Gene Surfing

Adventures in Family History


Farmer BullshotA velmonger is someone who deals with vell, the maws or stomachs of calves fed entirely on milk, used for making rennet which is needed for producing cheese.

This term is not common and seems to only have been used in the west-country – most references to this occupation come from Somerset, Devon, Dorset and Cornwall.

It could be that this is the origin of Veal, which may have just been a side product of the rennet business – or perhaps it was the other way around?

Rennet is a complex of enzymes produced in stomachs of ruminant mammals which is used in the production of most cheeses. Chymosin, its key component, is a protease enzyme that curdles the casein in milk, helping young mammals digest their mothers’ milk.

Since writing this, a few years ago, I have decided that my connection to the Chilcot family is probably incorrect, despite the DNA match. But I have left the information here in case it is of use to someone else – and I think I am still vaguely related, but through a different route. There will be another blog about my current investigation regarding James Burnell.

Emanuel Chilcott

Emanuel Chilcot was a velmonger and he must have done well from the business as when he died he left a significant estate behind.

He had no children so his property was left to his wife and other relations and this is when the problems started.

Emanuel made his will in March 1786 and died on 24 May 1787 on the Truckwell Estate, Brompton Ralph, Somerset and his will and the chancery cases surrounding inheritance are recorded in several books available on the internet, mainly as test cases because the judges could not agree.

Joan Chilcot, who married Isaac Winter, was my 5x great-grandmother and a cousin of Emanuel and is named in these proceedings along with her husband and many other family members.

As with anything that involved money, the names, ages and relationships of all those involved are very well documented and a great source of information for anyone looking into their family tree.

There are a couple of missing pieces – the name of Emanuel’s father for one – but the relationship with the other members of the family described in the case has allowed me to add a good chunk onto my tree where there were no other obvious records.


The Truckwell estate was on the eastern edge of Exmoor in Somerset, to the north of Wiveliscombe.

All that remains now is the name Truckwell Land, a minor road between the B3188 and the B3224 near Brompton Ralph which gives an idea of where it was.

If you search for Truckwell on the internet these legal records are about the only reference to the estate that exists.

The will of Emanuel leaves the estate to his cousin John Chilcott but only after Eleanor and Ann [sisters-in-laws] and his wife Elizabeth had died.

It also allows Elizabeth to “give what she thought proper of his effects to her sisters“.

The first court case concerning this will was heard in 1800 in Wells, Somerset and concerns the use of the word “his effects” and whether this included the actual property – Elizabeth had seemingly given some of the property to her sisters.

This case was also revisited in Winter v Perrat in 1826 due to John Chilcott dying without a male heir, which put the inheritance back in the line of Richard Chilcott, Emanuel’s Uncle.

These are complicated cases, which probably left only the lawyers happy, but the information they contain is priceless.

Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Court of King’s Bench

Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the English Courts of Common Law


This is part of my Burnell tree showing the connections to the family.

Richard Chilcot = Ann Greenslade
  Isaac Winter = Joan Chilcot
    Thomas Burnell = Charlotte Winter
      James Burnell = Elizabeth Hensley
        James Burnell = Jane Lethby
          George Burnell = Alice Combes
            Walter Burnell = Isabel Radford [My grandparents]

There is still some doubt about the link between James Burnell and his parents Thomas and Charlotte [Winter], but I believe these to be correct despite a lack of key evidence.

But more of that later.

Thomas and Charlotte

Charlotte Winter and Thomas Burnell married in Cutcombe, Somerset.

Charlotte was born in Taunton so it must have been Thomas who came from Cutcombe – probably from Highley Farm – born in about 1763.

On their marriage certificate however it says that the groom was from South Molton in Devon so maybe he was working on another farm or in some other industry and returned for his marriage.

Thomas burnell - charlotte winter

There are two excellent sources of parish records from West Somerset – and – and both record the same information so this is not a transcription error.

There are also a number of other marriages recorded in Cutcombe where the groom comes from North Molton so it does not seem that unusual.

Why they were not married in Wilton (Taunton) where Charlotte’s family came from is not obvious but it may have been related to her conversion to Methodism as recorded in Early Methodism in West Somerset, by W. Symons which I have yet to see.

But although they were married in 1785 it was nearly 10 years before any children were registered in the area – the eldest daughter Charlotte, born 1794 married Thomas Escott.

