Tag Archives: russell

Elkanah RUSSELL the bricklayer

24 Dec

Last night I was picking my way through my family history database, looking for things to do, and trying to fill in a few missing details. One of the relations I had come across during my research was Elkanah RUSSELL, but hadn’t really investigated him further.

I believe Elkanah was the brother of my 3x great-grandfather Thomas RUSSELL, and that they were both the sons of William and Ann RUSSELL from Salehurst, Sussex.

I decided I would try and find out a bit more about Elkanah, after all it would be useful to try and prove the connection with Thomas. I had a little difficulty finding Elkanah in the 1841 census, eventually I found him recorded as Elvah RUSSELL, with his wife Sarah and son William, in Balcombe, Sussex.

I almost dismissed this family because I wasn’t expecting to find them as far west as Balcombe, but they were definitely the correct family. As I looked at the census image I noticed something curious.

Nearly all the heads of household on the page were bricklayers (like Elkanah) or stone masons. I had seen this sort of thing before, there was obviously a major construction project underway in Balcombe in 1841.

There was something else curious about the census image, the addresses were all dittos (is that the correct plural of ditto?), so was the page before, and the page before that. Finally I found a name of a house “Railway hut near the viaduct”. Then it struck me, all these men were building the railway viaduct, that would take the railway line that ran from London to Brighton across the Ouse Valley.

Sure enough, a quick search online found that the viaduct was indeed built in 1841. I have passed over the viaduct many times, but in the future when I pass over it I will be able to say with pride that one of my relations helped build this marvellous piece of Victorian engineering.

The missing wife of William RUSSELL

21 Oct

One of the weak links on my Christmas Tree Project is the wife of William RUSSELL, my 4x great grandfather and mother of my 3x great grandfather Thomas RUSSELL.

I know that Thomas’ father was William from his marriage entry in the Ticehurst parish registers. From that I also know that his father’s occupation was that of a shoemaker.

All the census information I have points to a birth for Thomas in Salehurst, Sussex around 1822-23, and although the Salehurst baptisms have been included in the Sussex Family History Group (SFHG) Data Archive, I can’t for the life of me find Thomas’ baptism.

I think I have found Thomas with his father (and brother George) in the 1841 Census, in Salehurst, but there is no sign of a wife for William. There is an older woman, Lydia RUSSELL, who is probably William’s mother (making William the son of Samuel and Lydia RUSSELL).

In 1861 William is living with Elkanah RUSSELL and family in Burwash, Sussex and it could well be that Elkanah is another son. It is an unusual name so it should stand out in the records.

So who was William’s wife? The SFHG Marriage Index gives a couple of marriages around the right time for William RUSSELL in Salehurst, Sussex, and the most likely of these is to Ann SPICE on the 27th April 1811.

My best bet however is to try and locate the baptism for Thomas RUSSELL, that should give me his mother’s name, but if not in Salehurst then where. I searched the baptism transcriptions for Salehurst and surrounding parishes at the East Sussex Record Office last week without any luck.

I wasn’t until I got home that I discovered a birth record for Elkanah RUSSELL, amongst the non-conformist records on BMDregisters.co.uk. This confirmed his parents as William RUSSELL and Ann SPICE, but there was still no sign of Thomas.

So all the evidence points to William RUSSELL and Ann SPICE being the parents of Thomas RUSSELL, but the connection is not quite as strong as I would like.

The problem with the BMDregisters website is that it is not obvious what records are included and whether any other records exist at the National Archives. There is of course the chance that records might survive locally as well, so I need to check with the East Sussex Record Office again.

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