William DISS circa 1733-1821 -Origins?

William DISS circa 1733-1821


G.D.DISS 6th August 1989


On the 29th October 1755 William Diss married Judith Rayner at St Andrew's Church, Halstead in Essex. William and Judith had 10 children, 6 of them boys. Analysis of all the male Diss Marriages between 1837 and 1900 suggests that all Diss's today are descended from one of 13 marriages prior to 1837. Of these 13, 6 are descendents from William and Judith, 4 are Cambridgeshire and 3 are London families.

Descendents of William and Judith are now spread far and wide but paths do cross, for in Crawley, in 1989, one of their 6th G Grandsons is being taught by one of their 5th G Grandsons. There are also contacts between descendants in this country and Australia and New Zealand.

Where are William's roots ­ That is the question.

The first mention of William is in the Vestry Book of St Andrew's Church on the 29th December 1743 when Diss child was 'put out' by the Overseers of the Poor. Where did William come from and how did he come to be in the care of the Overseers? What do we know of William? Perhaps these notes will help us find the vital clue if they are, by good fortune, still hidden in one of the Record Offices.

Birth Date

On the 6th March 1748 William was apprenticed to Thomas Clark, Weaver of this Parish " until the said apprentice reached the full age of 24 ". His apprentice indenture (ERO D/P 96 / 14) states that William is 15, i.e. born in 1733. This would mean he would have been out of his apprenticeship in 1757 but William got married in 1755. Would he be allowed to marry while still an apprentice? If he was 24 in the year of his marriage 1755 that would make his birth not 1733 but 1731.

William was buried at St Andrew's on 7th May 1821. On the microfilm of the parish register (ERO D/P 96 / 15) his age is given very clearly as 96. This would make his date of birth 1725, clearly not correct. If the 6 was actually a 0 then that would make his birth date not 1733 but 1731.

If the apprentice indenture is correct then William would have been born in 1733 but there seems to have been some doubt at the time. The indenture leaves space to fill in the date and month when he became 15 and this is crossed out.


No trace can be found of William's baptism at St Andrew's on the microfilm of the original parish register. On the microfilm there is an entry "In Parish Rate Book of 1709-10 are rough copy of baptisms of 1735 also 1735-36 in the Rate Book of 1717. This register does not contain all the entries in the Rate Book".

Although there are several Williams in the Rate Book

(ERO 96 /11/1) the pages are water damaged and it is not possible to check the parentage.


Baptisms have been checked in the following surrounding parishes for 1720-1740 without success.

Belchamp Otter






Castle Hedingham


Colne Engaine

Earls Colne




Great Maplestead

Great Warley

Great Yeldham


Little Bradfield

Little Burstead

Little Maplestead






Sible Hedingham





Waltham Holy Cross.


Wickham St Paul


St Andrew's Halstead, Vestry Book 1743-1748

(ERO D/P 96/8/1)

On the 29th December 1743 a list of children 'put out' . Included in the list is

Calib Morris for Diss child for one year £ 2.10.0 ore 12.6 p.q

The 12.y p.q was crossed out. Of the 22 entries Calib Morris was the only person to receive the allowance for the full year. Everybody else was paid by the quarter without the option of a yearly payment. Payment continues in the Vestry Book and in the Overseers disbursements (ERO D/P 96/12/1) although reduced to 10. and paid quarterly. This payment continues until 1747 when it is likely that William would be placed in the workhouse for 6 months before being apprenticed to Thomas Clark. (The minutes for the first day of January 1746/1747 state that all parish apprentices must serve 6 months in the workhouse first.)

There is also an updated entry, probably 1746, in the Overseers disbursements,

D. (Doctors?) for curing Diss boy's head 2.6

The Vestry and Disbursement books also show payments to Widow Diss during the period 1743-1747, usually 1.0.

Calib Morris

Calib Morris of Nylon (Nay land?) married Mary Dees, single of this parish at St Andrew's on July 4th 1721. They were not successful in raising a son, as there are 3 burials in the parish register.

August 18th 1722 Calib Morris a child

November 18th 1729 Calib Morris

October 14th 1731 Calib Morris

Settlement Papers ( ERO D/P 96 /14 )

1745 William Porter to John Diss (Master) ­ Weaving.

Possible names for Williams Parents from his own family names.

William Bp 28.03.1778 After himself

Israel Bp 23.03.1758 After Judith's father

John Bp 05.04.1763 After William's father

Mary Bp 05.04.1763 After William's mother

Judith Bp 09.04.1765 After Judith's mother


Burials at St Andrew's ( ERO D/P 96/1/1-9)

1720 Dec 15 Mary Dees

1729 Sep 27 John Diss

1730 Dec 10 Mary Diss

And at Sudbury St Gregory

1737 August 25 Deborah wife of John Diss buried

1737 September 2nd John Diss buried



It seems most likely that William was either not baptised or more likely that his baptism was recorded in the rate book. Possibly he could have been born and baptised outside Halstead in one of the parishes to the north or in Suffolk. This is not likely. He seems to have been a Halstead 'son' being apprenticed in a craft rather than to husbandry. This also suggests that he was not illegitimate. William's eldest son William married Rachel Sadler at Fordham on July 29th 1784. The witnesses were William Wade and the Parish Clerk Dale Hobart, so it is unlikely that a search would be fruitful.

It seems possible if not probable that his father's name was John and his mother's name Mary. Attached are all the charts showing baptisms and marriages of Johns, which I have traced for this period and which might be relevant.

My Hunch

Could he be a 'late arrival' to the John and Mary whose son John was baptised at St Andrew's on 25th May 1780 (G/3E)?

Could Mary who married Calib Morris be a sister to that John and hence to William. ( G/4E)?

Is John the Master Weaver the same John.? He would be unlikely to take William on as an apprentice as he already had one in 1745.

Will we ever know?

G.D.DISS 6th August 1989