My Paternal Family
Grtx4 grandparents: Richard (lll) and Elizabeth Fairey
My greatx4 grandfather, Richard Fairey was born on 5 April 1741 and baptised at St Marys, Hitchin on 19 April of that year. Elizabeth’s origins are not so easily discovered. A starting point is her burial (as Elizabeth Morgan) at Stevenage on 19 November 1815, when she was said to be aged sixty-eight. She was therefore likely born in 1747, give or take a year or two. There was only one Elizabeth Valentine recorded in Hertfordshire baptisms around that time: to John and Elizabeth Valentine at Hatfield on 1 February 1747. I cannot find a marriage or burial of Elizabeth jnr at Hatfield. At face value, She may well have been Richard’s bride. However, there is another possible identity for Elizabeth. There were Valentines in Hitchin in around 1747. David married Sarah (nee Bell) in the town on 9 June 1747. There are three only births and baptisms to the couple recorded at Hitchin: Mary (born 3 November 1747), Maria (10 January 1749) and Deborah 26 December 1750). Yet the Hitchin Militia List indicates that the couple had at least seven children:
There were no marriages or burials of Valentine children between 1764 and 1765. The implication is that two of the children moved out of the family home and were no longer supported by David. Was one of these Elizabeth, who (if she ever lived) was probably the oldest child? So there is a problem to solve - and for me it’s important to find a solution as Elizabeth was my direct ancestor. There is a useful rule when attempting to solve genealogical conundrums - the simplest answer is usually the correct one. This means that my ancestor, Elizabeth Valentine, was born at Hatfield - there only is there a primary source recorded at exactly the right time 1747. There is no time for the Hitchin couple, David and Sarah to have had another child between their marriage on 9 June 1747 and the birth of Mary on 3 November 1747. I also checked, and there is no record of the baptism of an Elizabeth Bell (Sarah’s maiden name) to a single woman at Hitchin around 1747. A consolidating fact is to be found in the choice of boys’ names made by Richard and Elizabeth. They had five sons. None was christened ‘Richard’ - a name which had been passed down the previous three generations. Rather, their third son was named, ‘John’ - the name of the Hatfield-born Elizabeth Valentine’s father. No wonder I was unable to find her local marriage or burial at Hatfield. Now we can view Richard and Elizabeth’s baptism records at Hitchin and Hatfield with a degree of certainty:
Richard III’s life is concisely mapped out in Hertfordshire Militia Lists. In 1758, when he was seventeen years old and single, he worked in Hitchin parish as a sack carrier - a man with a cart who transported bulky or messy goods that were not handled by standard carriers, such as grain, flour and small dead animals:
In 1863, Richard is a labourer, working in Ippolltts parish. It’s possible that this was at Preston, since part of the hamlet was in that parish. When he and Elizabeth married, he was living in Ippolitts, and she, in Hitchin. Banns were read in both parishes, but the couple were not married in Ippollitts as shown by the parish records.
Marriage at St Marys, Hitchin
Marriage at St Ippollitts, Herts
Richard’s star was on the ascent. from 1768 to 1772, he was noted as no mere (farm) servant but as a farmer, Lest we think he was farming 100 or so acres, he was more likely to have had a ‘small holding’. Nevertheless, it was his farm, even if he was merely a tenant. The family then moved to Graveley, Herts (which is three miles south-east of Hitchin). There, he is recorded as a labourer in 1778 and his last two daughters were baptized in Graveley in 1779 and 1781. There is a reference to Richard Fairey in the Graveley Vestry records. In view of his family’s impoverished background it is perhaps somewhat surprising that he signed off (with others) the Parish Poor Law accounts as accurate. Not only that, but in 1779 and 1780, Richard was the appointed overseer of the poor and so paid the impoverished - controlling a budget of around £70 annually. Thus, Richard was trusted, numerate and literate - spelling his surname, Farey. When he died, he was described again in the parish records as a ‘farmer’ - which confirms that he was the same person who was at Ippollitts from 1768-72.
The above document is dated May 1772 and states, ‘Richard Farey (sic) hath this day made oath that the above accounts settled (on) 5 April last is a true and fair account. Sworn before me etc’ Richard was literate, able to understand accounts and considered to be reliable when handling the parish finances.
