Finding baptism record near Marystow, Devon, for Harriet Palmer in about 1770?


My 4th great grandmother Harriet Palmer married John Creber on 9 Jun 1794 at Marystow, Devon. Harriet was a spinster of the parish who made a mark rather than signed, and banns had been duly published without denial on 25 May, 1 Jun and 8 Jun. John was a sojourner to the parish, a bachelor who signed.

Their witnesses were Richard Creber and Samuel Martyn. I suspect Richard was John's father (baptised 1746) rather than his cousin (baptised 1778). His father was a carpenter (from his burial record) like John (from the 1841 Census). Samuel Martyn witnessed 37 marriages at Marystow from 1783 to 1804 so I suspect he may have been closer to the church than to either family.

I am unable to find a record of Harriet's birth or baptism.

For the 1841 Census, she and John were living at Tavistock, and her age was recorded as 65, suggesting that she was born in about 1776, but the Marriage Record makes no mention of her being a minor in 1794, and so I think it likely that Harriet was born no later than 1773. The 1841 Census also says that she was born in the county of Devon. Also, as commented by @vervet, ages on the 1841 census were supposed to be rounded down to the nearest 5 so a birth as early as 1771 might be plausible even if she knew her age accurately.

There was an Ann Williams living with John and Harriet on the 1841 census record but @vervet has investigated and found that she was the widow of John Williams with her maiden name probably being Brooming (born Bere Ferrers in 1785, a daughter of John & Agnes Brooming).

Harriet's death was registered in Q4 1844 at Tavistock (Volume: 9 Page: 358). I have not yet obtained her death certificate, but according to this guide, I am not expecting that to name her parents. As commented by @HarryVervet the new GRO index says that Harriet (indexed as Harriott) was aged 80 when she died so her baptism should be looked for from about 1764.

The best candidates I currently have for her parents are John Palmer and Grace Cole who:

The names Harriet and John gave their seven children, all baptised in Marystow, include their own, but neither Grace, Susanna nor Roger, appear as names amongst their children so there is nothing to help tie Harriet to those parents and siblings:

  1. Mary Ann (1795)
  2. John (1797)
  3. William (1799)
  4. Henry (1801)
  5. Elizabeth (1804)
  6. Richard (1807)
  7. Harriet (1810)

Does anyone have any thoughts on how/where else I might be able to find Harriet's birth/baptism record and/or parents?

I've tried searching the available records for surrounding parishes but so far nothing appears more, or anywhere near as, likely as the above.

I could look through the images of the Marystow Parish Registers at FamilySearch to see if Harriet's baptism has missed being transcribed, or has been transcribed incorrectly, but I am unsure how to find the relevant images for baptisms for the few years around 1773. As an update I have just found these images available and better indexed at FindMyPast so I will perform my manual search there instead.


Posted 2015-05-17T04:43:08.443

Reputation: 10 741

4Ages on the 1841 census were supposed to be rounded down to the nearest 5 - thus someone 65 could be between 65-69. The death certificate or burial would give a more precise, though not necessarily accurate, estimate of age. – Harry Vervet – 2015-05-17T11:32:12.857

1Do you know who is the Ann Williams living with John & Harriet on the 1841 census? Just wondering if she may be a relative of Harriet's? – Harry Vervet – 2015-05-17T12:44:28.573

1Nevermind - looks like no luck there. Ann Williams was the widow of John Williams. It looks like her maiden name was Brooming and she was born in Bere Ferrers in 1785, a dau of John & Agnes Brooming. – Harry Vervet – 2015-05-17T13:01:59.780

Many thanks for helping me with this @vervet - so that your efforts don't get lost later as comments I have incorporated them into my question. You may also notice a link to an earler Q&A here about Harriet's husband John where ColeValleyGirl suggested I look at Settlement Records. I suspect that may prove enlightening when I can organise a trip to England (which is not on the horizon at the moment).. – PolyGeo – 2015-05-17T22:33:29.723

A spanner in the works – the new GRO index shows Harriet died age 80 in 1844, which would place her birth in abt 1764. Perhaps you're looking for a baptism in the wrong decade? In any case it seems extremely unlikely that she was baptised at Marystowe.

