Saturday 30 March 2013

Surname Saturday - now was it Harle, Hasle or Hall?

I was going to blog this topic tomorrow for Church Record Sunday - but as I've spent the last hour reading blogs about the new Dr Who and I'm still here - despite my mum having put all the clocks forward already (British Summer Time starts tonight), so if I look up it's a quarter to eleven now  - I suppose I might as well fill in an hour with a post.

I've found that my mum, unsurprisingly I suppose, is more interested in family history research about her own ancestors.  So today, for something to talk about I set out to fill in a gap in my 4x great grandparents in her Harle line.  Recently I blogged about our various ancestors who seem to have come within a whisker of each other in Walker in the second half of the 19th century, the Harles were one of those families.  But where did my 3x great grandfather William Harle come from?

He's inconsistent in the census  - in 1861 he says he's born in Newcastle, Northumberland and in 1851 he says Kenton, Northumberland.  Now these days that would be the same thing, Kenton seems totally submerged in the suburbs of Newcastle, but I expect that in 1807 (his age IS consistent), Kenton was a little village three miles NNE of Newcastle upon Tyne, just like it says on the Vision of Britain website.  Helpfully this site also tells me that it was part of Gosforth parish, so let's start our search there. 

On Family Search putting in Harle (surname) and Gosforth (place of birth) brings back a set of perfect parents for William, Daniel and Isabella Harle, having children every two or three years around the first two decades of the nineteenth century, but unfortunately no William.  Why are they perfect?  Well, my William's children include an Isabella, his eldest daughter and a Daniel, his third son.  It was very, very common for children to be named after grandparents in the past, some cultures even had strict patterns to the naming, though I'm yet to be convinced my relatives followed any pattern.

Next step: assume someone's made a mistake in the transcriptions and he really does belong to this family ... I put Daniel and Isabella, with no surname stated, as the parents at the birth of "a person with no names" in Gosforth for the twenty years around the children I had found. 
The results of a search for children of Daniel & Isabella, no surname, in Gosforth from 1800-1820 (from Family Search)
Lo and behold, there appeared, not a star in the east, but a William Hall in 1807 in Gosforth!  And a Sarah Hasle just to add to the confusion, although she seemed to have been transcribed twice as I already had her in 1805 listed as Sarah Harle with the exact same dates.  The above two entries were followed by the various Harle entries I had already found.  Note that Isabella has a surname, Penman, this doesn't mean that she and William weren't married, it does however indicate that her surname is mentioned in the full baptismal entry.  Now wouldn't it be useful if we could see the original to check if William Hall is a transcription error ...

Handily for me many of the Bishop's Transcripts (BTs) of the Northumberland and Durham parish registers appear on Family Search as un-indexed images.  If you've not used these before, they are great - but you do have to be patient.  Go to the home page of the Family Search site and scroll down to the lower half of the page.
The bottom half of the Family Search home page
Click on the "United Kingdom and Ireland" link - look second from the bottom in the little list, you used to be able to click on the map, but that doesn't seem to be working at the moment ... and on the next page scroll down to England, Diocese of Durham Bishops' Transcripts ca., 1700-1900 and click the link again.  Yes, you would like to browse through 106,351 images, click the link ... and choose Northumberland from the next page (well choose Northumberland if you are coming with me to find my Harles).  On the next page scroll down to Gosforth, click the name, the next page only gives you one date range to select, click it (yes, I know there's lots of clicking, you'll be playing castanets next!).  Finally the image of the first page of the Gosforth BTs appears. 

This is where it gets clever - you know the spread of the records is 1762 to 1846, that's what it says at the top of the page - so take an educated stab at where 1807 might be in the 730 images.  Things to remember - in earlier years they fitted many, many more events to a page than they did once proper printed parish registers were introduced in 1813 (earlier for marriages, but not always in BTs) - despite the date range shown the earlier entries could very well be patchy, years missing, pages lost that kind of thing - so don't just make your guess on proper maths (which would suggest 1807 should lie be found just after the half-way mark (45:38) in the 730 images).  In this case I found 1807 at image 119 and onwards, and William Hall on image 124. 
1807 entry for William Hall (sic) in the Gosforth register, edited to fit on this page (from Family Search)
Hmm, he is listed as Hall ... "William Hall, [born] 23rd April [1807], [baptised] 31st May [1807], 1st son of, Daniel Hall, Labourer at East Kenton Colliery by his Wife Isabella, Dr [daughter] of William Penman, keelman of the Parish of St Johns, Newcastle upon Tyne." 

The bits in [ ] aren't there - I've just put them in to help you decipher the entry.

Not giving up ...

Going back to 1805 I found the entry for Sarah Harle, baptised 15th December.  On her entry it states "1st dau of Daniel Harle, Brakesman, N [native] of Kirkwhelpington, by his wife Isabella, Dr [daughter] of William Penman, N [native] of Whickham."

Oh dear - another variation, but at least this was definitely a Harle entry.  Next ...

In 1809 John Harle was "2nd son of Daniel Harle of Kenton, native of Great Bevington in this Cty [county], by his wife Isabella daughter of William Penman, keelman, native of Whickham, Cty [county] of Durham."

Ahh, there's a Great Bavington about two and half miles as the crow flies from Kirkwhelpington and Isabella is consistent even if her father moves from Whickham (where he was "native") to Newcastle at some point.  Remember that BTs are transcriptions of the original parish registers, a copy sent every year by the parish priest to the bishop for his central records.  And to be honest, there isn't much difference between Harle and Hall if you say it fast - if the Harles couldn't read - when he married my William signed the register with a x - they wouldn't have known the priest had written their surname down incorrectly.

