Monday, 12 June 2017

Impediment to Marriage



And another long-standing brick-wall crumbles. I have long been troubled that two of my ancestors never married, despite them having at least five children together, and possibly as many as nine, all of whom were baptised in the local parish church. What reason could have prevented them marrying: belief or some impediment under civil or canon law?

The eventual breakthrough revealed a very detailed story from the early 19th Century, one involving historical events of the time, but how much of the story was reliable? At what point does a lack of conflicting evidence allow a solid case to be made from indirect evidence.

Figure 1 – Across the sea.

Margaret Hallam

My mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother was a Sarah Hallam, born c1826 in the village of Epperstone, Nottinghamshire. The baptism register explicitly gave her parents as Margaret Hallam and Thomas Meads, but this couple were not married and never bothered to afterwards.

In fact, Margaret had five children with Thomas over a span of twelve years, and a further four children before then where no father was identified.

Name
Baptism
Mother
Father
Father Occ.
PR/BT Notes [a]
James
6 Apr 1807
Margaret HALLAM


“Base”. Both forenames (Margaret & Peggy) given
Mary
9 Oct 1808
Margaret HALLAM


“Base”
Henry
11 Jun 1810
Margaret HALLAM


“Base”
Charlotte
31 Jan 1813
Margaret HALLAM


PR says “Base”. BT says “Spinster”
Elizabeth
23 Feb 1819
Peggy HALLAM
Tho MEADS
Frame Work Knitter
“Base daughter”
Richd.
2 Mar 1821
Margaret HALLAM
Thomas MEAD
Frame Work Knitter

Robert
12 Nov 1823
Peggy HALLAM
Thos MEADS
F.W.K.
“Base”
Sarah
15 Feb 1826
Peggy HALLAM
Thomas MEADS
F.W.K.
“B. daughter”
James
11 Jul 1831
Margaret HALLAM
Thomas MEADS
Fwk

Table 1 – Children of Margaret/Peggy Hallam baptised at Epperstone.[1]
[a] A visit to the Nottinghamshire Archive was made during 2013 to access original Parish Registers (PR) and Bishops’ Transcripts (BT) for this parish in order to check for any helpful annotation associated with these entries.

The ambiguity in their surnames spilled over into their later life with their choice — and even that of Margaret — varying from census to census.

Thomas Meads

Thomas Meads (also Meades, Made(s), Maids, Meeds) was baptised 1 Mar 1772 at Epperstone Holy Cross to John and Alice.[2] His father, John Meads, had married Alice Tomlinson on 27 Apr 1768 at Epperstone Holy Cross, and the family were clearly local to Epperstone.[3]

Thomas married Martha Beiton on 9 Apr 1792 at Trowel St. Helen,[4] about 14 miles WSW of Epperstone, and they baptised the following children:

Name
Baptism
Mother
Father
Father Occ.
Parish
John
8 Jul 1792
Martha
Thomas MEADS

Trowell St. Helen
Mary [a]
26 Jan 1794
Martha
Thomas MADES

Epperstone Holy Cross
Joseph
31 May 1795
Martha
Thomas MEADS

ditto
Martha
5 Aug 1798
Martha
Thos MADES

ditto
Hannah
5 Dec 1804
Martha
Thos MEADS

ditto
Thos
11 Feb 1807
Martha
Thos MEADS

ditto
Alice
17 Jan 1813
Martha
Thomas MEADS
Frame Work Knitter
ditto
William
26 Feb 1815
Martha
Thomas MEADS
F.W.K.
ditto
Table 2 – Children of Thomas Meads and Martha Beiton.[5]
[a] "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975", database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JMDK-5QS : 30 Dec 2014, accessed 7 Jun 2017), Mary Mades [Meads], 26 Jan 1794; citing EPPERSTONE, NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND; FHL microfilm 503,492, 504,062, 504,069, 504,093; this entry is not found in the NottsFHS-Baptisms source.

Martha died aged 49 and was buried on 8 Dec 1815 at Epperstone Holy Cross.[6] The closeness of this date to the baptism of her last child (William) suggests it may have been related to some post-natal condition; she was certainly a good age for childbirth.

