The Beatons of Somer… no – Dorset!

My grandfather’s RIDOUT family only crawled a couple of miles across Bath over five generations; my Orchard folk lived in the untamed badlands of Widcombe (Bath) from the mid 16thC, migrated across the river into the city centre in the early 18thC and stayed put for another four generations. This ancestral immobility caused me to suppose that I’d find a similar story with the forebears of my maternal grandfather William Henry BEATON (1862-1938), a blacksmith born in North Cadbury in Somerset.

William BEATON

William Henry Beaton (undated)

William Henry, or Harry as he was apparently known, was a grandson of John Beaton and his wife Ann (née TAYLOR); John’s family mostly stayed in rural Somerset although after she was widowed, Ann moved to Bath and may have lived with her middle son Joseph who, when he retired in 1892, had notched up an amazing forty-one years of service with the City of Bath Police. Joseph’s younger brother, my great great grandfather Robert John (1832-1904), was a journeyman tailor; he stayed in the North Cadbury area, married Sylvena Smith GREGORY in 1860, had nine children and finally died at hospital in nearby Wincanton from heart disease. His son Harry probably made the move to Bath later than his uncle, perhaps when he started working for John HOWARD & Sons of Argyle Street in the city; his obituary shows that he stayed with this company for more than forty years before enjoying a short retirement. Harry learnt his trade with a blacksmith called Samuel HARDING in Ilchester, Somerset according to the 1871 census.

Until I was preparing material for this post these few basic facts were as much as I had covered in the way of researching my Beaton history; so I thought perhaps I’d better dig a bit deeper. Starting off in the usual way, with census records, I soon experienced déjà vu when I discovered, as I had with my x3 great grandfather John Ridout, that my x3 great grandfather John Beaton was not a Somerset man after all but had been baptised at St Nicholas’ church in Nether Compton, Dorset!

A Dorset genealogist, who some while ago made a comprehensive collection of Nether Compton records, shared the fruits of his research with me: John Beaton, a cordwainer (and later also a schoolteacher) was the son of John and Dinah (née CAREY), baptised in 1762. John’s father was baptised in 1732 to yet another John and his wife Betty (née TOOP). I was reasonably satisfied with my rapid Beaton ancestral fact finding and hadn’t really thought about exploring further – after all the last time I became involved with a ‘John somebody’ it took up over a decade of my life but this time I only wanted a bit of background material for a book chapter! However, it seemed expedient to at least enter some baptisms, marriages and burials into my records because they weren’t difficult to find: John, son of Robert and Mary Beaton baptised August 10th 1732 at Nether Compton. Robert Beaton married Mary BUGGIS (another wonderful surname) on the 22nd August 1727 at Over Compton. The couple had possibly as many as eleven children whose baptisms dominated the parish register at the time.

So much for all the usual records. Next I plundered some of my older sources. Loathe to be parted from a curmudgeonly old friend, when I bought a new computer last year I kept the previous one and wired them together so that they can run simultaneously (I did this because the old PC runs Windows Vista which means that I can still use old software on CD, like the Burial Index and British Isles Vital Records Index). Given that there is a chunk of Nether Compton parish records missing from the registers between the end of 1662 and 1692, I used the BVRI as my source.

If you have hours to waste, on a wet Sunday afternoon for example, I can recommend downloading a few pages of vital records and patiently putting them into different coloured family groups on a spreadsheet for entertainment. When I did this for the Beatons in Nether Compton and Over Compton I noticed that there weren’t that many family groups baptising children concurrently, possibly as few as two, one of which I knew was mine (highlighted in yellow).


BVRI baptisms for BEATON in the Comptons

However, the next source was possibly one of the most useful; the Dorset History Centre, at Dorchester has a very comprehensive online index to their holdings (also on the National Archives ‘Discovery‘). Having entered ‘BEATON’ I was rewarded with a fair few property leases and these can sometimes be a gold mine of information, for example:

(DHC D-YMB/3298 10 Nov 1701)

Marriage Settlement.

