bur.7 Jun 1715 Heckington, Lincolnshire, England
m. 2 May 1703
Facts and Events
William Gray's origins have yet to be established. There is a fair chance he was the William Gray born in 1680 at Heckington in Lincolnshire, but this has yet to be proven.
William's first confirmed sighting is on 2nd May 1703 when he married a woman named Elizabeth Skelton at Heckington. Just over nine months later, on 5th February 1704, Elizabeth gave birth to a son whom they named John. John's baptism record described William as a labourer. Two years later, on 1st April 1705, Elizabeth gave birth to a daughter whom they named Ann. Ann's baptism record described William as a farmer, a higher status profession than a labourer, although the change may just reflect the relative standing of William compared to the clerk recording the baptism. On 23rd December 1706 Elizabeth had a daughter whom they named Elizabeth, and her baptism record calls William a labourer again.
On 7th September 1708, Elizabeth had another son, whom they called William. Sadly, he died as a baby, being buried less than two months after his birth. Five months later the family was struck again, when their daughter Ann died, just a couple of weeks short of what would have been her fourth birthday. Therefore William and Elizabeth were left with only two surviving children from four births.
They did have one final child together: another William, born on 15th June 1710.
William's wife Elizabeth died in 1711, being buried on 26th October 1711. The couple's three surviving children, John, Elizabeth and William, were aged seven, four and one respectively when their mother died.
Following Elizabeth's death, William remarried. His second wife was called Grace, although their marriage record has yet to be found. Just under two years after Elizabeth's death, William and Grace had a son whom they named Edward born on 4th September 1713. Edward was followed on 9th November 1714 by a son named Richard.
Less than a year after Richard's baptism, William was buried at Heckington on 7th June 1715. He appears to have left five surviving children from his two marriages, who ranged in age from 11 down to seven months at the time of his death. They were presumably cared for by his widow, Grace. William's son William only outlived him by just over two years, and when he died aged seven in 1717 the clerk originally wrote "William son of William Gray labourer and Grace his wife", but a later hand has corrected the "Grace" to "Elizabeth". This suggests that young William had been known as Grace's 'son' immediately prior to his death.
Grace outlived William, and appears to have remarried five months after his death. Perhaps with five children to support (only two of whom were her biological children) she needed a husband to support them.