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Adams in Dorset and Wiltshire

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Introduction

This page is devoted to the ADAMS ancestors of my mother - the origins of the name, who they were and where and when they lived.

The genealogical data in these pages is accurate to the best of my current (at the time of writing) knowledge. This means it is of very variable reliability, since sources at one extreme are 100% certain (e.g. I know who I married, where and when, and the identity of my parents) to the mere rumour level, such as LDS data extracted from the IGI and Ancestral File, and reminiscences of elderly relatives, some now deceased. Anyone wishing to make any use whatever of this information is therefore strongly advised to contact me for source details.

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Origins of the name

The surname Adams appears to be derived from the meaning "son of Adam". Adam itself is of Hebrew origin, initially as a given name, with two possible meanings. According to some researchers, it means red, and refers to the colour of the person's skin. Other researchers say it is from the Hebrew word adama, meaning earth, possibly originally a reference, linked to the biblical Genesis story, to the Greek legend that Zeus created the first humans from earth.

The name was mentioned in the Domesday Book, compiled in 1086. It was a very popular given name throughout Europe in the Middle Ages.

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Variants of the name

There is a large number of variants and derivative names in use, including many diminutive forms, but none have yet appeared in my own ancestry. English variants listed in Hanks & Hodges "A Dictionary of Surnames" are ADDAMS, ADHAMS and ADAMSON, with ABADAM and BADDAMS in Wales and MCADAM in Ireland and Scotland. I have found the spelling ADMES in a local Swindon, Wiltshire census for a man who was recorded as ADDAMS the previous year (his occupation changed at the same time from "butcher" to "boocher"!), and in Winterborne Zelston, Dorset parish registers I have come across ADDAMES and ADAMES.

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Adams in Wiltshire

Sarah Ann Adams (1876-1968)

Photo of Sarah Ann ADAMS in 1928 Click to see a larger image (15,050 bytes) of this photo, taken November 1928.

 

 

My maternal grandmother was known before marriage as Sarah Ann Adams, but in fact I have discovered that she was born before her parents' marriage, so her birth certificate records her surname as REED. She was born in Old Road, Wimborne, Dorset on 2nd April 1876. On 29th January 1894 she married Walter Ernest MORGAN at


St. George's Church
, West Harnham (photo 99,538 bytes)

which is a village just outside Salisbury. It must have been shortly (or immediately) after this that they moved to 71 Winifred Street, Swindon, where they lived for the remainder of their lives.

I remember her as a short, rather plump, elderly lady whom I enjoyed visiting, normally weekly with my mother and younger brother, as a child.

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(Frederick) John Adams (1856-1924)

West Harnham cottage Her father was (Frederick) John Adams, an agricultural labourer from Dorset. After marrying Rebecca Mary REED in Wimborne, he moved with her (after a short stay in Christchurch) to a picturesque cottage in West Harnham, where they remained and brought up their children. The cottage is described in more detail on my West Harnham page, but this photo (41,229 bytes) shows what it looked like when I visited in 1986.

 

According to a family bible, which I was allowed to inspect in 1981 (my thanks to Mrs. A. West), and from which I transcribed all the family history information, they had a total of 9 children:

The 1881 census for West Harnham shows only the first two children of course, but it is interesting to note that it gives the second one's name as Emma M., and gives her age as 2 years (2 months before her second birthday), and says she was born in Christchurch. It also records that John Adams was then a dairyman, and his wife a housekeeper. It also wrongly states that they were both born in Wimborne.

The first two children were in fact named after their grandmothers, Sarah CHERRETT (paternal) and Marina WILLS (maternal).

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Elizabeth Adams (abt 1840-1869)
Not a direct ancestor, and probably quite unrelated to those mentioned above, was the Elizabeth Adams of Little Hinton (= Hinton Parva), who married my paternal great grandfather James FOX in Little Hinton in March 1864. My grandfather was a member of James's second family, raised in Wanborough after Elizabeth's early death (age 29), which occurred in late 1869. Her children are mentioned on my FOX page.

