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Wiltshire Community History

Wiltshire History Questions Search Results

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Question Date :

Monday 4th July 2011 10:03

Question:
One of my ancestors was, I believe, Mayor of Salisbury in the second half of the 18th century. His surname was Wansbrough, also spelt Wansborough, and his first name was either Thomas or William. I can't find any information on the dates he served or any further information on his tenure. Can you help?

Answer:
Thomas Wansborough served as Mayor in 1684 and John Wansborouggh served as Mayor in 1752. But apart from that … who were they, and was there any connection between them? The evidence is not insignificant but it is frustratingly fragmentary.

One Thomas Wansborough married Judith Carter on 21st April 1669 at Winterslow: could this have been 'your' Thomas? There was a William Wansbrough, grocer, who was buried in St Edmund's Church - actually in the church - having died 3rd October 1673, so there may be a connection with Thomas Wansborough, and on 27th June 1697 John Wansborough of the parish of St Edmund married Mary House in the Cathedral.

In the Cathedral Close there were a Captain William and Mrs Mary, whom one assumes were husband and wife, for, amongst the burials in the Cathedral registers are: Sarah, the daughter of Captain William Wansbroug [sic], on 11th March 1694/5, John, the son of Captain William Wansbrough, on 14th December 1696, and Mrs Mary, widow, of the Close, on 1st May 1712. Then, on 1st October 1713 Colonel William Wansbrough married Mrs Mary Yearly, and on 25th May 1717 their son Richard was baptized in the Cathedral. Thomas Wansbrow, of the parish of St Thomas, married Mary Prince in the Cathedral on 19th December 1716, and finally Mary Wansborough married Andrew Beach of the City of London, on 22nd December 1726

Turning to civic records we find a William, who was a member of the Tailors' Company, signatory to an oath of allegiance to the new king, George I, in 1715, and a reference to John and William Wansborough being present at a meeting of the guild on 4th December 1739, admitting a new member and expelling another who had already received the death penalty upon conviction of felony.

Next, we find a John Wansborough marrying Elizabeth Young, on 7th February 1748/9 at St Edmund's. He was described as “of the City of New Sarum”, which implies he may have been a member of the council, and thus the future mayor. But there was also a John Wansborough who was a master - a grocer - to whom one Silvanus Grevile was apprenticed on 28th August 1756, on payment of a hefty premium of 105. This John Wansborough was clearly a man of some substance, so he might have been the mayor. Then there is the John Wansborough who married Sarah Taylor at St Edmund's on 9th April 1765 - perhaps a second marriage, or perhaps there were two John Wansboroughs, one the tailor and the other the grocer.

There is a further possibility, and that is that the member of the Tailors' Company and the up-market grocer were one and the same person. The occupation of 'grocer' covered a multitude of retail activities - it originally meant someone who traded in gross quantities, which is why the term became attached to purveyors of consumables and comestibles; but the term could apply to merchants or tradespeople who did not have a more specialised area of activity. When, under the city's granted in 1612, the Merchants' Company was reconstituted as the Grocers' Company, it included apothecaries, embroiderers, goldsmiths, grocers, linen-drapers, mercers, milliners, upholsterers and vintners. So an eighteenth-century grocer could conceivably have dealt in textiles or finished garments within a wider sphere of trade. There is, however, no evidence of a grocers' company in eighteenth-century Salisbury, and Hatcher records that by the time of his history (1843), the sole survivor was the Tailors' Company, which leads us to the second possibility. The grocer may have belonged to the Tailors' Company for social as much as professional reasons - rather as today one might be a member of the Freemasons irrespective of one's trade or profession. The Tailors' Company featured significantly in public spectacles such as processions, for the Giant - representing St Christopher - was the Tailors' Guild parade effigy.

Finally, one Thomas Wansbrough married Mary Underhill at St Thomas's Church on 8th December 1739.

As I say, the information is fragmentary and ambiguous, and you may need to firm it up by checking the original parish registers to get dates of baptisms and burials. At present we have transcripts and indexes to the baptisms, marriages and burials for the Cathedral, but for elsewhere in Salisbury only the International Genealogical Index, which has no records for St Thomas's Church, and only nineteenth-century records for St Edmund's, and only monumental inscriptions records to cover deaths and burials. What you will need to do to complete the picture is to visit the Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office in Trowbridge.

Bibliography:
Haskins, C.: The ancient trade guilds and companies of Salisbury (Salisbury: Bennet, 1912), pp. 80 (Grocers’ Co.), 160-219 (Tailors’ Guild – early modern period), 201, 202 (Wansbrough).
Hatcher, H.: Old and New Sarum, or Salisbury (London: J.B. Nichols, 1843), p. 580 (nineteenth-century trade), 697 (list of mayors, eighteenth century).
International Geneaological Index: Wiltshire (Utah: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1992). – microfiche.
Phillimore, W.P.W. and others, editors: Wiltshire parish registers: marriages vols. 5 (St Thomas’s), 7 (Salisbury Cathedral), 14 (St Edmund, 1741 onwards) (Phillimore, 1907-1914).
Wiltshire apprentices and their masters, 1710-1760; ed. By C. Dale (Devizes: WANHS Records Branch, 1961. – WRS vol. 17), p. 65.
Wilson, P.: Salisbury Cathedral, 1570-1837 (Tuffley, Glos.: The Ring, 1999. – The ring: Wiltshire parish marriage indexes). – microfiche.
Wiltshire Family History Society: The Bishop’s transcripts and parish registers of Salisbury Cathedral, 1564-1837 (WFHS, [2002]). – microfiche.
Wiltshire Family History Society: Salisbury: St Edmund’s Church (Genealogical Society of Utah, 1992. – Wiltshire monumental inscriptions). – microfiche.

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