Tag Archives: gro index

Finding Mary’s maiden name

10 May

In theory it ought to be quite easy to find the maiden name of my 4x great-grandmother Mary, the wife of Thomas WELLER. I actually have a pretty good idea of what it is (NEWNHAM), but I just want to make sure before I explore the NEWNHAM line too far.

The reason it should be easy is because Thomas and Mary WELLER had three children (out of a total of twelve) who were born after the start of civil registration in 1837, so their birth certificates should give Mary’s maiden name.

The problem comes mainly from my reluctance to part with any money for a certificate unless I am certain it is the right one and making sure I get the best value for money. In this case that would mean getting the certificate for my 3x great-grandmother Mary Ann WELLER, because although I have no particular need to know her exact date of birth, if I am going to pay for a certificate it might as well be for a direct ancestor and not one of their siblings.

I have baptism dates for all three of the children concerned and know from the census where they were living and where they were baptised (Twineham, Sussex) so again in theory it should be a simple matter of checking the GRO Indexes and ordering the certificate.

Of course it is not that simple, no birth registration seems to exist for a Mary Ann WELLER, there is a Mary WELLER but not where I would expect it (Cuckfield Registration District) but in a neighbouring registration district. Close, but not close enough for me to risk my hard-earned £9.25 on.

So my next choice would be George Henry WELLER, the first and second name should be enough to make sure I get the correct certificate, more so than his brother Andrew. FreeBMD was a little uncertain about the page number, so I checked the image, several images in fact (on Ancestry, Findmypast and TheGenealogist) but I can’t make it out either.

Fortunately George’s brother Andrew WELLER turns out to be my saviour, the volume and page number are readable and the date and place match up. If truth be known I am not really interested in Andrew (apologies if he is your ancestor) but his certificate is the only one that I can safely order. The irony is that I already know his date of birth from the baptism register so I don’t even need to know that part of information.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

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Ellen NICHOLLS: what next?

15 Apr

Having confessed that I made a mistake identifying the wrong Ellen NICHOLLS as my 3x great-grandmother, I now need to think about what I can do to put it right.

I can’t get the idea out of my head that my Ellen NICHOLLS may still be the daughter of Thomas and Martha NICHOLLS, named in memory of her dead sister.

There is a four year old Ellen NICHOLLS living in Seasalter, Kent who is the niece of James and Jane BARNES. Jane BARNES was born in Chiddingstone, Kent (which is where Ellen was supposed to have been born). Interestingly James BARNES married Jane DRAPPER in Q4 1841 in Sevenoaks Registration District.

Could it be that this Jane DRAPPER was the sister of Martha DRAPPER who was the wife of Thomas NICHOLLS. This would match the niece relationship in the census.

The 1851 census gives Ellen’s place of birth as Blean, Kent, and her age means that she would have been born about 1847. This date of birth matches quite well with what I know about my Ellen NICHOLLS, but of course the place of birth  doesn’t.

Now there should be a birth registration entry for Ellen around 1847, but there isn’t. What there is however are two entries in the GRO Birth Indexes for female NICHOLLS (meaning the baby girl hadn’t been named). Both were registered in the Blean Registration District, one in Q1 1847 and another Q2 1847. Could one of these have been Ellen?

I know that Thomas NICHOLLS died before the 1851 census because his wife Martha is shown as a widow, and guess what? There is a death entry in the indexes for Thomas NICHOLLS in Q1 1848 also in Blean Registration District.

Maybe I am just clutching at straws, but I have a good feeling about this scenario. It is the best bet I have at the moment. My next step is to have a look at the parish registers for Blean, Kent to see if there is any mention of the NICHOLLS, otherwise I might have to take a chance and spend some money on some GRO certificates.

Mercy TROWER: what to do next

7 Feb

Having described what I already know about Mercy TROWER and what I want to find out, so now it is time to think about how I am going to do it.

To be honest I am not really sure what more I can do, it seems like I have checked every likely record to find a possible marriage, or two possible marriages for Mercy.

I have ordered her son’s marriage certificate, that may give me the name of his father, who may have been the STEADMAN that Mercy was supposed to have married, if not there is another man in her life that I will need to find out about.

The absence of any marriages in England and Wales (according to the GRO indexes) could suggest that the marriage took place elsewhere. There is no obvious sign of Mercy in any online passenger lists, but it may have been that she didn’t travel that far, so possibly Scotland or Ireland.

My searches of the GRO indexes have been confined to searching on FreeBMD. I need to actually check the indexes images in case something was missed in the transcription process, but I doubt it very much.

Likewise I should check with the local register office, just in case the marriage never made it into the main GRO index. The problem is that I don’t really know where the marriages might have taken place. It would guess it would have been in Sussex, in either Henfield or Brighton.

I could search for the death of a STEADMAN between 1884 and 1891, but the number of death certificates I would need to buy would be too expensive. Although I could start locally (Steyning Registration District) and work outwards, but the odds of finding the correct record are not good.

The only way I would know if I had found the right one is if Mercy (or another TROWER) was the informant, but of course I could find the right STEADMAN and not know it was the correct one if someone else had registered the death.

So, I think I will do three things in my attempt to solve the mystery surrounding Mercy’s life:

  1. Wait for the marriage certificate of Ernest John TROWER to arrive, and hope it provides more clues.
  2. Check the GRO index images to make sure Mercy’s marriage wasn’t missed in the transcription process.
  3. Search the local papers (Sussex Daily News and West Sussex County Times) from 1882 to 1891 to see if there is any mention of Mercy and either of her possible husbands.

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