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My 4th great grandmother Ebbot Martin was baptised on 7 Nov 1773 at Beaworthy, Devon, England.

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Ebbot married John Millman on 14 Sep 1795, also at Beaworthy.

John and Ebbot had at least nine children:

  1. William was baptised on 13 Mar 1796 at Northlew, Devon as the son of John Millman and Ibbett his Wife
  2. Susanna was baptised on 6 May 1798 at Northlew, Devon as the daughter of John Millman and Ibbott his Wife. Susanna was my 3rd great grandmother and married William Creber on 25 Dec 1820 at Marystow.
  3. John was baptised on 11 May 1800 at Okehampton, Devon as the son of William [sic?] Milman and Ebbett
  4. Richard was baptised on 12 Sep 1802 at Okehampton, Devon as the son of John Milman and Ebbet
  5. William was baptised on 14 Apr 1805 at Okehampton, Devon as the son of William [sic?] Milman and Ebbet
  6. Jane was baptised on 1 Jan 1808 at Okehampton, Devon as the daughter of John Milman and Ebbet
  7. Anne was baptised on 18 Mar 1810 at Sydenham Damerel as the daughter of John and Eaditha Millman
  8. George was baptised on 28 Jun 1812 at Sydenham Damerel as the son of John and Eaditha Milman of Lamerton
  9. Mary was baptised on 29 Jan 1815 at Sydenham Damerel as the daughter of John and Editha Millman of Lamerdae in Lamerton

Clearly, Ebbot's name was not easy for the recorders of the first six christenings, and it looks like their move to Sydenham Damerel resulted a new name being used for her.

However, her name seemed to revert, to Ebbeat Millman of Coryton, for her burial record on 22 Dec 1840 at Marystow, Devon.

Then on her gravestone (photo courtesy of Clare Esson) a new and striking name of Ebzeebra appears with the inscription saying:

Ebzeebra wife of John Millman of the parish of Coryton Who died the 19th day of December 1840 aged 65 years ALSO of Susanna daughter of the above and wife of William Creber who died the 25th day of May 1834 aged 36 years Where they dwelt in the mortal land

enter image description here

Does anyone have an idea as to why such a name would have been chosen for her grave when it does not appear to have been recorded for her anywhere else?

It may or may not be related but two of her granddaughters were named Hephzibah, presumably after her.

Furthermore, Googling "ebzeebra" suggests Ebbot's gravestone name has been used for no one else on the web!

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    Speculation, but were the family literate? Ebzeebra sounds like a mis-hearing of Hephzibah -- if the mason got it wrong, it might not have been spotted or they might not have been able to afford a corrected memorial. Doesn't explain how Ebbot became Hephzibah though.... – user104 Dec 29 '14 at 9:49
  • @ColeValleyGirl I just checked the 1795 marriage record of John Millman and Ebbot Martin - both made their mark rather than signing. I do not have a marriage record image for William Creber and Susanna Millman but for William's second marriage to Betsey Gale in 1843 the certificate looks like it has all been written in one hand (no signatures or marks). Both John Millman and William Creber were labourers. I think all involved in QA of this gravestone may have been illiterate. – PolyGeo Dec 29 '14 at 10:57
  • So often the case in QA in my experience :) – user104 Dec 29 '14 at 11:25
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    I'd go with @ColeValleyGirl on Hephzibah. Hephzibah could be pronounced Heph-zi-bah or 'eb-zee-bra. Sort of. On that basis, maybe Hephzibah is the original and it got shortened to eb-zi???? Written as / misheard as..? Can't quite sort it in my head but..... Any sign of her baptism? – AdrianB38 Dec 29 '14 at 15:39
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    @AdrianB38 I've included an image of the baptism record that removes any doubt about the original spelling. She had an older sister of the same name (and spelling!) baptised 4 Jun 1769 and buried as "Ebbot Martin an infant" on 7 May 1771. Their siblings' names were William, Susanna, Jane, Catherine and John i.e. unremarkable. – PolyGeo Dec 29 '14 at 23:13
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+50

I'm not sure this fully answers your question but I think it is relevant, and far too much to place in the comments.

I'm not sure if you already have any or all of this, but I came across a second individual with a very similar name - Ebzebeda Millman (of course, the spelling varies). She was the daughter of William and Catherine Millman, born in Cornwall in 1821. William appears to have been the eldest son of John and Ebbot Millman, making this Ebzebeda the granddaughter of Ebbot/Ebzeebra.

Starting with her baptism at Stoke Climsland, Cornwall:

14 Oct 1821, Ebzebida, d. of William & Catharine Millman, labourer, of Old Mill

On the 1841 census, she appears as Edytha (see HO 107/134/10, ff 34-35, pp 13-14).

