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Elizabeth Chichester married William Clarke on 5 Feb 1799 at Old Cleeve, Somerset, England.

I have not found a baptism record for Elizabeth, and as a result I am seeking alternative types of evidence for who may have been in her birth family.

I currently have two theories, which I have presented as alternative answers, but I welcome additional answers that might present additional theories, or serve to refine or distinguish the two that I present.

In this question I will present the records I have for Elizabeth's life after marrying William.

They baptised these children, all at Old Cleeve:

  • Mary on 20 Jul 1799
  • Elizabeth on 19 Apr 1801
  • William on 6 Mar 1803
  • Thomas on 22 Mar 1807
  • Ann on 29 Jan 1809
  • another Thomas on 13 Feb 1814
  • Edward on 8 Nov 1818
  • Harriet on 11 Jan 1824

In the 1841 Census, Elizabeth Clark (aged 60) is living at Old Cleeve with William Clark (Ag Lab; aged 35), Anne Clark (aged 25) and Thomas Clark (aged 2).

In the 1851 Census, Elizabeth Clarke (aged 73; born Old Cleeve) is living at Old Cleeve with William Clarke (Agricultural Labourer; aged 48; born Old Cleeve; son), Anne Clarke (Agricultural Labourer; aged 34; born Old Cleeve; daughter), Edward Clarke (Glazier; aged 32; born Old Cleeve; son), Thomas Clarke (Scholar; aged 11; grandson) and John (Scholar; aged 8; grandson).

Elizabeth Clarke was buried, aged 83, on 27 Jan 1861 at Old Cleeve.

Based on the above how can I identify the birth family of the Elizabeth Chichester who married in 1799 at Old Cleeve, and appears to have been born about 1778 at Old Cleeve?

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The eldest son of my 5th great grandparents Edward Chichester and Constant Lyddon, who married on 6 Jun 1765 at Leighland Chapel, Old Cleeve, was John and he was baptised on 29 Sep 1765 at Leighland Chapel, Old Cleeve.

Do not be surprised if you see that baptism recorded as 29 Sep 1775 because 1775 is what it clearly says in the image, but it is at the bottom of a page with 1764 baptisms, and on the next page are 1764 and 1765 baptisms. The 1765 date seems much more likely based on available evidence from events in his later life.

John Chichester married Elizabeth Armstrong on 24 Feb 1783 at Leighland Chapel, Old Cleeve, when he appears to have been only about 18 years old.

John and Elizabeth appear to have only had one child: John Chichester, a Tailor, who married Sophia Ettery on 10 Oct 1814 at Old Cleeve, and was buried, aged 61, on 27 Dec 1845 at Leighland Chapel, Old Cleeve, giving him a birth year of about 1784.

John senior was a Surgeon who appears to have left his wife (Elizabeth Armstrong) sometime between 1786 (when he became a freemason at Williton, Somerset) and 1794 (when he married Mary Beatrix Powell in South Carolina, USA).

Elizabeth and John junior appear to have stayed in Old Cleeve, and Elizabeth was buried, aged 66, on 16 Jul 1814 at Leighland Chapel, Old Cleeve which suggests that she was born in 1748, and would have been about 35 years old when she married John Chichester, aged about 18!

A distant cousin, who has been and still is a serious researcher of the ancestors and descendants of Edward Chichester and Constant Lyddon, pointed me to a baptism on 31 Mar 1765 for "Mary base born Infant of Betty Armstrong". Assuming that this Betty Armstrong is the same person who married as Elizabeth Armstrong in 1783, and was buried in 1814 as Elizabeth Chichester, would mean that she had this illegitimate child when aged about 17. I have not found any further record of Mary.

My current theory is that Betty/Elizabeth Armstrong (born about 1748) ended up giving birth to at least three children:

  • Mary Armstrong, base born in 1765
  • Elizabeth Armstrong(?) in about 1778, presumably illegitimate - this is the Elizabeth Chichester that is being asked about in the question.
  • John Chichester in about 1784 (after marrying his father John Chichester in 1783)

I think it unlikely that John Chichester (the Surgeon), would have been the father of Elizabeth Armstrong(?) because he would have been aged about 13, at the time she was born.

I suspect that Elizabeth Armstrong(?), became known as Elizabeth Chichester, at the age of about 5, when her mother married John Chichester.

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My 5th great grandparents Edward Chichester and Constant Lyddon married on 6 Jun 1765 at Leighland Chapel, Old Cleeve and baptised these children:

  • John on 29 Sep 1765 at Leighland Chapel, Old Cleeve. Do not be surprised if you see this recorded as 29 Sep 1775 because 1775 is what it clearly says in the image, but it is at the bottom of a page with 1764 baptisms, and on the next page are 1764 and 1765 baptisms. The 1765 date seems much more likely based on available evidence from events in his later life.
  • Robert (my 4th great grandfather) on 11 Jun 1767 at Leighland Chapel, Old Cleeve
  • Giles on 13 Apr 1769 at Leighland Chapel, Old Cleeve
  • William on 28 Oct 1773 at Leighland Chapel, Old Cleeve
  • Jane on 19 Feb 1776 at Leighland Chapel, Old Cleeve
  • Charles on 14 Jul 1777 at Leighland Chapel, Old Cleeve
  • Thomas on 13 Sep 1779 at Old Cleeve

The theory supported by multiple trees on Ancestry.com is that Elizabeth is another child of Edward and Constant. If correct, I find it surprising (but not impossible) that I have found no baptism recorded for her at Old Cleeve, or anywhere else.

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