A Tale of John and Mary

This brief record of a problem that faced me a few years ago is probably typical of a difficulty that often faces a family historian. I have made a note of how I went about solving it, in the hope that my experience may be helpful to others faced with a similar problem.

The Problem?

... and not too many months later baptism entries start to appear in the parish register - parents John and Mary Pluck. How do we sort out which John married which Mary, and which John and Mary were the parents of which children?

The Records

I have checked fiche copies of the original marriage register and there are no further clues in the entries:

Although there are other John PLUCKs in the surrounding area the only ones that qualify for the description "of this parish" in 1806 were (1) the John PLUCK who was baptised in SW in 1765 and (2) his son, John, by his first wife, Elizabeth Coe, who was baptised in SW in 1788. Elizabeth was buried on 1 November 1804. For convenience these will be known as John Senior and John Junior, respectively.

It seemed to me, therefore, that the best way of resolving which Mary was married to which John would be to find out more about their backgrounds, and in particular their ages at the time they were married.

I have been able to identify the two relevant families:

The ORGER Family

16 Jul 1771 Henry ORGER married Ann ERSWELL in SW (after Banns, both 'otp' and both make their mark) and subsequently we have the following baptisms recorded:

The MYNOTT Family

10 July 1785 John MYNOTT married Martha Peter in SW (after Banns, both otp, both single, John signs and Mary makes her mark)

So ... at the time of the two marriages:

(all ages are 'approx' because we only know the baptismal dates and not the dates of birth).

Based on these ages ... it is PROBABLE that John Snr married Mary AUGUR and John Jnr married Mary MYNOTT but we don't have any proof.

Possibly John Snr may have had an eye for the young girls and his son for the more mature lady - we just don't know at this stage.

Even if we accept this hypothesis, we are no further forward in identifying which children belong to which parents. I had hoped that the baptismal records of the children would provide a clue, in particular by the use of names that were common in either family but no conclusions can be drawn, as can be seen ...

And so there the matter had to rest until further information could be found.

Some time later I came across a burial record in my notes: Mary Pluck was buried in Saffron Walden on 5 August 1812. There was no further information. A check back through the parish registers showed that there were only two likely candidates - the former Mary Orger or the former Mary Mynott. A little later I found that on 10 Feb 1813 John Pluck (wid) married Elizabeth Ward (wid) in Saffron Walden. This tends to confirm that it was one of 'our' Marys who had died. These two records show that any children born to John and Mary Pluck after August 1812 could only have been the children from the surviving pair of parents. Whether John Senior, or John Junior could not be deduced, however.

The breakthrough came when Pat and Bob Pluck came up with some interesting information about John Pluck Jnr ... in 1827 he was sentenced to be transported to Australia for 7 years and, as a result, further information emerged about his family. John was recorded as having eight children at the time of his sentencing at the Saffron Walden Quarter Sessions so it looks virtually certain that all eight children listed above were the children of John Pluck Junior.

The final clues to the identity of John Pluck Junior's wife comes in the 1851 census of Saffron Walden where Mary Pluck is aged 61 - a pauper boot/shoe maker, and in the record of her death in 1870, aged 80. These both confirm that Mary Pluck, mother of the eight children, and wife of the transported John Pluck, was indeed Mary Mynott who was born in 1890, and not Mary Orger who was born ten years earlier.

Derrick Porter
3 x great grandson of John Pluck Snr.

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