I have been trying to resolve an issue with death records for a Mary Ann Callen born 10 Aug 1870 in Southampton, Hampshire, England. She married Joseph Horatio Follett Sept. quarter of 1890 in Southampton and he died Sept. quarter of 1920 in Southampton.

Now for the death records.

I have found 2 possible death records, one for Mary Ann Callen (d. 1926), which I assigned to her unmarried aunt of the same name, and one for Mary Ann Follett in Basingstoke in 1948. My question is relating to a linked probate, which states that

  1. she was a spinster, and
  2. the probate of just under £4000 was awarded to Lloyds Bank when there was a living son and younger daughter.

Could the death be an incorrect one and I need to continue to look further?

  • 1
    "She was a spinster." Was she 1. a woman whose occupation is to spin, or 2. an unmarried woman, and if 2.: a) unmarried = never having been married or b) currently not married (which would also apply to a widow)? See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinster#Etymology_and_history Feb 5, 2022 at 18:03
  • Hmmm more to add to the headache I am having over this @Burgmeister 🙃 I can't find any possible remarriage and there are 2 possible matches for death records (1 Basingstoke and 1 London) with 3 of Mary Ann Follett. My ancestor, one born in Basingstoke and one born in Lambeth. To add to this, the one born in Basingstoke lived for at least part of her life in London Feb 5, 2022 at 19:57

2 Answers 2


As Elwyn says, the bank getting the grant of probate is not a problem. However, her being a spinster definitely is. It is not impossible that a widow should declare herself a spinster, but pretty unlikely. A copy of the will may help but if she wanted her marriage kept secret she's unlikely to have mentioned her children in it.

However, there was a Mary Ann Follett born in Basingstoke in Q2 1870. In 1939, Mary A Follett, spinster, born 18 Apr 1870, was living in Basingstoke as housekeeper to a George Hammond. The Mary Ann Follett who died in Basingstoke in 1948 was aged 78. It looks very likely that all these records refer to the woman who made the will, and that she never married and was not the former Mary Ann Callen.

If you can't find a suitable death record for Mary Ann Callen, perhaps she married again.

PS There are also two Mary Annie Folletts, born 1870, in the 1921 census. One in Southampton, one in Basingstoke.

PPS Mary Ann Callen appears to have been born on 10 Aug 1870. In the 1939 register she was recorded as Annie Follett, a widow living at 41 Northumberland Road, with her daughter Ruby.

An Annie Mary Follett died in Nottinghamshire in 1942, aged 72.May be worth getting that certificate, especially if you know if any of her children moved that way.... and yes, son Harold was living in the same area in 1939 (Bingham RD).

  • It looks like you have proved my theory that the Mary Ann Follett in Basingstoke is not the correct one. Thanks. Feb 4, 2022 at 18:11

You say “probate was awarded to Lloyds Bank when there was a living son and a younger daughter.” All that means is that she had appointed the bank as her executors. It doesn’t mean her children were disinherited (though they may have been – you need to read the will to find out).

You should be able to order a copy of the will for £1.50 (sterling) from this website:


I would also order copies of any possible death certificates to see all the information on them. It’s very risky trying to guess events from index information only. Reliable research needs proper checking of information, as well as a little expenditure.

  • Very handy to know. Thanks for clearing that up. Feb 4, 2022 at 13:11

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