Thursday, May 17, 2018

Lawrence Doyle, Age Twelve Years

Lawrence Doyle is the son of William and Martha (Reay) Doyle and the older brother of my second great-grandfather, Andrew Doyle.  Lawrence died on June 11, 1841, at the age of 12.  His cause of death was noted as "continued fever."

A transcription.
Superintendent Registrar's District  The Morpeth Union
Registrar's District  Bedlington
1841.  DEATHS in the District of Bedlington in the Counties of Durham and Northumberland
No. 445
When Died.  Eleventh of June 1841 in P. M. at Bedlington
Name and Surname.  Lawrence Doyle
Sex.  Male
Age.  12 years
Rank or Profession.  Son of William Doyle  Collier / Deceased
Cause of Death.  Continued Fever
Signature, Description, and Residence of Informant.  Wm Alsop -- In Attendance -- Bedlington
When Registered.  Thirteenth of June 1841
Signature of Registrar.  Robt Soulsby Registrar

This source of this record is the U.K. Genral Register Office (GRO), Year 1841, Volume 25, Page 205, Line 31.

Notes and Comments
Lawrence's death was the third experienced by his mother, Martha (Reay) Doyle, in a short three years.  Lawrence's father, William Doyle, and his younger sister, Martha, both died in 1838 within several weeks of each other.  I know deaths of children were more common in the 19th century but common doesn't erase the grief a mother feels.

Lawrence was born in 1829 or 1830.  He was baptized at St. Cuthbert Church, Bedlington, Northumberland, in July, 1830, but that record did not note his birth date.  This record gives his age as 12 which, calculated, would suggest he was born in 1829.  The U.K. Census date in 1841 was June 6.  In it his age was listed as 10 years.

I was pleased to see that Lawrence was not listed as a coal miner in either this record nor the 1841 U.K. Census.

The death record gives no indication of the cause of the fever.  It could have been cholera, typhoid, influenza, or a variety of other illnesses.  If it were either of the first two and the illness had been diagnosed I think the death certificate would have been more specific about cause of death.  Without antibiotics and if his mother didn't know that cloths with cool water would have been better than warm blankets, the likelihood of his overcoming the fever was probably slim.  Health and Hygiene in the Nineteenth Century at The Victorian Web gave some helpful information about illnesses in 1840s England.


Copyright ©2018, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved.  Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission of the owner. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Spoiled By Online Images

One of the marriage records I ordered from U.K. GRO a few weeks ago arrived yesterday.  (Yes, it's printed on light green paper!)

Marriage record from U.K. GRO

I wasn't sure what to expect when I ordered it but I know this is not what I expected.

I see now that I've been spoiled by the clear, clean scanned images available at websites like FamilySearch, Ancestry, and even Google newspapers, where I can enlarge them to read and view details.  This image hearkens to the days and images of microfilm with all their dust particles floating behind the glass.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm grateful to even have an image of a marriage record that was created more than 150 years ago.  Truly, I am.  I just expected a cleaner image.  Thank goodness a photo of this record enlarges and is mostly legible, if not clear and clean.

I'm thankful that U.K. GRO now sends digital images of birth and death records.  I hope they'll begin sending marriage records that way, too.

I've been spoiled by online images.  What about you?  Have you received documents in the mail that are less than you'd hoped to see?


Copyright ©2018, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved.  
Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission of the owner. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Lawrence and Two Jane Doyles

I was searching for more information about the children of William and Martha (Reay) Doyle in Northumberland in the mid-1800s.  My great-grandfather Andrew was the fifth child and second youngest.  William and Martha's children are
        > Jane, born 1826
        > William, born 1828
        > Lawrence, born 1830
        > Martha, born 1833
        > Andrew, born 1836, my 2nd-great-grandfather
        > Martha, born 1839

At FreeReg, I found burial information for
        > Lawrence Doyle, age 12, buried in June, 1841, and
        > Jane Doyle, age 32, buried in May, 1860

Interestingly, neither Lawrence nor Jane are found in the 1861 U.K. Census.  It's conceivable that Jane married, in which case I wouldn't know her married surname.

