Tag Archives: ospringe

Searching for the WRIGHT family at the London Family History Centre

14 Oct

Today I was back at the London Family History Centre, trying to fill in a few missing ancestors in my Christmas Tree Project, but most of all trying to put the lid back on the can of worms that I opened there back in May this year.

All in all it was quite a successful day, I think I have added another four or five of my 4x great grandparents, including the parents of Ellen NICHOLLS whose lack of marriage in Lewes, Sussex has been causing me some consternation. Once again though it was the WRIGHT family that has been most surprising.

I have Henry and Sarah (or Sarah Ann) WRIGHT living in Alton, Hampshire from about 1842. Their eight youngest children were baptised and registered in Alton using various surnames: WRIGHT, SHAWNDEN, SHORDEN, WRIGHT SHAWNDEN, SHAWDON WRIGHT and WRIGHT otherwise SHORDEN.

I had taken this as indicating the Henry and Sarah had probably never married, and there was some confusion over whether they should use the father’s name (WRIGHT) or the mother’s name (SHORDEN or some variant thereof).

What I discovered in the Ospringe, Kent parish registers was a baptism on the 1st October 1809 for Henry son of William and Anne SHORNDEN. This was exactly the opposite of what I was expecting, and my many hours of searching the 1841 census for Henry WRIGHT have probably been wasted. Tonight I shall be seeing what comes up for Henry SHORNDEN in the 1841 census.

So this has left me wondering whether Sarah was Sarah WRIGHT, or whether the WRIGHT surname was just plucked out of nowhere for whatever reason. I still couldn’t find a marriage for Henry and Sarah in Ospringe, but I didn’t really expect to. Now I have Henry’s parent’s names (and some siblings for Henry) and hopefully I will be able to find them in the 1841 census (and later), which might enable me to discover more information about the family.

As well as searching for Henry SHORNDEN in the census, I also have a handful of notes that need sorting out, on top of what I still have left from my trip to the Hampshire Record Office last Saturday. Looks like I shall be busy catching up for the next few days.

Harriet WRIGHT is giving me sleepless nights

8 Jun

I awoke this morning and it felt like my brain hadn’t been to sleep. I am sure that whilst the rest of me was sleeping my brain was going through possible name variants and spellings for Harriet WRIGHT (or whatever her name was).

At 7am this morning I very nearly ordered the birth certificate for one of Harriet’s siblings, but I stopped at the last minute, just as I was about to enter my debit card details.

What stopped me (apart from not liking to spend money, especially that early in the morning!) was the fact that I probably already know Harriet’s mother’s maiden name. I am convinced it is SHOREDEN/SHAWDEN/SHALDEN or some variant thereof.

It is my guess that Henry WRIGHT (Harriet’s father) and Sarah SHOREDEN (Harriet’s mother) never saw the need to get married and just lived together under his name as husband and wife.

However, when it came to naming children things got more complicated and the surname recorded depended on who asked for it, how the question was worded and to whom the question was asked.

I could be wrong (quite likely) but that is my only hypothesis at the moment. So initially I am going to be searching for the baptisms of Henry and Sarah, in the hope of being able to work forward and locate Harriet’s birth and baptism (and their 1841 census entry).

Both of their dates of birth are pretty consistent across the census years, Henry was born in 1811 and Sarah in 1821 and this is confirmed by their entries in the GRO death indexes.

Places of birth are a different matter, for Henry the choice of place of birth is not too bad, either Ospringe (Kent), Canterbury (Kent) or Alton (Hampshire), with Ospringe being the most popular. For Sarah there are more options, Alton (Hampshire), Harrow (Middlesex), Deptford (Kent) or Lincolnshire. I think I can rule out Lincolnshire and Alton, but the other two are quite plausible.

Of course I need to bear in mind that all of the census returns could be wrong, and none of these are the correct places, but it is one of the few records I have to go on. Wish me luck!

