DEARDS, Welwyn, late 18th Century
[Later research suggests it might have been William rather than Thomas who went to the West Indies - see below]
John himself was buried in St Mary´s Churchyard, Welwyn in May 1799 beside his wife Mary, who probably died the previous December. His tombstone indicates that he was aged 52 when he died. John´s occupation was a Butcher like his father & grandfather before him. The occupations of the two brothers are unknown. John & Mary had 8 known children.
The names of John´s parents were William & Sarah Deards nee Catling both of Welwyn who were married at North Mimms in 1736. William & Sarah had about seven children including John christened in 1744. William & Sarah were my Gt. Grandparents X 7.
I have the genealogy for 5 of these children. Thomas is mentioned in the Welwyn Militia Lists for 1771 only, and George isn't mentioned at all. HALS have no records of removal or resettlement for the two brothers, nor of their possible emigration to Jamaica.
Can you help me trace the two ´missing´
Deards mentioned above, or point me in the
right direction where I might be likely to find out any more?
Deards is a surname with strong Hertfordshire connections, with most nationwide searches producing far more references to Hertfordshire than to any other county. The association is of long standing as there is a Deard's End in the adjacent parish of Knebworth which may be associated with a John Dardes who lived in the parish in 1443. (Places-names of Hertfordshire). However I know nothing about records relating to Jamaica - except that there are a number of helpful web sites (search google for "Jamaica" and "Genealogy").
From the Hertfordshire end it is worth reviewing the situation. The family would appear to be reasonably well off as John Deards left a will and had tombstone of a quality to survive over 200 years when the vast majority of the population would have had nothing better than a wooden board. If the butcher's shop was freehold (i.e. owned by the Deards family) or copyhold (property of the local manor) it would normally pass from father to eldest son, and in these circumstances younger sons might be encouraged to move away to seek a living elsewhere. The problem is that in many cases where the family was well enough off to avoid the restrictions of the poor laws there are unlikely to be any records in the "home" town saying when, why and where such roving sons moved. In such cases when someone moves away they simply vanish from the local records.
In the case of Thomas Deards he is recorded on the militia list in 1771, when he became old enough to be eligible, but not in later lists. This suggests that he left the parish of Welwyn in about 1772.and it may well be that he went to Jamaica at about that time and is the brother that died and had "effects". A key factor - which may be clear from the will you quote from - is the nature of the effects. If they relate to things in Hertfordshire which he left in the care of his brother when he went to Jamaica they are of no great significance. If, however, they relate to goods or property in Jamaica it is possible that Thomas made a will in Jamaica - and you will need to find out where such a will would have been proved.
There is also the question of how/why he went to Jamaica. A search of the A2A index shows that HALS holds many documents relating to Jamaica - because many of the top Hertfordshire landowners also owned, or invested in, plantations in Jamaica. They may well have had agents or servants working for them which came from Hertfordshire and it may be that Thomas Deards was one of them. If so he may be mentioned somewhere in the estate papers at HALS - although not necessarily listed in the indexes.
In the above I have assumed that Thomas was the brother (or one of two) in Jamaica. It is not clear from your brother[s] whether there were definitely two, or whether the will was unclear. My reaction is that if there were two lots of "effects" the will would have made this clear. If the only reference to George Deards is his christening there is no evidence that he ever grew up to become an adult (beyond perhaps the absence of an entry in the burial register) - or that he ever went to Jamaica. You should keep an open mind on this.
So what can be done. It would be easy to waste a lot of time searching Hertfordshire records specifically for Thomas and George. My feeling is that any searching in Hertfordshire should be to fill in details for ALL members of Deards family in Welwyn (for instance any other wills, court rolls,, etc) - and if you are lucky you may stumble across additional references to Thomas and George. Jamaican records - including deaths - should be given priority - and it may be that the will of an Englishman dying in Jamaica could have been proved in England.
April & June 2008 - Correction
In April Michael provided some additional information relating to William which subsequently has been shown to relate to another person of the same name (Right Name, Wrong Body), who was part of an eminent Family of Toymakers and Silversmiths who lived in Pall Mall and Piccadilly, London and who had no known connection with the Hertfordshire Deards. As a result the posting has been withdrawn.
If you can add to the information given above tell me.
Page updated June 2008