I have hit a brickwall in my family research but have a possible lead. However, there are some discrepancies in this lead. I have gone to extra-ordinary lengths to research this and I am almost at the point of giving up.

My question is, are these discrepancies so big that it would be impossible to connect them to my direct line?

My Direct Line and what I know from primary sources (all information below are from original documents not computer transcribed records)

  • The earliest primary source of my direct Myall line is the birth of a son to Edward Myall and Elizabeth in 1784 (also called Edward) in the Southchurch/ Prittlewell Parish Records (Essex, England)

  • They had 2 other children together, Elizabeth (baptised 30 October
    1785) and Joseph baptised (25 February 1787). Both where baptised in the same Parish as their older brother

  • Edward Myall (Senior) was born in c1750 because we know he was buried on 11 May 1817 at the age of 67
  • Elizabeth his wife was buried 19 December 1829 at the age of 71.
    Therefore we can assume her birth is c1758.
  • We have searched the Southchurch/ Prittlewell Parish Records and have found no record of marriage between Edward and Elizabeth.

Possible lead

  • On 2nd April 1787 an “Edward Myall age 37 (Parish Saint Mary Rotherhithe) signed a bond of £200 to marry his wife Elizabeth Mather (Parish of St Dunstan, Stepney).

  • This Elizabeth was born on 14th January 1752 to Issac and Mary Mather (5 years before the calculated birth of my 4xGreat Grandmother)

  • This Edward and Elizabeths Parishes are 3 miles apart but 40 miles from the Southchurch/Prittlewell Parish (where my Myall children were born)

  • This Edward Myall and Elizabeth were married 3 months after my Edward Myall and Elizabeth had their 3rd child

My Thought Process

In 1829 when my Elizabeth Myall died its possible that her age was given/or recorded incorrectly. This would make the lead I have more plausible however this case becomes a permanent brick wall as it's something I could never prove.

That leaves the marriage date as the only discrepancy, the fact that Edward and Elizabeth (in my lead) were married the same year as my couples 3rd child was born. I have read some details but don't fully understand the need for a marriage bond. I can only speculate that the need for a bond in this case might be because they had children out of wedlock (but I can never be certain).

The real purpose of my question is to learn the degree of probability of this connection, a probability factor I can record in my notes. This would allow me to pursuit further research of the Mather family at St Dunstans, and the Myall family at Rotherhithe, because at the moment I have no motivation to do so.

There maybe further clues in Edward Myalls Last will and Testament which can be found here on my website. But I cant see them.

  • 2
    This could possibly be related to the switch between Julian and Gregorian calendars. The British Empire switched in 1752 (coincidence?). However, this should not make a difference of more than about two weeks.
    – Luke_0
    Apr 23, 2013 at 2:23

1 Answer 1


The age discrepancy doesn't bother me -- ages at burial are notoriously inaccurate in an age when knowing your birthdate wasn't really important. However, I don't believe you can assign a probability to a hypothesis such as this, but make some suggestions:

  1. Research the couple for which you found the marriage in 1787 forward -- you need to do this to know whether their lives subsequently are consistent with what you already know about your ancestors, or contradictory (in which case you are less likely to have a match).

  2. You don't say if you've searched other parishes for the marriage (before the birth of the children). it's possible that your couple of interest married elsewhere (e.g. in her home parish) before settling down in Southchurch/Prittlewell.

  3. It's not inconceivable that the couple would marry after their children were born, and might need to do it away from their home parish (to conceal the fact that they hadn't been married all along). I don't have my copy to hand of Marriage Law for Genealogists the definitive guide by Rebecca Probert (Kenilworth: Takeaway (Publishing), 2009.) but I seem to remember she did an analysis of the frequency with which marriages took place in 'foreign parishes' and it was neither enormously frequent nor vanishingly rare. However, you have follow up points 1 and 2 above to take this forward.

  • Thanks for your sensible approach. To clarify on your question in your second bullet. I did a random search in other Parishes within a 20 mile radius but to your point I probably haven't found them all. I live in Ireland and these parishes are near London so opportunities will be few and far between. Apr 23, 2013 at 10:47
  • 2
    @StephenMyall, essex-opc.org.uk might be helpful as you can't travel, as might seax.essexcc.gov.uk.
    – user104
    Apr 23, 2013 at 19:06

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