Month: April 2019

Richard Sainsbury, Badger Killer

We’re trying to find the origin of Richard Sainsbury (? – 1785), who, with his wife Mary Willis, are the founding couple of a North Somerset family whose first generation lived in the small villages of Clapton in Gordano and Nailsea but whose members now live around the world.

Unfortunately, we know very little about this couple from the archival record. They were married in Portbury in 1745 (one of only two marriages in the parish that year) and their children were baptized in Clapton in Gordano in the following decade.

Sometimes, parish records provide additional information about local families. If Richard were poor and arrived from another parish, for example, there may have been a settlement examination to confirm where he was from, in case he became a charge on the parish and had to be “removed” back to his home parish. Unfortunately, these parish council records for Portbury no longer exist.

The parish overseer’s records for Clapton in Gordano and Easton in Gordano (where Mary Willis may have been from) do exist. However, a search for any mention of Richard Sainsbury (or Saintsbury, as the surname was spelled on his childrens’ baptisms) turned up no information about his place of origin.

They did, however, reveal that he was skilled at killing agricultural pests.

The only mention of Richard Saintsbury in these records is a note that he was paid 6 pence by the parish of Clapton in Gordano for killing a badger.

An account of the disbursement of Benjamin Stanbury (no relation, as far as we can tell), Overseer of the Poor of Clapton in Gordano, includes the following expenses between Easter 1750 and Easter 1751:

Richard Saintsbury for a Badger

Many others are listed in the accounts as having benefited from the same scheme, which was likely carried out under the auspices of The Preservation of Grain Act (1552) which was not repealed until the mid-18th century.

But that’s all the archival record can tell us about Richard Sainsbury–and nothing about his origins beyond North Somerset. So we’re continuing our work with DNA and traditional genealogy to see if we can solve this mystery.


Endnote: A record of what was searched at the Somerset Heritage Centre for any mention of Richard Sainsbury or Saintsbury.

Overseers’ accounts with rates. 1738-1767

  • Repository             Somerset Heritage Centre
  • Reference number D\P\c.in.g/13/2/1
  • Date 1738-1767
  • Extent                    1
  • Format                   volume
  • Access status        Open
  • Level                      Item

Settlement Examinations. 1730-1799

  • Repository             Somerset Heritage Centre
  • Reference number D\P\e.in.g/13/3/1
  • Date 1730-1799
  • Extent                    99
  • Format                   documents
  • Access status        Open
  • Level                      Item

Bastardy bonds. 1742-1807

  • Repository             Somerset Heritage Centre
  • Reference number D\P\e.in.g/13/5/2
  • Date 1742-1807
  • Extent                    5
  • Format                   documents
  • Access status        Open
  • Level                      Item

Notices of appeal against removal orders, cases for counsel’s opinion on settlement. 1748-1843

  • Repository             Somerset Heritage Centre
  • Reference number D\P\e.in.g/13/3/7
  • Date 1748-1843
  • Extent                    17
  • Format                   documents
  • Access status        Open
  • Level                      Item