I think we can safely say my hunch was correct - William Hall born 23rd April 1807 to a father working in East Kenton is William Harle, aged 44, who says his place of birth was Kenton on the 1851 census.  Another mystery solved! 

I'm rather enjoying having a new 5x great grandfather who was a keelman as well.  The OH has a few of those with his Castleford Taylors, but I've never had one before.  Another reason for that nice boat picture I fancied last month!

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Pub Inventories in Barnsley Archives

For the last couple of weeks myself and my friend GB have been going to the Town Hall in Barnsley to help digitise a set of card files for the new Archives.  This morning I hit upon several entries which tweeked my curiousity.

The items were listed as 'Inventory and Valuation' for several pub names which I recognised - they dated from the first half of the 19th century, 1829, 1848 and 1849.  Bear in mind that so far I've only dipped into the smallest part of the drawer of file cards I've been assigned to digitise - we are managing about 50 entries a week, and I've found three of these in three weeks.  This suggests that in the whole set of drawers there may be over a hundred of this type of record referred to.

An example of an inventory from the 18th century America (from Weigand PANNEBECKER)

Historically inventories were often drawn up when someone died as part of their estate.  A couple of locally respected men would go around the house of the deceased and list all the items therein.  They were common before 1782 although their survival is patchy.

"The inventory itemised the estate held by the deceased, including leases, chattels, debts owed and owing, cash, crops, stocks and slaves. No account of real estate (land) was normally taken in estimates and totals. [...] After 1782 an inventory might be called for by an interested party, but it was no longer an automatic part of procedure." (The National Archives)

Of course there are other reasons why someone might take an inventory, especially where a business like a public house or inn was concerned.  A change of landlord or the sale of the property would require a proper accounting of what was included in the business assets. 

Some of Barnsley Archives holdings are already listed in the Access to Archives section of the National Archives site - searching there I found another entry:

Inventory and valuation for the Rising Sun Beerhouse, at Dodworth, completed by Edward G Lancaster, 21 August 1868.  (Access to Archives)

No, I'm not sure where this was - except it was on High Street Dodworth (no. 91 in 1911) just before and on the opposite side of the road to the Pheasant (not that that's there any more either!). This document contains seven sheets of paper - I am now bursting to know what might be listed on a pub inventory.  Might there be some for pubs still in existence today?  The ones I saw indexed this morning were for an unnamed pub in Silkstone, for the Temple of Muses (which is now Brownes Bar on Graham's Orchard - and that is an old building), and for the Norman Inn at Monk Bretton (obviously a previous incarnation as the current pub is very 1970s). 

The Temple Inn in the 1971 (from Yococo)
Looking in Barnsley Streets 2, I see that the Temple of Muses, also known as the Temple Inn, dates back to 1825.  Further Googling returns me to the Access to Archives site and an entry for the will of the landlord of the Temple Inn in 1905 and there are quite a few other pubs listed on the same page.  There's a listing in the London Gazette for 1892 for another landlord of the Temple Inn - presumably going out of business as it mentions receivers. In fact there are numerous listings of the same kind, 1897, 1900, 1922 and so on.  Seems the pub trade wasn't any more secure a job a hundred years ago!

There are lots of interesting sources just waiting to be found in Barnsley Archives when it reopens, it's very frustrating having to wait.  You'll see I've put a countdown at the top of my blog to try to speed things along!

After Liverpudlian excitment - just another day in Barnsley

Everything has gone a bit quiet around here, since the excitement last week of Charles Reuben Hutton's parentage being proved to my satisfaction I've been catching up on the rest of his life and family.  For a chap who only had three children he has rather a lot of grandchildren and over thirty great-grandchildren I am sure about.

I also have an Open Uni essay to write this week - compare and contrast a war memorial in Singapore with a memorial in Malaysia  - tongue in cheek for a minute for the quick comparison - one is a classy towering obelisk style group of four pillars and the other is a pastiche of the American Iwo Jima memorial by a culture that is supposed to shun representations of the human form.  Well that's done then - only another 1965 words to go!

It's cold here in Barnsley - minus three degrees last night apparently.  The snow, which was 'proper' snow for once - nearly a foot deep on our street and drifting six to ten feet high on the country roads - hasn't gone yet.  Today I go to the Town Hall to carry on helping digitise the card files for the Barnsley Archives - the date for the re-opening was announced last week - the 27th June - so moved back another month since the the Archives closed above the library in November.  We'll have been without our fix of parish records and old newspapers for over seven months - it's a good job there's still Ancestry and Find My Past to keep us going. 

Things to look forward to - Dr Who series 7 carries on from this Saturday and Game of Thrones returns with series 3.  Why on earth does it take the Americans sooooooo long to release their box sets?  We don't all have fancy channels on our tvs.  I've started re-reading the books, I'll know what is happening before they do - ha!

The OH's new book - the Barnsley Real Ale and Cider Guide is out now - official launch date this Wednesday.  There's a preview, Amazon style, on the Barnsley CAMRA website and you can buy the book direct from the online shop.  It's not just a guide to all the pubs in Barnsley (every single pub is included - although only the ones selling real ale get a photo and a write up of course), it is a historical document.  In the twenty odd years since the last guide over 100 Barnsley pubs have closed, many demolished and gone for ever - in the three weeks since the OH sent the last proof back to the printers we've lost another one.  The book contains a list of the lost pubs and their fate, an article by yours truly - an adaptation of my Mystery of the Nelson Street Pubs blog post, a directory of all the breweries within twenty miles of Barnsley pubs - the LocAle scheme - and other articles about cider and beer styles plus a forward by the Barnsley writer and journalist Ian Harley. 

