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Wm Truitt: 08 August 1708


Bramham was growing fast, just like Alpha William.

Poor Willy – the last gasp of a long romance, he was always the baby, never the boy. His eldest sisters were grown before he was even aware of their existence – by the time he knew he had toes, they were gone. The three brothers were closer in age – they did what little brothers do; bullied, battered and buggered around. Little Willy scurried through his childhood like a scared rat, always alert, ever anxious to get to the end. After all, he had a date with destiny.

Luckily, while he’s growing like a weed in Bramham, Destiny is achieving her own tangled adolescence not too far away. Her name has to be Hannah. She’s eluded us all for a very long time.

HANNAH ‘of Askham’


Wilim Spink & Jenet Thomhnso married the 2 daye of August 1602

Will'” Spinke executed for morther the xvii daye of March 1603

John Hastinges & Jenet Spinke married the 24 daye of Maye 1603He was a Monk Fryston Spink – I think.

I thought he was Walsall for a while.

Or a Snaith Spink – or a Hammerton man – the more I looked the more Edward Spinks I found – I just picked the nearest one and hoped for the best.

Spinks have infected every corner of the world, it appears. It will take a braver man than me to attempt a round-up of the Yorkshire mob around 1720 – it’s a nightmare – someone else can do that. Right now I don’t care where he  came from – I’m sick of Spinks.

Just know that Edward Spink met a gal from Askham Bryan; a lass called Mary Fearby. I don’t know how.

There were a great many Fearby’s in Askham Bryan at the time – the place was so tiny they were practically the only inhabitants – Eddie was an import Spink.–1579-1812-volume-31-hks/page-11-the-registers-of-askham-richard-in-the-ainsty-of-york–1579-1812-volume-31-hks.shtml

Ed and Mary married in May 1700 in Askham Richard, all of a mile down the road.

1700 Edward Spinke & Mary Fearby were married p Lycen. May 26

Ed was the first Spink in town for ninety-eight years; Spink still had a bit of a stink in Askham Richard:

The new Spink in town and his wife had five children – three of them called Issabel. The first Issy went to Spink Heaven soon after she was born in August 1701, the second lasted somewhat longer by carked it just the same – life just didn’t settle till baby Edward came along in 1707. They ended up with three living children, finishing their run with one last Issabel.

Sandwiched between Ed and Issy #3 was the star of our show – the long invisible Hannah

ISSABELL SPINCK: 04 AUG 1701 Askham Bryan, Yorkshire, England

ISSABEL SPINKE: 31 MAY 1703 Askham Bryan, Yorkshire, England

EDWARD SPINKE: 24 AUG 1707 Askham Bryan, Yorkshire, England

HANNA SPENKE: 06 NOV 1711 Askham Bryan, Yorkshire, England

ISSABEL SPENK: 16 MAY 1714 Askham Bryan, Yorkshire, England



So our Willy found a wife.

Even the esteemed George Ripley couldn’t find their wedding. no matter how hard he tried. It’s here, George – well, kinda: hidden somewhere in M02068-4; a scrawny internet document with little more than the basics: William Trewit B:1708 Bramham, York, Age: 23 marries An… Spink B: 1709 Age:22 Marriage Date:11 Nov 1731. That’s about it.

All looks pretty normal – till we add in this juicy detail just in from supersleuth CHRIS TRIFFITT: an entry in the ‘Marriage Allegations, Bonds and Licenses for York’ – special licences which allow marriage in church without having to have the banns read for three consecutive Sundays. This document is much the same as before but for one crucial addition: William Trewitt (23) of Bramham m. Anne Spink (22) of Askham on 11 November 1731.

Askham is the clue. It locates the correct Hannah and her folks.

There is another Anne Spink, daughter of John Spink of Bramham; born in 1711 who also fits the bill  – but CHRIS TRIFFITT’s clue ‘of Askham‘ points to only one young lady – and a few unanswered questions…

They married in York. I don’t know where yet. Oddly, no church is mentioned in either record – or in any records I can find. There are many churches in York. I’ve just done a search on all of them – nuttin’. Curiouser and curiouser. This is just the first of the Many Mysteries of these nuptuals – nothing quite makes sense…

Why the special licence?

Why the rush?

Why is her age given as twenty-two on both documents when she had just turned twenty – literally, the week before…?

Why get married in York? Bramham has a perfectly good church…

Here are some options from 


There have always been some people who want to marry in a hurry or in private. The church allowed them to avoid the delay and publicity of calling banns on three successive Sundays by providing, for a fee, a marriage licence. Couples in a hurry or requiring privacy might include those where:

1. The bride was pregnant or the groom was on leave from the Army or Navy.

2. The parties differed greatly in age, such as a widow marrying a much younger man or an old man marrying a young woman.

3. The parties differed in social standing, such as a master marrying a servant.

4. The parties differed in religion or did not attend the parish church because they were Nonconformists or Roman Catholics.

