Tag Archives: smith

Ancestral Profile: Mary SMITH (c1807-1891?)

6 Dec

In recent weeks I have been jumping from branch to branch of my family tree when it came to choosing a subject for my weekly Ancestral Profile post, but this week I thought I would follow up last week’s post (featuring George MITCHELL) by writing about his wife Mary SMITH, my 4x great-grandmother.

Although Mary outlived her husband by nearly 50 years I know very little about her, this is not helped by the fact that her maiden name was SMITH and her married name was MITCHELL, neither of which are particularly uncommon. It also doesn’t help that each census return seems to give different information from which to calculate her date and place of birth.

The marriage to George MITCHELL took place on the 29th September 1828 in the parish of Cuckfield, Sussex. As I mentioned last week I haven’t checked the original marriage record for extra information. I also wrote last week that George and Mary had six children:

  1. Eliza MITCHELL (baptised 7th December 1828 in Cuckfield, Sussex)
  2. Mary Ann MITCHELL (baptised 30th January 1831 in Cuckfield, Sussex)
  3. Harriett MITCHELL (born c1834 in Slaugham, Sussex) [my 3x great-grandmother]
  4. Caroline MITCHELL (born Q3 1838 in Slaugham, Sussex)
  5. Alfred George MITCHELL (born 23rd February 1841 in Bolney, Sussex)
  6. William MITCHELL (baptised 14th April 1844 in Balcombe, Sussex)

It seems that her husband George died in October 1844 as the result of being hit by a steam engine, leaving Mary as a widow with six children. The 1851 census shows her as a pauper living in Slaugham, Sussex with her four youngest children.

I haven’t found Mary in the 1861 census, although there are several possibilities. In the 1871, 1881 and 1891 census she is living with (or next door to) her youngest son William and his family, initially in Bolney, Sussex and then Slaugham, Sussex. All of these show her as a widow and only the 1871 lists an occupation, which is “washerwoman”.

Below are the ages and places of birth from the various census years. In 1841 the age was rounded down, but taking the other years it looks like we are looking at a year of birth about 1807 +/- 2 years. All the places are quite consistent, in the same general area in mid sussex within a few miles of each other.

1841 – aged 30, born in Sussex
1851 – aged 42, born Cuckfield, Sussex
1861 – not found yet
1871 – aged 64, born Staplefield, Sussex
1881 – aged 76, born Cuckfield, Sussex
1891 – aged 84, born Slaugham, Sussex

There is a baptism in Cuckfield which seems to fit, Mary SMITH daughter of Samuel and Mary SMITH, baptised on 1 Nov 1807. Unfortunately there is also a Mary SMITH baptised in Cuckfield in 1805 who could just as easily be the one. Clearly more evidence is needed.

It seems likely that Mary died later in 1891. There is an entry in the GRO indexes for the death of an 85 year old in Q3 1891 in the Cuckfield Registration District. All of the parishes listed were in Cuckfield Registration District. I really need to buy the certificate to see if this is my Mary MITCHELL.

There is a corresponding burial in Balcombe, Sussex of an 85 year old Mary MITCHELL on the 19th September 1891. This would make sense if her husband was buried in Balcombe, but it looks like he was buried in Cuckfield. Why would she be buried in Balcombe when the 1891 census has her living in Slaugham? Did she spend her last few months living with someone else in Balcombe? Am I barking up the wrong tree?

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 49

5 Dec

There was a real mixed bag of family history for me last week, a little bit of housekeeping and quite a bit of new research. To be honest the housekeeping was starting to lose its appeal, so I switched my attention to a couple of previously unexplored branches of my tree.

I completed reviewing another ten individuals, there wasn’t much to actually update on these ten people but plenty to add to my to-do list. I will probably try to complete a similar amount this week, although I keep getting distracted. That last sentence took about twenty minutes to write as I went off and searched the 1911 census for my 2x great-aunt’s husband (and I found him!).

A conversation with my father on last Sunday started me off exploring a new branch of our family tree, and in the process solving one of my long standing queries (what happened to one of the daughters of Thomas KINGHORN?) and one of his even longer standing questions (who were the two people known to him as child as Aunt Issy and Aunt Minnie?). It turns out they were relations, but not aunts. They were the daughters of John Richard KIPPS and Isabella KINGHORN. Of course this has meant a bit more exploring down that line, which I need to finish off this week.

Then for a change I started tracing some of the KINGHORN family who had remained in Carlisle, Cumberland. I know that George KINGHORN remained in Carlisle whilst his brothers headed south to London (I am not sure what happened to his two sisters, I still need to do some work on them). I have followed one of his children in the census and need to try to do the same for his other children.

Then there was George MITCHELL. After writing the Ancestral Profile post on Monday I started thinking about him and his family. His branch of my family is probably the most awkward in my family tree. MITCHELL is quite a common surname and to make things worse his wife was Mary SMITH, if you read my post yesterday you will know that he (probably) died at a reasonably young age, leaving very few records behind. There is not a lot more I can do at the moment other than review what I already know and add some more items to my to-do list ready for a visit to West Sussex Record Office.