– Harry Vervet – 2017-03-16T01:01:03.627

@HarryVervet That is interesting. If she were born in 1764 it would mean her last child (Harriet) was baptised when she was about 45 years of age (16 Jan 1810 at Marystowe). Not impossible but I think getting late in those days. In any event it does sound like I need to be looking for her from the mid 1760s. – PolyGeo – 2017-03-16T01:25:00.173

Have you seen the family tree entries on Ancestry that have her born perhaps 1766 perhaps in Lamerton, Devon -- possibly to John Palmer and Grace Cole. You'd need to do a lot of work to verify but it might be a starting point for investigation. – None – 2017-03-26T17:18:57.167

@ColeValleyGirl I need to revisit those trees again but my recollection is that none contain a record to support a 1766 Lamerton baptism. John Palmer and Grace Cole are still the best candidate parents that I have for Harriet. Another John Palmer (of Lamerton) was married at Lamerton on 5 Feb 1775 to Joan Veare (of Sydenham Damerel), and their only issue appears to be the John Palmer baptised at Lamerton on 16 Mar 1776. – PolyGeo – 2017-03-26T21:51:16.830

I'm toying with the idea that Grace Palmer, baptised 1771, may have become known as Harriet, perhaps to distinguish her from her mother of the same name. I need to check again but I think that Grace Palmer is only known from her baptism record. – PolyGeo – 2017-03-26T21:53:11.850

None of the trees have any sourcing for this fact -- they may have an uncited death certificate supporting the age calculattion, but none of them justify 'Lamerton'. – None – 2017-03-27T06:10:04.363



Perhaps it's a good idea to expand the search area if you're stuck. It's possible they moved or traveled for a short time, as well as expand the year range and look at original record images to see if there are transcription errors.

I found a record for Harriet Palmer, but her birth and baptism was in 1778 to Robert and Elizabeth Palmer, in St. John, Preston, Lancashire, Eng. Another baptism record from the same St. John and for the same family has her born and baptized in 1780, which leads me to believe there may be some sort of transcription error. It would be worth it to get the original record and decipher it yourself, as the correct date might look something closer to what you're expecting.

FHL Film Number: 94006, 94007

I also found a birth and baptism record for Harriot Palmer, to William and Mary Palmer, 21 Mar 1773, baptized 25 Apr 1773, in St. Leaonards, Shoreditch, London. Could they have been in London for the baptism?

FHL Film Number: 396229, 396230


Posted 2015-05-17T04:43:08.443

Reputation: 311

Thanks for trying to help find Harriet's birth. My first thought is that this Harriet and Harriot appear to have been born/baptised too far from her marriage place but I will try to keep an open mind to any additional evidence that could support either. I think these families were poor, and unlikely to be moving too far from their local area. – PolyGeo – 2017-11-10T07:25:23.413

Thank you. The main point I was making is that the dates on the records are likely incorrect due to the fact that they came from the same town and are supposed to be the same records but have vastly different dates. Look up those films and read the dates for yourself and see if it makes more sense to you than what the transcriber interpreted. Also, people travelled. I have records that show that she may have travelled to New Orleans even. – Christia – 2017-11-10T07:33:07.287

Do you have an interest in Harriet beyond just being helpful on this site? – PolyGeo – 2017-11-10T07:37:51.247

Being helpful, but I was studying New Orleans immigration and thought it was interesting that her name came up. I'm avid on other Stack Exchange sites and in genealogical research in general. – Christia – 2017-11-10T07:39:10.517

1Two like-named baptisms to the same family don't have to be a transcription error. The first Harriet could have died in infancy, and the parents gave the same name to another daughter, born later. The parish burial records for the intervening years may be helpful in that case. – AndyW – 2017-11-10T09:02:06.340


I'm toying with the idea that Grace Palmer, baptised 1771, may have become known as Harriet, perhaps to distinguish her from her mother of the same name.

I need to check again but I think that Grace Palmer is only known from her 1771 baptism record.

I am hopeful that DNA may help shed some light sometime because from AncestryDNA, I share 10.5 centimorgans across 2 DNA segments with a user whose most recent common ancestor with me appears to be Harriet Palmer.


Posted 2015-05-17T04:43:08.443

Reputation: 10 741