11. What can be known about the children of Jane and Bartholomew?

Let’s start with Robert, the first child

As we mentioned on page 7, Robert was baptized at Milton Damerel in the tenth month of the Julian calendar which we would now call 16 January 1747. In the eighteenth century we must rely on surviving parish registers and bishop’s transcripts to find out what happened next to Robert Fishleigh. Was his baptism followed by a burial or were there marriages  a couple of decades or more later at Milton Damerel or in the area around Milton or even further afield which could be our Robert?  Fishleigh is an unusual enough name that the potential for success in tracking who was who should be fairly good.

Life expectancy for newborns and infants at the time was short.  It improved if you survived the first few vulnerable years. There was a burial of a Robert Fishleigh in Milton Damerel in 1748. That burial took place on the 21st of November and the parish register notes that that Robert was “from Thornbury” which makes it less likely to be the son of Jane and Bartholomew. There is ,however, the possibility that Jane and Robert had settled on the other side of the Waldon for a time so this burial cannot be entirely ruled out . It is, however, much more likely a burial of a Robert Fishleigh whose parish of settlement was Thornbury. There was such a person. He was christened 27 November 1720 at Thornbury the son of Robert Fishleigh and Hannah Smith.

Since we have not buried our Robert and since the next Milton Damerel burial of a Robert Fishleigh was not until five decades after our Robert’s baptism, let’s explore the Robert Fishleigh marriages.

The first marriage to consider is Robert Fishley’s marriage to Hannah Chilcott up in Instow at the mouth of the Torridge. While the year 1769 would be a feasible year the physical and cultural distance between Milton and Instow make it less likely that the eldest son of a farmer would have found his bride in a port town at that distance from home. Instow was not the market town for Milton. Holsworthy and Bideford would be more likely candidates.

A second and far more likely union would be the one between Robert Fishleigh and Grace Fursey which took place at Milton in 1782. This marriage entry notes that this Robert  is “of Newton St Petrock” which is a concern but because of its proximity and because there was a lot of movement of Fishleighs between the two contiguous parishes it cannot be ruled out. It is very likely, though, that this Robert was the son of George Fishleigh and Dorothy Brunt of Newton St Petrock who had been baptized there on 8 April 1751.

So by this process of elimination we arrive at a third Robert Fishleigh union. This was a marriage to Elizabeth Brock which took place on 25 January 1785 in the parish of Black Torrington. Black Torrington is downstream on the Torridge from Milton. Our Robert would have been a few days past his thirty-eighth birthday which makes him still eligible if somewhat tardy. Robert and Elizabeth had  children baptized at Black Torrington in 1786, 1788 and 1790 suggesting that they were settled there, a circumstance which does not seem highly likely for the eldest son of Jane and Bartholomew of Milton Damerel.

So, in concluding these observations about Robert Fishleigh, I do not have confidence, yet, that we have married or buried Jane and Bartholomew’s eldest son.

Can we do better with Samuel who was baptized 17 July 1848 ?

There were no burials or marriages for Samuel Fishleigh in the Milton Damerel records. There was only one Samuel Fishleigh marriage in all of Devon prior to 1837 and that was another son of Dorothy and George Fishleigh who married in 1813 in Newton St Petrock. If we look further afield we discover that there was a Samuel Fishleigh marriage at a likely time for our Samuel to marry. That took place on St. George’s Day, 23 April 1776. One Samuel Fishleigh married Mary Noakes at St Nicholas, Rochester, Kent. I have not seen the original record to see who the witnesses were. Nor have I found any children of this union to look for a suggestive naming pattern. This may be the marriage of our Samuel.

What of Francis who was baptized 18 February 1750 ?

One time when I was researching in Devon I met a man who was trying to sort out the various Francis Fishleighs of Milton Damerel. He was wringing his hands at the time and I am not surprised because there are more than a few of them to sort through. Having said that, however, I am amazed to discover that there is only one likely marriage to consider. This took place 26 April in the nearby parish of Bradford. The bride was Catherine Ginkin. Francis and Catherine had eight children baptized at Milton Damerel between 1792 and 1811: Grace, James, George, Francis, Robert, Samuel, John and Thomas. All familiar names but one would liked to have seen at least one Jane or Bartholomew in the list to add to the liklihood that this Francis is indeed Jane and Bartholomew’s son.

