27 April 2015

#52Ancestors - Week 18 - Where there's a Will

Week 18 (April 30 – May 6) – Where There’s a Will: Do you have an ancestor who left an interesting will? Have you used a will to solve a problem? Or, what ancestor showed a lot of will in his or her actions?

Have I used a will to solve a problem? The answer to that is "No" - the will that features in this week's post just caused more confusion at the time I got a copy of it in 2009, but a bit of additional research today (25/04/2015) has cleared the fog just a little.

Last Will and Testament of Thomas Dobson - Source Her Majesty's Court Service

A partial transcription of the document:
This is the last Will and Testament of me Thomas Dobson of the Bath Hotel Moor Street Bishopwearmouth in the County of Durham - Publican. I give and bequeath unto my housekeeper Mary Ann Ellen Garrett of the Bath Hotel aforesaid all and singular my estate and effects both real and personal whatsoever and wheresoever the same may be and of what nature or kind soever. To hold the same to the said Mary Ann Ellen Garrett absolutely. I appoint the said Mary Ann Ellen Garrett sole Executrix of this my will and hereby revoking all former wills by me at any time heretofore made do declare this to be my last Will and Testament. In witness whereby I have hereunto set my hand this seventh day of August one thousand eight hundred and eighty five.
Thomas Dobson

Or, per a paraphrase of my mother's Uncle Andy "she got the lot and wasted it".

So why was I confused? The will looks fairly clear cut, right? Let me tell you about the people named in the Will.

Thomas Dobson is my great great grandfather. Son of Nicholas Dobson and Eleanor Graham he was born July 12, 1836 in Darlington Durham England and died June 3, 1889 in Sunderland Durham England.

According to Thomas' will, Mary Ann Ellen Garrett was his housekeeper. But there is a lot more to it than that. One of the "more to its" is that her name, as far as I have found (with the help of Val Atkinson from British Ancestors) is actually Ellen not Mary Ann Ellen. 

Ellen's birth certificate says she was born on April 7, 1838 in Bradford Yorkshire the daughter of Edward Stewart and Margaret Stewart formerly Garrett.

Ellen had 2 older siblings, Isabella (1831 - 1889) and Edward (1834 - 1834), and 2 younger siblings, John Edward (c1840 - ?) and Margaret (c1843 - 1912)
Isabella and Edward were baptised at the Primitive Methodist Church Bradford and are listed as children of Edward and Margaret Steward.

These records led me (and Val) to believe that Edward Stewart/Steward and Margaret Garrett were married before records required by law started being kept in 1837 (prior to this we had Parish Records only) - but Val was unable to find a church record of their marriage anywhere near where they were known to live.

So what else do we know?
Ellen was Thomas' "housekeeper". Thomas was married to Elizabeth Turnbull and had 2 children with her (Rachel Turnbull Dobson and Mary Dobson) they separated some time between 1857 and 1861. In the 1861 census, Elizabeth and the girls are living with her parents and Thomas is living with "Eleanor" Steward, his housekeeper.

Thomas and Elizabeth never divorced, so Ellen was "legally" Thomas' housekeeper during their nearly 30 year relationship - and this is correctly shown in his will. Elizabeth, however did marry twice more (something that has apparently scandalised the person researching the Turnbulls - I never heard from them again once we worked that out.)

What else do we know about Ellen? Looking through the birth certificates of her children with Thomas, she is known by a number of different names:
In 1869 Helen Dobson formerly Stewart (likely a mishearing of Ellen)
In 1871 Ellen Dobson formerly Stewart
In 1874 Mary Dobson formerly Garrett
In 1876 Ellen Dobson formerly Stewart
In 1878 Mary Ann Dobson formerly Garrot

Here we have a combination of names that make up Mary Ann Ellen Garrett.

But why was Ellen named in the will as Garrett when her parents were married at the time of her birth?
According to the Freebmd.org.uk listing I found just today, apparently Edward and Margaret weren't legally married until 1853 - when their youngest child, Margaret, was about 10 years old!

This then shows us, that despite the birth record, Ellen Stewart was "illegitimate" and correctly named as Garrett in Thomas' will.

I'm not sure why she is listed as Mary Ann Ellen instead of just Ellen in the will, but, in the words of Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman, "2 out of 3 ain't bad"

Ellen passed away on September 15, 1920 in Sunderland Durham England.

