyright

John had been a tenant farmer in Horsendon, Buckinghamshire for several years where his  children were born and by 1871 he was at Town Farm in Ivinghoe where Sarah his first wife died. Following their marriage, they moved to Aveley Hall in Essex. Coincidence or to avoid the gossip? Who knows. As a tenant farmer, John was in a position to be able to move away from the area he was known, he just needed to find another tenancy, which he did in Essex. They didn’t move away immediately – the auction of the stock and equipment took place in 1876, so presumably they finished the tenancy in Ivinghoe first.

John and his second wife Emma went on to have 5 children, the first 2 were registered in Leighton Buzzard where Ivinghoe falls, in 1874 and 1876, the third in Orsett (Aveley) in 1877. Sadly the three boys all died – two of them from diptheria within 24 hours of each other, the other as an infant. One of the daughters, Kate, married and the other daughter, Alice Florence (Floss), remained single.

Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

I was lucky to be able to spend time with Kate’s son, John Manning, when I happened to choose to live near him on our return to the UK. He shared my interest in family history and could talk for hours about his memories. He had created a family tree for my grandmother for her 100th birthday which I much enjoyed expanding and sourcing. We persuaded him to write his memories down as his own father had done and we transcribed it for him. Sadly he died very soon after we had given him the final draft but  I am pleased that he was able to see it (he used to hide it under a cushion so that his children wouldn’t see it until it was finished). Some extracts follow:

My mother’s family name was Tompkins. Mother was born at Ivinghoe or Tring, Bucks. Mother was the twelfth child; there were fifteen children altogether, ten born at Horsendon Farm. My grandfather’s first wife Sarah died at the age of forty two! My grandfather then married his wife’s sister named Emma; then there were five more children making a total of fifteen! After my mother [Kate] was born, the family moved to Aveley Hall, Essex. For a short time they lived at Rainham Lodge, Essex as the Hall was not vacant.

Of the second family only my mother and Aunt Floss survived, there were three boys who all died of diphtheria. They were all buried in the family grave at St Michael’s Aveley. There is now little trace of their grave, but my children where it is.

Also as I grew older, I was allowed to visit my aunt Floss who had a flat quite near. (John was at boarding school at Lindisfarne College in Westcliff-on-Sea) ….. Aunt Floss was very strict with all us children but she loved us all and had a great influence on our lives. She influenced my parents in that she made them realise that young ladies could not sit helping out at home, hoping they would one day get married. Times were hard and she insisted that they were all trained to be able to go out into the world and earn their own livings.

If the local Essex  “society” knew of the “illegal” marriage or not, it didn’t seem to have affected their status in the community. John was involved in many aspects of local politics and was well known in the county as I found out when I came across the funeral announcements recently.

Emma was called as a witness at the Old Bailey – BOWEN ENDACOTT. Deceptionperjury. 24th October 1887. This gives an interesting glance at her life.

Deceased Wife’s Sister’s Marriage Act  (28th August) 1907 (7 Edw.7 c.47) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, allowing a man to marry his dead wife’s sister, which had previously been forbidden. This prohibition had derived from a doctrine of canon law whereby those who were connected by marriage were regarded as being related to each other in a way which made marriage between them improper. Wikipedia

John died early in the year of the passing of the Deceased Wife’s Sister’s Marriage Act  (28th August) 1907, on the 4th January. He and Emma were married for nearly twice as long as he was married to Sarah – I wonder if they might have remarried when the act was passed.

Essex County Chronicle Friday, January 11th 1907

We regret to announce the death of Mr John Tompkins of Aveley Hall, Aveley, in his 76th year. The deceased gentleman had for 20 years been a member of the Orsett District Council and Board of Guardians, and was held in great esteem in the wide area of the Orsett Union, where his picturesque figure ws well-known. He was greatly interested in agriculture and much respected by his farming friends in the county, He was also a foremost and generous patron of anything connected with Aveley. For some years past it has only been with difficulty that he could attend to his public duties, owing to increasing infirmity. His illness became more acute during the present winter, and the end came at length, peacefully, on Friday last.

 

The funeral took place on Tuesday afternoon in Aveley churchyard, the officiating ministers being the Rev. W.E. Spencer, Rector of Aveley, and the Rev. A.H.W. Seally, Vicar of Grays. A preliminary service was held in the Church which was filled to the doors. The coffin, of oak with brass fittings, was conveyed from Aveley Hall on one of the farm wagons to the Church, which almost adjoins the Hall. The coffin bore the inscription “John Tompkins born 1832, died 2907.” It was covered with beautiful flowers, many wreaths having been sent from his wide circle of frineds. The chief mourners were Mr. E.O. Tompkins, Mr. A.E. Tompkins and Mr. J.S. Tompkins, sons; Mr Arthur Miles, Mr. T.T. de Fraine, and Mr. Henry Miles, sons-in-law. Among those who also attended to pay a last token of respect were Mr. W.S. Eve, chairman, and several members of the Orsett Guardians, Mr. C.B. Russell, and Mr. R.A. Manning.

A more detailed account appeared the next day in the Grays & Tilbury Gazette, and Southend Telegraph 12 January 1907.

We regret to record the death of Mr John Tompkins, which took place at his residence, Aveley Hall, on Friday last week. Deceased having been in failing health for some time past. He was 75 years of age. The late Mr. Tompkins was one of the most highly esteemed residents of the district and was beloved by a wide circle of friends. He took a great interest in the public life of the district, and associated himself with all the movements calculated to benefit his parish. He was formerly a County Councillor, but his chief work was, perhaps, more particularly in connection with the Orsett Board of Guardians on which body he served for 19 years; only resigning his seat in March of last year. In both the work of the Guardians and the Rural District Council he took the greatest pleasure, and, until prevented by the infirmities of age, he was seldom absent from the Board Room, where he invariably occupied his own corner near to the Vice Chairman. He was of a very kindly nature and always carefully guarded the interests of the poor of the parish which he represented. When his resignation was forwarded to the Orsett authorities, a step which he took only through a sense of his ability to continue to properly discharge the duties of his office, it was received with no mere formal resolution of regret, but with mnay sincere expressions from those who had for years been associated with him. Although no longer a member of the Board, Mr. Tompkins did not forget the inmates at Christmas, and his name figures in the list of those who forwarded gifts for the festivities.

