A happy day at Norfolk Record Office

056 East Dereham Church, font
The font at East Dereham Church

David George.

With a name like that you’d think he’d be Welsh, wouldn’t you? But no – he comes from East Dereham in Norfolk! My research into the George surname has been stuck with David for decades. I have been unable to find a baptism for him. I have my suspicions as to his parents, but no proof.

This summer we had the opportunity to spend some time doing family history in Norfolk. My husband had research of his own on the Muskett family to pursue, too.
Day one was spent at Norfolk Record Office. The last time we visited this Record Office was about 1991, before the devastating fire. I don’t remember a vast deal about it, but what a great place it is now, adjacent to County Hall! Easy, free parking, nice little room in which to have your sandwiches at lunchtime, nice loos and very helpful and friendly staff.

Unlike some Record Offices I’ve visited recently, the website is helpful (even a little video to help new users find their way!) http://www.archives.norfolk.gov.uk/ and from there I’d been able to make a note of document references to look at.

But would I be able to find the elusive David George baptism?

I knew that previously I had looked at the East Dereham transcript, but didn’t think I’d looked at the microfilm of the actual register before (how I now appreciate the importance of meticulous record keeping!). Mircrofilm technology has moved on too – it took me a while to realise that there was a button to press to scroll through the film and you no longer had to do it all manually!

So, MF 701/3 it was, but oh how hard to read! Maybe the original document is slightly easier to decipher, but I take my hat off to those who transcribed this volume. The earliest George I could make out with any degree of certaintly was a Thomas baptised in 1707, the son of Astey and Elizabeth George (Astey? What sort of name is that?), but ……absolutely no sign of David being baptised around 1786, give or take quite a bit.

I have to say that I was not surprised not to find him, but it’s still disappointing not to be able to make that breakthrough.

I have my suspicions: John and Ann George were having children baptised at around the right time, starting with twins in 1777. There is a burial entry for a David George, son of John and Ann, in December 1784. There is no baptism entry for this child either. The fact that they had a son called David at around about the right time when David did not seem to be a popular East Dereham name, contributes to my theory that this is the right family. Also, a John and a Sarah George witnessed David’s marriage in 1806. John and Ann had a Sarah baptised in 1788 and a John in 1790 who both survived childhood.
But absolutely no proof, so I remain stuck.

However, the day spent at Norfolk Record Office was still very productive: I found the baptism of David’s wife Elizabeth in Yaxham in 1781, and filled in details for a number of their children. I found some Gressenhall burials, and some East Bilney baptisms and had a little look at some eighteenth century Overseers accounts where Astey, grandson of the previous Astey, is named as an overseer.

I need to think laterally to work round this particular brick wall!