Search This Blog

Follow by Email

22 Jun 2020

The uncertainty of the linked record: finding Ann in Utah

Ann Phillips was born in 1797 in Neath and came to Merthyr Tydfil as a young girl.

Ann Phillips might have married age 20 to John Thomas, and could have had children in the years after, the 1820, and might have stayed alive, along with her husband. (Although life in industrial Merthyr was pretty short and brutal and infectious).  If she could just survive until a census? Would I even recognise her in the census?

This is Ann Phillips (Thomas) in the 1841 census

1841 Tram Road Merthyr:
John Thomas 45 (iron) miner born outside county, Ann 40, Margaret 20 dressmaker

As relationships are not stated, I cannot be certain that this was John Thomas who married Ann (Phillips) in 1817, and there are other John/Ann pairings in Merthyr (from the marriage registers), including as John Thomas and Ann (Tasker), each of whom could have married anywhere (Carmarthenshire, Brecknockshire) Moreover, although the population was lower at the time of likely marriage (rising from three thousand to at least 11 thousand by 1831), I still feel uncomfortable bolting this onto my tree. An Ancestry tree suggested the daughter, Margaret, lived briefly in Tredegar before a preposterous emigration, so this was sensibly ignored (for now!).

Here is an 1851 census entry, which might be the same couple:

1851 Ynysfach Merthyr Tydfil:
John Thomas 54 coal weigher b Vaynor =Ann 54 b Neath
Daughter Amy 27 b Merthyr =Evan Evans 30 carpenter b Merthyr, Margaret 4 b Merthyr

So few details perhaps are overlapping. Different children, no baptisms for either daughter; I also could not trace the Evanses any further forward, nor the Thomases in 1861, I put the entry to one side for a year.

Looking again, however, some things do suggest a link between the two censuses. The name Margaret, the specific district of Merthyr Tydfil (Ynysfach), the ages and county-born statuses do in fact add up. The fact the couple had been in Merthyr a long time (daughter is 27 and born there) does help to convince me that these folk are locals, long-term residents of the area, and not recent blow-ins.

I can also see that a Neath/Vaynor born couple could only have married in Merthyr, the natural pull for both smaller communities.

The big disappointment was the complete disappearance, literal and figurative, of the other inhabitants of the household, from any future record, i.e. of the Evans daughter and her family. Whilst it could perhaps be explained by an early death/remarriage/transcription error 'hiding' the survivor's identity from future records, I could make no such link, and as such the useful 1851 census is deemed an 'island record'. The story of the Evanses would eventually emerge and prove shocking, thanks to only one record, but that is still some months away (see here).

What we really need here is a believable composite story, with one or two additional records to 'lock' Ann's life together. A keystone document, some additional reference that is not a piece of 'island data' (linked only by assumption) but one which works on several facts, a merged-fact document. For this we are going to need to look some more at the street of Ann's childhood, Heolgerrig, and in fact, Tredegar. We are also going to have to 'wake up' to the possibility of a Utah connection, which had been pushed to one side, earlier. But once we begin siphoning from the past, we cannot control what else we shall find in the flow...

HELP IS COMING: Mr Giles would be an anchor point on FamilySearch trees.

The death certificate of Thomas Phillip, Ann's father, was not expected to rouse the embers, but it did. 'Ann Thomas', the informant, appeared to be his daughter and thus indeed likely the wife of John Thomas. She is confirmed as living in Merthyr Tydfil. I remembered the lonely Ancestry trees that suggested she'd had a daughter Margaret, wife of Thomas Davis Giles. Mr Giles was something of a celebrity, and after recent Welsh/Mormon researches, it was time to look at FamilySearch trees.

Once we'd locate Giles on FamilySeach trees, there was more information on overlapping family interests can be shared. A researcher looking at Thomas Jarman knew from papers (sourced on the site) that he'd married just prior to his own emigration to Utah, to Ann Phillips/Thomas. This researcher had gone the extra mile and ordered the marriage certificate from Wales. Here it is. Finally the locking stone that links everything together

1851 28 Church Square, Tredegar:
Margaret Giles 29 born Merthyr (head of house), 3 children (Margaret, Joseph, Hyram); niece Ann Hughes 11 servant; lodger David Phillips 45 widower coal miner b Neath*

The above census shows that Margaret, the dressmaker in Tram Road from 1841 is now married to Mr Giles (away from home). As Ann Thomas is now a widow, it makes sense for her to be living with her in Tredegar, 1855. A wealth of further materials survive in America, Giles's journals, the shipping records, grave records, death records, personal recollections of Giles and of Jarman. Some of the linking evidence is shown below.

The whole family unit go out in 1856: Thomas Jarman and Ann, Thomas Giles and Margaret, their children plus the niece Ann Hughes (for discussion on that connection see elsewhere). The FamilySearch trees had not attempted to connect in the niece Ann Hughes, because of the difficulty in interpreting records in Wales. One researcher even put 'not trace of Ann Thomas [the grandmother]' in the 1851 census!