Two birth certificates arrive

12 Oct

The two birth certificates that I ordered last week arrived today and they were both as I expected. Whilst it is re-assuring that I was able to identify the correct spouses for two of my 4x great grandfathers, it does mean that in effect I didn’t actually need to order them.

The first one was the birth certificate of William GEERING my 3x great grandfather, this confirmed that his mother was Eliza RICHARDSON. He was born on the 21st August 1843 and the only other useful piece of information on the certificate was that he was born in the parish of St John under the Castle, Lewes, Sussex.

The second certificate was the birth of Alfred George MITCHELL in Bolney, Sussex on the 23rd February 1841. This confirmed that his and his sister (my 3x great grandmother) Harriet’s mother was Mary SMITH. There wasn’t really anything else of use on that certificate.

Although I had to buy these two certificates to confirm the identity these two of my 4x great grandmothers, it does feel a bit of waste, as I already knew pretty much all that was on them. Still, I have been able to follow up on Eliza RICHARDSON and identify her baptism and her parent’s marriage as well, so that makes me feel a little bit better about it.

Ordering two birth certificates for my Christmas Tree Project

8 Oct

Last night I ordered two birth certificates from the GRO as part of my Christmas Tree Project. Both were in an attempt to find the maiden names of two of my 4x great grandmothers.

The first was for William GEERING, my 3x great grandfather (who may or may not have married Ellen NICHOLLS). His birth was registered in the Lewes Registration District in Q3 1843. I am sure it is the right William GEERING because I have his baptism in Lewes around the same time.

The only problem with this one was reading the page reference, it looks like 383 to me, but that middle number is not clear. I am expecting that it will show his mother’s maiden name as RICHARDSON, as that is the closest match I can find for a marriage between Richard GEERING and Eliza.

The marriage took place in Brighton on the 7th June 1829. To be honest if the marriage was in Lewes, Sussex I would probably have accepted it, but Brighton is just that bit further away so I want to be certain.

The second certificate is for Alfred George MITCHELL, he was the younger brother of my 3x great grandmother Harriet MITCHELL. His birth was registered in the Cuckfield Registration District in Q1 1841.

I wouldn’t normally bother with getting the birth certificates for siblings of my ancestors, unless I was doing an in depth study of the family, but Harriet was born three or four years before the start of civil registration in 1837. Annoyingly I already have the birth date for Alfred George MITCHELL from his baptism record, but he was the easiest of Harriet’s brothers and sisters to locate in the indexes.

I am expecting this one to show that his mother’s maiden name was SMITH. My heart sank when I was searching for possible marriages and found the most likely one was between George MITCHELL and Mary SMITH in Cuckfield, Sussex on the 29th September 1828.

I suppose it inevitable that I would come across a SMITH in my direct ancestry eventually, I just hope there weren’t too many SMITHs in that part of Sussex at that time.

I just can’t stop filing and a couple of firsts for my research.

30 Aug

I did do some research yesterday evening, but I am slightly embarrassed to admit that by the end of the evening I was back filing and organising my paperwork again.

It wasn’t that the research wasn’t interesting, I had intend to use the marriage and death indexes on ancestry.co.uk to fill in some details on the children of George and Lilian Mary MITCHELL (my great grandparents) of West Dean, Sussex. I got distracted and started filling in some details on Lilian’s parents James and Caroline BOXALL, starting with the census.

James and Caroline had a lot of children, and several of the later ones didn’t survive very long. I wasn’t sure that I had found all the children and knowing James and Caroline were still alive in 1911, I decided to spend the money and get the census image for that year.

In 1911 James and Caroline had been married for 34 years and Caroline had given birth to thirteen children, nine of whom were still living and four who had died. From the West Dean parish registers and earlier census returns I had only come up with twelve. I wonder if the problem comes from Walter Henry BOXALL who in the 1911 census is listed as their son, but in the 1901 census he is shown as their grandson.

Interestingly Walter Henry is the first person in my family tree to have been born in Wales. Both census returns give his place of birth as Caerleon, Monmouthshire. I think it unlikely that James and Caroline made the trip to Wales and then returned to Sussex, so I believe that he is their grandson, but who his parents were is still a mystery (until I buy a birth certificate).

After this I moved on to the children of George and Lilian Mary MITCHELL, as I know the dates of birth for most of them I have been able to find quite a few in the GRO death indexes. I have also found some likely marriages for some of them and was able to fill in a missing spouse for Robert Charles MITCHELL. He married Emily S SMITH in 1932 in the Chichester Registration District.

That marked another first for my family tree, the first person with the surname SMITH. I am almost up to a thousand individuals but this is the first SMITH I have found, and I have yet to find a JONES either. On the whole I have been blessed with uncommon surnames to research!

It wasn’t long before I returned to my filing. I made a start on the TROWER surname folder, and weeded out lots of paper I don’t need, at least now I can close the folder properly. In fact I am enjoying being able to pull out a folder without the whole lot collapsing on me. It really is a great feeling!

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