Mysteries concerning


His family and his descendants

Peleg Elks first appears in the Shropshire registers at the time of his marriage, in 1752, to Sarah Evans, in the village of Meole Brace, a couple of miles south-west of Shrewsbury. Although the marriage states that both are from Ponstesbury, a village about six miles to the south-west, their first child, a daughter named Elizabeth, was baptised in Condover, a village not far from Meole Brace, just south of Shrewsbury. There does not seem to be any explanation for why this child was baptised there, unless Sarah Evans originated in Condover. There were Elks families in that village, but no connection with Peleg Elks has been found. All their other children, though, were baptised in Pontesbury. Thereafter the family seems to disappear, save for their son Thomas, who marries in Pontesbury in 1777.

Despite a fairly thorough search of the Shropshire parish registers, no baptism can be found for Peleg Elks. The unusual forename, sometimes spelt Pelek, Pellock and Peallock, is Biblical, from Genesis 11,16-19 ("And Eber .......begat Peleg....."). It is possible that the reason for the lack of a baptism record is simply that he was born in another county, such as Montgomeryshire which adjoins Shropshire, and awaits discovery. Similarly the lack of death records or any subsequent events for the family other than those for Thomas Elks, may just mean that they have moved away.

The mystery is compounded by that of Thomas Elks himself. He marries in Pontesbury, has six children between 1779 and 1796, then his family disappears too, unless the burial of a Thomas Elks in 1805 is him (no age is given so it is impossible to be sure - it might be his son of the same name born in 1784).

As if that were not enough, Thomas' son William Elks, baptised in Pontesbury in 1789, married Sarah Ramsell from Meole Brace in St Alkmund's Church, Shrewsbury in 1817 (when the surname is possibly spelt Hilks) and has four children, all baptised in Meole Brace. After that both he and his family virtually disappear save for my ancestor, John Elks, who was baptised on 7 January 1822. William and Sarah were eventually traced on the 1841 Census and that of 1851 (where their names were misspelt) and their deaths found in the GRO records.. Although John Elks died in 1871, it is strange that neither of his brothers, Edward (baptised in 1817) and William (baptised 1824) appear in the 1881 Census though their respective ages, had they survived, would have been only 64 and 57 respectively. A search in the GRO deaths had failed to identify where they died after 1837, though there are some possibilities that require investigation.

At one time, the use of the spelling Helks (Helkes, Hilks) for the surname seemed to suggest a connection with Wellington, Shropshire, where that spelling was in use for many years, but this has not been substantiated.