*Incidentally, David Phillips, is I believe a cousin of Ann Thomas (nee Phillips) and likely the widower of her second cousin, Mary Rees, who we think returns to Neath later that year to wed Gwenllian (Winifred) Williams. The other David Phillips living in Bedwellty have all been eliminated.

The marriage certificate of 1855 confirms that Ann Thomas is indeed the daughter of Thomas Phillip(s) the carpenter. At last, everything seems to be locking together.

We can now put together the story of Ann.

The story of Ann Phillips: Neath to Provo

Ann was baptised in February 1797 at Neath parish church. Her parents had married four years earlier at Merthyr Tydfil, and it was to Merthyr Tydfil that they returned, for the births of their remaining children. She did indeed marry John Thomas, and we shall see how/why we can infer that, in our earlier research notes.

The John Phillip(s) who gave his permission was likely an uncle, her father then perhaps working away. He may controversially have had some objection to the marriage (shown here under 'eliciting approval'). Just four months after that, John Thomas gives his own permission for Ann's sister Gwenllian to marry, then only 18. He will later witness the marriage of his daughter Ann in 1837. In the 1840s he joins the Mormon church, and invites his son-in-law, Thomas D. Giles along to the meeting. They remain close.

We come to the first of our merged-facts-records, the death certificate for Ann's father, some 30 years later, in a much swollen MT. Thomas Phillip, lived high on the Heolgerrig (road), which leads from Ynysfach and Georgetown up the Mountain. I have walked it, and it is steep. It turns into a lane, then track as it goes over the hill. It was perhaps their original road into the town, from Neath.

Although we know very little of Thomas Phillip, we can now happily discount a much earlier death for him (c. 1810) and spy him in the 1841 census at Heolgerrig. Ann's sister Gwenllian also on the road, and we think she had died 3 years prior (t.b.c.), leaving Ann as eldest daughter to check in on father. This death certificate gave us the excuse to re-examine Ann Thomas, which we had thought was ‘wrong’, ‘inconclusive’ or ‘impossible to move forward with’. We volunteer an explanation of why her uncle John Phillips (rather than father Thomas) had allowed the under-age bride to marry, here.

Thomas entertained visitors during the hours of divine worship in the 1830s , and was fined accordingly (the other two accused had public houses that may have hosted meetings). Was he a nonconformist - surely Baptists did not receive such censure?

Thomas is living by himself in Heolgerrig and as an old man of about 80 (the parish registers have him as 79), dies of a fit and is registered the following day later by his daughter Ann, note that no relationship is specified on the certificate, as is common.

Meanwhile Ann and John Thomas have raised their children in Merthyr, witnessing the rise in population. John is listed as an (iron) miner in 1841, but by 1851 is a coal weigher, arguably a less strenuous job, perhaps given to older men.

1841 Tram Road, Merthyr Tydfil:
John Thomas 45 (iron) miner born outside county, Ann 40, Margaret 20 dressmaker

1851 Ynysfach Merthyr Tydfil:
John Thomas 54 coal weigher b Vaynor =Ann 54 b Neath
daughter Amy 27 b Merthyr (=Evan Evans 30 carpenter b Merthyr), Margaret 4 b Merthyr

In between the two years, in 1844 (per Giles’s diary), John Thomas becomes a Mormon at the hands of the charismatic elders W. S. Phillips, A. Evans and T. Pugh. They appear to meet in the houses of the Elders, and larger meetings take place in public houses. The minister promised a place where all would be welcome. Not much time was dwelt on fundamental theological differences. the preachers were all Welsh, 'one of them'. Perhaps new found friends got John a better job, above ground.

Ann's three daughters are married: Ann to David Hughes about whom we knew very little; Margaret to Thomas D. Giles coal hewer whose head injuries made him blind (became President of LDS locally), Amy to Evan Evans.

Ann could not have predicted but her life was about to change hugely, due to the Latter-day Saints. More visitors to her family home, after 35 years of marriage, a new husband, in a new town, New Tredegar.

There is no trace of the family unit of 1851 in future British censuses. The Evanses disappear completely. What has happened?

In January 1852, her daughter Amy Evans sets sail from Liverpool to New Orleans to begin a new life in Utah Territory, but mishap dogs the journey. We know that the steamboat Saluda, on which vessel the family moved up the Mississippi and then the Missouri from New Orleans to St Louis and beyond, exploded in March 1852, carrying 250 Mormons.

In September, her husband John Thomas took sick and died weeks later. It was now only Ann remaining from that 1851 census entry.

What next for Ann? It would be a short period with her daughter, Margaret, and the Giles family. They were dead-set on Utah. Ann was now an older widow - could she make the long journey, months of walking through desert? Ever practical came a solution: remarriage. She would remarry, then take ship for Liverpool, Boston and then the railroad to Iowa City.

