Thomas Underdowne was baptized on the 13th December 1635 in Ottery St Mary to parents Thomas and Sellinger Underdowne (nee Adam). He was their first son and eldest child.
During the Civil War, the cities of Devon largely favoured the Parliamentarian cause, and by and large the rural areas favoured the Royalists. Thomas Underdowne (bc 1635) was a child during this time and it is unknown who his family supported. There was a great desire for peace in the region and, in 1643 a treaty for the cessation of hostilities in Devon and Cornwall was agreed. Only small-scale skirmishes continued until the capture of Dartmouth and Exeter in 1646 by Sir Thomas Fairfax. He then captured Tiverton and defeated Lord Hopeton’s army at Torrington.
Oliver Cromwell held his army in Ottery St Mary for about a month at the end of 1645. Thomas was 10 years old at this time and may have been witness to this event.
Thomas married Johan Turner on the 3rd March 1653 in Ottery St Mary. She was a widow, formerly married to a man by the name of John Turner. The marriage record also appears to indicate that Thomas’ occupation was a weaver. His uncle Robert is also believed to have had the same occupation.
Some researchers of this Underdown line record a Mary Lee who married a Thomas Underdowne in the early 1650s in Ottery St Mary as a first marriage for our Thomas. Because this couple had a child called Temporance baptised in Ottery St Mary on 16th June 1653 (some three months after Thomas and Johan’s marriage), I do not, and consider then to be separate married couple just living at the same time as our Thomas and Johan. The difficulties with parish records at this time have just made the relationships between these two couples unclear. It is possible that the two Thomas Underdownes were cousins.
During the Civil War and it’s aftermath, parish records were poorly kept and many are now missing after being destroyed or hidden by the clergy. During 1653–1660 the registering of births, marriages and deaths was taken over by civil officers (called Parish Registers), but the registers were returned to the churches following the Restoration in 1660. As a result, records for this time period are mostly missing or non-existant. It is very difficult to determine births, deaths and marriages during this period as a result.
The parish records of Ottery St Mary do not record the birth of a child to a Thomas and Johan Underdowne until a Thomas Underdown was born in 1674. This is some 20 years after our Thomas (b1635) and Johan Underdown (fmly Turner) married. The Ottery records then indicate the birth of a John Underdown in 1679, and then two more children are born to a Thomas and Johan Underdown in Honiton in 1682 and 1685 respectively.
This all appears to be one family and records birth too late to be children of Thomas Underdowne (b1635). It is highly likely then that another ‘Thomas and Johan Underdowne’ existed between these two generations who was the father of these children. Because the situation with parish records was in such a mess during this time period, the detail just has not been recorded properly.
The author of this page has therefore taken the theory that Thomas and Johan Underdown (fmly Turner) did have a child (or children together) – their births however have not been recorded. It is also likely that the children they had would have been born more around the time directly after they married in the 1850s. The Thomas Underdown who married a Johan and had children Thomas (1674), John (1679), Mary (1682) and Sarah (1685) is the right age to be a child of our Thomas (b 1635). He could have been born in approximately 1655, making the date of his marriage as circa 1674.
No record of Thomas and Johan’s burial has been located at this stage.
|Offspring of Thomas Underdowne and Johan Turner (c1635-1677)|