The Mysterious Case of the Mixed Up Ralph Driffills

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1 The Mysterious Case of the Mixed Up Ralph Driffills The First Ralph Let s begin with Ralph Driffill who was baptised at Burton upon Stather on 23 July Ralph was the son of William and Susannah Driffill of Thealby. Most Ancestry Driffill family trees and other trees in wide circulation have Ralph s birth/baptism and parentage correctly recorded. However almost all of these trees have Ralph (1750), son of William and Susannah Driffill married to an Ann Williamson in Frodingham in 1770 and this writer contends that this assumption is not correct. The Quaker Register of Winteringham Meeting ( ) 1 records a number of non-quaker Driffill records post 1818, including the following information about Ralph. Ralph Driffill son of William & Susannah Driffill of Thealby departed his life at Winterton the 7 th day June 1791 and buried at Winterton Churchyard This information has been matched with the details recorded in the Winterton Parish Burials Register. The Ralph Driffill 1791 burial entry is indexed in the Family Search batch B and the entry has been viewed by this writer in the original parish register, which is available online at the Lincolnshire Archives website. The burials register records that Ralph Driffill Butcher died on 7 th June (1791) and was buried in the Churchyard aged 40 years. The age at death and details exactly match Ralph s baptism record and the details recorded in the Driffill family register. Further investigation reveals that Ralph and his wife Alice had two children who were baptised in Winterton Ann Driffill 22 September 1786 Winterton (FS batch C ) William Driffill 16 March 1788 Winterton (FS batch C ) Both of these records clearly record (on the original register) that Ralph Driffill, the father of these two children was a butcher. Furthermore Ralph s marriage is also recorded in the Winterton Parish Marriages Register. Ralph Driffill married Alice Fowler at the Winterton Parish Church on the 4 June The register entry (which has been sighted by the writer) records that they were a bachelor and spinster, so even 1 This register is available to be viewed at the Lincolnshire Archives in Lincoln. Page 1

2 though Ralph was 35 at the time of his marriage to Alice, it is very unlikely that he had been married before. This evidence would appear to be fairly conclusive in supporting this writer s claim that Ralph Driffill, son of William and Susannah died in Winterton in 1791 leaving a widow and two young children. Alice remarried in As a result of evaluating this additional information, it would appear that the many family trees who claim Ralph, son of William and Susannah as an ancestor are incorrect. The Second Ralph So this means that researchers need to ascertain the identity of the Ralph Driffill, who with wife Ann raised a large family in the parish of Burton upon Stather in the second half of the 18 th century. The Burton upon Stather parish registers provide very clear details about the life of Ralph and wife. The register records the birth of 8 children who are recorded as being the offspring of Ralph Driffill, Cordwainer (shoemaker) of Thealby and his wife Ann. In all cases the actual parish registers have been sighted by the writer and details such as residence/abode (Thealby) and occupation (cordwainer) have been noted. These children include Sarah (1768), John (1770), Ralph (1772), Susannah (1773), Alice (1776), William (1779), Hannah (1781) and the replacement William (1784). 2 Ralph also appears in the Burton upon Stather Tithe Register from 1769 until 1822 (sighted by the writer). 3 The Burton upon Stather Parish Burials Register records detailed information about the death of Ralph noting that he was a Shoe Maker of Thealby and that he was aged 83 years at the time of his death. Ralph s age at death means that a birth year of c.1738/1739 can be assumed and used to help identify his parentage and parish of origin. However it is simpler to jump forward to my assumptions about Ralph s parentage and then join the clues together from there. Ralph, in this writer s opinion was the nephew of William Driffill ( ) of Thealby. William was baptised in Bottesford on 14 April 1704 (FS batch C ), the son of Ralph Driffill of Ashby. Most researchers have concluded that William was a Bottesford Driffill. William had a younger brother, John, who was baptised in Bottesford on 16 February 1705/1706 (FS batch C ). 2 William Driffill ( ) is the ancestor of the writer, Christine Driffill McDonald. He is described as a replacement William because his elder brother William died in infancy. 3 The Burton upon Stather Tithe Register is not available to view online but it can be viewed at the Lincolnshire Archives in Lincoln. Page 2