Her certificate of second marriage is here:

The husband she married at Tredegar Wesleyan Chapel would in a few short months be pushing her handcart 1200 miles west from Iowa City at the very latest part of the summer, to the extremities of the united states (Utah was still then a territory).

Journey to Utah

This would be a test of anyone's mettle. Ann's journey would be exceptionally tough and she would take small comfort from survival. The very next two series of 'handcart' pioneers were caught in the snow of Wyoming. Ann too would experience personal tragedy and hardship on the trail, including the loss of a second daughter in cinematically brutal circumstances.

From Iowa City to Salt Lake. On arrival there by railroad the pioneers could not wait. They could not delay. Autumn was not quite in the air. The animal grease, old saucepans and harness leather with which they covered their four-dollar cart against the whipping Nebraska sand would save them.

Those who left England barely a week later, on the same route were destined to die in huge numbers in the October blizzards of 1856 in Wyoming, the ill-fated Willie and Martin handcart companies. But Ann was in the Edward Bunker company, arriving crucial days earlier in SLC, on 2 October. The majority of Bunker's casualties were her own family, who could not be helped.

Ann made it, to the Salt Lake Valley. She and Jarman set up house together: his tender third wife and step- daughter eased her journey to the next life. Her brothers and sisters kept their own counsel and did not, we believe, join in her crusade to the new life.

She leaves many descendants who can marvel at her achievements, although too many do not have her on their family tree! Thank you to those peripheral family members who have posted useful materials from their forebears on FamilySearch.

Ann and her husband, Thomas Jarman, settle in Provo, Utah and are happy and content enough. On Thomas Jarman’s gravestone is says ‘We shall meet again’.

xxx

More on Amy Evans
1852: Amy Evans, her husband and two children (daughter and un-named child of 3 months) sail from Liverpool to New Orleans on 10 January on the Kennebec bound for the Salt Lake valley, as shown on the very thorough Saints by Sea https://saintsbysea.lib.byu.edu/. Their minister was W. S. Phillips. It was a dangerous route with no railroad. These are early migrants, intended to be accompanied to Salt Lake by Mormon leader A. O. Smoot. We find them in no further records in Wales or Utah, as far as we can tell. There is a 'Brother EE' now settled in Argoed (Blackwood) later that year who we have yet to eliminate, or locate. But the company pressed on, up the winding and unpredictable Missouri river, up beyond the confluence with the Mississippi at St Louis. Not only did the boiler explode on the Saluda, ferrying so many immigrants inland, but cholera then wiped out many of the survivors. Aside from this shipping record, the Evanses (who did not died on the Saluda) have sadly and simply vanished. There is a brief entry in brother-in-law Giles's journal, 1852, at the death of his own father on the banks of the same river a year earlier (!), but nothing makes it into the account it seems for this tragedy.

References from Thomas Giles's diary
1852 (October): John Thomas sickens and dies. (Son-in-law Giles is now the man of the family.) Giles resides in Tredegar and visits his mother-in-law often.
1855: Giles records his mother-in-law (Ann)'s marriage to Brother Thomas Jerman (Jarman). This took place at Tredegar Wesleyan Chapel, orchestrated by Giles and Jarman in contemplation of emigration.

Dates in 1856
1856 (May): The ship leaves Liverpool just in time.
1856 (September): Mrs Giles, Ann's second daughter, goes into childbirth. Death. Niece Ann Uce who accompanied her and calls her mother, gets lifelong frozen feet. She's just 15.
1856 (October). The handcart company arrives in Salt Lake valley on 2 October.

20 Jun 2020

Welsh marriage bonds without going to Family History Centre

You have found that FamilySearch say there is a marriage bond for your forebears. This is great, but you can't get into the library just now. Bit far, long drive, library shut.

You follow the links and then you may just find that there is an excellent index for all Welsh marriage bonds (up to certain point) on discovery.library.wales : you go there and confirm the details. You will particularly need the Diocese (Llandaff, St Davids, Aberhonddu, or the ones in the North)
Go to https://www.familysearch.org/records/images/ and locate the marriage bonds there. These are unindexed images so are currently available to all : this will change so make hay while the sun shines! Some years are not included (1760s in particular). St Davids is often listed under 'Wales'. If you get stuck, ask a friend.

Lastly an image for the bonds! (This is a quick screengrab)
Most of the time the index is more use than the image, but not exclusively so. Mary (shown here) is marrying for the second time. At her first marriage, the bondsman was her step-father: very useful to see his details shown. Happy Bonding!

19 Jun 2020

Went out for a visit and never came back: Utah husband/Aberdare husband

Ann Thomas/Hughes! As well as having the same name as her mother and daughter, Ann for a while distinguished herself by having no baptism, no death and no census return. To give you some context she is born 13 November 1814 in Merthyr Tydfil, but this fact was extremely hard-won.

