The search for William Reynolds – we’re getting tantalizingly close…

William Reynolds was my 4x great grandfather; he was born about 1811 and died in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, in 1844. He married Jane Smalley in 1835 and they had three children together: Charles (1836-1904), Mary Ann (1838-1850), and Elizabeth (1842-?). Charles was my 3x great-grandfather.

Two years after William Reynolds died, Jane married Thomas Arnold (1821-1907), and together they had six children.

The Reynolds line was the first line I started to work on when I began to do family tree research two years ago. However, for a long time I have been unable to get any further back than William and Jane. I could not find baptismal records for them in the perish register of Lutterworth, and I only had the online version of their marriage record, which did not give any information about parentage.

Recently, however, I began to follow up the idea that Jane and William might have had nonconformist baptisms (I knew that their son Charles was baptized in an Independent – i.e. non-Church of England – church in 1836 so this seemed a reasonable assumption). Census records give Jane’s date of birth as 1816 in Lutterworth, but this seems inaccurate on both counts. I discovered the family of Job Smalley and Mary Smalley (née Brown) a week or two ago. Job was born in Misterton (not far from Lutterworth) in 1791 and he and Mary were married in Kimcote. Their first two children, Sarah (b. 1812) and Jane (b. 1814) were born in Hinkley, Leicestershire, but after that they moved to Lutterworth where they had Ann (b. 1818), Hannah (b. 1821), and Henry (b. 1823). These records are all available on FamilySearch.org here.

A good friend in Leicester visited the record office for me this week and found marriage records for both Jane Smalley’s marriages, to William Reynolds and to Thomas Arnold. The second certificate, to Thomas Arnold, lists parents’ names, and I can now confirm that Jane’s father was Job Smalley. Since every census from 1851 to 1881 lists her as having been born in Lutterworth, I can only conclude that she never knew she had been born in Hinckley and moved to Lutterworth when she was about two. The difference in birth date is not unusual for those days when many people had very little idea how old they were (and we know from both of Jane’s marriage records that she was unable to sign her own name).

Here is Jane and William’s marriage record:

And here is the record of Jane and Thomas’ marriage:

 So – I’m reasonably certain of the identity of Jane Smalley, her parents and siblings. Now – what about William Reynolds?

William does not appear in any baptismal records available on either Ancestry or FamilySearch. However, there are definitely Reynolds families in Lutterworth at the time, and they are pretty well all Nonconformists (i.e. non-Church of England). There are three main families in the time in question:

Charles and Ann Reynolds and their children:
Ann – b. Sept. 1786
John – b. Nov 1788
Joseph – b. Dec. 1790
Mary – b. Oct. 1795
Charles – b. Mar 1798
Richard – b. Feb. 1800
Ann – b. Oct 1801
William – b. May 1802
Sarah – b. Sept. 1804
Thomas – b. July 1806
Elizabeth – b. Dec. 1808

Richard and Elizabeth Reynolds and their children:
Henry – b. June 1798
Mary – b. Nov. 1799
Elizabeth – b. Feb. 1802
Thomas – b. Jan 1804

Joseph and Mary Reynolds and their children:
John – b. Sept. 1816
Joseph – b. Sept. 1818, d. Dec. 1818

Jane’s marriage certificate with Thomas Arnold lists one of the witnesses as William Wright. Charles Reynolds (b. 1798) is listed as staying with William and Mary Wright in Lutterworth, in 1851, here (his name is mistranscribed as Charles Heywood). In 1841 the same family is living on Beast Market (and my Leicester friend discovered earlier this week that Charles and Ann Reynolds and their family were living on Beast Market, a yard, in the very early 1800s). We know from FamilySearch that William’s Wright’s wife Mary was born a Reynolds – they were married in 1819 (see here) – so it seems likely that it is the Mary Reynolds from Charles and Ann’s family – born 1795 – who William married. This same William is a witness to Jane Smalley Reynolds’ marriage to Thomas Arnold, so it seems as if Jane’s connection was to this Reynolds family.

William Killpack, the other person mentioned as a witness on Jane and Thomas’ marriage certificate, married a Hannah Smalley in 1823 – the family tree is private on Ancestry but you can see the basics on the third record down here.

As far as the earlier marriage certificate goes, I have not successfully tracked down William Cockerill yet but it’s safe to assume he is connect with the Smalleys, I think, as the other witness is Elizabeth Reynolds. This seems likely to be the Elizabeth born into Charles and Ann’s family in 1808, as the other connections are all with this family. If our William was born into this family in 1811 he would be the youngest one.

I think it’s safe to assume, from thee connections, that William Reynolds was a younger son of the family of Charles and Ann Reynolds. This would also mean that he gave his father’s name to his oldest son, my 3x great-grandfather Charles. However, I still can’t track down his actual birth or baptismal record, which is a little frustrating! But we’re getting tantalizingly close…!!!

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3 thoughts on “The search for William Reynolds – we’re getting tantalizingly close…

  1. peter reynolds

    hmm,just read some of your earlier posts,my father was called john william reynolds,his father was called william reynolds,both from earl shilton .not sure on the dates for my grandfather but i think he died maybe 1970s..so possibly born late 1800s.my grandfather married a mary abbott,the abbotts being from a long line of abbotts in the village of earl shilton.hope this helps or just makes the waters even more murkier..

  2. Tim Chesterton

    Thanks Peter. I have a transcript of the Earl Shilton parish registers going back to 1538 and I’d noticed there were some Reynolds’ there. I’ve no idea whether we are connected, though it’s quote possible as Earl Shilton isn’t that far from Lutterworth. If there is a connection it would be pre-1841 census and of course earlier census records don’t give place of birth, so a connection through relocation would be very hard to track.

    I might get back to you about Earl Shilton though as I’ve done very little research into the place. Where do you live now?

  3. peter reynolds

    hi tim,i left earl shilton about 6 years ago,i was born there in 1953,roamed around the uk a little and now live in a village just outside of scunthorpe in north east lincolnshire,not far from the humber bridge.strangely enough my mother who remarried many years ago now lives in lutterworth,i go and visit her quite often,it may interest you to know that a certain john wycliffe lived there in the mid 1300,s and was responsible for translating the bible from latin into english and also where frank mitchell did most of his work there in developing the spitfire plane during the second world war,a replica of the plane being on show on a roundabout in the town.not to sure but i think one of my aunties did a family tree many years ago,before computers were around,she is still alive so i,ll see if i can get some more detailed information if your interested?
    many thanks for you reply,i find it quite intriguing.

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