Monday, 28 November 2016

Finding Matthew Taylor - using the new GRO Indexes

Three years ago I wrote about Matthew Taylor, the OH's 3x great grandfather.  My problem was that Matthew vanishes from Castleford, Yorkshire somewhere between 1852 and 1856.  By 1861 his widow is living with another man as a 'housekeeper' and appears to have had two more children since Matthew's disappearance.  I could not pin down Matthew's death as during that time there were 28 deaths of men named Mat*hew Taylor across the country,  none however in Castleford.  Matthew had been a sailor in his youth and could conceivably have died whilst on a voyage with his uncles who still ran boats between Leeds and Hull and beyond, although after his marriage in 1848 he had worked in the glassworks in Castleford. As age at death was not given for these early records I had no way of narrowing down the possibilities. 

Lost Cousins logo with a magnifying glass in place of the O of Cousins. Underneath 'Putting Relatives in Touch'.

A few weeks ago I heard via a newsletter from 'Lost Cousins' that the General Register Office (GRO) had updated their birth indexes to include mother's maiden name and death indexes to include age at death going right back to the start of registration in 1837.  Follow the link to the newsletter above to find a very useful explanation of the new indexes. 
"General Register Office: Official Information on births, marriages and deaths."
Additionally, for just a few weeks, the GRO were offering .pdf versions of certificates for just £6 instead of the usual £9.25 for a certified paper copy (£10 if you order them from your local Register Office), and we were promised them within five working days.  By the time you read this the trial will probably be over as it was due to end on 30 November or when they had issued 45,000 certificates, whichever came first.  Of course you can still order paper certificates from the GRO website and they are promising some further pilots over the next few months.  More information can be found in the FAQs on their site.  What makes this even more fascinating for me is that Baroness Scott, who proposed the amendment to the government's Deregulation Bill in 2014 (see this helpful article on Lost Cousins) is a distant relative of mine via my Bradford born Batemans!
Results for Matthew Taylor (or similar) deaths 1854 +/- 2 years, age 25 +/- 10 years
I dusted off my certificate 'wish list' and immediately tried a search for men named Matthew (and derivative variations) Taylor who died between 1852 and 1856.  Only one was the right age to be the OH's 3x great grandfather who, as we know he had been born in 1829, would have been between 23 and 27 in that time period. Matthew Taylor aged 24 who died in Newcastle upon Tyne in the first quarter of 1854. I had cut 28 options down to just one and that's the certificate I sent for.

My certificates (I did order another, but I'll save that story for my next blog post) should have arrived by last Thursday, but the GRO site was experiencing a 'Period of High Demand' as the notice on their log in page explained.  Not surprising really as I am sure that thousands of family historians will have done the same as me and sent for some certificates immediately they found out about the trial. I had a busy weekend (it was the OH's 50th birthday weekend!) but I kept checking my email as I knew from further Lost Cousins posts that the GRO were working weekends to cope with the demand.  By the time I woke up today, very late after the long weekend, they had arrived in my inbox, time-stamped 12.33 and 12.34.  Hooray!
1854 Death Certificate for Matthew Taylor aged 24 (with thanks to the GRO)

Here is Matthew's certificate.  After such a long wait I am almost reluctant to accept that I have solved this genealogical 'brick wall' at last!  The year and age fit - well, yes of course they do, they are the criteria I used to find the certificate! But we know it is the only recorded death that fits the man (I'll try not to worry about the possibility of an unrecorded death or a death at sea). His occupation is given as Bottle Gatherer, which I know from my studies of the glass trade in Barnsley was the man who picked up the blob of molten glass from the furnace ready for the blower to form the bottle. We know Matthew worked in the glass trade in Castleford in 1851.  The name of his wife fits - Matthew married Susannah Rogers in 1848 in Sutton near Hull.  Matthew died of 'Menningitis' (which has extra n's in 1854!) which is a horrible and sudden way to die so young. 

