Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Stokes family of Cheltenham

This family is one of my lesser researched lines and I know very little about them. George Stokes was a clergyman in Cheltenham, educated at Oxford in about 1726.

He and his wife Mary had about 9 children most of whom were baptised in Cheltenham, although there are some for whom I cannot find baptism records. George died sometime before his wife Mary, as she was a widow when she wrote her will in 1779.

 Their daughter Jane married David Hughes Holland of Mickleton and they had two children Thomas Kemble Holland and another David Hughes Holland. I have always been interested to find out where the Kemble part of the name came from but can as yet find no evidence of a family relationship. However I have found a few tantalizing clues.

 1. Thomas and M Kemble were witnesses at the marriage of Jane Stokes and David Hughes Holland in Cheltenham.

 2. In his will of 1770, Thomas Kemble Esq of Tewkesbury leaves a bequest of 10 pounds to Mrs Mary Stokes of Cheltenham, widow.

 3 Thomas Kemble's wife Margaret leaves a property to Charles Wynne, the son of Robert Wynne and Dorothy Stokes - a sister of Jane Stokes.

 4. Thomas Kemble Holland and his wife Temperance Tomes use the names Stokes and Wynne when they name their children.

 5. Thomas Kemble of Tewkesbury had a brother Daniel who was also a Church of England Clergyman.

 6. Thomas Kemble's mother was Elizabeth Michell of Cheltenham....maybe this is where the connection is? Mysteries to solve!


  1. I've been doing some family history research on behalf of my partner. Her 4xg grandparents were David Hughes Holland and Jane Stokes. Her line is then Thomas Kemble Holland, Elizabeth Bennett Holland, Thomas Kemble Williams, Francis Kemble Williams, Frederick Kemble Williams (father). Her brother is Peter Kemble Williams, and she's given her son the middle name of Kemble, but has no idea how the name became incorporated in the family. I soon traced back to David Hughes Holland, and found the record of witnesses of his marriage to Jane, found the will mentioning Mary Stokes, and was left with the same mysteries as you! I've found someone else's tree which has John Holland married to Ann Kemble around 1688. It states that John was born c1663 in Mickleton and died there in 1719. It also states that Ann died in Mickleton in 1730/31. I've found the burial record of an Ann Holland, widow of John, but cannot find any proof that her maiden name was Kemble. If I could, then this would help explain the use of the name Kemble in the family. I therefore wondered whether you have made progress since you wrote this.
    Peter Gibbs

  2. Hi Peter,
    So glad that you've found the blog and got in touch! The Kemble name was indeed a mystery for a long time but I have discovered where it came from and it is lovely to think that it is still being used as a family middle name.
    There is NO evidence (yet?) that the Ann who married John Holland was a Kemble. Yes, there are a lot of internet trees that claim this is so but I have never seen a source other than other trees for this belief.It would seem to be logical, but in fact the Kemble connection is a little more circuitous and actually comes through the Stokes line.
    Jane's mother was Mary Mitchell who married the Rev George Stokes. Her father was Edward Mitchell of Cheltenham. He was married 4 times and had children with all but his last wife. His eldest child, born of his first marriage to Ann Carter, was Elizabeth. She married Thomas Kemble of Tewkesbury who, from the little I have been able to find out, was rather a wealthy man.So this Elizabeth, was Mary Stokes' half sister (same father, different mother) and quite considerably older. Thomas Kemble and Elizabeth Mitchell had several children, one of whom was also a Thomas. It is this Thomas who appears to have been the family benefactor to the Stokes/Hollands and is the person for whom the children were named. It seems to have been a custom of the time to name children for wealthy godparents or friends so as to ensure a bit of legacy later on. And in this case Thomas Kemble the son appears to have left a legacy in 1770 to his widowed relative Mrs Mary Stokes (the mother of Jane). The family connection goes on for another generation too because in 1796 Thomas Kemble's widow Margaret, leaves a legacy to Charles Wynne the only surviving child of Robert Wynne of Cheltenham and his wife Dorothy Stokes. She was another daughter of George Stokes and Mary Mitchell, and the younger sister of Jane Stokes who married David Holland.

    So to the best of my knowledge, the Kemble name is a symbol of old fashioned ties of kinship and obligation designed to look after widows and children in the absence of social security. And that is rather a lovely legacy don't you think?

    I have included some of this information in another post on this blog. Mary Mitchell - the Reverend's Wife has a precis.

    Thanks so much for getting in touch. I have traced Mary Mitchell's line back quite a bit further through her mother but have reached a block on both George Stokes her husband and Edward Mitchell her father. They are mysteries still yet to be unravelled!

  3. Hi Elizabeth
    That's absolutely fascinating! It'll take me some time to digest this tangled web and lay it all out for Jenny (my partner) and her family. I'm sure they'll be as delighted and intrigued as I am.
    I've been doing my own family history for several years, and the bug is very deeply embedded now. With the help of other's in my mother's line, we found that we are descended from William the Conqueror! Not unusual, as I'm sure you are aware, but finding the documented evidence is quite rare. Coincidentally, the crucial piece of evidence was found in a library in Norwich, where I now live, and proved that a farmer in Norfolk was indeed the son of 7th Baron Audley, who was beheaded for leading the 1st Cornish Rebellion. His son travelled a long way to avoid detection! Our last "royal" was Ann of Gloucester, then we "descended" to through minor nobility to farm labourers in just 13 generations! I blame the Tudors!