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TRACING GYPSY FAMILIES BACK DESPITE THE LACK OF RECORDS TWENTY NINE: Ambrose and Sarah Burton

Eric Trudgill    -    3 October 2015

Ambrose Burton was probably born in the early 1740s, and was a fairly long traveller. He and Sarah christened the following children: Henry in Arborfield, Berks in 1765; Ruth in Cranborne, Dorset in 1767 (she was buried in Cranborne 13 months later); Lucy in Beaconsfield, Bucks in 1771; John in Cheriton, Hants in 1773, a stranger; another Ruth in Royston, Herts in 1775; and Eleanor in Beedon, Berks in 1778. To these we may be able to add my wife’s 5 x great grandmother, Asha Burton born perhaps about 1763, who married Thomas Smith in 1781 in Bristol St James, Glos, a mile from Bristol St Philip and St Jacob where Ambrose’s son Henry christened a daughter in 1785. The only certain child we’ve found for Thomas and Asha is Neptune Smith, christened in Potterne, Wilts in 1781, who married Elizabeth Ayres (see my article on Neptune in Sept 2012). As usual in this period, it’s easier to find spouses and offspring for sons than for daughters, and Henry for one was considerate enough to marry, in church, a woman with a very distinctive forename, and describe himself when he was christening a son in 1791 as a travelling gypsy of Arborfield, Berks, where Ambrose had christened him. But a little lateral thinking gives us in addition a spouse and offspring for not just his brother John but his sister Eleanor. Henry married Dove Herron (christened in 1764 daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth) in Tetbury, Glos in1783. They christened the following children: Sally in Bristol in 1785; Nehemiah in Wilsford nr Pewsey, Wilts in 1788; James in Shillington, Dorset in 1791; Mary Defiance in Pimperne, Dorset in 1793; John in Chilmark, Wilts in 1796; Amariah in Yetminster, Dorset in 1799; Dove in Halstock, Dorset in 1801; Lucy in Wanstrow, Somerset in 1820 (she had been born about 1803); and Thomas in Yarlington, Somerset in 1806. Norman Burton, a descendant of James preparing a Family Tree book on the family, has with help from Mark Hughes provided an almost complete set of spouses for these children: Sally married Thomas Scamp in 1809, the brother of Clara Scamp who married Sally’s brother John; James, like Asha Burton’s son Neptune Smith, married an Ayres (Elizabeth daughter of Peter and Ann); Mary Defiance married Henry Cave in 1826; Amariah married Benjamin Harrison; Dove married Peter Guy; Lucy married Joseph Lane; and Thomas married an Anne. Norman’s discoveries about Henry’s children confirmed for me the guesses I’d already made about the spouses and children of Henry’s siblings, John and Eleanor Burton, christened in 1773 and 1778. While researching Edward Boswell, christened in 1780 son of Robert and Mary, I’d found in Yeovil, Somerset, where Edward had christened a son in 1802, the baptism in 1799 of Levi Hani Burton son of John Burton and Joan Boswell, which reminded me that the Edward Boswell christened in 1780 had witnessed the wedding in Frome, Somerset in 1812 of Henry Burton, of Beckington, Somerset, and Unity Parsons (christened in 1790 daughter of Thomas Parsons and Unity Stanley). Putting the baptism and the wedding together, I’d suspected Edward Boswell was the younger brother of Joan and uncle of the bridegroom in 1812, Henry Burton (whose son, the Jeremiah Burton christened in Mells, Somerset in 1813, married Harriet Lovell and became a patriarch as famous as Edward Boswell himself). My discovery, moreover, of Levi Henry Burton’s baptism had given me more than a wife, and one certain and one highly likely son, for John Burton son of Ambrose. It was a joint baptism with Peter Guy son of John and Eleanor. Putting the two baptisms together, I’d suspected Joan Boswell’s husband and John Guy’s wife were siblings, John and Eleanor Burton, children of Ambrose. And Norman Burton proved I’d been right by quickly finding a marriage in 1799 for John Guy and Leanne Burton, sojourners, and a cousin-marriage for the Peter Burton christened (two days before his parents’ wedding) in 1799 and Dove Burton, daughter of Henry and Dove, christened in 1801. Don’t you just love it when things come together?

Copyright © 2015 Eric Trudgill