Census Transcription Error Unearthed A Second Marriage

This weekend I decided to revisit a line in Plymouth that I had only barely scratched the surface of in my research into the family.

My paternal grandmother’s father was called Edgar Stephens. His mother was Mary Ann Stephens nee Westlake and her mother was also called Mary Ann. Thus, in the 1851 census I was able to find my 3 x great-grandmother Mary Ann Westlake nee Legg married to Thomas Westlake the Brass Founder and Plumber that I have written about before in relation to his advertisement in the 1852 Plymouth Trades Directory.

Trade advertisement from 1852 Plymouth

I was looking at the 1851census records for Thomas and Mary Ann and noticed that they were both the same age, having been born in 1818.

I then went to find them in the 1861 census and noted that the transcript on TheGenealogist had Thomas’ wife listed as “Clara M Westlake” but as her date of birth was still 1818 I just put this down to an error. Opening the image I could see that the writing was none too clear, giving the transcriber a bit of a job to work out. What it certainly didn’t look like was the Mary Ann, as I had expected it to read.

Popping over to Ancestry.co.uk and the transcription for their 1851 census was given as “Chrisk W “.

Searching the same 1851 census on Findmypast and I got the transcription returned as “Catherine W”. The writing on the census page had challenged the transcribers at all three sites and I can not blame them for their differing attempts to make sense of the entry as I certainly couldn’t.

So what had happened to Mary Ann? Had she tired of her name and changed it to something more exotic? Or had she died and Thomas had taken a new wife, who also happened to have been born in the same year as he and the former Mrs Westlake?

 

I decided to do some detective work and search for a death of Mary Ann Westlake from after the 1851 census and before the 1861. What I found was a number of candidates that could have been my great-great-great-grandmother.

So now I approached the problem by seeing if I could find a second marriage for Thomas and here I can testify to the usefulness of the advice, given by many experienced family historians, to “always kill off your ancestors”.

You see, by having done just this for Thomas, having found his death in the records and then the listing for his probate, I was able to discover that he had an unusual middle name of “Scoble”.

Now I could look for a marriage of Thomas Scoble Westlake and I found just the two in the databases. One was in 1841 to Mary Ann Legg in Stoke Damerel, which is in the Devonport area. The other was to Christian Upcott Harwood in the last quarter of 1859 in Falmouth, Cornwall.

I had the name of the second wife!

Though this asked the question, if Thomas and Christian were wed in 1859, then what had happened to Mary Ann? The records show that in the second quarter of 1859 a death was registered in Plymouth for her, allowing Thomas to take a new wife in the fourth quarter! I will need to order a copy of the death certificate to find out what she died of.

So who was Christian Upcott Harwood? I had looked for her birth or christening without any luck. Then it struck me that perhaps she too was a widow. I now looked for the marriage of a Christian Upcott, leaving the bride’s maiden name blank,  to someone called Harwood and I found one to Samuel Peter Harwood in 1841 in Lewisham. Christian was from Plymouth and he was from Plumstead in Kent. A death occurred in East Stonehouse, Devon in the year 1858 to one Samuel Harwood and I assume it was his widow who married Thomas Scoble Westlake.

 

If you would like more tips on researching your English or Welsh Family History then why not sign up for my tips and a special FREE report using the box below…

 

 

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HALF A MILLION HISTORIC WILTSHIRE RECORDS AVAILABLE ONLINE

Ancestry.co.uk

MOONRAKERS, QUAKERS AND CHOCOLATE MAKERS – HALF A MILLION HISTORIC WILTSHIRE RECORDS AVAILABLE ONLINE .

I can remember visiting an uncle and aunt in Wiltshire, as a boy, and remembering how attractive the county looked. Those of you researching your ancestors from this area will be please by the announcement from Ancestry.co.uk that they have expanded their collection online.

Ancestry.co.uk,  has just launched online Wiltshire Church Records, 1538 – 1897 and Wiltshire Quaker Birth & Death records 1542 – 1897, a combined collection of more than half a million historic Anglican and Quaker marriage, birth and death records – offering unique insight into the history of many non-conformists in Wiltshire.