Here is the initial diagram as we have it; although 'simple' you won't yet find this on any family tree online. (Margaret's eternal sleep is disturbed by 148 muddled trees, while young Ann her niece is only being bedevilled by a mere befudgement of 88 arbourages.)
We know that her daughter, Ann (only child?) sails for Boston in 1856 age 15 in the company of her aunt, Mrs Giles, grandmother, and Giles family members. They are Mormons and on their way to the Salt Lake valley, their Zion.

I assumed that Ann Thomas/Hughes was dead. Ann junior states that Mrs Giles is her mother and recalls that she 'died on the Plains' (which Mrs Giles indeed did). So what is going on?

Ann junior is born just after the 1841 census despite records which state her as born in 1840. Therefore we only get one crack of the census and by the age of 11 (really only 10) she is with her aunt Mrs Giles, as 'niece'. I would assume she is helping to take care of the little ones in the cramped Tredegar house, particularly as Mr Giles was blind and there is no-one else to help.

Why then does Ann junior accompany her aunt to Utah? This I don't know. I think the might of the Giles family outweighed certain other factors and Mr Giles got his way. The little ones needed their cousin Ann (by now 15).

Ann Thomas/Hughes is not dead. She will appear in Utah herself on Saturday 16 November 1867 when she 'remarries' to Andrew Lee Allen, who is himself separated from his (second) wife. But where has she been for the last FORTY years since her marriage to Mr Hughes in 1827? And why is she in Utah only NOW? Here is the killer entry from findagrave howing Ann DID die in Utah:

Sad as it is to relate, I think it will be obvious by now that one individual has been hinted at but not mentioned. That's right, MR Hughes.

David Hughes was born in Merthyr Tydfil in about 1812 and is various recorded as a coal miner, fireman and perhaps later 'retired from colliery management'. If I have the right man, he lives to age 75 and his Will, which I have certainly and assuredly ordered, shows that he had a few pennies by the time of his death. He was accompanied through much of his life by his dear and devoted daughter, Mary Ann (born about 1850).

Geek note: Incidentally, freeBMD and the General Register Office have two Mary Anns born in Neath in 1850 (June and December quarters), whilst Neath registrars have only one, born in September quarter. This may be accounted for by Mary Ann being born in the mountains (out of the county borough?) and registered late, but this apparent discrepancy sure as sugar makes no sense to me.

In 1841 I cannot find David Hughes and it may be some family trauma took place around this time that sent forthcoming baby Ann off to the Giles family, or perhaps it is a missing census return*. They will have a peripatetic few years suggesting some workplace challenges for David. In 1851 David Hughes is living with his wife Ann in Aberdare, with two children, of whom the survivor will be Mary Ann. There is definitely 'room' for Ann junior (the 10 year-old) in here.

1851 Blaengwawr Row, Aberdare: David Hughes 38 coalminer =Ann 37 (born Merthyr); Eliza 8 born Merthyr, Mary Ann 2 (born Henllwyn i.e. Onllwyn, up from Neath)

*It is in fact a big old mis-spelling. The Hughes family are listed as Huies, in Isle Wight [road], Merthyr and indexed as Haies. Unbelievably, in the 1880s, Ann junior will be listed as Ann Uce when her son serves as a missionary in the southern States.
In 1861 David Hughes is a married fireman lodging with a Lewis family in Aberdare. His only child is listed as 'Morgan Hughes aged 12 born Aberdare'. I think this is a rather large error and that 'Morgan' is 'Mary Ann', female. The suspiciously neat enumerator has clearly written up his 'fair copy' from scribbled notes.

The challenge is compounded by the fact that a boy called Morgan Prothero Hughes (also aged 12) and his parents (father  also called David) are 'missing' in the 1861 census (likely to be up in Cefncoedycymmer) and that the current FamilySearch tree has associated the Cefncoed David Hughes with the Utah folk.

In 1871 David Hughes is now a widower, living with his married daughter, Mary Ann (who married at only 18 possibly when expecting twins). Despite Mary Ann having six daughters, the female line from her appears to be extinct, which might explain the lack of trees (precisely none) surrounding her, rather noteworthy, existence in the pantheon. He lives on until 1889, with his Will being on order, as mentioned above.

We have a bit of a drama here, methinks. Time to rethink the tree:
Characters

DAVID HUGHES: My wife is not going to Utah and that's final. Note for the actor: Is there anything sinister going on with the moves, the dates, the timings around childrens' birth and marriages, or just bad luck?

THOMAS GILES: Ann (junior) is going to be of great help to our young family. She has stopped with us several years now. She must not be deprived the chance to go to Zion. Her poor parents do not have room for another mouth to feed.

MARGARET GILES: I will do as you say, husband.

ANN HUGHES: I will do as you say, for now, husband.

MARY ANN HUGHES (daughter of David, who remains behind): .... ???. Note for the actor: does she really just go along with her father and sole carer? Is he a protector figure, who is looking after who in this relationship? For Mary Ann, this really must have been the toughest.