In 1843, she married Charles Morgan. The Stoke Climsland marriage register states:

20 Mar 1843, Stoke Climsland, after banns: Charles Morgan, full age, bachelor, miner, of Oaks Wood in this Parish, s. of David Morgan, labourer, married Ebzebeda Millman, full age, of Oaks Wood in this Parish, spinster, work woman, d. of William Millman, labourer. Witnessed by William Millman (X) and James Hawton.

The following baptisms then appear in the Stoke Climsland parish register:

11 Jun 1843, William Henry, s. of Charles & Ebzebeda Morgan, miner, of Older Mill
1 Jan 1845, Charles David, s. of Charles & Ebsebadar? Morgan, miner, of Higher Land
11 Oct 1846, James John Werring, s. of Charles & Hepzibeda Morgan, labourer, of Higher Land
12 Nov 1848, Elizabeth Ann, d. of Charles & Hepziteda Morgan, miner, of Clitter
8 Jul 1864, Nora Jane, d. of Charles & Haphzebeda Morgan, miner, of Downgate

On the 1851 census, she appears as Elizabeth Morgan (see HO 107/1899, f 616, p 30).

On the 1861 census, she again appears as Elizabeth Morgan (see RG 9/1521, f 71, p 15). The spelling on the censuses could simply be a mistake during the process of filling in or copying the census forms, it does not necessarily mean she was known as Elizabeth.

On the 1871 census, she appears as Hebzebbeda Morgan (see RG 10/2145, f 79, p 39).

On the 1881 census, she appears as Ebzibeada Morgan (see RG 11/2217, f 6, p 5).

It appears she died in 1884, although the age is a few years off:

Deaths Jun qtr 1884, Hephzibah Morgan, age 56, Tavistock, vol 5b, p 246


All this is to say that there seems a lot of plasticity in the spelling of this granddaughter's name as well. I think the above is evidence that the spelling Ebzeebra is probably related to the name Hephzibah, though whether it was actually intended to be that name, or it morphed into that name, is impossible to say.

Although it seems backwards, the spelling "Ebzeebra" on the gravestone may be derived from the above granddaughter's name. Perhaps her son William, being the eldest, was involved in the funeral and burial arrangements, and maybe he was the one who attempted to spell his mother's name. William appears to have been a witness to his daughter's wedding, and he signed the register with an X, indicating he was probably illiterate. This is nothing more than speculation, but it would be very difficult to prove.

I have a similar (but less dramatic) case of an ancestor who on her baptism is called Edy, on marriage she is Edith, later in life she is sometimes Editha or Ada.

  • Many thanks for following this through. I had previously done some of it but the way you formatted it and your speculation are very useful. It reminded me of another quirk in their tree (that I may ask about separately sometime). I have two Williams in this nuclear family - I'll put their details in separate comments. – PolyGeo Nov 3 '15 at 22:22
  • Before 13 Mar 1796 • Northlew, Devon, England FindMyPast has image that says William S. of John Millman and Ibbett his Wife Oops - I had: "Before 14 Apr 1805 • Okehampton, Devon, England FindMyPast has image William was christened on 14 Apr 1805 at Okehampton, Devon as the son of William [sic?] Milman and Ebbet" – PolyGeo Nov 3 '15 at 22:23
  • I'll need to reassess - I had been thinking William had been written in place of John for the second birth but I think I should now look for another "Ebbet" or suspect that it is "Ebbet" that may be wrong. – PolyGeo Nov 3 '15 at 22:25
  • Hmm...perhaps I was too hasty to jump to the conclusion that Ebzebeda's father William was the son of John & Ebbot/Ebzeebra. Although William's age on the censuses is consistent, his recorded birthplace in Devon varies - Okehampton (1851), Bowe? (1861), Milton (1871). This in combination with the baptisms that say William & Ebbot instead of John & Ebbot makes me feel something is not adding up quite right here. – Harry Vervet Nov 4 '15 at 0:00
  • "Resolution of conflicts among evidence items" is something that I think I'll need to pursue more on this one but I think your answer has done more than enough to qualify for, and probably be awarded, the bounty. Unless it all falls into place I would expect to be writing up another question on the Millmans sometime - perhaps soon. – PolyGeo Nov 4 '15 at 0:14
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Hephziba Millman was my 2nd great grandmother. I have found her with many given name variations, including some of those above. Illiteracy and the unusual name if spoken unclearly are, as suggested above, probably the reason for the variations. Out of interest I searched the web for "Hephziba". One result said that according to the Old Testament, 2 Kings 21:1, Hephzibah was the wife of the godly king Hezekiah, and literally translated from the Hebrew means "My delight is in her". Perhaps, if they were religious, this was her family expressing their feelings towards her.

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    Welcome to G&FH SE! It is always good to see another cousin appear here. As a new user please take the Tour to learn about our focussed Q&A format. If you are interested in comparing notes on the Millman's, Martin's and their ancestors/descendants my user card profile will enable you to contact me offline. If you wish to ask any questions related to them or any other of your ancestors here then we would welcome them. – PolyGeo Apr 8 '16 at 7:00

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