Mary was born in 1752, or early in 1753, in the village of Stowell in Somerset. She and her twin sister Martha were baptised there on the 6th of February 1753. (In the parish register the baptism was shown as being towards the end of the year 1752, the last year for which the Julian calendar was used, the new Gregorian calendar, in which the year begins on January 1st, having been adopted the previous September.)
Stowell is a small village situated about four miles south of Wincanton between Charlton Horethorne and Templecombe. At the time Mary was born the village had a population of about 80 people. The Victoria County History records that in 1758 the manor consisted mainly of smallholdings. Most were dairy farms. Woollen and linen weaving, flax spinning, and stocking making were practised on a small scale.
Mary’s parents came from Stalbridge. Her father William West was a yeoman farmer and her mother was Mary Turk whose father William was also a farmer. They married at the parish church of St. Mary on the 22nd of December 1747 but her surname had been recorded in the register as &lsquTulk’ rather than &lsquTurk’, an error that can be easily understood because the previous enry, immediately above in the register, was for the marriage of a Thomas &lsquTulk’.
Stalbridge is a small town situated in the Blackmore Vale area of North Dorset and is about five miles south-east of Stowell. The river Stour runs nearby.
As can be seen from the following chart, Mary was her parents’ fourth child.
Their first child, Mary’s brother James, was born in Stalbridge very soon after his parents married. A year later they had a daughter whom they named Hannah after her grandmother, William’s mother. She was also born in Stalbridge but by 1753, when Martha and Mary were born, the family had moved to Stowell.
Mary’s twin sister Martha sadly died when she was only two years old. Mary also had a much younger sister called Ann who was baptised in January 1763 but nothing more is known of her.
Mary also had a half brother called William who was born after she had married and left home.
Mary was about 20 years old when she became friends with William Parsons, a young farmer from a nearby village. In 1773 she accompanied him to his sister Ruth’s wedding to George Mead in Buckhorn Weston. About a year later she married William Parsons. Banns were read during February and March of 1774 in the church at Kington Magna where William was living but it seems that he and Mary were not married in the parish church there as there is no entry in the register. Was theirs perhaps a non-conformist wedding?
Mary’s mother Hannah died about a year and a half after Mary had married William; she was buried in Stalbridge where she had been born. Her father William West lived for another 27 years. When he died in 1797 he made provision in his will for his second wife Betty, his son William who had not reached the age of 21, and Mary’s sister Hannah who had not married.
After they married, William and Mary lived in Horsington in Somerset, near to two of William’s brothers, and they had several children there. But around 1789, when William’s father Moses Parsons died, they settled in Holton in Somerset.
Holton is a small village just west of Wincanton and about two miles north of Horsington. William and Mary lived there for more than forty five years. He became a prominant member of the small community. He kept an inn, called the Old Inn, and he was for many years a churchwarden; one of his duties was keeping account of money raised for briefs read at the church. William was successful in business; by the end of his life he owned at least five dwelling houses in Holton, an orchard, and the inn with its malthouse, as well as a farm in Kington Magna which he had inherited from his father.
William Parsons died in October 1837 after which Mary went to live with her son Uriah in Kington Magna.
Mary West died in Kington Magna on the 5th of April of the year 1842 in the presence of her son Henry. She was buried there on the 12th of that month.
Children of Mary and William Parsons
Mary and William had a large family but, as was common at the time, not all of their children survived to become adults. Their daughters Ruth and Mary died when they were less than a month old. And there were two sons, both named Henry, who died before their first birthdays. But their third boy named Henry lived to be 73 years old and died in Kington Magna.
William, their eldest child was born in 1775 in Horsington. In 1796 he married Elizabeth Mitchell in Holton and their first child was born there six months later. They settled in Stowell, the village where his mother had been born, where he farmed. They had at least two children — Mary (b.1796) and William (b.1801).
Their son James married Sarah Newton in Milborne Port and lived there with her. They had two children, both were sons, and he became a Deacon of the Independent Chapel. He died in 1854.
Uriah (b.1795) lived his life in Kington Magna where he farmed. Henry (b.1797) farmed in Holton.
William and Mary’s son George married Jane Peters, whose brother John Weston Peters was very wealthy but produced no male heirs, and left large legacies to Jane’s children who included George Parsons, a farmer, inventor, and entrepeneur, and Henry and Uriah Parsons, land agents who often acted for Lord Portman.
Another of William and Mary’s sons, Charles Parsons, born in 1787, settled in Marston Magna where he lived in the manor house with his wife Anne. He was a great-grandfather of Sidney Parsons and an ancestor of the present author.
William and Mary’s daughter Martha never married. After William died she supervised the malt-house and continued to live in Holton in a house which is now known as The Nook. When her mother died she inherited the house and 70 acres of land which she then farmed. The house was eventually passed down to her nephew William Parsons Peters.
You are free to make use of the information in these web pages in any way that you wish but please be aware that the author, Mike Parsons, is unable to accept respsonsibility for any errors or omissions.
Mike can be contacted at email@example.com
The information in these web pages comes from a number of sources including: Hampshire County Records Office, Somerset Heritage Centre; Dorset County Records Office; Southampton City Archives; the General Register Office; several on-line newspaper archives; several on-line transcriptions of Parish Register Entries; and several on-line indexes of births, marriages and deaths. The research has also been guided at times by the published work of others, both on-line and in the form of printed books, and by information from personal correspondence with other researchers, for all of which thanks are given. However, all of the information in these web pages has been independently verified by the author from original sources, facimile copies, or, in the case of a few parish register entries, transcriptions published by on-line genealogy sites. The author is aware that some other researchers have in some cases drawn different conclusions and have published information which is at variance from that shown in these web pages.
Copyright © 2013 Mike Parsons. All rights reserved.