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Mary and Jane

Anne-Marie Ford    -    5 January 2014

At Froyle in Hampshire on 23rd November 1818 a Gypsy, Mary Stanley, and her son, Samuel Ayres, were examined with regard to settlement. Mary was the daughter of Peter and Jane/Jenny Stanley and had been baptised at Tadley in Hampshire on the 9th February 1746/7, the child of travellers. Her known siblings were: Paul, baptised at Chieveley, Berkshire on 25th January 1731; William, baptised on 9th October 1737, “a stranger,” at Hambledon, Hampshire; Hambledon, Hampshire Jane, baptised at Hawkley, Hampshire on 20th July 1740; John, baptised 26th August 1744 at Bentley, Hampshire, “strollers from Pepperstock, near Henley, Oxon;” Deborah, baptised at Chieveley, Berkshire on 21st March 1756.

Mary’s union with Samuel Ayres had, she declared at the settlement hearing, resulted in 14 children. Of these, 11 baptisms have been traced. Onslow Ayres, baptised on 12th August 1764 at Froyle, when Mary was about 17, “the son of vagrants” and was buried 12 days later, the son of Samuel and Mary Eyres (sic).Ellen, baptised at Chilcomb, Hampshire on 8th May 1768 is the next known baptism, followed by May Anna, baptised in Bramdean, Hampshire on 27th May 1770, a “Gypsy,” and Barbara, baptised 6th January 1773 in Basingstoke, Hampshire, “of the people called Gypsies.” James is baptised at Herriard, Hampshire on 8th January 1775 and at Chieveley, Berkshire a daughter, Pheaby (sic) is baptised on 27th April 1777. Ann is baptised at Herriard on 15th August 1779 and Reuben at Wield, Hampshire on 23rd July 1786, a “Gypsy.” A son named for his father, Samuel, is baptised at Froyle on 7th September 1788 and then Mary, after her mother, is baptised at Kingsclere on 27th November 1781,“atraveller.” The last recorded baptism for this couple is Elizabeth, on 2nd July 1791, also at Kingsclere.

Jane/Jenny, Mary’s sister, is surely the most likely partner of Samuel’s elder brother, Reuben, born about 1740. The union of siblings with other siblings was fairly common amongst the travelling population, no other records for Jane/Jenny Stanley indicate her death or a marriage otherwise, she is the same age as Reuben and Reuben and Jane begin to have children just a few years earlier than the younger Mary and Samuel. In addition, the same territory is favoured by this couple, including the areas of Chieveley, Berkshire, which the Stanley family often cited as their ‘home’ and Froyle, Hampshire, also popular with the Stanley tribe, probably due to the hopping.

Known children of Reuben and Jane/Jenny are Burdo, baptised 20th April 1760 in Hampstead Marshall, Berkshire; Ester, baptised 13th April 1763 at Romsey, Hampshire; Maria Dinah, baptised at Beedon, Berkshire on 27th March 1768; Samuel, named for Reuben’s brother, but short-lived, being baptised on 26th August 1770 and buried at Froyle, Hampshire on 2nd September the same year, “son of a vagrant;” Susan, daughter of Ruben Aires (sic), a traveller, at Owlesbury, Hampshire; Abigail, baptised 12th June 1774 in Romsey, Hampshire and buried at Froyle on 3rd September 1775, “a traveller’s child;” Sarah, baptised in Chieveley, Berkshire on 19th January 1777; Clementina, baptised 23rd November 1780 at Combe, Hampshire; Elizabeth, baptised at Clewer, Berkshire on 4th April 1784; Zipporah, baptised 18th June 1786 in Boxford, Berkshire.(In addition, Mark Hughes has located a baptism of Penelope, the daughter of Reuben and Jane, at Chieveley in 1783.)

A Peter Ayres who travelled the same territory and was married to Ann Baldwin began to baptise children in 1781, with the baptism of a son, Peter Ears (sic) at the church of St Thomas in Portsmouth, Hampshire on 14th March. It is probable that he, too, was a child of Reuben and Jane, or Samuel and Mary. A daughter, Sarah, was baptised on 17th April 1791 at Silchester, Hampshire; another daughter, Anslea, baptised as the child of Peter and Nanny, on 28th July 1799 at Portsea; Bartholomew, son of Peter and Ann, on 3rd November 1803, at Hungerford, Berkshire; Odo, baptised on 25th April 1809, having been born 31st March that year, at Hungerford, Berkshire. (Two others daughters of this couple have been found by Mark Hughes: Isabella, baptised at Hampstead Norris, Berkshire in 1786 and Harriet, baptised at Deal in Kent in 1795.)

