The furthest I have been able to trace our WARD family line is to my third great-grandfather Thomas Ward. He was born near Witney, Oxfordshire and his father was a labourer named James Ward. He moved to Mortlake, Surrey, where he married Mary Ann Maria Walters in 1838. They had 11 children. Thomas died on 10 Dec 1879 in Battersea of stomach cancer. About 2-3 years ago, I started looking for Thomas Ward’s family of origin in Oxfordshire. This is a summary of my research so far.
—For more information about Thomas and his descendants see: Thomas Ward, labourer in a Candle Factory
Thomas Ward gave his place of birth as Oxfordshire in three England Census records. In the 1871 Census, he specified Witney, Oxfordshire, which could mean the town of Witney itself or the rural area and villages surrounding the town. Often people reported the closest larger town as their place of birth on census records rather than the actual village if it was small.
—Marriage: 5 Aug 1838, Thomas WARD son of James WARD, labourer1
—1851 England Census: Thomas Ward, born 1813 Oxfordshire2
—1861 England Census: Thomas Ward, born 1815 Oxford, Oxfordshire3
—1871 England Census: Thomas Ward, born 1813 Witney, Oxfordshire4
Most of the parish baptism, marriage and burial records for the county of Oxfordshire have been transcribed by the Oxfordshire Family History Society (OFHS) and are available on CD. They also have a great search service for only £1.50/surname per 75 entries in one of several county-wide indexes. Not all of the parishes are covered in the county-wide baptism index so I did end up purchasing some of their CDs of parish records from the Witney,5 Woodstock,6 and Chipping Norton7 Registration Districts and extracted Ward entries from those transcriptions.
I ordered searches from the following indexes:
—Thomas WARD baptisms 1800-1837 in Oxford City8
—Thomas WARD baptisms 1790-1830 in Oxfordshire9
—WARD baptisms with father James 1770-1840 in Oxfordshire10
—James WARD marriages, 1538-1837 in Oxfordshire & North Berkshire11
—WARD burials 1800-1837 in Oxfordshire12
I also contacted the Berkshire Record Office and they searched for me the baptism records for St. George’s Catholic Chapel in Buckland, which was in Berkshire at the time but close to the county border.
—WARD baptisms 1800-1840 for St. George’s Catholic Chapel, Buckland13
There are a handful of Oxfordshire parishes that I have not checked for Thomas WARD’s baptism. The Oxfordshire Family History Society search services do not yet cover these and I also do not have the transcriptions on CD. They are: Launton (Bicester), Swalcliffe (Banbury), South Newington (Banbury), Banbury Wesleyan, Goring (South Oxfordshire), Fingest (South Oxfordshire).
I made a spreadsheet of all Thomas Ward baptisms in Oxfordshire between 1800-1830 from searches of the indexes above, CD of parish register transcriptions and the International Genealogical Index on FamilySearch. Next I ruled out the entries that proved to be different men than our Thomas Ward due to appearance in the burial index, marriage index, or England Census records in later years. These are noted in Table 1:
There was only one that I couldn’t account for: Thomas ROOTES WARD, baptized 1816 at Shipton under Wychwood, illegitimate son of Thomas WARD, servant & Elizabeth ROOTES. It could possibly be our Thomas Ward but the father is not James so likely it is not.
Next, I looked at the WARD baptisms with father James between 1800-1830. I matched these children to James WARD marriage entries and arranged the records into family groups. I list these families in Table 2:
There are several James WARD families in the area surrounding Witney at the time so I took a closer look at those families.
1. James WARD, labourer & Maria WILLOUGHBY
Marriage not found. They lived in Aston and Cote near Bampton.
Maria died in 1817 and James WARD remarried Theresa HOWSON, daughter of William Howson and Catherine Abraham, on 6 Dec 1819 in Bampton. She was from Buckland just over the county border in Berkshire and was Roman Catholic. James and Theresa’s children were all baptized at St. George’s Catholic Chapel in Buckland. See: Oxfordshire Wards Part II: James Ward of Aston and Cote
2. James WARD, Maltster & Jane SKINNER
Married 30 Apr 1809, Bampton
This James Ward was a Maltster, owned land and had a will listing his children. This is not our Thomas Ward’s family. Even though this James Ward lived in Bampton not far from the James Ward above in Aston/Cote, I do not think the two families are related at all. The James Ward in Bampton was born in Bishops Frome, Herefordshire.
3. James WARD & Martha WILLIAMS
Married 29 Sep 1793 Kiddington
This couple had a son Thomas in 1798 who married and was still living in Oxfordshire in 1841, so this cannot be our Thomas Ward’s family.
4. James WARD of Upper Worton & Mary WILLIAMS of Sandford
Married 27 Oct 1793, Sandford St. Martin
This couple had a son Thomas Ward in 1806, he is accounted for in Table 1.