I remembered that Andrew's first wife was Jane Barron who died before 1863 when Andrew married Elizabeth Laws.

When I checked FreeReg again with different search criteria, I found  two Jane Doyles who were buried in 1860 in Bedlington, Northumberland.  One was 23, the other 32.  These ages are within a few years of the ages of both Janes.  (Jane Barron Doyle's birth year is estimated based on Andrew's year of birth.)

Of course, there's no certainty that these are Andrew Doyle's sister, brother, and first wife.  With high hopes I ordered death records for both Jane Doyles, Lawrence Doyle, and a marriage record for Jane Barron and Andrew Doyle.

Will there be enough information them to confirm that these are my Doyle family?  You can never tell how much information you'll find on the U.K. death records.


Copyright ©2018, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved.  Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission of the owner. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

His First Wife, Her Second Husband

Is there value in searching for a second (and possibly a third and fourth) spouse of an ancestor, a spouse who no relation to you other than a step-grandparent?  In the past it has been easy for me to dismiss the spouse who is not my direct ancestor.  But lately I remind myself to search for him or her.  Unfortunately, unless I have a hint that an ancestor married more than once, it's not an event that comes immediately to mind.

In asking this question, I'm think in particular of two Doyle ancestors who married a second time.
  • Martha (Reay) Doyle married Thomas Richardson a few years after her first husband, William Doyle, died.
  • Andrew Doyle, Martha and William's son, married Elizabeth Laws after her first wife, Jane Barron, died.  Elizabeth is my direct ancestor.

What might I find if I search further?  Did Martha have more children with Thomas Richardson?  Did Andrew's first wife, Jane, die in childbirth or from an illness or accident?  While neither if these additional marriages would give me information about a direct-line ancestor, I think knowing about the marriage would add details to the lives of my ancestors.

It was fairly easy to find these two additional spouses.  Family records indicated that Andrew was a widow when he married Elizabeth.  And Andrew appeared in a U.K. census as a step-child after his father died, along with his siblings and his mother, Martha.  If there are no hints that an ancestor may have been married more than once, it might be harder to discover.

Do you search for additional spouses of your ancestors?  If so, have you learned interesting facts that you might otherwise not have known?


Copyright ©2018, Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Index of Names on FHL Film 252774, (Northumberland) Letters of Administration and Probates Granted

While searching for a will for William Doyle who died in Northumberland, U.K., in 1838, I found the film Letters of Administration and Probates Granted, ca. 1832-1893 (FHL Film #252774 aka Film #004629095).  I've indexed the names and dates as a random act of genealogical kindness.  Maybe someone else will find an ancestor in this list (even though I didn't find my William).  

From the information in the image above it looks like the film must be viewed at either a Family History Center or the Family History Library but I was able to sign in and view it at home.  You may or may not have the same access but from the list below you will at least be able to see if an ancestor's name is on the film and if it is, go to a local Family History Center if you don't have access at home.

