FROM TOPCLIFFE TO BOROUGHBRIDGE (1700-
William III (1700-
Some discrepancies regarding the circumstances of the birth of this William were caused by inaccuracies in some of the records and by the anomalous method of dating by the "old calendar". Suffice it to say that he was born in Pickhill in June 1700 "son of Ann Daggett of Roxby". She was so described because her husband, William II, had been buried there four months previously.
It appears that William III married an Isabel about 1722, but no trace of such a marriage has been found in any of the neighbouring parish registers. They soon had twin daughters, Isabel and Eleanor, who died a week after they were baptised in Topcliffe in March 1724. Next came Anne, born in 1726 and referred to above as the supposed wife of William Walbran whom she married at the age of 18. Jane was born in 1728 and died at the age of two. Another William, whose further details are unknown to us, was baptised in 1730. Sarah died shortly after her birth in 1732, and Mary, who was born at Topeliffe in 1734, later married Thomas Thornton in 1760 at Pickhill. Their mother, "Isabel wife of William Daggett of Baldersby" was buried at Topcliffe in October 1737. Baldersby is a hamlet in the northern part of Topcliffe parish, adjacent to the parish of Pickhill-
William then remarried in November 1738. This marriage took place in Pickhill and the bride's name was Florence Nelson, a member of a very widespread Yorkshire family but whose personal origin has not been ascertained. This second marriage produced four daughters and a son who was baptised in 1751. William III died in the same year at West Tanfield, aged 51. This village is about five miles north-
Hannah was born in Topcliffe in 1744, while Susan and John were baptised after the family had moved to Binsoe.There was a Jane baptised in South Otterington in 1746 but it is not certain whether she was a member of the same family or whether her father was a different William.
Elizabeth was the second child of William III and his second wife, Florence. She was baptised at Topcliffe church on 20th February 1742, before the family moved to West Tanfield. One of the most important events of her lifetime was the introduction of the New Calendar. Elizabeth is of particular importance to us because she represents a break -
Her son William IV took his surname from his mother.There is no record whatsoever of who his father was; it is unlikely that it was somebody with the same surname as his mother, although this has happened elsewhere.
In 1751 Elizabeth's father, William III, died. The next reference to her is in 1766, still at West Tanfield. She was now 24, and the Marriage Register tells us that the Banns were called on 17th, 24th and 31st August for Elizabeth Daggett "of this parish" and William Varley of Otley.Otley is more than twenty miles south of West Tanfield. Now this marriage seems never to have taken place. Did William Varley die in the meantime or did the intending participants change their minds? All attempts to find the answer to this problem, including a search of the Otley registers have failed. William Varleys have been noted in Knaresborough (1774) and in the more distant Linton-
Suffice it to say that Elizabeth remained a spinster for another 22 years. Meanwhile, in December 1766, she had a "spurious son" whom she named William. No father's name is recorded; (in normal cases only the father's name was given in the baptismal registers; sometimes the mother was named as well.) Was he William Varley? Was the name William taken from his maternal grandfather or from his unknown father or anybody else? It was very common then as now. His life was very short for he died at the beginning of 1772, having in the meantime moved with his mother to Boroughbridge. This is in the parish of Aldborough, six miles south-
Then, in July 1774, another "illegitimate son of Elizabeth Daggett" was baptised in Aldborough Church. Again we have no mention of his putative father; it was this new arrival who formed the link and started the male line of which we are the direct descendants. This is the William IV who joined the Militia, married Jane Dodsworth and brought up his son, Thomas William, in York. Elizabeth herself, when William was only four years old, married John Pickles of Knaresborough on 27th November 1778, and then we lose track of her. The wedding was at Aldborough. If the couple then lived at Knaresborough, as is likely, the registers of that parish might give some details. These registers are still in the Parish Church and can only be seen by special appointment and the payment of a fee.
Of Elizabeth's brothers and sisters, the first Hannah died before Elizabeth was born. The second Hannah, born in 1744, died only two years later. Susannah, who was born when Elizabeth was six, married at the common age of 24, and John (born 1751, just a month after his father's death) married in 1773 to Elizabeth Thorpe at Aldborough. Strangely, he was described on the Marriage Licence Bond as "of Baldersby", although his connections with that place are not apparent. Some of his 17th century ancestors were similarly described and so we wonder whether, perhaps for some reason of inheritance he had returned there about 1770. This John is of some importance to us because he was a progenitor of an extended line down to the present day, which included the name Nelson as a Christian name. Florence Nelson was, of course, John and Elizabeth's mother.
Any account of events that took place during the eighteenth century would include Daniel Defoe's Tour of parts of Yorkshire about 1724. He had a lot of praise for the skill of Yorkshiremen around Bedale in breeding racehorses. As sprinters the animals were inferior to the Arab horses, but their staying power was much greater. Over a mile course the Arab would win, but a distance of four miles, would see the Yorkshire breed way out in front. The training of jockeys was also a wide-
He twice mentioned Leeming Lane, which has variously been known as the Roman Road, Dere Street, The Great North Road and nowadays as the Al (T). The present Ordnance Survey 1:25000 map still marks it as Leeming Lane.
The whole of the year 1739 was extremely cold, and at the beginning of 1740 there was a continuous frost which covered the whole of northern Europe, including England. It lasted for seven weeks! It caused extensive distress, and the increase in human mortality created a labour shortage, which resulted in less land being put under crops and so a poor harvest later in the year. 1795 also saw an extremely cold winter.
During the mid 1750's, it is reckoned that 47% of all children born died before reaching the age of two. The 18th century was a time when smallpox was rampant and it was not until vaccination was introduced by Benjamin Jesty in 1774 and, independently by Edward Jenner some years later, that there appeared to be any hope of getting the disease under control.
One of the reforms of the period was Hardwicke's Marriage Act of 1754, brought in by the Chancellor, Lord Hardwicke. This made it compulsory for all marriages to take place in the Anglican Church. Previously some marriages had been performed in private homes and in non-
Up till the end of the century vagrants and beggars were forced to return to their own parishes if they were thought likely to become a burden on the poor rate, in which case Removal Orders were made to ensure that they remained the responsibility of their former district.
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