Identifying Francis Hester’s Wife

The purported Bible record (rendered in full on another page) states in part:

Francis Hester the son of William Hester late of Oxfordshire in Old England
Elizabth Garland his wife of this Parish
Their son Robert Hester was born 28 Oct. 1686
Their dghtr Mary Hester was born 30 March 1689 and died

As discussed elsewhere, this does not appear to be a Bible record, but rather the notes or theories of a modern genealogist. Note, for example, that the birth dates for the children Robert and Mary are after their baptisms as recorded in the parish register.

Can we believe the “Elizabeth Garland” entry? There is not a shred of evidence that Francis Hester’s wife was a Garland, nor is there any reason to suspect it.  On the other hand, there are two persuasive arguments against it:

  • There was no Garland family living in New Kent at the time Francis Hester married and began having children.    Francis Hester’s two children were baptized in 1686 and 1689 in St. Peter’s parish, and he had land processioned there in 1689.   But no one named Garland arrived in the area until ten years later. The first mention of any Garland is in 1700 when the birth of Edward Garland Junior was recorded in the St. Peter’s parish register. Although Edward Garland Sr. owned 2,600 acres in New Kent in 1704, he owned no land at all there in 1689 when the county’s landownings were processioned.  Nor were the births or christenings of either of his elder sons recorded in the parish register.  It seems clear that Edward Garland did not arrive in New Kent until perhaps the mid to late 1690s.
  • Edward Garland Senior does not appear to have been nearly old enough to have been the father of the wife of Francis Hester.   Indeed, he was probably close to her own age.   His four sons were born between the early 1690s and about 1705 – younger than Francis Hester’s children.   It seems highly unlikely that he could have fathered a daughter who was thirty-odd years older than his other children.

We do know from a number of records that Francis Hester’s wife was named Elizabeth, but we have absolutely no reason to think that her maiden name was Garland.  And since there were no Garlands in the area until well after his elder children were born, it seems quite doubtful.

I might make the point here that other families also claim marriages to daughters of Edward Garland — a whopping six of them altogether.   Records identify four sons of Edward Garland and his wife Jane, but not a single daughter is identifiable.