In a recent post I reported that I’d found a record in the Essex Archives of the marriage of my great great great grandparents, John Londors and Mary Ann Schofield, which took place at St. Margaret’s church, Barking, on 31 December 1826. The parish record describes John as a widower, confirming a suspicion I’ve had for some time, based on the disparity in ages between him and Mary: he would have been 40 at the time of their marriage, whereas she was about 24.

St. Margaret, Barking, in about 1810

This discovery has sent me back to the Essex Archives, to look for evidence of John’s first marriage in the parish records for Barking, which (very helpfully) have been digitised and can be explored online. I began with the records of deaths and burials, working my way back from 1826, with the assumption that John’s first wife must have died at least a year or so before his second marriage to Mary Ann.

My first discovery, though, was a record of the death of a ‘John Launders’, an infant from Barkingside, who was buried on 19 January 1817. As I noted in another recent post, the spelling of the Londors surname did not really stabilise until the middle years of the 19th century, when John and Mary Ann Londors’ seemingly more literate children came into adulthood. Alternative spellings, such as ‘Landers’ and ‘Launders’, were quite common before then. So it looked as though the shortlived John Launders might be the son of my 3 x great grandfather by his first marriage.

Then, a page or two earlier in the parish records, I came across mention of the death of ‘Elizabeth Launders’, age 23, of Barkingside, on 20 October 1816. Could this be John’s first wife? After completing my survey of deaths and burials, I moved on to the records of baptisms in Barking between 1813 and 1820. Here I found mention of the christening of John, son of ‘John and Elizabeth Landers’ (though it might be possibly be ‘Londers’) on 26 April 1816. The couple are said to live in Barking and John senior’s occupation is given as ‘carter’.

19th century carter

Again, the coincidence of date and location, and the known variations in the spelling of his surname, mean that there’s a good chance this record refers to my 3 x great grandfather. Is it possible that Elizabeth was his first wife, that she fell ill and died six months after giving birth to their son, and that young John struggled on, only to die at the age of 9 months? This would also explain why no children from John senior’s first marriage appear in later census records.

If so, then John Londors senior, who was about 30 at the time of his first wife’s death, would have been on his own for nine or ten years before marrying his second wife, Mary Ann.

If the son who was born in 1816 and died in 1817 was John and Elizabeth’s only child, and if Elizabeth was only 23 when she died, then it seems probable that the couple married around 1815. Assuming they were living in Barking when they married, there are no direct matches in parish marriage records for that period (I’ve searched the volume that covers 1813 – 1817). Except one: though the spelling of the surname is causing me some doubts.

On 2 April 1815, the marriage took place at St. Margaret’s, Barking, between ‘John Landrey’ and Elizabeth Eliza Plane. The marriage needed ‘consent of parents’, implying that at least one of the parties was under 21. If Elizabeth was 23 when she died in October 1817, she would have been 21 in October 1815, but possibly still 20 in April of that year. However, I have one important reservation about this record: John Landrey appears to sign his own name, but when he married Mary Ann Schofield in 1826, my 3 x great grandfather had to inscribe his ‘mark’ on the record.

I shall continue going back through the Barking archives, but it’s possible that John and Elizabeth moved there after their marriage, which took place elsewhere. After all, one of the definite pieces of information we have for John, gained from later census records, is that he was born in Woodford.