Thursday, December 9, 2010

Past Lives: Who I Was Back Then, or Yet Another Girl is Born to the Reverend

Photo courtesy of Rich B-S on Flickr.

Mary Wells was born in 1765 to the rather tedious Reverend Richard Wells, rector of Ellesborough, and his wife Elizabeth Lee, the daughter of a clock maker. The reverend already had three children, so a fourth must have made him feel quite the family man in the backwater village he called home. This was in Ellesborough, the same village where today the Prime Minister's country home of Chequers can be found; the reverend lived at the manor house, just a stone's throw from the church and the picturesque Cymbaline's Mount, and being the village was primarily a farming community and the manor house quite small, the reverend's growing family seemed very quiet indeed.

No one would ever know that the reverend's son and heir, Joseph Wells, was probably illegitimate.

Because Mary Wells's siblings were all girls, you see, except her brother Joseph, natch. Although the reverend was clearly in charge of entering births in the parish registers, no entry was ever made for Joseph, and none ever traced in Cookham, either, where the family resided half the time. Mary's mother was from Cookham, and the reverend owned property there, which he leased from 1769 to 1789 -- yet no entry in the Cookham registers was made for Joseph's birth. Who was he? I suspect he was the son of some secret union between the reverend's brother, John Wells, and someone John Wells ought not have been sleeping with; there is a birth entry for Cheltenham which matches this scenario. And the reverend, eventually with four girls (five if you count one that didn't live long), was probably glad he took in his nephew and named him his own, for how to pass on his church position with four girls?

Mary's sisters were opinionated, boisterous, and respectable women, so one can imagine Mary was, too. Her sister Elizabeth never married, and went on to live out her old age in Cookham, across from the church gates, and with Lady Young in Great Russell Street in London. She had an ongoing fight with the vicar of Cookham, and was accused of cutting down bushes with a pocket knife and just generally being a crotchedy old lady.

Her sister Susannah married an attorney in Buckingham, and since his business prospered, and he was on good terms with folks like the Marquis of Buckingham (and later the Duke), Susannah's life was comfortable and respectable. Too bad her husband was kind of a jerk. She combated this by spending inordinate amounts of time at her parents' home, and at the homes of her sisters and brother.

Salisbury was the youngest of the Wells children. She was described as a "bouncing wench" by Susannah's husband, whom she fought with in later life over religion of all things. Feisty as she was, she did not marry until very, very late in life -- and then to a major in the Bucks Militia.

Mary herself -- namely, ME, the writer of this blog -- was said to be a good looking girl, and smart (isn't it nice to receive compliments? William Hickey the diarist said this about Mary, and it still makes me smile when I think about it, especially given that I'm rather the opposite of smart and good-looking today!). Mary grew up in Ellesborough, and moved to Cookham in 1789...where she met Thomas Carter.

The rest, as they say, is history. (Literally.)

To try your luck at recalling your own past lives, have a look at my "Steps to Past-Life Self-Regression" page and give it a try for yourself.

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