As I suspected, 2nd January was not the most popular day of the year for visitors to Berkshire Record Office, but that was a plus point as far as we were concerned for our first visit to that establishment. Despite having had very little sleep due to continually coughing at night, we set off for Reading bright and early and had a straightforward journey. No doubt the car park gets a lot busier on more popular days, but it was definitely a plus to be able to park on site. Once inside the modern premises we found the usual lockers and friendly receptionist.
I had realised some time ago that a trip to Reading would be needed in order to make any progress with the Hunt family of Windsor since those parish records did not seem to have made an appearance online anywhere. And which Windsor was also a question to be answered, since there is both Old and New Windsor.
My Great Great Grandmother Mary Ann Hunt had married James Mayne in Old Windsor on 25 Aug 1839 and her father was William. This much I had already established. I also had strong reason to believe that she had a brother called William – her eldest son Thomas Mayne (the French Polisher, of whom I have already written) was staying/living with an Esther Hunt and family in Hackney in 1861 and described as a nephew.
After extensive research on the Hackney Hunt family, I have now been able to establish that William and Elizabeth Hunt baptized their son William Edmund in Islington on 16 Jan 1842. Elizabeth had died by the time of the 1851 census, leaving the Williams father and son living alone with William senior working as a ‘messenger at money order office’ and helpfully giving Windsor as his place of birth. He then subsequently married Esther (a possible marriage in March Q 1852), moved to Holly Street Hackney, and they had daughters Mary, Martha Edith and Esther Louiza before William died in Sept 1868. The Probate Index describes him as a ‘Superannuated Messenger in Her Majesty’s Post Office’. For a long time I searched for William in 1861, since he was not at home in Hackney on census night, before eventually tracking him down with a brother John Hunt (shopkeeper and beerseller, born Windsor) in Wraysbury.
Now Mary Ann Hunt and James Mayne had 4 sons and two daughters Elizabeth and Charlotte. Elizabeth is my great grandmother. I knew that Charlotte had also married a Hunt, and it turns out this was her cousin William Edmund. The marriage entry in 1875 gives her father as ‘William Hunt, deceased, Civil Servant’. Together with their growing family, they lived with Esther Hunt in Holly Street after she was widowed.
So….that’s the background. Back to Berkshire Record Office where they had returned to work after their Christmas break to find the heating not working, so portable heaters were wheeled into the research area!
We set to work with the transcriptions. It looked as though both Mary Ann and brother William could have been born around 1808 judging by the census information. No luck with Saints Peter and Andrew Old Windsor. But New Windsor came up trumps: 22 May 1808 Mary Ann Hunt daughter of William and Mary. And an identical date entry for William. Now this is not conclusive, but a similar entry of siblings gave the actual dates of birth, so, coupled with the ages deduced from censuses, this does rather point to Mary Ann and William being twins.
The microfiche of the actual baptism entry added no new information, but two more siblings were found – John Hunt in May 1813 (date ties in nicely with the John in Wraysbury) and Ann in Aug 1815.
At this point don’t you just pray that you have a family who stuck around in one place to be able to trace them further back? But no, not in this case it seems. We drew a blank on a marriage for parents William and Mary either in Windsor or in surrounding parishes and were unable to find either a marriage or a burial for Ann. Burials for William and Mary were not very conclusive either, so all of that needs more work another time. The fact that Windsor is so close to both the Buckinghamshire and Surrey borders does make it more problematic!
Now what I didn’t say earlier was that Mary Ann and James’ daughters Elizabeth and Charlotte were also twins. Well I never! So Mary Ann had twin daughters and she herself was probably a twin. But there’s more! Elizabeth, my great grandmother, had not one but two sets of twins!! She married David George in 1873 and, following the birth of their daughter Mary in 1875, she had my granddad Alfred and his twin sister Alice in 1878 and then Robert and twin sister Kate in 1882. However did she manage?!
So do twins run in families? Well this rather points to it. Some googling of this question has led me to the information that having fraternal twins in a mother’s family (ie non identical twins) may double the chances of conceiving fraternal twins. Fraternal twins are from two separate eggs whereas identical twins are from one egg. A particular gene predisposes some women to “hyperovulation,” or releasing more than one egg during a menstrual cycle .
The run of twins in my family stopped at that point, but I’m rather proud of the new-found information that my grandfather, his mother and his grandmother were all twins!
Happy New Year!
PS In looking for the above photo of my granddad I read again the accompanying article from the Croydon Advertiser. It just goes to show that you need to make careful note of the information you already have – the final sentence of the article reads “Their mother was a twin and so was her mother”.