Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Anyone can make a mistake - Where was William Bateman born?

A long time ago - February 1996 to be precise - a friend of my mum's (let's call her DF, she's no longer with us I'm afraid) sent me a copy of the 1851 census return for Hargill Hill, near Witton le Wear in Durham.  You may have noticed I've been writing about Witton le Wear for a few weeks now - all the original documents for my research into this part of the family tree are in a folder, letters, census printouts, emails and my scribblings from visits to archives and I've been referring to it when writing my posts about a walk around Crook and Witton le Wear.  I found the letter from DF at the front of the folder.

Living in Barnsley, and previously Sheffield, I wasn't able to get to Durham very often to do research into my parents' families, but my mum told me that her old school friend, who still lived in Durham City, was keen on family history too and maybe she could help me out. 

1851 census for the Bateman family in Hargill Hill, North Bedurn, Durham
DF kindly sent me the census printout above and a collection of baptism records from the church in Witton le Wear.  She notes in her letter "How convienient of William Bateman to have been born in Sheffield."  Look at the very top of the righthand column - definitely Yorkshire and the next word could very well be Shefff.  In those days I was an absolute beginner, I'd only been researching for a couple of years and only in Sheffield Archives.  I was very ready to accept someone else's interpretation of old handwriting. 

I soon found a family of Bateman's in Sheffield who fitted the bill perfectly.  A son called William was born to them on 22nd March 1802, so that was a good fit for the age of the William in the census. I imagined he'd gone up to Durham from Sheffield looking for work in the 1820s  - his father, another William, was a cutler and there'd been a trade slump in Sheffield after the end of the Napoleonic Wars.  The birthplaces of William the younger's children suggested to me that he'd moved around, probably following the line of the new railway being built from Stockton to Darlington, which passed through Shildon (birthplace of the second and third child above) and went on to have branches to Cockfield (birthplace of the fourth child above) and Witton le Wear and Beechburn (very near to Hargill Hill).  William's occupation as a Freestone Quarry Labourer suggests digging, blasting and moving stone, just the job for helping build a railway line.

William Bateman married Ann Hutchinson in Heighington in 1827.  Her father was Henry Hutchinson, a Grocer, a Baker or a Weaver depending on which census return you read.  Heighington is a small village now bypassed by the main road between Darlington and Shildon. 

Ann Hutchinson's baptism entry in the Heighington St Michael's register (from Family Search)
The Bishop's Transcripts for baptisms and burials at Heighington are available on Family Search but only up to 1821, and unfortunately marriages are just listed without dates or other details so although I can see an entry for Henry Hutchinson's marriage to Jane Hornsby, Ann's parents, who are quite clearly named in her baptism entry from 1808 above, there is no certificate or register entry to download.  An entry on Genuki said they married on 17th June 1805. 

This is a family whom I haven't researched at Durham Record office - yet - and only the children born in Hargill Hill appear on the Durham Records Online site so far.

According to the Parish Baptisms on Find My Past William and Ann's first three children were baptised in Heighington, then there's a gap for a few years with at least one child in it before they return to Heighington for the baptism of my  3x great grandmother Sarah in 1835.  However note that only one daughter, Jane Bateman, b.1829 in Heighington, is still with the family in 1851.

A boy named Henry Bateman dies in Heighington in 1834 aged 1 year old (found on the National Burial Index - now also available on Find My Past).  This fits with a baptism of a Henry to William and Ann in 1832.  There's another gap with two more children in it before the family start using Witton le Wear church on a regular basis.

But I digress ...

Last year (well 2011 actually) when the West Yorkshire Parish Records were put online by Ancestry a suspicion that had been rankling for a while was confirmed.  That word in William Bateman's 1851 census return isn't an abbrieviated Sheffield, it actually says Shelf.  Which is a small village, or hamlet even, about three and a half miles north east of Halifax on the way to Bradford.


Results of a search for William Bateman born 1802 in Yorkshire on Family Search
There are only two baptisms for a William Bateman in 1802 in Yorkshire in Family Search.

William Bateman's baptism at Halifax in 1802 (from Ancestry)
The records on Ancestry enabled me to see that Benjamin Bateman, father of the OTHER William Bateman, was from Shelf. 

This wasn't the only evidence however - Benjamin Bateman also had a son called James, b.1811 also baptised at Halifax and in 1851 I found him in the census in Bradford.  I know this is Benjamin's son because when James marries Mary Clough in September 1837 (after the change to civil registration and 'proper' marriage certificates) he gives his father as Benjamin Bateman, Miner.

1851 Census for Bradford  - the family runs over two pages (from Ancestry)
Look at the birth place of Benjamin Bateman aged 9.  Durham, Bitchburn.  And despite what it says Castle Eden is in Durham as well, not Yorkshire. 

So both of Benjamin Bateman from Halifax's sons were in Durham in the 1840s - and Bitchburn is another local name for Beechburn or Bedburn ... where William was from 1840 onwards according to the births and baptisms of his children.  Checking backwards with the names of James' children and step children (the Sutcliffes) as confirmatory evidence I found him in 1841.

1841 census for Chapel Row, Shildon, Durham (from Ancestry)
made up from two pages again to show the whole family
James Bateman and his family were in Shildon in 1841 - the birthplace of Sarah Bateman, my 3x great grandmother born in 1835.  James' occupation was Labourer and note how all the family have an 'N' in the 'Whether born in same County' column so they aren't from Durham.  They even have Mary's father, John Cluff (Clough) with them for extra confirmation, with the wonderfully typical Bradford occupation of Woolcomber! 

They weren't in Durham long, look back at the 1851 census - Samuel was born in Thornton in Yorkshire in 1840 and they were back in Thornton for 1846 for the birth of Abel, but they were in Durham for long enough for Benjamin and Daniel to be born and to register on the 1841 census - thank goodness!

I had to do a bit of pruning of my family tree after these discoveries - a huge swath of Sheffield Batemans, Carriers, Appleyards and Drews had to be brutally cut off and consigned to the recycle bin!  I also had to post an apology on my website, I hope I didn't mislead too many people,  but hopefully we've all learnt our lesson now.

Check the evidence - then find some corroborating evidence and don't believe a word anyone else says unless you've seen proof with your own eyes!


Ros Scott said...

Looking now at 1841 census sheet for William - further down there is a George Bateman. Quick search suggests he is the son of Daniel Bateman, further search for Daniel turns out that he is brother to William and James!

BarnsleyHistorian said...

Thanks for reading my post Ros. I continued to write about the Batemans in several more posts. Try looking down the titles in the blog archive on the right.