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Thursday, 29 November 2012

Mary Williams, second wife of John Jeffery Williams

This post concerns Mary Oliver, who was the second wife of the lawyer, John Jeffery Williams of Grays Inn, and their daughter, Mary Williams.

I am interested in the family of London lawyer John Jeffery Williams, since he is possibly the father of our maternal great-great grandfather Richard Williams of Eden Quay, Dublin, who worked for the Dublin Steam Packet Company which had been founded by Dublin-based cousins of the London Williams family.

Following the death of his first wife, Sarah Dignan, John Jeffery Williams married Mary Oliver of St. Osyth/Alresford in Essex, who lived from 1786 until 18th July 1873.  The couple must have married in about 1811, judging by the births of their three children.  Richard was born in Holborn on 24th July 1812 (and this might possibly be our Dublin-based great-great grandfather who had been born to a John Williams in 1812),  Mary was born in September 1813, and Henry Jeffery Williams was born in August 1815, a few months after the death of his own father.
John Jeffery's children by his first marriage to Sarah Dignan had all been born much earlier than this second batch - John Dignan Williams in 1789, Hutchins Thomas Williams in 1790,  Sarah in 1794,  William in 1795, Harriet No.One in 1796, Harriet No. Two in 1798. There was, therefore, a 14 year gap between Harriet and Richard.

Following their father's death in 1815, at least two, and possibly more, of John Jeffery's older children moved to Dublin.  John Dignan Williams and Hutchins Thomas Williams operated there in linen and finance, and Hutchins was known to have had a sister living with him at 39 Dame Street in the 1820's, but which sister?  Following the failure of Hutchins' finance company, 'Gibbons and Williams' in 1835, he left Ireland for good and headed with his family, first to New York and then to Simcoe, Ontario.  John Dignan Williams seems to have maintained a business presence in Dublin from about 1814 until about 1841,  but his Irish-born family were living in London again by 1841.  A daughter, Marie Antoinette Williams married Daniel Henry Rucker in Dublin in 1847.  John Dignan died in London in 1858.

Mary Williams (born 1814) , daughter of John Jeffery Williams and Mary Oliver, married Rev. Samuel Farman (1808 - 1878) on 28th April 1835 in the Church of St. John of Jerusalem in South Hackney, London.    The wedding was witnessed by Mary's widowed mother, Mary Williams, and by an associate of the Oliver family, William Genery.
Samuel Farman had been ordained as a curate in 1834, and as a priest in 1838.  The family, however, spent several of these years living in Istanbul/Constantinople, and the first of the couple's 13 children were born there, Mary in 1836, and the twins, Charles and Emily, in early 1838.
In 1831, Samuel Farman had been appointed by The London Society for Promoting Christianity Among the Jews as assistant to Rev. John Nicolayson, and together the pair travelled widely around the Middle East.  The pair were noted in Beirut, Malta, Algiers and Tripoli.  Samuel was ordained deacon by Blomfield (I'm unsure who this was) on 12th December 1824, and commenced work in Constantinople in 1835,  presumably following his marriage to Mary Williams.  He left the city briefly during an outbreak of plague, and, during his absence, embarked upon a Judeo-Spanish translation of the scriptures.  Following his return to Constantinople, he settled in the Galata district.  He circulated the scriptures in Hebrew, and converted three Jews to Christianity. Rev. Samuel Farman resigned in 1841 and returned to England.  This info was found online in 'The History of the London Society for Promoting Christianity Among the Jews'.

1841 Census:
Six years after their marriage, Mary and Samuel Farman were back in England, living in John St., Hampstead, along with Mary's mother, Mary Williams and the three Farman children - 5-yr-old Mary Farman, and the 18-month-old twins, Charles and Emily.

In 1844, Rev. Samuel Farman, who had attended St. John's College, Cambridge, had become the rector of Layer Marney Church in Essex, following a stint in Peldon.  His mother-in-law, Mary Williams, had her origins nearby in Alresford, and Mary's sister, Sarah Oliver (born 1780)  had recommended Samuel for the job in Layer Marney.  In an 1871 directory for Layer Marney,  Mary Williams was noted as the lady of the manor.
Rev. Samuel Farman built the schoolhouse next to the Rectory in 1850, and carried out the restoration of the church in 1870.  He published several works over the years -  'Part of the Hebrew and Spanish Scripture',  'Il futuro Destino d'Israele' and 'Constantinople in connection with the present war' (1855).