 

THE FUNERAL
took place at Aveley on Tuesday afternoon. The officiating clergy were the Rev. W.E. Spencer of Aveley, and the Rev. A.H.W. Seally of Grays. The whole village was in mourning, blinds being drawn at almost all the private residences, whilst many of the business houses were closed. The body was conveyed to the church in the deceased’s own wagon, drawn by one of his horses, the men from the farm acting as bearers. The chief mourners were Mr. Osborne Tompkins, Mr. A.E. Tompkins, and Mr. J,S. Tompkins (sons); Mr. Arthur Miles, Mr. T.T. de Fraine, and Mr. Henry Miles (sons-in-law); Mr W.G. Boocock; and Mr G.R. Parrott. The hymn sung in the church was “Now the labourer’s task is o’er”, and at the close of the service the organist, Mrs Skeer, sympathetically played the “Dead March.”
The body was enclosed in a polished oak coffin with brass furniture, the breast-plate bearing the inscription:-

 

JOHN TOMPKINS
Died 4th January, 1907
Aged 75 years.

 

The grave was lined with ivy and evergreen. There was large number of friends in the church and at the graveside, amongst them being Dr. Dunlop, Messrs. Champion B. Russell, J.P., G.F. Curtis J.P., W.S. Eve, C. Joslin, R.A. Manning, J. Poupart, T.A. Carron, J. Woollings, J. Blows, G. Smith, H. Smith, Russell Smith, E. Brown, W. Kelly, A. Parker, J. Cox, J. Elliott etc.

 

The floral tributes formed a magnificent collection. They comprised the following:-
In loving memory of our dear one, from his wife, Katie and Floss; in loving memory, from Cissie, Nellie and Tom; with deep sympathy and sorrow, from Bertie, Dorothy and Frances; Mrs. Robert Tompkins, Louie and Florie; in fond and loving memory: from Tom and Katie, with love and sincere sympathy: in loving memory of our dear Grandpa, from Harry, Ethel and Will; from Mary and Theresa, in loving memory; with deep sympathy from George and Emily; from little Connie, to dear Grandpa; in loving memory, from Osborn, Suie and children; in loving memory, from Joe, Louise and children; from his grandchildren, Queenie, Dottie and Leigh; with deepest sympathy, from Herbert Manning: with Mr and Mrs Poupart and family’s sincere sympathy; with Mr and Mrs George Smith’s sympathy; from Mr and Mrs Woollings and family, with sincere sympathy; from the Rev. and Mrs W.E. Spencer, with affectionate regards and much sympathy; from Mr and Mrs Boocock, with kind love and sympathy; with deep regret and sympathy,, from Mr and Mrs William Eve and family; from Cox and Palmer, with deepest sympathy and respect; in loving and happy memory of our old friend, from Mr and Mrs Clement Joslin and family; with sincere sympathy, from G.R. Parrott, Oxford; Dr and Mrs Dunlop’s deep sympathy; with sympathy and condolences from the employees fo Aveley Hall.

 

The Chairman of the Orsett Rural District Council, Mr Blair H.L. Williams, J.P., and the Clerk, Mr J Beck, were unavoidably prevented from attending owing to important business in town, and we regret that several of the other members were also prevented from attending owing to illness.

Emma survived John by just 3 years and died at Cranham Lodge, Aveley in 1910. She was also buried in Aveley Churchyard.


Findmypast – British Newspapers

Anne D. Wallace, “On the Deceased Wife’s Sister Controversy, 1835-1907”

Week 48: Gratitude

Week 48: Gratitude

Thank you very much .... The world of amateur genealogy would not be where it is without the selfless help of fellow genealogists. I learned enormous amounts from just reading other peoples' queries and the solutions. They gave me ideas of where to look and, more...

read more
Week 30: The Old Country

Week 30: The Old Country

Because we moved around a lot when I was small, it wasn't until I was about 7 years old that we settled in one place when my parents bought a new build bungalow in Rockdale Drive, Grayshott. Four years later they moved on to nearby Headley and then on to...

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Week 27: Solo – choice or circumstance?

Catherine Godfree, born in 1844, was the youngest child of George and Mary Ann Godfree of Great Rissington. She had three older brothers and seven older sisters. Five of the sisters married and had large families, two sisters married but had no children, while two of the brothers never married and the one that did had emigrated to Australia following the death of his father.

read more
Week 10: Strong Woman

Week 10: Strong Woman

I have been fascinated by the story of my great x2 grandmother, Catherine Whitehill, born in Glasgow on the 31st May 1847. She had a tough life judging by where she lived, yet she raised 9 children to adulthood in 3 cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, at a time when infant mortality was high.

read more
Week 15: From Fire to Form

Week 15: From Fire to Form

A quick query of my family tree software shows me that of those who have an occupation entered, I have 32 smiths or related occupations of whom 8 are blacksmiths, 2 gunsmiths, 3 silversmiths, and 4 whitesmiths and also some charcoal burners.

read more
Week 24: Handed Down

Week 24: Handed Down

I have already got a post about my "hand-me-downs", so I have recycled that one this week. It traces the story of Suie Gillett, my maternal great grandmother and shows how easy it is to get things wrong when tracing your family history! The Gillett Spoons Since I...