5. The parties were of full age but still faced family opposition to their marriage.

6. The parties had already married, perhaps in Scotland or overseas, and wished to clarify their status in English law.

Those requiring privacy for these reasons could also, as a result of the shorter residence requirement of the licence and the ease with which the residence requirement could be avoided, marry away from their usual places of residence. Prior to 1754 the marriage was supposed to take place in the parish in which one of the parties had lived for four weeks “and in no other place” but in fact there was much flexibility. Sometimes no place was stipulated or a choice of two, three or four parishes was given. Even then the marriage is often found in a different place altogether.

The exact ages of the parties may appear but sometimes only a rough age is given and after 1754 “twenty-one years and upwards” regularly appears, although practice varied in different places.

Here’s the clincher:

If either of the parties was under 21 then a formal written statement of approval by the appropriate parent or guardian was required. No person under the age of 21 – unless already married and widowed – was allowed to marry in church without the permission of their parents.



There isn’t a record of a wedding because there wasn’t one – not in a church, anyway.

From quite early times people of social standing who did not wish to attend the parish church to hear their banns called married by licence. A marriage by licence therefore became a standard symbol of social status. Very grand people who wanted to marry in a private house or chapel could pay even higher fees for a special licence. However, for the above reasons licences are found right across the social scale. Overseers of the poor, for instance, might pay for a licence to marry off a pregnant pauper before the birth of her child.

Maybe they eloped – or ran – maybe just for once in this oafish saga I can use the word ‘love‘. Was there love in Yorkshire in 1730? Did they have that luxury or was that just in ‘Robin Hood’? I don’t think we’ll ever know but I’d hazard more than a guess she’s pregnant and the folks definitely don’t approve, wouldn’t you? Frankly, given these Yorkshire farmers, it’d be abnormal if she wasn’t with child but this is different – something else is wrong – maybe he’s a servant; maybe he works on the farm.

Maybe, maybe, maybe – I conjure with this couple simply because they have ‘a licence’. That’s very, very unusual.

And that means the circumstances were unusual, too.


Then, just to piss me off, the new couple disappear. Not for long, just five years – but long enough to have had a couple of babies, at least one of whom survived.

Maybe they didn’t christen the kid at all.

I’ll bet his name is WILLIAM.


Sometimes, when every piece in the puzzle is clear – and there’s a missing piece that really should be there, it means something is wrong. I think, with this new info we’ve found it – or rather, the beginning of it… I still want to see a document though… I just can’t find Willy anywhere. Between 1629 and 1635 there ain’t a Willy Truit in sight – which only means his name is something odd, he’s older or I’m totally wrong.  Remember – we have the Will Of Doom to prove he was part of this family.

The wayward couple eventually returns to the fold. When next glimpsed, they’re in…

Pleasantly the path curves by field, stile, and hedgerow to Bilburgh, situated on the highest elevation of land hereabouts. The landscape unfolds like a map for miles, revealing the great plain of York.

Bilbrough, originally Bilburgh, i\e., the burgh on the height, and the highest point of land in the Ainsty. In olden time a hill fort, a fortified camp, doubtless a Celtic settlement, its commanding situation in the old forest region of Ainsty would prove a point of vantage to the victorious invader, following the departure of the Romans. The military way of the latter people between Tadcaster and York passed less than a mile to the south of the village. Standing about one hundred and fifty feet above the sea level, it is a landmark to the surrounding country. From opposite sides of the village street can be seen the whole breadth of the lower vales of the Wharfe and Nidd, and the vale of the Ouse to the Humber. What a magnificent prospect the eye wanders over, dotted with city and town, village and hamlet, and the silvery streaks of the winding rivers flowing seawards ! The village has a remarkably clean appearance.


The prodigal couple and their bastard son are back in the bosom of the family. Her family. Look at the map. They are almost certainly living on Fearby land. There, for a while, they stayed. It certainly wasn’t for the night-life.

Bilbrough is minute. Four hundred years ago it was, if possible, much smaller. The couple were working the land, farming something dreary, probably for Hannah’s dad. Hannah didn’t care where they were – she had all the entertainment she needed.

The couple squeezed out a child every two years for a decade. They were a one-family population explosion in sleepy Bilbrough, an ever expanding empire of little boys and girls – but there’s still no sign of that bloody William ‘of’ Whixley.

William ‘of’ Whixley: 1732-6

John Trewit 19 Nov 1737

Thomas Trewit 24 Mar 1739

Mary Trewit 20 Apr 1742

Hannah Spriffith 15 Jan 1744

Edward Trufit 10 Feb 1749

The kids were all born in BILBROUGH – all except Edward. He appears in HUNSINGORE. Look on the map again. Go North. Things have changed. This last child was born in Great Cattal and christened in the family church in Hunsingore. It’s only a mile away.

Why Cattal?

Those Spinks were certainly fertile. They bashed out babies at a tremendous rate – one a year – but there was a reason for their fecundity: natural selection. If they didn’t Spink up fast the line would die out.

The trouble with the Spinks was that they had too many girls. Wherever there was a Spink male he was always surrounded by a bevy of Spinky sisters. The ratio was about four to one.

