There is good news for Pafford family researchers - it is a relatively uncommon surname
in England. When the 1881 census was analysed, it was ranked the 25,627th most common
surname in Britain. There were just 66 examples, two in every million, and even more
good news is that 63% of Paffords were living in Hampshire: notably, Portsea (25),
Portsmouth (12) and Alverstoke (which is just across the waters of Portsmouth Harbour)
(5). The remaining Paffords were living in the West Country: Somerset (5), Gloucestershire
(5) and Herefordshire (2). Add to this, that the International Genealogical Index
notes only 227 Pafford marriages in England since 1538 and the researcher might be
forgiven for thinking he is on a roll.
The euphoria is only pricked by the knowledge that the name, Pafford, has been corrupted
by parish clerks and transcribers which poses its own problems. So, the name may
be rendered: Pasfoot, Pufford, Putford, Pasford etc. Nobody said genealogy should
Introducing the Paffords
My greatx4 grandparents were George and Mary Pafford. They had at least five children
who were baptised at Alverstoke or Holy Trinity, Gosport. However, although the family
was probably living at Alverstoke/Gosport between 1786 -1793, little else is known
A likely birth-year for George Pafford is around 1760 but the Hampshire Indexes contain
no baptism details that relate to him. It is possible that Mary Pafford’s maiden
name was Mills. This may be deduced because one of their children was given Mills
as a second name and Mills was substituted as the family name instead of Pafford
(as we will see).
The Hampshire Burial Index does not record George’s burial but a Mary Paffard (aged
56) was laid to rest on 20 December 1818 at St Thomas, Portsmouth. As she would have
been born in around 1762, it is possible that she was my ancestor.
There is a record of a marriage between George Pafford and Mary Denett at St Faith’s
Havant on 2 April 1794. I have resisted the posibility of this being the wedding
of my ancestors until now (2019) because (1) it took place after the birth of their
children; (2) it was at Havant, which is about nine miles from Portsmouth and (3)
because folk who are clearly lazy researchers have latched onto this as an easy match
(one has shown Mary Pafford as being buried at Holy Trinity, Gosport in 1849, when
just a little digging would show that she was Mary Ann Pafford and aged 52, thus
being born some years after the birth of George and Mary’s children).
Mary’s burial record at St Thomas, Portsmouth in 1818
Mary left significant footprints in history just before she died in the 1818 Rate
Books of Portsmouth. She was the head of household at Oxford Street, Portsea. This
street ran north-east from Commercial Road (north of Lake Road) to Church Street.
Although not mentioned when Mary married George, she was a widow, having married
Benjamin Denett (a widower) at Alverstoke on 16 September 1779. Benjamin was buried
on 11 August 1782 at Bishops Waltham, Hants.
During their short married life, Mary and Benjamin produced two daughters, Elizabeth
(born 1780) and Mary (1782). Elizabeth married the labourer, John New, at St Thomas,
Portsea in 1806. When their daughter, Eliza, was baptised in 1817, the couple were
noted as living at Oxford Street (!) - tacit confirmation that Elizabeth nee Dennett
and Mary Mills/Pafford were related. Further investigation of the 1816 Portsmouth
Rate Book reveals that Mary and John New were next-door neighbours at nos. 80 and
81 Oxford Street:
But their first child, John Alexander Souter was baptised two m onths earlier on
4 February 1801 (see below) and was said to be the “son of John and Mary” ALTHOUGH
THEY HAD NOT YET MARRIED. This was exactly what Mary’s mother, Mary Pafford had done
when her and George’s children were baptised
So, despite my earlier reservations, there is now convincing proof that the marriage
of Mary Mills and George Pafford at Havant was that of my ancestors. Mills was the
middle name of their daughter Charlotte (see her marriage document below); Mary Pafford
and Elizabeth New (nee Dennett) were living in the same Portsea street in 1817/1818
and both Mary Mills and Mary Souter (nee Dennett) had untruthfully represented that
they were married when children were baptised.
We can now present a tree of Mary Mills and her husband and children:
Note the number of times St Marys Church is mentioned. This church is not near Portsmouth
Harbour (as is St Thomas) but in the middle of Portsea Island and not far from Oxford
Another fact emerges as the life of Mary’s daughters by her first marriage is traced:
Mary married John Souter at Alverstoke on 6 April 1801.
Despite this new information, George Pafford remains my Melchizedek, being ‘without
father, without mother...having neither beginning of days, nor end of life’ and with
this ephemeral person, my direct maternal ancestral trail ends - for the moment at
Of George and Mary’s children: James and Lydia May had five children and had probably
moved to Brighton by 1826. Charlotte Pafford was privately baptised, instead of a
Church ceremony - which is often a sign that there were fears about the survival
of mother or daughter when she was born. John and Charlotte Antrim had two sons who
were baptised at Brighton. A witness at their marriage was William May - probably
a brother of James May who married Lydia. Charlotte signed her marriage document.
John and Maria Romane had two children who were baptised at Alverstoke. However,
John died before 1839.
Re: George Pafford junior
There is a glimpse of George in the books of Goliath, a hulk ‘in ordinary’ at Portsmouth
Harbour during the first half of 1800 - the first of three known generations of Paffords
who found this type of work. He worked for 4 months and 10 days and was paid a net
amount of £3 2/-(see below). He was discharged on 30 June 1800. He is described
as an ‘Ordinary Seaman’. This would seem to suggest that he had not previously served
in the Royal Navy as he surely would have been an ‘Able-bodied Seaman’.
Then, the following news report appeared on 16 January 1804:
George (aged about seventeen) was initially consigned to a prison hulk in Portsmouth
Dockyard (see below) where he rotted until he received a pardon on 3 September 1806
- evidently because he re-enlisted in the Royal Navy according to a note.
The Naval Act of 1795 allowed seamen to remit part of their wages to their mothers,
wives or families to sustain them while the man was at sea. The National Archives
has a record of these agreements covering the years 1795 to 1852. They show the name
of the seaman, his rating, the ship on which they were serving and the beneficiary.
The allotment record of George Pafford jnr (born 1786) indicates that he served on
Lily until 1 November 1808. Then in 1810, he joined the newly-commissioned Pyramus
(42-gun frigate). On 14 May 1810, he arranged to give his mother, Mary, the monthly
amount of 10/6d (about a quarter of his wages). The allotment finished/discharged
on 20 November 1813 (George married on 15 June 1813).
James Pafford also made an allotment to be paid to his mother, Mary. He had served
on the Royal William (which was laid up ‘in ordinary’ at Portsmouth Harbour) until
June 1809 when he was assigned to Ildefonso which was also ‘in ordinary’. (Ildefonso
was formerly San Ildefonso which was the ship Defence captured at Trafalgar with
the young James on board and which was taken into the English Navy). James allotted
the monthly sum of 11/8d to his mother Mary. This was discharged on 19 July 1814.
So for a few years the two brothers, George and James Pafford, arranged some financial
support for their mother, Mary, which amounted to £1 2s 2d a month - at a time when
a farm labourer might take home about 10/6d a week to support his entire family.
This appears to be an act of responsible, filial kindness towards their mother.
Why was Mary in this situation? The likely reason is that she had been left without
any means of support by something that had happened to her husband, George. Perhaps
he had died just prior to May 1810, or been taken ill or injured - or simply separated
from Mary. Another piece of the jigsaw which was George’s life may have been found.
The marriage documents of George and Mary’s children
Elizabeth Dennett and John New 1806
Mary Dennett and John Souter 1801 - see earlier
George Pafford and Mary Terry 1825
Lydia Pafford and James May 1806
Charlotte Mills Pafford and John Clark Antram 1816