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!


Chris Pampling said...

Linda I have heard that Manchester Cathedral was somehow "easier" to get married in than most other churches in England. I think I have a rellie married there, an Irishman from Mayo called James Barratt but it's a very tangled web to unravel.

BarnsleyHistorian said...

Mmm, that's interesting. Maybe that would tie in with the slapdash record keeping - no witness signatures, no name put in for the people who signed a X. I suppose it was a very busy, fast growing place at that time.

Unknown said...

Very interesting finds to explore!!

Studav said...

David Taylor's son Joseph and his family have an impressive gravestone at Castleford Cemetery, and contains 8 of his children. He is my x4 gr at grandfather.

BarnsleyHistorian said...

Thank you for this information, I must add Castleford Cemetery to our 'todo' list. The Taylor's were my husband's ancestors and we still live quite nearby in Barnsley.
Linda (aka Barnsley Historian)