Did my ancestor marry his aunt?
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QWhy is my ancestor, Sarah Butcher, described as being the wife and aunt of her husband?
The baptism of Maria Butcher on the 9 February 1806, records her parents as “John Butcher junior and Sarah his aunt”. Maria’s siblings include George (born 1807), William (born 1810) and Susanna (born 1812), and they also have “John Butcher and Sarah his aunt” listed as their parents. Sarah Butcher was buried, age 55, on 2 July 1821, “the wife and aunt of John Butcher”. Jackie Woodmansee, by email
AIt was, and is, allowable to marry one’s aunt and I am not sure why attention was brought to this fact in the parish registers. To find the origin of the aunt it was logical to work back to her parents to see how they related to John Butcher’s family. She was not aged 55 years when she died, as you suggested, but was somewhat younger: 55 was the entry number in the Sparsholt burial register. The full entry is: “Reg No 55, 2 July 1821, Sarah Butcher aged 38, the aunt and wife of John Butcher.”
This makes much more sense in the light of her children being born between 1807 and 1812. Allegations for marriages in Hampshire, Winchester, place the marriage of the couple some miles away in Twyford: “John Butcher of Lainston, 21, labourer, and Sarah Wise of Twyford, 21, spinster at Twyford, 4 October 1805.”
Now we know Sarah’s maiden surname and her year of birth, we can establish her parentage. This entry appears in East Stratton baptisms: “17 November 1782, Sarah daughter of George and Avis Wise.”
John Butcher was the son of another John Butcher, as the suffix ‘junior’ indicated, and a search for the marriage of John Butcher senior to a Miss Wise turned up this marriage under This 1821 marriage allegation shows the union of John Butcher senior and Sarah Wise a variant among the marriage records for Brown Candover: “23 February 1784, John Bestcher and Charlotte Wise.”
Charlotte was baptised in East Stratton on 30 December 1763, the daughter of George Wise. So, although there were some 19 years between them, John Butcher junior’s wife and mother were sisters and this made his wife his aunt. George Wise married Avis Smith in 1777, so there may be at least one second marriage involved here. There may also be a second marriage on the Butcher/Bestcher side, too, as the dates only just fit. Further research will fill out the picture. Stephen Thomas