So with so many points of correlation the only thing left to consider is what on earth Matthew and Susannah, with two young children (probably) were doing in what looks like Mill Quay, Hewith, Durham which I assume is Heworth, just south of the River Tyne.  Given the Taylor family connection to trade and transport they will have know that there were glassworks along the Tyne.  When Aaron Rogers Taylor, their second child, was born in Castleford in 1853 Matthew's occupation was noted as Labourer rather than Glass maker as he had been on the census two years earlier.  Maybe there were reduced opportunities for skilled work in Castleford so the family packed up and moved to Newcastle looking for better paid work.  Once Matthew was dead Susannah would have had little choice but to return to Castleford hoping the Taylor family there would help support her and her children.

Durham Records Online: Search or 3,364,673 Durham & Northumberland parish & census records containing 8,325,100 names

A search on Durham Records Online for Matthew's burial (easy to do now I know the year!) brought back a hit which tallied with the death certificate (searches are free and often give enough detail for basic family history purposes, but in this case I paid £1.50 for the full transcription).

Burials, Gateshead District - Record Number: 658836.2
Location: Heworth
Church: St. Mary
Denomination: Anglican
15 Feb 1854 Matthew Taylor, of Bill Quay, age: 24

This makes it clear that Hewith is Heworth and that Mill Quay is actually Bill Quay.  The world is really getting smaller - I am sure that place name has cropped up in my own family tree, and it is a place the OH and I have visited on one of our holidays in the North East.

Thinking about the children I noticed I had no record of the marriage or death of Matthew and Susannah's eldest child, Mary Ann, who was born in Castleford in 1850. She appears in the 1851 census but not in the 1861 census (see my previous blog about the family as mentioned above).  I thought I'd try a search for Mary Taylor in the new GRO death indexes. Castleford fell within the Pontefract registration district until 1862 and there is one record that might match. Mary Ann Taylor aged 1 who died in the Pontefract district in the first quarter of 1852.  As she was 7 months old in March 1851 this age fits.  However there is also a Mary Ann Taylor aged 2 who died in Newcastle upon Tyne in the fourth quarter of 1853, and now we know the family were there in early 1854 I cannot rule this result out.  Something to come back to later I think.

That is quite enough for one day.  I have found the OH's 3x great grandfather and closed off his record satisfactorily.  The link with the North East is fascinating and I still have many other questions about Susannah, his widow and their daughter Mary to answer.  But for now I am very happy.

Thank you to the GRO for making my day!

Thursday, 24 November 2016

George Lister Greenwood - Missionary and Conscientious Objector in WW1

One of the mini-projects that the Barnsley War Memorials Project has been undertaking to try to find as many WW1 Barnsley soldiers as possible for the Roll of Honour of Barnsley's WW1 Fallen is the indexing of the war years (August 1914 - March 1919) of the Barnsley Chronicle
Part of the front page of a war time issue of the Barnsley Chronicle (with thanks to Barnsley Archives)
With the generous help of Barnsley Archives and the Barnsley Chronicle themselves, the BWMP has been able to provide home-working volunteers with digital issues of the Chronicle to read through at home, they then enter every instance of a man or woman affected by the war into an Excel spreadsheet and email it back to the volunteer co-ordinator for combination into a master index.  Copies of the work done so far can be found on the shelves of Barnsley Archives who also have an electronic copy for their own use.  This is hugely useful resource for anyone researching their servicemen (and women) ancestors in the WW1 period as it saves searching through the digital Chronicle one month at a time using the word search facility which can fall down when faced with fuzzy or damaged text.

I have been working on an issue from 17 March 1917.  This month had a partial index in the Archives already, based on the WW1 cuttings files, but it was very sparse, including only a small percentage of the potential names which might be of interest to people researching their WW1 ancestors.  

