Gertrude’s mother ‘Mary A R Hexter’ married James Shapley in Chicago in 1876. When ‘Mary Ann Shapley’ died in Texas in 1940, her birthplace is down as Exeter, her father is named as Unknown Hexter and mother’s maiden name Unknown. In some US Family Trees she is variously named as Mary Randall, Mary Reynolds or Mary Ann Randall Hexter. No-one seemed sure! Some even thought Hexter was simply a mistake because of her place of birth. This made me wonder whether she could be an illegitimate daughter of our Ann Rendle i.e. John Hexter’s mother. Mary Ann’s birthday is given in the US Census and at her death as 11 June 1847. This would not be possible as a sister of John because his sister Ellen Eliza was born 24 June 1847. However, a birth in 1846 (at or before her parents' marriage) or 1848 would be OK. We have searched US and Canadian records but can find no other records of Mary Ann before she pops up in Chicago for her marriage in November 1876 where her age was given as 28 - not as expected 29.
The GRO Indexes have no record of Mary Ann Hexter’s birth having been registered (there are three others that can be discounted, including one who married another Shapley!). I’ve not found a baptism although I have only been able to check the most likely Devon registers that are online. I’ve also looked at a lot of Rendle/Rendall/Randall births and baptisms but nothing seems to fit. There is a tantalising record in the Devon Archives of a Bastardy complaint brought in October 1844 by Ann Rendle in Crediton with no father named. The Order was refused. But our Ann Rendle wasn’t the only one in Crediton.
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