(1) Robert Beaton senior of Nether Compton, yeoman, his daughters Mary & Hester Beaton, spinsters, Benjamin Boone & Elizabeth his wife, another daughter of (1). (2) Robert Beaton, junior, John Clement of Chiselborough, Somt, clerk & Jeremiah Hayne of Yeovil, Somt, grocer. Lands (many field names) at Nether Compton. Mentioned: Sir George Horsey dec’d, Robert Beaton dec’d, Richard Childs, William Taylor, Robert & Thomas Master, Frances Clement, spinster, sister of John Clement. Witnesses: Thomas Clement, Thomas Hobbs.

Followed by:

(D-YMB/3299 11 Nov 1701)

Assignment of Lease. (1) John Clement of Chiselborough, Somerset, clerk (2) Robert Beaton, junior of Nether Compton, yeoman. Closes of pasture called Divehill & Foxmore (9½ac), Nether Compton. Mentioned: Paul Clement, clerk & Mary his wife, parents of (1), Frances Clement, sister of 1), Allen Cunnington, gent, Sir George Horsey. Witnesses: Benjamin Boone, Thomas Hobbs.

From these it is possible to deduce that a Robert Beaton (senior) was a yeoman, had three daughters, Mary, Hester and Elizabeth, (who married Benjamin BOONE on the 7th Jan 1700 at Thornford). Robert also had a son Robert Beaton (junior) who, it would appear, is about to marry Frances CLEMENT, daughter of Paul, clerk (in holy orders) and his wife Mary, sister of John Clement, a clerk. The Clergy Database shows that Paul was ordained in 1652 and was rector of Nether Compton from 1660 until he died in 1704.

And then:

D-YMB/3300 14 Apr 1722

Mortgage. (1) Robert Beaton of Nether Compton, yeoman (2) Valentine Weyfield of Sherborne, carpenter. Closes called Divehill (4½ac) & Foxmore (5ac), Nether Compton. Mentioned: Allen Cunnington, gent, John Beaton of Nether Compton, yeoman, Sir George Horsey dec’d, Paul Clement & Mary his wife, dec’d, their son John Clement of Chiselborough, Somerset, clerk, Richard Childes, William Taylor of Nether Compton, yeoman, Frances wife of (1) and sister of said John Clement. Witnesses: Robert Eyres, William Sampson.   

Robert Beaton is no longer ‘junior’, hence his father had probably died. Paul Clement and his wife have also both died. Frances, Robert’s wife is still living and this entry shows that her brother John was a rector at Chiselborough; whilst his father’s living as a rector in this parish is recorded, son John’s is not. There is a mention of John Beaton, obviously an adult since he is a yeoman, but without any explanation of who he was in relation to Robert.

D-YMB/3338A 17 Oct 1735

One-year Lease (in anticipation of Release). (1) Robert Beaton senior of Nether Compton, yeoman & Frances his wife & their son Robert Beaton junior, yeoman (3) John Townsend of Lyons Inn, Middx, gent. 7 cottages in Newland & 2 cottages in the churchyard, Sherborne, Barley Close (3ac), Snakewell (3½ac), Nether Compton. Mentioned: Hugh Greene dec’d, John Pitman, Mary Pitman widow. Witnesses: Samuel Moore, Samuel Way.

Robert Beaton has now added his wife Frances and son Robert as lives into a lease; the latter is a yeoman (he is now nearly 30yrs old). The properties, which were first mentioned in 1731, comprised seven cottages in Newlands, Sherborne and a further two in Sherborne Abbey churchyard. Then came another genealogical gift:

D-YMB/3340 17 Dec 1735

Mortgage. (1) Robert Beaton senior of Nether Compton, yeoman (2) John Prankerd of Sherborne, hosier. 7 cottages in Newland & 2 cottages in the churchyard, Sherborne, Barley Close (3ac), Cutthedge (2ac) at Compton Quarr, Hippingstock Field (½ac), Foxmoor (3½ac), Nether Compton, Brown’s Mead (8ac) in Trent. Mentioned: Hugh Green dec’d, John Pitman, Hugh Hodges dec’d, John Clement dec’d, Robert Beaton late father of (1), Henry Beaton, late grandfather of (1). Witnesses: Samuel Foot, Samuel Way.

