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7 Feb 2016

Best of Genes Dictionary

A new place to record the jargon used by family historians in their research.
Genes Dictionary.
Best of the list so far:
daughtered out When a line fails because only daughters were left to have children, and they don't continue the male line.
long ease git A chap who takes a long ease with his laptop, researching family history, while everyone else is working. Anagram: genealogist!

1 Jan 2016

1600s handwriting: I predict a baptism

I wrestled with the name William Robert Jenkin Morton, born 1611.  Welsh patronymics told me that he was William son of Robert, son of Jenkin.  This Jenkin was born maybe in the 1570s and I didn't think he could become a grandfather that quickly.  And there was no evidence of this Robert or this William anywhere in the registers.

So I scoured the tree for another Jenkin who I knew did already have a son Robert, and found the guy at the top of the tree fitted.  But Robert was born eighty years before 1611 so couldn't be the father.  He did have an alleged grandson William, who would be William DAVID Robert Jenkin Morton that a baptism didn't seem to exist for.

Did I misread the baptism after all?  If I was right, then the two mysteries, a missing baptism, and an unknown family, could be replaced with one baptism that fitted a known individual?

So, I was in the strange position of going to read a baptism from 1611 knowing that I was going to spot an extra word between the 'William' and the 'Robert'.  And there it was..... 'dd' which is the shortened form of David that I'd completed ignored on the first reading.

William Robert Jenkin Morton was William David Robert Jenkin Morton which made much more sense, turning an impossible person on the family tree into someone who fitted perfectly.

It was very strange going to a baptism registers from the 1600s with open mind knowing what I was going to see, however.  Here is the entry courtesy of Carmarthenshire Archives.

23 Dec 2015

And your prize is... nothing!

For a couple of years I've had unanswered questions about my 6x-great aunt Catherine REES from the Vale of Neath, Cwm-neath, who snared a Cornishman, who died about a year after their marriage. So they have a son together, posthumously, so simple?

Except that William SMITH the boy married Janet HOGG and lives at Sully Glamorgan, and there is another couple in the parish: William HOGG and Catherine SMITH!

This lady had names that couldn't be ignored. Her burial shows she was three years William's junior, which took some explaining...

Finally, a rather long-winded path led me to conclude she was Scottish, daughter of Ralph SMITH of Pitlivie, Angus, and nothing to do with my 6x-great aunt at all.

Clue #1 was a birth recorded of Catherine Smith QUICK which eagle-eyed researchers at Azazella Proboards had linked to (Catherine's daughter) Elizabeth HOGG
Clue #2 was the 1841 census for Newcastle, that everyone at Azazella had missed, showing Catherine's daughter at the home of Scotsman William SMITH born 1790 Scotland
Clue #3 was the 1851 census for Newcastle, suggesting this William had married late in life to Miss PIPKIN
Clue #4 was the marriage record at FamilySearch, Newcastle 1841 of William, shown as Ralph's son

This led directly to the baptisms of Ralph SMITH's children on the Scottish east coast including the crucial Catherine SMITH, 1785.

So, the game changing clue was the 1841 census (Newcastle), often derided for its lack of genealogical data that helped prove decidedly that my 6x-half-great aunt did not have an illegitimate baby 55 years earlier all the way over in Neath, south Wales.

This possibility had been gnawing at me, and now, my prize is... nothing!

22 Nov 2015

Four counties, four generations of women

Esther marries in Derbyshire, at Matlock in 1839.

Ellen marries in Cheshire, at Macclesfield in 1858, erroneously as Sarah Ellen.

Mary Ann marries in Lancashire, at Atherton in 1880.

Ellen married in Yorkshire, at Wakefield in 1901.

Esther Fox the great grandmother, would be only 85, of a similar age to the queen, who lived to see her daughter's daughter's daughter marry (1900). But Esther had died, in suspected childbirth, four decades earlier.

The Fox children did scatter to Cheshire, Nottinghamshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire, in that order.

Like the queen's great granddaughter, Ellen had no issue from her Wakefield marriage, but lived near her birth in Leigh Lancashire. She adopted a daughter and a hitherto unknown sister-in-law (also childless) proved her will.

Thanks to the #1939register for helping me find Ellen. (Abandoned it seems by her father, born at back of Atherton, but with a birthdate given in the baptismal registers.)

Young husbands on the family tree

There's several young husbands.

