Thomas WELLER was one of my 4x great-grandparents and I have precious little information on him or his family. The WELLER branch of my family tree seems rather uninteresting, but in truth it is probably more unexplored than uninteresting.
From the information provided in the 1861 census it appears that Thomas was born in North Bersted, Sussex and all evidence points to the year 1796. It is my understanding that North Bersted was originally part of the parish of South Bersted, but now the whole area seems to have been tangled up amongst the town of Bognor Regis (this will need some investigation at a later date).
It is in South Bersted, Sussex that we find a baptism for a Thomas WELLER on the 18th September 1796, the son of John and Elizabeth WELLER. So far I have found nothing else to prove the connection, but it seems quite likely.
Thomas turns up in Twineham, Sussex in 1841 (about 30 miles north-east from North Bersted) and by this time he is married and he and his wife Mary have had ten children (with another two more to follow).
I believe Thomas’ wife was Mary NEWNHAM of West Grinstead, Sussex and that the couple were married in Bolney, Sussex on the 31st December 1816. This seems the most likely marriage, because their first child was baptised in August 1817, but I still need to find further evidence.
The twelve children were all baptised in Twineham, Sussex:
- John WELLER (baptised 31st August 1817)
- Elizabeth WELLER (baptised 26th September 1819)
- Harriet WELLER (baptised 13th January 1822)
- George WELLER (baptised 16th May 1824)
- Rebecca WELLER (baptised 3rd September 1826)
- Thomas WELLER (baptised 9th November 1828)
- William WELLER (baptised 27th March 1831)
- James WELLER (baptised 2nd June 1833)
- Peter WELLER (baptised 13th December 1835)
- Andrew WELLER (baptised 16th September 1838)
- Mary Ann WELLER (baptised 9th May 1841) [my 3x great-grandmother]
- George Henry WELLER (baptised 28th January 1844)
The census and baptism register entries provide very little detail on Thomas’ occupation. In all sources he recorded as either a labourer or agricultural labourer. The families residence remains constant across the 1841, 1851 and 1861 census, they are to be found living at Riddens, which is probably Riddens Farm near the village of Ansty (although I need check that this was within the parish of Twineham at the time).
Thomas died in 1869 aged 73 years, his death was registered in Q4 1869 in the Cuckfield Registration District, and he was buried at St. Peter’s Church, Twineham on the 19th December 1869. His wife Mary died four years later in 1873.
There are several geographical questions to be answered, surrounding the exact location of Riddens and the details on North and South Bersted, but the main challenge is to prove the marriage of Thomas WELLER and Mary NEWNHAM. This shouldn’t prove too difficult as there are three children who were born after the start of civil registration in 1837 and their birth certificates should include their mother’s maiden name.