When I first started researching the Shellaker family back in 1974 I was unable to delve any further back than the year 1827 as my activities at that time were restricted to searching random graveyards around Billesdon and Tugby for gravestones inscribed with the family name. The date of 1827 was discovered in Tugby Churchyard on the gravestone of 11 month old Mary Ann Shellaker who died on the 28th of April in that year. She was the daughter of William and Sarah Shellaker who lived in that village.
Around two decades later but still in the pre-internet days, I made the first of numerous visits to the Leicestershire & Rutland Record Office and worked back through the Census records for Tugby, first for 1881 and then backwards through 1871, 1861 and 1851 and it was in the latter, the Census of 1851 I found the evidence of which I was seeking – the birthplace of William Shellaker. Below is the section of that 1851 Census record which identifies his birthplace as being the village of Lyndon in the county of Rutland.
1851 – Section of Census showing William Shellaker’s birthplace as being Lyndon in Rutland
The words ‘Rutland : Lyndon’ can be seen in the top right of this image, directly above the birthplace of William’s wife Sarah which is recorded as ‘Lincolnshire: Spittle Gates’.
Leicestershire & Rutland Record Office
This Records Office holds the parish records for Lyndon and as I started searching through these records it soon became very apparent these records contained numerous entries relating to ‘Shellaker’ and ‘Shelacres’ – a total of 38 such records. Although these records were full of potential Shellaker forebears it was important to confirm a link to the William Shellaker who lived in Tugby. The information on his gravestone in Tugby Churchyard told me William Shellaker died on the 25th November 1855 at the age of 67 years, making the date of his birth somewhere between the 26th November 1787 and the 25th November 1788.
Within that time span I found a record of a baptism within the Lyndon parish records of a ‘William Shellaker, son of Richard & Mary Shellaker’ which took place, privately on the 12th September 1788, then publicly the following month – on the 5th October. The link was established – this was the record of the baptism of my great, great grandfather.
Further research established that the Shellaker family lived in Lyndon for five generations. What follows is their story……
Prior to life in Lyndon the family lived in the village of Loddington on the Leicestershire side of that county’s border with Rutland. Parish records indicate the period of time in which the Shellaker family first lived in Lyndon also coincided with the final few years other members of the family were still living in Loddington.
As I mentioned, the Shellaker family lived in Lyndon for five generations. I have found 38 records of Shellaker/Shelacre baptisms, marriages and funerals which took place in the parish church of St Martin, Lyndon (which is pictured right and is reproduced by permission of LeicesterPhoto). This is considerably a greater number of ceremonies than have taken place in any other church or chapel in the last four hundred years.
In this narrative I highlight each of those generations chronologically starting with the earliest members of the Shellaker family who are recorded in the parish records as living in Lyndon.
The Leicestershire & Rutland Records Office holds the records of Lyndon parish from the year 1580 in which are contains Baptisms, Burials and Marriages which took place in that village from that year onward. However these records are not easy to read and are in some places virtually illegible but I have carefully examined on several occasions, every single page of these records and cannot find any trace of the name Shellaker before a baptism in the year 1682.
Update August 2013 – I recently found a later and very legible transcript of all the Lyndon parish records from the year 1580 created in 1891/92 by the Reverend K.B. Nevinson who was Rector of that parish during the latter part of the Victorian era. Although his transcript did help to clarify one or two previously illegible dates, I was also able to confirm I had already found all of the Shellaker events which occurred within that parish church – a total of 38 such events.
THE FAMILY OF RICHARD & ELIZABETH SHELACRES
Richard and Elizabeth Shellaker were the first generation of the family to live in Lyndon although I cannot find any records of either being born in that village.
The Husband – Richard
From other records, to which I will refer shortly, I know that RICHARD SHELLACRES was born either in 1650 or 1651 but I did not find a record of his birth in the parish records of Lyndon (or in the clearly legible transcript mentioned above.) So it is apparent he was born in another village and not in Lyndon. As can be seen on the Loddington page of this website, there are records of two ‘Shellaker‘ baptisms, one in 1644 and another in the year 1646, in the village of Loddington of ELEANOR and THOMAS SHELAKER. These are the children of another Richard Shellaker and his wife Joan. I believe it is extremely probable the Richard Shelacres mentioned above as living in Lyndon was the younger brother of Eleanor and Thomas. His birth year of 1650/51 is only four years after Eleanor’s baptism so it seems very likely.
So I am reasonably confident in believing Richard Shelacres was born in Loddington c.1650, is a sibling of Eleanor & Thomas and is one of the children of Richard & Joan Shelaker of that village. I speculate he moved to Lyndon, which is around ten miles east of Loddington possibly between 1665 and 1680. One other piece of information – this Richard Shellacre, who I believe was born in Loddington c.1650/51 but moved to Lyndon, is my great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather.
His Wife – Elizabeth
I know, again from other information which I will mention shortly, that Richard’s wife Elizabeth was around 4 years younger than her husband and therefore was born either in the year 1654 or 1655. But again I cannot find any record of her birth in Lyndon but that task was made harder as I do not know her maiden name. I searched the Lyndon parish records for the baptism of a girl named ‘Elizabeth‘ either in 1654 or 1655 but I did not find such an entry. Nor could I find a record in those same parish records, of a wedding of Richard to Elizabeth, which would have been between the years 1672 – 1682.
c.1680 – “Richard Shelacres & Elizabeth – the First Generation of the family to live in Lyndon”
[Direct male ancestors are shown in Blue, the female ancestor in Pink]
One probable conclusion we should consider is that Elizabeth was not born in Lyndon and her marriage to Richard took place in the, as yet unknown village of her birth. So somewhere in the parish records of possibly a neighbouring village could be found their marriage and a record of her baptism – now there’s a challenge for someone! The record of her marriage would obviously include the name ‘Richard Shelacres’ and would reveal her maiden name thereby enabling a search for her baptism record.
NB: To date I have searched without success, for a record of this marriage within the records of the immediate neighbouring parishes of Edith Weston and Pilton and intend to check Manton, Hambleton, Wing and North Luffenham and then plan to search other parishes when time allows.
Please note: As I mention elsewhere in this website there are several variations in the spelling of the surname Shellaker, these include ‘Shellakers’, ‘Shillakars’, ‘Shilakers’ and ‘Shelacres’. This apparent inconsistency of the surname is not a concern. In times past very few people could read or write and consequently people did not know how to spell their own surnames. It would be the responsibility of the parish vicar or his clerk to record the names into the parish records which would be spelt how they thought the surname was spelt based on the sound of the name.
Next Page: Lyndon – The Second Generation