Opening a can of worms at the London Family History Centre

25 May

Help! I really opened a can of worms when I started looking into the WRIGHT family in Alton, Hampshire at the London Family History Centre this weekend.

I had only been able to find GRO birth index references for a few of the younger children of Henry and Sarah WRIGHT in Alton Registration District. From the census I knew that the family had started in Kent, so I assumed the older children were registered there or somewhere in between Kent and Hampshire.

What I discovered when I started searching the Alton baptism register was surprising to say the least. Almost every child had a slightly different surname! I was sure they were the correct family because everything else tied up with what I already knew.

I had to go through the microfilm twice to make sure I had picked up all the baptisms. The first time I was just looking for the surname WRIGHT, the second time it was a case of carefully checking the other names and occupations. It didn’t help that the handwriting was rather smaller and indistinct, so some of the letters were not clear. The surnames I found were WRIGHT, SHORDEN, WRIGHT-SHALDEN, WRIGHT-SHAWADEN and WRIGHT otherwise SHORDEN.

My next step was to check the Ospringe baptisms, under a variety of different names and spellings, but the closest I could find was a Mary-Ann Hannah SHORNDEN in 1836. She could be their first child, but her fathers name is William not Henry.

Likewise the Ospringe marriages didn’t really come up with any likely marriages. There was a marriage of George WRAIGHT to Sarah COULTER in November 1836, where the witnesses were John and Lucy WREIGHT.

So where does that leave my search for my WRIGHT ancestors. Well, it explains why I have been unable to find them in the 1841 census yet. I don’t know what name to look for! Armed with another batch of names and spellings I hope I could find them, even if it means going through the census for Alton, Hampshire and Ospringe, Kent page by page.

I have however located a GRO birth index entry for Harriet WRAIGHT in Q4 1839 in Faversham District, which is a good match for my 2x great grandmother. I can now go ahead and order her birth certificate, that should make interesting reading to say the least.

For now I will wait until I have these two records before I start speculating on why they had such a variety of surnames!

Struggling with my WRIGHT ancestors

17 May

After yesterday’s marathon family history session I have taken it easy today, in fact I didn’t really get started until the afternoon. So this afternoon I have been focusing on my WRIGHT ancestors.

One of my remaining gaps from my challenge to find all my 3x great grandparents was the missing maiden name for Sarah the wife Henry WRIGHT, who were the parents of Harriet WRIGHT who later became Harriet MITCHELL when she married William Henry MITCHELL in Exton, Hampshire in 1860.

The problem is that I don’t know where to start looking for the marriage of Henry and Sarah. They surface in Alton, Hampshire from around 1841, although I have not been able to find a 1841 census entry for them anywhere, let alone Alton or Hampshire. By 1841 they should have had at least two children and possibly three.

According to the 1851 census the first child (Mary A.) would have been born around 1836, and the second (Harriet) around 1840. The 1851 census gives the place of birth for both of them as Ospringe, Kent, which is the same as that for Henry (he would have been born around 1811).

Henry’s wife Sarah (her GRO death index entry has her name as Sarah Ann) was ten years younger than him (born around 1821) and her place of birth differs in every census. It could be Harrow, Middlesex (1851), Alton, Hampshire (1861), Lincolnshire (1871), Deptford, Kent (1881) or none of the above!

Doing the maths it looks like Sarah was very young when she had her first child, maybe as young as fifteen or sixteen, so perhaps the marriage didn’t occur until some time later, after or as a result of that first child. Maybe it explains why they moved such a great distance from Kent to Hampshire. Unless of course someone was lying about their age.

So I really am clutching at straws, the marriage (if there was one) would probably have taken place before civil registration and the place of marriage could have been just about anywhere, especially if it was in the bride’s parish.

My only hope seems to be the parish registers for Ospringe, Kent although that seems a bit of a long shot, hopefully I should be able to find out more about Henry’s ancestors even if I don’t find a marriage record or baptism records for his children there. I suspect there is a can of worms contained there, just waiting to opened!

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