Banns of Marriage Somerset, Banwell, England Dates 1770-1810 Marriages, Source No. 1597208 Item 9, the banns read, "Marriage of William Watkins and Mary Ford both of Banwell" and is signed by a Reverend and a doctor. The marriage is also found in this source and reads similar to the banns.
Burial 1813-1866 of Banwell, Somerset, England Source No. 1517682 Item 3, the record reads "Mary Watkins, abode Banwell Feb 10th, 1827 Age 77." Bishop Transcripts 1814-1836 Banwell, Somerset, England Source No. 1278896 items 15-17, record also places death at Age 77.
Notes on a pedigree chart for her son, Charles Watkins and Sarah Whitney, it states that Mary Ford lived at Max-Mills near Winscombe Somerset England. Legend also has it that when she married William she was disinherited by her father. William was employed by her father as a coachman. Her father was a vicar.
Mary Ford (Watkins) (1753 – 1827) – A successful quest to find her siblings, her parents and birthday by David and Kristin Cook
The Quest to find her parentage:
Summary: For some time descendants have looked for the parents of Mary Ford. Below is the story of how we found her parents Edward and Elizabeth Ford. The effort involved will research, traditional research, collaboration from many researchers, and serendipitous miracles. At first it was felt that her parents were Thomas Ford and Elizabeth Wise who turned out to be her grandparents.
I. Background: The family tradition about William Watkins and Mary Ford came from a transcript of a family reunion in 1933 where Richard Charles Watkins (a great grandchild) stated: “William Watkins, I think, came from Wales [My grandfather told me that he came from Monmouth, Wales with 4 or 5 of his 8 brothers to find work.] to Taunton or perhaps Banwell, Somersetshire, and was there employed as a coachman. He married his employer’s daughter, which caused much family trouble to the extent that the daughter was disinherited.”
For years we searched around Banwell and surrounding towns for her birth. Various theories of her birth were identified but none were founded in solid facts or primary sources.
II. Found siblings Edward, Ann, and nephews: Then the first of various miracles, in September 2010 I received an email from Tim Farr, a family historian and descendant of Mary Ford where he forwarded an email from Annie Lotocki in Australia. She was researching a surgeon named Edward Ford’s second wife, Henrietta North. She was looking at the will for Edward Ford, Surgeon (1747-1809), proved in London and had come across the name of “Mary Watkins.” from Banwell. She did some internet searches and found Tim and my posts about the Watkins in Banwell. Here we found a brother of Mary Ford Watkins! I began a correspondence with Annie and also began transcribing the will. The will talks about two sister Mary Watkins from Banwell, Somerset and Ann King (no location given). It also mentions three nephews, Thomas Copeland, Edward Copeland, and William Copeland. It appears Edward Ford had no children as no children are mentioned in the will, except a child from Henrietta’s first marriage. All of a sudden we were starting to put Mary Ford’s family together. She has a brother named Edward Ford, a sister named Ann, and likely another sibling from which the Copeland nephews come.
A snippet of the will is below:
This snippet says: “thereof I give unto my Sister Mrs. Mary Watkins of Banwell in the County of Somerset widow the sum of three hundred pounds I give to my nephew Mr. (side note: Thomas Copeland the sum of three hundred pounds I give to my nephew) Edward Copeland the sum of three hundred pounds I give to my much esteemed friend Mr. John Adair Hawkins of Great Marlboro Street Surgeon the sum of fifty pounds. I give to Mr. William Clifton of Great Newport Street Soho apothecary and my nephew Mr. William Copeland of Chigwell in the county of Essex apothecary my trustees”
In addition to Edward’s will mentioning Mary Watkins from Banwell, we also found Henrietta’s will which mentions Mary Watkins and leaves money for Mary. The body of Henrietta’s will was written in December of 1825 and Mary Ford Watkins died in Feb 1827. The exact wording in the will is as follows:
I give to Mary Watkins of Banwell near Bristol an annuity of fifteen pounds during her life by half yearly payments to be made to Mr. Emery of Banwell for her not as long as he will receive and apply and apply the same for her benefit and afterwards to be paid into her own hands by weekly payments I also direct ten pounds to be applied towards the burial of the said Mary Watkins I also give the said Mary Watkins five pounds for mourning
III. Thomas Ford (Not a parent – He is a grandparent): There is much written about Edward Ford, the surgeon (1747-1809), and brother of Mary Ford, even a Wikipedia page. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Ford_(surgeon). This Wikipedia page, His obituary, and other sources, lists a father for Edward (and I thought Mary also) as Thomas Ford, the prebendary of Wells and vicar of Banwell. This is incorrect! This Thomas Ford turned out to be Edward and Mary’s grandfather. Edward and Mary Ford’s parents died when they were very young it is easy to see how this error was made.
