Some of you have asked me why it takes so long to find ancestors a few centuries ago. Just to give you an indication of the challenges in reading records, here is one of the more legible: Baptism of my 4th great grandmother Mary Hutchinson at Felton on 13 Nov 1791. Her parents were Joseph Hutchinson and his wife Mary. Joseph and Mary lived at Felton Moor and I subsequently discovered that her name was Mary Brown.
My great great grandparents, George Davis and Sarah Ann Corbett, have kept me out of mischief for years trying to get to the bottom of their interesting tales. It now looks as though I may be about to meet another Davis/Corbet combination that is going to tie me in knots. This current idea is still very much at the exploratory stage as I have not ruled out all other possibilities.
My 3rd great grandfather, John Davis, baptized four children in Madeley, Shropshire. The baptismal records indicate that their mother was called Mary. There are a few possible marriages between a John Davis and a Mary, but one of those looking most likely is in 1821 at Much Wenlock. Unfortunately, the indexes just give her name as Mary C and there is no image available online.
If this is correct, then one of the promising possibilities for a Mary C born in Much Wenlock is a Mary Corbet. I am now looking to see if I can prove this connection from other sources. However, if I do manage to prove it, then I will be facing yet another brick wall, as her baptismal record from February 1799 states: “Mary (base) daughter of Anne Corbet”.
When I started on this journey I knew little about my Thornton line except that my maternal granny, Margaret Jane Henderson, was given the same Christian names as her mother Margaret Jane Thornton. I have subsequently tracked down another 6 generations of Thorntons back to 7th great grandfather Henry Thornton, born in the late 1600s. They lived in and around Hartburn, Northumberland.I have confirmed from the baptism of Robert Thornton, born 1703, that his father was a Henry Thornton. If I am correct in my theory that Henry married Jane Read, then this is going to open up some interesting lines going back from Henry and Jane to Civil War times and beyond. I still have some more digging to do to prove that this theory about Henry and Jane is correct before I add the new finds to my tree and publish them here.
- 1761: Margaret Rutherford (my 6th great grandmother)
- 1770: Eleanor Dinning
- 1782: Mary Charlton
This family seems to have provided a particular challenge to those poor clerks and ministers striving to make sense of their surname. Among the variations I have found so far are:
The latter variation makes me curious as to whether the family may have originated in Wemyss in Fife, Scotland.
The quarter of my tree that has proven easiest to follow through on paper trail is from my maternal grandmother, Margaret Jane Henderson (1899-1982), born in Amble. Perhaps this is because she was the one who knew most about her own ancestors so she gave me lots of good clues when I had to prepare a family tree at school when I was eleven.
In the composite picture of my 4 grandparents on the right hand panel of the blog she is at the bottom left.
Here is a snippet showing the first few generations. It is the only section of my tree where I can get to 4th great grandparents with no gaps, and as you can see from the little black arrows I can go even further on 9 lines.
If any of these couples belong to you to then please drop me a line as that means we are cousins.
I acquired their death certificates and knew that John drowned at Lesbury in 1874 and Harriet died in Amble in 1893. They could not be buried with other Henderson relatives in Amble West Cemetery as that opened in 1905, but I still kept my eyes open to see if they might have been mentioned on a subsequent memorial there. The death dates made it possible for Harriet to be in Amble East Cemetery, but that opened a little too late for John. However, I still had a wander round the cemetery and checked an online list of burials. No luck there either. My next thought was Warkworth St. Lawrence’s Church. There were Hendersons there too, but not this couple.
Then finally the penny dropped. There was another cemetery in Warkworth too, on the road up to the beach. There they were, together with two of their boys: Henry Henderson (1846-1871) and Archibald Henderson (1836-1874) – so easy to find once I finally got myself into the right place. It must have been tough on Harriet as she lost her son Archibald only 4 months after losing her husband.
One of my distant genetic cousins is developing an autosomal DNA relationship calculator. This is a work-in-progress at the moment, so he is happy to have folks test and offer suggestions on improvements. You can find more information about his development activities on Robert James Liguori’s Blog. Beta-testing of the basic functionality is now started and he is adding more Relationship Range Providers so that we can calculate with various theoretical assumptions as the basis.
Robert and I have a genetic relationship proven by DNA testing, but have yet to find the paper trail that will point us to our common ancestors. We know that they are on our respective maternal sides as we have an autosomal match between his mother and my maternal aunt. I rather suspect that these distant grandparents are lurking behind brick walls due to illegitimacy on both of our relevant ancestral lines. Best guess so far is that our ancestral paths crossed somewhere in Durham, Yorkshire or Lancashire. Possible names under investigation so far: Whitehead, Horsfield, Bailey, Shepherd, Mitchell, Manners, Webb.