Buy a copy today, online or from one of the many pubs in Barnsley stocking copies behind the bar (also available from Old Barnsley in the market hall) - it's a pub census!  And you know how much value we historians can get out of one of those.

That's about it for excitement today ... off to the Town Hall soon - I hope they've got the heating on!

Friday 22 March 2013

Finding Charles Reuben Hutton - the missing son

When I chose my 'new' name in 1992 after separation from my first husband it was a conscious decision to move on with my life, yet still respect my antecedents. I did not want to go back to my maiden surname - that name had run its course - so I chose a meaningful name that meant family to me.  In a move that appeared to mirror my own, my daughter, on turning eighteen announced that she would like to change her name to my maiden name - I pity the family historians that try to sort us out in a hundred year's time! 

I have posted quite a few blogs concerning my chosen name - Hutton - chosen, I might add, at least a year before I became interested in family history.  You can find them listed my Family Stories page (follow the link or use the tab at the top of this page). 

There was Frederick Elstob Hutton, who left his family in Sunderland to bigamously marry in Liverpool; Amelia Hutton, his daughter, who had to work as a housekeeper; Amelia Mordey, the deserted wife who struggled to make ends meet despite coming from a privileged background; his sons who went to sea aged thirteen or younger, the elder three losing their lives very young; and my own 2x great grandfather, William Satchell Hutton, who sailed all over the world (there are three blogs posts about him!) in the process providing a better life for his family.  I briefly touched upon one of Fred's brothers, Robert Elstob Hutton, who moved to Hartlepool and was not only a mariner, but also a shipowner and a man of some importance in the town whose son John Elstob Hutton brought the family into disrepute after Robert's death. 

The boy who has been missing from the family tree until now is Charles Reuben Hutton, fifth son of Fred and Amelia, born around 1840 in Sunderland, probably in Tatham Street (I looked at the various homes of the Hutton family in another post).  Charles' last appearance in Sunderland is in the 1851 census, when aged 9 he is a Scholar at home in Olive Street with his mother and siblings.  As his brothers have been shown to have gone to sea between the ages of 12 and 17 it seems likely that Charles followed in their footsteps.  Unfortunately the way in which the service of Merchant Seamen was recorded altered in 1857 when Charles would have been about 16 years old.  Instead of individual registrations which produced the Seamen's Tickets I have found for each of his older brothers it was decided that Ships' Agreements and Crew Lists were sufficient to obtain the information required by law concerning the service of the Merchant Seamen.  As I have not found a listing for Charles in the Merchant Navy records on either Ancestry or Find My Past I must assume he did not go to sea until after 1857. 

Unlike the rest of his family (with the obvious exception of the absconding, bigamous Fred!) Charles is not recorded on Amelia's gravestone in Sunderland cemetery (there's a photo here).  This seems an odd omission as whoever commissioned the stone went to the trouble of recording the sons lost at sea and Amelia the younger who died in Cumberland.

When you can't find someone anywhere obvious you start looking at the unlikely places - these days you can do a Google search and trawl through the various search engines on the big genealogy sites, hoping for a glimpse of a lost relative.  One records that leapt out at me very early on was the record of a marriage in Liverpool in 1876 for a Charles Reuben Hutton on FreeBMD.
Index Entry for a Charles Reuben Hutton's marriage in 1876 (from FreeBMD)
Liverpool was where Fred went and it was, of course, a major port in the 19th century, a likely stopping off point for many sailors.  I found the Charles referred to in the census returns of 1881 and 1891 in Liverpool - he had married an Annie (or possibly Bridget Annie) Kelly and had three children.

1881 census for Athol Street, Liverpool (from Ancestry)
The entry from 1881 sent me mixed messages - this Charles Hutton was a Seaman, good (the occupation of the rest of my Hutton family), but he was born in Dundee, Scotland, in about 1844 not so good (too young and not from Durham), however his daughter is called Amelia, good (my Charles' mother's name).

1891 census for Lamb Street, Kirkdale, Liverpool (from Ancestry)
In 1891 this Charles has included the middle initial R and he's now 50 years old, making him born in about 1841 - odd that he's aged thirteen years between census returns.  He's still born in Dundee, and now works as a Dock Labourer.  His wife is now B Ann.  His son  John has the middle initial F and there's a younger son, Chas R.  Cross referencing to FreeBMD again the F stands for Frederick (born Q4 1878 Liverpool) and Chas R is Charles Reuben (born Q4 1882 in West Derby registration district). 

The elder Charles Reuben maybe the one who dies in Q2 of 1896 in the West Derby registration district but on FreeBMD the age of the deceased is given as 48 years so if it is him he's managed to get younger since the 1891 census! 

Let me add at this point that Charles Reuben Hutton is a very uncommon name - and even Hutton is not that common in Lancashire.  A search of 20 years of so on FreeBMD brings back only 16 Charles * Hutton entries. A search for any Hutton entries between 1891 and 1920 in either Liverpool or West Derby returns a managable list.

1901 census for Sterling Street, Kirkdale, Liverpool (from Ancestry)
Annie has become Bridget Ann in 1901, she declares herself a widow, so Charles the elder does appear to have died between 1891 and 1901 at some point.  Her two sons are both Dock Labourers now.  It looks like Amelia's occupation is Jam Maker - well, why not!

I checked Scotland's People for Charles * Hutton born at any time between 1838 and 1850, there was only one result and he was born in Fife in 1838, which doesn't fit any of the information from the census returns.

