I wish I knew.
For some time, I’ve been attempting to sort out the kinships and identities of the various Hugh Filbees of Lewknor, Oxfordshire. If you were a Hugh Filbee living at the foot of the Chiltern Hills in the 1600s and 1700s, you most likely had a son, perhaps a brother or, even more likely, a cousin, named Hugh, and there’s a good chance you married a woman named Alice or Ann.
If you examine the parish registers of St Margaret’s at Lewknor, and St Mary’s at Adwell, you’ll find mention of myriad men named Hugh Filbee dating back to the earliest entries. I wrote about the Lewknor register in this post. In 1585, Hugh Filbee and his wife Alice (of course) baptized son William at Adwell. Jump ahead in that register a hundred or so years to March, 1708/9, and you’ll discover the baptism, and burial two weeks later, of Hugh Filbee, son of Hugh & Alice (really) of Lewknor. You’ll also find that another Hugh and Alice (I kid you not) Filbee couple baptized their son Hugh in Lewknor in 1771. Unfortunately, none of these entries, or others like them, provides distinguishing details that might help with identification.
I generally approach this type of research problem by making a timeline chart, as I did in that earlier post mentioned above. A review of the Hugh Filbee entries immediately reveals the problem of too many Lewknor burials of Hugh Filbees for the number of Hugh Filbee births and marriages. So, clearly, any search for this family should also encompass the records of the neighboring parishes of South Weston, Wheatfield, and Stoke Talmage, because of their proximity to each other and a similarity in family names which suggests movement between these villages was quite fluid in the 17th and 18th centuries.
There are a number of published Filbee family trees which , apparently relying solely on the Lewknor parish registers, purport that Hugh Filbee, born in 1722 to Hugh Filbee and Alice Chapman, married Anna-Maria Waklin at Bix in 1747, and died in Lewknor in 1767. Based on evidence found in the baptisms and burials in the St Margaret register, those researchers have concluded that Hugh fathered five children with Anna-Maria: Alice (my ancestor), Hugh, Mary, Judith, and John. And that, following Anna-Maria’s death in 1757, he fathered five bastard children with Anna-Maria’s unmarried sister Eve: Ann, Jane, James, Richard, and Anna-Maria. However, the theory doesn’t exactly fit the evidence, because the youngest daughter, Anna-Maria, was baptized in 1769, two years after Hugh’s alleged death. It’s possible she was baptized at age two, but unlikely because children were typically baptized within a day or two of their births, or, if there was a delay, their age was included in the baptismal entry. The other problematic detail in the will is the absence of a wife. Hugh’s wife Anna-Maria was still living at that point in time, and would therefore have been mentioned.
Other published trees put Hugh’s death in 1772, because a man by that same name was buried at Lewknor that year.
Probate was made on the estates of both men: the Hugh who died in 1767 made a will; the Hugh who died in 1772 did not. The estate documents alone don’t prove identity, but they do show which of the two could NOT be my ancestor Alice’s father.
The will of the man who died in 1767 was written more than ten years earlier in 1756. In the will, Hugh names two sons: Hugh and Henry; and six daughters: Mary, Jane, Alice, Judith, Ann, and Elizabeth. None of the children is described as a minor, and Hugh and Henry are both named executors, with no indication that they would need the guidance of anyone until they reached majority, which we’d expect to see if they were under age.
A comparison of the baptisms of Hugh’s children by Anna-Maria and her sister Eve, to the children named in Hugh’s will illustrates the conflicts:
Of the eight children named in the will (Hugh, Henry, Mary, Jane, Alice, Judith, Ann, and Elizabeth), Hugh, Alice, and Mary would have all been under the age of nine in 1756, and son John, who would have been one that year, is not mentioned at all. There is no birth or baptism of a son Henry, or daughter Elizabeth, and Jane and Ann, two of his children by Eve, weren’t even born yet.
After considering the conflicts between the parish registers and the 1756 will, it appears that the Hugh Filbee who died in Lewknor in 1767, could not have been the husband of Anna-Maria, the father of my Alice, or the father of Eve Waklin’s illegitimate children.
The next steps in my research will be to look for the probate records of other Filbees who might have mentioned Hugh, and to check for land records which may also provide relationship clues.
Parish Registers (CD-ROM transcript), OFHS: Colin Harris. Oxfordshire Parish Register Transcripts: THAME Reg. District. N.p.: Oxfordshire Family History Society, 2009.
Will of Hugh Filbee of Lewknor, Oxfordshire, Made 24 May 1756; proved 26 January 1767, Oxfordshire Records Center: ref 24/3/3.
Hugh Filbee of Lewknor, Oxfordshire, Letters of Administration, 30 May 1772, Oxfordshire Records Office: ref Arch b.32 f.66