It took some time to find their actual parents. Upon early investigation it seemed unlikely Thomas Ford from Wells could be their father because he died at age 74 in 1 Sept 1746 before Edward was born 12 Feb 1747.
With the help of my sisters Katie and Sherrie we had searched the parish records for Wells, Somerset but found no Fords born in the 1750 time frame. We were still at a loss to the parentage of Edward Ford, Mary Ford, Ann Ford King and a Ford Copeland. In our searches in Wells, Somerset we did find Edward Ford’s burial. He was buried in the same burial plot as Thomas Ford [his grandfather]. Below is from a book on the burial plot in Wells Cathedral, Somerset, called Wells Cathedral: It’s Monumental Inscriptions and Heraldy By Jewers Arthur John page 93 and is accessible on books.google.com.
IV. Found another sibling Sarah (and then siblings Elizabeth and Thomas): We continued our search for the siblings. I found two books that mentioned the William and [Sarah Ford] Copeland family. The first book I found was “Northamptonshire and Rutland clergy from 1500” page 245. See image below
This Northampton book lists their mother’s name as Sarah, which fits into the family tradition. I had previously thought Mary had a sister named Sarah because William and Mary Watkins named their one of their children “Sarah Ford Watkins.”
In addition to this book I also found the will of William Copeland – which I transcribed. William Copeland died in 1787 and at the end of the will I found an addendum which I presume was written when Sarah Ford Copeland died in 1814 (We’ve yet to find Sarah Ford Copeland’s burial date). Nevertheless in this addendum it looks like the estate was given to her youngest daughter Anna Maria Copeland (Chetham). I did some Internet searches on “Anna Maria Chetham” and found another family history researcher in Australia named Diana . She has been doing family history research for 20 years and was researching Anna Maria. She was thrilled with the will transcript as it opened up her Chetham line wider.
The second book I found on the Copeland family was a list of Monument Inscriptions. The Copelands, although married in Oxfordshire, settled in Byfield, Northampton, where William Copeland (the dad) was the curate (also listed as reverend or clerk). The book is entitled “The history and antiquities of the county of Northampton” by George Baker. The book is also known as “Baker’s History of Northamptonshire.” It was published London: J.B. Nichols and Son, 1822-1841 and is a two volume set. This is page 489.
I began some research on the Copeland family and found a few additional items but I was still no closer than I was before to finding Mary’s parents. After a trip to the family history library I came home discouraged and perplexed. I had made a little progress but was I now at a dead end again. I had promised to send Diana the page about the Byfiled, Northampton monument inscriptions, so I set about to do so. Assuming that if I wasn’t going to find much more success at least someone could. She emailed me back expressing gratitude and included the following note,
“Hi David, Many thanks for the monumental inscriptions, wonder if they are still in the church at Byfield, must find out!! Also did you see the previous m.i. to Elizabeth Banks she was the sister-in-law to William Copeland. …..sincerely Diana
See the Monument Inscription picture above. In the left hand corner it mentions Elizabeth Banks who is a sister in law to the Rev Wm Copeland. Eureka!! Another miracle. Here is another sister to Mary, Edward, Ann, and Sarah. According to the monument inscription she was born in 1744 and would have been an older sister to Edward and Mary. I began some research into Elizabeth Ford Banks and found that she was married to a John Banks in 1773 in London. John Banks died in 1775 and Elizabeth Banks died the following year in 1776. I found the will for John and Elizabeth Banks. Her will is very interesting as she was pregnant at the time it was written. It also mentions two brothers, Edward Ford and Thomas Ford. The Edward is the same as mentioned above. This Thomas is new and the will says, “my Brother Thomas Ford now or late in the Said Service of the East India Company” Here we have another brother named Thomas! The will goes on to mention an uncle Dr. James Ford. It also mentions a cousin Gilbert Ford, son of Dr. James Ford and another cousin, Thomas Ford, who was a doctor of divinity. I was really intrigued by this because the Reverend Thomas Ford, prebendary of Wells and Vicar of Banwell had a son who was a doctor named James Ford. He was very prominent and had a son named Gilbert and also had a son named Thomas, who was the vicar of Melton Mowbray. A nice fit. I had spent some time researching the Reverend Thomas Ford family (b. 1673-d.1746), who was the Prebendary of Wells. This Thomas turned out to be the grandfather of my Mary Ford. He had six sons and likely two daughters. He had a son named Edward Ford that seemed like a possible match as the father of Mary.
