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Righteous Lee

Eric Trudgill    -    3 August 2011

Righteous Lee, according to the gypsiologists who spoke to his descendants, was a) son of an Emerus Lee, b) husband of a Penelope Cooper from the famous Matty Cooper’s family, and c) brother of a Thomas Lee, whose wife, Louisa, was the daughter of a GilderoyWarton and a Mary Cooper, the brothers’ relationship being demonstrated in the cousin-marriage of Righteous’ daughter, Anne, to Thomas’ son, Abraham. In fact Righteous Lee was baptised in Bisham, Berks in 1770 son of John and Mary (at the baptism of a daughter by Pennyin Gloucestershire in 1805 Righteous was of “Bissom” in the county of Berks), while Thomas Lee, according to the 1851 census, was born about 1807, and it was his son by Louisa, Righteous, christened in 1832, who fathered the Anne who married Thomas’ son, Abraham, her uncle. I’ve found no evidence yet that Penelope, wife of Righteous, was a Cooper; Mary, wife of GilderoyWarton, definitely wasn’t (on the birth certificate of their daughter, Bathsheba, Mary Worton is formerly Lee), and it’s clear Louisa was as much too old to be Mary’s daughter as her husband was too young to be Righteous’ brother.

Penelope, I suspect, wasn’t Righteous’ first wife. A Righteous and Sarah Lee christened an Isaac Lee in Wiston, Sussex in 1803, two years before Righteous and Penny christened a CinettaLee in Wickwar, Glos. Righteous and Penny’s next child was surely Thomas, the future father by Louisa of a Righteous, too rare a name for this to be a coincidence. After Thomas came William Lee, baptised in Milton Lilbourne, Wilts in 1809; Pienna Lee, baptised in Shurdington, Glos in 1813; Trosaiah Lee, baptised in Llanelly, Carmarthenshire in 1815; Elizabeth and Jane Lee, baptised together in Carmarthen in 1820; and Charity Lee, baptised in Pulverbatch, Shropshire in 1822 daughter of Hopeful Faithful(!) and Peneley, travelling tinker. Last of all, it seems, came Henry Lee, born, he claimed, in Montgomeryshire about 1825 (he was buried in Llandaniel, Anglesey in 1890 aged allegedly 64). Righteous, having been baptised in Berkshire and travelled as an adult probably in Sussex, and certainly in the West Country and Wales, was buried in 1827 “aged 57” in Ebberston, North Yorkshire. I haven’t been able to trace any of the above daughters, but I have made some progress with the three sons.

Penny and the younger children, after Righteous’ death, may have returned to Wales, but Thomas seems tohave stayed in the North East for the rest of his life, in Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland, and to have been joined early on byGilderoy and Mary Warton, whose first four children seem to have been baptised or born in the West Country or Wales (Gilderoy, christened in Dorset in 1799, may have been Thomas’ brother-in-law, or perhaps Mary was Thomas’ sister, an unknown early daughter of Righteous). In any case in 1829 we find Matilda Lee, daughter of Thomas and Louisa, baptised in Welbury, Yks, jointly with Spiseanne Walton (sic) daughter of Gyldrie and Mary: Matilda in time married the latters’ son, Oliver Warton, and had between about 1849 and 1861 a Mary, Louisa, Eliza, Ellen, and Stephen, born or christened in Yorkshire, Durham or Northumberland. In 1832 we find Righteous (later Richard) Lee baptised in Seaton Ross,Yks son of Thomas and Louisa “of Bridgnorth, Shropshire”: Righteous married Carnation Whorton (according to the birth certificate of one of their sons), almost certainly one of Gilderoy’s nieces, and between 1849 and 1861 in Yorkshire and Durham they had the Anne who married Righteous’ brother, an Abraham, a Matilda who married Thomas Stoodly, an Oliver who married Elizabeth Charlotte daughter of Sistance and Lementina, a Thomas who married a Sarah, an Adam who married a Louisa, probably a Lee, and a Samson and Phoebe/Eve.