In 1863, there is an Ann Hughs, sailing from Liverpool to the United States, a married lady of exactly the right age. Is she now on her visit to her beloved daughter (and mother) in the States? She converts to the Latter-Day Saints, that we know. She would not be chastised on arrival in Utah, and soon she would be of great comfort to Andrew Lee Allen and family: 'a good, loyal and faithful wife', in fact. She lies buried at Provo, Utah, a year or two after David Hughes.

Ann Thomas/Hughes/Allen herself, born 13 November 1814 according to most records, was born three years ahead of her parents' marriage, and even then her mother (now 20) had to elicit approval from an uncle. Ironically Ann's father then provided his own permission for another sister to marry, later that year. It seems that Ann's maternal grandfather may have been another tyrannical individual.

It is really remarkable the information that emerged about this small family unit from the early 1800s, in industrial Merthyr Tydfil; new information that has been synthesised from both Welsh records (which many Americans cannot understand) and Utah records (which this British researcher had mistakenly been ignoring).

Movement, work, family: these challenges have stayed the same, and yet everything is different. A visit where the wife never came back.

4 Jun 2020

Independence Day, Far-off Bakers and Not being in Love: DNA hints at 1776 illegitimacy


Taking a virtual road trip to Pembrokeshire
Licking my wounds after DNA took a knife to my ambitions of Wirksworth ancestry and mostly ripped apart a cracking story, leaving elements of the family tree and lingering doubts...

...it was delightful to scamper through the lanes of Pembrokeshire this last weekend (or two), and frankly mop up, collecting a rather interesting corner of the family tree, and absolutely passing 'Go' on the way back.

Many folk are using cluster tools in DNA to prettily depict connections between various cousins. I must confess I tend to use right click and mouse to home in on any new bunch of names.

I thought it was time to look at the following cluster:
F. R. 21cM
Katherine O. 16cM
Teresa T. 24cM
Shirley G. 22cM
Stuart B. 23cM
Jennifer B. 21cM

ThruLines told me that F. R. was a descendant of John Francis 1817 but was very silent on the others. In theory then all the above folks ought to be related in some way shape or form to my Francises, from Pembrokeshire, being as John was born there, and his brother, my forebear William, too.

Teresa T.'s tree was quite brief, just naming her father, but that was enough to work out that Katherine O. was actually her sister. Both were raised in Utah and have a long pedigree there going back to early settlers, who feature in the buzzing Deseret News of 1862. Speaking of which I had no idea 'til just now that Nevada was formerly part of Utah Territory.

Introducing the James sisters
Shirley G.'s tree I had looked at before, and the way it stacked, I really liked her great-great-grandma, Eleanor Maria James, born in 1844, who was of known Pembrokeshire stock. That seemed to be the link. Poring over the rest of Shirley's tree, I am not seeing Pembrokeshire, or Wales, anywhere.

By the time I came to look at Teresa T. and Katherine O. a few months later, amnesia had set in, and I couldn't remember anything about this. I gaily homed in on THEIR great-great-grandma, Catharine Anne James, born in 1840. Now it would have paid me richly to have attempted to link her up with Eleanor, but of course I didn't do that. I had forgotten all about Eleanor. So I did the spadework the hard way.

Who was Catharine?
Catharine was helpfully listed on all trees everywhere as 'born in Wales'. Yes, well thanks. She had married 'aged about 12' because she needed to be ready to have her first child at 15 to fit the records. Clearly that was all hokum, and her first child, it seems, was a stepchild. She actually married at 20, was out of the country barely a year later, had her own firstborn at St Louis, before crossing the plains and somehow making the famed Deseret News as an arrival in 1862 [tbc]. She would be widowed 7 years later, and yet 6 children would arrive (tbc) before death welcomed her not long later.

It was kind of irritating that no-one had bothered to investigate Catharine. Homing in on her marriage, in Merthyr Tydfil registration district in 1860, we can see that the marriage licenses are on FamilySearch but no way of viewing them short of breaking into a library (discouraged), so the marriage cert. is on order. We next examine ALL those girls named Catharine James who are aged 11 in the 1851 Welsh census for the registration district of Merthyr Tydfil. Just the one:

Catharine A. James, 11, born in 'Harfordwest', Pembrokeshire, employed as a nurse.

Catharine will of course prove to be a sister of Eleanor, and proof comes in the form of their brother, Orson James's obituary, which names Catharine's only surviving child as his next-of-kin.

