The Quaker Connection

Quaker places in Norfolk 1654 – 1982 A finding aid held at the Norfolk Record Office.Quaker places in Norfolk 1654 – 1982 A finding aid held at the Norfolk Record Office.

On the 26th of November 1761 Daniel ALDIS and Mary DIX married. The ceremony took place, according to Quaker tradition, in the Tivetshall Meeting House, Norfolk, and was witnessed by the following: Chas. Barritt, Cornelius Barritt, Francis Freshfield, Rob’t Seaman, Eliza. Seaman, Mary Ransom, Sarah Barritt, Elizabeth Loll (?), Caleb Colby sen., Caleb Colby, John Harrison, Wm. Blickly (?), Isaac Jax(?), Rob Myer, John Smith, Hannah Colby, Mary Harrison, Hannah Jex, Elizabeth Holmes, Mary Seaman, Ann Hart, Sam’l Seaman, Benj’nFincham, Robert Dix, George Aldis, Robert Dix Juner, Robert Holmes, Winefred Holmes, Sarah Wiffen. Daniel and Mary had 22 children between 1763 and 1783, of whom 17 survived, including “George Aldis, born in Malden in Essex, in the second day on the First Month One thousand seven hundred and sixty three between 11 and 12 o’clock in the Evening on the first day of the week.” Similarly detailed notes describe the births of Robert in Moulton, Norfolk, in 1764, Francis in Aslacton in 1766, Sarah also in Aslacton in 1767, and “James Aldis born in Aslacton in Norfolk in the Seventh day of the first month one Thousand Seven hundred and Sixty Nine between four and five O’Clock in the morning in the seventh day of the Week”.

A finding aid held at the Norfolk Record Office.A finding aid held at the Norfolk Record Office.

Daniel ALDIS was a surgeon, as were several of his children, and he died in Dickleburgh, Norfolk, on the 20th of June 1799, aged 68; he was buried at Tivetshall Quaker Burial Ground on the 27th of June. His wife Mary, in addition to her extraordinary child-bearing, was leader of the women’s section at Tivetshall Meeting House; she also was buried at Tivetshall on the 9th of November 1823, aged 84, having died at Dickleburgh on the 5th of November.

Among the marriage witnesses were Mary’s father Robert, her brother Robert, and Hannah DIX who might have been her sister or sister-in-law since brother Robert was married to a Hannah. Mary DIX was born the 18th of September 1738 in Ellingham, Norfolk. She was the daughter of Robert DIX (1714-1775) and his wife Mary (their marriage registration seems not to have survived). Robert’s Will was executed by son Robert and Robert SEAMAN. Daughter Mary has siblings Hannah (b. 16 December 1740), Sarah (16 February 1743), Robert (b. 8 May 1745), Rachel (b. 24 June 1747), Francis (b. 21 June 1749), James (b. 30 June 1752), Elizabeth (b. 13 June 1754), and Margaret (b. 17 August 1756). So Mary was born into a large family and, in her turn, became the matriarch of a quite exceptional family. Mary’s grandparents were also a Robert and Mary DIX; Robert, born the 19th of July 1676 in Great Ellingham of the Norwich Quaker MM, died in June 1713; and he was the son of Francis DIX, yeoman of Great Ellingham, and Winifred OAKLEY (née HEATH) who married the 13th of September 1672 as widower and widow. Francis died in April/June 1679, his Will dated the 8th of April 1679 being executed by his wife Winifred. The only ALDIS witness was George, who was not Daniel’s father, but probably his brother George (c.1725- 1767) of Stratton St. Mary. George’s Will, proved the 13th of April 1767, is a crucial document in establishing the identity of this elusive family, because it names his siblings, Benjamin, Andrew, Joseph, Daniel and Sarah, along with Sarah’s four daughters (Hannah, Susanna, Sarah, Mary), Daniel’s first three sons (George, Robert, Francis), and Andrew’s daughters (Hannah, Susanna). Daniel is George’s named executor.

So who was the father of these five sons and one daughter? Family historians have sought Daniel’s parentage without success for many years. What here follows later cannot be regarded as definitive because it lacks certain documentary evidence; but that it is plausible, even compelling, is also the verdict of other distinguished researchers like the late Douglas E. Aldous and, more significantly perhaps, a professional archivist I consulted who helped assemble the case and who was able to view it dispassionately. Little is known, moreover, of Mary DIX’s origins beyond her father, a Tivetshall farmer, whose obituary speaks of a man who apparently led a model life: “Robert Dix of Tivetshall, who died the 8th of the 8th month 1775, and was buried the 12th of the same at Tivetshall aged 61 years. He had for many years borne a short but lively Testimony to Purity and Peace of the Gospel of Christ which he enforced by an Upright, Inoffensive, benevolent Deportment in Life, fulfilling the duties of an Husband, Father, Master and Friend with great esteem; and we believe he lived and died in peace”. It is an irony to be explored by this narrative that we know so little before Daniel and Mary, and so much after them!

Daniel was the son of Andrew ALDIS and his first wife, Hannah ELLINGTON. It follows, therefore, that Daniel’s four brothers and one sister were also the children of Andrew and Hannah, since he had no children by his second and third wives, Elizabeth GREENGRASS and Mary COCK. The survival of Quaker records is patchy, but there is sufficient surviving evidence from both Suffolk and Norfolk to establish beyond reasonable doubt the firm intention to marry of Andrew ALDIS and Hannah ELLINGTON. Mildenhall in Suffolk was part of the Mendlesham Monthly Meeting representing places such as Beyton, Bacton, Woolpit, Barningham, in addition to Mendlesham, Mildenhall and Bury. The Minute Book records “a monthly meeting held at Bury on 17 6m 1713. Samuel Atkins and John Kinsey were desired to enquire after the clearness in the case of marriage and also orderly conversation of Andrew Aldis and Hannah Ellington and make report at the next meeting”. The meeting also called upon Andrew ALDIS “for a certificate from his parents”. Sadly, the latter are not named, nor their parish, the significance of which will become clear later. At the same time the “Tivetshall monthly meeting 13th of the 6th month 1713 came Andrew Alldis of Wooting in the County of Norfolk singleman and declared his intention of taking Hannah Ellington of Mildinghall in the County of Suffolk to be his wife and requested a Certificate next monthly meeting. This meeting nominates and appoints Charles Barritt Senior and Stephen Turriell to inspect into his clearness and bring reports to the next monthly meeting. Answered”. In 1713 the 6th month would have been August, not June; and the final word Answered of the minute confirms the legal clearness of the couple to marry elsewhere since a certificate was produced. There being no parish of Wooting in Norfolk, it is assumed to be Woodton (neighbouring Topcroft) with which Andrew is associated.