Here is Catherine and Francis Fishleigh’s Headstone at Holy Trinity

This headstone confirms that the Francis who married Catharine Ginkin was not the son of Jane and Bartholomew. This Francis was ten years younger than the one baptized in 1750. Would it not have been helpful if Francis’ parents had been named on the headstone in the same manner as Catharine’s. This Francis appears to be another child of George and Dorothy who was baptized in 1763 at Thornbury.

So what of the burials? There are two Milton Damerel burials to consider in the Parish Register. The first took place on 12 April 1777.  The second was eleven years later but there is a notation that it was for an infant from Thornbury.  So that leaves us having to conclude that the most likely outcome for Francis, son of Jane and Bartholomew was that he died in the spring of 1777 at the age of 27 years.

So we are zero for three so far in our investigation of Jane and Bartholomew’s children.

The fourth child, first daughter, was Mary who was christened at Milton Damerel 23 February 1751 just one week to the day after another Mary Fishleigh, the daughter of Francis and Elizabeth. This is humbling. It is even more humbling when you discover that there were no likely marriages in the parish for either of them.  Burials?  None at Milton Damerel. One begins to suspect that Jane and Bartholomew were in another parish at some point. But if that is the case why were all, well eleven at least, of the children christened at Milton Danerel?

Next at the font was Leonard on 2 Feb 1754

As we discussed on page 1a Leonard Fishleigh married Grace Fishleigh in 1797. Besides John of Grawley Leonard and Grace had two other surviving children: George baptized 1801 and Dolly in 1803.

Leonard’s son George, like his brother John, who had a son George born in the London parish of  St Bartholomew the Great, also lived in that same parish. He and his wife Charlotte were occupants of Devonshire House on Duke Street when the 1841 census was taken. George was then a cheesemonger so was likely selling dairy product from back home. George and Charlotte at that time had four children Eliza 7, Charlotte jr 5, Jane 4 and John 2.

Leonard and Grace’s daughter Dolly or Dorothy married Richard Quance of Newton St Petrock in 1824. They had a daughter, Thirza c1825 whose baptism record remains elusive; and a son William baptized at Milton Damerel 24 September 1826.  These children apparently grew up at Grawley as they were still there at the time of the 1841 census with their father. Their mother, Dorothy, sadly died in 1838. Thirza married a Fishleigh first cousin once removed in 1852 so will reappear in our story as it unfolds. William married a woman from Bradford and raised a family there for a while then farmed a large acreage at Moortown in Shebbear with his father, Richard, for many years.

The Sixth Child, Fifth Son, Third Successive Bartholomew

Bartholomew the Third (at least) was christened at Holy Trinity on 11 January 1756. He appears to have died unmarried for there are no marriages until 1806 and that BF lived until 1863 and is buried as seen on page 1. Bartholomew the Third was buried at Holy Trinity 28 January 1788.  I have not yet found a headstone.

The Seventh

The second daughter of Jane and Bartholomew was Margaret who was baptized at Holy Trinity 23 October 1757.  The only Milton Damerel marriage for a Margaret Fishleigh took place in 1773 and would have been that of the MF baptized in the parish in 1747.  The fact that there are no MF burials suggests that our Margaret did marry. Her marriage possibly took place in the neighbouring parish of Holsworthy where one Margaret Fishley married Richard Honey 23 January 1785. I will need to check the original record there to see if there is further evidence, such as witnesses names, which would add weight to this being the right Margaret.

Hannah was next

Hannah was baptized 19 August 1759. And to make it more challenging to track Hannah, there was another  Hannah baptized at Milton Damerel the following year.  Not to mention a number of Anns in contiguous parishes. There were two Ann burials, no Hannahs, at Milton Damerel: 1762 and 1807.  I have not seen a headstone for these yet. There was an Ann Fishleigh marriage in 1793. Much more evidence needs to be gathered and sifted before it will be possible to know what happened to our Hannah of 1759.

In 1761 it was Elizabeth’s turn at Holy Trinity

It was on a Sunday, the 16th day of August that Elizabeth was presented at the font. When I note that a baptism has taken place on a day other than a Sunday I keep in mind that there may have been some concern about the newborn’s chances of survival. Sunday baptisms were the norm. The two baptisms in August were on the 16th. The two in July were also on a Sunday as was the only September baptism.

