Marmaduke Plews 1754-1837—Mary Winsby-1754-1845


Children—Thomas Plews 1779

Matthew Plews  1785-1854

Jane Plews  1787-1866

Ann Plews  1787-1866

Ralph Plews 1789-1857

Mary Plews 1792

William Plews 1796-1878

John Plews 1781-1822




Marmaduke Plews

Although there are many Plews baptisms, marriages and burials recorded in Thornton Steward, dating back to the 17th Century, my earliest known Plews ancestor and my 4

x great grandfather, is Marmaduke Plews, born about 1754-1756. By a process of elimination (there were several others of this name) I have concluded that Marmaduke was the illegitimate son of Jane Plews, baptised in 1756 at Thornton Steward. No father’s name was given.

Marmaduke married Mary Winsby at Wensley Church on 21st February 1778. Mary was born in nearby Leyburn in about 1754. Although Leyburn is a town now much larger than the village of Wensley, there was no church there until the 19th century and all baptisms, marriages and burials were conducted at Wensley. Marmaduke and Mary had 8 children who all survived to adulthood:-

Thomas b. 1779 in Leyburn

Ann b. 1781 in Leyburn

John b. 1782 in Leyburn

Matthew b. 1785 in Spennithorne

Jane b. 1787 in Spennithorne

Ralph b. 1789 in Spennithorne

Mary b. 1792 in Spennithorne

William b. 1795 in Spennithorne

Marmaduke was a blacksmith and it would seem that the family moved from Leyburn to Spennithorne between 1782 and 1785, where Marmaduke died on 16th March 1837.

Mary subsequently returned to Leyburn and lived with her widowed daughter Jane until she died on 25th February 1845. Both were remarkably long-lived for their time.

All their sons became blacksmiths, including my 3 x great-grandfather John.

Thomas Plews alias Binks

I have been unable to find out who Jane Plews, the mother of Marmaduke was. There were several Jane Plewses born or living in Thornton Steward and the surrounding villages at the right time. However, it would seem likely that this Jane was also the mother of Thomas Plews, born 1761 in Thornton Steward – another illegitimate child.

This would make Thomas and Marmaduke brothers or half-brothers.

There is no record of a marriage for this Thomas Plews at around the right time and place. However, there are baptism records for 5 children of a Thomas and Jane Binks between 1788 and 1803:

Thomas b. 1788

Margaret b.1791

John b. 1795

William b. 1799

Daniel b. 1803

The last 3 of these children, John, William and Daniel are each described in the baptism register as “son of Thomas and Jane Binks, alias Plews”. This is a somewhat ambiguous statement: does it mean that Thomas Binks is also known as Thomas Plews or does it mean that they were unmarried and that Jane’s maiden name is Plews or even Binks? That they were unmarried is probably indisputable: no marriage appears in the registers in Thornton Steward or anywhere else for them. There is a

marriage for a Thomas Binks to a Rachel Ourley or Ousley in 1787 in Thornton Steward but no subsequent record of this couple having any children. There is a burial record for a Rachel Binks, aged 72, in Masham, a village about 7 miles from Thornton Steward in 1837 – she would have been born around 1765 and of a similar age to Thomas. It is conceivable that Thomas married Rachel and they parted soon afterwards for whatever reason. He then had 5 children with Jane but they were unable to marry as he was still married to Rachel, divorce being out of the question for most people in those days.

So who was Thomas Binks? I can find no baptism record for a Thomas Binks which would tie in with the dates and places. Could it be that Thomas Binks was actually Thomas Plews, illegitimate son of Jane Plews baptised in 1761, and was he originally known as Binks because his father’s name was Binks and he acknowledged him? If so, Thomas clearly became known by his mother’s name of Plews later on. We do not know the maiden name of his “wife”, Jane. It is possible that she was also a Plews and that this is why they adopted the name. Or, did Thomas wish to dissociate himself from the name Binks as his legitimate wife was still living locally? More research needed here!

There are several indicators that Thomas Binks, the “husband” of Jane and father of Thomas, Margaret, John, William and Daniel was indeed the same person as Thomas

Plews, bastard son of Jane Plews baptised 1761. • There is a gravestone almost totally obscured by bushes in Thornton Steward churchyard commemorating Thomas Plews and his wife Jane. The wording on the stone is as follows:

“In Memory of Thomas Plews Who departed this life April the 16th 1838 aged 77 years. Also of Jane his wife who departed this life May (?) aged (?) …”

This confirms that Thomas’s likely birthdate was 1761 and that his “wife” was Jane. We were unable to read Jane’s year of death and her age on the gravestone but an entry appears on The National Burial Index confirming that

she died in 1850 at the age of 95 (!) and is buried at Thornton Steward.

• Next to this gravestone is another with the wording:

“In Memory of Thomas, son of Thomas and Jane Plews, who died 11th April 1814 aged 26 (?) years.

Also Margaret Clarkson wife of John Clarkson who died December 13, 1828 aged 38 years. She was the only sister of the (?) Thomas Plews.”

There is a discrepancy with the Parish Registers here, which say that Margaret was aged 30 when she died in 1828. However, the dates on the stone tie in  with the baptismal dates of Thomas and Margaret, the first two children of Thomas and Jane who were registered under the name of Binks. Margaret married John Clarkson in Thornton Steward in 1812 under the name of Margaret Plews.

• There is an entry in Thornton Steward Parish Registers for the burial of Thomas Plews of Exilby (Exelby), aged 77 years in May 1838. This ties in with the death registration of a Thomas Plews in Northallerton District in the 2nd quarter of that year.

Baines Directory for 1823 lists Thomas Plewes (sic) as a farmer in Thornton Steward.

If, as seems likely, the deceased Thomas Plews of Exilby is the same person, it would appear that he moved to Exelby on retirement – perhaps to live with a family member.

Jane Plews, his widow, is found living at Well, near Snape, with her son Daniel Plews and her Clarkson grandchildren in 1841, aged 85 (ages are rounded down to nearest 5 years in this census) although her birthdate is confirmed as 1755 on the National Burial Index transcription of her gravestone. By 1851 Daniel had moved to Newsham, a village some miles north of Richmond but within Richmond Registration District. The civil registration for Jane’s death in 1850 is in this district so it seems likely that she lived with Daniel and his family until she died. She may have been brought back to Thornton Steward for burial.

Unfortunately we can only guess at the identity of Jane as there is no marriage record.

We know that she was probably born in 1755 and that she was born in Yorkshire. The rest, for now, is supposition.

Jennifer Dalrymple Meredith