So when Henry Spink was born in 03 Oct 1708 and duly christened in Holy Trinity Goodramgate in York his father [Wm.] Henry breathed a sigh of relief. When the child survived, grew and married Isabella Dews in Marton With Grafton in late April 1733  he was delighted. I hope baby Mary, born just six weeks before, didn’t disrupt the service.

Isabella and Henry went to Cattal and promptly produced three more girls; all up, four in a row. It was The Spink Family Curse.

Finally, in February 1737 a boy; Henry – a son and heir. They took a breather then produced a spare; Richard in August ’39. Dad could relax. Phew. Then Little Richard carked it , barely eighteen months old. Another bloody girl arrived in mid-’43.

When his father died in late September 1743 his eldest son Henry inherited the land. Inundated with daughters he had nobody to work it. He tried very hard to squeeze another son out and replacement Richard duly appeared in ’45.

This Richard was nearly two when his big brother went to God. Little Henry was buried on 20 Mar 1747. He’d just turned ten. Father Henry was in trouble. He’d been shagging away for fifteen years and had just one toddler son to carry the name and, more to the point, work the land. Just down the road was a whole family of young men, his niece’s brood.

Hannah and the tribe get the nod. They’re probably in Cattal by 1748. 


The other road, the Rudgate, Celtic, Rhyd-a-ford (possibly an early British way), ran by Toulston down to the Wharfe, past Newton Kyme, and crossed at St. Helen’s Ford; thence over the western fringe of Ainsty, leaving Walton (Wheales-tun) to the left, and over the Nidd at Cattal, and forward, by way of Whixley and Little Ouseburn, to Aldborough — the Isuer of the Briton, and Isurium of the Roman. *

An even greater antiquity hangs about the little hamlet and bridge of Cattal Magna, a little distance away on the road leading to Hunsingore. Here there was a Roman guard-house, from which observation was kept on the ford at which the great Roman road from Calcaria (Tadcaster) to Isurium (Aldborough) crossed the Nidd. The road hereabouts is still called the Street, and there are records of a ford across the river existing at this point from Norman days. Numerous relics of the Civil War, in the shape of weapons, have been unearthed here at various times, and there have also been discovered fragments of iron which are attributed to a much earlier date.

Cattal, known then as Cattal Magna, grew up at the site of a ford where once an ancient Roman road crossed the river. The road continued north in a direct line to Whixley and the farming land beyond. The village had been there for centuries. The Hearth Tax List of 1672 listed a total of forty-two properties in Cattal Magna: seven have two hearths, thirty-one have one hearth and four were omitted from the list because of the poverty of the owner.


They took on a small farm. The farm was just enough; a family business on twelve acres of land; peas, turnips, barley and corn – a mixed bag of crops for the seasons. There was a plough, two carts, horse gear and harness, a cow and a calf, a sow and the latest crop of piglets, three trace-horses, fifteen sheep and a barn – all dutifully recorded in Hannah’s Will of Doom.

By 1750 William was more than grown enough to join his father on the farm. There’s such a long gap between his and Thomas’ wedding, I’d assumed there was a similar gap in their ages but that’s not very true; the fact is that Will married very early and Thomas very late. No matter, either way Will is in the front line for some serious farm-work for a really long time. No wonder he jumped ship.

We’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s stop the family clock right here – Christmas 1754 – and see what we have to conjure with.


Hannah and Alpha Will have been on their farm for a decade, at least. Mum is celebrating her forty-fifth birthday, Dad is barely eight months older, both of them in the prime of their life. Just aswell, they had a very busy time of it: luckily, the boys were growing fast. Children were an asset. Our Will ‘of’ Whixley is about twenty, John just turned seventeen; Thomas was fourteen, Mary twelve, little Hannah – if she existed – was ten. Little Edward was nearly six.

Finally, thought Hannah, the family has achieved critical mass. She’d worked hard at it, propelling her lumpen husband through the years. Hannah was one of those women. She ran the shop.

This was how things worked. His job was to father children, grow stuff and die – she ran the finances, the household, made the meals, washed the clothes – submitted to her husbands oafish embrace when necessary, bore the children, carried the load, inching her brood through the years. Stuck in a farm-house in a field in Yorkshire, life was self-contained, self-reliant anmd self-centred – it’s no wonder Hannah found herself overly focused on her youthful, growing world.

Finally the load was lifting from Hannah’s shoulders. She was finished with children – no longer had to endure the sod sod huffing and puffing above her; eldest daughter Mary was quite old enough to join in the running of the house, look after Edward, do what little girls were born to do.

This leaves us three willing young workers in the fields, doubtless under the eye of Number One Son William, the apple of his father’s eye. Will was being groomed for stardom. He would follow dutifully in his father’s footsteps, plod through the years just as his parents had, a yoke imposed with a rod of iron. Hannah would make sure of it.

So I guess she wasn’t too pleased when she discovered young William was shagging that Slingsby slut, just up the Roman road.



Ellenor Triffit 23 Oct 1768 KIRK HAMMERTON Thos. Triffit

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