Richard Bowman marrying at 18 in Bury St Edmunds, 1870s.

George Wright marrying at 22 in Derby to Mrs Hannah Robinson, 1870. She was 48.

James Guppy marrying at 18 in Bath to a widow Elizabeth, age 36, 1877. She tricked him into marriage, it's said.

Joseph Green, marrying at 17 in Bristol to Mrs Ellen Kingston, a young widow, about 1867. They were from a village 20 miles away.

Joseph Padfield, marrying at about 20 in Bristol to Selina Green, about 1855. They were also from a village, 10 miles away.

Arthur Smith, age 21 to an older lady Charlotte Langham, at Norwich 1878. His father (23) and brother (21) both married older ladies, in nearby towns and villages.

Marriage rights and wrongs ��

What a silly title, but I did notice a family who slightly flipped the textbook on marrying.

Normally in modern England women change their name, couples had to stay married, and there was some longevity.

Harriet Bowman and her offering bucked this trend. She is the sister of my Henry Smith and of Richard (who divorced his first wife in an agricultural way), and William (who married their niece after circumstances left them alone together).

Generation One. Harriet is shown as a widow in the 1901 census and then disappears. The next census explains. She had married William Cadnum in 1894 but they'd clearly not got on, so she wound back her name a notch. Her truthful son enumerates her as Cadnum in 1911 and under this name she dies.

Generation Two. At the truthful son's funeral the very next year who should attend but youthful Rob Read. The widow replaces truthful for youthful, "marrying her toyboy", according to the diary of a great niece.

Generation Two continued. The second son, Richard Bowman senior married three wives in a row starting at age 18. He tries to divorce the last, and believe it did make it through the divorce courts. He was a grandfather by the time the youngest baby arrives.

Generation Three. From the glitz of St George Hanover Square, a church in London ⛪ where Rose Bowman marries a wealthy sea captain... to her siblings. Amy married a Yorkshireman at 21 far from home, but ten years later settles with another man, a dangerous game that fails.

Generation Three continued. Blanche Bowman loses her first husband to a habit of dicing with prussic acid. And Richard junior is the subject of the wife swap story.

Generation Four. Richard junior's daughter, born 1922, elects not to marry her husband until she is fifty, despite having been together for years and raised a family. She'll have been influenced by her mother, who was happiest when with her partner, not her husband, and whom she wed after 15 years of union.

21 Nov 2015

Emmerdale Farm and a wife-swap: the 1939 Register


I was very sceptical that the 1939 Register would deliver anything new for me.  I have been studying family history for over 20 years, and if I needed information about the 20th century, I could mostly look at freebmd.  And then jump straight into the electoral roll, to get an address of a living relative.  I have done this countless times, so what good would sniffing around a 75 year-old summary do for my tree?
Child baptisms of around the year 1900 often gave the infant's exact date of birth - and assuming they lived another 69 years, you can then use this information to find their death record, particularly useful if they married overseas, had a common name or moved around unpredictably.

Child baptisms of around the year 1880 occasionally gave an exact date of birth, but the infant concerned is very unlikely to have lived another 89 years to produce such a record...
Believe me, I homed in on Catherine Jones (born 1881) pretty instantly, scouring the new 1939 Register for any evidence of a Catherine, but she eluded me.  I was pretty sure she had survived and was living in Manchester, but she was proving a mite tricky to locate.

I knew that she'd had a massive bust-up with her sister Florence - the only family member to produce a will.  And Florence goes to great lengths not to mention Catherine, so her archival betrayal means that Cath is utterly missing from our official family record.



Of course, I found her - and on the 1939 Register, too, but not by my own endeavour.  Who should I spy living with Florence Jones in Manchester, 1939, but Katherine Bateman.  Katherine!  My fingers quiver as I double-check the birth-date.  Yes, Katherine was born in March, and yes, she was born on 6 March 1881.  And yes, there was a marriage (one of 23 possibles) in Liverpool 1905.

So, I was looking at the 1939 household before the barney.  Katherine's two grandchildren lived nearby, and thirty years later, old Florence's heart softened and she added them to her will.  Stupidly I had never checked out this reference, as the name Bateman had no resonance for me then.

EMMERDALE?  Katherine's grandchildren both have large Irish-Manchester families.  A great-great-grandson plays a cleaner living in the village of Eccup, just outside Leeds, in the soap Emmerdale.

WIFE-SWAP? Missed the wife-swap story.  It's here.