Tenbald Suxpitch Stogdon

No, I didn’t make this name up… Quite frankly I don’t think I could if I tried!

Tenbald (b.1858) is one of those curious instances of being the only sibling with an unusual name. I’ve found that normally if parents have named one child something more imaginative, there are at least one or two other similar names, quite often along the same lines, such as all named after flowers, or all Puritan names, like Chastity, Faithful, Noble etc. His siblings, however, were two girls named Jane and Frances. Suxpitch is easier to explain – His father was Thomas Robert Suxpitch Stogdon, Thomas’s mother was Margery Suxpitch.

So I tried to find a precedence for Tenbald’s name – Yet there were no Tenbalds anywhere, surnames or otherwise, in the family. Infact, Tenbald seems to bear the remarkable quality of being, to this day, an entirely unique name. Which means even if didn’t make it up – it seems someone did! I don’t know why this surprises me so much, because I suppose all names had to be made up from somewhere, it just seems a bit late in the day to be doing so, and unfortunately Tenbald doesn’t seem to have caught on. Maybe I’ll add it to my list of future sprogs names and try to revive it…


the Stogdon’s were farmers. They owned a large farm which they sold in 1801, but they continued to own, and rent, farmland in Woodbury, Devon. In fact the patch they owned and farmed according to the 1839 Tithe maps is, thankfully in my opinion, still farmland – http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=woodbury,+devon&hl=en&ll=50.680848,-3.409452&spn=0.007125,0.021136&hnear=Woodbury,+Devon,+United+Kingdom&gl=uk&t=w&z=16

Tenbald however moves a few miles away to Burlescombe, Somerset. I’ve tried in vain to fin him in the 1881 census (probably something to do with him being transcribed as Tenball, Teubald and Tinbalt Z, among other things!), so I’m unsure as to when exactly the move happened, but the farm he moved to is now a dairy farm, so perhaps it was then, too.

Either way, some time between 1895 and 1901 he gets himself a Housekeeper, Lucy Taverner. She is from a little village near Woodbury, so she probably heard about the job through word of mouth… Perhaps she took it because she’d always had a soft spot for him, because in 1902, Miss Lucy Taverner, almost 20 years Tenbald’s junior, becomes Mrs Lucy Stogdon! In such situations (at least in my family tree) a very short pregnancy of 4 to 6 months inevitably follows… but in this case there’s a very respectable year between the marriage and first birth of baby Sophia Margery being registered. 🙂

They had another 6 children over the next 9 years, Irene May, Winifred Maud, and Gladys Suxpitch, Stanley S(uxpitch?), Audrey M, and Gwendoline H, at a rate of nearly one child a year at one point – poor Lucy! Let’s hope it was a mutual attraction that led to so many children in such quick succession.. 😀

Something of note is that on the 1911 census, Tenbald’s Occupation is listed (in the transcribed version, I have not seen the original) as ‘Assistant Overseer of the Poor’. Now, Overseer’s of the Poor were largely done away with in favour of Boards of Guardians in 1834, and yet here we have Tenbald, an assistant overseer, implying there was more than one! Perhaps this is explained by him being one of the board, and a possible landowner in the (reasonably unpopulated) area, but it’s still quite unusual to see that, and I wonder if he was still farming at the same time. Something else I noticed is that in the 1911 census Lucy is made 5 years older, and Tenbald a year or teo younger – perhaps to avoid comment on the age difference, although it’s not the largest I’ve seen, added with the fact that she had once been in his employ perhaps they just thought it’d make their lives easier if they fibbed.

Tenbald sadly died in 1934 (Lucy outlives him by 20 years), at a reasonably good age of 76, and I was pleasantly surprised to see he had a viewable Will. It seems it was something the whole family did, his 3 maiden/spinster aunts all had Wills, leaving their money to the next maiden aunt to die, as if they knew which order they would die in despite being very close in age, which was slightly strange! Only one of his aunts and one sister married, they were left out of the wills, and Tenbald’s sister left her money to two spinster friends. I think it’s rather sweet that they’re obviously looking after each other, as I suppose until very recently (in the scheme of things) it was difficult for women from families who were not very wealthy to accumulate much of their own wealth without marrying into or inheriting it.

I would like to add here that all of Tenbald’s children got married – however when he dies, in september 1934, 3 daughters and one son are unmarried, yet only his wife and daughter Winifred are mentioned in the Will, perhaps Winifred was the only daughter at home, but of course I can only speculate now as we’re almost mid way into the 1900’s. They were left £4178 – around £230,000 in today’s money – not too shabby at all, especially after bringing up 7 children, 6 of them girls (just ask my Dad, 3 girls is more than enough to empty your wallet).

Obviously he worked hard, saved and provided for his family. It’s only a shame he didn’t name his son Tenbald to create a tradition!



What the blog is about.

I thought I should explain how this came about. 🙂

I’ve been doing lots of family trees recently, and, although I’ve only really had names that are only unusual because they’re antiquated in my trees, I have come across numerous people from the past who DO have unusual names, to say the least! I started logging them all in a word file, mostly so I had somewhere to look when I needed a character name in a novel.  Also as ideas for when, a decade in the future, I might have sprogs, as I don’t want my children to be saddled with a run of the mill name like mine…(sorry mum).

Sometimes, it will be a typo, or a mistranscription, but even some of the more unbelieveable ones, like Carrot Harsnip, or Pope love, can turn out to be real! It made me laugh, because so many people have a go at celebrities these days for naming their children ‘strange’ things, yet here we have people 200 years earlier doing the same thing. In fact, Beyonce’s child is not the first Blue, nor is Victoria Beckham’s daughter the first child to have Seven in her name!

so, with the help of the lovely people of rootchat.com forums, we started to add to the list, and it started to become rather long…

My blogs name is a real name on a death certificate. Of course this was not his real name, but this was what really got me thinking about the people behind the name – why did no one know his surname? Did he have no family? Not one close friend? Was ‘Big Harry’ a fond nickname, or maybe the name they’d given a feared local crook?

Those thoughts got me to wondering about the other people; did their unusual names lead them to live unusual lives? Were they the children of people akin to our modern day celebrities, or just a romantic mother who’d read too many novels?

So I decided to find out, and this blog was born!


Another function I’m hoping the blog will serve is to illustrate methods of researching that are not always obvious to someone new to researching their family history, and other ways in which you can help your ancestors ‘come alive’ rather than just becoming lists of names and dates on your computer screen.

Either way I hope you enjoy reading the posts as much as I love searching for the people behind the names. 🙂