Which WREN is which?

30 Nov

I was updating the details for my 4x great-grandfather Benjamin WREN last night, when I came across another potential stumbling block with the identity of his parents.

I knew from the census that Benjamin was born around 1803 in Framfield, Sussex. In the Sussex Family History Group Data Archive there is a baptism for a Benjamin WREN in Framfield on the 7th Jan 1803. His parents were Thomas and Sarah WREN, so whilst I was there I looked for other children of Thomas and Sarah.

I came up with another ten children, the earliest was Mary, baptised in 1768, and the last child was Hannah, baptised in 1810. I cursed my ancestors for giving me so much work to do when I wanted to get to bed, but something didn’t seem right.

The forty year time span seemed unlikely, and the last two entries were for Thomas senior and Sarah. So, much like the situation with the HOLMANs in Burstow, Surrey, it seemed like I had a couple of different Thomas and Sarah’s here producing children at the same time.

When I checked the Sussex Marriage Index things became a little clearer. There are three marriages of Thomas WREN to a Sarah around that time in Framfield. Firstly a Thomas WREN married Sarah HARTFIELD in 1764, then a Thomas WREN married Sarah CORNWALL in 1783 and lastly Thomas WREN married Sarah COLEMAN in 1800. The final marriage was by licence, which reveals more helpful information. Thomas WREN was a widower aged 60 and Sarah COLEMAN was a widow aged 36, both were from Framfield.

So it looks like Thomas WREN married Sarah HARTFIELD, had several children including a Thomas in 1772, but he was not the middle Thomas. Then Thomas’ first wife died and he married Sarah COLEMAN who was many years younger than him, carried on having children.

The question is which set of Thomas and Sarah’s were the parents of my Benjamin WREN? I can rule out Thomas WREN and Sarah HARTFIELD, as presumably she had died before Benjamin was born, because Thomas had re-married by then, but it seems like it could be either of the other two.

My next step will to have a look at burial records for Framfield, and hopefully the burials for Sarah WREN will help separate the two. There is also the possibility that one of the Thomas’ left a will which might help differentiate between the two.

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