20 April 2015

#52Ancestors - Week 17 - Prosper

Week 17 (April 23-29) – Prosper. Which ancestor has a rags-to-riches story? Which ancestor prospered despite the odds?

None of the ancestors I really know about could be said to be prosperous in a financial sense. But sometimes it's all about perspective:

If you talked to some of my Dad's relatives, our family was "rich" - Dad and Mum owned their own house, had a car, had jobs, had a few overseas trips and a cruise, their kids had jobs, they travelled etc etc

If however you talked to my Mum's relatives, our family was "poor" - my grandmother married "below her station", my Mum and Dad had to work, the house was "small", they didn't vacation a few times a year (or even every year), didn't have holiday homes etc etc

So today instead of talking about who was rich, I'd like to talk about a family who prospered in another way - perhaps we'd call them fruitful instead of prosperous.

Let me introduce you to Joseph Martin and Elizabeth Speirs. Joseph is my great grandfather's eldest brother.

Joseph was born on February 3rd, 1855 in Beith, Ayrshire Scotland to James Martin and Jane Fields. Joseph later went by the name Joel Martin - tracking him down proved quite a challenge (and the story may well turn up in a post later this year)

Elizabeth was born on August 19, 1858 in Paisley, Renfrewshire Scotland to Jane Frew and an unnamed father. She later took the surname of her stepfather Alexander Speirs.

1911 Census. Source Scotland's People

They married on December 31, 1875 in Paisley, Renfrewshire Scotland and from the 1911 census (above) we find that they went on to have 15 children:

  1. James (1876 - 1884)
  2. William (1878 - 1942) m Rachel Thomson. Had at least 4 children
  3. Jane (1880 - ?)
  4. Elizabeth (1882 - ?)
  5. Isabella Speirs (1884 - ?) m David Wilson
  6. Mary Kirkland (1886 - 1961) m William Borthwick Sibbald. Had at least 5 children
  7. James Miller (1890 - 1948) m Charlotte Paton
  8. Joel (1892 - 1916) died of wounds in France during WW1
  9. John Allison (1893 - 1947) m Elizabeth Slaven. Had at least 1 child
  10. Robert Kirkland (1895 - 1909)
  11. Marion Cowan (1896 - 1961) m Walther Graham
  12. Philomina (1899 - 1981) m John Tierney
  13. Rachel Thomson (1901 - 1979) m William Townsley. Had at least 1 child
  14. Unknown Child 1 - still to find
  15. Unknown Child 2 - still to find

14 April 2015

#52Ancestors - Week 16 - Live Long

Week 16 (April 16-22) – Live Long. Time to feature a long-lived ancestor. Any centenarians in the family?

This is a story of the longest lived ancestor - who turned out not to be so.

Until the other day when I set out to write this post, April 5th 2015, I would have told you that my longest living ancestor was Rose Anna McLuckie McDonald born July 4, 1894 a daughter of Duncan McDonald and Agnes Wright Hunter.

Rose Anna McLuckie McDonald Birth - Scotland's People
I also would have told you that she died in 2004 in Kirkintilloch and Lennoxtown Dumbartonshire Scotland making her about 110 when she died.

Rose Anna is my first cousin twice removed (first cousin of my grandfather James Martin) and grand-daughter of my favourite ancestor Rosana McLuckie.

I can tell you all sorts of things about Rose Anna. For instance - from the 1911 census I can tell you that at the time she was one of 11 siblings and 5 had already passed away:

1911 Census (cropped) - Scotland's People

I could tell you that the only sibling I can name as having passed away prior to this census (very sadly) was Agnes Wright Hunter McDonald who passed away in 1903 at age 5 from burns to her body. I don't know who the other 4 siblings were. (That will be something I'll have to check when I get to Scotland at the end of the year - I probably need to start making a list)

Agnes McDonal Death 1903 (cropped) - Scotland's People

I could tell you where the family lived from time to time based on birth, death and census records:
1901 Census (cropped and edited) - Scotland's People

I could tell you that another sibling was born in July 1911 (John) taking the number of children in the family to 12

John McDonald Birth (cropped) - Scotland's People

But one thing doing this blog and also doing the Genealogy Do-Over has taught me is to look at everything and analyse the records to see if they back up your theories.