read more

Week 6: Same Name

When I saw this prompt, I immediately thought of Jessie Ann Lewcock, who baptised and buried five babies, three of them called Seth, their father’s name. Only her two oldest children survived to adulthood, a daughter, Grace Agnes, and Lewis named for her brother. Her...

read more

Week 23: Wedding

Marrying the sister of a deceased wife was illegal in Victorian England. " ...under the Marriage Act of 1835, which had the support of the established Anglican church, it was prohibited for a widower to marry his wife’s sister on the grounds of a passage in Leviticus,...

read more

Week 16: Air

Flying, civilian pilots and air crew, RAF & Fleet Air Arm, ornithologists, fresh air .... When I saw this week's prompt I wasn't sure I had anything to really write about and was intending to write about fresh air as most of the world including me are under...

read more

Week 9: Disaster

William George Lewcock 1839-1887. St George's Churchyard, Hanworth. William George Lewcock died on the 3rd May 1887 leaving a wife and 8 children, three of whom were under twelve years old. If we have connected the twigs and branches correctly, he is a very distant...

read more

Week 12: Very “historical” fiction

While I am doing my research I am mentally visualising the people I am looking at in the census or on a certificate and trying to imagine what their life was like; their house, the street, what they were wearing and how they spent their time. Because I read, and still...

read more
Week 5: So far away … from “home”

Week 5: So far away … from “home”

........ a light hearted look at genetic heritage. Both my grandmothers were Essex girls, but that is nothing to do with why I support West Ham! The theme tune for Sports Report (right click for the appropriate background music) brings back memories of being...

read more
Week 11: Serendipity

Week 11: Serendipity

Researching our family history depends on careful research over time, but is often progressed by a large slice of luck! I have had two major ones - both when I was looking for something else, one for my paternal line and one on the maternal. Maternal lucky find My...

read more
Week 8: Prosperity

Week 8: Prosperity

George Godfree was my great x2 uncle, the sixth child and second son of George and Mary Ann, nee Smith, Godfree of Great Rissington. His father died in 1850, leaving the farm to Mary, "if she wants it", and then to George's older brother. Like many other younger sons...

read more
Week 7: Favourite Discovery

Week 7: Favourite Discovery

I can't write in great detail about my favourite discovery as it involves living people, but it was very early on in my genealogy research days when I was one of the first members of Genes Connected as it then was. My family had lost touch with a paternal first cousin...

read more
Week 4: Close to Home

Week 4: Close to Home

​When I decided to take early retirement and come back to England after 32 years living and working in Belgium, I toyed with several places to live. I wanted to be nearish the coast, my parents were living near Ely at the time so investigated Norfolk and Suffolk but...

read more
Week 3: Long Line

Week 3: Long Line

I was wondering which ancestors to choose this week, but ​I have decided to interpret Long Line as Long List. As soon as you start your family history research, you start collecting bookmarks, favo(u)rites – whatever your browser of choice calls them. The list gets...

read more

Week 2: Favourite Photograph

This is a hard one. Should it be the picture of Sarah Jane Tompkins née Godfree, a maternal great x2 grandmother, which I see every day as it is hanging over my mantlepiece? She also appears at the top of every page of this website. Perhaps it could be the group one...

read more

Week 1: Fresh Start

Where to begin? I could write about my personal disappointment about the UK's fresh start tomorrow, or I could write about my own fresh start when I first took advantage of FOM in 1976 and moved to Belgium to work or when I came back to England in 2008. However, I...

read more

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

For some time, I had spotted references to Amy Johnson Crow's genealogical writing challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and often thought it would be a good idea but simply never got round to it. This year I saw another reference and as it was at the end of December, ...

read more

Schooldays

The de Fraine, Tompkins and Gillett families often sent both their sons and daughters away from home for a few years of education, and I have several times spotted familiar surnames on lists of pupils, which when I have tracked them through other census returns and through birth registrations have turned out to be related to the name I was originally looking for.

read more

Week 2: Favourite Photograph

This is a hard one. Should it be the picture of Sarah Jane Tompkins née Godfree, a maternal great x2 grandmother, which I see every day as it is hanging over my mantlepiece? She also appears at the top of every page of this website.

Perhaps it could be the group one from my paternal great grandparents, William and Kate Bradley, Diamond Wedding Anniversary Party where I am centre stage sitting on my mothers’ lap next to the happy couple?

Or maybe the picture of the double wedding in September 1890 in front of Aveley Hall?

Perhaps the glass one of my great grandmother, Susie Gillett with her nurse, from 1863?

Double Wedding. Aveley Hall. September 1890.

I think it has to be the third one. I vividly remember Granny showing me the picture as a young child and her telling me the story behind it and in part this is why I became interested in researching my family history. Thanks to her, whose parents’ wedding it was, I know who all the people are and have since worked out where they fit into the tree apart from one person, who I am told Granny referred to as “the interloper” – whether she meant anything derogatory or just because he was not family, I have no idea. When she died we came across the newspaper cuttings about the wedding too and writing this up will spur me on to transcribing those one day. 

Girls from left to right:
Florence Tompkins – Osborne’s half-sister. (Emma’s daughter. Never married. Was known as Aunt Floss.)
Can’t place her.
Frances (Fanny) de Fraine – Tom’s sister. (Married Cecil Knight in 1909.)
Katie Tompkins – Osbornes’ half-sister. (Emma’s daughter. Married Herbert Manning in 1907.)

Men standing behind left to right:
George de Fraine – Tom’s brother. (Became proprietor of the Bucks Herald.)
Herbert (Bert) de Fraine – Tom’s brother. Worked at the Bank of England.
George Parrot – “an interloper”
Joseph Tompkins – Osborne and Nellie’s brother. 

