Obadiah CoxThere are only a couple of men called Obadiah Cox in the English records of the late 18th century, and only one in Sturminster Marshall in Dorset. This one had been baptised in Blandford Forum with a father called Daniel on the 3rd August 1754. By the 18th April 1786 he was working as a tailor in Sturminster Marshall when he married his first wife Christian Carter. They had two children, Daniel born in 1787 and Betty in 1791. Christian died in February 1792, and Obadiah married Ann Foot on the 17th December that same year. Ann brought her illegitimate daughter born in 1791 and also called Ann Foot into her new family, and had five children with Obadiah: Charlotte in 1793, William in 1795, Henrietta (or Harriet, who married Edmund Greenway) and Leah (presumably twins) in 1800, and Richard in 1807.On the 28th September 1800 Harriet and Leah were baptised in Sturminster Marshall, probably twins, their birth seems to have been too much for Obadiah and he was admitted to Dorchester Prison on the 18th of August charged with "Leaving his wife and family chargeable to the parish of Sturminster Marshall". He was discharged on the 10th of October with no prosecution having, however, spent time on the Engine. On the 7th October that year he had also appeared at the Quarter Sessions "Charged as an idle and disorderly person", but again "for want of prosecution [was] ordered to be discharged". Finding his wife Ann was pregnant again (with son Richard) in the spring of 1806, he found himself back in Dorchester Prison on the 18th of February sentenced to one month's imprisonment for "Leaving his wife and family chargeable". Did he ever return to his family? Ann had no more children, and the next time he's heard of is on his burial in 1822 in Blandford Forum, by which time Ann and most of her children had been in the Chichester area for over five years.His potential disappearance had caused grave concern to the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor of Sturminster Marshall in 1805. If he left who would support Ann and the children? Obadiah was liable for his own of course, but what about Ann's illegitimate daughter, Ann Foot. They took their complaint to the Quarter Sessions on the 8th October 1805 where Levi Holloway, whom Ann had presumably identified as the father of her daughter, not disputing the matter, was charged £30 for the previous 14 years, including Ann’s lying-in, and 1/3d weekly from that time onwards. Ann was also to pay 9d a week should the child be chargeable to the parish.Oh dear, poor Levi, he was just 16 when the Bastard Child was conceived and at the time of this judgement the Female Bastard Child herself is 14 and old enough to be working. There may have been a charge for Ann's lying-in, and the parish register notes that the baptism duty was paid by the parish, but this seems a large sum of money. Levi had been born in Sturminster Marshall in 1774, and he followed his father Samuel's trade of collarmaker. By 1796 he was a master collarmaker in Paddington, and in April that year he married Sarah Ann Hornby in St Marylebone; the following year, as a Sadler, Dealer and Chapman he was bankrupt. In 1801 he married Martha White in Southwark, and in 1802 he is a master saddler in Piccadilly. In 1811 he's a prisoner in the King's Bench Prison "formerly of Edgware-Road, Paddington, in the Parish of Saint Mary-le-Bone, and late of Swallow-Street, in the Parish of Saint James's, Westminster, both in the County of Middlesex, Sadler, Coach and Harness-Maker, and Livery-Stable-Keeper". He is bankrupt again in 1813 "formerly of Swallow-Street, late of Carburton-Street, Fitzroy-Square, both in the County of Middlesex, and now of No. 2, Cumberland-Row, Kennington-Green, in the County of Surrey, Coach-Saddler and Harness-Maker" having moved south of the Thames. He died in 1825.One of the few things that can be said, fairly confidently, about Ann Foot, the mother of the Female Bastard Child, is that she was not, unlike Levi Holloway, a Sturminster Marshall native. The surname Foot occurs only rarely in their parish registers and that belongs primarily to an Elizabeth who witnessed burials in woollen in the 17th century, and who was herself buried there in 1685. I would like to see the original registers for Sturminster Marshall, but the only record available online is a transcription by Edith Hobday published in 1901 on the Internet Archive.After the 1685 burial the next register entry for a Foot is somewhat confused; under 1787 baptisms is listed:March 11th. Elizabeth, Daughter of Ann Ford [Foot] was Baptized.Were the square brackets in the original? Ford - and its variants - is as unusual a name in the parish as Foot, and it seems that four years later, when little Elizabeth was buried on the 7th September 1791 her surname has been determined as Foot. So was Elizabeth an earlier illegitimate daughter for the Ann Foot who would go on to marry Obadiah Cox? If so, how did she support herself and her daughter for more than four years?When Ann Cox - as she was then - died in Chichester in October 1828, her age is stated to be 57, which puts her birth year as 1771; as it was probably her daughter Charlotte who arranged her burial, this is likely to be fairly accurate, and would mean she was about 16 at the time of this Elizabeth's birth in 1787. The earliest rcords on FamilySearch of the surname Foot in Dorset come from the