Wow - thanks very much for such an insightful reply!
The Richard William REED lead is an interesting one; the date would tie in for Elizabeth b.1780 (yes that's her dying c.1843). It would also put Joseph REED (b1787) and Richard REED (jnr?!) (b.c.1801) squarely in the frame to be fellow siblings (and thus Uncles as per the Census), with Mary REED being the "missing" REED/WARD link.
I absolutely agree that your suggestion makes more sense. There is a recorded marriage between a Joseph WARD and Mary SULIVAN that takes place in Stoke Dameral, Plymouth, 14 Feb 1813 which most of the Ancestry "herd" seems to have followed - I prefer to find something a little more firm before leaping, especially when it is all so tenuous. In the plus side, Joseph May WARD was born and baptised in Plympton Erle, so a quick shuffle over to Stoke would not be unusual. Against it is the fact that the Mary WARD (married name) in all the census returns has her birth as Buckland Monachorum - I can find no Mary SULIVAN birth details on Ancestry other than the assumptions made in various public access trees.
The earliest children recorded on the Censuses are not born until 1821 (Mary) Selina (1826) through to John (1835). Bad luck and early deaths, or maybe they had already flown the coop (1841-1814 is 27 years, after all! And an additional couple if the Mary REED marriage is correct...)
Im certainly glad I took a deep breath and step back before leaping to conclusions on this one. I will definitely try and see the original registers... I imagine they are pretty hard to access though.
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