Despite the coincidences of names none of the above was sufficient for me to say with any conviction that the Charles Reuben Hutton who married in Liverpool in 1876 was my Charles born in Sunderland in 1840.  Although I posted the link on my family tree webpages I included a note pointing out that the the connection was a 'best guess', hoping that somebody, somewhere might know more.

What we needed was more proof - and that arrived yesterday.

Several people have been in touch with me about Charles in recent months, and one lady, LD, was sufficiently interested to send for the marriage certificate of Charles and Annie.  No matter what the outcome was for me Charles was definitely her 2x great grandfather so for her it was a certificate she would find useful come what may.  She kindly sent me a copy yesterday.

1876 marriage certifcate for Charles Reuben Hutton and Annie Kelly (with thanks to LD)
From this marriage certificate we can see that Charles says his father is Frederick Hutton, a Roper.  Charles gives his own occupation as Mariner, but avoids the subject of age by stating he is of 'full' age, that is over 21 years old.  We know that Frederick Elstob Hutton was a Rope Maker in Sunderland and carried on the same trade in Liverpool throughout his life. 

Another of my correspondents wrote that there was a story concerning Charles which had been passed down his family.  He had come from a wealthy family, who had been of the class which had their own pews in church, but he had run away from home and was subsequently disowned.  A captain of a 'full rigged ship' comes into the story as does 'money in Chancery'.  Family stories like this usually have some truth in them, added to over the years and with other bits forgotten or purposely left out maybe, but there's generally a core of fact. 

The Hutton and Mordey families in Sunderland were quite comfortably off, many members of the family were mariners and several were captains of ships.  The name Hutton is uncommon in Lancashire and even more so in Liverpool and yet this Charles turns up in the same area where I have proven Frederick Elstob Hutton lived from 1861 to 1882.  Fred's son Reuben, by his second wife, lives less than a mile from his half brother's family in 1901 and 1911.

The combination of facts and evidence now seems to me sufficient to say that the Charles Reuben Hutton who lived in Liverpool from the 1870s until his death was the same man as Fred and Amelia Hutton's youngest son who disappears from Sunderland after 1851.  I suggest that Charles Reuben Hutton went to sea as did his brothers, finding himself in Liverpool he sought out his father - there may have been a happy reunion, we don't know.  But Charles remained in Liverpool, married and brought up a family there, within a short distance of his father's second family.  

Having established the link to my own satisfaction, with grateful thanks to LD for providing the final piece of the jigsaw, I can now go back to my family tree and start to add the records I've found relating to Charles, Bridget Annie and their children.  That should keep me busy for a while!

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!

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Reasons to believe I've found the right couple

Before tea (a northern term for the meal one has in the early evening, otherwise known as dinner), I posted some thoughts on why we should make every attempt to prove our family history

I started that post intending to use David Taylor, my OH's 4x great grandfather, and his wife as an example of good practice but it got a bit long and besides there was food ...

Why do I now think that, on balance, I've got the right couple?  My Facebook friends know part of the answer to this as David's 1810 marriage was the topic of much discussion last night.  The recent release of Manchester Cathedral parish records on Ancestry led me to find a marriage which appeared to fit the criteria I had already collected and I decided to ask for second and third (and as many as wanted to join in) opinions on what I considered a pivotal piece of evidence.

What did I already know?
The marriage certificate of Matthew Dennison Taylor and Susannah Rogers, 28th July 1848
Firstly, when the OH's 3xgreat grandfather marries in 1848 he gives his full name as Matthew Dennison Taylor.  Although he cannot write his name, the register is signed with his mark only, the name Dennison was obviously clearly articulated and recorded by the minister.

The baptism records for All Saints Church in Castleford are not covered by Ancestry's West Yorkshire Records collection - Genuki also notes that the dates 1772 to 1835 are missing from the collection at the West Yorkshire Archives. I am assuming the Family Search result for Matthew's baptism is copied from the Bishop's Transcripts, which Genuki notes are available for that period for Castleford.

Name Mathew Taylor
Gender Male
christening date 05 Aug 1829
father's name David Dennison Taylor
mother's name Elizabeth
indexing project (batch) number C10820-1
system origin England-ODM
gs film number 990550

The name Dennison reoccurs, this time as David Taylor's middle name.  This might lead us to believe that it was a family name passed down in the Taylor line.  However at David's baptism in Rotherham in 1790 there is no mention of the middle name Dennison. His father is the disinctive Matthias Taylor and his mother is Mary - confirmed to have been Mary Hinchliff before her marriage to Matthias in 1785 in Rotherham.  The Pontefract and District Family History Society's transcription of the baptism on 5th August 1829 (on Find My Past) gives the child's name as Matthias, and David Dennison Taylor's occupation as Waterman. I suggest that without the original of Matthew's baptism we cannot give transcriptions of a Bishop's Transcript too much weight. However the name Dennison appears in the record, that is plain.

1841 census for Powell's Yard, Castleford (from Ancestry)
David, his wife Elizabeth and a number of their children appear in the 1841 census for Castleford.  All are indicated as natives of Yorkshire by the Y in the final column shown above.  David is a Mariner, they have sons called David (also noted as a Mariner), Matthew and Matthias.  Matthias, at three years old, might conceivably have been registered at birth, however no entry can be found for him.  Registration did not begin until the third quarter of 1838, and was not all inclusive for many years.  If we had a birth certificate for any of David and Elizabeth's children it would have told us her maiden name. 

