Mayoral Connections

St Andrew’s Street, Tiverton (date unknown) – Harriotte STILING lived here in 1841 

Before Harriotte STILING married George WREFORD, she was living in Tiverton with Thomas & Sarah LEAMAN.  As she was recorded in the 1841 census as a female servant (‘F.S.’), I presumed she was the LEAMAN’s live-in maid.  This may still be true but somehow suspected there was more to this relationship.

(I can’t remember exactly how this suspicion came about but I recently rediscovered a note on my ancestry ‘TO DO’ list to investigate the relationship.)

Harriotte STILING on 1841 census living with Thomas & Sarah LEAMAN

It turns out that Mrs LEAMAN was actually Harriotte’s sister, Sarah STILING who married the widower, Thomas LEAMAN, Esquire (!) in 1840.

1840 marriage record of Sarah STILING & Thomas Leaman, Esquire

My reasons for accepting this:

  1. John Stiling, yeoman is recorded as father (same as Harriotte’s marriage certificate in 1845)
  2. Edward & Charlotte STILING are witnesses at the marriage – her siblings’ names
  3. A Sarah Stiling was born to John & Grace of West Barton in Tiverton, yeoman (West Barton was Stiling residence for 60 years)
Sarah Stiling’s baptism 1815 – Bishop’s Transcripts

Sadly, the marriage was very short – Thomas died only 3 years later.  I was unable to find the couple on the 1851 census but instead came across a mention in The Gentleman’s Magazine that Thomas died June 15, 1843 and had also been the mayor of Tiverton!

The Gentleman’s Magazine, Vol 20, p171

Strangely, I have not yet found any other information about this man, other than a note in the next volume of The Gentleman’s Magazine that his sister’s son would change his name as heir of Thomas’ apparent fortune:

The Gentleman’s Magazine, Vol 21, p193

I had learnt via the works of Jane Austen that women usually didn’t inherit from their husbands – but it still seemed a little harsh for this young bride.  Sarah managed to get back on her feet with a later marriage to Richard BRANSCOMBE in 1849 and was visiting her mother and brother on the night of the 1871 census (retired farmer’s wife). It’s always nice to find evidence that families stayed in each other’s lives.

Next Steps: 

  • Find out more about Mayor Thomas Leaman and his premature death

Bombay Love Story Continued…

Obituary Notice for Drusilla WILLS (nee WREFORD)
(Auckland Star, Volume LXV, Issue 140, 15 June 1934, p3)

This obituary for Drusilla WILLS (nee WREFORD) featured in my previous post stated that:

Mrs. Wills is survived by two children. Mr James Wills and Mrs. D. Evans, and 15 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren.

My searches of the NZ BDM showed me that Thomas & Drusilla had 3 children:

Richard Henry, Drusilla Howard and James Howard WILLS birth registrations
So you may presume (as I did) that:
a) their son Richard Henry died prior to 1934; and
b) the Mrs D Evans referred to is their daughter, Drusilla Howard.
However a search of Wills/Evans marriages from 1865 only came up with 2:
WILLS/EVANS marriage registration
This means that one of the surviving children was actually ANOTHER daughter called Charlotte (and the D being her husband’s initial).  However, there was no birth record of a Charlotte WILLS.  So, IS this Charlotte a daughter of Thomas & Drusilla?
I was able to find the marriage of Drusilla Howard WILLS (spelt Drucilla – one of the 3 births listed) to a William SHORT in 1899.
I checked the WREFORD pedigree compiled in 1908 (more on that another time) which notes Drusilla and Thomas had SIX children.  With only 3 of those listed in the online BDMs – is it possible to find these other children OR was the compiler mistaken?
Next Steps:
  • Check birth notices in newspapers (Papers Past)
  • Check BDM for WILLS deaths prior to 1934
  • Scour newspapers for any other references to the family