It will not have escaped anyone’s notice that the earlier four children of Margaret Hallam — the ones with no recorded father — were conceived while Thomas Meads was still married to Martha, and almost entirely between Martha’s children Thomas and Alice. It is very likely that they were also his children but it would have been inappropriate to say this in the register. We’ll come back to this later.

Census

Possible reasons for them not getting married were:

  • Not of the Anglican faith — Thomas was baptised and previously married in an Anglican church. All of the children of Thomas and Margaret, plus the ones attributed only to Margaret, were also baptised in an Anglican church.
  • Related to each other — I could find no evidence of this.
  • Thomas already married — Thomas was a widower and so this would not have been a reason.
  • Margaret already married — I could find no previous marriage for Margaret, but I could also find no evidence of her birth or baptism.

This latter possibility was a strong pointer to Margaret having been born with a different surname, and possibly having been married before. This was my initial hypothesis, some years ago, but although I’d identified a few candidate marriages I gave up on the idea as they all seemed too weak.

But then I encountered Geoffrey Martin, a historian (a fact he understandably emphasised) who was correcting transcription errors on the same Ancestry records that I was. He had already looked at Margaret Hallam’s origin and concluded that she was previously married. In fact the census extract we’d both updated provided the missing details to confirm this.


Name
Sex
Age
Birth year
Occupation
Place of birth
John Pacey
M
35
1806
Ag. Lab.
Nottinghamshire
Elizabeth Pacey
F
35
1806

ditto
Hannah Pacey
F
7
1834

ditto
Ann Pacey
F
11m
1841

ditto
Margaret Hallam
F
45
1796

ditto
James Hallam
M
10
1831

ditto
Harriet Pearson
F
20
1821

ditto
Gervis Barratt
M
20
1821

ditto
Thomas Herrek
M
14
1827

ditto
Table 3 – 1841: Household of John Pacey, Epperstone.[7]

Cannot locate Thomas Meads in the 1841 census.

Name
Role
Status
Sex
Age
Birth year
Occupation
Place of birth
Margaret Meads
Head
Widow
F
66
1785
Chair Woman
Coddington, Nottinghamshire
Table 4 – 1851: Household of Margaret Meads, Epperstone (next to Cutting Mill).[8]


Name
Role
Status
Sex
Age
Birth year
Occupation
Place of birth
Thomas Maids [Meads]
Head
Widower
M
80
1771
Framework Knitter
Hepson [locally pronounced Epperstone with strong accent]
Jane Flinn
Servant
Widow
F
59
1792
House Serv
Nottingham
Table 5 – 1851: Household of Thomas Meads, 13 Ferguson Street, Nottingham.[9]

Thomas Meads died on 4 May 1860 at 7 Cavendish Street, Nottingham, of “natural decay”.[10] He would have been about 90 years of age but the certificate recorded an exaggerated 99. The local paper also recorded “On the 4th inst., aged 99, Mr. Thomas Meads, Cavendish Street, Nottingham”.[11] As well as the occupation matching that in the 1851 census (framework knitter), his final address and the census address were very close in the Sneinton area: Ferguson Street was near the junction of Pipe Street and Southwell Road (south of the Market), and Cavendish Street was off Colwick Street (west of the Market), about 200 yards from each other.

Name
Role
Status
Sex
Age
Birth year
Occupation
Place of birth
Margarett Hallam
Head
Widow
F
80
1781
Chair Woman
Cod[d]ington, Nottinghamshire
Table 6 – 1861: Household of Margaret Hallam. Up[p]er Stret, Epperstone.[12]

Margaret’s occupation of “chair woman” may be found in several census pages of England and Wales, and it usually confuses people into looking for strange occupations involving a chair. It is actually a version of “charwoman”, previously “chare woman” (related to “chore woman”) which was pronounced as “chair woman”.[13]

We know that Thomas was a widower since 1815, but note that Margaret was recorded as a widow in 1851; more on this in a moment.

Margaret died in 1869, aged 92, and was buried at Woodborough St. Swithun on 13 Oct 1869,[14] just two miles SW of Epperstone, and also the location of her son, Richard, and his family.

