Fathers – #52 Ancestors

I decided not to write about my 83 year old father, he’s still alive and it would just feel too much like doing a eulogy. There are lots of dads in my tree, but who to pick. I decided to do it by luck of the draw. My genealogy software has a function called “on this day list” so I asked it to give me a list for June 17, Father’s Day. All those fathers and only one had an event that occurred on June 17. Samuel Searles was the winner!


mariansleigh church
Church in Mariansleigh, Devon, England courtesy of UK Genealogy Archives at

On  June 17, 1822, Samuel Searles was baptized for the second time. The first baptism took place on March 31, 1822 at his home. I asked an expert in British research why someone would be baptized twice. It means that the child was born but wasn’t expected to live so the Church of England priest would have hurried over to his parents’ house and baptized him. Well, Samuel was pretty tough and didn’t die so he was baptized in the church a few months later.

Samuel was born around March 31, 1822 in Mariansleigh, Devonshire, England. His parents were Michael and Betsy Searles. He wasn’t the first child named Samuel born to this couple. The first Samuel was born and died in 1816. Another custom of the day, naming another child after one who had passed away.


South Molten, Devon, England near Mariansleigh.

This was/is a farming area and Michael was a farmer. According the the website Pictures of England, Mariansleigh is a

“charming tiny village is set in lovely rural mid-Devonshire countryside within a short distance from the meandering River Mole in the beautiful Mole Valley, and the picturesque Crooked Oak stream.

This is a spacious country region, not much hassle from traffic – in the lanes it is more likely to be horses that you meet! Most of the landscape is given over to agricultural use, with a predominance of farms in the area.

Apart from the prettiness of the village, it is perhaps best known for its ancient church dedicated to St.Mary.”

After his uncertain birth, Samuel went on to become a farm labourer. These were the people who worked on the land of other people. It was a very insecure and difficult life.

When he was 22 years old, Samuel married Maria Nott, a single woman who already had a child. Samuel and Maria went on to have 3 more children. Lucy, Samuel, and Eliza. I am a descendant of his son, Samuel who eventually moved to Wales with his wife and children and then to Toronto, Canada. He is the father of my great grandfather Searles.

Samuel died young, at the age of 30, leaving poor Maria with 4 children under the age of 11. Maria, of course, remarried 3 years after his death.  Perhaps his early death occurred because of a chronic illness that began when he was born.

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