Surname Saturday: Ong

This week, the Surname Saturday theme stops at the story of the 18th Century unusually named ONG family of Stuntney and Ely, Cambridgeshire.

This Saturday we’re on the trail of the unusual surname of Ong.

The earliest reference that I can find for my Ong family, is the first marriage of my Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather, Thomas Ong to his first wife Martha Jennings in Stuntney, Cambridgeshire in April 1757.

Illustration of Stuntney church, Cambridgeshire (1806)
Stuntney parish church, 1806.

I’ve not found any earlier record for him, but estimating his birth to have been in the 1730s, I have found a few potential matches via in the neighbouring county of Suffolk in its villages of Hepworth and Hinderclay – themselves neighbouring parishes.

Martha was already heavily pregnant when she walked the aisle with Thomas, and they soon welcomed their first son – John Ong – into the family, with him being baptised at Stuntney just four months later.

The couple and their baby shift from Stuntney, to the nearby Ely which it overlooks. Sadly, this happiness was to be short-lived, and Thomas’ luck was going to take a long-running bad turn.

Within seven years, Thomas had lost his wife Martha (d. August 1764), and three sons: John (1757-1758), Thomas (1760-1764) and John (1763). No doubt deep in grief, a widower, and childless, he vanishes for 9 years, returning to parish registers in 1766 at Ely.

In January 1766, he marries spinster Martha Feast, and they are joined by their first child Mary. Sadly, Thomas’ bad luck continues – claiming the lives of their first three children: Mary (1767-1769), Thomas (1769-1773) and John (1772-1773).

It’s not until Thomas’ 7th child (and Martha’s 4th) – Mary Ong – born in 1774, that a child survives into adulthood. Mary was to live until she was 85, and is my Great x 4 Grandmother.

Thomas and Martha continue to grow their family with another 4 children: Martha (1776-?), Thomas (1778-1781), Margaret (1780-?) and Thomas (1783).

Whilst it’s unclear as to what became of Mary’s siblings Martha and Margaret, Mary seems to be the only child of 10 to survive – perhaps accounting for the rarity of the Ong surname.

Mary goes on to thrive – marrying my Great x4 Grandfather Thomas Cross in Ely in 1790, and bearing 14 children (only 3 of whom are known to have died as children).

Mary outlived her husband Thomas Cross by 13 years, dying in February 1859, aged 85.

Variants of Ong

I’ve only spotted two versions of the surname whilst rummaging in the records of Ely and nearby Stuntney.

  • Ong – the main version
  • Ing – making one occurrence

However, the surname is so infrequent, that I am suspicious. Only one other ‘Ong’ appears, and as yet, she (Margaret Ong) remains unconnected – but probably the sister of my Gtx5 Grandfather Thomas. At the same time, and in both Ely and Stuntney, are rather a lot of parish register entries for the Long and Young families, and so with little imagination and some illiteracy, you could easily lose a letter or two, throw in an thick rural fenland accent, and you’re soon staring at an ‘Ong’ in a parish register.

Surname Saturday: TINGEY

Surname Saturday – TINGEY or TINGAY. A look at the Tingey surname in Cambridgeshire.

An unusual surname with seemingly disconnected family groups turns up in both my maternal and paternal families.

Mary Tingey (1821-187?)
Mary Tingey

The Tingey name turns up twice in my family tree. Once as ancestral in my paternal tree, and the other as a husband of a maternal great aunt.

My earliest record of a bona-fide Tingey ancestor is Ann Tingey, who appears at the parish church in Witcham, Cambridgeshire in 1769 where she went to baptise her illegitimate son Thomas.

By 1771 she had returned, to marry James Toll with whom she had at least two children.

Thomas remained in Witcham, where he married Mary Barber in 1794 and together they had three children – Robert, Elizabeth and Sarah. It appears that the family moved just a few miles away to Oxlode in 1841 – a tiny hamlet close to the village of Little Downham, Cambridgeshire – which is where they ended up by the time of the 1851 census.

Robert went on to marry Fanny Harrison and together they had a family of 12 children, with their oldest (Mary Tingey) being my ancestor, born in 1820.

Amongst family photographs is a photograph of Mary in later life. By the time that this photo was taken, she would have either have been Mary Martin, widow, or Mrs Mary Watling(ton). She was married a total of three times.

Another photograph is somewhat of a mystery – a carte de visite with the words ‘Aunt Tingey’ written on the back. It remains unclear as to whether this was an elderly maiden aunt, or a  wife of a Tingey uncle.

Aunt Tingey
The mystery ‘Aunt Tingey’

Other family groups

Whilst my own branch was busy living their lives and growing in the Little Downham area of Cambridgeshire, just four miles away in Ely appears to be another family group which I’ve never found a connection to.

Another group of Tingeys appear in Henlow, Bedfordshire. For many years I have been in correspondence with another researcher – but as yet there appears to be no link between the family groups. According to the researcher, there are many gravestones for Tingey name-bearers standing in the parish churchyard.

This unusual surname does have a few variants through the years – ranging from: Tingey, Tingay, Tingye, Tangye, Tyngy Tyngie.

Origins of the name

According to John Ayto’s ‘Encyclopedia of Surnames’, Tingey/Tingay are derivative of Tangye. He says that:

“Tangye from the Breton personal name Tanguy, a contracted form of Tanneguy, literally ‘fire-dog’.”

According to The House Of

“First found in Cambridgeshire where the name first appeared in the early 13th century.”

Surname Saturday: HALE

Continuing the Surname Saturday genealogy blogging meme by looking at the HALE family of Knotting and Potton, Bedfordshire.

For this Surname Saturday entry, I’m going right back to the late 17th century to tell you about the Hale family from a small village on the Bedfordshire/Northamptonshire border.

In 1660, with the death of Oliver Cromwell and the restoration of Charles II still fresh in people’s minds, a William Hale (b.c. 1621) and his wife Elizabeth from the tiny village of Knotting had welcomed their son Thomas into the world. By 12th August of that year he had been christened in the parish church. It’s not known yet whether Thomas had any siblings but I suspect that he probably did as there are some other Hales in the same village at the same time (a William and Eleanor Hale are having children in the same parish during the same period).

Knotting, Bedfordshire
St Margaret’s Church, Knotting

On 14th September 1686, when Thomas Hale was about 26yrs old, he married Bathsheba Jennell at Knotting parish church. Sadly, within 10 months he became a widower with Bathsheba being buried at Knotting on 21st August 1687. Research notes at show the birth of a daughter, Elizabeth in 1687, whom I’m assuming was the daughter of Bathsheba. Perhaps she died during or as a consequence of Elizabeth’s birth?

By 1689, Thomas had remarried to a woman known only (so far) as Elizabeth (possibly Elizabeth Fairy or Elizabeth Westcot – the Knotting parish registers will hopefully reveal this), and on 4th July the family returned to the Knotting parish church to christen their new son William Hale. William appears to have been the first of at least 10 children for this new family, with Giles Hale being the youngest born in 1703.

William worked as a tailor. By 1706, he had met and married Elizabeth Truelove in Potton. It was here that the couple made their home, bearing 11 children, starting with Elizabeth Hale in 1707 and ending with John Hale in 1725.

It appears that William died in 1730, with his wife following him to the grave in 1735.

The 1911 census for Knotting included a Mr Hale.

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