My 7th great grandfather Thomas Courteney (Courtenay/Courtney) appears to have baptised seven children at Ladock, Cornwall, England:

  1. William Courteney on 1 Nov 1695 to parents Thomas and Catheren
  2. Ann? Courteney on 18 Jan 1697 to parents Thomas and Catheren
  3. Catheren Courtney on 24 Dec 1700 to parents Tho and Kath
  4. Thomas Courteney on 6 Mar 1702 to father Thomas
  5. John Courteney on 6 Jul 1706 to father Thomas
  6. Matthew Courteney on 12 Nov 1709 to father Thomas
  7. Thomasin Courteney on 17 Jun 1712 to father Thomas

My theory is that the same Thomas Courteney fathered all seven children and that their mother was named Catheren.

In the trees of others I have often seen this Catheren given the surname Benallack but I have not been able to find a marriage record, or any record, that identifies the wife of Thomas Courteney as being Catheren Benallack or another Catheren/Kath.

After many searches of Cornwall OPC (where the baptism records above can be found), Ancestry, FindMyPast and FamilySearch over the years, I am wondering whether anyone here can provide a suggestion as to where a marriage record or alternative evidence may be found to identify a wife of Thomas Courteney who appears to have baptised seven children from 1695 to 1712 at Ladock?

There are some Courtney and Benallack wills from Ladock listed at https://opc-cornwall.org/Par_new/l_m/wills_parish_files/ladock_wills.pdf:

  • CRO AP/C/573 Will of Edward Courtney, esquire, of Ladock 1622
  • NA PROB 11/222/266 Will of Hatton Courtney of Ladock, Cornwall 1652
  • NA PROB 11/235/172 Will of Edward Courtney, Gentleman of Ladock, Cornwall 1654
  • CRO R/5626 Will of Peter Courtenay of Ladock 1670
  • CRO AP/C/4352 Will of John Courtney, tailor, of Ladock 1800
  • CRO AP/B/96 Will of Drew Benadlack alias Benallack of Ladock 1605
  • CRO AP/B/973a Will of Elizabeth Benallack, widow, of Ladock 1639
  • CRO AP/B/2072 Will of John Benallack, yeoman, of Ladock 1685
  • CRO AP/B/2500 Will of Mary Benallack, widow, of Ladock 1699
  • CRO AP/B/4008 Will of Joan Benallick of Ladock 1756

but, of these, the only one that I have been able to examine is that of Hatton Courtney which is too early to shed any light.

Another Courtenay will that may be more useful in identifying relationships between these people is The Will of Peter Courtnay gent of St Erme 1697. When he mentions "my cozen William Courtney of St Erme" I suspect he is referring to the brother of Thomas Courteney (who baptized children with Catherine at Ladock) who was named William Courtenay and married Honor Scawen in 1692 at St Stephen's, Saltash, Cornwall.

  • The WW2 bomb in Exeter won't help matters, unfortunately.
    – user6485
    Oct 18, 2020 at 10:39

2 Answers 2


You are quite correct that, if the the marriage did really happen, the wills of members of the Bennalack family are a good place to look for evidence. All the wills you list can be viewed at the Cornwall RO or through a Familysearch Family History Centre, though of course access is a bit tricky at the moment. The Cornish OPCs have a guide to finding the correct film from the catalogue reference: https://opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/Locating%20Cornish%20Wills%20revised%20May%20%202020.pdf .

(Although Cornwall was in the Diocese of Exeter, most Cornish wills were stored separately and were not destroyed in WW2. The OPC list includes only wills that have survived.)

ETA. Looking at the trees on Ancestry, the one belonging to Father Joseph looks promising. He puts Catherine as the daughter of a Matthew Bennalack who died in 1707 and appears to have seen his will. He also indicates that he is willing to help others so, if you have access to Ancestry, I would suggest you consult him.

Looking again at that tree I notice that he includes Matthew Bennalack several times, and in one case I didn't see before he has commented "Matthew's will mentions his wife, Blanche, son, John, and 3 daughters, including Catherine and her 5 children. In her 1698 will, Matthew's sister-in-law, Mary (widow of John Benallack) mentions Catherine, wife of Thomas Courtenay." So it seems these wills are definitely a good source for Catherine's identity.

  • Thanks David - I have a World Membership at Ancestry but I have not been able to locate Father Joseph or his tree. Are you able to provide a link to his profile and/or tree, please?
    – PolyGeo
    Nov 21, 2020 at 8:07
  • If you search for public trees with Catherine Bennalack you nearly 200. His was the first I found which mentioned the will, It's the Doyle Family Tree, about the third on the list, but I don't know if they always come in the same order. This should link to his profile: ancestry.co.uk/account/profile/… , (You might have to change the .uk bit if you aren't in the UK.) Nov 21, 2020 at 18:35
  • Thanks @DavidHartley - I've now located FatherJoseph on Ancestry and have just sent him a message there.
    – PolyGeo
    Nov 25, 2020 at 0:32

I have not been able to find a marriage for Thomas Courtenay (using variant spellings) and Catherine in the period leading up to (or beyond) 1695 at or in the vicinity of Ladock. Consequently, I suspect that I may never know the maiden surname of Catherine, and have found no source to support any assertion that it was Benallack.

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