The Bishop Stone Conundrum

The relationships described here are backed up by parish records. Only some of the interpretations remain in question.

Bishop Stone was baptized in Chipstable, Somerset in 1803 and was a life-long resident of the parish. The parish record for Bishop, and also for John 1800, Mary 1809 and Edmund 1812, list the parents as John and Mary Stone.

Who were John and Mary Stone? There appear to be two choices.

(1) A John Stone married a Mary Stone in Bishops Lydeard on March 10, 1799, perfect timing for the birth of first son John in November 1800 and Bishop in 1803. (Mary Stone was the daughter of John Stone and Patience Yendall of Lydeard St. Lawrence.) Stone family researchers believe that this John Stone was the son of John Stone and Elizabeth Selleck of Wiveliscombe and Chipstable. He was baptized in 1775 and would have been about 25 when John 1800 was baptized.

(2) There was another couple named John Stone and Mary in Chipstable at the time. Parish records show the dual baptisms of a son John Stone and a daughter Mary Stone on 27 Oct 1797, two years before the marriage of the #1 couple John Stone and Mary named above. This John presumably would have been slightly older than the first John described, because the two children of this John and Mary Stone were baptized three years earlier. The family relationships and marriage of this couple John and Mary Stone have not been identified.


The Stone family researchers with whom I have worked since the 1990s concluded that Bishop’s father was the first John Stone above, the second son of John Stone 1739 – 1799 and Elizabeth Sellick 1750 – 1804. John 1739 belonged to a long-time Chipstable family and lived in both Wiveliscombe and Chipstable. John and Elizabeth had six sons and no daughters, one of whom, in addition to John 1775, was Robert who was baptized in 1786.

Bishop Stone’s father John did indeed have a brother named Robert. A Robert Stone died in 1864 and in his will he named his nephew Bishop Stone as his primary heir and left a legacy of £200 to his brother John. The 1861 census noted that this same Robert Stone lived in the Wiveliscombe property called “Weare” that had been acquired under copyhold lease by Thomas Stone 1716 – 1789 father of John 1739, and remained in the family for three or more generations. Robert Stone was a victualler and a hotel manager. At his death he owned the Bampton Hotel in Wiveliscombe. After his death, his nephew Bishop Stone had some control of the hotel property, according to documents at the SHC. Robert’s will and the census data appear to confirm that both he and his brother John were sons of John Stone and Elizabeth Sellick.

So what is the conundrum?

1) In the 1851 and 1861 census Robert, the Innkeeper and uncle of Bishop and brother of John, gives his birth year as 1790, not 1786. His tombstone at St. Andrews, Wiveliscombe in 1864 states that he was 74 years of age (i.e. born 1790). Thus Robert is saying that his birth year was 1790, not 1786 when Parish records state that Robert Stone son of John Stone and Elizabeth Sellick was baptized. Did Robert fudge on his age? Could Robert 1786 have died and another Robert been born in 1790 – the same year his brother Joseph was baptized? There is no record of such burial or baptism.

There was, however, a Robert Stone who was baptized in Wiveliscombe in 1790. His parents were Robert Stone and Jane Chorley. Robert and Jane were married in 1788, and Robert was their first child. Unless this marriage was a second marriage for Robert, there is no room for an older brother John. To be a logical father for brothers John 1800 and Bishop 1803, John should have been born prior to 1780, well before the 1788 marriage of Robert Stone and Jane Chorley. He definitely would have been older than Robert the innkeeper. No other brothers John and Robert Stone who fit this scenario with Bishop Stone have been found. The 1775 baptism of the father John, son of John and Elizabeth and not of Robert and Jane, fits perfectly.

