Margaret Hopperton and Thomas Beswick

The possible mother of Thomas the Convict and possible families for both his parents

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The probability is increasing that the marriage John Beswick found from the Pallot Index showing Thomas Beswick and Margaret Hopperton married in St George Hanover Square on the 30th November 1803 is the marriage of the publican and his wife, the parents of Thomas the convict. John has now seen the original registration. The full record as found in marriages in the Parish of St.George Hanover Square) states," Thomas Beswick and Margaret Hopperton, both of this Parish, were married in this church by banns this thirtieth day of November in the year 1803 by Mr Thos.Nicholas. This marriage solemnised between us in the presence of: Thos.Gee and Wm.Greville (witnesses). Signed: Thomas Beswick Margaret Hopperton".

The only evidence we had of his mother previously was the name Margaret for the mother of Thomas and his siblings in the baptismal records at St Giles. We could do with some other confirming evidence. The name Gee could be significant. It will be noted that both Thomas and Margaret signed their names and that there is evidence in Tasmania that their son Thomas could read and write.

If this Margaret is the Margaret Hopperton of two baptisms at Gosport, near Portsmouth, Hampshire, we have evidence of re-baptism which is likely to indicate some doubts about validity arising from non-conformist affiliation: [from the IGI]

Margaret HOPPERTON Sex: F. Event(s): Christened: 6 July 1772 Gosport, High Street-independent, Hampshire, England. Parents: Father: Samuel HOPPERTON Mother: Ann. Source Information: Batch number: C069362

Margaret HOPPERTON Sex: F. Event(s): Christened: 20 Dec 1772 Gosport, Holy Trinity, Hampshire, England. Parents: Father: Samuel HOPPERTON Mother: Ann. Source Information: Batch number: C073561

Then we have in addition to her father's name being Samuel (on which more below) and an appropriate age (again significant as taken up further) an interesting pattern of the births of three children prior to the marriage of her parents which parallels the birth of three children prior to the marriage of Margaret and Thomas. My first thought was that it might be a pattern of "carelessness" about such things "inherited" from mother to daughter , but Margaret's re-baptism in the established church after an initial baptism in an independent church suggests another possibility concerning the legality and acceptability of the rites of non-conformist churches at that time. The likely story as I see is as follows:

After Margaret's birth in 1772 there was another daughter Ann in 1773 also at Gosport and then a son Samuel born 1775 at Portsea, just across the harbour entrance, before we see the marriage of Samuel Hopperton and Ann Williams at Portsea in 1776:-

Ann HOPPORTON Sex: F. Event(s): Christened: 22 Dec 1773 Gosport, Holy Trinity, Hampshire, England Parents: Father: Samuel HOPPORTON Mother: Ann Source Information: Batch number: C073561

Samuel HOPPORTON Sex: M Event(s): Christened: 19 Feb 1775 Portsea, Saint Marys, Hampshire, England. Parents: Father: Samuel HOPPORTON Mother: Anne Source Information: Batch number: C062612

Samuel HOPPORTON Sex: M. Marriage(s): Spouse: Ann WILLIAMS Marriage: 6 Feb 1776 Portsea, Saint Marys, Hampshire, England Source Information: Batch number: M062612

There does not appear to be any record in the IGI of marriages in the independent church in Gosport, but my guess is that if we could find it there would be a non-conformist marriage about 1771. Otherwise it seems unlikely that the baptism of the three children born before the 1776 marriage would have been recorded in the form they were with the children having the father's surname and the parents recorded as if they were married.

As for Samuel's own birth, is was also at Gosport:

Samuel HOPPERTON Sex: M Event(s): Christened: 26 Dec 1744 Gosport, Holy Trinity, Hampshire, England. Parents: Father: Samuel HOPPERTON Mother: Margaret Source Information: Batch number: C073561

And his parents were married there the previous year -- and note the mother's name was Margaret, so Thomas the convict's mother is likely to have been named after her grandmother:

Samuel HOPPERTON Sex: M Marriage(s): Spouse: Margaret LOCK Marriage: 23 Sep 1743 Gosport, Holy Trinity, Hampshire, England Source Information: Batch number: M073561

There was another Samuel Hopperton in the area who appears to have been married three times at Alverstoke which is part of the Gosport urban area today, and who had a son named Robert. It could possibly have been Samuel's father remarrying. I did not find definite leads back for them but it looks as though it would be worth investigating the possibility that they came from the family of a Robert Hopperton who had seven children including a Robert and a Samuel baptized at Chelsea, St Luke, London, 1674 to 1685. There were others in central London in the early 1700s.

