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3 Dec 2013

The Betsys yet to come

An innocent wedding entry - so many questions.  Mary Barton a young widow of 44 was remarrying in pretty St Mary Church in Applethwaite.  It was 1842 and signing the register were a number of people that...
I couldn't be bothered to read.

Fast forward 12 years and the names again caught my eye - Betsy Barton and Betey Airey.  I pushed Miss Barton out of my mind and didn't worry too much about Betey either, as Mary had a sister of that name, so no need to question or investigate.  None.

Betty Airey born 1804 at Bowness, Westmorland was hiding pretty well from investigators like me.  The tramp tramp tramp of the researchers' feet had reached her sister Annabella and they were getting closer to Betty.  Lucky for her, she had a common name and slips through our grasp at any early age.

It was come-clean time for Betsy Barton.  I woke up one day determined to find her.  She was definitely a three-coffee problem.  In favour of my finding her was the fact she signs the register.  Against my finding her was the fact I'd already looked (sort of) and found nowt.

Barely into my first coffee (herbal tea, actually), I spotted Elizabeth Barton marrying 1846 in Kendal (possibly the Catholic chapel) and via some helpful trees on Ancestry, to the 1851 census for Ambleside:

This was embarrassing.  John Barton, the brother, had been on my tree since the mid-nineties.  How on earth had I missed this entry which clearly tells me of sister Elizabeth?  Well I draw comfort that Betsy had been quietly waiting for me to notice her all this time, and as we'll see, she was probably waiting for me to find all the other Betsys at the same moment - because there was more than one to hunt out.

I turned my sights more aggressively on Ancestry and its 1841 census and there was Elizabeth, Betsy, transcribed as Elisabeth living at an address in Kendal age 16, with some Whiteheads.  Ah lovely, and end of story.

Well - no.  Despite nobody in the household having a decent family name at all, something prevailed on me just to find out who these Whiteheads were.  A quick check and I was not at all surprised to find another Betty revealing herself.  Mr Whitehead, the ostler had married a few years earlier in Kendal to, drumroll.....

Betty Airey.  Gosh this coffee is going to my head.  So not only do we have Betsy Barton to add to the tree (born in the gap 1822-1830 between known children of Mary), it looks like we have her aunt Betty Airey (born 1804) who married Mr Whitehead.  This is confirmed by a later birthplace given as Bowness.

Ancestry trees are positively garrulous about both Betsys.  Betsy Barton had four married sons and Betty Airey had at least four married children as well.  Betsy Barton's family lived in the Lakes, on the Piccadilly line, in Wellingborough and in Canada.  Betty Airey's family lived in the Lakes and just for variety - in Blackburn!

I worked with a tiny precise well-groomed lass from Blackburn some years ago whose pursed lips and tiny script bore witness to a certain sort of upbringing, and I always wanted to know more of this town.  Now here's my chance!

My only annoyance is the beautiful tidy tree of all the Aireys old and new has been wholly breached by these two new additions.  They have more descendants than the rest of the family put together and only appeared at the 11th hour like cheeky aunties at a wedding buffet with at least six kids wanting cake.

Betsy Barton ended her days in Wales at the age of 86, and everyone in her house emigrated to Canada later that year.

Betty Airey died in Blackburn.


All wrapped up?  That leaves just one mystery - if Betty had married back in 1827, then who was the Betey Airey of 1842.  Believe it or not there are six possibilities.

Betty Airey - no,

but her illegitimate daughter also Betty born 1821 - yes.  Except Betty the mother had a new daughter Elizabeth (later Betsy) born 1841, so this assumes that Betty born 1821 was now dead.

Betsy Airey, niece, also 18 like Betsy Barton and probably not sure how to write her name - this is my best Betsy bet.

Elizabeth Airey mother of Betty and of the bride and grandmother of Betsy and Betsy.  She was now 77, three miles away, and unlikely to be signing any registers to be blunt.

Elizabeth Airey, niece, 4 - I really don't think so.  Though some trees on Ancestry would have her married herself at this age.

Betty Airey, now 74, a cousin of the bride - no!  (And no longer an Airey having married many moons before.)

And final mystery.  Is the migration of 3 Lewis girls from Troutbeck Bridge, great-granddaughters of our initial blushing bride, to Blackburn to work in service in the 1890s entirely connected to our brand-new Whiteheads.  Or had close contacts been retained.  Their great-uncle William Barton lived a matter of yards in Chapel Hill from William Whitehead at Busk, and both men were stonemasons.

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