By Any Other Name

In 1821, in Shipston-on-Stour, there was a wedding between Gypsies Anslo(w) Stanley and Trinity Oliver. Two known children of this couple were William, baptised at Hullavington, Wiltshire, on 3rd December 1815 and James, born c1816, who emigrated to America and named Anslow and Trinity as his parents.

Prior to their marriage there seems to be a lack of records for either Anslow Stanley or Trinity Oliver, given that to have a child baptised in 1815, they must both have been born in the previous century. It is interesting to see, therefore, that a Trinity/Trenett, the daughter of Richard Oliver Stanley and Frances, was baptised in Bristol on 2nd March 1798 and an Anslow/Onslow to a Richard and Milly Cooper, formerly Stanley, baptised at Downton in Wiltshire on 11th January 1797.

Could this be the couple, aged approximately 18 and 17 when William Stanley was born and about 23 and 24 when they wed, using, in Anslow’s case, his mother’s surname and in Trinity’s case, that of her grandmother’s? Since there is no record of a legal marriage of the parents or grandparents of this couple, did they use surnames they considered legally theirs?

Fascinatingly, the couple’s marriage, where they made their marks, was witnessed by a Margaret and James Stanley, who also put a mark against their names. Trinity Stanley had a brother next to her in age named James who, the previous year, had married a Margaret Scarrett – could this be them?

Richard Oliver Stanley, the father of the Trenett/Trinity baptised in 1798 and the Milly/Melissa Stanley who formed a partnership with Richard Cooper, were siblings, the children of an older Richard Stanley and Elizabeth, possibly an Oliver. This would make the union between Anslow and Trinity, if they are indeed the couple suggested, that of first cousins, a common practice amongst Gypsy families.

This particular family of Stanleys were very tribal. When Milly Stanley died, having had four known children with Richard Cooper (who also used the alias White), Rhoda, Rebecca, Talanty and Onslow/Anslow, Richard then married Milly’s younger sister, Rhoda Stanley, with whom he had at least two children: Eleazer/Esau and Vashti.

Equally, when Richard Oliver Stanley’s daughter Trinity remarried, having been widowed, she wed widower Esau Cooper, baptised in 1800 at Bromham, Wiltshire, the son of Richard and Rhoda Cooper, at Landrake, Cornwall, in 1842, the half-brother to Anslow, the son of Richard and Milly. If this hypothesis is correct, the union was yet another of first cousins.

Of course, it could be a simple coincidence that the couple known as Anslow Stanley and Trinity Oliver baptised a son James, or it could be a tribute to her brother, but more interestingly, and less common, is the use of the name Trinity that James and Margaret chose for their daughter, baptised on 25th July 1824 at Christchurch, in Gloucestershire. This little Trinity seems to have been their first daughter, having already baptised a son with his father’s name two years earlier. It would seem to be a fitting tribute to a favoured sister, and offers another clue to the identify of the couple who wed in 1821.

A further example of such close relationships might be found in Anslow and Trinity’s son William’s eventual marriage: he emigrated to America, where he married Betsey Stanley, the daughter of Joshua and Rhoda Stanley, formerly Cooper. Another child of Joshua and Rhoda’s, another William, married a Phoebe Broadway at the same time, so celebrating a double wedding with his sister.

Is it yet another coincidence that in Devon in 1828 Joshua and Rhoda Stanley baptised a son Hensley, which may be a corrupted and aspirated form of Anslow, a name favoured amongst the Coopers and Stanleys?