The 1851 census for Margaret (which I didn’t find originally because it was under Thomas’s surname), and the 1861 census (which Geoffrey and I were correcting), both confirmed her place-of-birth as Coddington, a village about 16 miles NE of Epperstone. By comparing the baptism there with later Hallam marriages in the general area, it was possible to identify her maiden name as Astling.

Margaret Astling

Margaret Astling (or As(s)ling, Ashling) was born 28 Sep 1784 in Coddington, Nottinghamshire, and baptised on 10 Oct 1784 at Coddington All Saints to James (a “taylor” [tailor]) and Elizabeth.[15]

James had originally married Elizabeth Taylor on 18 Mar 1775 at Coddington All Saints,[16] but she died in 1783, aged 52, of “Distemper fever” and was buried 1 Feb 1783 in the same parish.[17] James then married Elizabeth Baker on 22 Jul 1784,[18] and she died in 1824, aged 80, and was buried 11 Nov 1824.[19] There were no children by the first marriage and only Margaret by the second.

James was buried 10 Oct 1789 at Coddington All Saints.[20]

Margaret married a Thomas Hallam on 9 Feb 1803 at Screveton St. Wilfrid;[21] Screveton is a village 8 miles SE of Epperstone. There was no record of any children with him.

Thomas Hallam

In trying to identify who Thomas Hallam was, I didn't have a great deal to play with. A good starting point was to assume that he was born around the same date, i.e. 1784, and living in the general area.

Looking in the 1841 census revealed a possible candidate, living in the town of Nottingham.

Name
Sex
Age
Birth year
Occupation
Place of birth
Thomas
M
55
1786
Taylor
Nottinghamshire
Sarah
F
50
1791

ditto
Richard
M
20
1821

ditto
Ann
F
15
1826

ditto
Elizabeth Flower (née Hallam)
F
25
1816

ditto
William Flower
M
6
1835

ditto
Henry Flower
M
8m
1841

ditto
Table 7 – Household of Thomas Hallam, Needham St., Bingham.[22]

Bingham was a village (now a market town) just 7 miles SE of Epperstone, but the item that caught my eye was the occupation of “taylor” [tailor], the same as Margaret Astling’s father.

Working backwards revealed that this Thomas had married Sarah Astin on 19 Dec 1814 at Nottingham St. Mary,[23] and had the following children:

Name
Baptism
Father
Mother
Father Occ
Abode
Parish
Elizabeth
1 Feb 1816
Thomas HALLAM
Sarah
Tailor
Newcastle St
Nottingham St. Mary
Thomas
16 Mar 1817
Thomas HALLAM
Sarah
Tailor
Ram Yard
Nottingham St. Mary
Thomas
8 Nov 1818
Thomas HALLAM
Sarah
Tailor

Bingham St. Mary and All Saints
Richard
21 Jan 1821
Thomas HALLAM
Sarah
Tailor

Bingham St. Mary and All Saints
Ann
28 Jul 1822
Thomas HALLAM
Sarah
Tailor

Bingham St. Mary and All Saints
Frances
20 Mar 1825
Thomas HALLAM
Sarah
Tailor

Bingham St. Mary and All Saints
Table 8 – Baptisms of children to Thomas and Sarah Hallam.[24]

So they were married and had their first two children in Nottingham before moving out to Bingham. Their son, Thomas, was baptised before and after that move, thus establishing boundaries for the actual date.

Thomas Hallam died in Bingham and was buried 4 Jan 1850 at Bingham St. Mary and All Saints.[25] If this is the correct Thomas then it would explain why Margaret Hallam was recorded as a widow in the 1851 and 1861 censuses. But we first need to tie this Thomas Hallam to Margaret Astling, and that requires going back one more generation.

Thomas’s age at death was 68[26] and that puts his date-of-birth more accurately at 1782 The only workable candidate baptism for such a Thomas Hallam was the one born 14 Feb 1782 in Lowdham — a village 2 miles SE of Epperstone — to Thomas and Ann.

