The Ethelberts Neal

So here we are at the third and final Ethelbert post (part 1 here, part 2 here). I mentioned previously that a lot of my Ethelberts were related to the Neal family who were, for a long time, resident in and around the Wiltshire village of Sherston. Thankfully, Sherston is one of those parishes that hasn’t suffered a great loss of it’s parish registers, and that Wiltshire is one of the top counties (obviously I have to say that!) for scanning and transcribing records: the registers are available at FindMyPast, Ancestry and FamilySearch. Top notch. Especially as these often include both the original parish registers AND the Bishops Transcripts, which sometimes include additional information and/or spellings of names. All to the good!

Another bonus is the availability online of a lot of Wiltshire Wills. In fact, back in the day, there used to be a site called the Wiltshire Wills Project (a longer blog post of theirs makes for a very interesting read – many thanks to Jane Silcocks and team for all of their hard work!). This has now all been incorporated into the work done at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre in Chippenham, which has also meant that the images are available at Ancestry – and have been pretty key in unpicking some of the Neal(e) lines and their love of repeating the same set of names (Roger, Daniel, Francis amongst them).

But onward to the Ethelberts …!

The first Ethelbert Neal died in Sherston in 1704. Whether he was relatively young I can’t tell, but he did leave a will naming a large number of his family, including his wife, Deborah. She wouldn’t die until 1743 (and also left a will) so perhaps there was a large age discrepancy between them or maybe, as mentioned, he died fairly young.

Sadly, I haven’t found a marriage for the pair of them, but it appears that their eldest child, Mary, was baptised in Sherston in 1681. This would push Ethelbert’s date of birth to around 1650-1660-ish (assuming that Mary was, indeed, their first child and he was in his 20s when he got married and she came along fairly soon after the marriage).

In his will, he leaves everything absolutely to his widow, Deborah. The will includes the inventory and appraisal of his property – completed by Thomas Hayes and John Holborow. In Deborah’s will, there is a wonderful listing of her children and grandchildren. Her son, Ethelbert, is her executor and gets the lion’s share of goods and chattels. But there are a number of specific legacies for the other sons Roger and Francis, and her grandchildren by Mary, Roger and Francis.

Ethelbert, the son of the above Ethelbert and Deborah, was baptised in 1683, and doesn’t seem to have married. His will from 1771 (showing he was a “soap boyler and tallow chandler”) confirms a lot of the familial links as laid down in his mother’s will (his “beloved brother” Roger, a tallow chandler living in Castle Combe, amongst them – although brother Francis nor his family get a mention!). We also find out that his sister, Mary, who had married Thomas Jones in 1707 is by this point a widow. Then there is a surprising item:

I also give and bequeath to my nephew Thomas Jones of the City of London, cheesemonger, the sum of five pounds.

Does this go some way to proving a link between this line of Neals and the Ethelbert and Francis Holborow who moved to London and became cheesemongers 50 yeas later? I can’t find a Thomas Jones, cheesemonger, listed in the 1772 London Directory (there is a Thomas Jones, merchant, living on Poultry, but no indication of what he was … merchandising although I can’t really see how a cheesemonger would be listed as a merchant!).

Although this Ethelbert didn’t have any children to pass the name down to, his two brothers certainly did: Roger and Francis both had Ethelberts, as did Roger’s son Roger.

Whilst there are incidences of the name passing from father to son to grandson, a lot of the time it’s the child being named for their uncle or their grandfather, as can be seen in the rough tree below where we have examples of all instances in a few generations named above.

The Ethelberts continue to trickle down the Neal family lines. My eldest Neal family member, John, would’ve been born around 1640-1650 given the dates of his childrens’ baptisms. The initial Ethelbert could have been his brother, his nephew or a cousin, or perhaps an uncle, implying that there could have been other Ethelberts further up the tree. Although nether of John’s sons that I’m descended from (Ambrose and John) have an Ethlebert, their older brother Henry does, and they pop up again and again.

(There is one Ann Neal, the daughter of an Ethelbert who has an illegitimate Ethelbert and also a son called William Holborow Neal who goes on to have a son called Ethelbert Holborow Neal. Another link between the two families! No doubt I’ll be back to talk about these and other Neals at some point.

The Wiltshire Baptism Index at FindMyPast gives 17 baptisms between 1683 and 1891, 6 marriages and 6 burials. Gloucestershire (via Ancestry) gives 1 burial. (I should point out that this isn’t counting all the baptisms of boys who have Ethelbert as a middle name!) All of them are identifiably part of ‘my’ Neal line or descend from the Ethelbert above – or perhaps suffice to say that we all descend form the mythical proto-Ethelbert!!

Oh gees … now I’ve found a couple of Ethelbrights (one Holborough [sic] and one Neal) baptised the same year in the same parish and they can’t not be related but that was back in 1631 and marriage records of the parents are a little tricky to find … And presumably one of those is the same as the “Elbright” who later has children baptised there.

Anyway, that’s the last in my Ethelbert series!

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