 

Spanning over 350 years, the records include more than 500,000 marriages from all 327 Wiltshire parishes, as well as more than 3,300 Wiltshire Quaker births and deaths.

 

Well-known as the home of ancient Neolithic site Stonehenge and for its wool-producing history, the county of Wiltshire was home to many members of the prominent Quaker family the Frys. Included in the collection are birth records for Cornelius and William Storrs Fry – brothers of chocolate dynasty founder Joseph Fry, whose chocolate company Fry, Vaughan & Co was famed for creating the first ever chocolate Easter egg in the UK.

 

The records are available to search by criteria including name, age and residence and in some cases detail addresses, occupations and parents’ names.

 

Miriam Silverman, Senior Content Manager at Ancestry.co.uk said “These records are a fantastic resource for anyone interested in finding out more about their ancestors in Wiltshire – non-conformist or otherwise. The collection is also a significant addition to the Wiltshire records we currently have on Ancestry.co.uk, including almost 27,000 Wiltshire Extracted Parish Records.”

 

For more information, visit www.ancestry.co.uk

 

 

Disclosure: The Links in the above are Compensated Affiliate links. If you click on them then I may be rewarded by Ancestry.co.uk should you sign up for their subscription.

 

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Don’t Rely Only On The Internet.

Devon County Record Office
Devon County Record Office

Don’t rely on the Internet only, I was once advised, go and look in the County Record Office for the actual records, you may find something else interesting there that you won’t be able to see online.

Since that day I have become a fan of our various archives and I believe that we need to support them by visiting when possible.

Usually a Record Office will also preserve a great deal of other archival material such as the records from independent local organizations, churches and schools. There may be papers donated by prominent people from the community, leading families, estates, companies, lawyers and more.

Some County Record Offices are also the Diocesan Record Office for the area and hold the ecclesiastical historic records as well. In some of the larger cities the local government may run its own City Record Office on the same principles as a County Record Office.

Archives may have been acquired by the record office either through donation from the original owner, or the documents may be deposited for safe keeping on long-term loan.

All of which may, or may not, be useful to you in finding out the story of your ancestors. But if you don’t go and look you will never know!

From the family historian’s point of view, the record office is a goldmine of original research documents which are valued as primary sources in the tracing of our ancestors.

The staff can offer direct access to documents or microfilmed copies in their public search rooms and provide a secure and supervised comfortable environment for research on these treasured documents.

So don’t just rely on the Internet, good as it is, but get out there and plan a visit to a record office or other archive this spring!

 

Family History Researcher Academy
CLICK IMAGE above for FamilyHistoryResearcher.com

I am putting together an email course that teaches beginners about English and Welsh Family history. The tutorials are downloaded from a link that I send members weekly and one of the lessons will be on the subject of archives and repositories that I have written about above.

If you are starting out in tracing your English and Welsh ancestors and are finding that your forebears are hiding from you, behind those brick walls that we all encounter, then why not join me to learn how to get around those problems in Family Tree research?

Read all about my new site at www.FamilyHistoryResearcher.com

Nick

 

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TheGenealogist.co.uk Added Over One Million Parish Records

I love it when new records are added to the Internet as it means there is a good reason to go back and search again for those ancestors of ours that have previously remained illusive.

Well TheGenealogist have just gone and added over one million parish records for Essex, Worcestershire, Lancashire and Devon from the 1500s to the early 1800s, covering baptisms, marriages and burials. These records add to the already extensive range of parish records available on their website.

These four counties are part of  some ongoing projects on TheGenealogist so keep an eye out for further releases in the near future!

Mark Bayley, Head of Development at TheGenealogist comments:
“We are committed to continually adding new records to the website. The last 12 months have seen us add over 285 million records. The demand for parish records and other early pre-1837 information is great and we are aiming to meet this demand with more such releases over the next year.”

 

 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

 

Disclosure: The Links in the above are Compensated Affiliate links. If you click on them then I may be rewarded by The Genealogist.co.uk should you sign up for their subscriptions.