Bridal party left to right:
Ada de Fraine – Nellie’s bridesmaid. (Tom’s sister. Became Mrs Arthur Barton. Their daughter married Guy Dodwell and went to the USA.)
Mary Tompkins – Nellie’s bridesmaid. (Sister to Nellie and Osborne, married Henry Miles, brother of Arthur, and went to Canada.)
George Turner de Fraine – Tom’s father. (Bucks Herald )
Mrs George de Fraine (Henrietta) – Tom’s mother.
Rosa Ellen (Nellie) Tompkins – Bride. (Daughter of John Tompkins and Emma’s sister Sarah.)
Thomas Turner de Fraine – Groom. (Son of George Turner and Henrietta de Fraine.)
Susan Gillett – Bride. (Stepdaughter of Emma Tompkins née Godfree from her first marriage to John Gillett. The Gillett Spoons)
Osborne Tompkins – Groom. (Son of John Tompkins and Emma’s sister Sarah.)
Emma Tompkins – Osborne and Nellie’s stepmother and maternal aunt
John Tompkins – Osborne and Nellie’s father.
Emily Brookes – Susan’s bridesmaid. (Niece of Emma Tompkins née Godfree.)
Clara Hambidge – Susan’s bridesmaid. (Niece of Emma Tompkins née Godfree. Daughter of Robert Hambidge, Ascott Martyrs.)

Standing at the back in front of the porch:
Auntie Dolly – (wife of Godfree Tompkins)
Godfree Tompkins – (Osborne and Nellie’s brother. Gave Susan away at the wedding)
Arthur Miles – husband of Annie.
Annie Miles – (Osborne and Nellie’s sister)
Mrs Robert Tompkins (Louisa)
Robert Tompkins – brother of John Tompkins. (Auctioneer of Reading.)
Albert Tompkins – Osborne’s brother.

“This was compiled by (Molly) Kathleen Mary de Fraine née Tompkins, younger daughter of Osborne and Susan.”

She did not know how some of the younger girls were related but I managed to track them down and as I was adding some of the relationships to Granny’s comments just now, I realised that I have DNA matches with descendants of Ada de Fraine so I must contact them and see if they have this picture!

 

Week 48: Gratitude

Week 48: Gratitude

Thank you very much .... The world of amateur genealogy would not be where it is without the selfless help of fellow genealogists. I learned enormous amounts from just reading other peoples' queries and the solutions. They gave me ideas of where to look and, more...

read more
Week 30: The Old Country

Week 30: The Old Country

Because we moved around a lot when I was small, it wasn't until I was about 7 years old that we settled in one place when my parents bought a new build bungalow in Rockdale Drive, Grayshott. Four years later they moved on to nearby Headley and then on to...

read more

Week 27: Solo – choice or circumstance?

Catherine Godfree, born in 1844, was the youngest child of George and Mary Ann Godfree of Great Rissington. She had three older brothers and seven older sisters. Five of the sisters married and had large families, two sisters married but had no children, while two of the brothers never married and the one that did had emigrated to Australia following the death of his father.

read more
Week 10: Strong Woman

Week 10: Strong Woman

I have been fascinated by the story of my great x2 grandmother, Catherine Whitehill, born in Glasgow on the 31st May 1847. She had a tough life judging by where she lived, yet she raised 9 children to adulthood in 3 cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, at a time when infant mortality was high.

read more
Week 15: From Fire to Form

Week 15: From Fire to Form

A quick query of my family tree software shows me that of those who have an occupation entered, I have 32 smiths or related occupations of whom 8 are blacksmiths, 2 gunsmiths, 3 silversmiths, and 4 whitesmiths and also some charcoal burners.

read more
Week 24: Handed Down

Week 24: Handed Down

I have already got a post about my "hand-me-downs", so I have recycled that one this week. It traces the story of Suie Gillett, my maternal great grandmother and shows how easy it is to get things wrong when tracing your family history! The Gillett Spoons Since I...

read more

Week 6: Same Name

When I saw this prompt, I immediately thought of Jessie Ann Lewcock, who baptised and buried five babies, three of them called Seth, their father’s name. Only her two oldest children survived to adulthood, a daughter, Grace Agnes, and Lewis named for her brother. Her...

read more

Week 23: Wedding

Marrying the sister of a deceased wife was illegal in Victorian England. " ...under the Marriage Act of 1835, which had the support of the established Anglican church, it was prohibited for a widower to marry his wife’s sister on the grounds of a passage in Leviticus,...

read more

Week 16: Air

Flying, civilian pilots and air crew, RAF & Fleet Air Arm, ornithologists, fresh air .... When I saw this week's prompt I wasn't sure I had anything to really write about and was intending to write about fresh air as most of the world including me are under...

read more

Week 9: Disaster

William George Lewcock 1839-1887. St George's Churchyard, Hanworth. William George Lewcock died on the 3rd May 1887 leaving a wife and 8 children, three of whom were under twelve years old. If we have connected the twigs and branches correctly, he is a very distant...

read more

Week 12: Very “historical” fiction

While I am doing my research I am mentally visualising the people I am looking at in the census or on a certificate and trying to imagine what their life was like; their house, the street, what they were wearing and how they spent their time. Because I read, and still...

read more
Week 5: So far away … from “home”

Week 5: So far away … from “home”

........ a light hearted look at genetic heritage. Both my grandmothers were Essex girls, but that is nothing to do with why I support West Ham! The theme tune for Sports Report (right click for the appropriate background music) brings back memories of being...

read more
Week 11: Serendipity

Week 11: Serendipity

Researching our family history depends on careful research over time, but is often progressed by a large slice of luck! I have had two major ones - both when I was looking for something else, one for my paternal line and one on the maternal. Maternal lucky find My...

read more
Week 8: Prosperity

Week 8: Prosperity

George Godfree was my great x2 uncle, the sixth child and second son of George and Mary Ann, nee Smith, Godfree of Great Rissington. His father died in 1850, leaving the farm to Mary, "if she wants it", and then to George's older brother. Like many other younger sons...