Funeral services for Orson Franklin James [1852-1926], age 73, who died Wednesday morning at 8 o'clock of ailments incident to old age, at the home of his niece, Mrs. William Baty, were held at the Harper ward chapel at two oclock this afternoon under the direction of Bishop Henry Yates. Following the services, the body was interred in the Brigham City cemetery. Mr. James was born September 17, 1852, in Ayreshire [Aberdare], Glamorganshire, Wales. He emigrated to Utah in 1861, settling at Centerville. Later he moved to Kelton and engaged in ranching and cattle raising. For thirty-five years he had his home at Warren, Idaho, where he followed prospecting and mining. He has resided at Harper during the past two years. Mr James spent a number of years in early days freighting from Corinne into Montana and the northwest. When a young man, he drove a team back to Missouri to assist emigrants n-route to Utah. He passed through the experiences of early pioneer life in Utah and Idaho, and was an Indian war veteran. Mr. James never married, and is survived only by his niece, Mrs Wm. Baty of Harper. From: The Box Elder News; April 16, 1926 (via The Salt Lake Tribune; April 15, 1926)
All eyes are now on the parents of Catharine and Eleanor, John James, labourer and his wife, Maria James (nee Llewhellin). Surely they must be the connection to my family, and the Francis DNA matches, but how?

First, we dispense with the notion that it was the husbands of the two sisters who were the link, being perhaps cousins of each other (this has happened to me before), Eleanor's husband is allegedly from Anglesey, while Daniel is not seemingly from Pembrokeshire. I am taking this a little on trust, but rebuilding all the half-baked trees from unverifiable sources, and I can see 109 of them, is rather out of my scope. For now.

Let's also remind ourselves that the sisters are from Haverfordwest, which is the Francis family stronghold, so we shall not look this genealogical gift-horse in the mouth any longer.

Who's Zooming Who?
We cannot quite click a link to see our 'early modern' forebears in their own homes, which would be awfully helpful. Instead, by genealogical brute-force we have learnt that 6th cousin Stuart B. and his sister Jennifer B. both descend from Elizabeth Francis (1786), sister of our Thomas. Let's immediately eliminate half the possible pain, then, by declaring the James sisters to be relatives of 4xgreat-grandfather Thomas Francis (1783) and not of his wife (a coastal girl). 

Illegitimacy in Haverfordwest
Vision of Britain's data shows Haverfordwest had a higher illegitimacy rate than the national average before WW2 (tumbling thereafter until the 1970s). The University of Cambridge's Populations Past has got this rather startling map which it dates as '1851'. Haverfordwest is the south-western hub of illegitimacy at this point, and I would not be at all surprised if one street 'The Quay' was particularly responsible.

I would like to compare illegitimacy with endogamy as I suspect they are inversely related. This article may yet prove useful: English rural societies and geographical marital endogamy, 1700–1837.

Here is a summary of relationships:
The ladies in Utah descend from Catharine and Eleanor.
The death of John James
John James is cited as dying on the waggon trail, pushing a handcart in the winter of 1856. Of course this was not the case at all, he arrived in Utah in some comfort six years later. He is cited as being the son of Samuel James and Margaret Thomas and this we suspect is true. The names are not leading us anywhere near the Francises, however.

Could Samuel or Margaret be a cousin of my 4xgreat-grandfather?
This is unlikely as this would make the two ladies my seventh cousins, and we would not expect to see them sharing 22 cM with me, if they were related to me (as we suspect) through just the one route. We think that Teresa T. and Shirley G. are unlikely to be more remote than my half-sixth cousins as they share upwards of 22 centimorgans, and I am ruling out that they were related in multiple ways based on their family trees which show only one known Welsh line. It would be handy to know how much DNA the two ladies share, to corroborate this.

Could Samuel or Margaret be half-kin to my 4xgreat-grandfather?
This is not impossible. Margaret was from 'Llandeney' which appears to be a some distance from Haverfordwest and in the wrong direction from our stronghold (Wiston). Samuel James was from Uzmaston, and 'late a farmer' suggesting he inherited land. As you can tell I am not favouring this hypothesis, particularly given that none of Samuel's extensive descendants in Pembrokeshire match my DNA, although admittedly these descendants all come down from one child, Catherine Laurence (inn-keeper), who may simply not share DNA with me. It is also a pity that we lack both Samuel and Margaret's baptisms.

Could Margaret have given birth to John James out of wedlock?
We lack John James's baptism. His putative parents, Samuel and Margaret do have a child named Catherine (as does John) and their youngest child's baptism in an independent chapel reveals Margaret's maiden name. John himself calls his first son, Samuel. Records from descendants in Utah list John's parents' names, but we do not know the source yet of this. If Margaret had John out of Wedlock, Thomas Francis senior was then in his 50s (not impossible) whilst Thomas Francis junior was just 20. It all seems a bit unlikely, but apologies for not dwelling on this in more depth.

So, for now, we present the 'death' of John James as a candidate. We have a better one.

The baker's daughter
Maria Llewhellin, wife of John James, mother of Catharine, Eleanor, Samuel, Orson and others, is destined to have quite a life. 'May you live in interesting times', runs the ancient Chinese curse. She is baptised in 1814 at Haverfordwest St Mary, daughter of Thomas and Frances Llewhellin (nee Owens), and appears to be their only surviving child. She is orphaned at 14, and is possibly cared for by an older sibling (before their apparent death), and has an illegitimate child herself age 19, possibly in Northumberland. By the age of 23 she is married to John James, although the marriage record has of course not yet appeared.

