Mary Layster

Mary Layster (also Laister) is unique amongst our early female ancestors in that we know she carried on a trade on her own account. It’s difficult to get any information about people’s occupations before the census started in the nineteenth century. Mary, however, was a publican and had to apply for the renewal of her licence, which she did in September 1792. I am indebted to Stephen Ward for this information and much more about Mary’s life.

Mary died just three months after she renewed that licence, in December 1792. I can’t help but wonder what happened to the Christmas trade. I mean no disrespect to our ancestors when I say I’m sure they must have carried on, even though the licence would have expired with Mary. I’m certain someone said; “It’s what she would have wanted”.


But to begin at the beginning, at Whitgift where Mary was born. We have a problem with the parish records. The original records were damaged by water so what we have are a re-construction after the event, or possibly even re-baptisms, which were not unknown.

Mary was, I think, the third child of four. Her brother Thomas was born and baptised in 1713 (NS). There is then a gap until Mary was baptised along with her sister Elizabeth in August 1717. Their younger brother John was baptised in 1721. It could be that Mary’s elder brother died in 1724; there is a record of the death of Thomas son of Thomas Laister.

In 1727 there is a record of Thomas Laister, “a poor man” buried on 5 November. This is almost certainly Mary’s father as we know her mother married again three years later. How the family survived those three years we don’t know, but at ten years old Mary would be old enough to work and make a contribution.

In 1730 Mary went with her mother and new stepfather, William Bourn (Burn), to his home in Adlingfleet. Possibly Mary’s sister Elizabeth stayed in Whitgift; she was married there two years later which leads me to think she was a little older than Mary.


Mary herself married Richard Naylor in Adlingfleet in 1742. They settled in Luddington, just 5 km away. They ran an alehouse and started a family. Mary had eight children, but there was more sorrow to come. Both of her sons died in infancy, Thomas in 1744 and Richard in 1748. In 1753 her firstborn Winifred died at the age of ten. (The next baby, our ancestor, was named after her.)

Thankfully Mary’s surviving five daughters lived to maturity and we know that four of them had married before their father died in 1788. Mary was now over 70 but she took on the alehouse. Her life had always been a struggle and she continued to make her own living until her death four years later.

Mother of Winifred Naylor and daughter of Thomas and Ursula Layster

Baptised on 18 August 1717 at Whitgift, Yorkshire

Married Richard Naylor Jnr on 3 April 1742

Buried 26 December 1792

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