When Richard was buried at Graveley in July, 1781, he was described as a farmer:
Richard’s wife, Elizabeth Farey, then endured three stressful events in quick succession in 1781. She gave birth to her eighth child in June. Her husband (who was only 40 years old) died in July. Then a daughter, Mary, died in August, aged 6. Elizabeth was left with seven children and a farm to manage.
Elizabeth was evidently a strong and resourceful woman. Two years later, in 1783, Elizabeth (36) married Joseph Morgan in Ippollitts – Joseph (22) was fourteen years younger than his bride.  The marriage certificate describes her as a widow. Joseph was the son of Daniel and Ann Morgan whose family lived in Preston throughout the eighteenth century. Although Daniel was a labourer, he held property at Preston. Perhaps Elizabeth knew the Morgan family from the time she had lived in Ippollitts parish.
The parish record of Joseph’s baptism at St Marys, Hitchin on 1 March 1761
Before his marriage, Joseph was described as a (farm) servant in the Militia List of 1782. Then after his wedding, in 1784-5, he was a farmer in Ippollitts. This indicates that Elizabeth had taken over the farm which was worked by Richard and that Joseph took over the reins when the couple married.
Elizabeth and Joseph had four known children. Between 1788 and 1793 the family moved to Stevenage, Herts and evidently farmed near Simons/Symonds Green. When Elizabeth died in 1815, Joseph was farming at Simons Green, which is on the outskirts of Stevenage and just three miles east of Preston.
The parish record of Joseph junior’s baptism at Stevenage on 31 January 1793 which notes his father as a farmer.
The parish record of Elizabeth and Joseph’s burials at Stevenage in 1815 and 1822 respectively
The payment to Stevenage mortuary of ten shillings is intriguing - this was a labourer’s weekly wage, and no trifling sum. There were several such payments to Stevenage’s mortuary around this time in connection to the burial of farmers, gentlemen and innkeepers, which indicate a service which was provided by the mortuary. Was this payment for a coffin? Was the appearance of Joseph’s body improved? This payment is a sign of affluence and perhaps the regard with which Joseph was viewed by his surviving family
When Joseph died, he left a will which reveals details of his holding. This is an epitome of his will:
Joseph’s will was made on 2 October 1820 and proved on 3 December 1822 He left all the household goods and effects that his wife, Rhoda, had brought to their marriage to Rhoda. He appointed his son-in-law, Charles Williams and Samuel Williams (baker) as his executors. He left all his houses (plural) and land in Stevenage and Hertfordshire to his (and his wife, Elizabeth’s) daughter, Lydia Williams (nee Morgan). After Lydia’s death, the rents and profits from his properties were to be given to Lydia’s oldest child when twenty-one (or when she married, if a female). Then all his holding was to be sold and the proceeds divided among Lydia’s children. If any had died, their portion was to be divided among their children. The residue of his estate (which included the standing crops, grain, cattle and farming implements) was left to Lydia. His estate was worth under £450. The terms of Joseph’s will made it certain that none of his estate was to be given to Rhoda (apart from what she had brought to the marriage, but were to stay in his and Elizabeth’s children’s possession. Now we can compile details of Joseph’s family. After Elizabeth’s death in 1815, he married the widow, Rhoda Cook, at Stevenage on 26 April 1819:
Charles and Lydia had seven known children. Six were baptised at Stevenage and Charles was always described as a baker: Joseph Morgan [10.3.1811], Mary [19.4.1813], John Morris [18.9.1814], Charles [2.6.1816] and Caroline [30.4.1820]. One later child, Henry, was baptised at nearby Shephall Herts on 16 July 1826, when Charles was noted as a farmer. Charles was buried at Stevenage on 23 January 1845, aged fifty-four (bakers often ‘did not make old bones’ because of the physical activity involved in preparing the dough before baking). In 1841, Charles and Lydia were living at Fore Street in the centre of Stevenage, which was probably the address of their bakery. In 1851, Lydia was noted as a retired baker living at Fore Street with two servants. A decade later, she was still at the same address and was described as a landed proprietor. In 1871, she was with her son, Henry, who was keeping the Red Lion,Welwyn. Lydia was an ‘annuitant’. When she died in February 1872, she was living at Woolmer Green, Datchworth (which likely indicates that she was living with one of her children). Lydia was buried at Stevenage on 12 February 1872.
Lydia, John and Elizabeth’s second child, married the baker, Charles Williams, at Stevenage on 24 December 1808.