The Hoppertons probably came to the Portsmouth area of Hampshire from London sometime between 1720 and 1740 or thereabouts and prior to that from Yorkshire around 1670 or earlier where there are records going back about another hundred years.

The age of Margaret in 1803 is significant because if she was born in 1772 she would then have been 31, and almost 40 when Samuel and Henry were born in 1812. We don't know for sure that the twins were her last, but there are no others at St Giles and it makes sense if that was her age. I had previously thought that the record of the burial of Thomas Beswick at St Pancras 23 September 1838 aged 73 would be relevant. Note that Samuel Beswick married Charlotte Hallam at St Pancras Old Church 7 September 1835. (There was also another Samuel Beswick married at St Pancras in 1857 and I have had some contact with people researching that line.) If Thomas the publican was born about 1765 he would have only been about seven years older than Margaret. However, John has now checked the death registration corresponding to that St Pancras death and has the certificate from London. It shows the name Berwick not Beswick as in the parish record. The Thomas Berwick concerned died in a workhouse, his death being reported by the superintendent, so it seems unlikely to have been our Thomas who still had family in the area, at least Samuel who was a tailor in business not far away and others of his children were probably still living.

Looking for likely birth records of Thomas the Publican I had looked for combinations of Thomas and Samuel names in Beswick families, following the family tradition of using such names in combination, but if Samuel son of Thomas and Margaret was named after Margaret's father, we do not need that. It could still apply as a co-incidence but it is not such a compelling reason as it was. We still don't have enough information to have a very clear guide, but in what I have found the most likely place to look would now be either in the parishes around St Botolph Without Aldgate or at Stepney. There are two interesting baptisms at the St Botolph's: Thomas Beswick son of Thomas Beswick and Sarah unknown 14 October 1759, with apparently the same couple having another child Jane baptized at Saint George in the East, Stepney, 29 June 1769. (Note that the names Sarah and Jane, as well as Margaret, were used for the three elder daughters of Thomas the convict in Tasmania.) We might speculate that Thomas and Sarah had one or more other children in another unknown parish in the meantime, perhaps one being a second Thomas if the other died in infancy.

People familiar with the history might recognize Stepney as the location of "The Green Dragon" kept by the only other possibly relevant Thomas Beswick for whom we have a death record in London after central records began. He married Parthenia Wrainch as a bachelor in 1834 at St Magnus the Martyr, and died at Stepney in 1841 aged 54, and thus born about 1787. He is almost certainly not our man, being too young to be the likely father of Thomas born 1805 and certainly of the older girls, the first of them being born in 1797; and he could not have been a bachelor in 1834.

Another Thomas Bassick (sic.) son of Jonathan Bassack and Jane unknown was baptized at St Botolph 1 May 1763. Note Jane. My guess is that a Jonathan connection could be in the common origins of the two Thomas B families in that area.

The other birth record that fits reasonably well is Thomas son of Jonathan Besswick (sic.) and Ann unknown at Congleton, Cheshire, 12 January 1766.

Anyway, Hopperton is a relatively uncommon name and what we have found fits well with what we knew before. The main point is that the possible marriage of Margaret and Thomas in 1803 goes with ages and a possible death which makes some sense and may point to leads which go further back for both the parents of Thomas the convict. We do not, of course, know why the marriage of Thomas and Margaret took place after three children were born, if indeed it did. It is not the same as with Margaret's likely parents because there were no baptisms that we know of before the marriage (in the case of Thomas and Margaret the three older girls born earlier were all baptized later in 1807 whereas for Samuel Hopperton and Ann the baptisms were before the marriage), but perhaps there was still a family tradition of some kind of non-conformity on Margaret's side. The apparently delayed baptism of the three older girls at St Giles in October 1807 (see Chapter 1) could, possibly, be another case of conformity to the Established through re-baptism.

David Beswick - 3 September 1999, revised 18 November 1999.

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