This Thomas Hallam (the candidate father) had married Ann Barnes on 27 May 1779 at Screveton St. Wilfrid,[27] and they had the following children in clockwork succession:

Name
Born
Baptism
Father
Mother
Parish
Elizth.
21 Nov 1779
26 Nov 1779
Thos. HALLAM
Ann
Lowdham St. Mary the Virgin
Thos.
14 Feb 1782
17 Feb 1782
Thos. HALLAM
Ann
Lowdham St. Mary the Virgin
Frances
28 Feb 1785
6 Mar 1785
Thos. HALLAM
Ann
Screveton St. Wilfrid
Richd.
21 Feb 1787
25 Feb 1787
Thomas HALLAM
Ann
Screveton St. Wilfrid
Ann
26 Feb 1789
5 Mar 1789
Thos. HALLAM
Ann
Screveton St. Wilfrid
Mary
5 May 1791
8 May 1791
Thomas HALLAM
Ann
Screveton St. Wilfrid
George
4 Jun 1793
7 Jun 1793
Thos. HALLAM
Ann
Screveton St. Wilfrid
John
29 Aug 1795
30 Aug 1795
Thos. HALLAM
Ann
Screveton St. Wilfrid
Hannah
26 Nov 1797
26 Nov 1797
Thomas HALLAM
Ann
Screveton St. Wilfrid
Joseph
29 Oct 1799
3 Nov 1799
Thomas HALLAM
Ann
Screveton St. Wilfrid
Phoebe
25 Jan 1805
27 Jan 1805
Thos. HALLAM
Anne
Screveton St. Wilfrid
Matthew
2 Oct 1806
5 Oct 1806
Thos. HALLAM
Anne
Screveton St. Wilfrid
Table 9 – Baptisms of children to Thomas and Ann Hallam.[28]

This is now looking much more interesting: although Thomas Hallam junior was baptised in Lowdham, his parents were married in Screveton, and all his future siblings were baptised there too. This explains why he would have married Margaret Astling in Screveton.

Thomas Hallam senior died in 1823, aged 69, and was buried 13 Oct 1823 at Screveton St. Wilfrid;[29] his headstone is still visible in the churchyard. His wife, Ann, died in 1833, aged 78, and was buried 26 Dec 1833 at Screveton St. Wilfrid.[30] These items of information will be called upon later.

This leaves a gap between Feb 1803 and Dec 1814 where we have no record of the whereabouts of Thomas Hallam junior, and yet his wife (by then Margaret Hallam) had four children with an unnamed father between Apr 1807 and Jan 1813.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Now these dates are like a beacon to anyone with knowledge of European history: they are almost exactly the dates of the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) that raged between the French Empire, under Napoleon I, and various coalitions of European forces — principally the UK. If we can show that he took part then we would need to explain why he was back by 1814, and what state of mind might have led his wife to establish a new life during his absence.

I did notice that a Jonathan Hallam — very likely a cousin of Thomas — from nearby Calverton, had attested on 19 Jul 1804 for twenty years service in the 41st and 69th Regiments of Foot,[31] so there was no question of a precedent or that the wars were big news even in rural Nottinghamshire.

About this time, I came across a book written by two cousin sailors, John Tregerthen Short and Thomas Williams, who were captured in the English Channel, in March 1804, while transporting £80,000 worth of sheet copper from the Thames to Devonport dockyard, Plymouth, and describing their hardships as prisoners in France until April 1814.[32] If Thomas had been a prisoner then Margaret may have been unsure of his whereabouts, or even whether he was alive.

Records relating to military service during these wars are incomplete, and not all service records have survived. There were several references to individuals named Thomas Hallam, but most could be dismissed on the grounds of either age, service years, or place of birth. Although there was no sign of a service record for Margaret’s Thomas, there was an interesting record of a Thomas Hallam being a prisoner during the latter years of the war.

The document recorded the depositing of prisoners at Briançon prison, in the French Alps, between 1 Jan 1811 and 31 Mar 1811. In particular, there’s an entry for a 28-year-old English fusilier, Thomas Hallam, of the 89th Regiment of Foot, captured at Malaga on 16 Oct 1810 (implying he was born 1782), and admitted to the prison 11 Mar 1811.[33] The birth date is spot-on but there is no record of exactly where he was born in England.

