Alan March’s Family History

This site is a work-in-progress. There is a massive amount to cover. I have included both male and female lines, and some go back many generations. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from Alan’s as (1)(1)

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JOHN NEWMAN brought up his family in the Cambridgeshire village of Bourn, 9 miles west of Cambridge. There were Newmans in Bourn at least as early as 1592, but John’s baptism has not been found there.

His wife had the unusual name of Renny. This has enabled us to find their marriage. It took place 10 miles south of Bourn, in the larger town of Royston. At the time, both groom and bride were resident there. Again, we have found no baptism for John in Royston.

His age at death gives him a birth date of 1733-4. This makes the following the most likely baptism.

Baptism. St Nicholas, Stevenage. Hertfordshire.
1735 Oct 28   John Newman of George and Rachel Newman.

Stevenage is a town 15 miles SW of Royston. There is no evidence of this John Newman marrying there or bringing up a family in Stevenage. The nearest marriage for him is the one to Renne Gray in Royston. The distances make us cautious, but this is the match which best fits the evidence.

If this the correct baptism, then his mother was Rachel Hill.

His father was a labourer.

John was the youngest of six children. Another son of that name had died before him.


RENNY GRAY. She is almost certainly the Renny Gray who was baptised in Bassingbourn on 8 Jul 1733, the daughter of John and Mary Gray. Renny is an unusual name, and the Newmans called one of their sons Grey. Her mother was Mary Rogers.

Bassingbourn is a village 2 m north of Royston and 11.m SW of Cambridge.

Renny was the second of ten children. Three of her younger siblings died in infancy and her brother Thomas died aged 10. We do not know her father’s occupation, but the high rate of mortality suggests that the family was poor.

Renny married in Royston, so was probably working there then.

Royston lies on the northern slopes of the Hertfordshire Chalk Downs, which almost ring the town. It was situated in barley-growing country, and became a prosperous market town.

Royston High Street[1]


Marriage. St John the Baptist, Royston
1761 Oct 14.  John Newman and Renny Gray
Both were unmarried and of Royston. Both sign their names.
Witnesses: William Sampson, Elen Gray. Elen was Renny’s younger sister.

They set up home in Bourn, 10 miles further north. In those days, working-class people mostly spent their lives in their birth parish or one adjacent to it. We should love to know what took John Newman from Stevenage to Royston, (if we are correct about his birth), and from Royston to Bourn, (which is a near certainty).

The couple had eight children baptised in the church of St Helena and St Mary. The first was born 8 months after the wedding.

Baptisms. St Helena and St Mary, Bourn.
1762 Jun 6  John
1763 Aug 14  Joshua
1765 Mar 31 Alice. Alice was buried on 25 Apr 1766, aged 1.
1767 Jan 18  Grey
1769 Jan 15  Mary
1771 Jun 10  William
1773 Jun 6  Edward
1775 Jun 28  James

This was a century when land was being enclosed, and villagers lost their rights to pasture animals on common land and to farm strips in large open fields. But the enclosure act for Bourn was not passed until 1809. We do not know whether John worked on the land or was a woodworker, such as a carpenter or cooper, as were his grandsons.


Burials. Bourn.
1809 Sep 12  John Newman aged 75.
1817 May 29  Renny Newman of Long Stowe, aged 86.
Long Stowe is just west of Bourn. It is likely that Renny went to live there with one of her children after John died.


[1] https://www.british-history.ac.uk/sites/default/files/publications/pubid-306/images/fig243.gif




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