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  • Writer's pictureJessica Feinstein

Which William of Winfrith?

I have previously written about William Orchard who was born in 1813. I’ve now researched his family back a few more generations.  His father, also William (Ari’s 6x great-grandfather), was born in 1779 in Winfrith Newburgh in Dorset (near Tolpuddle).


But I realized that there were two babies with the same name, both baptised in the same year, at the village church of St Christopher, and I would need to spend some time disentangling the family branches.


One William was the son of Robert and Elizabeth, and one was the son of John and Mary. I assumed that Robert and John were brothers, but didn’t know which couple were the parents of ‘my’ William.

I was greatly helped by the transcriptions of the parish baptisms and marriages available as part of the Dorset Online Parish Clerk project (e.g. at

This allowed me to see that a William Orchard (born in 1704) who had married Mary Gretton in 1736 had sons called Robert and John. (The children were William (1738), Anne (1740), Robert (1742), John (1744), Thomas (1746), Elizabeth (1751) and Mary (1756).)

Robert married Elizabeth Rawls in 1773, and John married Mary Rawls in 1770. So I was happy to carry on searching backwards, in the hope that all would become clear. The parents of the William Orchard who married Mary Gretton were Robert Orchard and Anne, and they married in 1694 in Winfrith Newburgh. (So it doesn’t matter for now whether it is Robert or John who is Ari’s direct ancestor, because we can be sure that this Robert – born in about 1674 – is.)

Robert and Anne had six children: John in 1696, Elizabeth in 1697, Thomas in 1699, Edith in 1701, William in 1704 and Mary in 1707.

More to follow …

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