Another possibility as a child of either Samuel and Mary or Reuben and Jenny is the Major Ayres baptised at Soberton on 3rd February 1766 “son of a Gypsy.” He married Hannah Matthews at Hampstead Norris, Berkshire on 8th December 1789 and they baptised a daughter, Keziah, who had been born on 21st June, on 3rd July 1791at Greenham, Berkshire.

The Eleanor who baptises a son, Thomas Eyres, at Bentworth, Hampshire on 1st July 1796 is also worth considering as possibly the Ellen, daughter of Mary and Samuel, baptised in 1768.

Two of Samuel and Mary’s children were apprehended as vagrants on 18th December 1819 at Woodmancote, Samuel and Elizabeth, together with Elizabeth’s son Elias. Elias, we know, was baptised as Goliah Airs at Lasham, Hampshire on 28th January 1816, where the cleric has noted that Elizabeth is a “Gypsy, of no abode.” Of Mary’s other children we know too that Barbara baptised a son, George, on 29th June 1800 at Tadley in Hampshire and a daughter, Cicely Ann, born on 5th June, at Overton, Hampshire on 11th June 1809. An Ann Ayres, a Gypsy, possibly the daughter of Samuel and Mary, baptised in 1779, can also be found baptising children in Hampshire, Athalia on 7th March 1802 at Hannington and, on 20th February 1814, at Nutley, another daughter, Mary. Certainly, Samuel and Mary’s daughter Mary/May Ann had a Patience, baptised at Herriard, Hampshire 21st November 1790, a “travelling woman.”

Patience, the granddaughter of Samuel and Mary Ayres, was to baptise a daughter Mary Ann, named after her mother, on 12th January 1812 at Woodmancote, Hampshire, with her partner, William Stanley. Patience had other children, although not all, it would seem, fathered by William. It is likely that the Caroline Eyres and possibly Repentance Eyres, born in the years after Mary Anne, were the children of this couple, but if she is also the mother of Ellis Eyers, “daughter of Patience,” baptised at Fordingbridge, Hampshire on 9th September 1821, then this was by a different partner. When Ellis, a hawker, aged 21, marries at Shinfield, Berkshire on 28th March 1842 to a Henry Steer she names John Hughes, a traveller, as her father. Three years after Ellis’s baptism a Patience Hughes is baptised on 15th August 1824 at Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, the daughter of John and Patience Hughes, a traveller; little Patience did not last long however, dying at the age of 9 years, and was buried on 25th May at Hartley Wintney. Subsequently, her mother can be found living with her married daughter, Ellis/Alice Steer and her young family in the 1851 census in the registration district of Hartney Wintney, claiming to be 59 years of age, which is only a year or so out.

Barbara’s son, George, married his long-term partner, Rosanna Pike, when they had already had more than a dozen children, at Eversley, Hampshire on 17th July 1853.On the register he is described as a chairmender and his father is recorded as a James Ayres. However, the fact is that very little is known about his mother, Barbara, or her partner. Her daughter, Cicely Ann, married a travelling Gypsy named Francis Cole at Overton, Hampshire on 4th May 1831, but there is no father named. Barbara herself was to die in 1837, “aged 73,” and was buried at Old Basing in Hampshire on 30th August; she was actually about 64 years old.

There were a number of unions between the Stanleys and the Ayres, particularly in Hampshire and Berkshire. Repentance Eyers/Ayres and Solomon Stanley’s union, for example, was briefly famous, following Solomon’s arraignment for Repentance’s murder. (Following a post-mortem it was clear that Solomon was innocent and that Repentance had died of natural causes) It is also probable that Charles Stanley, the son of John (Mary Stanley’s brother) and Susannah Stanley, was also united with an Ayres, Mary. Surely she is the Mary Aires (sic) who baptised an illegitimate son, Charles Aires, at Havant, Hampshire on 18th May 1809. Subsequent children born to Charles and Mary Stanley include: Charlotte, baptised about 1811; John, baptised in 1815;Emmeline/Emily, baptised 1817; Mary, baptised 1819; James, baptised 1821; Diaphene, baptised 1826.

Quite apart from the birth of a son, Charles, to a Mary Ayres, approximately two years before the baptism of the first of the known children of Charles and Mary Stanley, there is also the circumstantial evidence given at Solomon’s trial by Emily Stanley, Charles and Mary’s daughter. Solomon went to the tent of Emily Stanley’s parents with an hysterical Repentance in his wake. Why? If Mary was an Ayres it makes sense that, as a probable aunt of Repentance’s, Solomon hoped she would have a restraining influence upon her. Emily’s evidence also gives us a clue, as she testified at Solomon’s trial that she was Solomon’s second cousin and Repentance’s first cousin –further confirmation, if more was needed, of the close family connections between these two tribes. 

Copyright © 2014 Anne-Marie Ford