Gene Surfing

Adventures in Family History

Trust Nobody

Farmer BullshotOne of the most important rules of Genealogy is don’t believe anything that you read. This is an example of why you should always follow this rule.


This article relates to records available on Ancestry relating to one George Codrington of London in 1735.

The event is recorded both as a baptism AND a marriage – but which is correct?

Luckily there are 4 different versions of this record and  the original documents for some of these [the clandestine records] are also available so we are very lucky.

Clandestine Marriages.

Prisons like the Fleet and the King’s Bench Prison became popular destinations for couples interested in quick, no-questions-asked nuptials because of the number of clerics imprisoned for debt who had nothing to lose and welcomed the income. Many of them lived in the “Rules” or “Liberties,” which were areas around the prison where prisoners could pay for the privilege of living outside the gates.

As well as marriages the clerics also performed baptisms.

Records were kept in notebooks that are sometime very difficult to read.

So let us try and work out what exactly was going on with George.


1. England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975

Name: George Codrington
Gender: Male
Baptism Date: 5 Nov 1735
Baptism Place: Westminster, Middlesex, England

Well this seems reasonably straight-forward, but it doesn’t give us any information about the parents and there is no scanned image.

This is usually all that you get from transcribed parish record and you have to put your faith in the transcriber.

So what of the other records?


2. London, England, Clandestine Marriage and Baptism Registers, 1667-1754

This next record appears to be a marriage, but the name and the date are the same and there is some additional information.

Name: George Codrington
Gender: Male
Event Type: Marriage
Marriage Date: 5 Nov 1735
Marriage Place: London, England
Residence: Bladborn in Monnhorrel
Piece Description: Fleet Notebooks (Gaynam), 1735 Nov – Dec

Bladborn in what?

We have to look at the image to try and get asome meaning from this.

George Codrington and lady

The best I can do is this, assuming that the B is actually & based on another marriage record on the same page :

George Codrington & Lady [corner missing from page] born in Montserrat, in the West Indies aged about 30

Unusual for the bride not to be named, but then this a clandestine marriage!

So now we are getting closer.

What of the next record?


3. London, England, Clandestine Marriage and Baptism Registers, 1667-1754

Name: George Codrington
Gender: Male
Event Type: Marriage
Marriage Date: 5 Nov 1735
Marriage Place: London, England
Piece Description: Officiating Ministers: Backler, Gaynam, Wigmore, Ashwell, Sindrey, Wyatt. Also contains 6 entries of uncertain date, ?1751. (1732 Mar – 1743 Nov)

This is another marriage record for George, but is more likely a baptism as it does not show a bride and the name of the George has changed.

George Codrington Black

George Codrington Black born in the West Indies aged about 30

Several families used the name of the mother as a middle name so this could be the baptism of the child of a Mr Black and a Miss Codrington, perhaps born out of wedlock.

But the real answer is in the final record.


4. London, England, Clandestine Marriage and Baptism Registers, 1667-1754

Yet another version of the same event from another diary.

Name: George Codrington
Gender: Male
Event Type: Baptism
Baptism Date: 5 Nov 1735
Baptism Place: London, England
Piece Description: Officiating Ministers: Gaynam. Gaynam’s register. (1735 Jun – 1738 Jul)

Just the same information again, so it seems.

George Codrington a black

But the image for this record now makes the event obvious and it is clearly a baptism.

George Codrington a Black Born in Montserrat in the West Indies about 30 years old.

The main difference is simply in the words “a Black” but it is strange that this has a capital letter at the start in all the records.

Which leads us off down a completely different path.


So far I have not found a specific record of a George Codrington of Montserrat, but there are records of other illegitimate children of the Codrington family in Barbados and Antigua.

William, for example, was the illegitimate son of Christopher Codrington III and he had a son named George and [coincidentally] he was born in 1735 but it cannot be him – this George was already 30 years old, one of the few things that is clear from all the Fleet diaries.

It is likely that George was one of the many mixed race children born to plantation owners in the West Indies and sent to England to be educated. It is difficult to know what the exact definition of “a Black” is at this time in history.

There is no information about when George arrived, he may have been in England for some time or he may have been educated in the West Indies and arrived recently to work.

For more information about the Codringtons in the West Indies I recommend The Sugar Barons by Matthew Parker.


 Chris Sidney 2014


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