260 years ago, in about 1760, a baby girl – my 6x great grandmother – was born and abandoned somewhere in Yorkshire.
Click here to find out how my paternal grandfather, George Gernald Leighton Maskill, was descended from her.
In those days it was not uncommon for babies to be abandoned, and often the local parish took responsibility for them – in most places there was no other organised welfare system. Fortunately, the baby was discovered and cared for. She was given the name Mary Fullington.
It is uncertain exactly where Mary grew up or who looked after her, but when she was about 20 years old, she was living in the parish of Campsall, South Yorkshire.
Map of Campsall area
Source: Map created by author using Google Earth Pro, ©2020 Infoterra Ltd & Bluesky, Image ©2020 Getmapping plc, Image ©2020 CNES/Airbus. https://www.google.com/earth/versions/#earth-pro
On 8 February 1780, at Campsall Church, Mary married William Wright, an agricultural labourer who was born in Sherburn in Elmet (in North Yorkshire about 20km north of Campsall), but now lived in the same Campsall parish. Locally, Campsall Church is believed to be where Robin Hood and Maid Marian married.
St Mary Magdalene Church, Campsall
Source: Photo by Richard Croft, 31 May 2006, geograph.org.uk, Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0. Image cropped by author.
After William and Mary married, they lived in Moss and Haywood, near Campsall north of Doncaster, and their addresses included (the approximate dates they lived there are in brackets):
– Moss (1780–1782)
– Rushy-moor (Rushy Moor) House farm, Haywood (1783–1784)
– Rimer House farm, Haywood (1785–1795)
– Haywood (1796–1799)
– Moss (1800–1852).
Rushy Moor House farm, Haywood
Source: Photo by Eddie Stoker, March 2019, Google Maps, https://www.google.co.nz/maps. Image cropped by author.
Today the landscape in the area consists of flat farmland. In places it is marshy and muddy in winter. Rushy Moor House is now a mixed livestock farm – its location is shown on the map below. Mary and William Wright lived at Rushy Moor House over 60 years before the map was drawn.
The exact location of Rimer House farm is unknown, but according to the 1841 census, it was close to Rushy Moor House, Blacker Green and Haywood (all on the map).
Location of Rushy Moor House farm, near Haywood, 1849–50 map
Source: Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland, https://maps.nls.uk/view/102345106, Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International creative commons licence (image cropped and edited by author)
Notes: Also seen at the top right of this map is the location of Wrancarr Mill (photo at the top of this page).
Mary and William had 11 children who were baptised at either Campsall (C) or nearby Burghwallis (B):
Martha – my 5x great grandmother – baptised 30 December 1780 (C) (married Benjamin Lawson in 1802)
Elizabeth – born 13 April 1783, baptised 1 June 1783 (B); died 23 January 1784 aged 9 months, buried 25 January 1784
William – born 7 Jan 1785, baptised 23 Mar 1785 (B); died 9 July 1785 aged 6 months, buried 10 July 1785
William – born 7 July 1786, baptised 13 Aug 1786 (B); died 6 Dec 1792 aged 6 years, buried 9 Dec 1792
Sarah and Mary – born 13 February 1789, baptised 14 February 1789 (B)
Maria – born 20 April 1791, baptised 19 June 1791 (B)
Nancy – born 16 November 1793, baptised 19 January 1794 (B)
Hannah – born 20 December 1795, baptised 14 January 1796 (B)
Elizabeth – baptised 18 May 1800 (C)
Isaac – baptised 24 November 1802 (C).
St Helen’s Church, Burghwallis
Source: FamilySearch wiki, https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/index.php?curid=108998
Mary’s husband William continued to work as an agricultural labourer for a long time. In 1841, when he was about 82 (and Mary was about 81) he was still described as an agricultural labourer in the census. Ten years later, at the next census, both were still living in Moss and listed as ‘paupers’.
At the beginning of 1852 William died at the age of 93 or 94 and was buried on 9 January at Campsall.
Mary Wright the centenarian
On 25 June 1859 (page 3), The Derbyshire Courier published an article about Mary entitled ‘A Centenarian’ (see below).
Unfortunately Mary died in Fenwick a few days before the article was published – she was buried at Askern Church on 24 June. From the article it seems likely she died from complications of a fractured hip. While it is questionable that Mary really lived to 102 as the article suggests, I think it is likely she lived to 99 i.e. her hundredth year, based on her probable age when she was married, and her stated age on her burial record (100) and the 1841 and 1851 censuses.
“In the pleasant village of Fenwick, near Askern, and about eight miles from Doncaster, resides a person of the name Mary Wright, who has attained the remarkable age of 102 years. Until recently she was extremely cheerful and active, her memory good, and she enjoyed life with much vivacity and delight. She lives with her daughter, an octogenarian, having attained her 82nd year.
Mrs. Wright bears an excellent character amongst her neighbours, and the oldest inhabitants speak of her being an old woman when they were young. When once reminded of her age Mrs. Wright replied that she was still young in comparison with Methusalah. Prosperity has not watched over Mary, and she has had a hard struggle for subsistence. But her neighbours, especially Mr. Hutchinson, have been very kind to her.
Within the past fortnight she has met with an accident, which required the medical assistance of Mr. Hindle, surgeon, of Askern, having fallen down and fractured her thigh.
Mary could tell of extraordinary changes in the mode of cultivation and in the state of the roads. When she was a girl she had to travel across open commons and fields, and without any beaten path to walk upon.
She is a specimen of what moderate diet and temperate habits can produce, and in her best of her days was but a thin spare woman.
It is to be feared, however, that Mary’s life will not be much longer protracted, as the fall has considerably shaken her. No doubt the inhabitants of Fenwick will see that she has every attention paid to her, and that her great age will be sweetened by kindness and watchfulness.”
Some historical changes and events during Mary’s lifetime
Reference for image at top of page
© Caroline Maskill – New Zealand Family History Search