Norfolk

Never on a Sunday

Have you ever wondered what day of the week your great-grandparents married on? Did our ancestors, like many of us nowadays, favour June weddings? I was curious, so I decided to take a look at the marriages in the parish of some of my ancestors to see what was popular a hundred years ago.

Baconsthorpe, Norfolk, England is a small parish in rural East Anglia. Between 1811 and 1901 its total population fluctuated between a low of 218 and a high of 333. During the time period from 1 January 1753 to 31 December 1900, there was a total of 272 marriages.

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Joseph Rowe: Service in Gibraltar and India

Joseph James Rowe was one of my great-grandfather’s younger brothers. He was born and baptised in Baconsthorpe, Norfolk, England, in 1863. By the time he was 18 years old, he was working as an agricultural labourer, still living at home with his family in Baconsthorpe.

Everything else that I know about Joseph comes from his military service records. He joined the Norfolk Regiment at Great Yarmouth on 10 April 1883, when he was about 20 years old, although his age was recorded on his service record at the time as 18 and a half years.

Norfolk Map

I don’t have any photographs of Joseph, but his records help paint a picture of his physical appearance.

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John Nunn was one of my great-great-great-grandfathers. He was called to a settlement examination in Diss, Norfolk, England on 13 January 1798 before John Frere, Justice of the Peace. He was living in Diss at the time, and must have found himself in financial need, otherwise there would likely not have been an inquiry into his place of settlement.

Thanks to John Frere, the examination record is a small trove of genealogically useful information. He starts by telling us that John Nunn was a linen weaver. The settlement examination record also states that John was 21 years of age and up, and that he was born in Palgrave, Suffolk.

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Did they really marry?

After my great-grandfather, Walter William Rowe, died in 1879, my great-grandmother, Hannah, remarried. Although I’ve searched for years, I have found no record of her second marriage. I suspect that it was a marriage that was never blessed by either church or state.

Hannah was born Hannah Mitchell Howes on 22 December 1853 in West Lynn, Norfolk, England. Howes was her mother’s maiden name, Mitchell the name of her reputed father. When Hannah’s parents eventually married in 1861, Hannah began sometimes using the surname Mitchell; on other occasions she reverted to Howes.

Marriage to Walter William Rowe 1876

Hannah’s first marriage was to Walter William Rowe. The couple married on 31 July 1876 in Willington on Tyne, Northumberland, where they were both living at the time.

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The Guardians’ minutes books make for a fascinating read, and although their primary purpose was to record the business of the poor law union guardians’ meetings, they also capture genealogically useful information as well.

I have been reading the guardians’ minutes books for the Aylsham poor law union in Norfolk, England, and have extracted the details of intended marriages that were read out at the meetings, all of which were to take place at either non-conformist churches or registrars’ offices. These were read out at 3 consecutive meetings in much the same way that banns would be read out in the parish church for Church of England parishioners.

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