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|
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)|
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|
|William Bateman's baptism at Halifax in 1802 (from Ancestry)|
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)|
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
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!