The Carpenter from Woodbridge in Suffolk

John Carr is listed in his marriage Banns as coming from the growing town of Woodbridge in the county of Suffolk. He was born in the year 1752 and he was a Master Carpenter by trade. However, to date we are unable to find a baptism record for him in Woodbridge, so it is quite possible that he came to the town from elsewhere. 

On the 10th August 1773 at the age of 21, he married Hannah York who was born in 1751, at the parish church of Great Bealings in Suffolk. This village is to the east of Ipswich in a rural area and is still a small settlement today. Being close to Ipswich, it does seem to have become a commuter community for the 'Chelsea Tractor' and BMW driving middle classes of the city, a far cry from its past origins as an agricultural settlement.

Entering the village of Great Bealings, Suffolk

Parish records can provide lots of valuable information apart from the obvious. In the case of John and Hannah, it tells us that they were both illiterate, as they were only able to make their mark on the official register, their names being written in by the clergyman. Illiteracy was not in the least unusual in the 18th century.

John and Hannah went on to have 11 children, although not all of them survived of course. Back in those times infant mortality was far higher than it is today, as was the incidence of women dying in childbirth from various complications.

John died in Great Bealings in 1844 at the grand old age of 92. Longevity appears to run in the Carr genetic line as many of my Carr forebears have lived long and full lives. His wife Hannah passed away on the 6th August 1819 at the age of 68, a very good age for those times.

The Wedding entry in Great Bealings parish records for John Carr and Hannah York

The Parish Church in Great Bealings where John & Hannah were married and where they are buried

The year that John was born, 1752, is of great significance, as it was the year when Great Britain changed from the Gregorian Calendar to the Julian Calendar. This change was as a result of an Act of Parliament - the 'Calendar Act' of 1751 An Act for Regulating the Commencement of the Year; and for Correcting the Calendar now in Use.

What isn't so widely known is a second change which the Act introduced - as named in the first part of the Act's title. The Act changed the first day of the year.

Prior to 1752 in England, the year began on 25 March (Lady Day). Lady Day is one of the Quarter Days, which are still used in legal circles. The Quarter Days divide the year in quarters (hence the name :-), and the Quarter Days are: Lady Day (25 March), Midsummers Day (24 June), Michaelmas Day (29 September), and Christmas Day (25 December).

So, in England, the day after 24 March 1642 was 25 March 1643. The Act changed this, so that the day after 31 December 1751 was 1 January 1752. As a consequence, 1751 was a short year - it ran only from 25 March to 31 December.

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ęCopyright - James of Glencarr