Image # / Name on Will / Date of Will
   5  Robert Weatherhead, 30 Jan 1840
 11  George Shanks, 13 April 1862
 14   William Dunn, 17 Jul 1868
 16   Robert Gray, 1 Dec 1869
 19   Mrs. Jane Mathison, 31 Jan 1850
 22   Mrs. Ann Jaffray/Jafray, 21 May 1849
 24   Mrs. Margaret Allan, 16 Mar 1848
 26   John Weatherly, 7 Dec 1844
 28   John Archbold Paxton, 7 May 1870
 32   Ann Marshall, 29 April 1872
 34   Robert Fairbairn, 2 July 1876
 36   Isabella Richardson, 4 Sep 1875
 38   Robert Mathison, Feb 1875
 42   Philip Brown, 21 March 1842
 44   Ralph Richardson, 4 Sep 1875
 46   Christina Alder, 15 Jun 1877
 48   Mary Holburn, 24 Nov 1874 or 1877
 53   James Smith, 13 Dec 1877
 57   Ann Holburn, 24 Nov 1877
 62   Isabella Yeoman, 15 Jun 1877
 67   John Cramond, 17 Oct 1872
 71   Peter Crombie, 25 Feb 1881
 75   Peter Burns, 12 Mar 1881
 78   Mary Main Richardson, 5 Jul 1882
 80   James Cook, 12 Feb 1884
 82   William Somerville, 21 Aug 1885
 87   Mary Ann Somerville, 20 Sep 1885
 90   Stephen Bruce, 4 May 1885
 92   Peter Gibson, 7 Aug 1886
 94   John Scott, 4 Dec 1887
 97   Elizabeth Douglas, 2 Aug 1888
 99   James Gilchrist, 23 Dec 1889
101   John Loraine Middlemiss, 7 Jun 1890
103   Ruth Patrick, 20 May 1842
106   William Morton, 6 Jun 1890
110   George Younger, 3 Oct 1894
116   Joseph Fleming, 16 Feb 1832
124   Mrs. Margaret Martin, 30 Sep 1845
128   Rachel Taylor, 26(?) Dec 1838
136   George Hall, 7 Feb 1846
139   Robert Herriott, 19 Dec 1848
144   Sarah Burnett, 2 Mar 1848
152   John Macdonald, 5 May 1849
155   William Hopper Thompkins, 15 Jan 1852
160   Mrs. Mary Friar, 20 May 1834
165   Joseph Baldwin, 10 Feb 1854
168   James Robertson, 4 Mar 1854
176   William Carr, 26 Mar 1855
179   Matthew Alder, 13 Aug 1857
184   Alexander Christison, 1 Oct 1863
188   Peter Lambert, 22 Oct 1865
194   Margaret Lonnon, 21 Dec 1866
199   James William Elliott, 1866
204   George Mavin, 30 Dec 1868
211   Peter Lambert, 22 Sep 1870
219   Margaret Mathison, 24 Jun 1871
224   Hannah Wight, 9 Mar 1871
233   Thomas Chapman, 20 Apr 1872
238   Jane Grey, 1 Jun 1872
242   Joseph Patrick, 15 Feb 1873
246   John Dixon, 19 Jan 1874
250   Robert Swan, 14 Sep 1875
254   Thomas Mathison, 16 Sep 1875
259   Margaret Isabella Lambert, 1876
263   John Laidler, 12 May 1876
267   John Thompson, 6 Oct 1877
272   Margaret Smith, 1 Mar 1877

I hope this list helps someone find an ancestor in Northumberland!


Copyright ©2018, Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

FamilySearch's Family History Calendar

I received an email from FamilySearch today telling me they had created a calendar of my ancestors' special events.

I've occasionally celebrated births and marriages on my blog in past years but not recently.  I decided to see what my calendar looked like.  I had to sign in to FamilySearch to see it.

The calendar has the month on the left, then the date, and to the right is the event and ancestor's name.

My great-great-grandfather, Dixon Bartley, died today in 1900.  He was in his late 90s but since I don't have an exact birth date, I can't be sure.  And in two days, my great-grandparents, Henry and Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen, will celebrate their anniversary -- 148 years, if they were still alive.

I don't know about you but I'm not sure how I feel about celebrating a death, at least certainly not like a birthday or marriage.  But I think it's probably a great way to remember an ancestor, especially if you don't have a birth date.

I can imagine that this list could become cumbersome and totally overwhelming if you have many, many ancestors and many generations linked in your FamilySearch Family Tree but for me, with only a few generations, it's a great help!

I expect you, too, will receive an email invitation to see your calendar if you have a FamilySearch account and have ancestors in your tree.  FamilySearch also offers a Calendar of Ancestral Moments.