The 89th Regiment of Foot was under the command of Lord Blayney and suffered a well-documented defeat at the Battle of Fuengirola (province of Malaga, southern Spain) in mid-October 1810. Blayney and many of his soldiers were captured and held as prisoners of war for the next four years. The common soldier and sailor was treated badly during their captivity, and the account by Short and Williams was in stark contrast to that by Lord Blayney (Narrative of a Forced Journey through Spain and France as a Prisoner of War in the Years 1810 to 1814 (London: E. Kerby, 1814)), which read more like a French vacation.

About 1,950 Briançon prisoners were moved to Maubeuge (Netherlands) during early 1814,[34] and it seems that Thomas Hallam may have bumped into those sailors, Short and Williams, along the way.

According to Short:

12 Jan 1814 — Served three pounds of bread per man, snow falling all the day; sometimes we were taken above the knees, which made our march very difficult, the guards being as tired as the prisoners. Some of our people were ready to drop under the fatigue of the journey, yet I believe the whole of us came to anchor in our long-wished-for port, the City of Rheims, after marching this terrible day twenty-seven miles.

We were conducted to a jail that had formerly been the residence of the Bishop, near the fine cathedral. At this city the Kings of France were formerly crowned. In the jail we joined 400 other English prisoners of war, the last party from Briancon in the Alps, bound for a place named Meubeuge [sic].[35]

According to Williams:

A few days before we made our exit a detachment of new prisoners, soldiers taken in Spain, were brought to Briancon, and they were served clothes by order of Lord Blaney.[36]

Our orders were to go to a place called Meubeuge [sic], in the Netherlands, as far north nearly as they could send us, and prisoners from the northern depots were ordered to Briancon, so that the different parties crossed each other daily on the march. On our arrival at Meubeuge we were put into a barracks that had formerly been a depot for Spanish prisoners. We had liberty to go into the town to buy what we wanted.

We arrived at Meubeuge on the 18th of January, 1814, about 1,500 British prisoners of war in all, and were put into a large barracks — nineteen men in each room — having our usual allowance from the French, and one bundle of straw for each man to lie on, but no covering, although the weather was very severe, and no wood was given us for fire to cook our victuals with, so we were obliged to take part of our bed each day for that purpose.[37]

The town of Maubeuge came under siege towards the end of March 1814 and the prisoners were eventually freed during the beginning of April 1814.[38]

Conclusion

As usual, a timeline will help correlate all these events and allow us to infer any causal links between them. In this case, though, we’ll divide the events into three parallel timelines according to which personae they relate to, and this should demonstrate the validity (or otherwise) of the above conjectures.

Date
Margaret Hallam and Thomas Meads
Margaret Astling and Thomas Hallam
Thomas Hallam in France
1 Mar 1772
Baptism on Thomas Meads


14 Feb 1782

Birth of Thomas Hallam of Lowdham

28 Sep 1784

Birth of Margaret Astling of Coddington

9 Apr 1792
Marriage of Thomas to Martha Beiton


8 Jul 1792
Baptism of John to Thomas and Martha


26 Jan 1794
Baptism of Mary to Thomas and Martha


31 May 1795
Baptism of Joseph to Thomas and Martha


17 Jul 1798

Burial of Margaret’s mother at Coddington

5 Aug 1798
Baptism of Martha to Thomas and Martha


9 Feb 1803

Marriage of Margaret to Thomas Hallam at Screveton

5 Dec 1804
Baptism of Hannah to Thomas and Martha


11 Feb 1807
Baptism of Thomas to Thomas and Martha


6 Apr 1807
Baptism of James to Margaret


9 Oct 1808
Baptism of Mary to Margaret


11 Jun 1810
Baptism of Henry to Margaret


16 Oct 1810


Thomas captured at Malaga
11 Mar 1811


Thomas moved to Briançon prison
17 Jan 1813
Baptism of Alice to Thomas and Martha


