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Allin house — the smokehouse

I mentioned earlier the space within the central chimney complex in our house. The description we were given of it — as a ‘hidey hole’ — hardly does it justice, and it would have been a pretty sooty place to hide. It is a glorious smoking chamber with probably 40 to 50 wrought nails in four or five ranks, allowing meats etc. to hang freely as the walls taper, first to a peak ridge, then further up the main flue where the backs of some of the second-floor flues are visible. Here are two views:

I haven’t been as far up it as I’d like (need better lights and some sort of short ladder). (Continued)

the draper’s apprentice: Arthur Mackworth

I’ve been working for some time now, albeit sporadically, on an article on the Shropshire Mackworths. Lately I’ve been in correspondence with an English Mackworth descendant, in Shropshire, who was introduced to me in correspondence by a mutual friend. Liz Roberts, who descends from the Betton Strange Mackworths, is a keen genealogist and actually volunteers at the Shropshire Record Office; she has been wonderfully helpful. She recently sent me a digital image of the 1613 record of apprenticeship of Arthur Mackworth of Deyhouse, Newton, Meole Brace, Salop., who is in all likelihood the man of that name and age who appears as a patentee of ‘Newton’, at Portland, Maine, in 1633.

Here I give a transcription of the apprenticeship document: (Continued)

four wills, four generations, four courts: the Allins of Barrington

I’ve begun to poke around in the history of the Allin family to see about the land and house. The attributed builder of our house is Thomas4 Allin (Matthew3, Thomas2, William1), who lived from 1742 to 1800. His great-grandfather, William1 Allin, had bought a portion of the original land purchased from the family of the Wampanoag chief Massasoit, in 1653, by a group of proprietors from the Plymouth colony. In the cold winter of 1680, the legend goes, William1 Allin allegedly transported his own house across frozen Narragansett Bay to Barrington (then part of Swansea), but it is impossible that this would have been the stone-ender attributed to him by Bicknell. Nevertheless an original Allin house anchored the parcel, but a second one must have existed on it by the latter part of the 18th century, suggesting a subdivision of the farm lands that can hopefully be found in wills and deeds.

Here are the Barrington Allins as I have them so far:

Straightforward enough. So where are the Allin wills? This is the odd part. (Continued)

she grew up here too: Elizabeth (Allin) Bicknell

Turns out Amy Allin’s sister has a picture in Bicknell’s Barrington too, Elizabeth Waldron Allin:

And well she should, since Elizabeth went on to marry her cousin (at least two different ways), Allin Bicknell; they were parents of Thomas W. Bicknell, the author. No wonder he seems to have felt a special attachment to our housefather.

UPDATE: No, she was his stepmother. The 1913 Bicknell Genealogy, also by Thomas W., gives more information: she married his father (then a widower) sometime around 1844, when Thomas was 10; they then moved into our house, which then belonged to her. His stepmother was by then an older spinster and had no children of her own. The Bicknells and Allins were much intermarried, but Bicknell had no Allin ancestry, even though his own father was named Allin Bicknell: the forename Allin had been chosen to commemorate a half-great uncle, Allin Bicknell, who did have an Allin mother, even though his later namesake had no Allin ancestry. Goes to show how such onomastic clues must be used warily!

Here is what Bicknell says about Thomas Allin and the house (p. 43-44): “Thomas Allin . . . was a farmer and land surveyor, owning about one hundred acres of his father’s farm in Barrington.” And: “The mansion he built in 1788 still stands at West Barrington, and has been occupied in part by his descendants until the present time.” And about his own father and stepmother (p. 173): “Allin Bicknell was a farmer, and until his second marriage cultivated a part of the original Bicknell estate, adjoining Princes Pond. This property was sold to Ebenezer Tiffany about 1844, and the family removed to the Gen. Thomas Allin homestead at West Barrington, the property of his second wife.” The first passage corroborates my thought that the original Allin lands were subdivided and a second house built, but it does not say when. The date of 1788 for Thomas Allin’s construction is interesting, close to the newer tradition of 1783, but distinct.

hige sceal the heardra: a possible descent from Maldon

In reviewing Stephen Baxter’s Earls of Mercia for The American Genealogist one thing that struck me was a possible descent from a casualty at the Battle of Maldon — even one of those whose stirring speeches are preserved in the great fragmentary Anglo-Saxon poem. Ealdorman Leofwine, founder of a dynasty of Mercian earls, might have been son of an Aelfwine, who himself might have been the man of that name who fell at the Battle of Maldon in 991, and appears in the poem. Aelfwine boasts about his descent from a “mighty kindred” in Mercia (whose memory he must not disgrace), and is the first to vow not to leave the battle after his own lord, duke Beorhtnoth, has fallen — he promptly wades back into the fray (to his own certain death) and fells a Dane with his spear. It is not he, but one of those who follows him into the fray, who voices the famous couplet —

This couplet has many translations. Though he declines to use as many of the cognates as some other translators, Tolkien’s may serve well:

Will shall be the sterner, heart the bolder,
spirit the greater as our strength lessens.

