Tag Archives: baptism

The missing wife of William RUSSELL

21 Oct

One of the weak links on my Christmas Tree Project is the wife of William RUSSELL, my 4x great grandfather and mother of my 3x great grandfather Thomas RUSSELL.

I know that Thomas’ father was William from his marriage entry in the Ticehurst parish registers. From that I also know that his father’s occupation was that of a shoemaker.

All the census information I have points to a birth for Thomas in Salehurst, Sussex around 1822-23, and although the Salehurst baptisms have been included in the Sussex Family History Group (SFHG) Data Archive, I can’t for the life of me find Thomas’ baptism.

I think I have found Thomas with his father (and brother George) in the 1841 Census, in Salehurst, but there is no sign of a wife for William. There is an older woman, Lydia RUSSELL, who is probably William’s mother (making William the son of Samuel and Lydia RUSSELL).

In 1861 William is living with Elkanah RUSSELL and family in Burwash, Sussex and it could well be that Elkanah is another son. It is an unusual name so it should stand out in the records.

So who was William’s wife? The SFHG Marriage Index gives a couple of marriages around the right time for William RUSSELL in Salehurst, Sussex, and the most likely of these is to Ann SPICE on the 27th April 1811.

My best bet however is to try and locate the baptism for Thomas RUSSELL, that should give me his mother’s name, but if not in Salehurst then where. I searched the baptism transcriptions for Salehurst and surrounding parishes at the East Sussex Record Office last week without any luck.

I wasn’t until I got home that I discovered a birth record for Elkanah RUSSELL, amongst the non-conformist records on BMDregisters.co.uk. This confirmed his parents as William RUSSELL and Ann SPICE, but there was still no sign of Thomas.

So all the evidence points to William RUSSELL and Ann SPICE being the parents of Thomas RUSSELL, but the connection is not quite as strong as I would like.

The problem with the BMDregisters website is that it is not obvious what records are included and whether any other records exist at the National Archives. There is of course the chance that records might survive locally as well, so I need to check with the East Sussex Record Office again.

How much evidence is enough?

15 Oct

I have written several times about my problems with Ellen NICHOLLS one of my 3x great grandmothers. The lack of a marriage record is one problem, it is not the fact that there wasn’t a marriage that is the problem, but it is the fact that I am missing the evidence that the record contains that worries me.

From the 1871, 1881 and 1891 census I have a place of birth of Chiddingstone, Kent and a birth year of 1846-47. When I checked the Chiddingstone baptisms yesterday I found an Ellen NICHOLLS, but it wasn’t in 1846-47 it was in 1842.

So I have a baptism of a child with exactly the same name, in exactly the right place, but the date is four or five years out. I have no father’s name from a marriage record to confirm that I have the correct parents (Thomas and Martha).

Is it just coincidence that there is an Ellen NICHOLLS in the right place about the right time? Did she not know when she was born? Did she just lie about her age? Am I asking too many questions? Do I have enough evidence to make the connection?

What do you think? How much evidence do I need? Would you accept this as proof of her parentage?

Another reason why I think William GEERING and Ellen NICHOLLS never married

7 Oct

In between looking for the marriage of William GEERING and Ellen NICHOLLS at the East Sussex Record Office last week, I also checked up on the baptism records for their children.

I was checking baptism information I had discovered in the Sussex Family History Group Data Archive (SFHG members only), firstly because it seemed quite unusual, and secondly it needed to be checked at some stage in my research.

The baptisms were in the parish of All Saints, Lewes, Sussex and so far I had identified six children for William and Ellen GEERING. There were records of five children being baptised, one of those was one that I was not aware of, because she was born and died between the 1871 and 1881 census. So there are two children whose baptism I still have to find.

What was unusual was that the five children were baptised in two groups, the first group was baptised on the 5th January 1875, and consisted of William (my 2x great grandfather), Ellen and Emily. The second group consisted of Clara Gertrude (the one who died only a few months old) and Edith, they were baptised on the 7th October 1877.

