This week’s #52Ancestors theme is Broken Branch. Another subject I have struggled with, something with enough story to tell in a blog post. Of course the obvious answer is Thomas Sinden alias Winchester.
When I started researching my family tree back 20 years ago, I was sent research and family trees that had Thomas Winchester, the son of John Winchester of Ashburnham and his wife Mary. There were promises of the Winchester going right back to at least the 1500s in Sussex and I was really excited.
But then I was brought right back down to earth. Apparently John Winchester was not Thomas’s father or was he? There is disagreement between genealogists and this little bit of the family is extremely murky. Mary Locke married Thomas Sinden in Ninfield in January 1785. In July 1785 in Catsfield, the couple had a son James. It looks likely that Thomas died in Ninfield in 1788 but is recorded as Sedden. No other burial has been found either in Ninfield or Catsfield. Mary then had two children, Fanny in 1790 and Thomas in 1791, both baptised to her alone as Mary Sinden. No idea who the father was! Then in 1793 she has another child, Elizabeth and the baptism entry reads Elizabeth Winchester, Daughter of Mary Sinden.
The two marriage records confuse matters even further! As already noted above Mary Locke married Thomas Sinden in January 1785 in Ninfield. She was noted of Ninfield. They were married by Licence and she left her mark. She married John Winchester on 23 February 1794 in Catsfield. Again by licence and she is noted as Mary Lock, a single woman. So is it not the same woman? But then the children point to it being the same woman. She left her mark and one of the witnesses was Thomas Locke who could be her father.
Obviously more investigation is needed but my gut feeling is that it is the same Mary. The fact the first marriage was conducted in Ninfield where she grew up and the second in Catsfield away from the neighbours suggests her parents wanted to legitimise the three children by giving her a husband, but then if you know the geography of Sussex, Catsfield is only a couple of miles down the road and people talk! Finding the burial record for John Winchester’s first wife may put a different light on things as would an alternative for the likely burial of Thomas Sinden. This is another interesting story that rumbles on! So maybe Thomas really was a Winchester after all, or maybe he was something else entirely different.