31 Jan 1813
Baptism of Charlotte to Margaret


Jan 1814


Thomas moved to Maubeuge prison
Apr 1814


Thomas freed from Maubeuge
19 Dec 1814

Marriage of Thomas to Sarah Astin in Nottingham

26 Feb 1815
Baptism of William to Thomas and Martha


8 Dec 1815
Burial of Martha, wife of Thomas


8 Nov 1818

Thomas jnr re-baptised at Bingham

23 Feb 1819
Baptism of Elizabeth to Margaret and Thomas


2 Mar 1821
Baptism of Richard to Margaret and Thomas


12 Nov 1823
Baptism of Robert to Margaret and Thomas


15 Feb 1826
Baptism of Sarah to Margaret and Thomas


11 Jul 1831
Baptism of James to Margaret and Thomas


4 Jan 1850

Burial of Thomas Hallam at Bingham

4 May 1860
Death of Thomas Meads in Nottingham


13 Oct 1869
Burial of Margaret Hallam at Woodboro’


Table 10 – Timeline for Thomas Meads, Margaret Hallam, and Thomas Hallam.

Margaret would have been in a difficult situation here. In England and Wales, the offence of bigamy was created by The Bigamy Act 1603 (1 Jas. 1 c.11). This declared it to be not just an offence but a capital felony, although seven years of continual separation, "…the one of them not knowing the other to be living within that time…", was a valid defence. Other than annulment of the previous marriage, another defence was divorce a mensa et thoro (legal separation) but the subsequent marriage would still be void. In The Bigamy Act 1795 (35 Geo. III c.67), capital punishment was changed to transportation to the colonies, and by The Offences against the Person Act 1828 (9 Geo. IV c.31), sec.22, the punishment was "... transported beyond the Seas for the Term of Seven Years, or to be imprisoned, with or without hard Labour, in the Common Gaol or House of Correction, for any Term not exceeding Two Years". Following The Offences against the Person Act 1861 (24 & 25 Vict. c.100), sec.57, guilty parties were then "... liable, at the Discretion of the Court, to be kept in Penal Servitude for any Term not exceeding Seven Years and not less than Three Years,—or to be imprisoned for any Term not exceeding Two Years, with or without Hard Labour".

In effect, at the time Margaret conceived her children bigamy would have been a serious offence. If she was unsure of whether her husband (Thomas Hallam) was still alive, and hadn’t received any communication for seven years, then she would still have to consider that if he returned then any subsequent marriage would be void.

Indeed, this appears to have been the case, and my conclusion is that Thomas Hallam returned from the Napoleonic Wars in the spring of 1814. This would have been a less than happy reunion, having found his wife with several children conceived in his absence. But her marriage to him would still have been valid,  and she would remain Margaret Hallam; in those days, a divorce would have required a Private Act of Parliament, and so would be out of the question for anyone except the wealthy elite. She was also settled in Epperstone with a large family and would not have been in a position to move far away to where she wasn’t known, and risk remarriage there. It would appear that Thomas took this route instead.

In summary, Thomas Hallam left for the Napoleonic Wars sometime between his marriage to Margaret Astling (Feb 1803) and the conception of her first child (Jul 1806). Margaret became involved with Thomas Meads during this time, but he was still married to Martha Beiton. As a result, he was not named on their first four births. Thomas Hallam returned from France in April 1814 to find an untenable situation — he was legally married to a woman who was no longer his wife. As she was settled in Epperstone, Thomas Hallam moved to the town of Nottingham, about 10 miles SW of Epperstone, and remarried later that same year. This would have been illegal, even though it was understandable and they had very few options.

The first wife of Thomas Meads, Martha, died in December 1815, and this paved the way for both of their names to appear on subsequent baptisms. Since her first marriage was still binding, though, they could not marry each other.

Thomas Hallam and his new wife, Sarah, moved back into that rural area — Bingham, only 7 miles from Margaret — in 1818. This was risky but he seemed to have got away with it. It is likely that he had close family in the area and so the risk was justifiable.

Although a family tree will capture the lineage of these people and their children, it is less able to capture the sequence of events or their geography.