read more
Week 7: Favourite Discovery

Week 7: Favourite Discovery

I can't write in great detail about my favourite discovery as it involves living people, but it was very early on in my genealogy research days when I was one of the first members of Genes Connected as it then was. My family had lost touch with a paternal first cousin...

read more
Week 4: Close to Home

Week 4: Close to Home

​When I decided to take early retirement and come back to England after 32 years living and working in Belgium, I toyed with several places to live. I wanted to be nearish the coast, my parents were living near Ely at the time so investigated Norfolk and Suffolk but...

read more
Week 3: Long Line

Week 3: Long Line

I was wondering which ancestors to choose this week, but ​I have decided to interpret Long Line as Long List. As soon as you start your family history research, you start collecting bookmarks, favo(u)rites – whatever your browser of choice calls them. The list gets...

read more

Week 2: Favourite Photograph

This is a hard one. Should it be the picture of Sarah Jane Tompkins née Godfree, a maternal great x2 grandmother, which I see every day as it is hanging over my mantlepiece? She also appears at the top of every page of this website. Perhaps it could be the group one...

read more

Week 1: Fresh Start

Where to begin? I could write about my personal disappointment about the UK's fresh start tomorrow, or I could write about my own fresh start when I first took advantage of FOM in 1976 and moved to Belgium to work or when I came back to England in 2008. However, I...

read more

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

For some time, I had spotted references to Amy Johnson Crow's genealogical writing challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and often thought it would be a good idea but simply never got round to it. This year I saw another reference and as it was at the end of December, ...

read more

Schooldays

The de Fraine, Tompkins and Gillett families often sent both their sons and daughters away from home for a few years of education, and I have several times spotted familiar surnames on lists of pupils, which when I have tracked them through other census returns and through birth registrations have turned out to be related to the name I was originally looking for.

read more

Kathleen Mary “Molly” Tompkins

Kathleen Mary “Molly” Tompkins

From Buckinghamshire to Essex via Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

The Tompkins were tenant farmers in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Essex.

The Gilletts and Godfrees and Baylis families were farming in Gloucestershire.


Kathleen Mary “Molly” Tompkins (left), was the first wife and cousin of Thomas Leigh de Fraine. 

John Tompkins (1831-1907), oldest son of Robert Tompkins and Ann Osborne, grandfather of Molly de Fraine née Tompkins, was also the grandfather of Thomas Leigh de Fraine.

Molly’s father was John’s son, Edwin Osborne Tompkins, and Leigh’s mother was John’s daughter Rosa Ellen Tompkins.

See The Gillett Spoons  for a more detailed explanation.

Week 23: Wedding

Marrying the sister of a deceased wife was illegal in Victorian England. " ...under the Marriage Act of 1835, which had the support of the established Anglican church, it was prohibited for a widower to marry his wife’s sister on the grounds of a passage in Leviticus,...

read more

Week 2: Favourite Photograph

This is a hard one. Should it be the picture of Sarah Jane Tompkins née Godfree, a maternal great x2 grandmother, which I see every day as it is hanging over my mantlepiece? She also appears at the top of every page of this website. Perhaps it could be the group one...

read more
Kathleen Mary “Molly” Tompkins

Kathleen Mary “Molly” Tompkins

From Buckinghamshire to Essex via Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.The Tompkins were tenant farmers in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Essex.The Gilletts and Godfrees and Baylis families were farming in Gloucestershire.Kathleen Mary “Molly” Tompkins (left), was the...

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John Tompkins, grandfather of Molly and Leigh de Fraine

John's first wife, Sarah Jane Godfree, was baptised on 20 May 1829 in Great Rissington. In 1841, she was with her grandparents George and Mary Godfree and in 1851, she was with her maternal aunt, Jane Smith, in Bourton on the Water. She married John Tompkins of...

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John Tompkins of Oddington

John Tompkins, great x2 grandfather of Molly Tompkins, presumably married Mary, but we have yet to find the marriage. In 1791 they had their first son, William, at Swanborne in north Buckinghamshire. The following year they had a daughter called Anne and in 1794,...

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John Tompkins “of Ambrosden”

  Until we find the marriage of John and Mary, the following is conjecture, but 90% likely! His age as given at burial would fit the John Tompkins who was born in Arncott (in Bucks) or Blackthorne (across the River Ray in Oxfordshire) in 1763 and was baptised on...

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Auctioneer of Reading

Robert Tompkins, a resident of Reading, Berkshire, was the second son of Robert Tompkins and Ann Osborn and seemed to have  led an interesting life. While browsing through some 19th Century newspapers recently, looking for a different surname entirely, I vaguely...

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Schooldays

The de Fraine, Tompkins and Gillett families often sent both their sons and daughters away from home for a few years of education, and I have several times spotted familiar surnames on lists of pupils, which when I have tracked them through other census returns and through birth registrations have turned out to be related to the name I was originally looking for.

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John Tompkins, grandfather of Molly and Leigh de Fraine

John’s first wife, Sarah Jane Godfree, was baptised on 20 May 1829 in Great Rissington. In 1841, she was with her grandparents George and Mary Godfree and in 1851, she was with her maternal aunt, Jane Smith, in Bourton on the Water. She married John Tompkins of Oddington, Oxfordshire on 28th December 1853 in Great Rissington on the same day as Rebecca her older sister. John was the nephew of George Osborn, Sarah’s brother-in-law, husband of her oldest sister, Elizabeth. It is not clear from the image, but he may have been lodging in Stow on the Wold in 1851. In 1861, they were in Horsendon at Manor Farm and Emma was staying with them. Sarah had already had five children by then.

