Who was Richard Lovelock who married in Preshute?

There has been much speculation about where the Richard who is presented as the progenitor of the Lieflock Line, and who married Mary Head in 1706, actually originated from. The marriage entry in the Preshute Register reads 'July ye 7th Married John Pavie to Eliz: Smith ye same day Married Richard Lovlock to Mary Head All of ye Pish of Easton'. There are a few facts that can be taken into consideration before turning to pure speculation.

Firstly the earliest mention of a Lovelock that has been found by many researchers in the Easton Royal Parish Registers is the baptism of Richard, the son of Richard Lovelock and Mary Head, in December 1706. It can possibly be concluded therefore that Richard the elder originated from elsewhere.

Secondly Richard Lovelock and Mary Head, although both described as 'of Easton', were married, as mentioned, in Preshute. It can be deduced from Parish Register entries that there was an incumbent at Holy Trinity Church in Easton at the time, so why would the couple get married in Preshute? One suggestion that has been put forward is that Richard might have had family there who were unable, or possibly unwilling, to travel the five miles to Easton. There were indeed Lovelocks in Preshute in the 17th century, but no baptism of a Richard has been found in that particular Parish Register.

Assuming an age of around 25 for Richard at his marriage leads to searching for a birth around 1680. Within a reasonable geographical radius there are few possibilities as far as the 'Lovelocks in Wiltshire' data here on the website is concerned. There was one in 1665 in Highworth, but that would mean marriage at 40 or 41, and fathering a child at the age of 57 or 58, both of which would be remarkably late for the times. By comparison Mary Head was 21 or 22 when she married, which we know because her baptism is recorded in the Easton Royal Register. There was also a Richard born in Great Bedwyn in 1672, but he too might be considered by the standards of the times too old for a marriage in 1706.

The only other possibility to come to light so far is the Richard baptised in Tidcombe in 1680, the son of Thomas and Jone. It is of course a good fit, but just because it is the only such record that seems to have survived does not necessarily mean it is the only one there ever was.

However, assuming for a moment that Richard from Tidcombe is the man who married Mary Head, we are still left puzzling over why they married in Preshute. To be sure, Tidcombe is probably a couple of miles further from Easton than it is from Preshute, but in an age when the agricultural stock concerned would have been well used to walking that seems no cast iron reason to choose Preshute. It also needs to be borne in mind that Mary would have been flaunting convention in a serious way by not marrying in her own village, although what bearing that might have on the problem is impossible to say at this time.

So if Richard and Mary could have, but did not, marry in Easton, might there have been a reason why they also did not marry in Tidcombe? According to the 'Victoria County History of Wiltshire (Volume 16, Kinwardstone Hundred)' although the registers for Tidcombe begin in 1639 those for the years 1702 to 1730 are missing, we presume lost, and there is also a gap in the Bishop's Transcripts from 1701 to 1712. During those periods there was apparently no vicar at Tidcombe, but possibly one or more stipendiary curates. There may possibly have been none at all in 1706 when Richard and Mary wanted to marry, with son Richard on the way. Be that as it may, it still does not explain why the marriage took place in Preshute.

Returning to facts, as mentioned above Richard and Mary had a son Richard baptised at Easton in December 1706. That Richard in his turn had a son Richard baptised in 1733, also in Easton. But there are only two burials in the 'Lovelocks in Wiltshire' data of a Richard in Easton - in 1760 and 1793, and neither with an age quoted. It seems to have been generally assumed by researchers that the man who was married in 1706 was the one buried in 1760, and the one who was baptised in 1733 was the one buried in 1793. But that of course leaves the man born in 1706 without a burial entry. Some have argued that an early death was more likely than a late death in the 18th century, and therefore the man buried in 1760 is more probably the one baptised in December 1706.

That would of course result in us not knowing where or when the man who married Mary Head in 1706 was born and died.

Interestingly, there is a burial at Tidcombe on 26 March 1739 of 'Richard Lovelock from Wexcombe'. Wexcombe, which has never had any church of its own, is barely a mile and a half from Tidcombe, and if the Richard who married in 1706 was born in Tidcombe it is possible that he wanted to be, or it was felt he should be, buried there. This version of events would mean that he was 59 when buried, which would be a good average age for the times.

Countering this version, however, is the problem of identifying the burial of Mary Head. There is no burial recorded at Tidcombe which could be hers, and no mention in any of the burials of a Mary at Easton as being 'of Wexcombe', which would be a good indication that she was Richard's wife or widow. There are, however, five burials at Easton to be allocated, the entries reading as follows: 1746 - Mary the daughter of Richard and Mary, 1758 - Mary the wife of Richard, 1765 - Mary the wife of Stephen, 1783 - Mary, and 1790 - Mary. If we ignore the 1765 burial, on the basis that there is no record of a Stephen Lovelock marrying a (widowed or otherwise) Mary Lovelock, the picture could look like this:

1746 This is the Mary who was baptised in 1708, the daughter of Richard Lovelock and Mary Head

1758 This is the lady born Mary Head

1783 This is the wife of the Richard baptised in 1706

1790 This could be the daughter of Edward Lovelock and Ann Pyke who was baptised in 1780

So if Richard Lovelock born 1680 in Tidcombe was buried there in 1739, the presumption would be that his wife Mary, being born an Easton girl and perhaps with relatives still living there, moved back to Easton after his death, and was buried there some 19 years later. If so she was about 74 years old when she died, which was not particularly exceptional for the times.