I now had another sibling to research. In summary we have Elizabeth Ford (Banks – b. around 1744), Edward (b. between 1746 and 1750), Mary (b. around 1750), Sarah Ford (Banks), Thomas, and Ann Ford (King). I began to research this new brother of Mary Ford Watkins named Thomas and found his will. This will was written in 1782. In his will he mentions that he has three sisters and a brother (remember Elizabeth had deceased at this time). It also mentions his youngest sister is Ann Ford. It also mentions an Aunt named Frances Ford. His brother Edward Ford of Golden Square London (the same surgeon mentioned above) is the executor of this will.
V. Could the Father be Edward Ford, Eureka!!: I began to research Edward Ford, the son of Thomas Ford, who was a teacher and reverend (not to be confused with the Edward Ford surgeon above). From one source I found that he received a BA in 1733, MA 17 Feb 1736, and BD in 1744. From this record it appears he was a rector. I found his name with an Elizabeth in the book, Glouscestershire record series Vol. 8 on Google books page xiii. From this record it appears he was a rector in Duntisbourne.
I searched the Duntisborne parish registers and found the birth records for all the siblings except Elizabeth the oldest!! I had found them!! I now knew the parents of Elizabeth, Edward, Mary, Sarah, Thomas, and Ann were Edward Ford (b. 1715, died d 1761) and Elizabeth (d. 1763) of Duntisbourne Rouse. Edward Ford and Elizabeth had the following children christened in Duntisbourne Rouse, Gloucester.
8 April 1746 – Sarah Ford daughter of Edward Ford and Elizabeth (Duntisborne Rouse, Gloucester)
12 Feb 1747 — Edward Ford son of Edward Ford and Elizabeth (Duntisborne Rouse, Gloucester)
19 Aug 1749 – Gilbert Ford son of Edward Ford and Elizabeth (Duntisborne Rouse, Gloucester)
Gilbert died 1 June 1750
31 Aug 1750 James Ford son of Edward Ford and Elizabeth (Duntisborne Rouse, Gloucester)
James died 24 Sept 1750
31 Aug 1750 Robert Ford son of Edward Ford and Elizabeth (Duntisborne Rouse, Gloucester)
Robert died 30 Sept 1750
7 Nov 1751 – Thomas Ford son of Edward Ford and Elizabeth (Duntisborne Rouse, Gloucester)
7 Dec 1753 – Mary Ford daughter of Edward Ford and Elizabeth (Duntisborne Rouse, Gloucester)
1 Mar 1755 – Anne Ford daughter of Edward Ford and Elizabeth (Dunitsborne Rouse, Gloucester)
Upon searching the Duntisbourne Rouse parish records a few more facts were found. He signed the parish registers as minster or rector starting in 1745. He signed these registers until he died and was buried on the 10th Oct 1761. His wife Elizabeth Ford was buried on Dec. 19th 1763. Hence, the parents of this young family died and many of the family returned with grandma Elizabeth Wise Ford and possibly an aunt our uncle to Somerset. Grandpa Thomas Ford, the prebendary, had already passed on in 1746.
The only child we didn’t find was Elizabeth (oldest child of Edward and Elizabeth). I assume when we find the marriage of Edward and Elizabeth we will find her birth shortly behind.
Another piece of evidence: I also found the will of Gilbert Ford who is an uncle to Mary Ford Watkins. He was the attorney general to Jamaica from England. In his will, which was written in 1768 in Jamaica where he died, he leaves money to his two nieces Elizabeth and Sarah Ford daughters of his deceased brother Edward Ford. This is another piece of evidence that links this family.
Conclusion: Don’t give up ever! It often just takes time. Still much to learn, but making progress.
BURIAL: Age 77.