Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Making sense of more Mashford meanderings

Photo: Parish boundaries of Zeal Monachorum.

 A few possible threads have tied themselves together of late although they are lightly tied in place and may have to be undone should they not be established as fact.

It looks like we can now take the Mashford line back a couple more generations and possibly to the John Mashford of Zeal Monachorum who signed an oath to the King in 1723.
"ZEAL MONACHORUM is a village and parish in Taw vale, 8 miles W.N.W. of Crediton, and contains 649 souls, and 2946 acres of land, including the hamlets of Loosebeare or Loxbeare, Burstone, and Tuckingmill. It was anciently called Sele Monachorum, and had the latter part of its name from its being long held by the monastery of Buckfast, to which it was given by King Canute. J.H. Ley, Esq., is now lord of the manor; but Loosebeare belongs to the Kelland family, and Burstone to J. and W. Wreford, Esqrs. Messrs. J. and R. Pedler, John Sweet, and a few smaller owners, have estates in the parish. The Church (St. Peter,) has a tower and five bells; and the living is a rectory, valued in K.B. at £17. 8s. 9d., and in 1831 at £401. The Rev. John Comyns, M.A. of Bishop's Teignton, is the rector, and has sold the patronage to Mr. Tombs. . . . " [From White's Devonshire Directory (1850)] - GenUKI, UK and Ireland Genealogy.

The emails have been flowing thick and fast again of late and Luke wrote:
There are too many people called John Mashford for me to think clearly so I thought I would confirm with the both of you about what we know to make sure I have it right.

We know Elizabeth Mashford’s father was called John Mashford and his dates are c1797-c1836. Is this right? We only think that John Mashford’s father was also called John Mashford who was the Parish Clerk at Coldridge c1799-c1871. However, we have no real proof of this. Is this right?

Photo: Zeal Monachorum 1965.

Ros you mentioned again about the family oral history which passed down to both sides of our family that Elizabeth Mashford was an illegitimate daughter to a wealthy noble man in England and she was sent out to South Australia to stop a scandal. I may have mentioned this before in one of my emails, but cannot remember so I will raise it again. I have found with other family oral history that some of it is true, but it has seemed to have be somewhat twisted over the generations.

For example, I was told that my GGGrandfather Cornelius Clavin lived at Alma Plains and moved to Laura where he died in a tug of war game. It is true that he lived at Alma Plains and that he moved to Laura, but he died when he was drunk in the local pub after a fight with another man. So half the story is true. I was also told that his wife Margaret remarried a man called Cassidy in Laura had more children and then moved to New Zealand. It was true that she remarried another man called Cassidy and had more children, but she moved to Melbourne and not to New Zealand. However, her daughter was also called Margaret Cassidy and she did move to New Zealand. As you said in your last email “stories are usually true, but often about the wrong person - and the wrong time”

I still find it interesting about the story of Elizabeth Mashford being an illegitimate daughter especially as it has survived in both branches of the family, but as we know there is no prove of it. I think may be the story origins arose from Peter Lewis. From the newspapers story of the court case about Peter, Elizabeth and her brother:-

He made use of the threats complained of on that occasion, and he had circulated the most abominable stories of the witness and his sister. Mrs Lewis stated that she feared her husband would some times put his threats into execution, particularly as he was in the habit of getting drunk purposely to increase his violence.”

Maybe Peter Lewis told stories that his wife was illegitimate. Maybe Elizabeth Mashford would say something along the lines, “And that man use to say that I was an illegitimate daughter.” Over the generations was story then became “grandmother use to say she was illegitimate” and the story has persisted today. It is only a theory, but it could make sense.

I have also sent an email to the National Archives of England. I think I have may have mentioned it before that there is a reference on the National Archives of England website, of the matter of the estate of John Cann Yeoman of Chawleigh and his widow Mary Cann. I really could not work out on their website how to order it or how much it cost. If they email me back and it does not cost a lot of money I will order it to see if I can get any more information about the Cann family.I will let you both know.

