Sunday, April 7, 2013

Mary Baines of Westmorland

Kirkby Lonsdale (now in Cumbria)
Photo: cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by Cheekablue:

We know from the 1851 census that Mary Ward (nee Baines) was born in Kirkby Lonsdale in Westmorland. Her stated age in the 1841 and 1851 census suggest she was born about 1814-1815. This also tallies with her age given when she died. In the absence of records of any other person of the same name and approximate age, it seems likely that she was the daughter of James and Anne Baines (nee Preston) of Kirkby Lonsdale.

St Mary's church, Kirkby Lonsdale
Photo: A P Kapp via Wikimedia Commons

Mary and four of her siblings (George, Thomas, James and Anne) were all christened on the same day, 28 June 1818, at St Mary's church in Kirkby Lonsdale. This sort of family baptism en masse was apparently not uncommon in the past, and could mean that James and Anne had a rather itinerant lifestyle. Or it could simply be that a more diligent minister arrived in the village. Since births (as opposed to baptisms) were not registered before 1837, it's difficult to know in what order the siblings were born.

Another son of James and Anne Baines, Joseph, was baptised in Kirkby Lonsdale in November 1815. If this was the same family, it's strange that Mary was not baptised at the same time, unless she was born right at the end of 1815. There are also a couple of other earlier baptisms (William in 1796 and Diana, in Great Mitton, in 1798) that may have been children of the same family.

Mary's father appears to have died in Kirkby Lonsdale in 1827. Perhaps some of the family, including Mary, moved to Lancashire looking for work, or perhaps they had distant relatives there. It's not clear what happened to her mother, Anne. An Anne Baines, aged 72, was buried in Walton le Dale in 1845, but her name doesn't appear in the census four years earlier. This could be Mary's mother, but it could just as likely be one of several Anne Baines in the local area.

Mary married Richard Ward at St Leonard's church in Walton le Dale on June 26, 1831. If she really was born in 1815 or so, she would have been 16 years old. One of the two witnesses recorded on the parish register - James Tomlison snr - was a chapel clerk who witnessed many other weddings in the same church. The other, John Briggs, doesn't seem to be related to the family, as far as I've been able to discover.

In the next 20 years Mary gave birth to 9 children who lived long enough to be recorded and baptised. Given the strain this must have placed on her body, and the living conditions and health care available at the time, it's perhaps not surprising that, like many other women, Mary died at an early age. She was 38 and her youngest child only 18 months old when she was buried in 1852. (A quick count shows that of the 99 deaths recorded in Walton le Dale in 1852, only 1 in 3 were aged over 50).