Over the past few weeks I’ve had a particularly frustrating time trying to take my Vinten line back further than the baptism of my 4x-great-grandfather William and his brother James, sons of William and Racheal [sic], in Orpington in 1804.
I had a single breakthrough when I discovered the huge variety of variant spellings of Vinten. I’d known that the last vowel could be an ‘e’, ‘o’ or occasionally an ‘i’, and the first was occasionally ‘e’ instead of ‘i’, but it turns out that in the 1840s especially the first letter could be ‘W’ instead of ‘V’. And thanks to mis-transcriptions in indexes – ‘r’ instead of ‘n’ as the final letter is fairly common – I’ve come across Vintens indexed as Vinter, Venter, Vinsen, Vinken, Pinten, Kinten, Kirten and Dinter! Armed with this knowledge I found two households in the 1841 census that I’d not known about before: William junior, his wife Elizabeth and their children, indexed as Vinter, were living in Eltham, and William senior, Racheal and their daughter Harriet, indexed as Winton, were living in Keston. William was 64, Racheal was 58, and neither was born in the county. Since the ages aren’t rounded down to the nearest multiple of five they are presumably the actual ages, suggesting birth years of about 1777 and 1783. But sadly that was the only progress I made.
A number of online family trees have identified William senior with a Wm Burch Vinten baptised in Tonbridge, Kent in 1776. Although the age is right I don’t think that the identification is correct, on the grounds that:
- Wm Burch’s father’s will of May 1806 makes no mention of him, so I think it likely that he had died without issue before this date.
- The 1841 census says William senior wasn’t born in Kent.
There is an intriguing coincidence of location though with regard to a William Burch Vinten, who according to the 1841 census was born in Kent in around 1796 (but I can find no baptism in the indexes). He married Eleanor Bennet in Lee, Kent in 1822, which is where James and William junior married their respective wives in 1825. (Later censuses have Eleanor listed as having been born in Foots Cray, which is about four miles from Orpington.) William and Eleanor then established their family in Greenwich (sons William James and Samuel were baptised there in 1823 and 1826), which is where William and Racheal’s son George lived for a while around the 1861 census. There had also been a Samuel Vinten living in Greenwich who according to the Thames & Medway burial index was buried there in 1830 aged 52; going by the age he could have been the same Samuel as the brother of Wm Burch who was baptised in 1778 and was one of the executors of their father’s will in 1810.
There are other assertions about William and Racheal in online trees which I don’t think are supported by the evidence. The William Vinton who was buried in Keston in 1848 was 88 years old, decades older than William according to the 1841 census. And the Rachael whose death was registered in 1847 in Saint Saviours Surrey was the widow of a James Vinton, Hair Dresser, so I think it’s unlikely she’s ‘my’ Racheal – she’s far more likely to be the Racheal [sic] Vinten who was living in Southwark in 1841. The only other possible certificate I’ve found is one for a Charlotte Rachel Vinton who died at the Union Workhouse in Lewisham in February 1861 aged 86. She was the widow of a James Vinton, Gardener, though, and not of William Vinton. So right husband occupation, more likely place, but wrong age and first names. I have been unable to find any record of her in the 1851 census. (I was very excited when I found a William and Rachael Vinton with daughter Harriet in the 1851 census living in Wales, but since the two Harriets are definitely different people – I have found baptism and marriage records for both women – I am pretty much certain that it is just coincidence.)
One assertion in online trees that I do think is likely is that Mary Ann Vinten was the daughter of William senior and Racheal, although I have checked the images for the Orpington registers and the Family Search index for Farnborough and found no entries that could be her.
- The place of birth given for Mary Ann in the censuses was Orpington or Farnborough. William and Racheal had four children baptised in Orpington (one of whom in the 1851 census gave her place of birth as Farnborough) and in 1841 were living in Keston, which is a couple of miles from Farnborough.
- Mary Ann’s second daughter was given the middle name Rachael and her second son was named William.
- William and Racheal’s daughter Harriet was married to James Brand in the Trinity Church, St Mary Newington in 1843. Mary Ann had had children baptised there in 1836 and 1839.
- Both Harriet and Mary Ann had sons born in about 1844 who were given the middle name Ambrose. (It is possible that William junior’s middle name was Ambrose, if he was the same person as the William Ambrose Vinten, Gardener, whose son William Ambrose married Mary Ann Spincks in Eltham in 1852. But I’m not convinced, as although the 1861 census has William Ambrose junior born in Bromley, the age – 30 – isn’t consistent with him being William junior’s son William who was baptised there in 1827.)
- Rather tenuous, this one, but worth noting in case someone can make a connection: in 1851 a Sarah Marshal, who I think was probably the daughter of George and Elizabeth Marshal baptised in 1835, was living with James and Harriet (she was listed as James’s niece). One of the witnesses to Mary Ann’s marriage to Richard Waters in 1833 was an Elizabeth Marshal.
- There is to me a striking resemblance between Mary Ann (in a photo on Ancestry.co.uk) and Arthur Ernest Thomas Phillips, William and Racheal’s great-great-great-grandson, in his old age!
An online assertion about Mary Ann that is incorrect, though, is that she was the Bromley, Kent 1890 death. In fact, she was living with her daughter Eliza at the time of the 1891 census (albeit unhelpfully listed under Eliza’s married name) and died in the Poplar Union Workhouse on 23rd December 1894 (coincidentally, the same date as Arthur).
I think missing parish records (or possibly non-conformism) may be the root of the problem, as I have found so many Vintens for whom I can find no baptism. In addition to those I have already mentioned, there was a William Vinten who according to his marriage certificate was son of James Vinten, Greengrocer, and according to the 1871 census was born in Bromley in about 1829, but I’ve found no such baptism. Likewise, John Winton of Lewisham died in 1826 aged 45, giving a birth year of about 1871, and mentions in his will his ‘dear father John Winton’, but I haven’t found such a baptism in the indexes. And an Isaac Vinton married an Elizabeth Orr in Bromley in 1775 and they had a son John baptised there in 1777, but there is no record in the FamilySearch indexes of any other children and the only subsequent mention in the indexes of an Isaac Vinton in Kent who could be him is a burial in Loose in 1779 (an Isaac Vinton had been baptised there in 1740). (Incidentally, Loose is near Maidstone, which is where James was living in 1841, 1871 and 1881 and where he died in 1889.) Also, as mentioned in my blog post on the Shorters, I suspect there may be some pages missing from the 1861 census for Eltham. Disappointing as it is, I think this will have to be a branch of my family I return to in a couple of years’ time to see if any more information has become available.