One of their daughters, Elizabeth Taylor, born 1831, dies in Edinburgh in 1865. Scottish death certificates show the names of both of the deceased parents, so I purchased this certificate from Scotland's People.
1868 Death certificate for Elizabeth Nunns (nee Taylor) (from Scotland's People)
Unfortunately her husband, Joseph Nunns, although able to declare that her father had been David Taylor, a Waterman, did not know anything about her deceased mother and the spaces that would have given us the information are blank or struck through.  Sadly I note, given that I posted about this topic only a day or so ago, that Elizabeth dies in childbirth from puerperal convulsions - a symptom of eclampsia - vividly enacted in the recent series of Downton Abbey with the death of Lady Sybil Branson.
1851 census for Castleford (from Ancestry)
In 1861 David is living with his son Matthew, who is a Glass Maker.  David is still a Mariner and his place of birth is Rotherham.  He is 61 years old, making him born in 1790, and a widower at this point.  He has gained 16 years since 1841, quite a lot even allowing for the rounding of ages to the nearest five in the earlier census.  An Elizabeth Taylor, aged 55 years is buried on 7th January 1848 at Castleford.  If we bear in mind the inaccuracy of David's age in 1841, this burial falls within the bounds of possibility of being correct for Elizabeth aged 40 in the 1841 census.  David himself died in July 1868 and his age was given as 80 years when he is buried, another slight change, making him born in 1788 or maybe given as a nice round figure by his family.

The oldest child of David and Elizabeth that I am aware of is William Taylor born around 1812.  When he remarries in 1851 he gives his father as David Taylor, Waterman.  He also has a son called Matthias Taylor, the distinctive family name.  However the only baptism for a William Taylor for around that date is on 15th May 1811 for a William Taylor, son of William Taylor, Waterman (both Family Search and Find My Past checked). 

The first baptism for a child of David and Elizabeth in Castleford is in 1814.

Fathers Forenames:David
Mothers Forenames:Elizabeth
Description:All Saints
County:Yorkshire W. Riding
Record source:Pontefract District Baptisms

The above record is from Find My Past's Parish Record Collection and was contributed by the Pontefract and District FHS. 

We can therefore only say with certainty that David and Elizabeth must have been married by April 1814.  Given their ages, born around 1790 or 1788 for David and 1793 or thereabouts for Elizabeth, they would not have married until after 1809 - when Elizabeth was 16 years old and David was 19 or 21.  A search for David Taylor marrying Elizabeth with these parameters brings back very few results in Ancestry, Find My Past or Family Search.  The most obvious fit is David Taylor marries Elizabeth Deni(n)son in Manchester on 26th March 1810.  Another David Taylor marries an Elizabeth in Manchester in 1810, but his occupation was Labourer. 

1810 Marriage of David Taylor and Elizabeth Dennison or Dinnison at Manchester Cathedral (from Ancestry)
The groom's occupation on this marriage certificate appeared pivotal to me.  David Taylor says he is of 'this Parish and town of Manchester' but that only means he is living there not that he was born there.  I believe the next word is Mariner, possibly written over the word Sailor.  As a mariner he could easily have travelled from Rotherham to Manchester by sea, and it isn't more than 50 miles by land and we know he and his family worked on canals, which did connect Leeds to Liverpool and Manchester.

I believe that the above is the marriage of David Taylor, a mariner, from Rotherham, to Elizabeth Dennison in Manchester in 1810,  who then following their marriage went to live and have a family in Castleford, Yorkshire.  Elizabeth's maiden surname of Dennison appears in family records thereafter and David's occupation of mariner gives a method by which they moved between the various places mentioned. 

Oddly there are no witnesses names recorded for this marriage and David has made his mark but it has not been not encompassed by his name by the minister as is usual.  However many of the other marriages on pages surrounding this also lack witnesses and have nothing but Xs for either of the married parties, so it was a problem with the minister or this copy of the register rather than something odd about this marriage in particular.

I cannot find a baptism for Elizabeth Dennison or Dinnison which is a good fit. Certainly not one in Manchester.  There are Dennisons in York, Cheshire and London, all of whom have daughters called Elizabeth, but none of them seems quite right.  The one in London, born 1792, father William, a mariner, is the most tempting, but Rotherham to Manchester took me a long time to prove. London to Manchester?  Not today anyway.

How am I sure this is the right marriage?

I've done a thorough search of the resources available to me - I would still like to see Matthew's baptism for myself to confirm where the word Dennison appears.  I've even tried a few dead ends over the years, such as the Scotland's People death which might have shown Elizabeth's maiden name.
I've told you where I found each record that has helped in the search and given a reference.
I've examined the evidence to see where it corrolates and attempted to rule out any conflicts.
I think this blog post constitutes a reasoned examination of the facts and gives my conclusion clearly.

Today's results - having found the right spouse for David Taylor, I am no further along tracing back her line.  But one step at a time, and always show your working!

Why Prove your Family History?

In times gone by it was sufficient for someone drawing up a historical pedigree to go back as far as they could, linking into noble and royal lines if possible, as their genealogy is very well documented, and once all else was exhausted just put Adam and Eve at the top of the tree and call it done.  As the main purpose was to give the family under investigation a sense of its place in history and by use of large and colourfully drawn up documents impress the neighbours, their research probably sufficed.

In more recent times I worry about the plethora of new family historians, those people who watch a few episodes of Who Do You Think You Are? and Heir Hunters, who walk into a Local Studies library and seem to expect to find their family tree in a cupboard already drawn up and fit to be pored over for a few minutes until their curiosity is satisfied.

Some of these people will, once the reality is explained to them, try looking up a few census returns on Ancestry or scan through a few baptism records on the fiche readers.  However from the results that are appearing in greater and greater numbers on Ancestry they lack the skills to join the dots to make a coherent arguement about many of their "ancestors". 