Further properties are mentioned. Frances’ brother John has died. More importantly, not only is Robert’s late father Robert mentioned but also Robert’s late grandfather, named as Henry Beaton… my x9 great grandfather!

D-YMB/3343 5 Sep 1738

Further Mortgage. (1) Robert Beaton senior of Nether Compton, yeoman (2) John Prankerd of Sherborne, hosier. 7 cottages in Newland & 2 cottages in the churchyard, Sherborne, Barley Close (3ac), Cutthedge (2ac), Hippingstock Field (½ac), Foxmoor (3½ac), & tenement called Stalen Living, all in Nether Compton, Browne’s Mead (8ac), Trent, & Barbarrow (8ac). Mentioned: Hugh Hodges dec’d, John Clement dec’d, Frances Beaton dec’d wife of (1) & Robert Beaton their son, Nicholas Hillary dec’d, John Russell of Bradford Abbas, linen weaver. Witnesses: Samuel Way, Thomas Arnold. 

Sadly, Robert’s wife Frances has died (she was buried on the 2nd July 1737 at Nether Compton)

D-YMB/3346 19 May 1740

Assignment of Mortgage. (1) John Prankerd of Sherborne, hosier (2) Robert Beaton of Nether Compton, yeoman (3) John Bastard of Blandford Forum, cabinet maker. For mortgaged properties see D-YMB/3340 & 3343. Mentioned: Robert Beaton dec’d, father of (2) & Frances his dec’d wife, Martha Clement of Hardington, Somerset, widow of John Clement, John Russell of Bradford Abbas, linen weaver, Nicholas Hillary dec’d, Charles Martin of Stalen, William Gould junior & Elizabeth his wife, James Sugg & Mary his wife, & others. Witnesses: Samuel Foot, John Yeatman.

This lease shows that now Robert Beaton ‘senior’ is no more (Robert was buried at Nether Compton 28th August 1739).

So now I have some knowledge of several generations of my family; my superficial research has taken me back from my grandmother Elsie, to her blacksmith father William Henry (Harry) son of tailor Robert John, who was son of cordwainer John, who was son of John (and Dinah Carey), who was son of John (and Betty Toop), who was son of Robert (and Mary Buggis).  Next I had a line which started with Henry Beaton, father of Robert a yeoman (and Dorothy MASTERS), who was father of Robert a yeoman (and Frances Clement). It was a short step to link the two lines together since the Robert, at the end of the first line, is almost certainly the son of the man at the end of the second i.e. Robert Beaton,  who was baptised on the 4th March 1706 in Nether Compton to Robert and Frances, was the same man who married Mary Buggis at the age of twenty-one. No doubt in the next few years I’ll spend a considerable time in investigating this part of my family more thoroughly but thought it best for now to present here what I believe is a line of succession of my Beaton forebears, from seven generations in Nether Compton and one in North Cadbury to at least two in Bath:


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6 Responses to The Beatons of Somer… no – Dorset!

  1. Fantastic winkling out and it is great to find someone else with connections to Nether and Over Compton.

    • Prevaricat says:

      Thanks Barbara… ‘winkling’ isn’t just for rock pools it seems 🙂 That DHC index is invaluable as it gives so much information and all for free! I look forward to a whistle stop tour of the Comptons in August… K

  2. Wow! You won’t have much trouble chasing down Mary with a name like “Buggis.” My wife is a “Miller,” so, good luck finding her lot on the “Free-BMD,” eh? [There are tens of thousands of them.]

  3. barrybrock says:

    Nice one Karen – don’t you just love property deeds!

    • Prevaricat says:

      Hi Barry… thanks and yes, I do indeed love those property leases… to think that one can put several generations of a family together so easily; almost as good as wills, my second favourite!

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