John’s second wife, Emma Gillett née Godfree, was the younger sister of his first wife Sarah. She was was born in 1838 in Great Rissington. In 1861, she was in Horsenden with Sarah Jane and John Tompkins. She married John Gillett, a widower with a small daughter, Susan aged 1 year old,  on 25 May 1864 in Great Rissington. In 1871, they were in Oddington, Gloucestershire where he was described as a retired farmer. He died of general dropsy, 3 months certified, on 12 December 1871 in Oddington. See also The Gillett Spoons.In 1871, Sarah was staying in Burford with the Strattons. The rest of the family were in Ivinghoe at Town Farm. The household included Fanny Osborne, cousin, from Lewisham in Kent. She was the daughter of John’s mother’s youngest brother William who was a silk merchant.Sarah died of apoplexy the following year, on 7th January, leaving nine children.aged from 3 to 18 years old. Their son, Robert George, had died when he was a year old in 1862.

Emma  married John Tompkins by Licence on 18th September 1873 in St Saviour’s Church, Paddington. The witnesses were Thomas Smith and Elizabeth Betts.

In 1881, Emma and John were at Aveley Hall, Aveley in Essex, where they stayed until John died on on 4th January 1907. Emma died on on 23 February 1910 and they were both buried at St Michael Aveley, with their three little sons. They had two daughters, Kate Isobel and Alice Florence, known as Flossie. Kate married a widower, Herbert Manning, a farmer, and they had four daughters and twin sons, one of whom did not survive. Floss did not marry.

Ancestors of John Tompkins

Descendants of John Tompkins

The Godfree Daughters

Week 27: Solo – choice or circumstance?

Catherine Godfree, born in 1844, was the youngest child of George and Mary Ann Godfree of Great Rissington. She had three older brothers and seven older sisters. Five of the sisters married and had large families, two sisters married but had no children, while two of the brothers never married and the one that did had emigrated to Australia following the death of his father.

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Week 23: Wedding

Marrying the sister of a deceased wife was illegal in Victorian England. " ...under the Marriage Act of 1835, which had the support of the established Anglican church, it was prohibited for a widower to marry his wife’s sister on the grounds of a passage in Leviticus,...

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Week 8: Prosperity

Week 8: Prosperity

George Godfree was my great x2 uncle, the sixth child and second son of George and Mary Ann, nee Smith, Godfree of Great Rissington. His father died in 1850, leaving the farm to Mary, "if she wants it", and then to George's older brother. Like many other younger sons...

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Week 2: Favourite Photograph

This is a hard one. Should it be the picture of Sarah Jane Tompkins née Godfree, a maternal great x2 grandmother, which I see every day as it is hanging over my mantlepiece? She also appears at the top of every page of this website. Perhaps it could be the group one...

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Godfrees of Great Rissington

Godfrees of Great Rissington

The Church of St. John the Baptist , Great Rissington.The first set of gates are the entrance to Manor Farm.© Copyright David Luther Thomas and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. The Godfree, Hambidge, Cambray and Baylis families intertwined with...

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Kathleen Mary “Molly” Tompkins

Kathleen Mary “Molly” Tompkins

From Buckinghamshire to Essex via Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.The Tompkins were tenant farmers in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Essex.The Gilletts and Godfrees and Baylis families were farming in Gloucestershire.Kathleen Mary “Molly” Tompkins (left), was the...

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The Godfree Daughters

George and Mary Godfree had 9 daughters. The oldest daughter, Elizabeth, was baptised on 7th June 1824 in Great Rissington. She married George Osborn of Charlton on Otmoor, Oxfordshire on 16th January 1850 in Great Rissington. They had four daughters and a son. In...

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The Ascott Martyrs 1873

Sarah Godfree's younger sister, Rose Hannah, married Robert Hambidge of Icomb, Gloucestershire.  They were married in Great Rissington in 1859. In 1861, they were farming in Westcote, Gloucestershire but by 1871 were living at Crown Farm in Ascott-under-Whychwood when...

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“Prominent resident of Yapeen”

“Prominent resident of Yapeen”

George Godfree was left two hundred pounds in his father's will,  which was proved on 1st January 1851, and by the 30th March he was an apprentice grocer, living with his maternal uncle, Thomas Smith, a grocer, in Paddington. Gold had recently been discovered in...

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Residents of Melbourne

  Only one of George and Marjorie's ten children married, their youngest, Ernest Graham. He followed a very different path altogether to his older siblings. Laurence, the fourth son died soon after birth. Charles John, the fifth son, stayed on the farm in...

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John Tompkins of Oddington

Swanbourne Church

John Tompkins, great x2 grandfather of Molly Tompkins, presumably married Mary, but we have yet to find the marriage.

In 1791 they had their first son, William, at Swanborne in north Buckinghamshire. The following year they had a daughter called Anne and in 1794, still at Swanborne, a second daughter, called Elizabeth.

On 1 December 1794 John (“John Tomkyns, Yeoman”) obtained a 21 year counterpart of lease of a farmhouse, 16 cottages and 345 acres of land at Oddington from John Sawyer Esq. of Heywood Lodge in Berkshire for £492 per annum.

In 1797 John and Mary had their second son, Robert. John and Mary had their fifth and last child, also called Mary, in 1800, both baptised in Oddington Oxfordshire. She was baptised on 13 January 1800. However, their daughter died in 1801 and was buried on 19 November that year.

On 29 August 1815 the farm lease was renewed with John Sawyer of Heyward Lodge, Berkshire for 2 years. It was then described as a farmhouse with 330 acres, 3 roods and 16 perches at a consideration of £660 per annum. The lease (presumably?) lapsed in 1817 when John was 54.

John’s wife, Mary Tompkins died in 1826 aged 64 and was buried on 21 June at Oddington. John Tompkins “of Ambrosden” died in 1832 at the age of 69 and was buried in Oddington. John was survived by his sons William and Robert, his daughters Anne and Elizabeth and many grandsons and granddaughters.