Are they only interested in how far back they can go?  Do they too just wish to impress the neighbours?  Does everyone have a story about money lurking in Chancery or an ancestor being the by-blow of an aristocrat and will ignore all evidence to the contrary to continue pursue these fictions? 

Recent episodes of WDYTYA have not helped this mindset - instead of sending the celebrities on a journey from register office to archives, to wait for certificates to arrive and browse through old registers themselves (and even then the wait was suspiciously short and who actually gets to put their hands on an actual register these days?) certificates turns up over a coffee in a handy location near to where their ancestors lived and the archivists turn immediately to the correct page, clearly marked with a slip of paper.  Even some of the on screen deductions are a bit shaky - and handily ignore facts that could easily be found on the next census return or the very certificate they are looking at.

I have always compared building a family tree to doing a logic problem or crossword puzzle - you have the clues, there is usually a correct answer, but that doesn't mean that others may at first appear to fit, so check and double check before you put that new name in your tree.  If there is any doubt at all enter the data with a caveat (something said as a warning, caution, or qualification) which is clearly visible to all.  The chances are that if something looks too unlikely, it is, in all probablity, wrong - unless you can demonstrate a number of different proofs to the contrary.

Since I began reading other genealogical blogs I have discovered that there is a Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) - used by the American Board for the Certification of Genealogists (BCG) as a minimum standard for sound research methods.  In England we have the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA), who have a code of practice which includes some of the same points as the American version and adds others.  However as you would expect of an organisation which trains genealogists who wish to provide a paid service, the AGRA code appears to be directed somewhat more at ensuring a professional relationship with customers and maintaining the reputation of AGRA as a responsible regulatory organisation.

The GPS can be used by a hobby researcher, such as myself, as a check on the standards of my own research.  For research to fulfill the GPS it needs to consist of five easily understood points (shamefully cut and pasted from the  BCG website):

  • a reasonably exhaustive search;
  • complete and accurate source citations;
  • analysis and correlation of the collected information;
  • resolution of any conflicting evidence; and
  • a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion.

  • Research to these standards takes a while to achieve, and it could be said that it is not essential for people who are merely 'dabbling' to follow these guidelines.  However as soon as they put their family trees up onto a website such as Ancestry for other people to see there is a likelihood that their information will be taken as fact, copied and used by someone else.  Thus inaccuracies and errors are multiplied and can become so widespread that they appear to be indisputable truth. 
    Citogenesis from xkcd (
    As the above cartoon from xkcd clearly explains this is exactly why schools and universities frown upon the use of Wikipedia as a source - there is no rigorous check on contributions and citations can become circular.

    Why prove your family history?  Because if you don't it's just a fairy story ...

    Monday 11 March 2013

    Military Monday - Barnsley Soldiers in the First World War

    Now there's serendipity, a daily blogging prompt that just happens to suit what I'm doing anyway.  Military Monday - it certainly is, for me anyway.

    Tonight I'm giving a talk for the Friends of Barnsley Archives at Barnsley Library on Barnsley Soldiers in the First World War.

    Soldiers going over the wire in World War One
    I'm a bit nervous, especially as I haven't been 100% for a few weeks, but I'll do this talk if they have to prop me up!  I am hoping that this will be my breakthrough talk and that having demonstrated I can perform to the required standard then more requests might come in.   I may not be able to go out to work any more, but given time to prepare and plenty of rest beforehand maybe this will give me something to look forward to in the future.

    I'm going to give it a quick run through now ... cross your fingers for me!

    Fearless Females - childbearing in the 18th century

    Last year I discovered a reprinted booklet on Amazon entitled "A Short Account of the Death of Mrs Mary Hutton, of Sunderland, Who Died Feb. 24, 1777" - at only 22 pages long it seemed a bit expensive, even the cheapest Amazon Marketplace discounted copy was over £7.  I had to wait to buy it until I had some Christmas money from my mum. 

    Mary's story seems an appropriate one to write about in Women's Month, she wasn't anyone in particular, but her experience was probably very similar to thousands of other women in the days before birth control and modern medicines.

    Mary is my 5x great grandmother.  Born Mary Rawling in around 1745, she marries Robert Hutton in 1768 when she would have been about 23 years old.  I knew she had died before 1780 because Robert marries again that year.  The family used the Holy Trinity church in Sunderland at this time.  I have looked at the registers for this church on at least one of my visits to Durham County Record office, but some of the records I mention below were found on Durham Records Online and I have not yet obtained copies of the original entries.
    Holy Trinity church, Sunderland - from an old postcard
    The burial register of the Holy Trinity church, Sunderland contains the following entry, so it seemed a fair guess that the booklet was about my Mary.

    1777 26th Febry Mary wife of Robert Hutton

    Written by a local clergyman, Joseph Benson, the booklet describes the premature end of Mary's life and goes into a lot of detail concerning how her religion helped her come to terms with it.  In the preface he says that it is an account originally intended to be read at her funeral.  However it does contain gems of both genealogical and social information.
    Snips from "A short account ..." by Joseph Benson
    In the first snip I have included above, indicated as item 2 in the book, it notes that she had her first child five years previously, which would be around 1772, so not straight after her marriage.  This entry in the Holy Trinity records appears to fit.

    15 Sept 1772 Robert son of Robert and Mary Hutton born Febry 11th

    By this time Mary was 27 years old.  She fell very ill after the birth of this child and "her recovery was almost despaired of".  This may have been the result of a childbed fever of some kind or of heavy bleeding during childbirth.  These were the days before antiseptics and disinfectants, and around 5% of women died in childbirth.  Her long illness may account for the eight months between Robert's birth and his baptism.  Her mother is mentioned in the snip, so we can imagine her caring for her daughter and maybe helping to look after baby Robert. 

