Have I found the wrong Miss Wright?

27 Mar

I was discussing my research with my mother yesterday evening and I mentioned to her that I wasn’t happy that I had correctly identified Harriet WRIGHT (my 2x great grandmother) the wife of William Henry MITCHELL when I was at the Hampshire Record Office last weekend. The more I look at the records the more certain I am that something is not quite right.

All I started with was the details from Harriet and William Henry’s marriage certificate, and what was on the 1861 census and subsequent census returns, namely she was born in Alton, Hampshire, England around 1840, her father’s name was Henry and he was a sweep (I presumed chimney sweep, but wasn’t sure).

The only Harriet I could find in Hampshire with a father called Henry around the right time was from Alverstoke in Hampshire, so I thought this was quite possibly the right family, despite the fact that there was no mention of Alton anywhere.

Now when I look at the census information (which I should probably have done before going to Winchester) I find that there is a different Henry WRIGHT living in Alton in 1851 and 1861. Obviously by 1861 Harriet wasn’t living at home (she was in 1851), but it is the same family because a couple of the younger children appear in both and the ages for Henry and his wife Sarah agree.

This does throw up a few problems however, it does mean that I wasted about 45 minutes down at Winchester transcribing the wrong family, but that is why I am re-checking what I discovered and making sure it fits.

Also it starts to become confusing when looking at the places of births in the 1851 and 1861 census returns. In 1861 Henry, Sarah and their six children are all shown as being born in Alton, Hampshire. The 1851 census tells a different story, Henry was born in Ospringe, Kent, his wife Sarah was born in Harrow, Middlesex, their two eldest daughters (including Harriet) were also born in Ospringe and the remaining four children were born in Alton. This may explain why I couldn’t find the correct baptism for Harriet in Hampshire.

Henry WRIGHT’s occupations are quite interesting, in 1861 he is a “Chimney Sweeper” (that’s how I know it is the correct one), but in 1851 he is a “Cutler and Lodging House Keeper”, which is certainly quite a combination and change of career since 1851. I’ve looked at couple of directories online, in Pigot’s 1840 Directory of Hampshire he is listed as a “cutler and grinder” and in the 1855 Post Office Directory of Hampshire, Wiltshire & Dorsetshire he is listed as a beer retailer, still in Alton! It looks to me he did whatever he could to earn a bit of money.

So it looks like I probably need to schedule a trip to Kent now, to see if I can find evidence of Harriet’s baptism, once I have had a look online of course. It would be good to find an ancestor from Kent because so far that is the only county in the south-east of England that I don’t have roots in.

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