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Other unrelated Adams records in Wiltshire
I have listed on a separate page transcripts of other Adams records in Wiltshire that I have come across, in case they may be of use to other researchers looking at this page.

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Adams in Dorset

(Frederick) John Adams (1856-1924)
I have mentioned above my great grandfather (Frederick) John Adams, who moved with his family to West Harnham, Wilts. He was born at West End, Tarrant Crawford, Dorset, on 16th May 1856. He and his wife have presented me with a number of problems, one of which is his correct name. On my grandmother's marriage certificate he, as bride's father, is named as Frederick John Adams, but on his own birth and marriage certificates, in both the 1861 and 1881 censuses and in a family bible, he is recorded as just John Adams, which seems more likely to be correct. The family bible records that he died in 1924.

On 14th August 1877 he married Rebecca Mary REED at the registrar's office in Wimborne. There is a number of unusual aspects to this marriage which lead me to suspect that the couple eloped. The prime cause for suspicion is that she was only 18 years old at the time, which meant that she needed her parent's consent to marry, but the marriage certificate states wrongly that she was aged 22, and that he was 23, avoiding the need for consent. Secondly, the fact that the marriage took place in Wimborne, while his family were from Tarrant Crawford and hers from Maiden Newton. Thirdly, the marriage took place in the registrar's office, rather than in church, a highly unusual occurrence in those days, especially for agricultural labourers. Fourthly, not necessarily significant in itself, the fact that neither of the witnesses to the marriage appeared to be a member of either family. Finally, again not strong evidence in itself, the fact that they had already produced one child 16 months earlier, suggesting strong opposition to the marriage by her parents, who one might have expected to have insisted on it prior to the birth.

The family bible referred to above wrongly gives the date of this marriage as 1875, presumably in an attempt to hide my grandmother's illegitimacy. It also wrongly gives John's date of birth as 1866, but implies that Rebecca Mary married at age 16 by giving her correct date of birth.

Wimborne The Wimborne registrar at that time appears to have been quite a character. He practised as a solicitor, and held office as Inspector of Nuisances, as well as being registrar, and used a room in his home as his office for all these purposes. This photo (51,761 bytes) shows what it looked like in August 1998. My thanks to the staff at Priory Museum, Wimborne, for helping me find the house and providing the background information.

 

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Frederick Adams (abt 1834-?)
(Frederick) John Adams' father was Frederick Adams, an agricultural labourer who was born in Winterbourne Zelston, Dorset about 1834. He married Sarah CHERRETT, who was 13 years his senior, in Tarrant Crawford parish church on 20th August 1854. Unlike his son 22 years later, he was unable to sign his name in the marriage register. The couple remained in Tarrant Crawford to raise their family, and as far as I know spent the rest of their lives there. The 1861 census shows them with two children, Jane aged 6 and John aged 4. The address in the census is, interestingly, given as Tarrant Abbey, Tarrant Crawford, which must mean either Abbey Farm or one of a group of houses, no longer existing, adjacent to it, since the abbey itself was destroyed long before as a result of the dissolution of monasteries ordered by Henry VIII.

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Benjamin Adams (1793-?)
Frederick Adams was the son of Benjamin Adams, who was also an agricultural labourer. He was baptised in Winterbourne Zelston on 1st October 1793, a date which corresponds with his age given in the 1851 census. The parish record of his baptism shows his parents were Jacob and Hannah Adams. On 22nd October 1812 he married Sarah BOLTON at Winterbourne Zelston parish church. The 1851 census shows them with three children:

Also recorded is George, age 4, their grandson, born Portsmouth. Presumably either Susanna or Mary was his mother.

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Jacob Adams
Jacob Adams married Hannah Bellowes at Blandford St. Mary on 13th April 1789. I know nothing at present of any other children they may have had.

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Other unrelated Adams records in Dorset
I have listed on a separate page Empty pagetranscripts of other Adams records in Dorset that I have come across, in case they may be of use to other researchers looking at this page.

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