My OH posted some pictures on Facebook today of my attempt to sort out my dad's sci-fi collection. He commented that despite appearances I wasn't turning the house into a bookshop as I wouldn't want to sell any of them! Too true.
Here's another family history story, this one is about one of my maternal ancestors, my 3x great grandfather Frederick Elstob Hutton. He turned out to be very interesting.
Leaving for Liverpool (submitted to the Liverpool FHS in April 2011, finally published in their journal Autumn 2012)
I have been working on my family history for nearly twenty years now and have seen our methods of research change from long distance travel to mysterious archives to lazy Sunday afternoons on the laptop accessing Ancestry.co.uk. Don’t misunderstand me – I enjoy going to see where our ancestors lived, especially identifying the very street or even house. On these great occasions I usually do a little dance and then take lots of photos for my tree! In the archives the thrill of finding that elusive record made up for the tedium of the journeys and red tape of getting yet another archives membership card. However the multiplicity of resources online these days have definitely made finding those awkward ancestors – you know, the ones determined to disappear – much easier.
Last week (April 2011) I discovered that Ancestry had filmed and indexed various parish records for Liverpool. Living in Yorkshire you wouldn’t have thought Liverpool was so far to go – but somehow I’ve never got around to it, so the chance to look up my stray 3x great grandfather was irresistible. I entered his name into the Burials search box and started looking at the hits.
Let me give you a little background:
My mother’s family comes from Sunderland, Durham however I live in South Yorkshire so my opportunities to research her line have always been limited to infrequent visits to the Durham Record Office. My 4x great grandfather Robert Hutton was a Rope Maker and appears to have passed his interest in a firm of Rope Manufacturers onto his 3rd son, my 3x great grandfather Frederick Elstob Hutton (b.1808). His eldest son Robert Elstob Hutton had become a Master Mariner, the second son John Reuben Hutton was a Solicitor. Fred is listed as a Rope Manufacturer in an 1844 Directory for Sunderland. He is married to Amelia (nee Mordey) and has 6 children with her. I have found the family in the 1841 census (on Ancestry) living at Tatham Street, Sunderland.
Then oddly in the 1851 census Amelia, without Fred, is living at Olive Street, Sunderland and gives her occupation as a Lodging House Keeper. Lodging with her is James McMaster, a “Teacher of English” from Scotland.
Amelia dies in 1860 (I obtained her certificate in 2000 - aged 49 of heart disease, 10 years and dropsy 4 months) but two of her younger children are listed with James McMaster in the 1861 census, her daughter, also Amelia (aged 18, a servant and a House Keeper) and my 2x great grandfather William (a 22 year old visitor and a Mariner’s Mate). The informant at Amelia’s death is her sister Eliza Douglas. There is a gravestone in Sunderland cemetery that lists the elder Amelia and most of her children – but there is no further sign of Fred.
It was back in the days of the 1881 census on CD (from the LDS) that I found a suspicious pairing in Liverpool. Fredk E Hutton, a Rope Maker from Sunderland with a son called Reuben was listed as living in Poplar Grove, Stanley, West Derby. The age given for Fred didn’t match (51 instead of 72) but the co-incidence of the name of the son with my Fred’s elder brother was too great so I sent for Reuben’s birth certificate – they were much cheaper in the year 2000! Sure enough his father is listed as Frederick Elstob Hutton, a Ropemaker Journeyman.
I had found the missing Fred 165 miles from Sunderland settled down with a new wife and family. I don’t believe I thought much more about this as Reuben was born in 1863, some three years after Amelia’s death. I tried and failed to find Fred’s marriage to Reuben’s mother, Frances in the microfiche indexes to the GRO marriages but didn’t let this bother me too much as I was far too busy with the direct lines on my family tree to worry about a “side shoot”.
It was not after until the growth of FreeBMD on the web that in around 2005 I finally found the marriage of Fred and Frances – in Liverpool in December 1851. No! Oh, yes! Fred had married Frances in Liverpool whilst 165 miles away in Sunderland Amelia is running that lodging house and still well and truly alive. Fred was a bigamist. Again I sent for the certificate – Fred even gives his “Residence at time of Marriage” as Olive Street.
I can’t remember how long ago Ancestry started putting census returns on the web, but I do know I took out a free trial and then a subscription pretty sharpish. One of my earliest downloads, dated June 2005, is of a Fred E Hutton in 1871 living in Poplar Grove, West Derby. This time the age given for Fred is much more accurate – he is listed as 62 years old and a Rope Maker from Durham (no town given). Living with him is Frances, his wife, and two children, Reuben aged 8 and Julia aged 13. I also downloaded the image for Fred in 1861; again he is in Poplar Grove aged 52, this time with Frances, and five children. Jane aged 10, Mary aged 8, Eleanor aged 6, Julia aged 4 and John aged 2.
So Jane was born around the time of Fred’s bigamous marriage to Frances, this may explain their reason for the marriage. I suppose once he was married Fred saw no reason not to carry on and a child popped up every 2 years from then onwards!
I was able to find images of Poplar Grove on the Old Maps site, and noticed that the row of houses was situated right next to St Anne’s church. I supposed it would be likely that the Huttons had celebrated their various family events there, but put plans for travelling to Liverpool to look up the parish records very low down my to do list.
My mum was a little scandalised but thrilled to learn of this dubious branch on her family tree and we have spent many hours wondering what made Fred leave Amelia and go to Liverpool to set up home with Frances. Was it Amelia’s illness or did the Scottish lodger have anything to do with it?
You’ll be wondering what I discovered in the Liverpool parish records on Ancestry if I found all of this other information so long ago. Well, it was confirmation really, of something I had suspected but couldn’t prove at a long distance. I had found Frances’s death and sent for the certificate (she died of a stroke in 1892 aged 71) but I had never been able to pin down Fred’s death. The closest hit on FreeBMD was a Frederick Augustus Hutton aged 83 in 1882, but I had not risked my money on the certificate because of the incorrect age and middle name. Within minutes of finding the Liverpool records on Ancestry I had found Fred’s burial in the churchyard of St Anne’s, Stanley. “Frederick A Hutton [of] Poplar Grove [aged] 83 yrs” was buried on 11th September 1882. I have sent for the certificate now – there couldn’t be two Fred Hutton’s living on Poplar Grove!
The incorrect middle name seems to have been a constant misunderstanding in Fred’s second family. Also in the Liverpool parish records I found Reuben’s marriage in 1889 at St James church, West Derby – he gives his father’s name as Frederick Egustus (honestly that’s what it says!) Hutton. Reuben must not have had access to his birth certificate and the family must have garbled Elstob into Augustus after his death.
So thank you to Ancestry for publishing the Liverpool parish records – I just need to find Jane, Mary, Eleanor and Julia’s baptisms to find out where the family were living before Poplar Grove. The younger children were baptised at St Anne’s and two of the girls married there so the family had associations with the area for quite a long time. It took me twenty years of traditional methods to find the various pieces to map out Fred’s busy married life and one afternoon on the web to reprise the research and complete his story to my satisfaction. Oh and I did find two of the girls living away from home as servants in later census returns. Eleanor and Julia were maids for Hilton Gardner, the curate and then incumbent at St Anne’s following his father’s resignation. Rosa Gardner, Hilton’s wife, is a witness when Eleanor and Julia Hutton get married from St Anne’s Parsonage in 1883. Do you think the vicar would have approved if he had known that his maids were born to a bigamous marriage? Probably not!
Now what about that - bigamy in the family!