Last time I wrote about the Beales of Biddenden. My Beale ancestor was not a Richard, but John Beale, the ninth of Rich Richard's ten children. Though not as wayward as his brother Crusty Richard, John also provided his share of headaches to the Beales. John's mother's (Frances Beale, nee Witherden) letters are kept by the Biddenden History Society, and according to a Beale cousin who has seen them, she was in frequent dismay at John's behaviour, which included gambling and sending his washing back to River Hall. Frances also expressed disapproval at John's choice of wife, Elizabeth Hope, so much so that she apparently forbade the marriage. John seems to have paid lip service only to her wishes and had four children with Elizabeth out of wedlock, giving them the surname "Beale Hope", before finally marrying her in 1850, four years before his mother's death but long after his father's. They went on to have another ten children after the wedding! Why did the Beales disapprove of Elizabeth so much?
My majority of my research has centred on my mother's family, the Downings, who lived in Southminster, Deepest Essex (and later Southend-on-Sea). This lively family were always up to mischief and rarely off the pages of the Chelmsford Chronicle. But I knew they weren't always from Southminster. Every Downing that I had researched was descended from the same man, Joseph Downing. According to his burial record, Joseph was 77 when he died in 1819, meaning he had been born around 1742. But there was no baptism for Joseph in Southminster, or indeed of any other Downings prior to him. Where did he come from, and why?