Nunn families in Debenham

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In my attempts to find David Nunn’s family, I looked at the Nunns who lived in Debenham. William Nunn of Shoreditch, who I think could’ve been my David’s brother or cousin (there is definitely a DNA match between his descendants and my immediate family), was born in about 1775, and there’s a William Nunn born in Debenham at the time, whose father was Joshua. And William Nunn of Shoreditch had a son called Joshua, and it was a name that my grandad remembered in connection with the family. My grandad thought there was a Joshua Nunn in his ancestry. Could there be a connection?

Before delving in – the names Leonard and Joshua are popular with Nunns in this are, and several of them took those names to Essex when they moved. When Joshua Nunn of Kenton (a couple of miles north-east of Debenham) wrote his will in 1691, he mentioned his kinsman Leonard Nunn of Eye, and his uncle Leonard Nunn. They may well be related to the Nunns on this page.

Leonard Nunn and Mary Nunn: generation 1

The furthest I’ve gone back on this line are Leonard Nunn and Mary Nunn, who married in Wetheringsett on 24 Sep 1713. Given that they shared the same surname, it’s likely they were cousins of some kind. All their children were baptised in Wetheringsett, apart from John, their eldest, who was baptised in Earl Stonham, and their youngest, Mary, who was baptised in Debenham. Their children were:

  • John, baptised 1714, lived in Bradfield, Essex. Died 1796.
  • Joshua 1, baptised 1716 – moved to Essex, and died in Witham, aged 61 in 1778.
  • Mary, baptised 1718, and buried in Wetheringsett in 1721
  • Elizabeth, baptised 1720, and buried in Wetheringsett in 1721 on the same day as her sister Mary
  • Leonard, baptised 1722, lived in Bradfield and Mile End, Colchester, Essex. Died 1808, aged 86.
  • Mary, baptised 1724

Leonard 1 was buried in Wetheringsett on 2 Feb 1728/9, as Leonard Nunn of Debenham. Leonard Nunn senior was buried in Wetheringsett on 25 Jan 1723, who might be Leonard 1’s father.

Joshua Nunn 1 and Mary Baker: generation 2

Joshua Nunn 1 married Mary Baker in Stonham Aspal on 5 Feb 1743/4, and they had five children, all baptised in Earl Stonham.

  • Joshua 2, baptised 1744 – a yeoman in Bocking, Essex. Died in 1781, with only his son William surviving him.
  • Leonard 3, baptised 1746 – of Chelmondiston, who ran the Red Lion pub there, and died in 1826.
  • Mary, baptised 1748 – married Edward Gowland at St Andrew’s Holborn, 1777
  • John, baptised 1750 – moved to Colchester, worked as wine and brandy merchant on North Hill, and died there in 1807.
  • William, baptised 1753 – moved to Romford where he ran the White Hart Inn
  • James, baptised 1754 – moved to London and worked as a stationer.

At some point after William’s birth, Joshua and his children moved to Essex. Joshua senr died in Witham – he was buried there in 1778, aged 61. A Joshua Nunn, born in about 1791, ran the Spread Eagle in Witham, and he may have been the son of Joshua and Mary’s son Joshua 2. Leonard moved to Chelmondiston, and ran the Red Lion pub. He was married several times, as well as having an illegitimate child by his housekeeper. John moved to Colchester and attended St Peter’s church. He worked as a wine and brandy merchant, and his will names seven children; two became vicars (one of whom was a close friend of Patrick Bronte’s at Cambridge), and one of his daughters wrote hymns. His grandson Samuel Nunn was granted a coat of arms.

The two brothers

The non-conformist baptism register for Debenham features several Nunn families, with fathers James Nunn and Leonard Nunn appearing in the 1750s, and their sons then featuring a few years later.

James and Leonard were apparently brothers. In Kenton, the parish immediately north-east of Debenham, we find a John Nunn marrying an Ann Clark on 1 Oct 1718. Then only a few months later, children of John and Ann Nunn begin to be baptised at the parish church in Winston, the parish immediately south of Debenham:

  • John, baptised 14 June 1719
  • James, baptised 24 Dec 1721
  • Leonard, baptised 3 May 1724
  • Sarah, baptised 27 June 1728

It seems that James moved to Debenham in the 1740s, where he married Mary Moor on 24 Oct 1748. And although Leonard moved to Saxtead, then Framlingham, by 1751 he and his wife were living in Debenham.