Conflicts and Further Work

It initially troubled me that the term “base” was being used for the children of a married woman when the father was not the husband, rather than for the children of a single woman. However, I was consoled by the fact that the children of a single woman seduced by a married man would have been so termed. There was still the description of Margaret Hallam as “spinster” in the Bishops’ Transcripts (Table 1); was this simply a toning-down of the information for the bishop, or was the church unaware of her true predicament?

Margaret was married in the neighbouring parish of Screveton St. Wilfrid, only about 8 miles away, and the commonality of her surname would mean that the local vicar must have been aware of her situation.

Prior to the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834, a wife and any legitimate children all took the father’s parish of settlement, and this could result in them being a financial burden on the parish if they became destitute. It is interesting in this case that Margaret and her base-born children all appear to have been accepted in the settlement parish of Thomas Meads. The question of who the father was of the earlier four children would therefore have been of great interest to the parish officers, and the Nottinghamshire Archive may hold bastardy documents for that parish.

If it was by mutual agreement that Margaret remained in Epperstone and Thomas Hallam moved to the town — which is an entirely reasonable presumption — then there may have been a divorce a mensa et thoro granted by the church courts, and it is worth checking the Archive for any record of this.

Geoffrey Martin pointed me to another candidate for Thomas Hallam overseas: a landsman in the Royal Navy who, on 15 Sep 1803, allotted part of his pay to his mother in Bingham — the town where Thomas Hallam later moved.[39] However, we’ve already established that both the parents of Thomas Hallam were living until 1823, and were resident in Screveton.

The transcribed extracts for the baptism of Margaret Astling (see note [15]) and the death of her father’s first wife, Elizabeth, (see note [17]) both have a note saying “family details on fiche”. It is essential to follow this up and find just what these details are, even if they turn out only to be for Margaret’s parents rather than for her.

I will follow these avenues up in a later post.




