William Rice of Rutland, tailor

One of Ari’s 6x great-grandfathers was William Rice. Working back from his death and marriage dates, he was probably born around 1730, when George II was on the throne. There is a baptism record in Uppingham for a William Rice on 2 August 1730, son of William, who was a joiner (mother not mentioned!).

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Finding this record has helped me find his seven siblings, four of whom died as babies, and put his parents’ marriage date at about 1726.

On 7 October 1762, William married Mary Pepper at the church of St Peter & St Paul in the market town of Uppingham, Rutland.


Once a year the market square in Uppingham has a traditional Christmas Fatstock Show. Cattle, sheep and pigs are judged.

We know from his children’s baptism records that William was a tailor. This is the record for the third son, Daniel, in 1768:

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Northamptonshire, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1532–1812, Ancestry.co.uk

The baptism records also tell us that William and Mary were living in South Luffenham.


See this page for the history of the village.

William and Mary had seven children altogether.

William died in December 1796 and was buried on the 30th of that month at St Mary’s in South Luffenham.

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Rutland Burials, Findmypast


Luckily for us, William left a will. It says (take a deep breath!):

In the Name of God Amen I William Rice of South Luffenham in the County of Rutland Taylor being Sick of Body but thanks be to God of Sound mind memory and understanding and considering the Certainty of Death as well as the Uncertainty of the time thereof Do make and Publish and Declare this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following that is to say first I give and devise all that my messuage Cottage or Tenement with the Hereditament and Appurtenances thereto belonging at South Luffenham aforesaid now in my own occupation unto my Dear wife Mary Rice for and during the Term of her Natural Life she keeping the same in good and tenantable Repair and from and after her Decease then I Give and Devise the same unto my son William Rice and to the Heirs of his Body Lawfully Issuing to my said Son William learning my Son Martin the trade of a Taylor or putting him out apprentice to that Trade or some other and in Case my Son William shall dye without Heirs of his Body Lawfully to be Begotten Then I give and Devise all the said Messuage Cottage or Tenement after my said Son Williams decease unto my second son Daniel Rice his Heirs and Assigns forever All the Rest Residue and Remainder of my Real and Personal Estate whatsoever or wheresoever to be found that I shall dye Possessed of after payment of all my just Debts funeral Expenses and the charges of Proving and Executing this my Will I Give Devise and Bequeath all these and every part unto my said Wife Mary Rice for and during the Term of her Natural Life and from and after her Decease Then I give the same to and to be equally divided between all my Children Except my said son William to be equally divided between them Share and Share alike I also make Constitute and appoint my said Wife and Brother in Law William Pepper of Uppingham Guardians for my said Children and also Executors of this my Will hereby Revoking all former Wills by me made In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my Hand and Seal this second day of May in the year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy Seven

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Consistory Court of Peterborough: Wills, Administrations and inventories, Findmypast.     © Northamptonshire Archives Service

At the time that he wrote the will, his youngest son Martin was only a few months old, but sadly he died in August that year. His brother-in-law William Pepper had also died before he was able to take on guardianship of the children.

Most of the records for the family have the surname as Rice, but occasionally it appears as Royce, possibly reflecting the local pronunciation.

Ari, this is how you are related to William:

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David Stapleton, linen weaver

David Stapleton was one of Ari’s 5x great-grandfathers (and before you read on, one of the criminal ancestors I wrote about here). He was born in 1772 in Harringworth, Northamptonshire, the youngest son of Joseph Stapleton and Mary Lewis. His christening took place at the church of St John the Baptist in Harringworth on 12 July 1772.

The Harringworth Viaduct, built in 1878. It is the longest masonry viaduct across a valley in Britain, and a Grade II listed building.

In 1797 David married Mary Sutton in Stamford, Lincolnshire. I have just discovered the marriage banns, which show that she was a widow:

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Lincolnshire Banns, Findmypast

The couple had four sons, and then a daughter and then another son. (Two of the boys, Robert and John, died as young children.) Mary died in 1837. The 1841 census shows David living alone in Harringworth, aged 68. His occupation is given as a weaver.

The next record we have for him is a criminal register:

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England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791–1892, Ancestry.co.uk

He was sentenced to two years in Northampton Gaol for this assault, and there were several newspaper reports, naming the girl as Anne Norman, who is listed with her family on the next page of the 1841 census.

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Lincolnshire Chronicle 15 July 1842, Findmypast
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Evening Mail, Findmypast

In January 1844 this appeared:

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Northampton Mercury, Findmypast

I’ve just found this correspondence and letter asking for his discharge:

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David died of old age at the Union Workhouse in Uppingham, Rutland on 29 December 1849. He was 78. He was buried at Harringworth on the 1st of Jan 1850.

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Northamptonshire, England, Church of England Burials, 1813-1912, Ancestry.co.uk

Ari, this is how you are related to David:

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Francis Burton of Ridlington, Rutland

Francis was one of Ari’s 6x great-grandfathers. We know that he died in Belton, Rutland, in 1794 and was buried there on 3 April.

On 27 September 1779 he had married Susannah Whiteley at the church of St Mary Magdalene & St Andrew in Ridlington, a small parish north of Uppingham.


Specially for Ari!

From this date we can estimate that he was born in about 1759, but I haven’t found a record of his baptism.

This is the marriage entry from the Bishop’s Transcripts from Ridlington, which was in Northamptonshire at that time:

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This gives us the name Lye Field, which was near Ridlington.