Yesterday I came across an unusually lengthy report of the Barnsley Tribunal concerning a man pleading conscientious objection on the grounds that he was a missionary.  Tribunals were held regularly to hear the appeals of men who had been 'called up' once conscription began in 1916.  Exemptions were sometimes granted for men on 'work of national importance' or conditionally for a few months to allow them to sort out their affairs before they reported to the services.

"George Lister Greenwood (40, single), described as a missionary, stated that he had not appeared before the Tribunal before as he had been out of England. He said he had been a missionary in the United States and Canada, and had got to England on Christmas day. [...]  He claimed to have been an itinerant minister of the Gospel for nine years, during which time he had sacrificed pecuniary benefits and sometimes risked his life. Applicant added that he felt entitled to exemption granted to ministers. He had a conscientious objection to military service, but had no objection to taking up work of national importance."

To cut a long story short Alderman Rideal, examining George Greenwood, doubted the validity of his objection. The Clerk of the Tribunal agreed that as George was not in Holy Orders he was not covered by the blanket exemption of ministers. George, who stated that he had previously been a watch and clock repairer, offered to work on the land or in clerical work or teaching at which point Colonel Raley, another member of the Tribunal, noted that there was no work of national importance that was not connected to the war. George replied that prayer was work of national importance and asked if the panel believed in the 'Angels of Mons', to which Colonel Hewitt, military representative on the Tribunal replied, "We don't!".  Eventually it was agreed that George should be sent to work on the land as a trial. 
1939 Register snip for King's College Hospital, Lambeth (with thanks to Find My Past)

I was curious about George Lister Greenwood's background and wondered how he came to be a missionary and what happened to him next.  I found a George L Greenwood born on 19 Nov 1876 in the 1939 Register on Find My Past listed as a Bible Teacher.  He was, in 1939, a patient at King's College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London.  This date of birth matches the registration of George Lister Greenwood's birth in Barnsley in the fourth quarter of 1876.  This man died in the beginning of 1940 in the Lambeth registration district of London. 

My search was complicated by a second man of the same name who was born in Keighley in West Yorkshire in 1877, which is near to Barnsley enough to suggest a possible family relationship between the two men. The second George Lister Greenwood died in Keighley in 1923 and probate was granted to a Minnie Greenwood, spinster. 

You will have to forgive me if the following rambles a bit - I find it helps to write everything down as I find it and then sort it out afterwards.  

Snip of 1889 Barnsley Town Plan showing 8 Cheapside marked
I traced the Barnsley born George Lister Greenwood back in the census returns.  His father, George Greenwood, was born in Haworth in West Yorkshire in 1840 to John Greenwood a tailor and draper, and after an apprenticeship to a draper in Dewsbury (noted in the 1861 census) married Sarah Ann Cooper in Barnsley in 1867.  In the 1871 census the elder George is a Linen Draper living at 8 Cheapside in Barnsley - one of the main shopping streets in the town centre on the edge of May Day Green.  According to the Tasker Trust website G Greenwood occupied that shop from 1869 to 1876. But then the family moves to a Drapers shop in Keighley (1881 census) and Bingley (1891 census) where George snr is listed as a School Attendance Officer.  This allegiance to to West Yorkshire adds to my suspicions that the two George Lister Greenwoods may have been related.

George and Sarah Ann have four children listed in the census returns:
Thomas Cooper Greenwood b. 1869
Kate Emily Greenwood b. 1871
John Henry Greenwood b. 1873
George Lister Greenwood b. 1876
All four were born in Barnsley and were baptised at St Mary's church.