I often see this sort of thing when I am searching through parish registers, but never before has it been one of my families. I have often wondered about the situation behind these group baptisms, was it simply a catch up or was it a change of belief?

Something like this makes me think that if William and Ellen couldn’t be bothered get their children baptised in a timely manner, then they probably couldn’t be bothered to get married themselves either.

Searching for a GEERING/NICHOLLS marriage in Lewes

6 Oct

After my quick trip to Worthing Library last Tuesday I made my way back along the coast to Brighton and then on to Lewes, to the East Sussex Record Office.

East Sussex Record Office, Lewes, Sussex

East Sussex Record Office, Lewes, Sussex

I had several look ups to do here, such as the marriage entry for Thomas RUSSELL and Caroline GILES, but my main goal was to try and find the marriage of my 3x great grandparents William GEERING and Ellen NICHOLLS.

This is the marriage that doesn’t appear to be in the GRO Marriage Indexes, and I thought I would try the parish registers for Lewes just in case for whatever reason it never made it to the GRO Indexes.

Several parishes make up the town of Lewes, and I didn’t try them all, so there is a possibility that they were married in one of the others, perhaps they were non-conformists, perhaps they married somewhere else in Sussex, perhaps somewhere in Kent, perhaps somewhere in England, perhaps… I think you get the idea.

They could have married just about anywhere or they may never have got married at all. I could spend the rest of my life searching for that marriage. Lewes was my best chance of a quick answer, but having turned up nothing there I feel that I should move on. I have no problem with William, his father was Richard GEERING and he was born in Lewes.

Ellen NICHOLLS is the problem. I have pretty consistent data from the census which points to her being born in Chiddingstone, Kent around 1847 +/- 1 year. The problem is that I can’t find an entry in the GRO Birth Indexes for Ellen in the right place (Sevenoaks Registration District), and I can’t seem to find her in the 1851 or 1861 census.

My best hope lies with the baptism register for Chiddingstone, Kent but I really don’t feel that I can trust any of the information that I have already. Maybe she lied about her age, maybe her surname was spelt differently, perhaps she grew up in Chiddingstone, but was born elsewhere and maybe her first name wasn’t actually Ellen but some other spelling variant or something else completely different.

Ellen NICHOLLS is the closest thing I have to a brick wall at the moment, but there are still several things I can try before declaring her a brick wall. For starters I can order the birth certificates for her other children. I already have the certificate for their first child, my 2x great grandfather William GEERING, but perhaps later registrars got a different answer to their questions.

The TARGETT/HILTON story – Part Three: Where next?

4 Oct

Really this is no longer TARGETT/HILTON story, but just HILTON or SAUNDERS/HILTON story because the TARGETT side of the equation seems quite normal.

If truth I am unlikely to find out any more about the relationship between William TARGETT and Ruth HILTON before their marriage, although there may be something in the parish records that suggests that William was urged (or forced) to take responsibility for his actions and do the decent thing and marry Ruth.

I still need to find William and his parents in the census, prior to his marriage and unless they happen to have been living next door to Ruth HILTON there is probably nothing else that will provide a connection between the two.

The HILTON side is more interesting, and more of a challenge. Having no ages or parents names for Ruth HILTON’s parents is going to make things awkward, but there are still other places to look for clues.

I don’t expect to find a marriage for Ruth’s parents, at least not to each other. There is of course the chance that one or other of them died around the time of Ruth’s birth, which is why they never married, so I need to check for burials and in the GRO Death Index.

I would hope to find some mention of Ruth and her mother Eliza in the parish records for Duncton, Sussex. It seems likely that Duncton parish would have had to support Eliza if she or Ruth’s father were unable to provide for the child. So I need to check to see if there are any overseers records amongst the papers for Duncton parish.

My best bet however it to try and find Ruth in the 1841 and 1851 census. Hopefully she will be living with either one of the parents, or perhaps grandparents. In an ideal world Ruth would have been living with her mother in one census and her father in the other, but the chances of that seem very slim.

