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The purpose of the visit was to investigate the Gray family of Corby and its links with the Gray family of Rushton and East Norton. A tree supplied on Ancestry gives details of the following family:

The Yardley family tree owned by Rod Yardley John Gray born ? 1720 at Corby. He married Susanna Phillips at Stoke Albany 25 November 1742

Their children: John born in Corby 1743 Edward born in Corby 1745 William born in Corby 1748 Elizabeth born in Corby 1750 George born in Corby 1762

These entries were, first, to be confirmed and then the families traced forwards if possible.


The parish records for the relevant period for Corby St John church were inspected (1). Initially, confirmation of the baptism of John Gray in about 1720 in Corby was sought. It was not possible to discover any record of this baptism. The Gray tree on Ancestry states that John Gray was baptised about 1720. This suggested that the compiler had not found the baptism in Corby but may have assumed that John was baptised there at that time. This is not an unusual practice.

The first mention of a member of the Gray family in Corby was: Elizabeth Gray buried February 15th 1741.

The instructions to vicars was to record all baptisms, marriages and burials and that is just what the vicar has done. He may have known who this Elizabeth Gray was but unfortunately he did not consider it necessary to record her age, relationship to other members of the Gray family so it can only be conjecture as to her identity. The baptisms of John, Edward, William and Elizabeth above were recorded as follows: John son of John and Susanna Gray baptised October 15th 1743 Edward son of John and Susanna Grey baptised February 5th 1745/6 2

William Gray son of John and Susanna baptised August 14th 1748 Elizabeth Gray daughter of John and Susanna baptised February 18th 1750/1

As will be noted there are two amendments to the original list. Both Edward and Elizabeth were baptised between January 1st and March 25th (Lady Day) and the year ran from March 25th to March 24th and those three months would be considered to be the following year in modern usage.

Further baptisms were found (2) Susannah the daughter of John and Susannah Gray baptised July 9th 1758 George son of John and Susannah Grey was baptised January 5th 1763 Frances daughter of John and Susannah Gray baptised March 15th 1765 John and Susannah had children over a period of 22 years. It must be remembered that these entries are for baptism and not birth, so we do not know what age the children were at the time of baptism, although many vicars would record the age of a person whose occurred when they were older. There is also a gap of 7 years between 1751 and 1758 when John and Susannah did not have any children baptised. Were they not living in Corby at that time? It would require further research to prove that.

It is possible that not all of the children survived into infancy: Elizabeth Gray buried September 21st 1752

Although often vicars recorded the burials of babies as “the boy/girl of”, the vicar in this case has not although, as noted above, he tended to keep entries in the register to the minimum of information!

Whereabouts of John, Susanna and family It seems that the last child, Frances, was baptised in 1765. The whereabouts of the family after that time are difficult to determine. From the parish records, there are the following references to John Gray:

As witness to the following marriages (3):

Thomas Henstock/Elizabeth Ellis on October 13th 1755 Thomas Bullivant/Ann Patrick October 13th 1755 Thomas Toseland/Anne Toseland (sic) May 13th 1771

In these instances, John could write. However, there was a marriage between William Bailey/Sarah Bailey (sic) on April 12th 1785 where John Gray did not write his name. But two 3years later there is a marriage between John Gray and Ann Reesby on May 29th 1787 and in this instance John can write.

Finally there is an entry for a burial of John Gray: John Gray (horse dealer) buried August 24th 1809.

The Gray family in Corby (4)

There are several other entries for the Gray/Grey family in the Corby parish register:


John son of Edward and Elizabeth Gray baptised [date unclear]

Thomas son of Edward and Elizabeth Gray baptised January 29th 1773

Richard son of Edward and Elizabeth Gray baptised December 25th 1778

Thomas son of Edward and Elizabeth Gray baptised December 25th 1782

Robert son of Edward and Elizabeth Gray baptised May 24th 1786

John natural son of Joanna Grey baptised December 26th 1781

Mary daughter of Edward and Mary Gray baptised July 6th 1800

Ann daughter of Edward and Mary Gray baptised July 6th 1801

Elizabeth daughter of Edward and Mary Gray baptised April 10th 1804

Sarah daughter of Edward and Mary Gray baptised July 6th 1806

Edward son of Edward and Mary Gray baptised December 25th 1808

Heber son of Charles and Elizabeth Gray baptised November 6th 1808

William son of Robert and Jane Gray baptised May 18th 1811


Edward Mann and Elizabeth Gray both of this parish married by Banns this twenty-fifth day of December 1775. Edward Gray and Mary White took place on September 19th 1799. One of the witnesses was George Gray. John Aldwinkle widower and Jane Gray widow took place on September 1st 1800 4