Copyright ©2018, Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

St. Cuthbert Church, Bedlington, Northumberland

I like to see the places where my ancestors worshiped, were baptized, married, and buried.  I'm thankful to generous people, like John Lord, who took the photo above, who make photos available on the internet for all to see so we can imagine what it might have been like to be near and inside the church when our ancestors were there.

The burials of several ancestors were recorded in the books of St. Cuthbert Church, Bedlington, Northumberland.  Among possible others, my known ancestors are
  • William Doyle, my third great-grandfather, who died in 1838
  • Martha Doyle, William's daughter, who also died in 1838

When I first searched for information about St. Cuthbert's Church in Bedlington, I found that there are many churches named for the saint in other cities and towns in the northern counties of England. 

Google Books provides The History of St. Cuthbert or An Account of the Life, Decease, and Miracles of St. Cuthbert... written by Richard Eyre in 1848.  It seems that St. Cuthbert is considered the patron saint of Northumbria.  After his death in 687 A.D. the Danes went after his followers and were about to kill or capture them when they remembered Cuthbert's dying request that if this should happen, the monks and bishop would take his body and leave so as to avoid the "yoke and servitude of wicked schematics."  Apparently, leaving was easy but finding a place to settle wasn't.

The following explains why there are so many churches named after St. Cuthbert. 
It is an interesting task to trace the course pursued by the holy fugitives with their precious treasure, from the time they left Holy Island till the time the remains of their Saint were finally deposited at Durham.  There are few places in the north of England and the south of Scotland that were not visited by them, and hallowed by being the temporary resting-places of the body of so great and good a man.  The whole of the ancient Northumbria is studded with churches and chapels dedicated in after times to St. Cuthbert.  Tradition points these out as the spots where the monks lingered for a while with their precious deposit."  (p.97)

... The spots where the churches were built in honour of St. Cuthbert were the very places that the monks visited with the body of their Saint....  It was usual amongst the Anglo-Saxons, when a person was being carried to the grave, to erect a cross of stone, if the distance was great, at every spot where the corpse had rested."  (p. 99)

When looking at photos of old churches it is not easy to determine whether the current structure is the original structure as my ancestors would have known it.  I found St. Cuthbert's Church, Bedlington, Archaeological Assessment, completed in January, 2015, which tells which parts are old/original, when parts were torn down, and when newer parts were added.  Be sure to follow the link to see more photos of the church, both inside and out. 

And finally, here is a collage of photos of the church, found at Google Maps.  Notice that if you go to the link, you will be able to click the arrows at the bottom of the right side image to view larger images of the photos on the left.

Will I ever have the chance to visit some of the locations where my ancestors lived?  I hope so!

Opening image  © Copyright John Lord and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License.  Thank you, John.


Copyright ©2018, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Friday, March 30, 2018

Eliza (Hartley) Armitage - Death Certificate

When I first began research on my mother's paternal side of the family I was told by another researcher that Elizabeth Armitage Meinzen's mother was Ann Bell.  Comparing Elizabeth's and her siblings' death certificates, it did not make sense to me that the informant for Elizabeth's certificate, one of her daughters, knew only Elizabeth's father's name while several of Elizabeth's siblings' children knew both parents' names.

I pondered that while I searched for Elizabeth and her parents in census records.  Elizabeth was born in 1852 and her older sister, Ann, in 1850.  Their younger siblings were born between 1859 and 1872.  I began to make sense of the situation when I found the 1851 census with Ann Armitage with her parents, Abel and Eliza.  When I searched the 1861 census I found Elizabeth and Ann with parents Abel and Ann, and another son, Peter.  I finally understood that something had happened to Eliza before about 1859 -- possibly a death or a divorce.

Further searches revealed that Abel Armitage and Eliza Hartley were married in 1847.  Looking at the death indexes for England I found more than a few Eliza Armitages.  A few months ago, when the U.K. GRO began offering PDF versions of death certificates at a reduced cost, I made an educated guess about which Eliza was probably mine based on where Elizabeth and Ann lived in the 1861 census.

