This site is a work-in-progress. There is a massive amount to cover. I have included both male and female lines, and some go back 30 generations. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from my own as (1)
RICHARD GAY and JANE BEARD (6)
Before he was five years old, his family left their fertile rural parish for St Thomas. This was not yet part of Exeter, but a separate parish on the opposite bank of the Exe. They evidently fell into poverty, because in 1755 the St Thomas Overseers of the Poor issued an order for Richard, his two older brothers and their parents to be removed back to Sandford.
Nevertheless, Richard did grow up in an Exeter suburb. The family moved almost immediately to St Davidís, outside the North Gate of the city. In December 1757, when Richard was seven years old, a baby brother was born. Before the month was out, both the baby and Richardís mother were dead.
Richard and Jane married in St Davidís parish church on 28th November 1773. The marriage was witnessed by Samuel Curry and Thomas Lake.
They had a number of children baptised at St Davidís.
Baptisms. St Davidís, Exeter
1774 Robert son of Richard & Jane Gay. Aug st 28 th
1778 Catharine dr of Rich d & Jane Gay. March 29
1781 Jenny dr of Richard & Jane Gay 23rd April
1783 June 8 Elizab. dr of Rich & Jane Gay
1784 Dec 27 Mary dr of Richard & Jane Gay
St Davidís was an affluent suburb of Exeter. There is evidence of black slaves in some of the households. The parish church records baptisms for Ď Anne Hobbs a Black woman í in 1772 and Ď Thomas Walker, a Black boy í in 1778.
No further children of Richard and Jane appear to have been baptised at St Davidís, and in particular, the baptism of their daughter Sarah has not yet been found. She was born sometime between 1785 and 1795. She said at the 1851 census that she was born in St Davidís. In 1821, the baptismal register entry for her son names her as the daughter of Richard and Jane Gay . At this time, both Sarah and her sister Mary were attending the Methodist church in Mint Lane, so it is possible that Richard and Jane had become non-conformists and that Sarahís baptism is in a register now lost.
It is possible that Richardís is the following burial.
Burial. St Davidís, Exeter
1787 May 6 Richard Gay
But since Sarah was probably born in the 1790s rather than the 1780s, this is unlikely. Sarahís marriage in 1817 was witnessed by Richard Gay , and unless she had a brother Richard whose baptism has also not been found, it is likely that this is her father, who therefore lived much longer. If the signature is his, then he was literate, though his daughter Sarah was not.
At the time of her marriage, Sarah was a Ďsojournerí in St Davids, implying that Richard and his family were no longer resident in that parish. He is probably the Richard Gay who is listed in the 1803 Exeter Militia List , and the only man recorded with that surname. If so, then he had moved to the parish of St Mary Steps, Exeter. Certainly his married daughters Mary and Sarah were living there in 1821.
The Militia List gives us our first information about Richardís occupation.
Richard Gay Dealer in Fish 4th class Will serve if wanted
The 4th class were mostly married men between 31 and 55. The comments column lists some who were too infirm for military service. The most frequent remark is ĎWilling to serveí. Richardís response strikes a more grudging note. He was probably 53 by then, and close to the upper age limit.
Fishing was an important industry along the South Devon coast. Richard is likely to have been down on the Quay buying up the freshly landed catch, which may have been brought up to Exeter through the canal.
In 1851, Richardís grandson, Richard Arscott Lee , married Charlotte Hutchings , also the grandchild of a fishmonger.
Next Generation: 5. LEE-GAY
Previous Generations: 7. GAY-GALLEN