2) In Robert’s 1864 will, as well as naming his nephew Bishop he made a legacy to his brother John: To my brother John Stone the sum of two hundred pounds”. In 1864 John 1775, would have been 89 years old! Although at least one of John’s direct ancestors did indeed live into his 90s, 89 is nonetheless an extreme age and considerably older than his younger brother Robert. Furthermore, John’s death was reported in 1823 when he was 48. Specifically, a John Stone was buried in Chipstable in 1823 at age 48, exactly matching a birth year of 1775! So how could John have been named in Robert’s will if he was forty years dead? Tending to confirm the burial record, no census data 1841 – 1861 finds the family of John and Mary Stone in the local area.

Summary: Parish records: A couple named John Stone and Mary were the parents of Bishop Stone and his presumed three siblings. The data and years exactly fit the choice of John Stone (son of John Stone and Elizabeth Sellick) and his wife Mary Stone, married in 1799. This John did indeed have a younger brother Robert, baptized in 1786.  But Bishop Stone’s uncle Robert claims to have been born in 1790, not 1786, and his brother John to whom he left a legacy in 1864 was assumed to have died in 1823.


Can anyone shed any light on this conundrum?


Addition to Richard Stone’s line of descent chart

I added a 1684 date of death for Thomazine Stone widow of Richard Stone 1640 of Clayhanger, because we have her Probate Inventory. I also added an approximate death prior to 1684 for Richard, her husband. I added a child, Grace, who would have been born after Richard’s mother Eleanor wrote her will in 1674 but before Thomazine’s death in 1684, perhaps in the mid 1670s.

Check our our Geography page

The new Geography page contains an introduction to the Stone family history in several parishes along the Devon – Somerset border country in England’s “West Country”. Maps and illustrations will give you a sense of the land and how the important parishes in our history relate to each other. Genealogical links (GENUKI) to the various parishes are provided.

Correction to Richard Stone’s descendants chart

There is an error on Richard Stone’s descendant chart (I’m certain more errors will be found!). On page 12, Jane Stone the daughter of Captain Stone 1784 was NOT baptized in Ashbrittle in 1811. She was born September 8, 1909 in England, probably in Somerset or Hertfordshire, but her baptism has not yet been located. Jane Stone the daughter of Captain Stone 1756 and his wife Elizabeth aka Betty Langbridge WAS baptized in Ashbrittle that January 11 (page 42). She was their last child, after Captain retired from the Excise. He and Betty returned first to the Wadhams farm portion of the Venn Farm property) and then to Ashbrittle after he sold his interest in the Venn farm in the early 1800s. The history of this branch of the Stone family has roots in Ashbrittle in the 17c after their start in Clayhanger.

Captain Stone 1756’s descendants went to Austrailia and New Zealand in the 1830s. Captain Stone 1784 immigrated with his family to Albion, Illinois in 1818.

NOTE: When viewing the charts in this site, close or depart them by clicking the back button rather than the “X” (exit) button. If you click “X” you will leave the site. Eventually I may try to change that so clicking “X” will take you back to the previous page.

Plans for this new website


Welcome to the new (March 2012) website intended to tell the family stories of the Stone family of Devon and Somerset and the Rhodes family of Kent, both before and after their immigration to the United States. There will be bugs I am sure, but if you are patient we will correct them. For example, when I navigated to the website from a link provided in a message on Devon Rootsweb, I was unable to open the links to the descendant charts for Stone and for Rhodes. When I went to the page directly with my browser or via Google search, the two descendant charts opened as they should. When you succeed in opening a chart or other link, return to the page using the back arrow, do not delete or you will leave the site. I also have found access to the descendant charts slower via Firefox than via Internet Explorer, and I do not know why,

As the site develops I hope to add more charts, lists, maps, photos and text. I will present the wills of several of the 17c and 18c Stones of Clayhanger, Devon and Chipstable or Wiveliscombe, Somerset. I hope you will find information of interest at this site, but also that you will be patient when you encounter bugs and poorly designed pages and links. I’m still learning.  If you find data errors or can add new information of which I am unaware, please let me know. If the comments options do not seem to work at first, be patient and we will try to get it right. We do ask that you provide contact information if you want to correspond. JCS II.