Staying up late with Sarah LAY

11 Jan

Why is it that so many of my most important genealogical discoveries happen late at night, when I should be going to bed? Last night it was the turn of Sarah LAY, the wife of Henry SHORNDEN/WRIGHT (and my 3x great-grandmother) to keep me up half the night.

Like her husband Henry I know quite a bit about her already and many of the same questions that apply to Henry also apply to Sarah. One important difference (other than not going to prison) is that I was missing Sarah’s baptism, but I believe that mystery has now been solved.

Although I had a rough idea of her year of birth and her father’s name (from her marriage certificate) what I was missing was a place. Sarah is one of those people whose place of birth changes between every census:

  • 1851 – Harrow, Middlesex
  • 1861 – Alton, Hampshire
  • 1871 – Lincolnshire [at least that is the best I can make out]
  • 1881 – Deptford, Kent

Then of course there could be Ospringe, Kent (where Henry was baptised) or Milton next Gravesend, Kent (where the couple married). To be honest Sarah could have been born/baptised almost anywhere in the country, but most likely within the South-East of England.

I had a quick search of the new FamilySearch.org website, which came up with a hit for Deptford, Kent. The father’s name was correct and the date was about right, in fact there was nothing about it that gives me cause to doubt it is the right one.

Knowing that Deptford is now part of London (in the borough of Lewisham) I wondered why it hadn’t come up when I had searched the London, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906 on Ancestry.co.uk, but when I browsed the baptism register for St. Paul’s Deptford it soon became obvious why it hadn’t come up.

The transcription had been mangled, although it wasn’t really Ancestry’s fault, the Rector who had filled in the original register had transposed the surname and abode boxes. It didn’t help that their address was quite unusual, “Loving Edwards Lane”, so their names ended up well and truly mangled.

Instead of Sarah being the daughter of Joseph and Hannah LAY she was transcribed as Sarah daughter of Joseph Louis and Hannah Jane Edwards. All quite straight forward to untangle once you know what you are looking for.

This is an important lead in the search to find out more about Henry SHORNDEN/WRIGHT as I now have another set of relatives to track down which might in turn lead me to Henry and his family in the 1841 census.

Also this means I now have another direct ancestor on my family tree, Sarah’s mother Hannah, my 4x great-grandmother. All I need to do now is find out what her maiden name was and hopefully I can also push both the branches of my tree back a few more generations.

However that will have to wait, I have promised myself that I will try to get an early night tonight!

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