Surname Saturday: Gillions

This week’s Surname Saturday themed posting looks at my family name of GILLIONS from Bedfordshire, England.

This week’s Surname Saturday post takes a look at my Gillions family living in 18th Century rural Bedfordshire, England.

The earliest ancestor that I’ve located was my Great Great Great Great Great Paternal Grandfather, William Gillings, born in about 1730 at Dunton, Bedfordshire. He appears to have been the son of John and Mary Gillings, and the oldest child of three – although his two younger siblings (Sarah – 1732, and John – 1734) were baptised in nearby Wrestlingworth.

Gillions in Wrestlingworth, Bedfordshire

Wrestlingworth, Bedfordshire
Wrestlingworth parish church in Bedfordshire, was no stranger to my Gillions family.

William appears to marry Elizabeth Miller on 25th January 1763 at Wrestlingworth, when he was about 33 years old, and she was 32. The couple had at least 4 children – my Great x4 Grandmother Susan (often ‘Susannah’) in 1771, Elizabeth in 1771, Mary in 1774, and William in 1777. Sadly, Elizabeth died in 1780 at the age of about 49.

Three years later William walked the aisle again at Wrestlingworth to marry Sara Fielding on 16th September 1783. William was again widowed in 1807, and he followed Sara to the grave in 1810 at the age of 80.

My most recent ancestor being my Great x 4 Grandmother Susan Gillons, was baptised on 24th November 1771.

Heading to Gamlingay

Gamlingay parish church, Cambridgeshire
Gamlingay parish church – what led Edward and Susan to marry here in 1795?

She married Edward Gilbert on 2nd March 1795 at Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire – a village on the border of Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. There’s no indication as to why they married here, as I can’t see any other church records relating to this village. Neither were from this village (he was from Abbotsley, she being from Wrestlingworth), so perhaps they met here? Maybe their local church was undergoing repairs? Perhaps they didn’t get on with their local vicar? Perhaps they married here in secret and against their parents’ wishes? Further examination of the Gamlingay records will probably reveal more, or nothing else, leaving it purely to speculation of a BAFTA kind.

The couple had nine children –

  • Sarah bc.1795
  • George
  • Mary bc.1799
  • Elizabeth bc.1802
  • William bc.1803 (my Great x 3 Grandfather)
  • Ellen bc.1804
  • Eliza bc.1809
  • John bc.1813
  • Frances bc.1818

Living in poverty with a disability in 1851

With nine children, and Edward on a meagre labourer’s wage, the family fell on hard times. By 1851, and with their children grown up, Edward and Susan turn up with their second eldest married daughter Mary Cade in Abbotsley. Susan is noted as ‘blind’, as is her son-in-law Thomas Cade, whist Mary is noted as deaf.. leaving Edward aged about 77 and the only member of the household with his sight and hearing. Both he and Susan are unsurprisingly noted as ‘paupers’. Times must have been so hard for them.

Susan died in 1859, aged about 88. She’d outlived Edward, who had died in 1852.

Variants of Gillions surname

I’ve spotted that this surname has several spellings, and so it adds to the fun of locating my ancestors. These variants include:

  • Gillians
  • Gillions
  • Gillings
  • Jillings
  • Jullions

Surname Saturday: GILBERT

Surname Saturday: GILBERT – The Gilbert family of Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire are the focus of this week’s meme day.

This week’s Surname Saturday post is that of my paternal Gilbert family. My connection is through my paternal Great Grandmother, who was born in 1884, in Littleport, Cambridgeshire.

With the help of the research of distant relative Colin Tabeart, the tree has been found to stretch back through time as far as 1694 when the family turns up in Abbotsley, Huntingdonshire (now part of Cambridgeshire). It is here that they are noted in the parish records and taxation records.

It appears that the earliest Gilbert I’ve found (with, as yet, an unproven connection) was in Abbotsley, Huntingdonshire in 1605, when a John Gilbert takes his daughter Maria to be baptised in the parish church of St Margaret on 24th February.

Abbotsley Church
St Margaret’s church at Abbotsley, Cambridgeshire.

By the beginning of the 18th century, the Gilbert families in Abbotsley were booming with each seemingly having at least 9 children, and up to as many as 13 children over a 24 year period – as was the case of James and Anne Gilbert between 1752 and 1776.

In 1767 at Abbotsley, Elizabeth Gilbert (née Hale) – the widow of James Gilbert – is noted as paying a Land Tax of £1, 19 shillings to a Mr Robert Edsope.

In 1828, the son of my Gilbert line – William – leaves Abbotsley and heads about 40 miles North East to Littleport in Cambridgeshire, where he married Elizabeth Brightly. The couple settle down in Burnt Chimney Drove – an area of rich agricultural fenland just to the North West of Littleport, where William becomes a farmer. The couple bear 12 children, although sadly a few of these don’t survive their early years.

Whilst William’s relocation may well have been because of his love for Elizabeth, his parents – Edward and Susan Gilbert have fallen on hard times –  by 1851 they are both noted as ‘paupers’ and are living with their daughter Mary and her husband Thomas Cade. Susan has become blind, but goes on to live another 8 years. Edward only lived until 1852.

Elizabeth Howlett and James Gilbert
Elizabeth Howlett and James Gilbert

Despite this hardship, William and Elizabeth were making progress for themselves and managing to live outside of poverty thanks to farming. Their 9th child (also Edward and Susan’s grandson), James, was my Great Great Grandfather, and he survived his two older brothers. In doing so, and in an act not unusual or unlike primogeniture, he inherited his father’s farm in 1879, which by 1871 had grown to 40 acres and employed one family.

By this time, James had got married to Elizabeth Howlett – and they had already bore two of their eventual family of nine children.

The family still lives and farms in the area today.

Tombstone Tuesday – William Heylock of Abbotsley

Tombstone Tuesday – A weekly blogging meme. This week it’s an ornately carved tomb of William Heylock in the churchyard of Abbotsley in Huntingdonshire, England.

Ornate carvings on a tomb in Abbotsley
William Heylock's grave at Abbotsley has ornate carvings.

Spotted this tomb with ornate carvings on it at the weekend in Abbotsley, Cambridgeshire (or Huntingdonshire as it was when the person was buried). The tomb belongs to William Heylock, the son-in-law of the then vicar James Aspinall at the time of William’s burial in 1688.

William’s tomb is part of a memorial to his generosity – he had given £5 per year (remember, this was written in 1688. £5 in 1688 had the same spending worth as £437 in 2005) to the poor people of the parish each year, and £1 to the vicar each year.

Ornate carvings on a tomb in Abbotsley
Another carving design on William Heylock's tomb

He also gets a mention inside the church. Notes suggest that his family held land in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire – which probably accounts for his wealth.

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