In her 30s, she and John move along the coast to Aberdare, Glamorganshire. If this move seems dramatic wait till what's next. John is a labourer, most probably at the ironworks. By age 58 he is just a gardener and the ironworks are on the wane. At some point they must have joined the Mormon Church. If I look at the book Pioneers and prominent men of Utah, I can see two people from Aberdare and five from Merthyr, but I do not yet know much about the LDS activities in the area.

In 1862 John James, wife Maria, and their children arrive in Utah, as per the Deseret News roster of immigrants, published September of that year. Maria may well have continued on until 1891, age 78, but the source for that is shrouded in copies of typed copies of copies of copies. We need to go back to her parents.

The baker
Maria Llewhellin was baptised on 15 March 1814 and was born on 13 March 1813 according to (copies of typed copies of copies of copies). Her father, Thomas Llewhellin was baker in Quay Street (likely not the best part of town) and her mother, Frances Llewhellin, well is unknown.

Could Maria be an illegitimate child of Thomas Francis (1783) by now settled miles away the other side of town on the coast? I think that question just got answered. Although T. Llewhellin the 'father' was elderly, I think he'd have noticed a fisherman from the coast visiting a far-off baker (his good self) and spending too much time with the baker's wife and sent them packing. We'll instead assume Maria was born in wedlock, her father being 48 and her mother 47, well at least according to the burial registers of 1826 (age 60) and 1828 (age 61), respectively.

Thomas Llewhellin (c. 1766) is hardly likely to be a half-brother of Thomas Francis (1783) but I am ready to believe anything at this point.

Frances Llewhellin (nee Owens) (c. 1767) is not recorded at all, beyond the marriage and burial, and therefore I cannot confirm if she's a half-sister of Thomas Francis (1783) either. Remember, I am saying that they 'cannot' be any more remotely connected to us, e.g. cousins of Thomas, as that would mean our lovely Utah ladies are 7th cousins, which the centimorgans don't seem to indicate. (Although anything is possible, as cited ad nauseum throughout!)

What about if Frances Llewhellin (nee Owens) was not born in 1767 at all! We can then turn our eyes carefully to the following baptismal record in Haverfordwest, which at the very least requires our attention:

Mary Frances Owen baptised 14 Sep 1776 Haverfordwest St Mary daughter of Mary Owen

She's illegitimate. Is it possible that the age on Frances's burial record is wrong, out by ten years. It would mean a bit of a change in her biographical tale, meaning she's 38 (not 38) at the birth of her youngest child. And married at 25 (not 35), to a much older man, which frankly would befit her circumstances as an illegitimate child. We're invited to believe she was known as 'Frances', which is not a particularly rare name in the town. There's no other trace of Mary Frances Owen under this name, suggesting we might be on to something.

State of Independence
American Independence Day is going to help us here. Frances's daughter, or Frances herself, may not have known her exact age, but she would definitely have known she was born a few months after American Independence (2 July 1776). The humble clerk then gets out his cold tired hands (it was a week before Christmas of 1828) and attempts to start with seven and take off the two, or should he start with the 100 and take off the seventy-six, and add back the twenty-eight after? He comes up with an age at death of 61, exactly ten years (and a twelvemonth) out. Near enough!

So WHO could be the father of Mary Frances Owen, if she became Frances Llewellyn? How about Thomas FRANCIS (c. 1750) who is based six miles out of town at Wiston, does not marry for five years (fingers burnt?) and generally keeps out of Haverfordwest from here on in. This would make Frances (as she was known) a half-sister to our Thomas Francis (1783) and to Elizabeth Francis (1786) and thus account for the 21-or-so centimorgans that their descendants appear to share.

Not in Love
Discussing the family set-up with close relatives, I wondered why Thomas Francis senior never married Mary Owen. We've seen the high level of illegitimacy in the town in the 1851 era and no reason to think it would be vastly different in 1776. Not all the illegitimacies in the parish registers show people in the poor-house, and there's work to do on finding out varying levels of Workhouse admissions for children around the country (relative to population). I would imagine families stretched their hearts, minds and rooms to incorporate an extra mouth to feed.

I think Mary Owen and Thomas Francis were asked by their families, are you 'in love': will you marry? They were not, and did not. The lack of contraception must have meant families could not afford to be sanctimonious and I doubt the churches were particularly dominant in promoting fire and brimstone in 1770s Pembrokeshire. With all the comings and goings from Ireland, Devonshire and along the coast, too many sailors and single folk would muddy the waters. Not to mention the heady feeling of walking through Haverfordwest Town on a Friday night.

Leaving Pembrokeshire
When Frances Owen married, the witnesses were two ladies who appear in the records without other trace 'Elizabeth Garnett, Mary Jermin', together with John Perkins. We hope that all three ladies avoided the workhouse. We also hope that some residual connection was kept, beyond the DNA, with the half-brother and his family out on the coast. For when Thomas Francis (1783) came to the great wen, Merthyr Tydfil, in the 1830s, it was Maria (seemingly now his half-niece) who followed ten years later to nearby Aberdare.