5. James WARD of Hailey, Farmer & Ann PANTING of Hailey
Married 9 Nov 1801, Witney
This James Ward was a farmer, not a labourer. He had a will listing his children and none were named Thomas. This is not our Thomas Ward’s family.
Considering the analysis above and the information laid out in Tables 1 and 2, I think that our Thomas Ward, who married Mary Ann Maria Walters was either:
- The son of James WARD and Maria WILLOUGHBY of Aston and Cote.
- The son of another James WARD that happened to pass through Oxfordshire and leave no record that I have yet found.
Why has our Thomas WARD’s baptism record not been found in spite of extensive searching? A few possibilities:
- He was just not baptized
- He was baptized and the record does not survive. Many families from Aston and Cote attended St. Mary’s Church in Shifford which is an abandoned village near Cote. Records for this church are incomplete before 1813 as many were destroyed by “the damp.”
- He was baptized in one of the handful of parishes I listed above that I have not been able to check.
- He was born in Oxfordshire and baptized in another county.
There are some other records that have come to light that make me think our Thomas WARD is the son of James WARD and Maria WILLOUGHBY from Aston and Cote, mainly related to their son George WARD baptized in 1814. I go into this in more detail here: George Ward of Aston and Cote, Oxfordshire, brother of Thomas Ward?
Read more about James Ward of Aston and Cote and a follow up to this post here: Oxfordshire Wards Part II: James Ward of Aston and Cote
- England, marriage certificate for Thomas Ward and Mary Ann Maria Waters, married 5 Aug 1838, registered Jul-Sep 1838, Richmond, vol. 4, p. 411, no. 14, Mortlake, Surrey; General Register Office, Southport. ↩
- “1851 England Census,” Thomas Ward family, no. 99, High Street, Battersea St. Mary, Registration District: Wandsworth, County of Surrey, Class: HO107; Piece: 1577; Folio: 115; Page: 25; GSU roll: 174813; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/sharing/9513506?h=d3aee3 : accessed 9 Jul 2016); citing: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1851 held at The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey, England.↩
- “1861 England Census,” Thomas Ward family, 12 Mendip Road, Battersea St. Mary, Registration District: Wandsworth, County of Surrey, Class: RG 9; Piece: 370; Folio: 176; Page: 24; GSU roll: 542625; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/sharing/9513512?h=efa5d7 : accessed 9 Jul 2016); citing: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1861 held at The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey, England.↩
- “1871 England Census,” Thomas Ward family, no. 242, 7 Mendip Rd, St. John’s, Battersea, Registration District: Wandsworth, County of Surrey, Class: RG10; Piece: 701; Folio: 79; Page: 49; GSU roll: 823340; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/sharing/9513529?h=66c1bb : accessed 9 Jul 2016); citing Census Returns of England and Wales, 1871 held atThe National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey, England. ↩
- Oxfordshire Family History Society, Oxfordshire Parish Register Transcripts, Witney Registration District, 3rd Edition, Vols. 1-4, CD (Cowley, Oxford, 2013). ↩
- Oxfordshire Family History Society, Oxfordshire Parish Register Transcripts, Woodstock Registration District, Vols. 1-2, CD (Cowley, Oxford, 2009). ↩
- Oxfordshire Family History Society, Oxfordshire Parish Register Transcripts, Chipping Norton Registration District, 3rd Edition, Vols. 1-2, CD (Cowley, Oxford, 2010). ↩
- “Oxford City, Baptism Index, 1800-1837”, Oxfordshire Family History Society, Search Services, entries for Thomas Ward baptized 1800-1837, Index dated 17 Jan 2000, accessed 20 Jul 2014. ↩
- “Oxford County, Baptism Index, 1538-1851″”, Oxfordshire Family History Society, Search Services, entries for Thomas Ward baptized 1800-1837, Index dated 12 Mar 2013, accessed 30 Jan 2015. ↩
- “Oxfordshire County Baptism Index, 1538-1851”, Oxfordshire Family History Society, Search Services, entries for baptisms with father James WARD 1770-1840, Index dated 12 Mar 2013, accessed 17 Jan 2015. ↩
- “Oxfordshire Marriage Index 1538-1837”, Oxfordshire Family History Society, Search Services, entries for James Ward, Index dated 10 Feb 2014, accessed: 14 Sep 2014. ↩
- “Oxfordshire Burials, 1538-1851”, Oxfordshire Family History Society, Search Services, entries for surname WARD, Index dated 14 Sep 2014, accessed: 09 Mar 2015. ↩
- “Buckland, Catholic Church, Baptisms, 1755-1998”, Berkshire Record Office, Record Searching Service, entries for surname WARD, accessed: 23 Jan 2015. ↩