From the office: Devon sent

By Steve Harnell, 20 November 2014 - 1:02pm

Deputy editor Claire Vaughan explores the new Devon records release from Findmypast and is rewarded with a missing baptism

Claire Vaughan is deputy editor at Who Do You Think You Are? MagazineThursday 20 November 2014
Claire Vaughan, deputy editor
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If, like me, you have Devon ancestors, you’ll have been eagerly awaiting Findmypast’s newest release – a whopping 1.7 million Devon parish records (not to mention an index to more than 250,000 Devon wills) - which appeared last Friday. Needless to say, this week I’ve been enthusiastically exploring these records and I’ve been rewarded with something that helped me solve a frustrating block on my tree…

I didn’t even know I had Devon ancestors until about three years ago when I spotted the name ‘Chudley’ listed as the birthplace for John Ellis, my 4x great grandfather, a cowkeeper (and some-time tanner) living in Chester. I puzzled over it for a while before I realised it was Chudleigh in Devon (coincidently just up the road from where I was living at the time).

Scouring the microfilmed records at the Devon Heritage Centre, I finally found John’s baptism in the Chudleigh parish registers. His parents were Joses Ellis and his wife Mary (née Oliver). But there the research into my new-found Devonian Ellises came to an end. I continued trawling the registers, hopelessly, for Joses’ baptism records in surrounding parishes and further afield – and then gave up.

As soon as we were alerted that the Findmypast release had gone live last week, I jumped onto the website and after about two minutes eagerly tapping away at my keyboard I had found him! He had been baptised in the parish of Christow, just five miles from Chudleigh, goodness knows how I’d missed him.

His parents were Nicholas and Margaret Ellis. Checking the other records in the release – specifically the Devon Wills Index 1163-1999 – I found that he left a will, proved in 1822. I’ve managed to get hold of a copy from the Devon Heritage Centre and it shows among other things that Joses had managed an estate over at Filleigh in North Devon. My next mission? To get my hands on those estate records and find out what he did there, of course!

So hurrah for fully indexed and searchable parish records – long may the releases continue…

Have you found anything interesting in Findmypast’s Devon release? Share your discoveries below.

 

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