A very kind person (although no one I know) has transcribed the Births, Burials and Marriages registers of the church of St Bridget’s in Bridgerule (a tiny English farming village in North Devon).  They’re all available online.  Marvellous.  So I was browsing through them the other day, as you do, and a story leaped out at me.

Photo: Michelle Scott Tucker

St Bridget’s, Bridgerule. Photo: Michelle Scott Tucker.

Mary Folly was baptised in February 1712.

Baby Mary’s parents, Richard Folly and Lucy Cole subsequently married in May 1712.   They went on to have at least nine more children:

  • Hannah was baptised in 1715
  • John was baptised in 1718
  • Richard was baptised in 1720
  • William was baptised in 1723
  • Joseph’s baptism wasn’t registered at St Bridget’s, but he was buried in 1728.
  • Joseph, Samuel and Benjamin (triplets!) were baptised on 23rd April 1731
  • Samuel was buried on the 25th of April 1731.  Benjamin was buried on the 26 April 1731.  And Joseph was buried on the 8th May 1731.
  • Joseph (the third of that name) was baptised in 1733.

Mrs Lucy Folly was buried in April 1743.

Richard Folly was buried in March 1748.  His burial record states: Pauper.

The story reads to me as one full of struggle and sorrow but who knows?  Apart from the tragedy of the triplets, perhaps they were a happy and loving family, albeit poor.  After the father dies the Folly family is not mentioned again, so the children must all have moved (or were sent) away.  The single exception was Hannah, who married John Saunders at St Bridget’s in 1740.

It is interesting to the modern reader that the unfortunately named Folly family kept re-using the name Joseph, although it was a common practice at the time.  Elizabeth Macarthur did the same, and had two sons called James.  One died as an infant.

‘I have had the misfortune to lose a sweet boy of eleven months old,’ wrote Elizabeth , ‘who died very suddenly by an illness occasioned by teething.’  The second, born less than a year after the first James died, thankfully outlived his mother and died an old man.