William Pettit b1772
This is the first page I have designed concerning an individual, so I want to get the layout correct and use it as a template for all the other members of my family who have a story to be told. I think I should start with certainties, or at least information I believe to be certain.
I have carried out meticulous research to find my way back to William and I am confident that all the data I have is supported by primary records that cross-match with other family members. William is the root of my Pettit tree, born in 1772 before the advent of the birth, marriage and death indexes created in 1837. As a result I have used parish records and other records created at the time. Doing so has meant visiting the County Record Office at Bury St. Edmunds and carying out a lot of time consuming manual searching.
Since the start of my research some 25 years ago there has been a boom in the amount of online information by commercial companies. I use Ancestry.co.uk. Parish records seem to be slow in being added, but I will check again the information I hold for William as and when time allows. There is a reason for that which I will explain later on in this story.
The marriage of William and Lucy Buckingham
Earlier on my research using BMD certificates, I was able to get back to a George Pettit, a direct ancestor of mine. My efforts to go back further became much more difficult at that point because of the lack of national records and a need to examine parish and other information. I was able to do a check of George’s marriage certificate which showed William as his father and a subsequent check of Pallott’s Baptism records for 1822 matched William as the father and Lucy Buckingham as his mother. That allowed me to check Pallott’s marriage records for William and Lucy Buckingham and I found them in 1816. So far so good.
Establishing William and Lucy’s marriage and the birth of at least one son, George, I was able to cast my net wider with the benefit that at a lot of the records would be accesible online, ruling out frecquent visits to county record offices. The best commercial online search company at the time looked to be Ancestry.co.uk, so work commenced using them.
I knew from my earlier searches that William was a mariner so I was able to use that fact during my online searches as I rapidly became aware of at least two Williams from the same area who could easily be mixed up. I will explain that situation in greater detail later on.
Armed with the knowledge I had, I was able to find more children rapidly using BMD and census records. Those with definite links were children John b1817, Lucy b1820, the aforementioned George b1822, Elizabeth b1824 and Jane b1826. It would appear that William and Lucy were quite regular! Two further children were found, but there is some doubt in my mind of their relationship with William because of my fndings relating to Williams death date. Read on to my uncertainties below for a bit more information.
Following some extensive searching in the parish records, I have a big update on my uncertainties and at last I feel have the definitive version of William’s life, from start to finish. For a few years I have had doubts about whether or not he was the ‘correct’ William, because there were a few of them around at the time. They all lived locally to him, and indeed might be related but that is still something I am working on.
I will clear up the doubts one by one, starting with death. That fact is linked to the birth of all of his children except the last two, with the records for them showing that William was married to Lucy Buckingham. All of their children were born in Woodbridge, again the exception being the last two who were born in Boyton. William is shown as a mariner or seaman in all of the records I hold for him and is shown in the parish records as dying in Woodbridge in 1827, of mariner decline. It has to be him, there are no other candidates that fit the circumstances, including all of the other Williams, who are excluded on the basis of age, location and relationships with other family members. That then leads me to conclude that I have the right death for William and allows me to make other considered decisions.
William’s death at 1827 means that his last child with Lucy was daughter Jane, born in 1826. Sarah Ann born 1830 and Emily born 1833 must have had a different father, although both used the Pettit surname. It’s noticeable that both were born in Boyton and not Woodbridge, so that might be an indicator that Lucy had moved out of Woodbridge and back to a smaller village. I have carried out some research on Sarah Ann and can find a marriage for her, but so far there is no interaction with any of her other siblings. Emily is more difficult to trace but there is a sad tale waiting to be told about her and her daughters, found in the workhouse at Nacton.
William appears as the father on all of his children’s marriage certificates where they exist, but is not shown as deceased on any of them. I do not believe it was a legal requirement to do that, so I do not have any concerns. What is clear is that he does not show as a witness on any of the certificates either, it is either eldest son George that does the honours, or other family or friends of the couples getting married. That strengthens my thoughts that he had died and was not around to perform any functions.
An added bonus of my research is that I have found William’s parents, and two siblings. One of those died just four days after his baptism, but that’s a different story for another day.
Pallott’s marriage index entry to Lucy
Marriage Banns of William and Lucy
Marriage certificate of daughter Lucy as father
Marriage certificate of son George as father
Pallott’s birth entry for daughter Elizabeth as father
Pallott’s birth entry for daughter Jane as father
Marriage certificate of possible daughter Sarah Ann as father