Church Lane, Ridlington

Francis and Susannah had ten children, one of whom was Susanna. The baptism records of these children give us a little bit of extra information. In November 1792, two babies, Robert and Edward, were baptised, described as ‘sons of Francis and Susannah Burton of Lye-field’. (Edward’s burial a week later is on the same page.)

As we know, Francis died in 1794, and his burial record shows that he was a pauper.

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I checked the newspapers and found a few mentions of Ridlington, including this one:

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Northampton Mercury

But no mention of the Burton family!

Ari, this is how you are related to Francis:

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James Cobley (Coverley) (Calverley)

James Cobley was one of Ari’s 3x great-grandfathers, born in 1846 in South Luffenham, Rutland. His father was William Cobley and his mother was Mary Davis.

Corbel on St Mary’s church, South Luffenham

I have just found his baptism at St Mary’s, listed as Calverley:

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He appears in the 1851 census, age 5, when the family were living in Barrowden.

Inscribed stone at Appletree Cottage, Barrowden. Possibly an admonition to mourners passing in funeral processions.

By 1861, at age 15, James had left home and was working as a servant for a farmer, Mary Ann Cox.

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In 1869 James married Elizabeth Stapleton in Stamford, Lincolnshire, and by 1871 they had moved to the village of Tixover in Rutland, where James worked as a labourer.

The route of the Rutland Round (a 65-mile walk around Rutland’s perimeter) between Tixover and Barrowden.

The couple had six children, including twins Edward Daniel and Thomas Davis (Ari’s great-great-grandfather). In 1881 they were living in the village of Tinwell, near Stamford, at 4 Empingham Road Cottages. James was 36 and working as an agricultural labourer.

The datestone on the forge at Tinwell

The 1891 census record proved elusive as the name had been transcribed as Colley, but he is there, at Village St Cottage in Glinton, Northamptonshire. In 1901 he was at Town St, Glinton. By now the only child still at home was the youngest daughter, Annie Elizabeth.

And in 1911 James and Elizabeth are still in Glinton, and James is a farm labourer, aged 65. He doesn’t give a postal address, but in the census he is immediately after the Blue Bell Inn.

James died in 1923.

Ari, this is how you are related to James:

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Susanna Burton of Barrowden

One of Ari’s 5x great-grandmothers was Susanna Burton, the mother of William Cobley. Susanna was born in 1784. I am working on the theory that her parents were Francis and Susannah Burton, and if this is the case then she was born on 13 April and baptised on 10 June in the village of Ridlington in Rutland.

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The baptism record on Findmypast says that the parents live at Leigh Lodge, which is a listed building now.


Of course once you identify someone’s parents you can start to find all the brothers and sisters and then work back to the parents’ marriage (this is why my task is never-ending!). I found children born to Francis and Susannah starting with Ann in 1781, so this marriage in 1779 looks right.

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We now know that Susannah’s mother was Susannah Whiteley, and they lived at Lye Field, near Ridlington.

So back to Susanna Burton. On 1 August 1804 she married John Sculthorpe. A daughter, Fanny, was baptised on 23 December that year. John died and on 4 November 1813 Susanna married William Cobley at the church of St Peter in Barrowden. The record tells us that she was a widow and he was a widower.

Their two sons, William and Edward, were born in 1814 and 1816. I haven’t found Susanna in the 1841 or 1851 census yet, so will update this when I do.

She died on 4 June 1859 in Barrowden. The cause of death was “Gastro Enteritic Fever 14 days”. An announcement appeared in the Stamford Mercury on 10 June.

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She was buried at St Peter’s church.

Ari, this is how you are related to Susanna:

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William Cobley (pronounced Coverley?)

William Cobley was Ari’s 4x great-grandfather, born in 1814 in Barrowden, a parish on the river Welland in Rutland, and also on the Jurassic Way.


As I started looking at what I knew about him this morning, things got a bit confusing. I thought I’d found his marriage to Mary Davis in 1841 but then couldn’t find it again. What I found instead were the banns and marriage record for:

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That definitely says Coverley! Now I wasn’t sure. Is this the same person? Would Cobley and Coverley be pronounced the same if you had a Rutland accent?

Puzzling over this, I did a search for the new name, and came upon a second marriage for William on 29 Dec 1863, after Mary’s death. He is marrying a widow, Amy Townsend, and just look at the signature:


So maybe he used both names, or maybe the curate wasn’t sure. But at least that provides enough evidence that it is the right person.

So, on with his story. The banns (from the Rutland Banns Collection on Findmypast) say that he is living in Oakham, so we can assume that the 1841 census is correct. Here he is a servant on a farm called Oakham Grange. He appears in the Lincolnshire Chronicle twice. Firstly on 5 Sep 1845 where he has been convicted of using wire snares to kill game:

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And secondly on 3 March 1848, where he is being sent to gaol:

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(Always worth checking the local papers!)

In 1851 he and Mary are living in Barrowden with three of their four children and a nephew. William is an agricultural labourer. Mary died in 1863 and William married Amy later that year, as we have seen. In 1871 the two of them are still in Barrowden, with an eight-year-old grandson, John Newman.

William died in 1876 and was buried on 2 Feb.

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(Source: Rutland Burials on Findmypast.)

To end his story, here is a photo of Barrowden’s tranquil pond and village green.


Ari, this shows how you are related to William:

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