If that doesn’t provide me with enough clues, then I need to try and find Richard SAUNDERS and Eliza HILTON in the 1841 and 1851 Census. If Ruth is not with them then it is not going to be possible to say for certain they are the right people. Fortunately the names are not particularly common so it might be possible to produce a small list of likely suspects and narrow them down one by one.

This is going to take some carefully research, but I am confident that it will be possible to take both of these lines back further. I would be interested to see if there is a history of naughty young girls in the HILTON family, or whether there was some respectability amongst the earlier generations.

The TARGETT/HILTON story – Part Two: The baptism of Ruth HILTON

2 Oct

I have already mentioned that the other record I wanted to look up at Worthing Library was the baptism record for Ruth HILTON. I had found a very likely entry on the International Genealogical Index (IGI) and wanted to confirm all the details and fill in the missing data.

There was something curious about the entry on the IGI, the baptism date was given as 1837, just 1837, no day or month. I felt that it was probably a transcription error, but couldn’t understand quite how such a glaring error could have slipped through.

Ruth was baptised in the parish of Duncton, Sussex which ties in with one of the census entries I have found so far. When I loaded the microfiche I soon found that the entry on the IGI was correct, only the year had been entered in the date section.

Worse still, but not for me fortunately, the next baptism had no date at all. It looks like Ruth only got the year because she was at the top of a new page. The previous entry was from the 12th March 1837 and the one after the one with no date was from the 6th August 1837.

I would not be surprised if a date was missing from one of the early general registers, but after 1813 there was a printed page to fill in with all the relevant information, so it should have been obvious at the time that something was missing.

Apart from that the baptism record was quite normal, normal that is for someone who was illigitimate. Underneath the name Ruth was the word illigit and only Ruth’s mother’s name was given, Eliza HILTON. The occupation was entered as labourer, and I am guessing this refers to the father’s occupation not Eliza’s.

So using both the baptism and the marriage record I have both parents names, but that is all I have, no clue as to how old they were, whether they were ever married or remained single or where they came from.

The TARGETT/HILTON story – Part One: The marriage of William TARGETT and Ruth HILTON

1 Oct

I wrote the other day about William TARGETT and Ruth HILTON, the age difference between them and the closeness of their marriage to the baptism of their only daughter Caroline (or Emily Caroline). I felt there was an interesting story here waiting to be investigated, and in any case I needed to do more work to establish who their parents were (my 4x great grandparents).

The two parish records I checked at Worthing Library on Tuesday certainly shed more light on the situation, or rather added more fuel to the fire. Both records were on the International Genealogical Index at familysearch.org, but neither entry gave the full details that I needed.

First up was the marriage of William and Ruth in the parish of Heyshott, Sussex on the 27th September 1856. The first piece of new evidence was their ages; William was 37 years old and Ruth was only 19. So the census had been pretty accurate and my calculations were right, William was nearly twenty years older than Ruth.

I was not surprised to find that William was a bachelor and Ruth a spinster. William’s occupation was given as labourer, so again there was nothing unusual there.

It was the father’s details for the couple that proved the most interesting. William’s father was also William, and his occupation was also labourer. This pretty much confirmed what I had already suspected, William was the son of William and Charlotte TARGETT.

Ruth’s father’s details were in one respect what I had expected in that his surname wasn’t HILTON but SAUNDERS. Ruth HILTON’s father was Richard SAUNDERS and he was also a labourer. I had my suspicions that Ruth might be illegitimate when I found a baptism record that seemed to fit and it only gave a mother’s name. To be honest I had half expected to find her father’s name and occupation left blank in the register.

So although this is not an ideal situation for me. I have very little to work on to link Ruth’s mother and father together, but it could be worse, at least I have a father’s name to work with. The possible baptism for Ruth was the other record I wanted to check down at Worthing, to see if that might provide further clues.

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