 

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Old Directory Listing: Hay Edwd.Massey,50Princes’ sq.BayswtrW

Princes' Square, Bayswater, London.
50 Princes’ Square, Bayswater, London.

I’ve just been in West London and so I took the opportunity of a bit of leisure time to find the house where my great-great grandfather lived for a time. This was in Bayswater, way back in 1880.

Having fired up my reluctant computer, something to do with the Firefox update I think (which was making it use 99 to 100% of its cpu to do something or other!) I headed over to TheGenealogist.co.uk and searched their old directories data base.

In the Kelly’s Post Office 1880 Court Directory I found an entry for Edward Adolphe Massey Hay as:

Hay Edwd.Massey,50Princes’ sq.BayswtrW 

I smiled as I noticed that he had lost one of his middle names in the listing as this is something that happens to me all the time!

Switching then to the old maps website http://www.old-maps.co.uk/maps.html I located the street just north of the intersection of Palace Court and Moscow Road in South Bayswater.

I then wrapped up warm, got out my A-Z and set off with digital camera to find, photograph and generally get an impression of the surroundings that once my great-great grandfather had called home.

The house was now part of a hotel and was one of a road of houses all designed to look the same, with at least 5 stories above the ground floor and a strange protruding 4 story frontage above their front doors.

I love walking down streets that my ancestor’s have pounded in their time. As I do it I try to imagine what it must have been like in their times when the motor car would not have claimed the street outside their front steps, transistor radios would not have been blaring and the aeroplanes flying overhead would not have been heard. Instead the clip clop of hansom cabs, that prevailed until 1908, would have been in their place.

Princes' Square garden.
Princes’ Square garden.

Around the back I discovered a pleasant communal garden of the sort that is common in London and noticed that the design of the rear of the property was much more aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

If you would like to try to find your ancestor’s in the London Directories then check out the data sets at TheGenealogist.co.uk

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

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Recording Your Oral Family History Before It Is Too Late!

As I walked around the exhibition hall at Olympia, taking in all the different stands for family history societies and suppliers, I came across four different companies at Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE offering to record your loved ones as they recall their oral family history, or recount different tales passed down to them from relatives that  no longer are with us.

 

The first one I came across was that of SpeakingLives. This company records people’s life stories and memories and offers to beautifully present these personalised recordings of loved ones so that the client and their friends and family can enjoy them for generations to come. The recording is made available on audio CD and MP3.

I was attracted to the variety of memorabilia on their table, items that I assume could have been used to spark off memories in the subjects.

SpeakingLives
SpeakingLives

SpeakingLives prices start from £195, but they sometimes have special offers to take advantage of.

Gift vouchers are also available.

 

Next I found My Viography who specialised in professionally filmed “viographies” (video biographies) and family history documentaries. From what I gathered by talking to them on the stand they use the latest high-definition video and professional film-making techniques with a professional presenter.

They can use your family photographs, video clips, mementos and favourite music in your viography or family history documentary to really bring your story and personality to life. Also on offer is to scan in your old photographs and convert older film and video footage in a range of formats (Mini DV, Video 8, VHS, Betamax, Super 8 or 16mm film) to help you tell your story.

My Viography
My Viography.

My Viography’s price for a video starts at £594, but this can be made in three payments of £198. They also have other packages that offer extras to the basic at higher price points in the thousands and an audio only one at £495.

 

Then there was  Splendid Reflections whose owner offered a life interview consultancy. Which she explains is your opportunity, from the comfort of your own home, to reminisce, reflect and record your life story and memoirs for the enjoyment of your children and grandchildren for years to come. The result would be made available to you on DVD in a mini-documentary style combining any of your own videos or photographs.

Splendid Reflections
Splendid Reflections

I was very taken by the empty chair and recording equipment on the next stand together with large professional microphone on the next stand that I found in this market.

Life Stories say that they can help you create a unique recording of your story; a carefully constructed audio autobiography to leave for family, friends, or simply for posterity.

They can also help you store it securely for future generations to access, enjoy and even expand; a digital family vault of recorded memories saved for ever.