3 John Driffill (1705) of Bottesford can potentially be traced to the town of Crowle by It was not unusual for young men to be on the move around the villages of North Lincolnshire. William (1704) and John (1705) were the 4 th and 5 th sons and we know that William was in Burton upon Stather by 1740 and most likely earlier. John Driffill (1705) of Bottesford married Susannah Thornton in Crowle on 23 November 1735 (FS batch M ). The couple had at least four children who were all baptised in Crowle including John (1736), Ralph (1738), Susannah (1740) and Sarah (1743). Of particular interest is the second child, Ralph Driffill who was baptised in Crowle on 10 September 1738 (C ). This baptism has eluded many researchers because it has been indexed as Driffin on Family Search. The baptism date is a perfect match with the calculated birth date of Ralph Driffill, cordwainer of Thealby who died in 1822 aged 83. Ralph Driffill (1738) of Crowle married Ann Martin in Crowle on 10 May 1764 (FS batch M ) and they had two children in quick succession, both baptised in Crowle. Ann was baptised on 17 March 1765 (FS batch C ) and Mary on 26 May 1766 (FS batch C ). Ralph is clearly identified as a Shoemaker on his marriage record as shown below. There are no further register entries for the Driffill family in Crowle after 1766 and this writer contends that Ralph moved his family from Crowle to Thealby between 1766 and 1768 and that he is the Ralph Driffill ( ) who was a Cordwainer in Thealby. A summary of the evidence which backs up this claim is 1. The birth date of Ralph (1738) of Thealby exactly matches the baptism date of Ralph (1738) of Crowle 2. Ralph of Crowle was a Cordwainer (shoemaker) and Ralph of Thealby was a Cordwainer 3. There is no evidence of Ralph of Crowle, in Crowle after There is no evidence of Ralph of Thealby, in or around Thealby before The births of Ralph s ten children are in a continuous and logical sequence from Crowle in 1765 to Thealby in Ralph s second daughter Mary, who was born in Crowle in 1766 was married to a widowed Richard Eastwood in Burton upon Stather in There is no other possible Mary of the right age in Burton upon Stather at the time of this marriage. This helps support a Crowle/Thealby link. 5. There is a strong case to support the contention that Ralph s father was John Driffill (1705) of Bottesford, brother of William Driffill of Bottesford/Thealby i.e. Ralph s uncle. Page 3

4 Given William (1704) of Thealby s good fortune, good marriage and good connections in Thealby, it is not surprising that his extended family would also come to Thealby. Thomas Driffill ( ) who was the blacksmith in Thealby is also William s nephew and he settled in Thealby c So taking into account all of these factors, this writer contends that Ralph Driffill (1738) of Crowle and Ralph Driffill (1738) of Thealby are one and the same person. This means that the many family trees and researchers who have identified themselves as descendants of William Driffill and Susannah Wressell of Thealby through their son Ralph, are in fact descendants of John Driffill and Susannah Thornton of Crowle through their son Ralph of Crowle and Thealby. The Third Ralph This now leaves the question of the identity of the Ralph Driffill who married Ann Williamson in Frodingham on 15 th May 1770 (FS batch M ). It is this Ralph and wife Ann whom so many researchers have assumed to be the Ralph and Ann of Thealby. This 1770 marriage is also recorded on FindMyPast as part of the Lincolnshire Marriage Index. Ann is described as a widow of Frodingham while Ralph is described as a bachelor from Bottesford. This clue that Ralph is from Bottesford is very important because it points to Ralph Driffill of Bottesford who was baptised on 10 September 1749 (FS Batch C ), the son of Thomas Driffill and Ann Walker. Ralph (1749) of Bottesford is part of the same Bottesford family of Driffills that have been discussed throughout this document, except that Ralph s father Thomas Driffill is the son of Ralph Driffill ( ) of Page 4

5 Bottesford and his second wife Jane. William (1704) of Bottesford/Thealby and John (1706 of Bottesford/Crowle are both the sons of Ralph ( ) and his first wife. But that is another story that doesn t have time to be written today! This writer has undertaken this research over an extended period. Rather than using a let s look for the right baptism or marriage using parameters inserted into the Family Search index, the writer has scheduled every Driffill (and variants) baptism, marriage and burial (1700 s and earlier) for the northern Lincolnshire area on spreadsheets and then sorted the data into family groups. Data has been collected from Family Search as well as other indexes that are available on FindMyPast including (for example) the indexes for Lincolnshire marriages and Lincolnshire marriage bonds. The writer has also collected data from other sources including the Lincolnshire Archives using wills, property documents, poll books etc. Finally, the writer has worked through all of the images of the original parish registers for Bottesford and Burton upon Stather, searching for all Driffill (and variant) entries. This work has yielded a number of registrations that have not been indexed on Family Search. Finally all of the entries that have been used as part of my own ancestral tree and the various contentions in this short document have been sighted on the original parish registers (and many others just to check) to ensure that the transcriptions on the various indexes are correct and to look for additional details that have not been recorded on transcriptions e.g. abode and occupation. It is not the intention of the writer to discount or de-value any of the meticulous research that has been undertake by other genealogists over a long period of time, but rather, to add a revised view to the community discussion based on additional documentation that has been identified by the writer. With many blessings Christine Driffill McDonald Auckland, New Zealand 13 October 2014 Page 5

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