Charles Gray bachelor and Elizabeth Edey spinster married on July 11th 1808. Witness was Robert Gray. Robert Gray bachelor and Jane Rowlatt spinster took place on April 17th 1811. Richard Gray bachelor and Alice Woolston spinster took place on June 12th 1812. Witness was Anne Gray.

Burials Mary Gray was buried August 20th 1768 Heber Gray was buried March 28th 1809 (probably the son of Charles and Elizabeth baptised November 6th 1808).


The purpose of the visit was to ascertain whether John Gray (baptised 1741 in Corby, and referred to as John [junior] below) was the same person as the John Gray who married Susannah Bringhurst in 1784 in Rushton. The main problem with this research is the lack of information supplied by the various vicars. What is known is:

John Gray [senior] of Corby married Susannah Phillips of Little Weldon on March 25th 1742/3 in Stoke Albany (5). Note the different date.

John Gray (senior) may have been from Corby at the time of his marriage but he does not appear to have been baptised there. His family may have moved there at some time during his childhood. There are, however, no Settlement Certificates surviving for a Gray family moving to Corby and that could suggest that the family were fairly affluent and not a risk to the parish. Following their marriage in Stoke Albany, the couple seem to have settled in Corby and had at least seven children, with John [junior] being the oldest.

The next question that must be addressed concerns the marriage in Corby of John Gray and Ann Reesby on May 29th 1787 Is this John [junior]? In the same manner that the marriage between John Gray and Susannah Bringhurst in Rushton appears rather “late” for the social norms of the age, the same problem applies here. The only other John that it could be would the John, the son of Edward and Elizabeth Gray who was baptised in the early 1770s. He would be around 17/18 in 1787 which is rather young.

The question of the ability to write must also be addressed. The John Gray who witnessed the marriages in 1755 and 1771 was more likely to be John [senior], especially the earlier two when John [junior] would have been in his early to middle teens. In 1785 there is a John Gray who witnessed a marriage but did not write his name. Two years later when John Gray married Ann Reesby, this John Gray did sign is name. Does this mean that they are two different Johns? Could it have been that he may have been injured and therefore could not write his name in 1885? Could he have been perfectly fit but was not able to write? Then two years later, because it was his marriage, he learnt to write his name because his marriage was a special occasion.

Finally, who was the John Gray who was buried on August 24th 1809? The vicar wrote that he as a horse dealer. It is possible that this could have been John [senior] but he would have been approaching the age of 90. If it were John [junior] then he would have been approximately 70 years old. Unfortunately the vicar did not record his age.


From the evidence above it is not possible to determine whether John Gray (baptised 1743 in Corby) is the same man who married Susannah Bringhurst in Rushton. It is possible that this John was baptised in Corby and remained remained there and died there in 1809. A search on Ancestry has produced another possible family tree with John Gray (baptised 1742 in Rushton)2 being the son of John Gray born in Finedon. John Gray of Finedon is recorded as marrying Elizabeth Harris of Rushton, but no date for the marriage is given. That may be a possible route for the family tree. Supplied by Jack Vodrey

References (1) Microfiche 79p/11 Baptisms 1684 – 1752

Marriages 1684 – 1752 Burials 1695 – 1752 (2) Microfiche 79p/12 Baptisms 1754 – 1771

Burials 1754 – 1780 (3) Microfiche 79p/18 Marriages 1754 – 1812

(4) Microfilm M557 Bishops Transcripts for Corby St. John

(5) Microfiche 302p/2 Baptisms 1704 – 1743

Marriages 1704 – 1743 Burials 1704 - 1743

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