The gardens at Stourhead in south-west Wiltshire are amongst the best known in England. But what was there before they were planted? This book aims to show that the parish of Stourton had a fascinating history long before Stourhead was conceived. For example, it is one of the few places in England which sustained a Roman Catholic congregation throughout the early modern period (and indeed until the 20th century). The author pays particular attention to the histories of Stourton families, both Catholic and non-Catholic - not just the wealthy Stourtons and Hoares, but also the small farmers and tradesmen, and the paupers. This book will interest everyone who visits Stourhead, or who has any connection with 17th and 18th century Stourton.
This is the first study to use pedigrees of a mainstream English population to determine cousin marriage rates amongst ordinary labourers, tradesmen and farmers, and to demonstrate the association between cousin marriage, occupation, religious affiliation, geographical mobility and illegitimate reproductive experience. Using birthplace rather than place of residence, it shows the geographical source of spouses, their parents and grandparents. The marriage prospects of parents of illegitimate children and the children themselves are described, along with the association between being the mother of an illegitimate child and both low geographical mobility and high rates of cousin marriage.