Back in January Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections alerted to new Derbyshire Methodist records being published by Findmypast (FMP). This is a useful website that acts as a signpost to new records and upcoming events. As it turned out the new records added nothing to my tree, but there was tip-off about Leicestershire records and this is proving more fruitful with respect to my ancestry from Breedon on the Hill.
An intriguing record was grant of administration over the estate of a Maria Dennis to Ann Dennis in September 1649. But it was in Latin and I was unable to read most of the words, let alone translate them. I asked FMP if a transcription and translation could be found, but they were unable to help. Once again Rootschat to the rescue, in particular the page for enquiries about Handwriting Deciphering & Recognition. I am indebted to Bookbox for a full translation:
On the eleventh day of September in the year of the Lord 1649, before the aforesaid surrogate, the will was proved of Mary Dennis, deceased, lately whilst living of Breedon in the aforesaid archdeaconry, and the burden of execution of the same will was granted, and also the administration etc., to Ann[e] Dennis, the natural and lawful daughter of the said deceased and the executrix named in the aforesaid will, she first being sworn etc., saving etc.
(Value of Inventory) £29 9s. 8d.
So, I was looking for Ann Dennis the daughter of Maria or Mary of Breedon. Whether or not Maria was married her natural daughter would have been born Dennis and sure to be unmarried by 11 Sep 1649.
Among the records available online through FMP, Familysearch and FreeREG, which are becoming quite comprehensive, there is only one baptism for an Ann Dennis at anything like the right time and place: Ann Daughter of William Dennis of Breedon baptised the sixth of Aprill.
I already had this Ann in my tree. Her father William Dennis was my 9th great grandfather. There were several baptisms with father William at the right times, but no hint of a mother’s name. If my thinking is right, the late Maria (or Mary) must have been William’s wife, indeed his widow, otherwise William would have ownership of any of his wife’s belongings. William’s first child, also Mary, was baptised 23 Aug 1612 at Breedon.
So was there a wedding of William Dennis to Mary or Maria at about the right time and place? No. Well, at least I’ve not found a record. The status of Maria is not given, so whether she was widow or spinster is unclear. The burial of the only William Dennis that appears relevant in 1647 would at least fit with Mary being widowed and making a will later.
There is another hitch. Although it seems there was only one William Dennis having children baptised in Breedon at about that time, two girls named Mary were baptised at Breedon in 1612 and 1615 with father William Dennis. Ordinarily, if they were sisters I would expect to find a burial for the first Mary in 1612-1615, but, having scrolled through the register I cannot see such a burial. Except …
To my eye it reads “Mary the daughter of William …”. If I am right (on the balance of probability) and the father really is William Dennis, then it all hangs together.