But we will need to read and absorb the following work to see just how common, or not, moves from rural Pembrokeshire were to the new industrial centres of mid-Glamorgan: John L. Williams, 'The move from the land', in Trevor Herbert and Gareth Elwyn Jones (eds), Wales 1880–1914 (Cardiff, University of Wales Press, 1988), 30.

In the meantime, we now have some good reasons to visit Pembrokeshire. I do not want the experience however, of John Jenkins, of Llangym, who at half-four on a January morning [1830s] took a lighter (vessel) from The Quay, Haverfordwest, belonging to another, contemporaneous, Mrs Thomas Llewhellin (not ours), and who fell overboard on his way home half a mile from town (source: local newspapers).

We await more developments, but frankly, or perhaps Francisly, this is enough for now.

9 Nov 2019

Mitochondrial DNA and finding a cousin

Serendipity has struck and we have found a cousin.... It helps that due to some time-lags, they are the same generation as my late grandmother (who was born 1905), though considerably younger. Thus there are fewer generations to leap back to the MRCA (most recent common ancestor). This is not important genetically, but just simply in terms of getting the story across. The mutual forebear is Hannah Doxey (b. 1750), entirely in the female line, and thanks to three coincidences, this was also the name of our cousin's grandmother, so not such an alien name as it might have been. In fact, not alien at all!

There are three reasons how this serendiptous naming has happened:
Reason 1) Hannah's daughter married back into the Doxey name, having married a first cousin.
Reason 2) Our cousin was illegitimate, and thus brought up by grandparents, which brings the older folk to the fore, baby Hannah being given the name of her grandmother's mother.
Reason 3) The aforementioned time lags which reduce the number of generations we need to get from 1750 to now.

We look forward to the testing results in due course, and to learning more about Hannah Doxey and her family. (She was evicted from her childhood home, Wirksworth, Derbyshire, in 1786, and this resulted in three deaths in the family that year. We will contend that the eldest daughter then 12, eloped, ran away, five years later. Which DNA will prove.)

#TheGirlFromWirksworth

Grandfather's grandfather's grandmother

It occurred to me, that there should be dozens of these in the family tree, but of course adding them up there's just eight. I have three, partly as there is a cousin marriage which consumes the fourth; and then as on the paternal side we can't quite go back that far. Two of the three are Welsh, and two are called Margaret: Rebecca Phillips b. 1780, Margaret Evans b. 1792 (a twin), Margaret Trewhella b. 1784.

Paternal grandmothers' paternal grandmothers are interesting if you look at x-dna. This gets passed on - intact? via son to paternal granddaughter. I need to do some more reading around this.

The one thing I won't comment on too much is y-dna as this doesn't seem very interesting to me at all... Apologies!

3 Nov 2019

Coefficient of grandparents

I'll start by saying this is not really a coefficient, which implies multiplying and producing a figure between 0 and 1, but rather, involves adding. Much easier.

My grandparents have the figure of 88. Why? Because they died when I was respectively 2, 12, 34 and 40, which adds up to 88. In other words I had 88 years' worth of grandparents, while I was alive.

An interesting contrast is the figure for my great aunt Hilda (name slightly changed). Her figure is extremely low, in fact possibly as low as the figure can ever be. It is MINUS 80. Her grandparents died 2, 15, 28 and 35 years before she was born. This came about for two reasons: firstly that she was the youngest grandchild born when both parents were well on in their forties (and both parents had lots of older siblings as well); secondly the grandparents (who would all have been at least in their eighties) were from a different generation and all suffered some form of childhood loss, or in one case extreme poverty.

When I think of my meeting with aunt Hilda (born 1916), I cannot believe her grandparents belonged to such an early epoch, for instance
* her grandmother was orphaned in 1844 (and the wrong side of the Pennines to boot)
* her grandmother features in the will of Lancelot Gibson (b. 1785), who flourished as estate manager in northern Northumberland in another era
* her grandfather, a bit of a charmer, was the cause of Joseph Carline re-writing his will in 1856 (although this will never went to probate)
* her grandmother died only a hundred years after her great-great-great-grandfather, John Brasier, who kept rabbits at Checkhill Common, Kinver passed away in the 1790s
* when her grandmother was orphaned, in 1844, and brought back across the Pennines, her Scottish great-grandmother was then still living (but where was she from?)
* when her eldest grandparent was born, George IV was still on the throne (whose great-uncle was tutored by Edmond Halley that 'invented' Halley's Comet)
* her grandfather was the result of the marriage of the children of two brothers from a hat-making family in Derbyshire, born in the 1780s. One, careful, organised and wealthy. The other, disorganised, dissolute and poor.
* her grandmother, whose illegitimate birth has caused me much consternation, allegedly sat in 'that chair over there'

I would be interested to hear if her record of 'coefficient of grandparents' can easily be matched.