The Annis Family of Sproxton

ANNE ANNIS, who was born in the Leicestershire village of Sproxton on that county’s border with Lincolnshire is my Great-great-great-great grandmother. She was born in 1729, most likely in November of that year. She baptised in the parish church of St Bartholomew on 27th November 1729 and the record shows the names of her parents, THOMAS & SARAH ANNIS. (The entry is the second of the three records below)

The Baptism record of Anne Annis, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Annis was baptised on November 27th 1729


The church, which I visited on a cold but sunny day in January 2024, dates from the 12th Century and is situated outside the village with commanding views of the glorious Leicestershire countryside. Although the church was built in the 12th century, there is a Viking Cross or Anglo Saxon cross (origin disputed by historians) in the churchyard. It is the only pre- Conquest (1066) standing complete in Leicestershire, which shows the Christian connection of the site is far older. Inside the church are gargoyles of animal grotesques which are older than the current wooden roof they now support as they were previously used in the original Norman church.

The church of St Bartholomew in Sproxton, Leicestershire and the Viking Cross or Anglo Saxon cross within the churchyard

Sproxton was recorded in the Domesday Book (right) as one of Leicestershire’s four ‘wapentakes‘, which is a historial administrative division within the counties of the English Midlands. The term was first clearly referred to in the year 962 /  963 AD and corresponds to the word “hundred” in other parts of England. Danish influence was strong in those English counties where wapentakes existed.


At the bottom of this tree is RICHARD SHELLAKER, who married MARY ANN GROCOCK in Tugby in 1861. This marriage produced twelve children, the youngest of whom was my maternal grandfather, JOHN SHELLAKER.

The marriage of my Great-great-great-great grandparents took place in the Lincolnshire village of Little Ponton on 11th May 1752. At the time of their marriage Anne was 22 years old and her husband John was 23 years old. (Although they were both born in 1729, John birthday was in April and Anne’s birthday was later in the year in November.

Below is the record of tha marriage, which took a bit of finding with the parish records for Little Ponton,

From Lady Day* 1751 to 1752
Thomas Grocock of Sproxton in the County of Lei
cester and Anne Annis of the same parish were married by license May 11.

* Lady Day – An explantion
From the year 1155 Lady Day was New Year’s Day in England (i.e., the new year began on 25th March). This continued until 1752, when the Gregorian calendar was adopted in Great Britain and its Empire and with it the first of January as the official start of the year in England, Wales and Ireland.

Lady Day was the first of the English quarter days, when the countryside cycle of life began afresh with spring dispelling winter. The four traditional quarter days were Lady Day – March 25th, Midsummer – June 24th, Michaelmas – September 29th and Christmas – December 25th. All the date were all close to religious holidays and solstices or equinoxes.

Quarter days were established during the Middle Ages. With many people, illiterate and few calendar’s available, religious holidays were much easier for people to keep up with than specific dates. Thus, these four quarter days became the times when servants were hired, leases were contracted, and rents and other debts were paid.


Simple answer… I have no idea!

The tiny parish church at Little Ponton dates from the Norman period. The west front was rebuilt in 1657. The chancel arch may be Saxon.

The dedication is to St Guthlac of Crowland (674–715), a hermit who gained popularity as a saint in the Fens of Eastern England.

The village lies approximately 2 miles south east of Grantham. It is around 8 miles from Sproxton, with a walking time of under three hours.

It is now in the civil parish of Little Ponton and Sproxton which reinforces a historic connection.

The excellent photograph on the right shows an aerial view of the church taken by a local guide, Ben Cooke. I have not been able to find his contact details to seek his permission to use this image.


Interestingly JOHN GROCOCK‘s sister Abigail was also married in the same church, on 29th April, a mere two week prior to the wedding of her brother Thomas Grocock to Anne Annis.

So I will therefore speculate that possibly Anne Annis and her future sister-in-law Abigail Grocock both worked at Little Ponton Hall, a small county house built in 1725. Online information indicates the house was probably built for William Thorold, dated 1725, whose ancestor was a Member of Parliament for Grantham.

Below is a relatively contemporary engraving of Little Ponton Hall from 1799, together with a snapshot from Google map showing the close proximately of Little Ponton Hall to the church in which Anne Annis and Abigail Grocock married their respective husbands in 1752.

Little Ponton Hall and the surrounding area


Ok, time to go back a generation to search for Thomas Annis and his wife Sarah  – the parents of Anne Annis…


Next Page: The parents of Anne Annis