KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY
by David Green
This article was originally published in the April 2010 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
A few years ago I unravelled what turned out to be an intriguing case of multiple inter-marriages, with connections to a Sewell family of East Suffolk.
I had researched my ancestors back to Robert Daniel and his wife Elizabeth, they died in 1806 and 1800 respectively, I had found their alter tomb in the churchyard at Harkstead, Suffolk. Harkstead is a tiny village facing South situated on the North shore of the Stour estuary which divides Suffolk from Essex.
Elizabeth married Robert on 10 July 1759 when she was widow Elizabeth Winter. Her first husband was William Winter a prosperous gentleman farmer of the adjacent village of Stutton. He died aged only 22, leaving Elizabeth a 20 year old widow, well provided for. Also in his will William referred to “my man Robert Daniel”. So, Elizabeth and her new husband did quite nicely thanks to William Winter. When Elizabeth married William by licence in 1748 she was spinster Elizabeth Barber, later found to be the daughter of Joseph Barber and his wife Elizabeth.
When Joseph Barber married Elizabeth on 15 Nov 1726, Elizabeth was Elizabeth Sewell, I was stuck here for a long time, who was Elizabeth Sewell? She turned out to be a widow, aged 24, and here is where the fun begins.
I found that Elizabeth Sewell (née Catt) was the widow of James Sewell, born about 1703 and died in 1728 leaving Elizabeth a 21 year old widow. James was the fourth child of Joseph Sewell (Suel) and his wife Elizabeth (née Allen) who, when made a widow, aged 37, on the death of Joseph was free to marry Joseph Barber as widow Elizabeth Sewell. This was the same Joseph Barber as referred to above.
So there were five characters and four non concurrent marriages between them.
Joseph Suel (SEWELL) m. Elizabeth ALLEN, their son James died aged 23 leaving a widow Elizabeth (née CATT). She then married Joseph BARBER, her deceased mother-in-law's second husband. The surviving issue of this marriage was Elizabeth who first married William Winter and secondly married Robert Daniel. Robert & Elizabeth became my 4 x Gt grandparents.
Joseph BARBER had first married Elizabeth SEWELL (née ALLEN) widow of Joseph SEWELL and secondly Elizabeth SEWELL (née CATT) widow of James SEWELL the son of his first wife and her first husband Joseph SEWELL.
The key to this research was a group of seven graves at Harkstead and the transcriptions of their memorials, recorded about 100 years ago (particularly number two) i.e.
(1) Joseph Sewell. 1708
(2) Elizabeth. Late wife of Joseph Barber & relict of Joseph Sewell, 1726
(3) William. Son of Joseph Sewell aged 9, 1708
(4) James Sewell, aged 23, 1726
(5) Joseph Barber & Mary his child aged 3, 1735
(6) Elizabeth Barber. 1739
(7) Joseph Barber, aged 53, 1733.
The research was carried out at Suffolk Record Office (parish registers, memorial transcriptions and wills).
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