    The third snip, indicated as item 4, notes that two of her children died before she did, leaving one survivor, so she had two more children.  I have found one more relevant baptism at Holy Trinity, thanks to Durham Records Online.

    15 Sep 1773 Thomas Hutton, born 21-Jun 1773, son of Robert & Mary Hutton
    Thomas's conception appears to coincide with Mary's return to health in September 1772.  There is a burial record for this child in 1776 making him 2 years 9 months old when he died.   
    14 Mar 1776 Thomas Hutton, son of Robert & Mary Hutton

     Although Thomas was younger than Robert his death appears to fit the description of being "torn from his mother's bleeding heart last year at this time", which death the clergyman ascribes to Mary's eldest child.  Joseph Benson is writing on the 14th March 1777 and the Thomas's death was in March 1776.  Robert, who was the eldest, as far as I know, does not die as a child - he can't have done for he is my 4x great grandfather!

    For "the youngest died in August last", I propose the following burial at Holy Trinity. 

    7 Aug 1776 James Hutton, son of Robert & Mary Hutton

    I can't find a baptism for James, so we can only estimate how old he was when he died.  He must have been born at least 9 months after Thomas's birth, so from March 1774 onwards.  Therefore he can't have been more than 2 years 5 months old and probably less.

    Joseph Benson states, in the item marked 3,  that Mary "began to relapse into her former bad state of health" two years before her death, so around February 1775.  She may have given birth to three children in less than three years, I'm not surprised she wasn't well.  Even if James wasn't born until 1775 or 1776 this would still be three pregnancies in four years and having her third child as she began to relapse would not have helped.  Imagine how dreadful the loss of two of her children so closely following one after another in March and August 1776 must have been to a woman already feeling ill.

    At the time of her death Mary is described as "a poor weak and frail creature, emaciated by sickness, racked with pain, and assaulted by the powers of darkness".  In item 3 it suggests that her "disorder increased continually, with but few promising intervals", so fairly bad, but the fact that Joseph mentions "promising intervals" at all means there were some good days.  He appears to have visited her at increasingly frequent intervals for the last few weeks of her life, read to her and sometimes sang hymns with her.

    Holy Trinty church still stands, although the houses around about have been cleared
    Remember that Joseph Benson wrote the little booklet that I found to celebrate the way that Mary dealt with her impending death - tellingly she says "I see nothing here worth living for", and he notes "the serenity, joy and glory on her smiling contenance" as she tells him how much she is looking forward to being with Jesus.  She goes on to mention a Methodist love feast "September last" which she greatly enjoyed.  This would have been not long after the death of her son James, I imagine she would have been hunting for something, anything to give her hope after losing two children within six months.  At the very start of the booklet Joseph Benson mentions that "twelve years ago she joined the society", which together with the lovefeast reference suggests that Mary was an established non-conformist.
    Mary died when she was 32 years old after months of illness.  I'm glad she did find some comfort - but I will always wonder what she died of, maybe one of the most common progressive diseases of the time, consumption or maybe she was just worn out with childbirth and the grief of losing her children.

    Friday 8 March 2013

    Funeral Card Friday - Bormond, an uncommon name

    Do you have a subset of family surnames that are your 'tests' for new online record collections?  If you are unlucky enough to have Smith or Jones in your family tree you know that finding a lucky hit on those surnames is very unlikely, but a nice rare name or one of those that is apparently dying out according to recent news stories is much more liable to bring back a record relevant to your family tree.
    I usually try Elstob, Mordey and Satchell, those are names in the Sunderland branch of my mum's family tree, then Swinglehurst, that one's in my sister in law's tree, but my favourites are Moderate, in my mother's maternal line and Bormond, both of which are so rare that any hits are 99% likely to be related.
    Bormond is one of those names that probably sprang from a misspelling of a more common surname, such as Bowman maybe.  All the Bormonds I ever found go back to Alnwick in Northumberland in the 18th century.  Passing through Durham in the early 19th century many appear to have arrived in London by the 1860s and 1870s.  There seems to be a branch in Lancashire and one or two still in Northumberland, but these days the majority are down south.  Of course this is the male line, unless it's through an illegitimate child women didn't pass on their unusual surnames except as middle names.  And this is exactly what happened in my family - my mum's middle name is Bormond. 
    My great grandfather was Joseph Bormond Hutton, he was a grocer in Crook, Durham at the turn of the century.  His mother was Ann Bormond Smith, the wife of my master mariner in Sunderland and herself born in Haswell, Durham to Thomas Smith and his wife Jane Bormond.  Jane was born in Alnwick in 1812.  Her surname has been passed down from its origin for four generations and over a hundred years, but in our branch of the tree that's it, no-one has any reason to pass the name on any further now. 
    When I first started researching our family tree, nearly twenty years ago now, we didn't know why my mum's middle name was Bormond, but we had a couple of clues.
    My mum has an old writing desk, the portable sort with compartments for ink and nibs, and inside is a family treasure of postcards and other ephemera.  She knows that it used to belong to her father's aunt, a Jane Bormond Moses, sister of Joseph Bormond Hutton. 
    Funeral Card for Jane Smith, died 1874, aged 62
    One item in the writing box is this funeral card for Jane Smith. From the date and age we guessed she was from a generation or so before Jane Bormond Moses.  But it took us a few certificates and a bit more detective work to find out how she fitted in our tree.