In January 1836 we find the Eve Lee from whom Phoebe probably got her alternate name baptised in Embleton, Northumberland, in 1839 Charity Lee baptised in Wolviston, Durham, and in 1841 Isaiah Leebaptised in Kirkby Overblow, Yks, all children of Thomas and Louisa. The last (Isaiah in the 1861 and 1881 census, John in 1901, and Wiggi to the gypsiologists) married a Dinah, possibly a Heron but clearly not, as the gypsiologists claimed, the daughter of Muldobriar and Mirany, and had between about 1873 and 1884 a Clara, Albert and Walter, all born in Durham. To these we can add the children with Thomas and Louisa in the 1851 census named as Owen and Abraham: Owen, born about 1837, allegedly married a Susan or Bridget O’Neill; Abraham, born about 1848, married Anne Lee, daughter of Righteous and Carnation, and had in Yorkshire or Durham between 1868 and 1893 a Carnation, Anne, Alice, Mary, Keziah, John, Jane, Thomas, Ishmael, Abraham and Eva. Lastly we can add the children born between Isaiah and Abraham in the 1851 census but given an initial letter instead of a forename: a female P (Penelope or Pienna?),a female R (surely the gypsiologists’ Rhoda), and a male M (Meshach after GilderoyWarton’s brother?).

Righteous and Penelope’s second son, William, christened in 1809, married a Matilda and, like his father and his brother, Thomas, showed a readiness to re-locate himselfseemingly at some distance fromhis family. He christenedthe first child I’ve found, a son, Gilderoy Lee (presumably named after GilderoyWarton), in 1831in the North West, in Minshull, Cheshire. But he soon re-located again, this time to the South West: he and Matilda had a Lavinia born in Somerset about 1835, a Samson born in Devon perhaps about 1839, a William junior (born perhaps about 1842) and a Robert christened together in Cornwall in 1848, and a Carnation christened in Cornwall in 1851; William junior married an Elizabeth Andrew and had a Matilda Ann, a Hosea, Amelia, Amy and Thomas, born in Cornwall from about 1862 to 1879, while Robert marriedfirst a Harriet Smith, and had in Cornwall 1876-1883 a Henry, Lavinia, Matilda and Selina, and married second a Mary who bore him a Robert in Cornwall about 1891.Gilderoy seemingly was the only child to return to the family’s base in Wales: he and his wife, Sylvania, had a Shadrach, Matilda, Aaron, John, Hosea, Leonard, Gilderoy and Sylvania, all born in Monmouth or Glamorgan between 1862 and about 1879.

Righteous and Penelope’s youngest son, Henry, returned to Wales a good deal earlier, possibly as a child, and stayed there for the rest of his life,partly perhaps because hemarried into the powerful Wood family. He and Alice Wood, baptised in 1833, the daughter ofWilliam and Ellen, had an Ellen Lee, who was born in Denbighshire about 1851 and was said to have died in Anglesey unmarried. They had an Oliver Lee, who was born in Denbighshire about 1853, and seems to have married first Mary Ann Evans, daughter of Rees and Matilda, in Conway RegDist in 1873, second a woman described by the gypsiologists as Fat Sarah (they’re together in the 1881 census), and third Julia Boswell, daughter of Bohemius and Savina. By this last marriage Oliver had a Cinderella born in Flintshire in 1886, a Lily, a Britannia Alice, an Ithel William, and a Clifford Alma, all baptised in Lancashire 1890-1897, plus an Alamena born in Westmoreland in 1903, and an Elias and a Kezia born in Durham in 1905 and 1910 respectively.

Nextto Oliver Lee in Henry and Alice’s children came Morgena and Minnie Lee, born in Flintshire about 1854 to 1857: Morgena is said to have married Bendigo Lee, son of Thomas and Caroline, and had a Victoria, Amy, Lavinia, Jessie and Cinderella; Minnie is said to have married first Llewellyn Wood, son of Edward and Eliza, and then Manfri Wood. After Morgena and Minnie came Deborah Lee, born in Denbighshire about 1859, who is said to have married a miner, Ned Williams; then William Lee, baptised in Llanbeblig, Carnarvonshire in1862, who married Ada Lock, daughter of Noah and Delia, in Bunbury, Cheshire in 1882, and had a Landros, born about 1885, and a Wallace, born about 1887. After William cameIthel (John) Lee, baptised in Llanfaglan, Carnarvon in 1864, who married Mary Ann Lee, daughter of Josiah and Jemima, and had between about 1885 and 1899, all in Wales, a William Henry, an Algar, a Matilda, an Ada, a Freda, a Gladys Mabel, a Malcolm Logan, and a George Vincent. Finally, Henry and Alice had an Alice, born in Denbighshire about 1869, about whom I know nothing.

The gypsiologists’ information about Righteous Lee’s descendants at the turn of the twentieth century was a lot fuller than their information about Righteous himself, but I have to say, the fact that it was fuller doesn’t seem to make it any easier to confirm in the records.

Copyright © 2011 Eric Trudgill