Oddington Church

Manor Lodge Farm, Oddington

John’s first son William married Sarah Lambourn on 26 May 1817 when they were both aged 26 at Charlton on Otmoor Church. The witnesses were Mary Tompkins and Christopher and Elizabeth Lambourn. In 1818 John’s first grandson, called William, was born in Quainton in Bucks. Also in Quainton, between then and 1824, Sarah bore two more sons (John Ditom and Christopher Lambourn) and three daughters (Mary, Elizabeth and Sarah Ayres). In 1828 whilst in Holton, Oxfordshire, Sarah bore William a third daughter (Maria). In 1830, still at Holton, William’s wife Sarah bore a fourth and final son, Robert A.

Descendants of William and Sarah Tompkins

Merton Church

Grange Farm, Sydenham

William died in 1874 aged, 83. He is recorded on the 1841 census as a farmer, living in Brill (Little London Farm) , then at Islip (Middle Road) in 1851, 1861 and 1871. He died at Islip and was buried at Charlton on Otmoor (where he was married 57 years before!) on 14 May 1874. (His wife, Sarah died in 1867 at Islip).  William Jnr. became an innkeeper in Charlton on Otmoor,  had two children and is buried with his wife Ursula in Charlton churchyard. John Ditom became a farmer and “dealer”, married Betsey, had 11 children and died In 1873. Elizabeth married Mr (!) Williams and had a daughter Elizabeth. In 1871 she was living with her Aunt Ann Gibbs and Uncle Robert Tompkins at South Hill Cottages, Headington. Robert became a farmer in Brill, married Martha, had two children and is last found in the 1901 Census aged 71 at Brill.

John’s second son Robert “a farmer” (by then aged 32) married Anne Osborn of Hethe at Merton Church on 29 November 1829.

Robert and Anne’s first son, also known as John, was born 8 April 1830 at Oddington and baptised on 31 July 1831. [He would have two wives and 15 children (maybe more) and live to 1907. His first child, born in 1854 at Princes Risborough, was also called John]. See John Tompkins.

Robert and Ann had a further three sons (Robert 1834 [Auctioneer of Reading], Edwin 1836, James George 1840) and possibly one daughter (Elizabeth 1844). Robert is recorded as following in the censuses 1841 Census, Spa Farm, Dorton (farmer). 1851 Census, Grange Farm, Sydenham (farmer).

Ann died in 1854 at Grange Farm. Robert is then found in the 1861 Census at Charlton on Otmoor and the 1871 Census at South Hill Cottages, Headington with his elder sister Ann Gibbs. Robert died between October and December 1871.

John’s daughter Elizabeth died in 1866 aged 72, 34 years after her father. She had married John Lipscomb on 5 October 1837 at Stanton St John when she was 43 and he was 46. John Lipscomb is described as a farmer on the 1841 census and died in 1850. Elizabeth is recorded on the 1841 census at Oddington and then in 1851 and 1861 at Church Lane, Headington with her sister Ann. John and Elizabeth had a daughter, Elizabeth Mary Lipscomb, born in 1837. She may feature on the 1841 census at Oddington aged 4

Ann survived William her older brother by 3 years, dying in 1877 at 85. Ann “Thomkins” married, aged 41, Richard Gibbs aged 42 (born in Stanton St John) on 30 January 1833 at Ambrosden. Richard already had a son called John Gibbs born in 1827 who appears in the 1841 census in Headington at 14 but not thereafter. Richard is recorded as a poulterer in Headington and may have died in 1866.

Ann is recorded in the 1851 and 1861 censuses as being in Church Lane, Headington. She is in the 1871 census as a retired poulterer living at 3 South Hill Cottages, Headington and died in 1877. Ann and Richard had their own son, William Gibbs, who was born in 1836 in Cuddesdon, Oxfordshire, baptised in Forest Hill in April 1836 and later is recorded as a poulterer in Headington. No. 4 (Church Hill Farm).

Week 24: Handed Down

Week 24: Handed Down

I have already got a post about my "hand-me-downs", so I have recycled that one this week. It traces the story of Suie Gillett, my maternal great grandmother and shows how easy it is to get things wrong when tracing your family history! The Gillett Spoons Since I...

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Week 11: Serendipity

Week 11: Serendipity

Researching our family history depends on careful research over time, but is often progressed by a large slice of luck! I have had two major ones - both when I was looking for something else, one for my paternal line and one on the maternal. Maternal lucky find My...

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Week 2: Favourite Photograph

This is a hard one. Should it be the picture of Sarah Jane Tompkins née Godfree, a maternal great x2 grandmother, which I see every day as it is hanging over my mantlepiece? She also appears at the top of every page of this website. Perhaps it could be the group one...

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Gilletts of the Cotswolds

Susan Gillett was the mother of Molly de Fraine née Tompkins.Both of Susan Gillett’s parents were Gilletts. Her father, John, was the son of Richard and Ann Gillett and her mother, Susanna, was the daughter of George Gillett and Ann Andrews. John and Susanna were...

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The Gillett Spoons

My parents had a motley collection of cutlery with various monograms, which had been passed down to my mother. This includes two incomplete sets of rather worn silver plated spoons, which are used every day. One set is monogrammed GAG, the other JSG but we weren’t...

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George and Ann Gillett

  George Gillett of Brize Norton married Ann Andrews, daughter of William Andrews, butcher, by licence, on 16th August 1836 in Bampton. Thomas Burrows officiated and the witnesses were George Andrews and Mary Smith. [George Gillett has a niece called Mary Smith...

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The Gillett Tree

  I was contacted through an earlier version of my site by JG who has offered me his own collection of Gilletts to add to mine. He has been lucky enough to be close to the Gloucester Records Office and so has seen the original documents!! I am really pleased that...

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Butcher (and gentleman) of Bampton

  William Andrews, butcher (and gentleman), was the maternal great grandfather of Susan Gillett, future wife of Edwin Osborne Tompkins. He was the son of Charles Andrews, of Eynsham, who was a collar maker, and Elizabeth Lawrence, who married in Stanton Harcourt...