By 1851, the census shows the family at Layer Marney.  Along with Mary, Emily (also called Oratia) and Charles, there was Harriet born 1840 in Sussex, Thomas Frederick born Layer Marney in 1845, Margaret born Layer Marney in 1848, Anna born Layer Marney in 1849, Anna born Layer Marney in 1850, and baby Thomas born 1851.    A further son, Samuel, had been born in Constantinople in about 1838, but he was boarding in 1851 at the Collegiate School in Leicester.
Rev. Samuel himself had been born in Ipswich, Suffolk in about 1808.   His mother-in-law, Mary Williams, was also there, named as a fund holder who had been born in nearby Alresford, Essex, in about 1786.  The family had three servants.

Mary Williams was still with them in Layer Marney in 1861 and was described on the census as a landed proprietor of 452 acres employing 3 boys and 17 labourers. A conveyance of 1859 records the sale to Mrs. Williams under the will of Quintin Dick for £30,448 of Tower Farm, 635 acres and Thorrington Farm, 205 acres.  Her will shows that she also had a property in London.
By 1861,  Samuel and Mary Farman had had two additional children - Samuel George born in 1853 and who later became the vicar of St. John's in Colchester before converting to Catholicism in 1880, and Susan born 1854.

Mary Williams continued to live with her daughter and son-in-law at Layer Marney until her death on 18th July 1873.  Her will was proved by two of her Farman grandchildren, the younger Rev. Samuel Farman (rector of Layer Marney, Colchester and then Harwich) of St.Martin's, Colchester, and Edward Farman of 21 Lion Terrace, Portsea.

The younger Rev. Samuel Farman married Clara Letitia Clarke, the second daughter of J.P. Clarke, Esq., of de Montfort Square, Leicester.  The wedding took place on 6th February 1861 in St. John's Church, Leicester.
The younger Rev. Samuel Farman's youngest son, Harold Augustus Farman, who married, on April 9th 1946, at St. Paul's, Clacton-on-Sea,  Florence Mary Pullin, who was the daughter of Stephen Pullin of Frogmore, Hayes, Middlesex.   Harold Augustus Farman died shortly after his marriage on December 14th 1948 - he was living at the Westleigh Hotel, 33 Carnarvon Road, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, and his death notice in The Times noted that he was formerly a partner in 'Farman Daniell & Co.' of 329 High Holborn, solicitors. He was 83 when he died.

In the 1980s, Jane Eames of Essex researched the villages of Layer Marney,  Birch and Layer Breton, and the research has been published online.  She had accessed the will of Mary Williams, widow of John Jeffery Williams.  Nearly all of the beneficiaries of her will had to make an annual payment to an Elizabeth Gentry of St. Osyth, Essex,  the payments being 'in lieu of and in satisfaction of the annuity whereon the proper duty to Government has been paid which was bequeathed to the said Elizabeth Gentry by the will of my late sister Sarah Oliver  . . . . .  charged upon and made payable out of the annual proceeds of certain personal estate thereby bequeathed to me.'
Elizabeth Gentry appeared on the 1871 census at nearby St. Osyth working as a housekeeper.  The 1835 marriage of Mary's daughter, Mary, to Samuel Farman, had been witnessed by a William Gentry, so there must have been some family connection between the Oliver and Gentry families.
Mary Williams left most of her substantial effects to her grandchildren, including a London property which was left to her oldest granddaughter, Mary, who went on to marry Rev. Thomas Ralph Musselwhite, vicar of West Mersea.