parish of Folke where William the son of John was baptised on the 3rd October 1543; Gefferry the son of William was baptised there on the 21st February 1562 and possibly his brother Thomas on the 12th January 1566. A William Foot was buried in Folke on the 7th February 1571, and Amey, perhaps his wife, was buried on the 30th April 1585. There are Foots in Fifehead Neville, Charmouth and Maiden Newton in the final decades of the 16th century. Over the next century the name - not necessarily the same family of course - spreads over the whole county, and this probably reflects greater consistency in record-keeping and preservation. Looking at the parishes near to Sturminster Marshall and in the east of the county - assuming perhaps rashly - that Ann moved locally to the town to work in service, there are Foot families in Buckland Newton, Mappowder, Woolland and Turnworth, and also Cann, Stourpaine, Dewlish and Milton Abbas all with daughters called Ann born between 1761 and 1775 who don't appear to have been buried or married in their parish. These at least are the ones thrown up by a general search on the Dorset OPC site, there must be others where the records are either lost or not yet indexed; so for now her origins must remain a mystery.More mystery surrounds the children - Daniel and Betty - born to Obadiah and his first wife Christian Carter. Cox isn't an unusual name in Sturminster Marshall, but there is only one Daniel mentioned and he was baptised on the 4th November 1787. Betty was a popular name and she was baptised on the 5th June 1791 and possibly buried on the 20th December 1793. The fact that neither of Obadiah's sons with Ann was called Daniel suggests he survived childhood. As all of Ann's daughters went with her to Chichester, and probably her youngest son Richard, born in 1807, as well, that leaves her son William unaccounted for. He was born in 1795 and baptised on the 25th of October, so by the time Ann left Dorset he would have been in his late teens, possibly independent and married. Tracing him isn't helped by the fact that he was the second William Cox born in Sturminster Marshall that year, and one of them was possibly buried there on the 22nd March 1797. While Ann's four daughters all married in the Chichester area, there is no trace of Richard there; he does however seem to make an appearance in the 1851 census in Woolwich Dockyard: aged 44, he's a widower and a labourer born in Sturminster, Dorset, but there the trail runs cold.Other important questions remain unanswered: why and how did Ann Cox uproot her family from Sturminster Marshall and take them to Chichester? And how did they support themselves once there?Daniel CoxThe Daniel Cox who was the father of the Obadiah baptised in Blandford Forum on the 3rd of August 1754 is a bit of a problem. The baptism records in the parish at this time generally only state the child's father's name so there is no clue to Obadiah's - or to Daniel, Elizabeth and John, his siblings' - mother. This is not helpful in tracking down his father Daniel's provenance or marriage. So setting off on a hunch that came from the two fairly unusual names of Daniel and Obadiah, I thought I might try to find a local Cox family that combined the two, and there was one right in the north of Dorset and across the border into Somerset. It seemed worth pursuing, as I know from chasing cordwainers around Sussex that people with trades - Obadiah became a tailor - could move around a lot more than labourers tied to the land. Osmund Cox, a yeoman of Henstridge in Somerset married Elizabeth Goffe of Lydlinch in Dorset on the 11th February 1706/07 in Lydlinch, and they seem to have spent the next 30 years moving between the two parishes. They had a daughter Ann baptised and buried in Lydlinch in 1708; a possible son Osmund was buried in Henstridge in 1711; a son Obadiah was baptised in 1711 in Henstridge, and buried in 1720 in Lydlinch; a daughter Elizabeth was baptised in Lydlinch in 1714; and Daniel was baptised in 1718 in Henstridge. Elizabeth Cox senior was buried in Lydlinch in 1739, and another Elizabeth Cox was buried there in 1742: so possibly mother and unmarried daughter. Apart from his father Osmund, who seems to have left no trace, Daniel is the only one of the family unaccounted for, so is it he who turns up in Blandford Forum? Looking at the maps, Lydlinch, where it seems the family ended up, is on one of the old roads leading to Blandford Forum, going via Sturminster Newton and down along the River Stour, so it is not an unlikely route for him to take. Perhaps he had grown up in the shadow of his brother Obadiah who died, aged 9, when he, Daniel was two; as an admired older figure he could have named his firstborn son after him. Daniel would be named after himself, and Elizabeth perhaps for his mother and sister; but John? If he had called a son Osmund that would have nailed it for me, but perhaps his father died or disappeared just before or shortly after his birth so he didn't remember him, or perhaps he wasn’t the sort of character he wanted to remember.If Daniel Cox born in 1718 in Henstridge to Osmund and Elizabeth was the father of Obadiah I have not been able to find an obvious marriage for him; if he is his father then I can add Somerset for the first time to my list of English counties.
Murray families: the Cox family from DorsetObadiah Cox and Ann Foot - from Dorset to Chichester