[1] Nottinghamshire Family History Society (NottsFHS), Parish Register Baptism Index, CD-ROM, database (Nottingham, 1 Jan 2013), database version 3.0, entries for mother’s surname of Hallam, Epperstone Holy Cross parish; CD hereinafter cited as NottsFHS-Baptisms.
[2] NottsFHS-Baptisms, entry for Thomas Mead [Meads], 1 Mar 1772, Epperstone Holy Cross parish.
[3] NottsFHS, Parish Register Marriage Index, CD-ROM, database (Nottingham, 1 Jan 2013), database version 3.0, entry for John Meads and Alice Tomlinson, 27 Apr 1768, Epperstone Holy Cross; CD hereinafter cited as NottsFHS-Marriages.
[4] NottsFHS-Marriages, entry for Thomas Meads and Martha Beiton, 9 Apr 1792, Trowell St. Helen parish.
[5] NottsFHS-Baptisms, entries for father of “tho% m%d%” and mother of “martha” in parishes of Trowell St. Helen and Epperstone Holy Cross; tabulated entry for Mary was not available in this source, as indicated in the tablenote.
[6] NottsFHS, Parish Register Burial Index, CD-ROM, database (Nottingham, 1 Jan 2013), database version 3.0, entry for Martha Meads, 8 Dec 1815, Epperstone Holy Cross; CD hereinafter cited as NottsFHS-Burials.
[7] "1841 England Census", database with images,  Ancestry (www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 9 Jun 2017), household of John Pacey (age 35); citing  HO 107/865, bk.10, fo.10, p.14; The National Archives of the UK (TNA).
[8] "1851 England Census" (accessed 9 Jun 2017), household of Margaret Meads (age 66); citing  HO 107/2134, fo.188, p.12; TNA.
[9] "1851 England Census" (accessed 9 Jun 2017), household of Thomas Maids [Meads] (age 80); citing  HO 107/2132, fo.484, p.32; TNA.
[10] England, death certificate for Thomas Meads, died 4 May 1860; citing 7b/153/5, registered Nottingham 1860/Jun [Q2]; General Register Office (GRO), Southport.
[11] Nottinghamshire Guardian (10 May 1860): p.8.
[12] "1861 England Census" (accessed 9 Jun 2017), household of Margarett [Margaret] Hallam (age 80); citing  RG 9/2471, fo.54, p.6; TNA.
[13] Wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/chare : accessed 9 Jun 2017), s.v. “Chare”.
[14] NottsFHS-Burials, entry for Margaret Hallam, 13 Oct 1869, Woodborough St. Swithun.
[15] NottsFHS-Baptisms, entry for Margaret Astling, 10 Oct 1784, Coddington All Saints.
[16] NottsFHS-Marriages, entry for James Ashling [Astling] and Elizabeth Taylor, 18 Mar 1775, Coddington All Saints.
[17] NottsFHS-Burials, entry for Elizabeth Asling [Astling], 1 Feb 1783, Coddington All Saints.
[18] NottsFHS-Marriages, entry for James Asling [Astling] and Elizabeth Baker, 22 Jul 1784, Coddington All Saints.
[19] NottsFHS-Burials, entry for Elizabeth Aslin [Astling], 11 Nov 1824, Coddington All Saints.
[20] NottsFHS-Burials, entry for James Astling, 10 Oct 1789, Coddington All Saints.
[21] NottsFHS-Marriages, entry for Margt. Asling [Margaret Astling] and Thomas Hallam, 9 Feb 1803, Screveton St. Wilfrid.
[22] "1841 England Census", database with images,  Ancestry (www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 10 Jun 2017), household of Thomas Hallam (age 55); citing  HO 107/853, bk.1, fo.53, p.30; TNA.
[23] NottsFHS-Marriages, entry for Thomas Hallam and Sarah Astin, 19 Dec 1814, Nottingham St. Mary.
[24] NottsFHS-Baptisms, entries for “Thomas Hallam” and “Sarah” where father’s occupation is “Tailor”.
[25] NottsFHS-Burials, entry for Thomas Hallam, 4 Jan 1850, Bingham St. Mary and All Saints.
[26] Online transcriptions of GRO birth and death index, General Register Office (https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/indexes_search.asp : accessed 10 June 2017), entry for Thomas Hallam; citing Bingham Union, 1850, Mar [Q1], vol.15:337.
[27] NottsFHS-Marriages, entry for Thomas Hallam and Ann Barnes, 27 May 1779, Screveton St. Wilfrid.
[28] NottsFHS-Baptisms, entries for “Tho% Hallam” and “Ann%” in parishes of Lowdham St. Mary the Virgin and Screveton St. Wilfrid.
[29] NottsFHS-Burials, entry for Thomas Hallam, 13 Oct 1823, Screveton St. Wilfrid.
[30] NottsFHS-Burials, entry for Ann Hallam, 26 Dec 1833, Screveton St. Wilfrid.
[31] “British Army Service Records 1760-1915”, database with images, Findmypast (www.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 11 Jun 2017), discharge papers for Jonathan Hallam, born 1785 in Cavlerton, Nottinghamshire, attested 19 Jul 1804; citing Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records 1760-1913, archive ref: WO 97, box 819, box record no. 5; TNA.
[32] Short and Williams, Prisoners of War in France from 1804 to 1814: Being the Adventures of John Tregerthen Short and Thomas Williams of St. Ives Cornwall (London: Duckworth & Co., 1914).
[33] “Prisoners of War 1715-1945”, database with images, Findmypast (www.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 11 Jun 2017), entry for Thomas Hallom [Hallam], 89th Regiment of Foot, entry no. 888; citing Register of British POWs Prisons A-G, France, 1787-1820, archive ref: ADM 103/467 PART 1; TNA.
[34] "British Prisoners in France", Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser (24 Feb 1814): p.3, col.2.
[35] Short and Williams, p 4243.
[36] Ibid., p.120.
[37] Ibid., p.124125.
[38] "Rotterdam, March 29", London Courier and Evening Gazette (2 Apr 1814): p.2, col.2.
[39] "British Royal Navy Allotment Declarations 1795-1852", database with images, Findmypast (www.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 11 Jun 2017), entry for Thomas Hallam, Topaze vessel, pay book no. 151; citing Registers of allotments and allotment declarations, archive ref: ADM 27/9; TNA.