So while I was writing this post, I went back to have a look at what I said was Rose Anna's death record. I originally looked up the information on the Scotland's People on 26/04/2008 which was just a few months after I started using the Scotland's People site. Back then I was doing a lot of adding to my tree without properly thinking through what I was looking at - and I today I saw what I didn't see back then; it doesn't make any sense.

Rosena McDonald Death Lookup - Scotland's People
Because the death is so recent I couldn't look up the record on the site - and I decided not to order it because Rose Anna was not a direct ancestor.

But looking at this info, I am slapping myself for my stupidity.

What have we got that's the same and what's different?
Surname/Maiden Name = McDonald (same)
Forename = Rosena (different but expainable - Rose Anna is spelt 3 different ways on the birth, 1901 and 1911 census records, having it spelt differently on the death record can be explained. The middle name of McLuckie is not listed, but this is also explainable)
Mother's Surname = Hunter (same)
Other Surnames = Inches, Kenny (no explanation - I don't have a marriage listed for my Rose Anna and for some reason I didn't go and check marriage records to see if I could confirm the marriage to either Mr Inches or Mr Kenny as belonging to "my" Rose Anna)

Age = 68. This one is the killer blow.
2004 - 68 = a year of birth of 1936 - 42 years later than my Rose Anna was born!

Now I can see what I failed to see back then THIS IS NOT MY ANCESTOR! (Well perhaps she might be, just 2 generations later. Maybe one day I'll trace this Rosena back to see if she fits in with my Hunters somewhere)

Of course, I have just added some new tasks to my list of things to find out - and hopefully I will find some of the answers in Scotland at the end of the year:
  1. When did Rose Anna McLuckie McDonald die?
  2. How old was she when she died?
  3. Did she marry and have children?
As I said in week 1 of this challenge, I'm going to go through each person and double check all my sources and make sure I only add in what I can prove. Of course when I wrote that (all those weeks ago) I thought I would only have to do it for my Farley/Dobson side. Looks like I've got some double checking for my Martin side as well.

6 April 2015

#52Ancestors - Week 15 - Difficult Names

Week 15 (April 9-16) – How Do You Spell That? What ancestor do you imagine was frequently asked that? Which ancestor did you have a hard time finding because of an unusual name?

Many of my ancestors have interesting names - and while most of them are out of use today, I'm not confident that they were uncommon when they were born.

But the family I would like to focus on this week is the WINLO family from the Northumberland and Durham area of the United Kingdom

The Winlos are part of my FARLEY family line.

Margaret Winlo is my great great great grandmother. Born about 1833 in Northumberland England to Adam Winlo and Margaret Webster she is one of at least 5 children: Margaret, Elizabeth, Jane, John and Mary Ann.

In the 1841 Census the family is listed as WINLES rather than Winlo 

In the 1851 Census the family is listed as WINLOW rather than Winlo

I can't find them in the 1861 census at all - and I have tried all sorts of possible spellings even searched for every man of the name Adam born around 1811 with no surname filter, I'm not sure where they are hiding, but I should have been able to find Adam, Elizabeth, John and Mary Ann living somewhere together (Margaret Winlo/Webster having already passed away) 

Margaret was already partnered with Henry Briton Davidson and had 2 children by 1861 (though sadly one had passed away).

Jane married John KIPPING in 1860 - and her surname woes continued. In the 1861 census her surname is transcriped as KIPING by FindmyPast.co.uk and RIPING by Ancestry.co.uk

For Jane though, that's not all for her. In 1862 she has a son she names after her father - Adam Winlo - but Adam's name is recorded as Adam WINLOW Kipping in the birth and christening records though correct in the death register In the 1871 Census all the girls have left home and have families of their own. Adam is living with his son John and his family. The WINLO surname is transcribed as WINTOE on FindmyPast.co.uk and WINTOA on Ancestry.co.uk

Adam passed away in 1878, so by the 1881 census the only person in the immediate family who still has the surname of Winlo is John - and finally the surname is being transcribed correctly. He is listed as WINLO in the censuses of 1881, 1891 and 1901

According to FindmyPast.co.uk there are 31 people with the surname WINLO in the 1911 census for England and Wales. Only 1 person, 82 year old Emma Winlo who lives in Devon, doesn't seem to belong to my Winlo extended family.