Also to let you both know that I have tried to get in contact with possible descendants of Anne Pole nee Atkins (Edward Atkins daughter by his first marriage) and her husband John Pole. I noticed on the white pages that they were a few people with the last name of Pole still living in the Bangor, Wirrabara area. As a result, they may be descendants of Edward Atkins and Hannah McLeod and may have a family bible with information or old photos etc. You never know what people have sometimes. If they write back to me I will let you both know.

Photo: St. Peter's Church, Zeal Monachorum.

The information I had was that the John Mashford who married Mary Cann was the son of John Mashford who married Mary Labbett in Eggesford, Devon in 1796 which would have had him born circa. 1766.

Sandra, the Devon researcher, in the recent exchange posited the following:
The John Mashford mentioned is not either of the two John's mentioned in the previous paragraph although he may be connected to either of our John's.  According to my records, John Mashford married Martha Godbeare 1st February 1702/3 at Zeal Monachorum and was buried there in 1725.  I have found baptisms for five children of this couple, including a John in 1715/16 who is the only surviving son.  That is where the trail goes cold as I, although I have found a marriage for John, junior in 1736, I have only found two children's baptisms (Mary and Henry) - and nothing further about either of the two children.  I THINK, but can not prove, that they also had a son John born around 1743 who became the Parish Clerk at Coldridge and was your progentitor.

So the John Mashford, Parish Clerk at Coldridge, born 1743 could be the father of John Mashford (married Mary Labbett) born circa. 1766 - Elizabeth's grandfather.  If this is the case this would make John Mashford, Parish Clerk, Elizabeth's great-grandfather.

John Mashford, born around 1715/16 could be the father of JM, Parish Clerk and therefore be Elizabeth's great-great-grandfather and the John Mashford who married Martha Godbeare (love that name) at Zeal Monachorum, 1702/3 could be Elizabeth's G3 grandfather. He would have been born circa. 1675-90 I would imagine. This John Mashford died and was buried in Zeal Monachorum in 1725 and it is highly likely that he is the John Mashford recorded as signing an oath of allegiance to the King as previously written about on the blog:

This reminded me of earlier research into the earliest John Mashford I could find, who was recorded in Zeal Monachorum swearing allegiance to the King, in 1723. Zeal Monachorum is barely four miles from Coldridge which makes him a very likely ancestor for our lot and a possible shared ancestor for Albert's family.

John Mashford of Zeal Monachorum swore his oath nearly one hundred years before Elizabeth was born at The Blue Anchor, Crediton on September 23 before Bampfylde Rodd and John Gibbs esq. There were still some Mashfords in Zeal Monachorum in the 1841 Census.

As to the oral history Luke, regarding Elizabeth, I do agree, as I have said, that stories can be right but about the wrong people at the wrong time. Although interestingly, and I did think this when I first read the Peter Lewis comments, that this does raise some more questions because here is my theory:

When I first read about Peter's 'circulating the most abominable stories of the witness and his sister' I took it to mean he was accusing them of having sexual relations. Which is the most logical sort of abominable one would think of a husband to say about his wife and her brother. And this 'fits' with my theory (and instinct) that Elizabeth Mashford may not have been the biological daughter of John and Mary, but a relation, brought in because she needed a home and George May was therefore not a brother, but a cousin - close or distant.

It is only theory and rather impossible to prove, at least at this point, but the claims Peter Lewis made could be seen in this light. Given how common illegitimacy was in the times and this was the colonies where probably the worst thing you could be was an ex-convict rather than illegitimate, I doubt the 'abominable stories' .... and they are about George and his sister remember.... are about Elizabeth's illegitimacy, particularly if there was knowledge of a 'noble' connection.

I know that John and Mary have the birth of a daughter Elizabeth recorded but this does not mean that the child could not have died young and we do not have a death record and our Elizabeth came to take her place at a young age.

Illegitimacy was shameful in the times and the sort of thing to be hidden, not talked about, unless there was a good reason to talk about it such as 'noble connections.' So I don't see that an ordinary illegitimacy would be talked about in the first place, nor have noble connections woven into it over the generations. The two either go together as an absolute or they do not.


  1. Family trees are such interesting creatures. I've been working on mine, but have hit a lot of dead ends, too.

  2. Keep at it Rob-bear. It is a process.