Their mother, Ann Nunn, wrote her will on 6 June 1764. She was a widow, living in Debenham, and she names her four children. The will tells us that Sarah never married, and that Leonard was also living in Debenham.

James Nunn and Mary Moor

As mentioned above, James and Mary married at Debenham in 1748. Their children, all baptised at the Independent chapel in the same village, were:

  • James, born 19 Aug, baptised 28 Aug 1749 (possibly died Sep 1766 – burial at Debenham for James Nunn, a minor, on 19 Sep 1766)
  • Mary, born 28 Dec 1750, baptised 15 Jan 1750/1
  • Lydia, born 30 June, baptised 4 Aug 1752: possibly married Frederick Debenham in Debenham, 1774. Their children were Amy bap in the parish church at Debenham 1775, then the family moved to Wickham Market where two chidren were baptised at the parish church; Frederick bap 1779, John 1783. They then joined the Independent Chapel in Woodbridge where the rest of their children were baptised; Lydia b 1791, bap 1792, then they moved to Dallinghoo but still attended the chapel, where Thomas, their youngest, ewas baptised in 1793.
  • John, born 22 June, baptised 4 Aug 1752
  • David, baptised 10 March 1755: possibly the David Nunn who was buried in Bocking, Essex, in 1837, aged 81. He could well be the David Nunn who lived in Hasketon in the mid-1770s, where children Joshua and Elizabeth were born. A David Nunn attending the Independent Chapel in Rendham, in the 1790s could be him.
  • Jonathan, born 25 July, baptised 27 Sep 1756
  • Sarah, born 17 Sep 1758, baptised 13 Nov 1758 (someone has later changed her year of birth to 1759, but it’s entered among baptisms for 1758)
  • Charles, born 21 Aug 1762, baptised 20 Oct 1762
  • Rachel, born 13 Nov 1766, baptised 28 Dec 1766
  • James, born 23 Nov 1768, baptised 20 Jan 1769

There are two burials in Debenham for “James Nunn”, other than the burial in 1766. One is on 29 Oct 1769, and the other on 11 May 1794, “pauper”. Presumably one is the child born in 1768, and the other is the father.

Leonard Nunn and Mary Andrews: generation 1

Leonard Nunn married Mary Andrews in Saxtead in 1746. Leonard and Mary were non-conformists, attending the Old Meeting House in Framlingham, a Unitarian chapel, then Debenham Independent chapel, where some of their children were baptised. Leonard left a will, which has helped to identify the rest of his brood, whose baptisms haven’t been found.

  • Leonard Nunn 4, born at Saxtead and baptised at Framlingham, 1748. Likely married Rose Pipe, below.
  • Unknown child of Leonard of Debenham, buried 1751
  • Joshua Nunn 3, born about 1752. Likely married Ann Andrews, below.
  • Esther Nunn, born 1754, baptised at Debenham Independent Chapel
  • Moses Nunn, born 1764, baptised at Debenham Independent Chapel: a yeoman, married Maria Johnson, a widow (born Maria Berry), at Debenham in 1797. He died in 1802.
  • Mary Nunn, born unknown

Leonard 2 wrote his will on 17 Oct 1775, not long before his death, describing himself as a yeoman who lived in Debenham. He named his children as Leonard, his eldest son; son Joshua; daughter Esther wife of Thomas Godbold of Sweffling, blacksmith; daughter Mary wife of Joseph Last junior of Debenham, weaver; youngest son Moses, who was under 21 at the time. He made his executors his wife Mary and Daniel Ripper of Debenham. Leonard 2 was buried in Debenham on 7 Nov 1775. Mary, his widow, was buried in Debenham on 21 Aug 1805, aged 82.

Mary and Joseph Last attended Debenham Independent chapel, where their many children were baptised, as did Esther and Thomas Godbold (apart from the Godbold’s first son, Thomas, who was baptised at Rendham while the couple lived at Sweffling – from about 1790, they were living in Debenham).

Note: I had thought that this Leonard was the son of Leonard Nunn and Mary Nunn, born in about 1722. However, Leonard Nunn who died in Mile End, Colchester, in 1808, aged 86, who would’ve been born in 1722, is more likely to be their son, rather than the Leonard who married Mary Andrews (see above). With the repeating names of Leonard and Joshua, it seems pretty likely that they’re all related somehow.