Nothing was left to Mary's son-in-law, Samuel Farman, but Mary Williams left £100 to her son, Henry Williams although the will doesn't mention where he lived, and I've had no luck tracking him down. Her second son, Richard, wasn't mentioned at all.  Henry married Eliza Richer in 1840, and then promptly disappears from view.  Similarly, I can find no sign of Richard anywhere on the various UK censuses.  She seems to have had little contact with her two sons.  Henry was a bookkeeper;  our great-great grandfather, Richard Williams, worked also as a bookkeeper for the Williams family shipping business in Dublin, and was born circa 1812, to a John Williams, as was Mary Williams' son, Richard.  Although I've yet to discover any definite link between the two Richards, I suspect that they may well be one and the same man.  If Hutchins Thomas Williams had a sister living with him in Dublin in the late 1820's, then it's not beyond the realm of reason that he may have had a younger brother living there also, especially one being trained in as an accountant in a finance business.  Our Richard Williams made his first appearance at the headquarters of the CDSPCo in 1837, two years after Hutchins Thomas left Ireland for New York, but was only taken on as the accountant to the company in 1839.  This, for the moment, is only circumstantial, and I would need to source better information to prove this one way or the other.

To return to Mary Williams' 1873 will....the unmarried granddaughter of Mary Williams, Oratia and Susan, both received a legacy payable on their marriage or at their mother's death.  The other two married daughters, Margaret, wife of Henry Garnell and Harriet wife of Walter Hammond Thelwall each received £500.  The surviving sons, Samuel, Charles, Thomas, and Edward were made the residuary by their grandmother.
Henry Garnell, who married Margaret Farman, was a shipbroker who'd been born in Croyden, Surrey in about 1836.  In 1881 Henry and Margaret were living in Tottenham with two children Henry, born in Newcastle in 1877, and Sybil F., born in Kensington in 1879.  By 1891, they had two extra children - Gladys C. Garnell/Gannell, born 1883, and Margaret F.D. Gannell, born 1891.

The will mentions that Sarah Oliver was the sister of Mary Williams, née Oliver.  Another sibling appears to be Thomas Oliver who himself made a will on 2nd November 1869, in which he left shares in a railway company to Rev. Thomas Ralph Musselwhite, who was married to his niece, Mary Farman.  Thomas Oliver appeared as an unmarried lodger in Hanover square on the 1871 Census;  he had been born in St. Osyth - as had Mary Williams, his sister - in about 1790, and he states that he had been a general in the Bengal Army.  Twenty years earlier, the 1851 census shows him as a lodger, once again in Hanover Square, and this time his occupation was 'Colonel: E.I.C. Service' which I presume refers to the East India Company.  His will also made mention of an Emily Catherine Oliver.  In 1881 this unmarried woman was living with Rev. Thomas Ralph Musselwhite and his wife, Mary Farman, at the West Mersea vicarage - Emily Catherine Oliver had been born in about 1831 in Madras, India, and the 1881 census calls her a 'cousin', presumably a cousin of Mary Farman, rather than Thomas Ralph Musselwhite who had been born in Devizes, Wiltshire, rather than Essex.  The LDS birth records for India only show up a Helen Grace Oliver, born 1831 to a Thomas and Lucy Oliver.


  1. This is really interesting. Thank you for posting this.
    Thomas and Mary Musselwhite (formally Mary Farman) are my Great Great Grandparents on my dad's side.
    Their daughter Hilda Ann married Alfred Cooke and one of their two daughters, Minnie, is my dad's mom.

  2. This means that Mary Williams (nee Oliver) born 1786 was my Great Great Great Great Grandmother.

  3. Thanks for sharing your family details with me...I'm glad you're finding the post interesting....let me know if you ever come across any information about the two sens of Mary Williams, née Oliver, ie: Richard and Henry J. Williams. I believe I descend from the older son, Richard, but I've yet to come across a watertight link.

  4. Hi Alison, hope you are doing well.
    I've been ancestor hunting a few weeks back and visited Layer Marney where Samuel Farman was and West Mersea where his daughter Mary and her husband T R Musselwhite were. It has been very interesting. I also went to the British Library and saw two books by S Farman.
    I noticed on the above blog that Samuel Farman was ordained deacon by Blomfield, but you didn't know who he was. He was a Bishop. There is a wiki entry about him.

    1. Btw. Are you based in UK? I would be interested to meet up some time and talk about our common roots !