    Funeral card for Joseph Bormond Smith, died 1866, aged 18 years
    There was a second funeral card in the box (and I must admit to playing with this as a child, that's one of the reasons the edges are so tatty), this time for a much younger person, Joseph Bormond Smith, aged 18 years and 8 months.  Very precise.  And this card was the vital link in our search for the Bormond connection.

    We were doing the research in a methodical manner, going back each generation just like the books tell you to and by late 1995 we had reached my great grandparent's marriage.

    A photo copy of the 1861 marriage certificate of my great grandparents
    Notice the middle names - Bowmond - that threw us for a while.

    I had been looking up the references on the St Catherine's house (as they were known then) fiche at Sheffield Archives and my mum was writing to the various record offices to buy the certificates.  There was no online certificate ordering back then.  Now we get a photocopy of the entries produced on special certificate paper, an image of the copy registers in Southport.  The certificate above is a handwritten copy by a registrar at Newcastle in 1995, of an entry from the Walker Parish Church marriage register. 

    Now I must confess I still don't have an image of the original entry as entered by the minister and signed by my ancestors on the day - but a relative did tell me about another copy a few years later.  On her copy, obtained in 1991, the registrar had transcribed Bormond correctly, otherwise it was similar to mine above.  Don't trust the certificates!  Try to go as far back as you can to original primary sources ...

    As I mentioned earlier, Smith is not the best of names for family history research.  And, yes, I have Smith and Jones in my various trees so I can sympathise. 

    In 1996 we decided to take a punt and sent for the birth certificate of Joseph Bormond Smith - we had the date of his death and his age so it wasn't too hard to find the necessary reference on the fiche.
    A snip from the December Quarter 1847 of the births indices (from FreeBMD)
    Ah, but look, the clerk in 1847 wasn't sure either - that looks like Burmond to me.

    When the certificate arrived it was another handwritten copy of the entry in the original registrar's register.
     Joseph Burmond Smith's birth certificate 1847 - a copy
    Again we have the name transcribed as Burmond, but this certificate confirmed one thing, Jane Smith, whose funeral card we had, was a family member.  She was Joseph's mother and her maiden name was Burmond ... or maybe Bormond ...

    A search of census records found the family in Haswell in 1851.
    1851 census return for Haswell, Durham for the Smith family (from Ancestry)
    This confirmed that Ann Bowmon (yet another variation) Smith, the daughter of Thomas Smith, a Stone Mason, details from the 1861 marriage certificate was indeed the sister of Joseph Bowman Smith and the daughter of a Jane Smith, born around 1814 in Alnwick, Northumberland.  Jane gives her age as 37 on this census, as 48 in 1861 and as 59 in 1871.  I think when she was younger she knocked a few years off her age so as not to appear a lot older than Thomas!  Don't believe everything it says on the census ...

    It took me many years to find the marriage of Thomas Smith to Jane Bormond.  A Google search brought up an index entry on the Northumberland and Durham Family History Society site.

    SMITH Thomas BORMOND Jane 25 NOV 1834 Hetton le Hole Co Durham

    But from Sheffield and later Barnsley it was a long way to travel to the Durham County Record Office and on those few occasions I did go I always seemed to have something more important to look up than a pre-1837 marriage.  Then one day Family Search put a set of unindexed images online - they were the Durham Marriage Bonds & Allegations.  I knew the date from the index entry above so it was just a case of jumping through the year 1834 until I found November and then searching for the right record. 
    Marriage Licence Allegation 1834 for Thomas Smith and Jane Bormond (from Family Search)
    A partial index (1821-1837) to these records can now be found here, but you still have to look the actual images up on Family Search and the image set goes back to 1594!

    Since then I have also found a copy of their marriage entry, but it tells us nothing more.  Thomas Smith and Jane Bormond, it really does look like Bormond this time, both over the age of twenty one years, were both from the chapelry of Hetton in the parish of Houghton le Spring.  So that didn't really help much with finding the origins of the Bormond name.

    A correspondent in 2005 gave me some information on the Bormonds in Alnwick, she noted a Jane born in 1812 to Joseph Bormond and Catherine on an index fiche she had bought, but it wasn't until last year that another correspondent sent me further proof.
    A photo of the Alnwick Clayport Presbyterian Chapel register for 1812
    Squeezed in down the side of the page is the entry for "Jane Daughter of Joseph Bormond Nailor Alnwick & Catherine his wife was born 26 Feby 1812". 

    So Jane was twenty two when she married Thomas Smith in Hetton, Durham and about fifty miles from home.  Had she gone into service there as so many young women did in their teens and early twenties?  Hmm, if Jane was twenty two ... oh, if Thomas reported his age correctly on the census returns, and we have no reason to suppose otherwise, he was born in 1815 which makes him only nineteen when they got married.  But he says on the marriage licence allegation that he is "aged twenty one years and upwards".  Ok, so it not just a case of don't trust secondary sources and don't trust certificates, don't trust ANYTHING ... even the sworn statement of an ancestor may be stretching the truth.  A good rule of thumb is to find two or better still three corroborating pieces of evidence and then you can be as sure of the facts as anyone can be at such a long chronological distance from events.

    Jane was buried in Walker churchyard in Northumberland on the 22nd of February 1874.  If she and Thomas or indeed their son, Joseph Bormond ever had a gravestone there it is no longer in evidence, judging by the information sent me earlier this year by the Walker Churchyard Memorial Group. However many stones have been pushed down or become illegible over the years so maybe there was one once - a family that produced such wonderful funeral cards would surely have gone to the trouble of a stone for their family plot as well.