Mary Walker (1786 – 1846)

Courtesy of Cumbria Archives, another ancestor puzzle has been cleared up this past week. But there is still more to find out, as is usually the case.

Mary Walker was my 5th great grandmother. I believe that Mary was baptised at St James, Whitehaven, Cumberland on the 16th July 1788 to a William Walker, and I now at least know a little more about her life.

On the 14th September 1812, Mary Walker and William Benson married at Millom, Cumberland, England.  The witnesses were Mary Dobson, Ellenor Walker and John Newton.

My 4th great grandmother, Eleanor Benson, was baptised to William and Mary at Millom on the 5th November 1812.

I found an announcement in the 15th December 1849 edition of the Kendal Mercury of Eleanor’s marriage to my 4th great grandfather, Robert Holme(s), but interestingly her uncle, George Benson, rather than her dad’s name was mentioned in the announcement, leading me to believe that her dad, William Benson, at least must have died, possibly also her mum, Mary Walker by the December of 1849.

It had been difficult trying to find a William and/or Mary Benson in any census, after all, quite some time had passed between Eleanor’s birth in 1812 and the first available census in 1841 and there were no obvious possible candidates in the 1851 census.  William and/or Mary could have easily moved to another area by that time.

I decided to try and look for a marriage of a Mary Benson, and found one.  A Mary Benson married a John Swainson at Whicham, Cumberland on the 13th May 1826, but could this possibly be my Mary Walker?

I contacted Cumbria Archives to ask about this marriage, who were only too happy to help.  They found the details from the marriage, which I greatly appreciate:

JOHN SWAINSON of Dalton-in-Furness, and MARY BENSON, widow, married by banns in the presence of William Walker, Hannah Robinson and William Robinson.

I found John and Mary Swainson in the 1841 census at Broughton West, Lancashire.  John, aged 48, an agricultural labourer, not born in Lancashire, and Mary, aged 55, also not born in Lancashire.

John Swainson appears as a widower in the 1851 census, and I found a death registered in the Ulverstone registration district in 1846, so all available evidence appears to support my theory that both William Benson and Mary Walker had died before their daughter Eleanor’s marriage at Whicham in 1849.

The Ellenor Walker who was a witness to Mary’s first marriage, and the William Walker who was a witness to the 2nd marriage were possibly siblings, or cousins.

I did find a will for a William Walker of Spunham, Millom dated 1827, who I thought could possibly be the father of Mary, William and Ellenor.  Reading through the will, this William does have a son called William, and a daughter called Eleanor (wife of John Huddleston) who are specifically mentioned.  Also within the will he gives £10 to “each and every” of his grandchildren, Mary’s daughter, Eleanor, is not mentioned, neither for that matter is a Mary Walker/Benson/Swainson anywhere within the will, therefore it doesn’t seem as though this William is the same father of Mary.

Do you know these Walkers?  Please do contact me if you’d like to share any information.

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