Robert Lighttallars – possible burial 1807

I have discovered a burial record for a Robert Lightollows which may refer to the person who married Jane Mayson in Carlisle, 21 Feb 1803.

Here is part of the Plymouth Deaths & Burials record for June 1807 in the parish of Stoke Damerel, Plymouth, Devon.

This shows that Robert Lightollows, age 27 years, was buried on 2 Jun 1807 in the parish of Stoke Damerel, near Plymouth, Devon.

Perhaps it is worth refreshing what information we have – here is part of an email Linda Lytollis sent me in June 2013, when we spoke of Ian Shalapata’s account of Robert Lighttallars…

“Also I can’t agree with his theory about coming from Lancaster as far as I know the various Lancashire militias were raised in all sorts of places and also you didn’t necessarily have to know the person who you were a substitute for. I have followed where the various militias went and found that they spent a lot of time in different parts of England, Portsmouth and Exeter spring to mind, so he could have died anywhere (or possibly not died…he may have just not come home!)”

… and part of what Ian Shalapata says on his web site – most probably based on the research of Linda Lytollis. I asked him what evidence he had for these facts but did not receive a reply…

“With Robert having joined the militia in late 1803, and possibly being stationed apart from Jane, it may explain the uncharacteristic (for the time) length of time between the births of their first and second children. A petition by Robert on 7 January 1804 to the Lancaster Quarter Sessions (courts) was heard at Easter 1804 and a Certificate of Maintenance of dependants in Carlisle was ordered. This certificate indicates that Robert was serving as a substitute in the Lancashire militia for Lancaster. It is likely that Robert would have been a member of the 1st Battalion, Royal Lancashire Militia as it was raised in and around Lancaster. Poor men often enrolled in the militia as substitutes in return for payment from those who were eligible for service, but wished to avoid it. The wives and children of these militia substitutes were often left chargeable to the parish. They were eligible for payment of relief by the parish, and the parish was able to apply to the County Treasurer for reimbursement of the money that had been paid out.

Robert again petitioned the Lancaster Quarter Sessions for maintenance on 11 April and 10 July 1804. Whereas his name was spelt as Lighthallows in January, the latter two petitions provide another spelling of Lightharrows. These maintenance certificates may have accomplished their intent as there was not another petition for some time so either Robert’s pay for his militia service finally caught up with him and/or Jane found employment in Carlisle, and if so, likely as a weaver.

Money again became tight for Jane, living alone with a young son. This possibly precipitated the last of the petitions by Robert for maintenance on 10 December 1807. This time the petition indicates that Robert was serving as a substitute for a man named John Sutcliffe of Lancaster; the third indication that Robert was originally from the Lancaster area. In this instance Jane and Joseph were deemed to be worthy of 3 shillings per week for 13 weeks (covering 10 April 1807 to10 July 1807), after which Robert would have to again petition for relief. However, the petition was heard by the Lancaster Quarter Sessions during Epiphany (January) in 1808 and Robert may have already been deceased at this time. If he was serving in the 1st Battalion, it is most likely that Robert died in either Exeter or Plymouth in Devonshire, where the battalion was located in 1807/08.”

According to the Recruiting Areas listed below, John Sutcliffe (being from Lancaster) would probably have been required to enlist in the 1st Royal Lancashire Militia.

It would be safe to assume that Robert Lighttallars, as a ‘substitute’ for John Sutcliffe, would be assigned to the same regiment.

Confirmation that Robert was a ‘substutute’ in the Lancaster Militia comes in a letter from J. Brown Grisdale – a Justice of the Peace in Cumberland – dated 11 April 1804 in pursuance of a Petition to recover monies paid to support Robert’s wife and child.

The 1st Royal Lancashire Regiment was re-embodied in 1803 at the outbreak of war with France and the regiment sent to Danbury Camp in Essex. By 1807 they were based at Exeter and Stonehouse Barracks, Plymouth, as recorded by R.J.T. Williamson below.

So it is very likely that if Robert was enlisted in the 1st Royal Lancashire Militia then he would have been located at Stonehouse Barracks in Plymouth, Devon in the year 1807.

Previous research by Linda Lytollis indicated the 1st Royal Lancashire Militia were based in the Devon area 1807/1808  and this is confirmed by the newspaper article from the ‘Plymouth Journal’ dated 4th April 1807.

Here is a burial record from FamilySearch (with my notes) regarding Robert Lightollows for 1807 in Devon…

And from ‘FindMyPast’ here is the Plymouth Deaths & Burials transcription for this same event…

This transcription also records his age at death as 27 years, making his birth about 1780. Below is a copy of part of the actual document to which it refers…

Stoke Damerel parish register of burials for 1807 lists 74 burials for the month of May and 76 burials for June – could this signify an outbreak of some virulent disease? The ‘History, Gazetteer & Directoty of Devon’ notes that Stoke Damerel parish had 23,747 inhabitants in 1801 and 30,083 in 1811.

Was Robert sick? Was he left at Stoke Damerel (possibly with others militia men) while the rest of his comrades relocated due to the new orders reported in the Plymouth Journal dated 4th April 1807?

The map above shows the locations of Stoke Damerel and Stonehouse in relation to Plymouth Dock area.


None of the above info proves that Robert Lightollows is the same person as our Robert Lighttallars but I think it is significant that the Royal Lancashire Militia were stationed in Plymouth in 1807.

“…the last of the petitions by Robert for maintenance on 10 December 1807…in this instance Jane and Joseph were deemed to be worthy of 3 shillings per week for 13 weeks (covering 10 April 1807 to10 July 1807), after which Robert would have to again petition for relief. However, the petition was heard by the Lancaster Quarter Sessions during Epiphany (January) in 1808 and Robert may have already been deceased at this time.”

The last petition by Robert on 10 Dec 1807 would seem to suggest he was alive on that date – or does it? Communications in 1807 would probably be laborious and slow, possibly taking months to go through militia official channels. The date of the petition may not signify when he actually instigated his request for maintenance, rather the date that it was received by the relevant authorities.

One thing that does seem certain is that the Robert Lightollows who was buried at Stoke Damerel on 2nd June 1807 was not local to that area. I have been unable to locate any other BMD records for that name (or similar) for the county of Devon.

** Update: I have since found a family called Lightowler – Jerimiah Lightowler (1746-1816) who married Elizabeth Pierce on 08 Dec 1794 in Exeter, Devon. They had a son William (1799-1825) who was buried at St Thomas in Devon. I have not discovered any links between this family and Robert Lightollows **

This does not prove Robert is our man but it ticks the following boxes…

  • It is unlikely Robert Lightollows was a local Devon man.
  • He was 27 years old (born c.1780) & would have been 23 years old in 1803.
  • Men aged 18-45 were required to be registered for the local Militia.
  • Robert Lighttallars joined the Lancashire Militia in 1803 as first maintenance petition was on 7 Jan 1804.
  • The Royal Lancashire Militia (1st & 3rd Regts) were based in Plymouth & Exeter in 1807.
  • The last petition for maintenance was 10 Dec 1807.
  • Robert Lighttallars died before 6 Aug 1808 when his wife married Michael Ward.

Well, those are my thoughts on the subject. Not the sort of unequivocal proof we hope for as Family Researchers but there are some points of reasonable coincidence.

On the chance that it could be our Robert, it gives some credence to searches based on any Robert Lighttallars/lightollows/lightollers etc. who were born around 1780 – possibly in Lancashire.



Billy Wakefield August 2014