Answers to Questions


TERRY, Layston (Buntingford), 1788

June 2001




Susan Daniels (rubygem711 @t of Portland, Oregon, USA is looking for information about Sarah Terry, born June 26, 1788. She married Walter Holmden (b. June 8, 1788 in Riverhead, Sevenoaks, Kent) on October 14, 1814. A search in the IGI revealed a christening date for a Sarah Terry of June 29, 1788 in Layston, Hertfordshire. Her parents are listed as John and Mary Terry. I believe that the Sarah Terry listed in this record is my g-g-g-g grandmother, but would like some verification. Any information about Sarah, her family or marriage would be very much appreciated.

I can tell you, with a high degree of probability, that the Sarah Terry christened in 1788 at Layston is not your ancestor. Using familysearch it is possible to locate siblings baptised in the same parish in the same "index batch"  - see Using the IGI online for how to do it. The search gives the following result:

You searched for: Terry, Any Event, 1768 - 1808, Hertford, England, British Isles
Father: John , Mother: Mary
Exact Spelling: Off
Batch Number: C072581 [refine search]
Results: International Genealogical Index/British Isles (4 matches)
1. Catharine TERRIE - International Genealogical Index
Gender: F Christening: 17 Mar 1784 Layston, Hertford, England
2. Samuel TERRY - International Genealogical Index
Gender: M Christening: 20 Mar 1787 Layston, Hertford, England
3. Sarah TERRY - International Genealogical Index
Gender: F Christening: 29 Jun 1788 Layston, Hertford, England
4. Sarah TERRY - International Genealogical Index
Gender: F Christening: 11 Jul 1790 Layston, Hertford, England

 As you will see daughters called Sarah were baptised in 1788 and 1790 which is an almost certain indication that the Sarah of 1788 died in infancy. You will probably find a matching entry in the burial register.

You should be aware that the IGI and familysearch are marvellous tools for quickly finding the wrong person as an ancestor. You are well advised to work on the assumption that the majority of people never travelled much further than the local market towns (say 10 miles from where they were born in S E England) unless they moved into London, or emigrated. In fact, if you travelled too far from your home village and ended up on poor relief you (and your family) would be returned to the village responsible for your welfare (see Settlement Certificates). This is very different to the colonies (including the USA) where people could and did move long distances to virgin plots of land and new settlements.

You may find the page The Limits of Familysearch useful.

Susan Daniels (rubygem711 @t replied

    Thank you very much for your fast research assistance.  I appreciate your help in eliminating that Sarah Terry from possible connections to my family.  I had guessed she was a longshot given the distance of Layston to Sevenoaks, but I'm glad to have confirmation.  I will look closer to Sevenoaks in Kent to see if I can find a Sarah Terry and Walter Holmden (who was a Baptist minister).  Sarah and Walter married in 1814 and had five children.  The oldest child, Sarah Holmden (b. July 11, 1815, d. Oct. 26, 1817) is buried in England, probably in the Sevenoaks area.  The next three children were born in England.  The last child was born in America, the family having sailed here in 1824.

    I enjoyed visiting your website and thanks again for your help.

The fact that Walter Holmden was a Baptist Minister is a critical piece of information - because Sarah's parents were probably also Baptists - so you are unlikely to find any baptism for Sarah in a Church of England Parish register. In Hertfordshire (and I suspect in Kent) many of the Baptist records for the period have not survived (see baptisms) and there could well be no surviving record of Sarah's baptism in existence. The only solution (and success is not guaranteed) would be an exhaustive search of relevant Sevenoaks documents - most of which will almost certainly be unindexed manuscripts only accessible in the Kent Records Office.

If you can add to the information given above tell me.


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