I believe that the solution to my riddle is that there was a generation left out of the oral history told by my great grandmother.
I have looked at an 1805 marriage in Stretham, Surrey between James Wicks and Mary Chitty but repeatedly discarded it because of my great grandmother’s story and the certainty that Mary must have been a Russell. Finally – and mostly because of a lack of other possibilities – I decided to research this marriage and search for the Chitty family.
I had, with the help of several people, compiled quite a collection of Brasier and Russell names from the 1700’s in Surrey and Kent. Something made me recall that somewhere in all of those names there were a number of Chitty’s. When I reviewed all of the links, I found that an Edward Chitty had wed a Mary Brasier. One of my key names was Mary Ann Brasier Wicks! Perhaps this was a link.
As I looked more closely at this new Mary Brasier, I realized that she was the daughter, grand-daughter and great-grand-daughter of William, John and Frances Brasier of Old House, aka Cudham Court. Then I noticed that the mother of this Mary Brasier was none other than Mary Russell who just happened to be the sister of James Russell (Uncle) of Tillingdown Farm! I went back to the will of John Russell of Tillingdown, the son of James, and there was a bequest, with a lot of intermediate deaths, to “Cousin” Mary Brasier.
The links brought together the story of the "Uncle" of Tillingdown Farm and of the Brasiers, Esq. of Cudham Court. Unfortunately, it did not neatly wrap everything as there were some discrepancies. My Mary Wicks seems to have been christened in Croydon, as she reported in the 1851 census, but as Fanny, although she wed as Mary which may have been her call name or her desired name. The story recalled “Uncle” John Russell when it should have been either “Cousin” John or “Uncle” James. However, I can surmise how either the son of the wealthy “Uncle” might still retain this title or even how this error would creep into the family lore because of the dispersant dates of the deaths of the various characters.
Then there was the little matter of Edward Chitty’s death in January 1796 and his burial with the “P” notation – usually meaning Pauper in the register. His wife, Mary, had been left ₤300 by her father, William, in 1777 and the provision of the will of “Cousin” John may have given her another ₤30 a year, so I did not anticipate the pauper condition. But there was a bit of strangeness in the will of William, Mary Brasier’s father. The will left all of the property to the second son, another William, with cash to the other two brothers and to the three sisters. Named as executors of the will were his eldest daughter Elizabeth and his brother-in-law James Russell (of Tillingdown) and the will went into great detail as to how each of the siblings could attach all the property if the provisions for their distributions were not followed. It seemed that William expected trouble. On proving, one Executor was James but Elizabeth was replaced by the eldest son, Thomas. Thomas would have been in a strange place as an executor charged with turning over his father’s rather large estate to a younger brother. I am left to wonder whether there was indeed trouble and as to how the distribution finally played out.