Married on Christmas Day

Great, great grandfather Adrian Newth married Mary Mansfield in 1815 on Christmas Day. The church they married in was the St Mary Newington, the original of which was destroyed in the 1940s. The church was burnt out in an air raid on 10th May 1941 and has not yet been rebuilt. Unfortunately, the church was bombed during the Blitz in 1941, and church records were lost. The original site of this church is now occupied by a park on the west side of Newington Butts.

This image (a drawing done in 1780) was obtained from my research

Imagining the special appeal of being wed on 25 December, I was prompted to find out more. I thought at first that there might have been some urgency for the marriage – a child on the way. But no, their first child was not born until 1819, four years later. But was that the full picture? I needed to check if there were other children born and baptised between 1815 and 1819 for this couple. A quick visit to the Baptism records in FindMyPast for the Newth family was required. This proved to be a fruitless search – no baptisms recorded for the years 1815 -1819 for this couple.

So the choice of the day for their wedding was for other reasons. According to FMP, during the 18th and 19th centuries, getting married on Christmas Day itself was a popular tradition in Britain, with churches across the country holding festive nuptials every 25 December. However, couples who chose to opt for a Christmas Day wedding would have rarely done so out of a desire to capture a sense of seasonal romance. Christmas Day weddings usually occurred out of necessity as Christmas and Boxing Day were often the only days of the year when young working-class couples were guaranteed to get off work.

My next step was to track down the family as the Newth tribe grew by checking the census records that I could find. This is an interesting pursuit as the census returns reveal places of residence, occupations, and the number and ages of children. Some of these censuses are not easy to read, so I rely on the transcripts provided in FMP.

1841 Census
1851 Census
1861 Census

This one from 1871 was of interest as it listed a number of their grandchildren present on the night of the census.

1871 Census

1871 Census Transcript

First name(s) Last name Relationship Marital status Sex Age Birth year Occupation Birth place

Adrian Newth Head – Male 80 1791 – Gloucestershire, England

Mary A Newth Wife – Female 80 1791 – Norfolk, England

John A Newth Son – Male 36 1835 – Surrey, England

Mary A Newth Daughter – Female 36 1835 – Surrey, England

Mary A Newth Granddaughter – Female 12 1859 – Surrey, England

Adrian Newth Grandson – Male 10 1861 – Surrey, England

John A Newth Grandson – Male 8 1863 – Surrey, England

Susannah J Newth Granddaughter – Female 5 1866 – Surrey, England

Lucy E Newth Granddaughter – Female 3 1868 – Surrey, England

Alice A Newth Granddaughter – Female 1 1870 – Surrey, England

Elizabeth Penchin Niece – Female 56 1815 – Norfolk, England

This fact piqued my interest in discovering why so many of the grandchildren were present. I had to google the question, ‘in what month was the 1871 census taken in the UK’? When I got the answer that this census was gathered on 2nd April 1871, I wondered if there was a significant birthday for Adrian or Mary in that month. It seems that Adrian’s 80th birthday was the reason for the gathering; his birth date was 6 April.

Noting other details in the 1871 census, I was curious as to why Adrian Newth’s occupation was now listed as Rent Collector when all the other census returns listed his occupation as Tailor or Master Tailor. Looking into the old occupations in London in that era, I found that this was included: RENT MAN Collector of rents for the landlord. So was Adrian’s address at number 4 Bermondsey Square, part of a tenement building? Did he collect the rent from the rest of the people living in Bermondsey Square? Bermondsey Square is now a famous area for antique markets. According to Wikipedia:

Bermondsey Square is on Tower Bridge Road in Bermondsey, south LondonEngland. It was the site of the 11th-century Bermondsey Abbey.[1] The earliest medieval remains found are a Norman church from around 1080, which was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. The area has subsequently undergone redevelopment and Bermondsey Square now contains apartments, offices, a boutique hotel, restaurants, an independent cinema, and Bermondsey Market.

Bermondsey Abbey, is located around the modern-day Bermondsey Square.

I do not know much more about my great grandparents, Adrian and Mary, but I have placed them in my family tree and I am continuing to research their family lives.

I noted that Adrian’s first wife, Mary (nee Mansfield) died quite young in 1832. Their children were Mary, Sarah, and Adrian. There is another son, John Adrian, mentioned in the probate below, who was born in 1835. I assume then that Adrian senior married again. After doing a further search for other marriages I discovered that Adrian married another Mary Ann (nee Balls) in 1831. So another conundrum! Was he still married to Mary Ann Mansfield D: 1832 when he married Mary Ann Balls or did they divorce? That’s very odd, more investigation is now required.

The end of Adrian’s life is marked by this probate record recently discovered by connecting with other trees in FindMyPast, a new function that enables the genealogist to find others who are researching the same family name.

Probate 28 April 1874

It was interesting to note that Adrian Newth was listed as a Gentleman. Also of interest were the names of those proving this probate: John Adrian Newth, Tailor; (also of 4 Bermondsey Square), and William Henry Balls of 31/2 Bermondsey Square.) Was this William Henry related to Mary Ann, Adrian’s second wife? Curious and curiouser! Some further research into the baptism of Mary Ann Balls, and in one record the father is listed as a William. This could be the same person. So a quick trip back to the family tree to correlate. No wait, FMP suggests that the mother is Sarah and the father is George. Okay, time to leave the research for today; this is where the confusion sets in and my work needs a fresh start with fresh eyes on another day.

Note: I often just key in a question for Google to answer when I hit a brick wall. But I really like it when the answer takes me back to an article, blog post, or link to FMP for an in-depth answer. This was the case with the first question related to this blog post:

‘Why did couples choose Christmas Day for their wedding in 1815?’

This blog article from FMP provided the answer and the context surrounding those Christmas Day weddings.

https://www.findmypast.com.au/blog/history/christmas-day-weddings

2 thoughts on “Married on Christmas Day

  1. Good digging here! The Christmas Day thing makes sense. And I love how you pieces together the 80th birthday celebration possibility. It does sound like son John (widowed?) and his children had moved back home.

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