Tag Archives: mercy steadman

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.

Mercy TROWER: the story so far

5 Feb

Mercy TROWER was my 3x great-aunt and the story of her life is increasing becoming something of an obsession for me. This post is partly for my own benefit, an attempt to get the known (and unknown) facts clear in my head.

Mercy was born in 1852 in Henfield, Sussex (probably Harwoods Farm), the fourth child of Henry and Jane TROWER. Her birth was registered in Q3 1852 in Steyning Registration District. A record of her baptism, like those of her younger siblings, has not been found.

On the 1861 census Mercy is shown as a scholar, living with her parents and grandfather (William TROWER) at Harwoods Farm, Henfield. By the 1871 census the 19 year old Mercy has left home, she is a servant in the household of Eliza GRAY, the widow of a solicitor, in Church Street, Reigate, Surrey.

Mercy was one of the witnesses at the marriage of her brother Abraham TROWER to Jane BATCHELOR in Henfield on the 9th November 1878. This doesn’t mean she is living back in Henfield, but by the 1881 census Mercy is back home at Harwoods Farm, Henfield, back with her parents again, and still working as a servant.

Banns of marriage were published on the 21st May, 28th May and 4th June 1882 in Henfield. Mercy was preparing to marry a bachelor, also from Henfield, by the name of George BARLEY. There is no record of the marriage taking place in Henfield, or anywhere else in England and Wales according to the GRO marriage indexes.

On the 14th October 1884, Mercy gives birth to a son, who was named Ernest John. She was still at Harwoods Farm at the time. His birth was registered on the 20th November 1884 in the Steyning Registration District, no father was mentioned on the birth certificate.

No baptism record has been found for Ernest John TROWER, and in the 1891 and 1901 census Ernest John is living with his grandparents, not with his mother.

The next record I have for Mercy is the 1891 census, she is at 25 Compton Avenue, Brighton, Sussex as a servant in the household of Francis John MAY, a civil engineer and Borough Surveyor of Brighton. Mercy is recorded as a widow and her surname is STEADMAN. There is no record of a marriage taking place in England and Wales according to the GRO marriage indexes.

Her name and marital status remains the same for the 1901 and 1911 census. In 1901 she is living with Emma C BROWN at 24 Hove Park Villas, Hove, Sussex, employed as a cook. In 1911 she is at 5 Selbourne Road, Hove and is a cook in the household of Emma SCARLETT.

The next record I have for Mercy is her will, it was written on the 14th August 1928 at Whitesmith near Chiddingly, Sussex. She left everything to be divided equally between her son Ernest John TROWER and her sister Ruth TROWER, who was named as executrix.

Mercy died on the 21st March 1929 aged 74 of a cerebral haemorrhage, there was no post mortem. Her address was given as 97 Wellington Road, Portslade, Sussex. Although it appears that her death actually occurred at the Steyning Union Workhouse in Ham Road, Shoreham, Sussex (although this probably is not an indicator that Mercy was a pauper, merely receiving medical care).

Mercy was buried in Henfield Cemetery on the 25 March 1929, in consecrated ground, there doesn’t appear to be a headstone. The event was mentioned in the diary of Percy Ebenezer TROWER, her nephew, "To-day Aunt Mercy died was buried at Henfield Cemetery, she died on Thursday at Shoreham Infirmary". The burial register records her surname as STEDMAN.

Probate was granted to Ruth TROWER on the 17th May 1929 at Lewes, Sussex. The estate was valued at £404 12s 2d. Going forward from the 1891 census, all records refer to Mercy as Mercy STEADMAN, widow (with the exception of the burial register mentioned above). Her death certificate records her as the widow of ___ STEADMAN, occupation unknown.

Searching for Mercy TROWER in Chichester

23 Jan

I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning (which is unusual for me), but I had promised myself a visit to the West Sussex Record Office so I made the effort and dragged myself out of bed and took the bus and train down to Chichester, West Sussex.

There weren’t really any specific goals for this visit, it was more about double-checking the information regarding Mercy TROWER (making sure I hadn’t missed anything in my previous searches) and extracting some burials from the Framfield bishops’ transcripts.

I just can’t get Mercy TROWER off of my mind, so I double-checked the banns of marriage for Henfield, Sussex along with the burials for Henfield, in case there was a record of a STEADMAN being buried.

I also checked the National Probate Calendar for STEADMANs, STEDMANs and STEEDMANs between 1882 and 1892 for any sign of a possible husband, but with no success.

I extended my search to her son Ernest John TROWER trying to find banns for his marriage in 1913. I am hoping his marriage entry will give me the name of his father, but so far I have not been identify where the marriage took place. I will probably have to order a copy of his marriage certificate if I am ever going to find out.

Mercy STEADMAN’s will provides no answers

21 Jan

The will of Mercy STEADMAN (née TROWER) has arrived and for once a document has arrived that hasn’t provided me more questions than answers.

The truth is that it hasn’t provided me with the answer I was after, the name of Mercy’s husband, but it has given me a few more scraps of information that fill in a bit more of her life, and where her son Ernest John TROWER and her sister Ruth TROWER were living at the time.

The problem with the will, like the death certificate, is that it was written many years after her marriage and the death of her husband. The will was written on the 14th August 1928 whilst Mercy was at Whitesmith near Chiddingly, Sussex.

The will is quite simple, basically all Mercy had was to be divided equally between her son Ernest John TROWER and her sister Ruth TROWER, who was also named as sole executrix.

The only slight mystery is what Mercy was doing in Chiddingly (presumably she was in domestic service there) and did the choice of witnesses (Laura Julia Rebecca LEWER and Harriet AKEHURST) have any significance?

So the search for the husband of Mercy STEADMAN is no further forward and as I write this I am not sure what my next step will be. Time to go back to the drawing board and re-assess what I have discovered so far.

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