Posted by on 3 April 2013 in Ancestry Advocates, General, Guest Bloggers

Last weekend,  I wrote about looking for a character in my tree that I was struggling with. I spent some much-needed time over the Bank Holiday researching him.

As a reminder this is what I knew of him. Alexander Cumberbatche paid to become a Freeman of the City of Bristol on 17th May 1618. He was married and worked as a a horner –  someone who works with horn.

The difficulty was that Alexander wasn’t a forename that I could easily associate with any particular branch of the Cumberbatches. I hadn’t found his marriage in Cheshire or Bristol.

Hopefully these steps will give some insight into how I was able to find out more:

Here is the search criteria that helped. You’ll see I used an asterisk wildcard in the surname.

Scrolling down the results revealed

The striking coincidence is that these marriages occurred on 9 July 1614 and the bride’s name is Alice Hayes in all of the results. But why was she married in two places?

A quick review of both entries:

The entry says Anno d[omini] 1614 R[eign] Ja[mes] 12 [Twelfth year of the reign of James the First]

Alexander Cumberland unto Alice Hayes [July] 9

I figured that this would be one of those genealogical teasers. So I checked the other image:

This entry was transcribed as:

Name:   Alexander Cumper

Event Type:  Marriage

Event Date: 9 Jul 1614

Parish:  Arrow

Spouse’s Name:  Alice Hayes

But he names jumped out at me from the original record – it was Alexander Cumberbatche and Alice Hayes single p[er]sons. So I submitted a correction to make the surname Cumberbatche. Note in this old writing a letter that looks like an ‘r’ is a ‘c’. Compare the ‘c’ in Alice to the ‘c’ in ‘batch’ and see the ‘r’ at the end of Alexander and the ‘r’ in Cumber.

Where did the transcript ‘Cumper’ come from? This is easy to see if you separate the letters on different lines. Immediately below the ‘b’ in Cumber the high ascender for an old ‘s’ in ‘single’ on the line below interferes with the ‘b’ in Cumber. The transcriber read Cumper rather than Cumber and probably he or she could make no sense of the remainder of the surname ‘batch’.

So why were they married in two parishes on the same day? I turned to Google maps to discover where Arrow was compared to Alcester.

A quick check of The Phillimore Atlas & Index of Parish Registers confirmed that Arrow and Alcester were indeed separate and ancient parishes. However, they are adjacent to each other. Perhaps this marriage was recorded in both his and her parish registers.

His baptism

Feeling lucky, I searched for a baptism using the same criteria as before but adding Warwickshire as a place filter. But I had no luck with a surname CUM*. So I searched just for Alexander

After I confirmed that Alexander Chaumberline was a correct entry I carried on down the list.  I really have no idea what possessed me to click on Alexander Amberton, but here is what I found:

This is more difficult to read but it says:

[1586] Dec 3 Alexander the son of Nicholas

Cumberbach was christene[d] the third day of december

So Alexander Cumberbach was baptised 3 Dec 1586 in Nuneaton, Warwickshire and Nicholas Cumberbach was Alexander’s father. Now this Nicholas I know a little about! [Yes, I did submit a correction to Cumberbach]

The surname originates from a place in Cheshire called Comberbach. By the time it reaches Nuneaton in the Midlands it is recorded in parish registers as Cumberbach, Cumberland and Cumberbatche.

So thanks to the long weekend and a helpful Help and Advice article on how to decipher handwriting  I have been able to unlock more about the once elusive Alexander Cumberatche.

Bob Cumberbatch is researching every Cumberbatch from any time, any place or anywhere with the Guild of One Name Studies. He is a Committee member and Education Liaison Officer for the Guild, plus a member of the Society of Genealogists and a guest blogger for

About Emma

Emma Pulman is a Social Media and digital Marketing Executive for Based in Ancestry's London office in Hammersmith, Emma regularly tweets and posts on Ancestry's Facebook page.


Daniel Morgan 

You wrote: “The transcriber read Cumper rather than Cumber and probably he or she could make no sense of the remainder of the surname ‘batch’.”

Here’s a theory: the transcriber thought the ‘batche’ was an abbreviation for ‘bachelor’.

3 April 2013 at 3:38 pm
Shaun OConnor 

Why 2 parishes? Likely because the practice was to record all other sacraments in the records of the parish where a person was baptized. Didn’t always happen, but most often did … A help to tracking down those hidden ancestors!

3 April 2013 at 3:49 pm

The transcription error clearly shows that transcribers need to be trained in the layout of documents from this period before they start transcribing otherwise you can’t find the entry!. The name is in my view very clear and is not two words, the good news is that it was in English and not Latin.

3 April 2013 at 6:19 pm