Ancestral notes written by Orlando A. Mansfield in 1911.
The notes below were discovered among my Fathers papers and became the basis for a study of my English ancestors who I knew little about. However it was to prove more complicated than I imagined an only recently have I been able to publish the results with any confidence.
With this information, and a with a little research using the LDS Family Search, I decided to retrace the journey my great grandfather made with his friend William Mansfield-Haysom and on September 2002, left Scotland for Devon. Our first stop however was at Horningsham in Wiltshire where we discovered the little church where the Rev. J. Pearce Mansfield had been pastor in the 1800's and despite being built in 1566, had hardly changed in appearance. Next stop was Wells in Somerset where we were able to find the convent where Orlando's sister Theodosia was a Carmelite nun - but that's another story!
On then to Culmstock and the Parish Church and noted that the Rev. Tertius Poole (right) who had helped Orlando in 1911 was buried near the door of the church. However we did not find any gravestones in the churchyard that would help us with our quest for Mansfields.
Next stop was Crediton and the Parish church there, however some research I had done before my trip South suggested that William and his family had become members of the Broad Street Independent Church. The church unfortunately had been demolished at the turn of the century but after making a few enquiries, we found the original graveyard behind some shops in the High Street. Again this did not yield any Mansfield names on the stones.
It was clear that we would have to spend some time in the Library at Exeter where all the Parish records are now archived. What did they reveal? Basically, it simply confirmed the names and dates in Orlandos original notes, however there had always been a problem with our Williams birth date. The 1851 census has our William as age 67 which would make his birth year 1784 not 1786. An entry in the Culmstock Parish Register of Baptisms for the year 1784 has a William MANFIELD baptised on 11th April 1784 and was born "January last". He was described as son of Samuel and Betty. In the marriage registry for Culmstock, a Betty Perry married a Samuel Manfield on the 12th August 1781. Crediton Parish registers have a Samuel Mansfield baptised on May 23rd 1814, son of William and Susanna, woolcombers, Crediton. Their next son was christened William and other sons were Henry, James and Edward, no Charles's or Benjamins.
We concluded that despite the slightly different spelling it was highly likely Orlando and his friend had got it wrong and had ignored the fact that names can be spelt differently from village to village. It might also explain, possibly through embarrsement, why the other pages of Orlando's notebook had been destroyed.
Stephen Mansfield October 2002.