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*** Correction*** Tracing Gypsy Families Back Despite the Lack of Records. FIFTEEN: John and Ann Orchard

Eric Trudgill    -    14 August 2014

The earliest Gypsy Orchard family I’ve traced is that of the John, claiming to be of Ashton Keynes, Wilts, who seems to have travelled from the 1780s to the 1800s in East Wilts (eg Shalbourne and Baydon) and nearby West Berks (eg Ashbury and Uffington) as far east as Harwell, Berks. He married Ann Perry, perhaps a Mary Ann since she was also recorded as Mary Perry, and seems to have christened the following children: Jane in Harwell in 1783 (daughter of John and Ann, not recorded as Gypsies but the only Orchards in the register, suggesting they were vagrants), James in Shalbourne in 1788 (son of John and Mary, not recorded as Gypsies but as of semi-distant Uffington), Mary in Ashbury in 1792 (daughter of John Orchard and Ann Perry, pauper), Abel in Ashbury in 1796 (son of John Orchard and MaryPerry, travellers), Edward in Baydon in 1798 (son of John and Ann of Uffington), and Ann, not far from Baydon, in E Garston, Berks in 1802 (daughter of John and Ann, not recorded as Gypsies but effectively the only Orchards in the register).

John and Ann Orchard’s son James perhaps married Harriet Bland, christened in Sutton Courtenay, Berks in 1789 daughter of John Bland (chimney sweep) and Ann Davis, and had the Elizabeth Orchard christened in N Moreton, Berks in 1812 (the only Orchard churched there in 300 years), and had in nearby Oxfordshire around that time the Harriet Orchard who married (daughter of James, basketmaker) a much younger Gideon Davis (tinker), perhaps related to her grandmother.

John and Ann Orchard’s son baptised as Abel, but always Abraham as an adult, in 1818 married Sarah James in Churchill, N Oxf in deference to her parents, who were travellers of Churchill at her baptism. Abraham otherwise stayed close to home: he christened four of his children in Ashbury, next door to Idstone where he always claimed he’d been born (plus one child in nearby Longcot and another not far away in E Lockinge); and he was in Ashbury for every census 1841-81.He was, in short, a “short” traveller.

John and Ann Orchard’s son Edward in contrast was rather “long”. He married Christiana Hunt, baptised in Minster Lovell, Oxf in 1800 daughter of William and Mary traveller, and though he christened one child in Kempsford, Glos not that far from Ashbury and Uffington, and another in Mildenhall, Wilts not that far from Baydon and Shalbourne, he christened others to the north and east (in Garsington, Witney and Hailey, Oxf), to the north and west (in Lt Barrington, Glos and presumably somewhere near Chedworth, Glos) and increasingly further and further west (in Shipton Moyne, Glos, in Hullavington and Brokenborough, Wilts, and finally in Pitminster, Somerset, just before he settled down for good in Devon). I’ll post a detailed article on Edward’s family in my other series on this web-site in October 2014.

Tracing certain or probable children of John and Ann Orchard isn’t difficult. Establishing the probable as certain sometimes is and sometimes isn’t. Take the case of the John and Joseph Orchard, with baptisms as yet unfound, who married respectively Helen and Ann Bland (baptised in 1775 and 1785, sisters of the Harriet Bland I mentioned earlier as a possible wife of James Orchard) in Chichely, Bucks in 1802 and Appleton, Berks in 1809.

Joseph and Ann Orchard christened a Joseph junior in Newington, Oxf in 1808, a Jonathan in Long Wittenham, Berks in 1809, and a Joseph junior (perhaps another one or perhaps an error for the James, son of Ann, found in the census)in Wallingford, Berks in 1811, the parents described in each case as travellers, and the three locations close together, and distinct, though not distant, from the Baydon, Ashbury, Longcot, Uffington cluster to the west. Indeed in 1819 we find Joseph christening a George in Uffington (travellers), and in 1816, 1821 and 1824 we find him christening a third Joseph junior, a Caroline, and a Thomas in Baydon (Joseph a chimney sweep each time, like Abraham Orchard son of John and Ann, and in 1824 a chimney sweep of Longcot). When you add to these baptisms the fact that Joseph at his wedding in 1809 was recorded as a travelling man of Longcot, he looks incontestably an older son of John and Ann, born like his wife about 1785. I’ll publish a detailed article on Joseph’s family in Romany Routes in March 2015.

But if we accept Joseph was an older son of John and Ann Orchard, do we accept the John Orchard who married Joseph’s sister-in-law in 1802 was an even older brother? Perhaps, or perhaps this John was Joseph’s father, not brother, the widower or ex-partner of Ann Perry. We’re not there yet.

Copyright © 2014 Eric Trudgill