In 1899 George Greenwood snr dies.  He is buried in Cawthorne which confused me even more, especially as his abode is given as Haworth in the burial register.  In the 1901 census his wife Sarah Ann has returned to Barnsley is living at the top end of Granville Street in the Old Town area.  She appears to be supported by her three younger children, Kate and John who are Pupil Teachers and George who is a Clock and Watch Repairer (happily tallying with the newspaper report which prompted this investigation). Her eldest son, Thomas, who was a Solicitor's Clerk in 1891, has left home and I cannot find him in the census (yet). 
1911 census snip showing 64 Hope Street, Barnsley (with thanks to Ancestry)

In 1911 Sarah Ann Greenwood now aged 76 is living at 64 Hope Street, Barnsley with her daughter Kate who is the Head Mistress of a government or municipal school. George, who is still a Watch and Clock Repairer is also still living with them.  John Henry seems to have left home.  Sarah helpfully tells us that she had been married 33 years and was 11 years widowed which confirms the information I had found on her marriage to George snr.  She also notes that she had just four children and that in 1911 all are alive. This is valuable additional information and she need not have included it in the return as her marriage was not a 'present' one as defined in the census instructions, hence the red crossing out!

I have found a record of Sarah Ann's death in March 1918 aged 83, she was buried in Cawthorne too, which gave me the idea of back tracking her.  Yes, she was baptised in Cawthorne in 1834, daughter of Thomas Cooper, a carpenter and Priscilla his wife, who gave their abode as Barnsley.  Both Thomas and Priscilla are also buried in Cawthorne, so Sarah buried her husband George near her parents and then joined him in the fullness of time.  While looking into burials at Cawthorne I also spotted that Kate Emily Greenwood was buried there in 1948, having died a spinster (not unusual for a schoolteacher in that era) in Bristol.  The probate of her will is left to John Henry Greenwood, retired barrister, presumably her brother. 
1915 Passenger List snip showing the SS Bohemian sailing from Liverpool

Meanwhile various searches on George Lister Greenwood had indicated that he had a Passenger List record arriving in the USA in 1915.  I do not have a Worldwide subscription to Ancestry so I called into Cudworth Library, which like all the other library branches and the Archives in Barnsley has a subscription to the Library version of Ancestry.  It is completely free to use and I was able to look up George's travels and email the relevant pages home to myself.  As you can see above George sails in May 1915 to Boston, Massachusetts and gives his occupation as Missionary. His next of kin is listed as his mother Mrs Greenwood of 64 Hope Street, which agrees with the address of the family in 1911.  A further Passenger List confirmed that George returned home on the "Finland" which arrived in Liverpool from New York on 25 December 1916. Ah, ha!  Just as he claimed at the Tribunal in March 1917. 

As I searched for George in the worldwide records I was surprised to get hits on his brother Thomas Cooper Greenwood.  He had arrived in Canada before 1899 (which accounts for him being missing from the 1901 census entry for the rest of the family in Barnsley) because he marries a lady called Margaret Unger in Toronto in April that year.  His occupation at his marriage was Journalist and his identity is confirmed by the names of his parents as George and Sarah Ann Greenwood.  By 1910 he is living in the state of Michigan, USA with his second wife Mabel and her two children from her previous marriage.  He states that he arrived in the USA in 1905 and that he is a Journalist.  In 1920 Thomas applies for an American passport as a Naturalized Citizen for himself, Mabel and his adopted son Stanley. Details of his birth in Barnsley and his emigration from Canada to America in 1905 are given. He is still a Journalist.  Could it be that when George visited America from 1915 to 1916 that he was visiting his brother? 

A further fascinating document appeared on Worldwide Ancestry for Thomas Cooper Greenwood, a record of his death in France in 1933 aged 63.  The names and addresses of his wife Mabel, stepson Stanley, brother John and sister Kate are given, but no sign of brother George!  If George was the man in the hospital in London in 1939 he was still alive at this point, but his family don't seem to know where he is. 

I am no wiser as to why George Lister Greenwood became a Missionary. He is not listed as a Conscientious Object in Cyril Pearce's list on Lives of the First World War, but I will add him to LFWW in a day or so (I have the power to do that as an official IWM volunteer).  I can use the newspaper article and the passenger list as proof of his occupation as a missionary.  I might have worked out why he went to America, but after his appearance at the Tribunal in Barnsley in 1917 he vanishes from the online records for over 20 years as far as I can see.