Tag Archives: nicholls

The fear of failure and finding my 4x great grandparents

3 Oct

I have been slowly working through my tree trying to identify all my 4x great grandparents, but I think I have reached a point now where there is very little I can do without a visit to a couple of archives, and spending a serious amount of time searching.

So far I have identified 52 out of 64 of my 4x great grandparents to a varying degree. Some of the women haven’t got a maiden name yet, some I have only the briefest of details for, but most have more than just a name. Some have more detail if they were alive during the census years.

Filling in the gaps is going to be my goal for November, although I may start early. What is really worrying me is the missing 12 individuals, and the realisation that I might never find out who they all are.

There are some who I just need to get to the right archive. For instance the MITCHELLs and POCOCKs from Hampshire will probably require a visit to Winchester and the Hampshire Record Office, or maybe the London Family History Centre.

Then there are the parents of Ellen NICHOLLS who may or may not have married William GEERING. From the census I have a clue where she came from but without a marriage record giving me her father’s name it is going to be hard to say for certain that I have found the right person.

Many months ago I wrote about Henry WRIGHT and his wife (or partner possibly) Sarah Ann, who appear not to have married either. I have not looked at their data for a while, because it was doing my head in.

Part of me thinks that if I never find all these 12 people I will have failed, I will never know completely who my ancestors were and it is not worth continuing, so I should stop now.

I need to accept that whether it is this generation, the next one or four generations further back I will inevitably run into a dead end that is never going to be solved no matter how much time and money I throw at it.

But now is not time to give up, perhaps it is a time to focus on something else for a while, but I have given myself October to identify all my 4x great grandparents, so I still have time to complete it (ultimately I want to find all my ancestors back to my 4x great grandparents so I can produce a printed tree to share with the family at Christmas).

I have one weeks holiday coming up soon which will enable me to get out and get some research done. So the next step will be to draw up a research plan for each of these 12 individuals to make sure I make the most of my research time. With the other 52 I need to identify any obvious gaps, such as missing maiden names so I can fill in those as well whilst I am out researching.

Most of all I need to stop worrying and accept that one day I will have a brick wall that cannot be destroyed no matter how hard I try, and that I will not have failed when that does happen. It will just make my tree look a bit odd, with one branch shorter than the others!

Another birth certificate arrives, but doesn’t really help

18 Sep

Great excitement usually accompanies the arrival of certificate from the GRO (well at least for me anyway) and today was no exception. The envelope contained the birth certificate for William GEERING my 2x great grandfather.

William was born in Lewes, Sussex in 1868 that much I knew already, more precisely it was on the 24th August 1868 in Sun Street, Lewes. Sun Street is an address I hadn’t come across before in my research, but apart from the exact date and place the reason I wanted this certificate was to find out his mother’s name/maiden name.

I had previously been unable to locate a marriage in the GRO Indexes for William’s parents, and with a name like GEERING it should have been easy. I hoped that having his mother’s maiden name would help in the search, but so far it hasn’t.

In the space for the mother’s name it says Ellen Geering formerly Nicholls. I am pretty certain it says NICHOLLS, it would take quite a stretch of the imagination to make it anything else. So this implies that William’s father (also William) had married Ellen NICHOLLS, but still no entry in the marriage index is forthcoming.

I switched to the census, perhaps I could find Ellen NICHOLLS in the 1861 census (her future husband was unmarried in 1861) but nothing obvious stands out. There is one possible hit in 1851, but that is not really in the right area.

I tried the GRO Birth Index, and again no Ellen NICHOLLS in the right place or time frame, this really is starting to look very mysterious. The 1871, 1881 and 1891 census all give her place of birth as Chiddingstone, Kent and her age is pretty consistent, giving her year of birth around 1848.

So what has gone wrong here? Why is Ellen causing me such a problem? At least I have a maiden name now, but it is a maiden name that I don’t feel I can trust, at least not until I see it in writing somewhere else.

So what next? I need to widen all my searches on both the census and the GRO Indexes, in case one of the pieces of information is wrong and try some different census indexes. I need to visit the East Sussex Record Office and search the parish registers for a marriage entry (maybe it missed the GRO Indexes) and also for any sign of banns for the husband because I am sure he would have been in Lewes.

Such a disappointment to not have all the pieces fit into place, this looks like it could be a major obstacle to finding all my 4x great grandparents. Then again I wouldn’t want things too easy, would I?

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