The Burnell family were small farmers. After Charlotte’s father, Thomas, died in 1827, Adam farmed for his mother-in-law, Charlotte, at their holding at Highley in Cutcombe until she died in 1836. Adam attempted to keep a little land in the area thereafter but probably lost it around 1839 due to the enclosures and the taxes levied (to get the very small farmers off the land). By 1841 he had moved to the village of Cutcombe and started working as an agricultural labourer.
According to one source the will of Thomas shows that he owned houses in Taunton and these may have been inherited from Charlotte.

Burnell Country

James Burnell

In the 1841 census there are two James’ – among many others Burnells – living in Wootton Courtenay, and both of these had been born in 1791.

There are marriage records for them both: James I married Pricilla Cowlin in 1811 and James II married Elizabeth Hensley in 1818.

However there is only one birth certificate for James the son of John Burnell and Mary Sage.

And there is only one death record in 1848 and it says that James was 61 so could have been born in 1787 and not 1791 but that doesn’t really help.

I have attached this death record to James I but there is no record for James II in the 1851 census so he must also have died before this date.

I have also assigned James I as the son of John and Mary leaving James II with just a marriage certificate to his name – but there is one particular item of interest on this record and that is the addition of witnesses to this marriage.


Charlotte Burnell (Witness)The name of one witness on the certificate is Charlotte Burnell and whether this is James’ mother or [more likely] sister does not matter as much as the name itself and the link to the family.

Therefore, just because of this one piece of information, I have linked James II to this family, at least until some other evidence turns up.

James I had an older brother so it is likely that he would have been one of the witnesses at his marriage but this also may mean that there were no older children born before James [that survived].

The other witness is Mary Hensley, elder sister to Elizabeth.

The unrecorded birth of James II could be accounted for by Thomas returning to South Molton with his new bride, for a number of years, and James being born in Devon, where the records are not yet available.

I have assumed that this is the case, although there is no solid evidence.


There is quite a gap between the marriage of Thomas and Charlotte in 1785, and the first recorded birth in Cutcombe in 1794 which would be quite unusual for the period.

There is also a fairly regular 2-3 year spacing between most births, as shown in the list below, so there are likely to be other unrecorded children, or perhaps the couple were just very organised.

Charlotte is the first recorded birth in Cutcombe and she would have been 22 as a witness to her brother’s marriage [is there an age limit for witnesses?]

? 1786

? 1788

James 1791 = Mary Hensley

Charlotte 1794 = Adam Escott [1]

Mary Ann 1797

Isaac Winter 1799

Harriet 1802

Eliza 1805

speech50I have been informed about some more records for Thomas and Charlotte. These are in St Mary’s in Taunton (where Charlotte was born) and there are three births recorded which fit with the marriage date.

In fact the records fit almost exactly with the dates predicted above:

Thomas 15 May 1786

Charlotte 29 September 1788

Jemima 30 March 1791.

There are no other records either before or after this period and no marriage record either. But there are two problems with these records fitting into my tree – or a problems with my tree.

There is already a Charlotte born in Cutcombe 1794 but there is no death record for the earlier Charlotte. There is, however a census and a death record for Charlotte Burnell of Taunton – assuming that she never married.

The census record from 1851 shows her in Bristol aged 63 as a visitor and from Twerton in Somerset. This is clearly supposed to be Taunton. The death record is from Taunton in 1858 but this could be another Charlotte who married into the Burnell family – more research required.

The second problem is that there is no record for James, and there is also a daughter Jemima, born about the same time and taking up the space where James should be. It is possible that he was born earlier or later and just not recorder in the register – perhaps his parents were elsewhere at the time.

Or perhaps this is just not the correct family?


But there are still many questions to be answered:

If James was the first son then why did he not have the middle name of Winter, or be named Isaac or John after his grand-father?

Could Thomas and Charlotte really not have had any children for 10 years by choice – or perhaps just through bad luck?

Was James illegitimate and the half-sister to Charlotte – which would account for the lack of a baptism record?

If James does not belong to the family then where does he belong – and why was Charlotte his witness?

[1] Joan Burnell born 1755 was a sister to Thomas and married Giles Escott.

Joan and Giles had ten children and their daughter Katherine had an illegitimate son, Adam Escott, who married Charlotte Burnell, daughter of Thomas and Charlotte.

DNA to the rescue

Farmer BullshotIt seems that I was correct to be sceptical about my assumptions regarding James Burnell, my 3x great grandfather.

The mystery was eventually resolved by a DNA match found at Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) after uploading my Ancestry results.

