Nice to hear from you, and yes we have the same ancestry.Mabel Billenness was my 5th cousin 3 times removed, and I agree with the lineage you described.I assume you would be my 7th cousin once removed - pretty distant, but definitely related!
James Billenness who married Susannah Hoad is the earliest Billenness in my tree, too, as Susannah was my ggggggg-aunt.Generally I don't follow spouse ancestry unless I believe there is another connection to one of my lines further back, as I have enough trouble trying to keep track of the descendants and direct-line ancestors!In James's case I have not tried to trace his origins, but I suspect it may be quite difficult.
Mabel was the only child I knew from David and Evelene's marriage. I should be very interested to know about the other 7 children.
David and Eliza Goldsmith's marriage I knew about, but David was the only child I knew of - I should very much like to know who the others were and what became of them if you have any details.
I knew of ten children from Thomas and Deborah's marriage -Jane (c.1804) who married John Cornford, Mary Ann (c.1807), William (c.1809)who married Hannah Lade, Hannah (c.1810), Benjamin (c.1813) who married Barbara Cornford, Lydia (1816) who married Henry Martin, Rebecca (1818), Ruth (1821) who married Henry Hoad (he was my 1st cousin,4 times removed, and Ruth was my 3rd cousin 5 times removed), John (1823) who married Eliza Goldsmith, and George (1828) who married Lucy Jane Mitting.Who were the other two, and do you know if Mary Ann, Hannah or Rebecca married, by any chance?
I too have used the 1881 census (not the 1901 census yet), plus numerous online sources, including several people with family histories very well researched.I totally agree with your comments about the difficulties of spellings.I have found the same in some other family lines, and it can be very tricky trying to unravel who is related to whom.
I had not heard of the tales relating to the origins of the name, although last month I did see a reference to smuggling related to the Billenness family, but without anyone in particular being named.I had assumed the name was probably Huguenot originally, and I am sure your supposition is correct concerning the likely influx of workers for the ironworking at Ashburnham.
I was delighted to receive a reply to my message, as it was only posted a few days ago, after the message board I had requested was set up.