Tag Archives: barley

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.

Who were the parents of Ernest John TROWER?

14 Jan

As well as the death certificate for Mercy STEADMAN I also ordered a birth and marriage certificate for two other individuals, just to try and fill in a few gaps in my database. The birth certificate was for Ernest John TROWER, it arrived the day after Mercy’s death certificate.

Ernest John TROWER was one of the individuals in my database that wasn’t actually linked to my tree. I knew he was related to me but not exactly how. He was shown in the 1891 and 1901 census as the grandson of Henry and Jane TROWER, my 3x great-grandparents.

I have yet to find a baptism entry for Ernest and the only clue to his parents identity was the presence of Martha TROWER, one of the daughters of Henry and Jane, in the same household in the 1891 census.

The birth certificate answered part of the question, it identified his mother, but there was no mention of a father. Ernest John TROWER was born on the 14th October 1884 at Harwoods Farm, Henfield, Sussex. The birth was registered by his mother, Mercy TROWER.

I was speechless, Mercy TROWER, the same Mercy TROWER whose husband is proving so illusive. That was not what I had expected at all and adds a whole other dimension to the mystery.

Was Ernest the son of the unknown STEADMAN, who Mercy may or may not have married, was he the son of George BARLEY who may or may not have married Mercy, and whose banns of marriage I have found, or did Mercy have a relationship with another man.

One thing is clear, the whole story of Mercy TROWER has suddenly become a lot more complicated and lot more interesting. I am going to have to do some serious work on this family if I am ever going to get these relationships sorted out.

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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