10. The Bartholomew Fishleigh Inventory

I promised earlier to address the matter of whether the Bartholomew of the plaque, buried in 1799 at age 81, was the same Bartholomew who shows up in the 1780 Land Tax Records. My somewhat seasoned nose tells me they have to be one and the same.  Someone prominent enough to have a plaque placed on the wall of the parish church would surely have been among the “elite” who were assessed land tax in the 1780s. This is all very well but can I prove that the Bart who died in 1799 was once occupier of Ley Farm?

Let’s start by tallying up the various Bartholomew Fishleighs born and married prior to 1780.  Because it is flexible for spellings, lists baptisms and marriages, and covers many parishes, the IGI is a good place to start. One caution to keep in mind though is that the IGI is far from complete and there are very few burials indexed.  In chronological order we find the following entries on the IGI prior to 1780:

1652 June 24 Bartholomew Fishlye was baptized in the parish of Northam which is about 14 miles from Milton Damerel near the mouth of the Torridge overlooking the often frothy and always spectacular Atlantic coast. He was the “son of Robert” who apparently had this child on his own! Robert was a founder of the Fishley family of potters who took advantage of the renowned North Devon clay (also noted by Charles Vancouver ,as we have seen, in two of the three soils described earlier) to create an equally renowned line of decorated earthenware which can be seen in museums in Bideford and in Barnstaple. These Fishleys would have originated, like the Milton Damerel Fishleighs at the confluence of the Torridge and Lew.

Fishley pottery at the Barnstaple Museum

In the MIlton Damerel Parish Register we find:

1713 March 16……Bartholomew Fishleigh was baptized at Milton Damerel, the son of Leonard Fishleigh and Mary.

1741 May 13………Bartholomew Fishleigh was married to Christian Shapton at Milton Damerel.

1746 April 14……..Bartholomew Fishleigh was married to  Jane Pridis at Milton Damerel.

1756 January 11…Bartholomew Fishleigh was baptized at Milton Damerel, the son of Bartholomew and Jane.

So we have two Bartholomews in Milton Damerel who were married in the parish.  One in 1841 and the other in 1846.  It appears that the man who married Christian in 1741 was the one baptized in 1713.  The man who married Jane in 1746 died in 1799 aged 81 so would have been baptized  c1718 which happens to fall when there was a gap in the surviving parish records.

There are five Bartholomew Fishleigh burials recorded in the Milton Damerel parish registers.  The dates are 1706 Feb 21712 Mar 28 for a Bartholomew Junior, 1788 Jan 281799 May 30 for the husband of Jane, and 1814 July 19 for an infant at Whitebear. Therefore the Bartholomew who married Christian was very likely buried in  late January 1788.

Now because there was a Land Tax assessed for Bartholomew Fishleigh of Ley in 1788 it would seem likely that the man who died in January, the Bartholomew who was married to Christian, was not the person at Ley Farm.  On the other hand 1788 was the last year for a Bartholomew Fishleigh to appear in the tax records for Milton Damerel.  This suggests, on the one hand, that it was indeed the husband of Christian, not the husband of Jane who was the occupier of Ley.  We cannot prove therefore that it was the family of Jane and Bartholomew of the plaque who were at Ley. My somewhat seasoned nose is now a tad out of joint at not being able to determine more conclusively who was at Ley. It may, on the other hand, be a coincidence that Jane’s Bartholomew disappeared from the tax rolls within a year following the death of Christian’s Bartholomew. Jane’s Bartholomew was, after all, then seventy years of age which would be time to hand the breast plough and the taxes over to someone younger. Finally, it just might be that both Jane and Christian’s Bartholomews are mentioned on the Land Tax for 1780 because Bartholomew Fishleigh is recorded more than once!

Let’s take a look at Jane and Bartholomew’s children and see what light we can shed on the tax situation and what else we can learn about this family.

Jane and Bartholomew’s Children

Again the IGI is a good place to start.  The IGI Batch for Milton Damerel Baptisms is C051451.  That database contains eleven entries for Jane and Bartholomew’s children which follows. The information in brackets [] has been added to the IGI data as discussed below.

1747  January 16………………..Robert son of Barth. & Jane

1848  July 17……………………..Samuel son of Barthol. & Jane

1750  February 18………………Francis son of Barthol. & Jane

1752  February 23………………Mary daughter of Barthol. & Jane

1754  February 2………………..Leonard son of Barth. & Jane

1756  January 11………………..Bartholomew son of Barth. & Jane

1757  October 23……………….Margaret daughter of Barthol. [junr.] & Jane

1759  August 19………………Hannah daughter of Bartholomew [junr.] & Jane

1761  August 16………………..Elizabeth daughter of Bartholomew & Jane

1764  May 27…………………….John son of Bartholomew [2nd] & Jane

1766  May 8……………………..Daniel son of Barholomew & Jane

Some Observations

The dates of the baptisms of Bartholomew and Jane’s children  span the calendar revision which took place on 1 January 1752.  Before that date the year began on Lady Day (25 March).  Bartholomew and Jane were married on 14 April 1746 and had their first child in January of the same year. When I saw this I thought it was odd that they would have waited that many months following Robert’s birth to have the wedding. Was the new mother unwell? Were there complications?  Why in recording Robert’s baptism did the clerk say he was the son of Barth. & Jane rather than the base son of Jane which was the usual form used where the parents were not married.  Then it hit me. January fell after April in 1746. So Robert was born nine months (and two days) after his parents marriage. I have “corrected” the dates in the list above so that the baptismal dates are all in Gregorian form to make it easier to see the time gaps between children and to avoid the wrong assumptions being made. Robert was born in the tenth month of 1746 in Julian terms or in the first month of 1747 in Gregorian. Amen.

Bartholomew the First, Second and Third

By far the most important result of this review of the baptisms of the children of Jane and Bartholomew is the discovery that Bartholomew, the husband of Jane, was Bartholomew the Second or Bartholomew Junior. It was following the baptism of Bartholomew the Third that the clerk decided to do some clarifying by adding Junior on two occasions and 2nd on a third.  This would be ho-hum if we did not have a gap in the parish records during the period when Bartholomew II was baptized.  Knowing the forename of Barttholomew’s father is a nugget, a fine reward for our careful review of the baptismal entries.  How often does a baptismal entry provide the name of a grandparent?

It is interesting to note that while the IGI baptisms are taken from the Ormiston transcriptions and while the form of the father’s forename is consistent between the two using Barth., Barthol., and Bartholomew. the IGI has neglected to include the all-important Junr or 2nd. Another payoff for going back to the original record. In this case going back to the original transcription proved worthwhile. A review of the original baptism entries on microfiche shows that Ormistion’s transcriptions  are consistent with them.


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