"Each has his own tree of ancestors, but at the top of all sits Probably Arboreal." - Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Newby mystery solved!

On Friday I finally received a birth certificate for Walter Newby.
I had ordered this certificate, registered Q4 1904 in Wakefield, on the basis that it was close enough to match the birth on the marriage certificate (circa 1905); it was in my home registration district (while I had no evidence that Walter was born there, he had married nearby and certainly died in Wakefield, so I had no evidence that he wasn’t born there either); and it seemed to be the only birth of a Walter Newby that I couldn’t account for.
The birth was registered in December. Here is the information as it appeared on the certificate:
Name: Walter Newby
Date of birth: 20 September 1904
Where born: Snapethorpe Farm, Lupset
Father’s name and occupation: Thomas Wallinger
Mother’s name and occupation: Sarah Jane Newby, Housekeeper Domestic
(at Snapethorpe Farm, Lupset, as the informant section went on to show)
As I had long suspected, it seems Walter was illegitimate!
Interestingly, this means that had Sarah Jane married Thomas Wallinger (the writing is quite legible, despite having been crossed out), my surname would have been Wallinger rather than Newby, which I find quite strange. Though at least it is an interesting surname!
Of course, now it was time to investigate Walter’s story. There were quite a few Sarah Jane Newbys and Thomas Wallingers, so it did take a bit of searching and unravelling before I could get the full picture, and there are still lots of things to learn, but here goes.
Sarah Jane Newby was born in in around 1877 in Kellington, Yorkshire (which is to the east of Pontefract, out towards Goole). Her parents were Henry Newby and Elizabeth Lockwood, both of whom were also local. Henry worked as a farm labour in his younger days, before working in a malthouse. Sarah Jane was the fifth of ten known children.
Thomas Wallinger was born in Hanslope, Buckinghamshire, some thirty-three years before Sarah Jane. In 1876, around the time that Sarah Jane was born, Thomas married Charlotte Johnson, of Carlton le Selby, Yorkshire, less than ten miles from Sarah Jane’s place of birth.
How Thomas and Charlotte met is something of a mystery, but I can say that Thomas is not in his home town of Hanslope on the 1861 census, and instead is possibly lodging with a family in Treeton, a village now on the outskirts of Sheffield – in Yorkshire, but still well over thirty miles from Carlton. This is unproven as yet, though.
By 1901 both Thomas and his wife Charlotte are in Blackpool, running boarding houses – but apparently separately. Charlotte is alone in her household other than a servant, Alice Held, also born in Yorkshire.
And in the 1901 household of Thomas Wallinger is none other than Sarah Jane Newby and her younger sister Dinah. The relationships in this 1901 household have been mangled. Thomas is listed as ‘head’, Sarah Jane as ‘sister’ and Dinah as ‘servant’. Sarah Jane does give her occupation as housekeeper, however. It was only when I found this particular record that I could start to unravel both of their family backgrounds further.
By 1904, of course, Sarah Jane is back in Yorkshire, living about 15 miles from her home town at Snapethorpe Farm. A Thomas Wallinger appears to have died in Q2 1905 in the district of Fylde, Lancashire – so I thought he was probably still living in Blackpool.
However, when I googled Snapethorpe Farm out of curiosity, it came up with something from the London Gazette of 17 February 1905, namely a list of ‘First meetings and public examinations’ of debtors. Thomas Wallinger, Farmer, of Snapethorpe Farm, Wakefield was due in court on Mar 2 1905.
So perhaps Thomas and Sarah Jane both returned to Blackpool in spring of 1905, and then Thomas died. But what happened to Sarah Jane and Walter? And where on earth were Sarah Jane and Walter in 1911? I still can’t find anything on the census.
This story leaves a lot of unanswered questions, but it’s certainly a start! Hopefully more will be revealed as I investigate my exciting new Newby, Lockwood and Wallinger lines further...
L x


  1. Hi Lauren, how fantastic you've finally managed to solve this - at least partially! I've been following your posts about Walter. It is indeed weird to think your name could have been different, but at least now you can follow the paternal Wallinger and maternal Newby lines back (even if they would usually be the other way round!).

    Have your tried looking for Sarah Jane and Walter under the name Wallinger in the 1911 census? Just a thought.

  2. Hi Niall, how are you?

    Yes, i think it is pretty much solved. Although I still can't conclusively prove it with a document that links this Walter and Sarah Jane to my Walter, given the fact that it's not a particularly common name, and I haven't come across this family anywhere previously, and that they are living in the right part of the world (Snapethorpe/Lupset is probably about a mile from where I grew up), then it seems almost certain that this is the right family.

    It would be really nice to locate them in 1911, as it would give me a clue as to whether Sarah Jane remarried for example, or how she was supporting her son. I did look under Wallinger and nothing obvious popped up, but I need to look more fully, search alternative spellings and so on.

    I'm looking forward to getting into more detail with their lines going back as well, it's quite refreshing to be starting from the beginning of a line again, rather than trying to fill in blanks!


Don't be shy...