Mussetts in and from Bures St Mary 4: a lot of John Mussetts

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While we had lots of Henrys in Bures St Mary, things weren’t too complicated. But now we have to deal with several men called John Mussett, and no supplementary documents to help us understand what we’re seeing in the parish registers. This will also take us back to John Mussett and Susan Tracy, whose three children moved to West Mersea.

So, looking back at John Mussett and Susan, we know that they lived in and around Fordham, Copford, Great Horkesley and West Bergholt. And we know there was another John Mussett in Fordham, who was married to a Rose (Rose was buried in Fordham in 1743). I suggested that John and Rose could’ve been the father of John who was married to Susan, given that John and Susan had a daughter called Rose.

But who was John who was married to Rose? While we have to bear in mind that John was baptised in a parish whose records aren’t readily accessible, or from a parish whose registers simply haven’t survived, there is a possibility that he’s connected to the Bures Mussetts. Going back to the first generation of Mussetts in Bures, we find John, son of Henry and Margaret, who was baptised there in 1682. If he married, we could assume that happened in the early 1700s, with children following on from that soon after. This would mean that John Mussett, who married Susan Tracy in 1734 in Fordham, could be his son. And that means that we could trace the West Mersea Mussetts back to the Bures St Mary Mussetts.

That’s a nice theory and it could be true. But I’m not 100% happy with this as there are complicating factors: there’s a lot of John Mussetts!

We have John and Susan who moved around to several parishes, although they seem to start off in Fordham. Then we have a John and Elizabeth who lived in Aldham. Then we have a John and Elizabeth who lived in Bures. While John and Susan were easy to tease out, John and Elizabeth aren’t – they could be the same couple, or not. I’ll break this down by parish first, looking at baptisms and also burials.


  • Margaret, daughter of John Mussett, buried 18 Sep 1724
  • Robert, son of John and Elizabeth Mussett, baptised 31 July 1726
  • Elizabeth, daughter of John and Elizabeth Mussett, baptised 21 March 1730/1, buried 12 June 1734 (Elizabeth Musset daughter of John Musset)
  • John, son of John and Elizabeth Mussett, baptised 14 Oct 1734
  • Keeble, son of John and Elizabeth Musset, baptised 4 April 1736
  • Elizabeth, daughter of John and Elizabeth Musset, 21 Jan 1738/9

There is no further sign of any Mussetts in Aldham after this date. Note that there’s usually about 10 baptisms a year in Aldham at this time, but only two recorded for 1725 with a gap as if someone planned to go back and add some more.

Bures St Mary

On 21 May 1730, John Masset of Bures married Elizabeth Keable of Wakes Colne, in Pebmarsh. But we don’t see any baptisms for children of John and Elizabeth in Bures until 1741:

  • Elizabeth, daughter of John Mussett, buried 14 June 1741
  • Hannah, baptised 4 Oct 1741, buried 1 Jan 1744/5 (“Hannah Mussett, a child”)
  • Henry, baptised 11 March 1743/4
  • Martha, baptised 9 March 1745/6

Elizabeth, wife of John Mussett, was buried in Bures on 18 Mar 1748/9.

Elizabeth, the daughter who was buried in Bures in 1741, wasn’t baptised there. Perhaps she is the Elizabeth baptised in Aldham in 1738/9. And it would make sense if John Mussett and Elizabeth Keeble had been in Aldham, because they have a son called Keeble. But what about the baptisms of John’s children before the married in 1730 – there’s Margaret and Robert to consider.

One theory is that we’re looking at two marriages for John – he has Margaret and Robert (and perhaps some other children, we don’t know) by a wife called Elizabeth. Then she dies, and he marries another wife called Elizabeth. Their children are baptised in Aldham, then they move to Bures some time between 1739 and 1741. This could make sense if we bear in mind that Henry Mussett and Mary Downs had a son called John in about 1702, and also that their son Henry died in 1739. It wouldn’t be unusual for John to have returned to Bures after his brother’s death, especially as Henry had left a widow and several children.

But I don’t feel 100% about that theory until I find a burial for the potential first Elizabeth. Why is he “of Bures” when the baptisms make it look like he lived in Aldham? And yet, it does feel more likely that this is how things came about, rather than there being two separate families. We know there’s possibly a connection between the Bures Mussetts and Aldham, because of the burial of Thomas there in 1710, and who may have been the son of Henry and Margaret as we have baptism in 1712 for Susannah, daughter of Thomas Mussett deceased. John, Henry and Mary’s son, would’ve been Thomas’ nephew.

On 30 April 1795, a very old man was buried in Bures. He was John Mussett, aged 95, and had been living in the workhouse. He would match very well with Henry Mussett and Mary Downs’ son, baptised in Bures 1702.