Somerset County Herald 03 Oct 1959 Somerst Notes and Queries Centenarians in Pitminster Elizabeth OATEN Betty WESCOMBE Betty MORGAN also Nancy OATEN query

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Somerset County Herald and Taunton Courier 03 Oct 1959

Page 4 Column 8

Somerset Notes and Queries

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Centenarians in Pitminster

I am anxious to complete an investigation, which is already half finished, into the question of centenarians in Pitminster.

Your columns have more than once contained information on this matter. In 1908, in answer to query 1868, the following list was given: Bettie OATEN, 107; Ann WESCOMB, 101; Bettie MORGAN, 102.

The inclusion of Ann WESCOMB was apparently a slip, and in the next reference in your columns, dated 16th October, 1943, she was dropped from the list. The list then given was Elizabeth OATEN, 108, and her daughter, Betty WESCOMBE, died 1878 (sic) aged 100. Betty MORGAN was apparently dropped.

Now Elizabeth OATEN's claim to be a centenarian cannot be doubted, though her age at death in 1855 was probably 106, since she was 92 in 1841. Betty WESCOMBE's claim is baseless. She was baptized, and doubtless born, at Pitminster in April, 1779. At the 1851 census she gave her age as 73. A Somerset House certificate before me says she died 21st October, 1876, and though on the information of relatives the age was stated at 100, that figure is arithmetically impossible. She was 97.

I am anxious to investigate Betty MORGAN's claims to have been a centenarian, and those of Ann WESCOMB, if they are still maintained by any supporters. Can anyone say on what evidence the claims were based? And finally, has Pitminster, so, notable for longevity, produced any new claimants to the honour in the last hundred years?


7, Amyand Park Gardens,

Twickenham, Middlesex.


Since my query about Nancy OATEN appeared (5th September, 1959) the following facts have transpired.

The identity of Nancy OATEN with Ann OATEN, which was suggested in my question, is, I think, confirmed. Ann OATEN was a witness at the married of William OATEN to Elizabeth MITCHAM, of Whitestaunton, on 1st April, 1823, at Otterford, and she was doubtless his sister.

I think we may safely conclude that, when on 24th May, 1825, Ann OATEN married Thomas VINCENT, at Pitminster, her mother, the future centenarian, then about 78, had safely married off her eighth and last daughter. Between 1826 and 1841 nine children were born of the marriage, and baptized at Pitminster, in the following order: Ann, Elizabeth, William, Mary, Sarah, John, Robert, Thomas and Hannah. Both Thomas and Ann, the parents, were alive in 1851, aged 52 and 54 years respectively, living at Pitminster.

Only two questions now remain. First, when did Ann die? Second, was the John VINCENT, farmer, of Pitminster, mentioned in the 1861 Directory, Ann's son John, born 1834? Probably not, as he would have been rather young to have made the jump so early in life to the status of an independent farmer. (And there was an older John VINCENT, of Churchstanton, born 1816, who might have become this Pitminster farmer). But it would be interesting to know. Some of the many descendants of these nine children may know the answer.


7, Amyand Park Gardens,

Twickenham, Middlesex.

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<NOTES: Bettie/Elizabeth OATEN is Elizabeth or Betty SEYMOUR, married George OATEN

Betty WESCOMBE is Betty OATEN daughter of George OATEN and Elizabeth or Betty SEYMOUR, married John WESCOMBE>