Delving into the family history on and off for about 20 years has left me hopelessly addicted to the following clues, hunches and inevitable red herrings that are all needed to piece together the bare chapters of someone's life. Unable to resist people's 'brick walls' or an innocent query re the origin of grandparents and those before, there's nothing better than trying to find the unfound.
This is my sudoku, my multilevel crossword, my jigsaw where most of the pieces are missing and there's definitely no picture to start from.
So - to satisfy this addiction, each week I intend to choose someone at random from the 1881 census (checking that their story hasn't already unfolded on and uncover, piece together what I can from internet sources their untold story.
The puzzling and the unfolding story will be told in this blog.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Fourth protagonist - Thomas Williams

Ten years previously Thomas and family were also at Pant Farm. The 2 boys working for him and living there were Matthew Morgan (1852 Abergavenny) and Joseph Thomas (1855 Frwthog Hereford). Thomas according to this census was born in 1827 though still at Talgarth.

Ten years back again in 1861 Thomas was down as being born about 1822 though again still at Talgarth. Checking the 1881 census again, although both ancestry and findmypast have transcribed Thomas's age as 48 and so born about 1833, looking closely at the return, it looks like Thomas's age has been overwritten with 60 making him born about 1821. That ties in with the 1861 census age of 39. In 1861 they were at Pwllywhied? Llantilio Pertholey Ultra, a farm of 100 acres. Employed as a house servant was Mary James (1842 Llanbeder) and as a farm servant James Evans (1844 Llanbeder). Son Thomas J was Thomas James Williams.

Now comes the awkward bit - finding Thomas Williams in 1851 with no wife or children to verify its the right Thomas Williams. Thomas Williams, farmer's son at Tre...? Llanwenarth Ultra Monmouthshire looks likely. He was born in Talgarth about 1823, the son of Howell (1784 Llanvigan Breconshire) and Mary (1781 Lanvillo, Breconshire). His brother William Williams was also born at Talgarth 1818. Assuming that Thomas and Elizabeth married sometime between 1851 (when Elizabeth would be about 18) and 1854 when daughter Mary was born, there are 9 possible marriages, 6 of them in the Abergavenny district (the registration district for Llantilio Pertholey where all the children were born.) Of course with both Thomas and Elizabeth being born in Breconshire, they may have married there as well.

Checking for the children's birth registrations, David H could well be David Howell Williams registered in the Abergavenny district June qtr 1865. Thomas James Williams was registered March qtr 1857 but identifying Mary's registration is thwarted by no middle name and a great many Mary Williams. Familysearch doesn't have any baptisms to help.

The first possible marriage for Thomas Williams in Abergavenny was 1852 to possibly a Elizabeth James. Checking for a Elizabeth James in 1851 finds a distinct possibility: Elizabeth James born 1833 in Lambedr (likely misspelling of Llanbeder) living in Llantilio Pertholey with her widowed father Thomas James born about 1774 in Talgarth, a weaver and farmer of 4 acres. 

Monday, 13 August 2012

Fourth protagonist - Thomas Williams

Fourth protagonist - and the road map opened in Wales. Thomas Williams born about 1833 in Talgarth Breconshire living at Pant Farm Llanvetherine Monmouthshire with wife Elizabeth (1833 Llanbeder Breconshire), daughter Mary (1854 Llantillio Pertholey Monmouthshire), son Thomas J (1855 Llantillio Pertholey), son David H (1865 Llantillio Pertholey), visitor Annie E Powell (1870 Llantillio Pertholey) and 3 servants: Mary A Humphries ( 1865 Grosmont Monmouthshire) general servant; Henry Prouse ( 1852 Bridgewater Somerset) farm servant indoor; and James Whitney (1865 Penrose Monmouthshire) farm servant indoor. Thomas was a farmer of 102 acres employing 2 boys.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Third protagonist - John Waters

John Waters will have to remain a mystery prior to 1877 until some descendant researches the full story and acquires the marriage certificate and birth certificate. Even looking for any John born about 1856 in Claines brings up nothing obvious or even suspicious in the 1861 and 1871 censuses, even when cross referencing against married surnames of Waters ladies marrying after 1856. John's marriage to Sarah Jane Tolley would give his father's name and occupation  which may help track him down and of course the birth certificate would confirm that information and give his mother's name.

4th protagonist to follow:

Third protagonist - John Waters

Sarah's youngest John Tolley in 1901 was still with Sarah and John Waters and working as a bricklayers labourer. By 1911 he had married Agnes Anne Hodges (1903 Droitwich district) and had 2 children: Cyril J H 1904 and Frederick W 1908. Agnes's mother was living with them in Church Lane, Martin Hussingtree despite them having only 2 rooms other than the kitchen. John was still working as a bricklayer's labourer. According to the census record household schedule number John was next door to John Waters his step-father (and presumedly his mother Sarah when she wasn't visiting his brothers.) 
Searching the birth registers post 1912 for Tolley with Agnes's maiden name Hodges, it looks like there were an additional 2 children: Edgar C 1914 and Douglas G 1921, both registered in the Droitwich district.

Sarah's children from her marriage to Henry Tolley traced and the only surviving child from her marriage to John Waters traced; Sarah herself traced to 1851 and through to her death June qtr 1922 Droitwich district; but our protagonist John Waters still remains a mystery prior to 1877.

Third protagonist - John Waters

Sarah's oldest William H Tolley born 1870 we haven't seen since the 1881 census when he was with Sarah and John Waters.

