The Mash deeds: Overlapping Tendring Hundred families in a collection of deeds


We are all related to each other – every human being alive today can trace their matrilineal line back to “Mitochondrial Eve” (Wikipedia), who lived in Africa between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago. What’s fascinating is how, from that one group of humans, the whole of the human race has spread across the Earth. And, in some cases, having spread out, decided to stay where they were – and this is clearly illustrated in the Mash deeds.

Both of my father’s parents were born in Wivenhoe in 1910, a large village in Essex which had a population drawn from a wide area, as its shipbuilding industry attracted workers who preferred the life of a rivetter or a boilermaker to that of an “ag lab”. Neither of my grandmother’s parents had been born in Wivenhoe (her father was born in Suffolk and her mother in Brightlingsea), and it was only my grandfather’s father who was “Wivenhoe” – and then, not that far back. His mother was from Rowhedge, but her father had been born in Wivenhoe. So I was quite surprised (although not enormously) when I found out that my grandparents were in fact related – by marriage, a link between the Barr family on my grandfather’s side, and the Goodwin family on my grandmother’s side.

As my approach to genealogy is as much sideways as it is backwards, to fill gaps and to explore the milieu in which my family, and yours, lived, I find more and more overlaps and links between the two extended families of my grandparents.

The deeds

But what of the Mash deeds? ERO holds deeds (T/B 556/2/2 on microfilm) relating to the Mash family, dated 1830, which has been signed by thirty-seven people and marked by three. It names descendants and relatives of James Mash (1737-1805) and his wife Mary (1745-1822), née Cardinall, listing wills, the married names of daughters and granddaughters, names of those who died intestate or in their minority, etc. It’s an absolute goldmine for anyone researching their family tree, especially once you’ve further back than 1800 and beyond the limits of civil registration, into the realm of parchment parish registers.

Jabez Sorrell

I first stumbled across this bundle when I was researching the Sorrell family in Wix, on my grandma’s side of the family. My 6 x great-grandmother, Dorcas Folkard (1744-?), first married Benjamin Nicholls in 1764, but in 1785 she married again, to Joseph Sorrell (?-1792). In trying to find out what happened to her (I am yet to locate a burial for her or her first husband) and to Joseph Sorrell’s children, I followed what leads I could, and this led me to the Mash deeds – Jabez Sorrell (1808-1851), Joseph Sorrell’s grandson. Jabez appears in the Mash deeds as a miller of Beaumont, husband of Mary Ann, a minor, the daughter of Charles Mash of Tendring. Jabez and Mary Ann were married in Tendring in 1829, and the Mash deeds gave me then a huge amount of detail about her family: her father, the fact that he had died by 1830, her siblings, her brothers-in-law, where they lived, and their professions. It also takes us several generations, telling us that Charles Mash’s mother, Mary, was the daughter of Charles Cardinall.

The Cardinalls – again

(I wrote this before my research into the Cardinall family got into full swing – the research there answers most of the questions I raised in this section).

As mentioned in my articles about the Wade family, on my grandfather’s side, there is a tantalising link between the Wades and the Cardinalls. First of all, the earliest we can get back in the Wade tree, as it currently stands, is the marriage in 1767 of Edward Wade and Elizabeth Cardinal of Layer-de-la-Haye. They moved to Fingringhoe, where we find Samuel Winch marrying Catherine Cardinal in 1758. There is another connection with Fingringhoe and the Cardinalls – in 1748, Parish Fisher from Fingringhoe married Sarah Cardinall, and their granddaughter married the son of Clarkson Cardinall of Tendring. In fact, Parish and Sarah named one of their sons Clarkson Fisher, so it would not surprise me if Sarah Cardinal and Clarkson Cardinal were related already, and perhaps included Elizabeth and Catherine in their family too.