My closest match at FTDNA was with the Sealey name which I had already linked to my tree although not a direct relationship. Reviewing my tree armed with this information made it possible to find a better match for James than the one mentioned above.

One of the reasons for the confusion was the birth date of James in the 1841 census as being 50 years old, putting his date of birth as 1791, when it seems he was actually born in 1799.

This links James to a different position in the tree as the son of Robert Burnell and Elizabeth Sealey, born 1799 in Wootton Courtenay, confirming the link to my DNA matched 6th cousin.

It also turns out that in the 1841 census the two witnesses to James’ marriage were his neighbours: Mary Hensley was the sister of his wife Elizabeth – who died in 1829 – and Charlotte Burnell was his cousin, the daughter of John Burnell who farmed at Brockwell.

james burnell 1799James Burnell 10
Ann Burnell 15

Mary Hensley 50

John Burnell 65
Charlotte Burnell 35

The main problem with this match is that his age is recorded as 50 instead of 42, but it may be that someone else guessed at his age? Elizabeth was 5 years older than James so perhaps everyone assumed he was older?

So after rearranging the tree there is now a record of James’ birth, and we have accounted for the two witnesses.

There are still two James Burnells in the 1841 Wootton Courtenay census but only one was born in 1791.

John Burnell = Prudence Perry
  John Burnell = Ann Rice
    Robert Burnell = Elizabeth Sealey
      James Burnell = Elizabeth Hensley
        James Burnell = Jane Lethby
          George Burnell = Alice Combes
            Walter Burnell = Isabel Radford [My grandparents]

Prudence Perry, 6x great grandmother, is still a bit mysterious.

There are two baptism records for her: one in Lullington, near Bath and one in Luxborough a few days later – the 9th and 12th July 1723.

It was sometimes traditional for a first child in the family to be born at the maternal home and then to travel back to where the couple were living for a second baptism.

In this case the family seem to come from Wiltshire and the east of Somerset although what the connection is to Luxborough in west Somerset is not known at the moment.

 Chris Sidney 2014/2016

3 responses to “Velmongery

  1. Penelope Hukkeri May 8, 2017 at 11:12 am

    I read your post after searching on the net for information on Richard Chillcott. I read the law journals too . Since Richard Chillcott Winter and Thomas Chillcott Winter came to India I was wondering if Thomas chillcott is the one mentioned as having died single. I only know about the children they had which I found on Family search. I do not know where they died.My grand mother was a Winter.


    • Farmer Bullshot May 13, 2017 at 6:15 am

      I haven’t found a record for Richard Chilcott Winter. The legal proceedings say that there are only two sons, Isaac and Thomas and that Thomas died in 1817 a bachelor. But there is a record for the birth of another brother Robert Chilcott Winter and I cannot find any burial or probate records for Thomas to support the date he died. I did find the Indian records and initially attached then to Thomas, but then removed the link because I wasn’t sure. As DNA results showed that I was not as closely linked to this branch of the Burnells family as I though, I haven’t persued this any further. Taken at face value the legal documents seem clear that Thomas cannot be the same person who married in India, but there also do not seem to be any alternatives and the use of Chilcott as a middle name is unique. Could Richard have actually been Robert? Or was there another brother with no baptism record, or was he a cousin of thomas and not a brother? Of course it may have suited the legal proceedings that Robert has disappeared from the scene and the death may have been fabricated or a mistake (or just a guess). There are several other Thomas and Robert winters in the same area so perhaps there was a bit of confusion. For myself I would be happy to link Robert with the Indian marriage if I could find any connection between the family and India. What was he doing there? Was he in the military or the East India company? Do you have any ideas?


      • Penelope Hukkeri May 15, 2017 at 1:19 pm

        Thanks for replying. I did a search again and found the 3 sons born to Issac and Joan Winter. The only difference is the name Robert Chillcott instead of Richard Chillcott. There are just no other Chillcott Winters except in India. Thomas Chillcott Winter must have died in 1814 or so as there seem to be no other children born after that and Susannah Winter got a pension from Lord Clive Military Fund, Madras Presidency (widows in Madras).Susannah was born in 1771. They married in 1810 and Daniel Chillcott Winter was born in 1811. There was talk in my mothers family of them being in Penang and I did find some record of a Richard Winter 1782-1827 Prince of Wales Island. My grand mothers father was also Daniel Chillcott Winter 1858-1925 but I do not know if the above Daniel Chillcott was his father or grandfather.


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