In 1911 it looks as if he was a colliery banksman above ground living at 29, The Ferns, Merry Hill, Quarry Bank, Staffordshire with wife Emma and 5 children: Lily May born about 1894 working as a pupil teacher in elementary school; Benjamin Henry born about 1896 working as a colliery horse keeper underground; Sarah Hannah born about 1900; William James Thomas born about 1905 and Kathleen Emma born about 1910. Apart from Lily who had been born at Small Heath Birmingham, all the children had been born at Quarry Bank. William and Emma had been married 18 years  and had not lost any children. Checking for a marriage: William Henry Tolley married Emma Bridge Dec qtr 1892 Stourbridge district. (Quarry Bank is in the Stourbridge district.)

It looks like William had left Martin Hussingtree sometime before 1891 to find work in the industrial south Staffordshire. In 1891 he was lodging with the Hingley family on High Street Quarry Bank working as a carter. Frank Hindley, head of the house was an Ironworks labourer. William could have easily been employed in the ironworks or at the coalmine. By 1901 he was a banksman at the coal pit and the family were living at 178 High Street Quarry Bank. (Transcribed as Falley on ancestry.)

Third protagonist - John Waters

John is proving to be a real puzzle prior to 1877. So meantime to finish finding the children's stories:

James Tolley (Sarah's middle son from her first marriage) did quite well for himself by 1911 when he was a farm bailiff. 10 Years previously he, wife Polly (Mary Ann?) and daughter Violet were living at Withymore, Amblecote, Staffordshire where James was a carter on a farm. Violet was just 1 year old but had been born in Worcestershire (Violet Jane June qtr 1900 in Droitwich district). They couldn't have stayed long in Amblecote as daughter Dora (Dorothy May)was born Sept qtr 1901 in Stourbridge Worcestershire. By 1904 they had moved to Warwick where Rose Elizabeth was born and then by the second half of 1906 had returned to Hindlip for Lilian Annie's birth. James Henry was born in Hindlip 1908 and then Jack (John) was born in Bromsgrove 1910.  It's more than likely the moves were different farm jobs as James moved up to become farm bailiff. The 1911 census indicated that James and Mary (Polly) had been married for 11 years and there is a marriage for James Tolley registered in Dec qtr 1899 in Droitwich district to Polly Roberts. Checking the birth register post 1912 with Polly's maiden name for any more Tolley children, it looks like Benjamin 1912 and Elsie M 1914 were both born in the Kings Norton district (the same district as the 1911 address). Just as a point of interest after the First World War Northfield, where Shendley Field Farm was situated, was incorporated into Birmingham.

Back in 1891 James was staying with Edward and Caroline Cotterell at the Gloster Arms in Copenhagen Street Worcester. Edward was the publican and James was described as a nephew working as an errand boy. Both Edward and Caroline were aged 40 in 1891 and had 2 daughters living with them aged 13 and 9. Checking for their marriage between 1868 and 1881 turns up the marriage for Edward Cotterell to Caroline Barton 1877 Droitwich district. Caroline was Sarah's sister, confirmed when we look back to Sarah in the 1851 census.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Third protagonist - John Waters

Remembering that John was on his own in the 1911 census though not a widower, where was Sarah?

There's no Sarah Waters born about 1849 in Martin Hussingtree in the 1911 census indexes. There is however a Sarah of about the right age (1851) but born in Hindlip. She was described as married not widowed and was staying with her son James Tolley age 36 and so about the right age for the son James with John and Sarah in 1881. James also was recorded as being born in Hindlip rather than Martin Hussingtree.  He was married to Mary and had been for 11 years with 6 children all alive: Violet (1900), Dora (1901), Rosa (1904), Lilly (1907), Jim (1909) , Jack (1910) . James was working as a farm baliff and they were living at Upper Shendley Field Farm, Northfield, Worcestershire (quite a grand farmhouse with 9 rooms). Sarah is described as having been married for 28 years and having had 3 children 2 of whom have died and 1 still alive. That doesn't match up with our Sarah: she married John in 1880, 31 years ago, and there were 3 Tolley sons and 2 Water sons. Except of course, the 1911 census return asks for children born alive to present marriage: there must have been a 3rd Waters child who was born and died inbetween the censuses.

In the Cottage at Upper Shendley Field Farm, Northfield, Worcestershire and working as a waggoner on the farm in 1911 was George Waters age 28 (the right age for John and Sarah's son George) but again born in Hindlip. He had been married to Elizabeth for 3 years and had 3 children: Winifred (1908), John (1909) and George (1911). Surely this is the right James and George and Sarah?

Hindlip is next to Martin Hussingtree, indeed now the parishes are combined into one so it's not impossible that the birthplaces are the same bar the name used. Unable to find John and Sarah's first son  Henry Waters in 1901 or 1911, there was a death registered for a Henry Waters of the right age in 1900 in Birmingham. That would account for one of the 3 children having died. There were a number of children born and died between 1881 and 1891 in Worcestershire but none in the Droitwich registration district. Between 1891 and 1901 there was Susannah Lilly born and died 1892 in the Droitwich district - could she be the third child? George living next door in the cottage would be the surviving child of the present marriage.

Still need to find what happened to Sarah's oldest William Henry Tolley and the youngest Tolley boy, John. Where John Waters was prior to 1877 when he began working for GWR is also still a puzzle.