Along the eastern edge of Dorset’s irregular border lies the village of Ashmore. Its claim to fame is that it is the highest point in Dorset. It is a picturesque village with houses and farms overlooking a duck pond. It is where one of my more intriguing female ancestors, Mary, lived.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any records that Mary, herself left. What I have has been pieced together from official records. The first official record for Mary Maidment was that of her marriage to Thomas Rideout in 1833. This was just before civil registration so the information doesn’t include her parentage, or that of Thomas. One of the witnesses to the wedding was Harriet Maidment, perhaps a sister?
The 1841 census showed Harriet Maidment again, living with her one-month old son, Henry, and with Mary and Thomas Rideout and their brood of three children; George, Harriet and Charles. According to the census, both Mary and Harriet Maidment were not born in Dorset.
By the time of the 1851 census, Harriet and Henry Maidment were no longer living with Mary who now had two younger children, Silvia 10 and John 5. Mary was now the head of the household and a widow. That was sad but her oldest son, George was now 18, perhaps ready to be the man of the household. What had happened to Thomas Rideout, when had he died?
Finding Thomas’ death certificate, left as many questions as it answered. His death certificate stated that he had died of typhus fever on March 26, 1842. Barely a year after the 1841 census. Perhaps he was the father of the Sylvia aged 10 in the 1851 census, but what about John who was just 5 in 1851?
John Rideout was born October 20, 1845. Far too late to have been Thomas’ son. The birth certificate names only his mother, Mary Rideout. There was a bastardy bond but no action was taken as Mary didn’t name a father and the only baptism I found for John was in 1865. That too named no father.
Still, nothing held John back. He married in 1872 and I am left with the feeling that everyone in that small village knew who his father was even though no none was named on his marriage certificate. Mary took the secret to her grave.