Lommox?, Bishops Stortford, 1843
Hilary Davidson (hilary @t davidson3394.wanadoo.co.uk) of Salisbury writes: I have a copy of the marriage certificate of my great great grandfather John Oddy and Mary Ann Lommox on 10 or 18 Feb 1843 at the Parish church of Bishops Stortford. I know from census details that Mary Ann was born 'at sea'. No parents' names are given for either John Oddy (born in Beauchamp Roding in c 1820/1821) or Mary Ann (b c 1820/1821) on the marriage certificate and I can find no trace on any of the censuses or IGI Mormon site of any other surname like 'Lommox'. It definitely isn't bad handwriting as I thought it might have been a corruption of 'Lennox' or 'Lomax', unless she didn't know how to spell her surname. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can trace her family back further?
The question - "Did she know how to spell her surname?" is key here. The original certificate is the one in the parish register and all the rest are copies (of copies ...) - so you can't tell anything from the handwriting. (See A Comedy of Errors). The only thing you can be certain of is that if it says "the mark of" the person concerned could not even write their own name. "Lommox" looks funny so I suggest you get a copy of the marriage entry in the parish register to see exactly what was written on the day - and you may be able to come up with a likely alternative.
In addition all the children's birth certificates should give the mother's maiden name.
The fact that neither bride nor groom gave their father's name on the marriage certificate is unusual, and would suggest that they did not know it - as it would normally be recorded even if the father was dead. (In some cases, when it is not known, an invented name is included!) However they did have some idea where they were born - so presumably knew their mother. Could they both have been brought up in orphanages or workhouses - perhaps even the same one.
The marriage certificate should provide addresses for the bride and groom, and it might help if you could identify the address in the 1841 and 1851 census to see who else was there. (For instance was it boarding house?). Trying to identify the witnesses could help - but check the register to make sure that they were not "professional" witnesses. Quite often you find several marriages close togehter with the same witness - who was probably the church warden. Occupation can help on social status - which can rule out some possibilities. The address in Bishops Stortford where the older children were born may be worth checking up as well.
You didn't say what census you had found them in so a quick check on Ancestry showed "at sea" in 1851 (as Addy), 1861 and 1871 although in two cases it was transcribed incorrectly ("at" being interpreted as ditto). So there can be little doubt that it is something in it. I am afraid I cannot advise on this matter. She might have been born on a ship sailing between England and Australia - or found as a new born child abandoned in a rowing boat drifting in the Thames estuary! Your guess is probably better than mine.
The variations in John's place of birth may indicate that he could not read and write. However he had not moved far within Essex by the time he married. Beauchamp Roding is to the south of the Bishops Stortford to Chelmsford Road, while Great Waltham (where he was at the time of the 1841 census) is not far away to the north east.
I hope that gives you some ideas for further work.
If you can add to the information given above tell me.