Life Stories package was £600 that would include preparatory conversations with you and/or your family about what you want to cover.  Planning the conversation and discussing how best to retrieve and organise memories before recording. Lengthy recording over the course of one day and several days editing and production to produce the finished product. Longer recordings could be done at a slightly higher cost.

 

Life Stories
Life Stories

These companies are providing an interesting service that adds a professional polish to the job of recording the family’s oral history and as all good family historians know, our family’s oral history stories are of very great importance to us. Though we should always remember to check the facts with primary sources before we add them to our family trees!

That said, how great will it be for your children’s children to be able to look back, in years to come, and hear or see their relatives talking?

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RECORDS REVEAL 400 YEARS OF WESTMINSTER’S HISTORY

findmypast searchWell, I was out and about today so I missed this announcement earlier from findmypast.co.uk.

Today they published online for the first time the parish records held by the City of Westminster Archives Centre.

The Westminster Collection comprises fully searchable transcripts and scanned images of the parish registers dating back over 400-years.

 

The 3 million records cover the period 1538-1945 and come from over 50 Westminster churches including St Anne, Soho, St Clement Danes, St George Hanover Square, St James Westminster, St Margaret Westminster, St Martin-in-the-Fields, St Mary-le-Strand and St Paul Covent Garden.

 

Some of the fascinating documents now available online detail the wedding of Theodore Roosevelt, the former US President, in 1886; the marriage of Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel; and the marriage of poet Percy Shelley.

 

Debra Chatfield, a family historian at findmypast.co.uk, said: “The Westminster Collection is one of the largest regional parish record collections we have ever published online and contains some truly wonderful gems.

 

“Family historians or people looking into their past, wherever they are in the world, can now search this historical goldmine and uncover the fascinating stories of their London ancestors. There is plenty of intrigue in the records to pique the interest of social historians too.”

 

Adrian Autton, Archives Manager at Westminster Archives commented: “The launch of the Westminster Collection is of huge significance and makes Westminster records fully accessible to a global audience. This resource will be of immense value to anyone whose ancestors lived in Westminster and to anyone wishing to study the rich heritage of this truly great city.”

 

The new Westminster Collection at findmypast.co.uk joins a growing resource of official parish records from local archives, including Cheshire Archives & Local Studies, Manchester City Council and Plymouth and West Devon Records Office, with many more in the pipeline, due to go live in the coming months. In addition, over 40 million parish records from family history societies can be found at findmypast.co.uk in partnership with the Federation of Family History Societies.

 

The Westminster Collection is available on all of findmypast’s international sites as part of a World Subscription.

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We All Have Aristocratic Ancestors Says Genealogist and Author!

Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors
Anthony Adolph signing his new book: Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors, at the Who do You Think You Are? LIVE show.

Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors

 

 

At the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE show, on the Pen & Sword stand, I was able to catch up with genealogist and author Anthony Adolph as he signed copies of his new book: Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors.

He graciously allowed me an interview afterwards and, as always, you can just tell the passion that he holds for his subject.

Watch my short video below and hear his argument that we all have aristocratic ancestors!

That being the case then, this book should appeal to every family historian.

To buy your copy now go to:
Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians

Disclosure: This is a compensated affiliate link which may reward me should you purchase.

Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors
Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors
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WDYTYA? LIVE Stand That Caught My Eye: Drawing On The Past

Drawing on Past smile.MOV_000001868Another fascinating stand at the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE show this year was one run by Anne Daniels for her Drawing On The Past business.

She creates totally unique artwork using photographs of your ancestors and incorporating both hand drawn and digital imaging techniques, the finished design is then printed using a high quality fine art printing process.

Anne says that when you commission a piece of work from Drawing On The Past you can be assured of receiving a unique artwork, drawn from your own personal history.

I was really impressed by the finished articles. If this is something that would appeal to you then contact her via her website at:

http://drawingonthepast.co.uk/

Finally, here are a couple of examples of her work. Click on the images to see them up close!

drawingonthepast 

Screen shot 2013-02-11 at 14.24.04

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