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Schooldays

The de Fraine, Tompkins and Gillett families often sent both their sons and daughters away from home for a few years of education, and I have several times spotted familiar surnames on lists of pupils, which when I have tracked them through other census returns and through birth registrations have turned out to be related to the name I was originally looking for.

read more

John Tompkins “of Ambrosden”

Ambrosden Church

Until we find the marriage of John and Mary, the following is conjecture, but 90% likely! His age as given at burial would fit the John Tompkins who was born in Arncott (in Bucks) or Blackthorne (across the River Ray in Oxfordshire) in 1763 and was baptised on 9th January 1763 at Ambrosden Church.

John was the only son of Joseph Tomkins (age unknown) of Arncott and the then 21 year old Anne Hopcraft, also of Arncott.

When Joseph married Anne on 11th October 1760 at Ambrosden she was still a minor. Joseph and Anne signed the register with crosses The witnesses at the wedding were John Ellitt and Edwin Winslow.

Childhood Relatives

Joseph’s parents (John’s paternal grandparents) and any siblings and their children (possible aunts and uncles and cousins for John) are not recorded. Anne’s parents (John’s maternal grandparents) were John and Catherine Hopcraft. Anne had two sisters: John’s Aunt Catherine would have been 22 when he was born and his Aunt Sarah would have been 14. Catherine and Sarah’s possible marriages, dates of death or children (further possible cousins for John) are not recorded on the tree

John had an older sister Mary, born 20 September 1761 who died 14 October 1761 and a younger sister, Elizabeth, born in 5 October 1766 (both at Arncott). The dates of Elizabeth’s possible marriage and children and death are not recorded.

John’s mother Anne died at Arncott when she was 38. She was buried at Ambrosden on 25 August 1770. John would have been 7 and his sister Elizabeth 4 (if still alive).

His father remarried the following year on 29 January 1771 to Elizabeth King at Ambrosden Church. The witnesses were Jono King and Henry King (the latter witnessed other marriages so possibly not a relative).

John’s grandfather John Hopcraft died in 1771 and was buried on 25th April at Ambrosden.

In 1772 Joseph and Elizabeth had the first of John’s four half-brothers and sisters (recorded as Tomkins). Sarah was baptised at Ambrosden on 29 March 1772.

John’s grandmother Catherine Hopcraft died in 1773 when John Junior was 10.

In 1774 Joseph and Elizabeth had John’s first half-brother Thomas. However, having been baptised on 22 October at Ambrosden, he died, and was buried 9 days later. In 1776 another half-brother, also Thomas, was born and baptised on 21st January at Ambrosden. This second Thomas Tomkins survived only until 1782 (when John would have been 19) and was buried on 30 October. A second half-sister, Mary, was baptised on 21 September 1778 at Ambrosden.

In 1799, when John was 36, his half-sister Mary (then aged 21) married William Newton Purcell Beaill (!) at Ambrosden Church on 5 August. The witnesses were James Cross and John Shouller (the latter was a regular witness).

Later that year John’s father died at Arncott and was buried on 11 November 1799 at Ambrosden.

Descendants of Joseph and Anne Tomkins


In the Hearth Tax 1662 Official Returns for Blackthorn, there are two entries for Tompkins: William Tompkins, John Tompkins 2.

In the Hearth Tax 1662 Petty Constables Returns for Noke: Widow Tomkins

Source: The 1662 Hearth Tax Returns for Ploughley Hundred area in Oxfordshire

Week 23: Wedding

Marrying the sister of a deceased wife was illegal in Victorian England. " ...under the Marriage Act of 1835, which had the support of the established Anglican church, it was prohibited for a widower to marry his wife’s sister on the grounds of a passage in Leviticus,...

read more

Week 2: Favourite Photograph

This is a hard one. Should it be the picture of Sarah Jane Tompkins née Godfree, a maternal great x2 grandmother, which I see every day as it is hanging over my mantlepiece? She also appears at the top of every page of this website. Perhaps it could be the group one...

read more
Kathleen Mary “Molly” Tompkins

Kathleen Mary “Molly” Tompkins

From Buckinghamshire to Essex via Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.The Tompkins were tenant farmers in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Essex.The Gilletts and Godfrees and Baylis families were farming in Gloucestershire.Kathleen Mary “Molly” Tompkins (left), was the...

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John Tompkins, grandfather of Molly and Leigh de Fraine

John's first wife, Sarah Jane Godfree, was baptised on 20 May 1829 in Great Rissington. In 1841, she was with her grandparents George and Mary Godfree and in 1851, she was with her maternal aunt, Jane Smith, in Bourton on the Water. She married John Tompkins of...

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John Tompkins of Oddington

John Tompkins, great x2 grandfather of Molly Tompkins, presumably married Mary, but we have yet to find the marriage. In 1791 they had their first son, William, at Swanborne in north Buckinghamshire. The following year they had a daughter called Anne and in 1794,...

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John Tompkins “of Ambrosden”

  Until we find the marriage of John and Mary, the following is conjecture, but 90% likely! His age as given at burial would fit the John Tompkins who was born in Arncott (in Bucks) or Blackthorne (across the River Ray in Oxfordshire) in 1763 and was baptised on...

read more

Auctioneer of Reading

Robert Tompkins, a resident of Reading, Berkshire, was the second son of Robert Tompkins and Ann Osborn and seemed to have  led an interesting life. While browsing through some 19th Century newspapers recently, looking for a different surname entirely, I vaguely...

read more

Schooldays

The de Fraine, Tompkins and Gillett families often sent both their sons and daughters away from home for a few years of education, and I have several times spotted familiar surnames on lists of pupils, which when I have tracked them through other census returns and through birth registrations have turned out to be related to the name I was originally looking for.

read more