If we go to Beaumont-cum-Moze, we have two men called Charles Cardinall. I’m not sure yet how – or even if – these men are related to each other, however, one, the father of Mary, who married John Mash, died in 1747 and is mentioned in the Mash deeds. The year before, the other Charles Cardinall died, and made one of his executors of his will John Gilbert, who he refers to as his cousin – this is quite possibly the uncle of Anne Gilbert Bearman (1765-1825) who was herself born in Beaumont-cum-Moze, and who married William Cardinall Wade (1767-1796) – son of Edward Wade and Elizabeth Cardinall. It’s hard to know if by cousin he means what we think of it today – his first cousin – but this does indicate that Anne Gilbert Bearman was – somehow – related to the Cardinalls, and not just through her mother-in-law.

Hopefully as I look at more materials relating to the Cardinalls, these mysteries and connections will resolve themselves. It seems fairly likely that two men, both called Charles Cardinall and living in the same village are fairly likely to be related – and if they are, then it means that the Mash deeds provide another link between my grandparents’ trees.

Sarah Salmon, Henry Mash and Thomas Newcomb

The Newcomb family are in my grandmother’s tree – her 4 x great-grandmother was Mary Newcomb (1741-1804), who married Nathaniel Littlewood (1737-1790). The Newcombs came to the Tendring Hundred from Wakes Colne in the early 1700s, and in exploring their family, I took note of all the Newcombs I found. They overlap with the Salmon family through the marriage of Mary’s aunt Sarah, who married James Allen in 1743 – their daughter Rebecca married Benjamin Salmon.

This, however, isn’t the only connection. In the Mash deeds, there is a reference to Henry Mash, son of Charles Mash, wheelwright, making Henry the brother of Mary Ann (Jabez Sorrell’s wife). In 1850, Henry married Sarah Newcomb, a widow. Her first husband, Thomas Newcomb, a descendant of the Wakes Colne Newcombs, died only two years after their marriage in 1846. Sarah was born Sarah Salmon, in 1820. It may be (although I haven’t researched this yet) that her parents (who were both Salmons) were also related to Benjamin and Rebecca Salmon.

There is one other possible, but admittedly rather vague, connection through the Newcombs to the Mash deeds: when Mary Newcomb’s grandfather, Thomas, wrote his will in Tendring in the 1750s, he referred to his daughter-in-law, Sarah Thompson. Mary’s father had died by then and, although I haven’t yet found Sarah’s marriage, it’s possible her second husband is connected with the Tendring Thompsons – who appear in the Mash deeds: we have a Robert Thompson being James Mash’s surviving executor, and Thomas Thompson, who married one of James Mash’s daughters.

Leonard Nunn

And lastly, we come to Leonard Nunn. In the Mash deeds, he turns up as the executor of the 1781 will of Samuel Frost of Beaumont-cum-Moze, because James and Mary Ann Mash had mortgaged their property to him (that being the property which the Mash deeds concern). He is described as Leonard Nunn, yeoman of Bradfield. This particular Leonard is quite possibly the descendant of Joseph Nunn and his wife Mary (née Gardiner), which means he is related to my grandmother as well, through the Gardiners of Great Bromley.

Cat’s cradle

“But Helen, why are you bothering with all this? Why does it fascinate you so much? They’re not that closely related to you!” Indeed, indeed…. But this is why genealogy is so addictive. As much as going backwards, I find a great deal of fun in locating documents full of subtle hints and suggestions, a great big ball of wool to untangle and unravel, and inside that ball of wool, there are both flints and diamonds. Is that my Jabez Sorrell? How is he related to all these other people? Is that Cardinall one of mine, or is this a clue which I can follow to shed light on my own Cardinall mystery?

As I don’t know the Cardinall connection yet, I can’t say for sure that the Mash deeds demonstrate my grandparents’ families overlapping again, however, it certainly shows various strands of my grandmother’s family doing so, on her grandfather’s side. I wish he had lived at the time of DNA genealogy – imagine how many matches he would’ve had, and with how many other people on the Tendring peninsula!

It’s lucky for us that these deeds exist and have survived, and that the lovely people at ERO have catalogued it in such detail. Imagine, then, how many other deeds were never drawn up – and imagine what overlapping families they could’ve shown us.