Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Cruse of Morebath, Devon

Guild member Barbara Roach has kindly sent me another "faux" marriage certificate for a marriage she found in the Morebath Parish Registers as part of her Tiverton Marriage Challenge. The marriage is between Mary Cruwys, a widow of full age, and James Marsh, a bachelor of full age. Mary was the daughter of Benjamin Wensley, a labourer. James, a labourer, was the son of Richard Marsh, a labourer. They married on 24th March 1840 at the Parish Church in Morebath. I did not previously have any record of Mary in my database so the arrival of the certificate prompted me to do some research to find out who she was. Morebath is one of the many Devon parishes which is not on the IGI. Fortunately the Devon Family History Society have indexed the marriages from 1754-1837, and the baptisms and burials from 1813-1837. With the help of the censuses and the DFHS indexes I have been able to establish the following.

Mary Wensley married Robert Cruse, a labourer, some time before 1832. Somewhat surprisingly there is no record of the marriage in the DFHS marriage index. They have three known children:

- John Cruse, baptised on 24th February 1833 in Morebath

- Marianne Cruse (also known as Mary and Ann), baptised on 31st August 1834 in Morebath

- Robert Cruse, baptised on 10th April 1836 in Morebath

Robert Cruse senior died in the December quarter of 1838, probably in Morebath.

In the 1841 census Mary and her second husband James Marsh can be found living in Exbridge, Morebath. James, 25, is an agricultural labourer. Mary is 30. They have one daughter Mary Marsh, aged one month. Mary's three children from her first marriage, John Cruse, 9, Mary Cruse, 7, and Robert Cruse, 5, are also living in the family home.

In 1851 Mary and James are at the same address in Morebath but now have three more children: Elizabeth [age not visible], Martha, 5, and James, 2. The three Cruse children are all out at work and living away from home. John Cruse, 18, is an agricultural labourer living nearby at Hookley, Morebath. Marianne (listed in the census as Ann Cruise) is a general servant at the Tiverton Hotel in Bampton. Robert, 13, is a farm labourer living in Brushford, Somerset.

Robert Cruse appears in the 1861 census in Bampton. He is working as a farm servant in the household of James Hawkings, a farm bailiff. I can find no record of him after 1861. I can find no further records of John Cruse and Marianne Cruse after 1851.

I've normally found that people make a conscious decision to adopt the Cruwys spelling, but this particular family seems to be the exception to the rule. Mary's name was recorded with the spelling Cruwys when she married for a second time. Her children's baptisms are all registered in the surname Cruse. The surname was spelt Cruse in the 1841 and 1851 censuses.

There are a further five Cruse marriages in the DFHS indexes between 1791 and 1833. In three cases a Cruse married a Wensley. Without access to the Morebath parish registers I am unable to explore these lines further at present. I would however be interested to hear from anyone researching the Cruse or Wensley families in Morebath.

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