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!