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12 Jan 2012

Little clues, big stories

Although eight people witnessed the marriage of Mary Moses (bapt. 1 Jan 1782) at Morland in 1808, NINE  witnessed the marriage of another Mary Moses at Morland in 1805, including people who look a lot like the first Mary's parents!  Both marriages took place 'by licence', but the second-listed couple were poor as church mice, while my Mary and her husband were both members of the Westmorland yeomanry.
I am only now sure of this identification, because of this chunky roll of microfilm at Kew.
Despite its old-school technology it delivered fairly well on facts.  In fact when I later got the will, thanks to the kind offices of Cumbria Archives, it added little to this concise yet sprawling record.  I knew that Mary Dickinson had died in 1850 by combing freebmd, and I had checked findmypast's death duty index to find that there was a will.  I was now examining the indexes themselves on microfilm, part of the tortuous IR26 series.  The first thing which leapt off the page was not the name Dickinson, which I was expecting, but that of Watson.  The Watsons I quickly recalled where family of Mary's full sister Hannah, in fact it turns out Joseph was the eldest of that brood, and oldest male of the next generation.  I needed to see his address - could that be Scale Houses, circled in orange?  It surely was, and although the will disappoints by not stating him as nephew, in fact it would have been odd had she done so.  It is enough that she chooses him as executor.
Further proof came in the transcriptions by Rev. Joseph Bellasis MA, in the 1880s, including those for the parish of Clifton, Westmorland.  Mary is recorded as having died in April 1850 aged 68, which of course fits so beautifully with the 1782 baptism that we can forgive her not surviving another year till the next census.  It is harder to forgive her stepmother, who would not die until July at 90, for not lasting another winter.  Had she done so we would be told in which part of Scotland she'd been born!

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