Tag Archives: mercy trower

Mercy TROWER: perhaps she didn’t marry?

9 Feb

On Sunday afternoon I was sitting watching TV, which is unusual for me, it was Agatha Christie’s Poirot starring David Suchet (who was once a subject of the Who Do You Think You Are? TV series).

Even as I was sitting there I couldn’t stop thinking about family history and in particular Mercy TROWER. The fact that I can’t find a record of her marriage makes me suspicious that she might have been lying about being a widow.

What Hercule Poirot made me wonder is, what would Mercy’s motive be for lying about being a widow? Allcriminals need to have a motive, be it money, lust or revenge. I am not suggesting that Mercy was a criminal, but if she was lying about being a widow then she must have had a motive for doing so.

The problem is that I cannot think of a motive, how could Mercy possibly benefit from pretending to be a widow? I can only come up with two possibilities which both seem so improbable that it is hardly worth considering them.

  1. Mercy had done something illegal or something she was ashamed of and changed her name and marital status to hide her identity.
  2. Mercy pretended to be married to inherit something from her alleged husband, perhaps a former employer.

Like I said, I can’t believe either of these are true, and it still seems more likely that her marriage wasn’t correctly recorded, not that it didn’t ever take place.

If you fancy playing Hercule Poirot (or Miss Marple), let me know if you can think of a motive for Mercy lying about being a widow, my little grey cells are just about out of ideas!

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: what do I want to know?

6 Feb

Yesterday I posted the sum of my knowledge about my 3x great-aunt Mercy TROWER. Today I am going to explain what it is about her life that I still want to find out.

The big question I want to answer is: what happened in Mercy’s life between 1881 and 1891? The rest of her life before and after this decade seems quite normal, it would be nice to find out how and when she ended up at Shoreham Union Workhouse and it would be good to find a baptism record, but they are not so important to me.

The desire to unravel the details of what went on during this decade is starting to become an obsession. I was able to put Mercy to the back of mind for a while, but once again she has come to the foreground.

The information I have suggests four questions about what happened between 1881 and 1891:

  1. Did Mercy marry George BARLEY? If so where and when was it and if not, why not?
  2. Who was the father of her son Ernest John TROWER?
  3. Where and when did Mercy marry someone with the surname STEADMAN and what was his first name?
  4. Where, when and why did this unknown STEADMAN husband die?

Tomorrow I shall go through some of the options and avenues of research still open to me, that might provide me with some answers.

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.

My genealogy to-do list for the week ahead (week 5)

31 Jan

Last week was again spent sorting through more digital files, it seems to be taking a lot longer than I had originally anticipated.

All the information from my last visit to the West Sussex Record Office is now on spreadsheets, and most of it is entered onto my database, I just have the Framfield burials to enter into Family Historian, but that is going to be a major job so I haven’t started on that.

Working through my hard drive is taking a long time, mainly because I keep getting side-tracked into other areas I wasn’t planning to. I have been working on this for several weeks know and am still only on the As and Bs in my surname list.

I have started digging a bit deeper on the BATEMAN surname, hopefully in preparation for a visit to Gloucestershire Record Office to fill in some gaps, I will probably spend some more time on the BATEMANs this week

So this week will be much the same as last week, no substantial new research, just working with what I already have.

  • Continue working through my digital files updating Family Historian and sorting out folders and standardising my filenames.
  • Create a research plan for Mercy TROWER. Consisting of a summary of what I already know, decide what I want to find out and what steps I need to take to achieve it.
  • As it is a new month tomorrow I shall probably order another set of birth, marriage and death certificates, so I need to decide which individuals I want to find out more about.
  • Continue work on the BATEMAN family, trying to identify what happened to the siblings of Henry BATEMAN my 2x great-grandfather, from Winchcombe, Gloucestershire.

My genealogy to-do list for the week ahead (week 4)

24 Jan

Last week was spent engaged in sorting and organising digital files, and I must admit it has been quite rewarding. I did say I wasn’t going to do any new research, but of course that was impossible for me to achieve.

I have found the process of going through my files very helpful, I have so much information that I haven’t added to my database, some recent (like the 1911 census) and some which had been languishing on my hard drive for months.

As I entered the data it was hard not to try and fill in more details, so some more online searching was done (more 1911 census and recent GRO BMD indexes). Anything that couldn’t be answered quickly was put in a text file, which is quickly growing into a basic to-do list.

This week will probably be much the same as last week, no substantial new research, just working with what I already have.

  • Add all the information that I acquired at the West Sussex Record Office on Saturday to my spreadsheet and database.
  • Continue working through my digital files updating Family Historian and sorting out folders and standardising my filenames.
  • Create a research plan for Mercy TROWER. Consisting of a summary of what I already know, decide what I want to find out and what steps I need to take to achieve it.

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.

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