When the certificate arrived there was no doubt it was the Eliza of my search.  It's so satisfying to learn what happened to an ancestor and put her to rest, so to speak.

This certificate is from U.K. GRO Year 1856, Volume 10A, Page 54.

Death Certificate of Eliza Hartley Armitage, U.K. GRO Year 1856, VOl 10A, P. 54

This is the transcription.
Superintendent Registrar's District  Stockton
Registrar's District  Sedgefield
1856.  Deaths in the District of Sedgefield in the County of Durham
No. 167
When Died.  Twenty-second October 1856  Trimdon Colliery  Trimdon
Name and Surname.  Eliza Armitage
Sex.  Female
Age.  44 Years
Rank or Profession.  Wife of Able [sic] Armitage Coalminer
Cause of Death.  Consumption  Not Certified
Registrar's Description and Residence of Informant.  X the mark of Jane Jackson Present at the death Trimdon Colliery Trimdon
When Registered.  Thirtieth October 1856
Signature of Registrar.  William Sowes Registrar

It's easy to understand why Elizabeth didn't know her mother's name to tell her children:  she was only four when her mother died.  In fact, she probably had few, if any, memories of her mother.  It's also likely that after Abel remarried there was little talk of his first wife, the mother of his two oldest daughters.

I'm grateful to learn the sad end of Eliza Hartley Armitage's life.


Copyright ©2018, Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Helps for Finding Pre-1858 Probate Records in England

In pre-1858 England wills were probated through the Church of England, generally where the ancestor lived and held property.  Probate records were church records.  Within the Church of England there are a number of courts in which a will could have been probated:  a Peculiar Court, an Archdeacon's Court, a Bishop's Court, and an Archbishop's Court, among others.  An executor would generally have taken the will to the lowest court with jurisdiction over the area where the will could have been probated.

The first step to finding probate records for an ancestor who lived in England is to learn where he lived and held property.  Census records, a death record, and a burial record can all help you determine that location. 

The National Archives (U.K.) has an excellent online guide to assist and direct in searching for pre-1858 probate records.  You can find it at Wills and probate before 1858:  further research.

In the book A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your English Ancestors by Paul Milner and Linda Jonas there is a chapter devoted to searching for pre-1858 probate records.  It explains the church court system (parish, peculiar, deanery, etc.) and suggests the steps to follow to search for records.  This is especially helpful because there may be several courts' records one needs to search, each successively higher and geographically broader.  In addition, there is a section devoted to finding and using probate indexes. 

FamilySearch has a book devoted to researching British probate records before 1858.  Information is available at Researching British probates, 1354-1858 : a guide to the microfilm collection of the Family History Library.  There is link to digital images which can be viewed at local Family History Center or at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

While you're at the FamilySearch website (and after you've found where your ancestor may have owned property and died), be sure to search the catalog by location to see lists of probate records available for that location at FamilySearch.

Helps for Finding Northumberland Probate Records

The Northumberland Probate Records wiki at FamilySearch offers a step-by-step guide to searching records.

Durham and Northumberland Probate Records, 1527-1857 is a website offered by Durham University Library.  It is searchable by name and also offers an advanced search.  I believe this is a work in progress based on the explanation in the opening paragraph and is a website I will search again in the future.

English Probate Jurisdictions -- Northumberland is pamphlet offered through FamilySearch with a step-by-step guide for searching.  You may need to sign in to FamilySearch to see this website.  (It will look like a blank screen so be sure to scroll down.)  This is a guide through the court system -- search here first, here second, etc.

Letters of administration and probates granted, ca. 1832-1893 for Northumberland and Durham gives information about a FamilySearch microfilm (#252774 / #004629095) which is available for digital viewing here (possibly after you sign in to your FamilySearch account or it may be available only at a Family History Center).  The images are not yet indexed.

Have you had success in finding early English probate records for an ancestor?  Do you have any tips or hints for my readers and me?


Copyright ©2018, Nancy Messier.  All Rights Reserved.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...