The Quaker Connection


The Will of Daniel’s brother George reveals that he had three other brothers, Joseph, Andrew and Benjamin, and a sister Sarah. Sarah did not marry as a Quaker, which may or may not be significant. She also married by licence, and no ALDIS family members accompanied her husband- to-be to court, which again may or may not be significant. The marriage licence, from the Archdeaconry of Norfolk for 1748, read: “Benjamin Gibbs of Wacton, yeoman, and James Downing of Norwich, innholder appeared at Court on the 22nd July 1748 and declared that Benjamin Gibbs of Wacton, singleman, and Sarah Aldis of the same place, singlewoman, aged about 23 were legally free to marry and intended to do so in the church of St Stephen’s in Norwich. Signed by Benjamin Gibbs and James Downing (x the marks of) witnessed by William Mates”. So we can deduce that Sarah ALDIS was born circa 1725. She had four daughters with Benjamin and died in Hertford in 1801. Her first daughter was named Hannah, possibly in memory of her own mother, and the others were Susanna, Sarah and Mary GIBBS.

We also know that Daniel must have been last of the six children, born circa 1731 since his reported age was 68 when he died in Dickleburgh in 1799. The first born, understandably enough, was named Joseph after Hannah’s father, but was also named as the eldest son in his father Andrew’s Administration of 28th of December 1758, following Andrew’s death on the 25th of June 1758 at the age of 73. Andrew’s widow Mary renounced in favour of Joseph and received parish assistance until her own death on the 25th of August 1765. Joseph, born presumably circa 1715, is assumed to be the yeoman of New Buckenham who married Susan HOWLETT the 2nd of October 1743 at Banham. Joseph died in 1789. Among other children, he and Susan had a son Joseph, born circa 1744, who married Mary BROWN the 7th of July 1765 in New Buckenham; they had two sons, Joseph and George, and two daughters, Louisa and Mary (I have corresponded with a descendant of Mary).

So the other three brothers, George, Andrew and Benjamin, must have been born between, say, 1716 and 1729. One might have expected Andrew to have been the first-named son of Andrew and Hannah; but apparently not. Of Bunwell at the time, Andrew, already a widower, married Elizabeth CHEANEY, widow of Wicklewood, at Wymondham on the 29th of July 1749. They had twin daughters, Hannah and Susan(nah), born circa 1750, and by 1753 Elizabeth was again a widow. Settlement Certificate survival for this time is very patchy, but among those that have survived and been catalogued at the Norfolk Record Office is one dated the 20th of November 1753. It concerns the settlement of Elizabeth ALDIS, widow, and Hannah and Susannah her children together with Benjamin ALDIS to their parish of residence, Tasburgh, from the certifying parish of Waston (sic). So Elizabeth was accompanied by her brother-in-law Benjamin who, like Daniel, was a surgeon. It is not known when Benjamin returned to Wacton, but he remained there until his death in 1798, and Elizabeth remained there with him, it seems, until then, her own death occurring on the 15th of July 1810 when she was aged 89. Her twin girls both married locally. Hannah, interestingly a nurse, married John ELY of Stratton on the 28th of July 1774, the event witnessed by her uncle Benjamin ALDIS. Susan(nah) married Robert DOE in Wacton on the 20th of December 1773.

There is more to this story, however. Elizabeth had a further set of twin girls, Abigail and Phoebe, both baptised the 24th of April 1757, for whom Benjamin ALDIS made provision in his Will. Benjamin was buried the 13th of June 1798, and his Will, dated the 6th of October 1795, was proved the 23rd of June 1798. Since Elizabeth had been acting as Benjamin’s housekeeper, it was assumed that he was the father of Abigail and Phoebe. Examination of the Wacton Town Book, however, proves this assumption mistaken and a slur on Benjamin’s integrity. Weekly payments are recorded from 1760 to ‘Widow Aldis’, who was the third wife of Andrew ALDIS, Mary COCK, who was buried the 25th of August 1765, and also to ‘Elizabeth Aldis’, the widow of Andrew ALDIS jnr. Andrew snr. had died in 1758, his son by 1753 as we know from the Settlement Certificate. Payments to both women continue regularly until September 1765, by which time, of course, Mary (COCK)ALDIS was dead. The Overseers’ Account Book for Wacton from 1756 includes payments not only for wood, for example, but also “for Mr Dod’s children a number of payments at 3 shillings a week totalling £4 and 3 shiilings”. A later entry records a payment “to Elizabeth Aldis for a journey to Bixley upon Mr Dod’s account with a copy of his order 2 shillings”. These entries make clear that there was a bastardy order against Mr DOD for the upkeep of these children, and that Elizabeth had been to a local Justice of the Peace with the order to enforce backdated payments. It would seem, then, that Abigail and Phoebe, though not baptised until 1757, were born in 1756. It can also be noted that there was a Francis DOD in Tasburgh who had a daughter, Jessicka, with his wife Sarah in 1755. Clearly Elizabeth was back in Wacton by 1756, and at some point she became Benjamin’s housekeeper, although precisely when is not known. Benjamin took over some copyhold land belonging to the Manor of Wacton in 1775, and he died in 1795. Elizabeth’s older daughters were both married by 1774, so Benjamin’s Will provides for her younger daughters who would have been living with him and Elizabeth. He also provides for Phoebe’s daughter Elizabeth and, through her, for her mother after the death of her grandmother Elizabeth, the housekeeper.