Clock-makers, Vicars, Huguenots and Pirates: some family history excitements

Thank you to the wonderful family history friends who took up the challenge I outlined in my last post, to help me find the parents of my great great grandmother, Mary Cardell. As a result, I have had one of the most exciting weeks in over forty years of tracing my family. Although I have not yet ‘inked-in’ another generation, the people I believe to be Mary’s parents remain the most likely suspects. I have found out more about her sister, who led an ‘interesting’ life, apparently taking a man’s surname, living with him and his wife and eventually having a child by this man before posing as a widow and marrying a man with a criminal record. This pales into insignificance compared to my discoveries about Mary’s putative mother, Mary Ann Gutteridge (other spellings are also available). I must stress that there is still work to do to verify that these people are my relatives but it certainly looks likely. I do know the golden rule – prove each generation in turn before rushing backwards. Let’s just say, do as I say, not as I do. It started as an exercise to see if going backwards a little might confirm the more recent links and then I got carried away.


Thomas Mudge wikimedia Commons

Not only is there a connection to Huguenot silk weavers from Spitalfields, exciting enough in itself but I am taken back from London to Devon. It seems I may have Devon ancestry on both sides of my family. I MAY be related to one Thomas Mudge, who was the Royal clockmaker to George III, has a lengthy entry in the Dictionary of National Biography and had his portrait painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds. This is rather different fare from my usual diet of agricultural labourers. There is a book about Thomas, his father and brothers, who had illustrious careers in various fields. Thomas’ father, Zachariah Mudge, was vicar of Abbotsham, just a few miles from where I live and headmaster of Bideford grammar school. Two generations earlier, we find details of a ransom being raised for one Hercules (aka Archelaus) Mudge, who had been captured by pirates in 1666. Wow! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Hercules could be shown to be my 8x great grandfather.

The morals of this story are, never give up. Revisit your genealogical brick walls often. Seek fresh pairs of eyes to re-examine the evidence. So far, I have ordered one death certificate for the wrong Mary Ann Cardale (spellings are many and varied), who I hoped might be Mary’s mother. I am wondering how many more wrong certificates I can afford.  I have contacted DNA matches who have Mudge in their ancestry but their Mudge connections are too far distant to account for the match – we must be related through a different family. I have accessed wills that could have helpfully mentioned married daughters by name, thus confirming the pedigree but no, not a mention of a daughter married to my ancestor or indeed to anyone else. It would have been helpful if gg grandma or her sisters had been baptised but again no, that would just make it too easy. If anyone feels like undertaking a mission of mercy at London Metropolitan Archives, it might put me out of my misery.

2 comments on “Clock-makers, Vicars, Huguenots and Pirates: some family history excitements

  1. […] give me the confirmatory evidence I needed. Mary Ann Gutteridge’s ancestry proved fascinatiing. I have already mentioned the royal clockmaker, the vicar of the neighbouring parish, the one who was captured by parents and […]

  2. Brenda Turner says:

    One thing I have learned in my 20+ years in family history research is that leaving a brick wall standing there for a few years and taking a break is really worthwhile. All the time, new record groups become available, or even your own understanding of an issue can change and improve things.

    Notably, this occurred to me last night. We were chatting and a chum brought out folders of information in hard copy I had given him in the years we have known each other, plus items he found himself about our area of mutual interest.

    I was transfixed as I handled a few pages of research I had given him more than 10 years ago. Now, suddenly, I realized the connection between what I was reading and how some of my family groups were linked. Though I had had this info at my fingertips a long time ago, I had never realized that the connections, with my greater understanding of family groups travelling together, were very clear.

    Shortly I will re-visit that archive I visited long ago and explore further sources. Yippeeee! Cheers, Brenda

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