The Camp Conundrum

As mentioned in my previous post The Drages of Barkway, earlier this year I found out that my 5xgreat-grandfather was John Camp, who in 1799 was living in the hamlet of Newsells near Barkway in Hertfordshire. However, tracing his branch of the family tree turned out to be no easy task.

At the time of the Rev. Thomas Bargus’s 1799 census of Reed and Barkway there were two heads of household named John Camp, one living in each parish. But searching through the records reveals a puzzle:
1769, Reed: Marriage of John Camp and Sarah Bysouth
1781, Barkway: Baptism of John Camp, son of Edward and Hannah
1792, Barkway: Marriage of John Camp and Emme Bonham
1797, Reed: Marriage of John Camp and Sarah Whitacks
1799, Reed: “Census” entry for John and Sarah Camp plus four children, ranging in age from 11 to 1.
1799, Barkway: “Census” entry for John and Emma Camp plus three children, ages 5 to 1. Marked “Dissenters”.
1833, Reed: Burial of John Camp aged 85
1818, Barkway: Burial of Mrs Camp, wife of John, aged 50
1820, Barkway: Marriage of John Camp, widower, and Sarah Pateman
1843, Barkway: Burial of Sarah Camp, wife of John Camp. (Age not given.)
1846, Barkway: Burial of John Camp aged 77
So that’s one John Camp baptism, four John Camp marriages (three of them to a Sarah), no baptisms of children of John Camp, two John Camp burials, and only one Sarah Camp burial. The numbers don’t add up!

Here is the list again, annotated to indicate my current thoughts on the tangle.
1769, Reed: Marriage of John Camp (A) and Sarah Bysouth (X)
1781, Barkway: Baptism of John Camp (C), son of Edward and Hannah
1792, Barkway: Marriage of John Camp (B) and Emme Bonham (E)
1797, Reed: Marriage of John Camp (A) and Sarah Whitacks (Y)
1799, Reed: “Census” entry for John (A) and Sarah (Y) Camp plus four children, ranging in age from 11 to 1.
1799, Barkway: “Census” entry for John (B) and Emma (E) Camp plus three children, ages 5 to 1. Marked “Dissenters”.
1833, Reed: Burial of John Camp (A) aged 85
1818, Barkway: Burial of Mrs Camp (E), wife of John, aged 50
1820, Barkway: Marriage of John Camp (B), widower, and Sarah Pateman (Z)
1843, Barkway: Burial of Sarah Camp, wife of John Camp. (Age not given.) (Z)
1846, Barkway: Burial of John Camp aged 77 (B)

There is an age-gap the two youngest children in the John-Sarah household in the 1799 “census” which could be explained by a child’s death, but it could also indicate the death of John’s first wife and his remarriage to a second. The age of the youngest child, Elizabeth, would be consistent with her being the offspring of the marriage of John A and Sarah Y. But if John A’s marriage to Sarah Y was a remarriage, why is there no burial record for Sarah X? I believe it’s for the same reason that there are no baptism records for the
children of the John-Sarah household, even though the entry is not marked “Dissenters” or “children not baptized”. A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 3 notes with regard to Reed that “In 1830 there was a book (ii) baptisms and burials 1768 to 1812, but this has since disappeared”, and I have not been able to find any bishop’s transcripts for Reed pre-dating 1800. This, in combination with the non-conformism of John and Emma Camp noted in the “census”, would explain why I can find no baptisms of children of John Camp and no burial entry for Sarah X. (I did check the Royston and District Family History Society’s Monumental Inscriptions St. Mary’s Church, Reed, Herts. booklet, but found no entry there either.)

But where is the burial for Sarah Y? Going back to the records I found that a Sarah Camp, widow, married Thomas Anderson in Reed in 1837, and a Sarah Anderson was buried in Reed in 1838, aged 59. This is consistent with Sarah Anderson being the Sarah Wittocks who was baptised in Sandon in 1778, so I think there are reasonable grounds to identify Sarah Anderson with Sarah Y. And if Sarah Y was a widow in 1837, then this is consistent with John A being the John Camp buried in Reed in 1833.

And the burial entry for Sarah Z? The ‘Mrs Camp’ buried in 1818 aged 50 was almost certainly Emma E. Emma Bonham was baptised in Barley in 1768, and in 1822 her maternal aunt, Etheldreda Brett, stated in a codicil to her will that “my Nephew Caesar Bonham and my Niece Emma Camp have departed this life” (Caesar’s burial is actually recorded on the same page of the register as Mrs Camp’s). So that leaves the 1846 burial of Sarah Camp to be the burial of Sarah Z.

So in the absence of evidence of parentage like a baptism or will I haven’t been able to trace my 5xgreat-grandfather’s line any further back (although given the year of birth suggested by his age at burial I suspect that he could well have been the son of John A and Sarah X), but I hope that I have at least been able to cast some light on the relationships of the John and Sarah Camps mentioned in the records.

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