A few months ago, I received a file containing details of the marriages of GRAYs from the English Registration District of Leighton Buzzard between 1837 and 1911. This was a result of being a member of the Guild of One-Name Studies and taking advantage of their Marriage Challenges. I submitted a list of marriages obtained from the FreeBMD website and one or more volunteers searched the parish registers for the details. A few months later I received the results – some 380. I parked them, along with the thousands of such from other Marriage Challenges, until needed.
A few days later I received a request from a fellow member of the Guild about a Sarah Newman GRAY married in 1861 and that was the trigger to look at this data. The request was to identify where the name Newman came from.
Sarah was married in the parish church of St Mary The Virgin in Edlesborough and so I needed to look at all the GRAYs in the parish.
Edlesborough is a rural parish in the Vale of Aylesbury in the county of Buckinghamshire – just a view miles from the parish of Eaton Bray in the county of Bedfordshire. As well as the village of Edlesborough, the parish includes the hamlets of Northall and Dagnall. In 1975, the two parishes were combined and St Mary’s was redundant. So, when studying the families in this area, I was looking at Dagnall, Eaton Bray, Edlesborough and Northall.
So – looking at the data held by Ancestry.com, FamilySearch and FindMyPast – I started to build up the structure of the families. There were some “brick walls” – one or two of which still remain. However, resolving them has included new areas of research for me. One of these was the use of 19th century wills. That for Benjamin Gray (1773-1846), who died in Edlesborough, was key as it clearly identified his wife and siblings – no children being mentioned. This was very helpful in identifying that particular family – that of John Gray (1741-1859) and Hannah Sutton (?-?). I have still a lot of work to do in order to complete the trees up to 1911 (the last publically available UK census) – but what I do I record in my The Master Genealogist (TMG from Whollygenes) database and use SecondSite to publish (www.gray-ons.org/secondsite).
As with all such research, there is always more to do and one is rarely able to say it is completed. However, as I progress I intend to post the results here.
So – back to the original question – where did the name Newman come from?
The 1851 census indicated that Sarah Newman Gray was born in 1844 in Edlesborough and that she was staying with her Mother – Ann Gray (1820-1899) – at the home of her Grandparents – Robert Sutton Gray (1790-1863) and Lydia Battams (1793-1879). I have yet to find any data pertaining to Sarah’s father. To guess, I’d say that Sarah’s father was a Newman, but that her parent’s were not married. There is a possibility that the parish records would help, that is if they still exist. I shall see what I can see.