Tag Archives: steadman

Have I reached the end of the trail with Mercy TROWER?

13 Jan

The death certificate for Mercy STEADMAN (née TROWER) has arrived from the GRO and it has failed to provide the answer that I had hoped for. If anything it caused a bit of confusion, until I actually figured out what was going on.

The reason for ordering a copy of the certificate was to try and find the name of Mercy’s husband. Under the occupation heading it should have told me that she was a widow and given her ex-husband’s name.

Unfortunately the informant who registered the death didn’t know what her husband’s name was, so all I have is Widow of — Steadman Occupation unknown. Not very helpful to say the least.

It hadn’t occurred to me that because Mercy’s husband had died before 1891, there would be a good chance that whoever registered the death, possibly four decades later, probably never knew who Mercy’s husband was.

The confusion came from the place of death, 2 Upper Shoreham Road, Kingston-by-Sea. This wasn’t the same as her address that was also given on the death certificate (97 Wellington Road, Portslade-by-Sea).

The key to this puzzle is the Steyning Union Workhouse. It appears that the address of the workhouse was 2 Upper Shoreham Road, and the informant who registered the death was H[orace] W[alter] Cawcutt, the master of the Steyning Poor Law Institution.

I know that when Mercy died in 1929 her estate was valued at £404 12s 2d, so she wasn’t exactly a pauper, so my guess is that she was in the workhouse due to ill health (the workhouse would later become part of Southlands Hospital).

So I didn’t find out who Mercy’s husband was, but I haven’t quite given up hope of finding out his name. Records from the Steyning Union Workhouse are apparently held at the East Sussex Record Office, including admission and death registers, there may be a clue held within their pages.

My genealogy to-do list for the week ahead (week 2)

10 Jan

It has been a funny sort of week, although I like most of the people in England have been stuck at home because of the snow I haven’t actually done a lot of genealogy. My main priority is finding another job, that in itself is becoming a full time job, however things are progressing slowly on that front.

  • I made a start on sorting out my photos, but I really need to dedicate an evening just going through all my folders and getting all the photos in the right places.
  • I also made a start on getting one of my photos identified, with the help of the Victorian Wars Forum. I still have more work to do on that, but have made good progress so far. Expect to see some blog posts about that in the coming week.
  • I now have a folder full of 1911 census images that need sorting out. Re-naming the files and entering all the data on Family Historian.
  • I ordered the will and death certificate for Mercy STEADMAN last week, along with another marriage certificate and a birth certificate. The certificates should hopefully arrive this week and need processing, but it will probably be a couple of weeks before the copy of the will arrives.
  • I didn’t get any to-do lists done, but from going through my family tree it does look like I have reached the limit of what I can actually do from home (back beyond the census and civil registration) for most of my ancestors, so I really do need to get some archive visits planned soon.
  • I want to start writing the story of Luther TROWER, Henrietta KING and Charles BRINTON. It is an interesting story which I alluded to briefly before. I think I will try and get it researched and written completely before I actually publish it on this blog. I want to start on that story as soon as possible, so I will try and put together an outline this week.

My genealogy to-do list for the week ahead (week 1)

3 Jan

A new year, full of new challenges and new opportunities. More stories to be uncovered and exciting discoveries to be made. And not forgetting the chance to do some filing and planning, where would we be without organisation?

  • Make a start on organising my family photos. Set up new folders under each surname for the photos that have been identified.
  • Work out the best way of naming and tagging the photos, both identified and unidentified.
  • Pick an unidentified photo and start trying to identify it.
  • Order the will and death certificate for Mercy STEADMAN (née TROWER) and go over the existing information I have for her.
  • Start putting together some basic to-do lists for some archive visits hopefully in the near future, based on the work I have already done for my Christmas Tree Project last year.

Mercy TROWER: what happened between the 1881 census and 1891 census?

22 Apr

Mercy TROWER was my 3x great aunt, daughter of Henry and Jane TROWER of Henfield, Sussex. She was born in Henfield in 1852 and like most of the young women appears to have gone into domestic service. She died in March 1929 and was buried back in Henfield, although she had been living on the coast in Portslade, Sussex.

At first glance there is nothing unusual about Mercy, apart perhaps from her name, but what really troubles me is the fact that in the 1881 census she is Mercy TROWER, but in the 1891 census she is Mercy STEADMAN and a widow. Now I am pretty certain this is her, and she is likewise using the name STEADMAN in the 1901 census. The reason I am so certain is that when she dies probate is granted to her sister Ruth TROWER.

The obvious answer is that she got married but I can find no record of Mercy TROWER marrying a STEADMAN. What have found just confuses things even further! On the 21st May, 28th May and 4th June 1882 banns were read at St. Peter’s Church, Henfield for the marriage of Mercy TROWER and George BARLEY (both were of the parish of Henfield).

I can find no record of a marriage, between Mercy TROWER and George BARLEY either in the Henfield marriage register or the GRO civil registration indexes. I have also checked the indexes for a marriage between Mercy BARLEY and a STEADMAN, but that doesn’t show up either, nor do any other name variations that I can think of.

So, what is the story here? There seems so many possible explanations, but all of them as unlikely as the next. Did she marry twice and was widowed twice? Did the first propsed marriage fall through and there was only one marriage and she was then widowed? Did they run off somewhere (overseas) and get married? Was she using an alias and just pretending to be a widow? Was George BARLEY using an alias? Did she change her name after she was widowed?

This is one mystery I really would like to get to the bottom of. I have a couple of things still to do, which may provide further clues. Firstly, get a copy of her death certificate and second get a copy of her will and see if they provide any clues, although I very much doubt it. After that I could check to see if she is mentioned in the parish magazine for Henfield (if it survives) or in the local paper. Just to be on the safe side I should check passenger lists as well to see if she did leave the country.

I can’t really call this a brick wall, I know when she was born and died, she is not a direct ancestor, so it is not really a problem if I never find out what happened to her, but I enjoy a challenge so I don’t want to just let it go. I feel there must be an interesting story in there, maybe just a tragic one, but either way it deserves to be told.

If you spot Mercy TROWER/BARLEY/STEADMAN between 1881 and 1891 please let me know, I really would like to fill in some gaps….


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