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Rowley Purser.    An Unlucky Man.

Rowley Purser and his twin brother John were both born in 1731 in the Bedfordshire village of Oakley. John presumably did not live for long as there is no further mention of him after their baptism on 21 November 1731. As was popular at the time his parents Oliver Purser and Elizabeth Pell had recycled the name John, their first child called John having died in 1727 aged just 2.


The Pursers were a large family, by the time Rowley was born he already had 2 brothers and 2 sisters and another brother John planted in the Churchyard. Over the next six years he gained a further two brothers and a sister though one of the brothers died in infancy.

In 1757 Rowley married Elizabeth Gealing from the neighbouring village of Pavenham, where they set up home and started on their own family.

Their first child John was born on the  2nd September 1759. Sadly he only survived 3 days dying on Sept 5th. Fortunately they had been able to get him baptised on the day of his birth. John doesn't seem to be a name that works well for this branch of the Pursers for some reason.

Their next child Mary did rather better, she was born in 1763, lived to adulthood and married John Roberts in 1785. So far as I can see they had no children and Mary died in 1802 age just 39.

After Mary they had another go at a John, this time with a bit more success. This John lived until he was 63 having a family of his own.

Next came Ann, born in 1770 Ann was another child who did not trouble her parents for long. She did a bit better than John but she died at 12 days old.

Their next attempt was another girl so they recycled the name calling her Ann. Born in 1773 this poor little thing only lasted 2 days.


Their vicar must by then have got used to the routine of waiting for Elizabeth's labour to finish then legging it around to Chez Purser to get the child baptised before it pegged out.


This was actually a big deal back then. As I understand it if a child died before it could be baptised, then it was not part of the church and could never go to heaven.  This seems a little harsh, after all it is not exactly the baby's fault ! I understand that at some later time God changed his mind on this one, and the gatekeeper has been instructed to admit blameless babes, baptised or not.

So after being married for 16 years of their five live-born children, two are  alive. Just in case Rowley felt that whilst this was tough, he could live with it, six weeks after burying the second Ann, his wife Elizabeth died too. She died of Puerperal fever, the consequence of childbearing.

Rowley re-married Sarah Foot, they had five children the first 3 survived the last two , twins Oliver & Rowley born October 1789, buried together November 7th 1789.  These were their last children, Sarah died in 1797 Rowley survived her by another 18 years dying himself in 1815.

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