William Whitehead (Whytehead) – (Abt. 1747-1812) and Mary Bassenden

Our earliest Whitehead ancestor that we can definitively claim to be our own is William Whytehead who is thought to have been born (estimated date) around 1747 in Westwell in Kent.

He married Mary Bassenden in Westwell on the 28th November 1767. The marriage records are from the Mid Kent marriage index in West Ashford. The name is recorded as Whytehead. On another records Mary is inaccurately recorded as Baperden and Bissendon.

Known children of the marriage and recorded in parish records are;

• Sarah born? 1768

• William christened July 1770.

• Stephen born on the 20th September 1772 in Westwell.

• James born in February 1775 also in Westwell.

William was born pre-civil registration. Each local parish had the responsibility of registering its baptisms (not births), marriage and burials (again, not deaths). The primary religion in England at the time was the Church of England.

These were tumultuous times in British history. The Jacobite risings of 1688 to 1746 culminating in the devastating battle of Culloden were predominantly over religion and who should be in power. The Catholics wanted their house of Stuart returned to ruling power in England, Scotland and Ireland. It was into this culture of fervent patriotism that young William was born.

From his index of record of death, William very likely was born and did live and die in the little rural village. Westwell remains a small village to this day. Westwell is in the Ashford district of Kent. The same area that William and Mary’s son would continue to live in.

A daughter Lucy was born in 1778 but her mother’s name was given as Elizabeth, so whether something had happened to Mary? There is a Mary Whitehead who died in Kent in 1777. If this did happen to our Mary? The time lines do align. The spelling had changed by this stage to Whitehead, or they got a change of Minister filling out the parish records.

Around this same time, Sir Frederick Morton Eden wrote, in ‘The state of the poor; or, an history of the labouring classes in England, that the people of Westwell in 1795 were living on a diet consisting mainly of milk, bread, potatoes, tea and cheese. Very little meat if any was eaten, little beer and no butter.

On the 20th September 1812 William’s death was recorded in Westwell Kent with him recorded as a Whitehead. He was buried on the 20th September 1812 and is buried in Westwell, Kent. He was aged 65.

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