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Marie Harris (c1579-c1620)

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Marie Harris
Sex: Female
Baptism: c1579 Ashford, Devon, England
Father: James Harris?
Mother: Marie?
Spouse/Partner: George Underdowne
Marriage: 23/11/1601, Ottery St Mary, Devon

George Underdowne and Marie Harris are the root ancestors for this Devon Underdown line. Although the connection between them and my undisputed 6x great-grandfather (Thomas Underdown baptized 1674) is currently tenuous due to missing information, it is believed that they are the official “granfer and grammer” from whom our story begins.

Marie may have been born in 1579 in Ashford to James and Marie Harries, but we do not have proof at this stage.

MarriageEdit

Marie married George Underdowne at the parish church in Ottery St Mary on the 23rd November 1601.

The reason George and Marie’s marriage was recorded was that in 1538, following the split with Rome, the vicar general Thomas Cromwell from the court of Henry VIII, ordered that every wedding, burial and baptism was to be recorded. A fine was to be levied for failure to comply, but many parishes ignored the order, believing it to be a forerunner of a new tax. The order was ignored so much that it was repeated in 1547 with an instruction that fine was to go to the relief of the poor. This idea fell down during the period between 1553 and 1558 when Queen Mary was on the throne, resulting in many gaps in the register. It did not properly resurrect itself until 1597, when parchment was use instead of paper and a second copy of the records had to made and sent to the bishop. This was only four years before George and Marie’s marriage, and therefore we know of its existence, on the 23rd November 1601 in Ottery St Mary.

Ottery St MaryEdit

Domesday records the Ottery hundred in 1086 as having "land for 46 ploughs" which equates to around 4600 acres of arable land, about half of which would be active in any one year. There was also substantial pasture, meadow, woodland and waste (common land). Ottery's (town) population at this time would have been around 250, and the parish as a whole stood at about 1000. This had doubled by the middle of the 14th century, after which the black death reduced it to pre conquest level, and population figures remained depressed until the late 18th century when the parish once again contained just over 2000 people. This means that that during George and Marie’s time, the population was probably approximately 1000 people.

The town lived by trade, particularly in wool and lace, but in the 16th century those industries declined, and the College was also lost in the dissolution, leaving Ottery as a quiet market town, keeping its head above water by providing goods and services to the parish's large agricultural hinterland. George’s occupation was labourer, probably working on one of the farms surrounding the area.

It was during George’s time in the town that the tradition of ‘barrel rolling’ began, and he may have been witness to it. On the 5th November 1605, Guy Fawkes had tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London, and the tradition of Guy Fawkes Day was begun. Ottery St Mary created a very unique method of celebrating the day, called the flaming tar barrels. The West Country has a history of torchlight processions and burning barrels and Ottery was only one of the many towns and villages following an annual tradition containing barrels which were rolled in the streets on November 5th each year. Somewhere along the line someone decided rolling was tame and carrying the lighted barrels of tar on your shoulders was far more appealing. This event is still celebrated in Ottery today and now Ottery is the only town in the country carrying full sized lighted tar barrels through the streets.

ChildrenEdit

George and Marie Underdowne had five known children, all baptized in Ottery St Mary – Alice in 1602, Johan in 1604, Robert in 1606, Margaret in 1608 and Thomas in 1610.

Death of DaughterEdit

George’s daughter Margaret was buried at Ottery St Mary on 15th December 1608. Her cause of death is unknown, but it appears it may have been an infectious condition that was then passed on to her father.

Death of husbandEdit

Husband George died and was buried at Ottery St Mary on 15th January 1609, only one month after his daughter’s burial. He would have been aged approximately 40 years. The burial record is interesting in that it records his occupation as labourer.

Last child born posthumusEdit

Marie was pregnant at George’s death and he did not witness the birth of his last child, Thomas. The baptism record for his youngest son Thomas states ‘posthumus’ in brackets after George’s name, indicating that George was dead by the time.

DeathEdit

No burial record for Marie has been located at this time.

Name Birth Death


Alice 31/10/1602
Ottery St Mary, Devon


Johan 23/06/1604
Ottery St Mary, Devon


Robert 16/03/1606
Ottery St Mary, Devon


Margaret 24/06/1608
Ottery St Mary, Devon


Thomas 24/02/1610
Ottery St Mary, Devon

ReferencesEdit

  • "Recorded Details on the Underdown Families in England", by Peter Underdown, South Australia, 1990
  • "England, Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/J9ST-G4W : accessed 23 Dec 2012), Alce Underdowne, 31 Oct 1602; citing OTTERY SAINT MARY,DEVON,ENGLAND, reference ; FHL microfilm 0962974, 0962975.
  • "England, Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/J3V8-HYK : accessed 23 Dec 2012), Johan Underdowne, 23 Jun 1604; citing OTTERY SAINT MARY,DEVON,ENGLAND, reference ; FHL microfilm 0962974, 0962975.
  • "England, Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JWK3-NMY : accessed 23 Dec 2012), Robert Underdowne, 16 Mar 1606; citing OTTERY SAINT MARY,DEVON,ENGLAND, reference ; FHL microfilm 0962974, 0962975.
  • "England, Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/J9ST-254 : accessed 23 Dec 2012), Margaret Underdowne, 24 Jun 1608; citing OTTERY SAINT MARY,DEVON,ENGLAND, reference ; FHL microfilm 0962974, 0962975.
  • "England, Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/J9ST-GB6 : accessed 23 Dec 2012), Thomas Underdowne, 24 Feb 1610; citing OTTERY SAINT MARY,DEVON,ENGLAND, reference ; FHL microfilm 0962974, 0962975.

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