The descent from this Aelfwine would be through his great-great-granddaughter Ealdgyth, sister of earls Edwin and Morcar, and consort first of Gruffyd of Wales, and then of Harold Godwinson; her Welsh daughter Nest has countless traceable descendants.

eighteenth-century trigonometry homework

That’s what we found this morning, among the miscellanous recycled papers — accounts, one page of a letter, and some odd scraps of letterpress printing — all pasted over some of the remaining vertical boards which made up a dividing wall of the original attic room in our new house. There’s a much newer door in the same attic wall, which is covered with a couple of generations of graffiti by 20th-century kids inhabiting the house (I think from the 50s to 70s). Those kids seem to have used the attic room as a clubhouse, but the 18th-century papering is on the other side of the clubhouse wall. I wonder if any of those kids noticed their predecessors’ trig homework? I’ll try to make a set of legible photos of the various pasted-up papers, though we plan to leave them right where they are, after knocking out the 20th-century lath & plaster now backed up against them.

two beehive ovens

This weekend I was riveted by Anne ‘Pete’ Baker’s book, Collecting Houses: 17th-century Houses — 20th-century Adventure, recommended to me by aunt Amy, who knows Pete slightly. It’s a chronicle of how Pete taught herself to evaluate and restore the oldest houses of Southeastern New England, especially the detective work of discerning and dating the earlier cores to houses built up over generations. Last week, one of our experts pointed out a couple of things that seemed to suggest an older core in the Allin house, than the now traditional date of 1783 for the construction of the main Georgian house. The most obvious clue is the kitchen fireplace: it has not one, but two intact beehive baking ovens, which is apparently unusual. One opens directly into the back of the main firebox (common in older houses); the other is at the right, with its woodbox below it, behind a fine old two-panel door. Here is young Simon, for scale, and only slightly sooty, in front of the fireplace:

Seems the oven & box at the right were added, perhaps (and here I’m speculating) when the whole central chimney system was enlarged, perhaps when the house was expanded from an earlier core (a Georgian two-story half-house?) to its present full plan. Next orders of business: pull the Allin family deeds and wills, to see if stages of the growth of this house can be documented there; and look more closely inside the house (cellar and attic) to see if we can see evidence of the growth of the frame from a smaller footprint. The chimney system itself needs to be more fully investigated from inside to see if successive phases of construction can be discerned. Simon is the right size, physically, but not quite old and steady enough yet to be tasked with that. Remember what happened when Tom Kitten went up the chimney and was almost baked into a pudding by the rats?

Simon Taylor’s marriage bond, 1641

Well, the second half of my article on the possible English origin of my Taylor family has come to my mailbox in the latest issue of The American Genealogist, so having duly waited I’m happy to trot out the speculation that lies at the heart of it. My earliest known male ancestor, Richard1 Taylor (d. 1679), left three minor children when he died in Virginia in 1679: Constance, Richard and Simon — Constance and Simon being rather uncommon given names. As a young man, in 1662-1663, he first appeared as a servant to Colonel Moore Fauntleroy, at a large plantation on the Rappahannock. Colonel Fauntleroy had patented much of this tract back in 1650, based on 107 headrights including another Simon Taylor, who might be reasonably conjectured to be connected to the later Richard who named a son Simon—perhaps his father. Looking at the IGI to gauge the number of people named ‘Simon Taylor’ in England in the early 17th century turned up a tantalizing coincidence, the record of a marriage license between a Simon Taylor and a Constance Berryson (recte Berrington, as it turns out) in Stanford-on-Soar, Nottinghamshire, in 1641. My article explores the possibility that this Simon & Constance Taylor might be parents of Richard Taylor of Virginia, and reviews the genealogy of the family in Virginia. But here on my blog I will share Simon and Constance’s original marriage license (Diocese of York: Archdeaconry of Nottingham: Marriage Allegations, 1641-1665, FHL film 0592745), which I have transcribed (leaving the bond in Latin) below. Click the document to get a full-sized blowup. Anyone who can fill in the two uncertain words, and the name / title of the scribe at the bottom, please let me know!

Noverint universi per presentes nos Symonem Taylor parochie de Stanford
in comitatu Nottinghamie yeoman (Continued)

she grew up here: Amy (Allin) Horn

Bicknell’s History of Barrington has another great tidbit, a portrait of Amy Allin:

Thomas Allin’s oldest daughter, Amy, was born in 1773, and married John Horn in 1796 (per some hits on Worldconnect). She would have seen this house built (or enlarged) in 1783, and grown up in it. Our oldest will be moving in at age 10 too.

Thomas Allin and us: the house

This has been a busy spring with little time for posting here. But one non-genealogical component of our family life has recently taken on a genealogical and historical dimension.

We have just bought a new house — new to us, but built in the 1780s by a Revolutionary officer, Lieut. Col. (later Brig. Gen’l.) Thomas Allin (1742-1800), at Annawomscutt, or West Barrington, Rhode Island, possibly incorporating an earlier core built a generation previously by his father or grandfather. (Continued)