Leonard Nunn 4 and Rose Pipe: generation 2

Leonard Nunn of Debenham (presumably the oldest son of Leonard Nunn and Mary Andrews, above) and Rose Pike married at Great Glemham in 1775. He gave his abode as Debenham. Her surname is “Pike” in the transcription I’ve seen but her surname must’ve been Pipe, as a Rose Pipe was baptised in Framlingham in 1853, and there are many Pipes there, but no Pikes (a rare surname in Suffolk).

They had three daughters, all baptised at Debenham Independent chapel:

  • Rose, born 1775: married Ezra King who had been born in Framlingham but by the time of their marriage in Debenham in 1803, he was living in the parish of St James’, Westminster. He moved to the parish of St George’s Hanover Square, and worked as a carpenter and tallow chandler. One of their children, Sarah, married John Crouch, an oilman.
  • Mary, born 1776
  • Mary, born 1778

Then they had several children, baptised at the parish church:

  • Leonard, baptised 1781: moved to nearby Mickfield, where he lived the rest of his life. He married Eliza Hubbard in 1806. The couple had an astonishing 16 children between 1806 and 1833. Eliza died in 1836 (no doubt exhausted!), and Leonard died in 1847.
  • Samuel, baptised 1784: married Rose Whitman in Tannington in 1802. Had several children, moving between Debenham, Woodbridge, London and Ipswich. In summer 1821, the family found themselves in the workhouse of St Giles-in-the-Fields for a month. The following year they were in Ipswich, where Samuel worked as a fruiterer. Rose died in 1825, and in 1841 Samuel was a fishmonger in Ipswich. He died on Christmas Eve 1849. Their son Edward was transported to Australia after being convicted of theft and has many descendants still living there.
  • Robert, baptised 1787
  • Edward, baptised 1790 (died soon after his birth and was buried in Debenham)
  • Rebecca, baptised 1797 (died soon after her birth and was buried in Debenham)

There’s no sign of Leonard and Rose in Debenham after this, and they appear to have moved to London (unsurprising, as their daughter Rose moved there in 1803 with her husband Ezra). In 1826, Rose Nunn of St George’s Row was buried at St Luke’s, Finsbury, aged 74. Leonard Nunn died in the workhouse in St Giles-in-the-Fields on 3 April 1832, aged 83 or 84 (the workhouse and burial register vary), giving a rough date of birth of 1748. He was buried in St Luke’s, Finsbury, on 8 April 1832.

Joshua Nunn 3 and Ann Andrews: generation 2

Joshua Nunn, son of Leonard Nunn and Mary Andrews, married Ann Andrews in Debenham on 31 May 1774. It seems likely that Joshua and Ann were cousins via Joshua’s mother, who had also been an Andrews. They had five children, all baptised at Debenham Independent chapel.

  • Joshua, baptised 1774: possibly moved to Tunstall where he married Mary Alexander in 1798. They had two sons, Jonathan Alexander and James, then moved to London where they had four more children (among them two more sons, William and David). Joshua worked as an oilman. Mary Alexander was possibly from Framlingham. Descendants of Jonathan Alexander come up as DNA matches with myself and my mother. More about Joshua and Mary’s family.
  • William, baptised 1775: this William matches with William Nunn of Shoreditch, who was also born in about 1775, and was non-conformist. He and his wife Sarah named thier eldest son Joshua, and their eldest daughter Sarah Ann.
  • Rachel, baptised 1777
  • Mary, baptised 1778
  • Jonathan, baptised 1782: married Susannah Brook in Ashfield cum Thorpe in 1802 and then moved to London. His daughter Rachel Nunn (born in St Ann’s, Soho, in 1804, baptised in Hackney in 1818) married Thomas Johnson (her stepfather, who was born in Colchester, and may or may not be related to the first husband of Moses Nunn’s wife Maria Berry). She is often named “Rachel Modlin Nunn” in trees, but the middle name doesn’t appear in documentation such as her baptism or marriage. However, a William Modlin was a witness at her wedding, and in the baptism register, the daughter of a John and Mary Modlin appears immediately after Rachel’s entry. It turns out that her mother’s sister, Mary Ann Brooke, married John Modlin at Clerkenwell St James in 1814. The witnesses were Thomas and Susannah Johnson – Rachel’s mother and stepfather. Interestingly, Rachel was baptised on 4 July 1818, and William King, the son of William Nunn of Shoreditch and Sarah (née King), was baptised at the same Wesleyan chapel only a few days later on 12 July 1818. And Mary Louisa Modlin, Rachel’s first cousin, was baptised at the same chapel too on 13 July 1818. Descendants of Rachel’s have come up in DNA matches with my aunt and my mother.