The public baptism as defined by the Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacrements had been performed for one hundred years when Elizabeth was baptized. There was a requirement that notice be given at least one Sunday prior so Elizabeth would have been more than a week old on the 16th. Another stipulation was that there be at least three godparents. Two of these had to be the same sex as the child being baptized. The parents could serve as two of the three.It is unfortunate that the names of the godparents were rarely recorded in parish registers. In those parishes which did record their names they were referred to as sureties, witnesses and even gossips. I wonder who Elizabeth’s gossips were.

So what happened after that summer morning at the parish church?  Well, there were no burials prior to the year when Elizabeth married and changed her name to Shepheard. While the marriage took place across the Torridge in the parish of Newton St Petrock, it is fairly certain that it was the daughter of Jane and Bartholomew who married James Shepheard by banns on 18 March 1785. There were no apparent alternates. The officiating minister was Edmund Herring who had been a curate at Milton Damerel as well.

James Shepheard hailed from Kilkhampton, the son of Charles Shepherd and Mary Prideaux. James and Elizabeth had four children at Kilhampton. The eldest, James, emigrated to Sorel Quebec in the 1820s. The second Mary Fishleigh Shepherd married John Piper. The third, Betty’s story remains to be discovered. The fourth, Bartholomew, died at fourteen months.

The tenth child was named John

John was baptized at Milton Damerel on Sunday 27 May 1764. I have learned a great deal about John because I have already taken the time to research his life more thoroughly than the others who have only come to my attention recently following my reacquaintance with the plaque. John is a direct ancestor of mine. I will tell you what I have learned about John on a separate page, 7b.

Daniel was eleventh and apparently last.

It is surprising that, even with a relatively rare surname and a less than common (in North Devon in his day) forename, Daniel Fishleigh, like many of his siblings, has not been easy to trace. His baptism on 8 May 1766 is the only one for a Daniel Fishleigh in his parish. There are no burials in the Milton Damerel records. Similarly there is no marriage in his home parish. Did Daniel migrate to Camelford in Cornwall and marry Sarah Elery on 15 July 1791?  Seems likely. This too invites further exploration. 


3 Responses to “11. What can be known about the children of Jane and Bartholomew?”

  1. Jon Cooper Says:

    Hi There. I’ve just discovered this website while doing my own Fishley/Fishleigh research, having been referred here from the Ancestry website, and there looks to be a lot of good stuff here. My 4x Great Grandmother was Hannah Fishley. She married Lewis/Louis Hatherley/Hatherleigh 2nd April 1789 in Black Torrington. Lewis was from Bradford/Holemoor. I believe that my Hannah is one of the two you refer to as being baptised in 1759 and 1760. At this stage, speculatively, I have settled for Hannah baptised 1760, with parents George & Dorothy (nee Brunt) as George is a recurring name in my Hatherley tree. I have absolutely no Bartholomews, which makes me think that line may be a different line. The King Georges 1, 2 & 3 were on the throne during those years, so whether that complicates things I don’t know! George would have been the name everyone was using. I also have Lewis as being born about 1763, which would make him a closer age to the 1760 Hannah. They married in 1789 and their first child George was born in 1790 (he immigrated to Australia), second child William (my 3xGGF) born in 1791. My Hannah died in Holemoor and was buried in Bradford, Devon 13 Feb 1835 and Lewis died in Holemoor and was buried in Bradford 3rd March 1837. I can see that I have a lot of reading to do on this site, but already it is helping me out and I’m also open to suggestions regarding my own Hannahs identity. Thanks for any help!


    • fishleigh Says:

      Hi Jon,
      Thank you for sharing your Fishleigh and Hatherleigh roots. Both names are ‘locative’ in that they were taken from early settlements along the river Torridge.
      I will, in due course, investigate your Hannah and share any thoughts I have regarding her story.
      Kind regards,

  2. Jon Cooper Says:

    Hi Don. Further to this, I’ve recently gone back 2 more generations on the Hatherleigh/Hatherley side, and have so far discovered absolutely no one called George. So at this stage, that may lend a little weight towards my theory that the parents of my Hannah Fishleigh were George & Dorothy Fishleigh, as it is from the children of Hannah and Lewis Hatherleigh forwards that George becomes a much used name in my Hatherley tree, along with Louis & William. I look forward to seeing results you come up with.
    Kind regards,

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