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

Monday, 22 October 2012

Another piece of the puzzle

Of course, I’m referring to the puzzle of Walter Newby’s parentage. If you remember, I did find his mother Sarah Jane Newby, and his father Thomas Wallinger, but I had still spectacularly failed to find Walter himself on the 1911 census.
Now, I know that the census record itself isn’t the goal so much as finding detail to piece together Walter’s life, but I did feel quite strongly in this case that the census was really the only reliable source that would tell me something about Walter’s childhood and what happened to both him and his mother following his father’s death when he was just a year old.  
Given that I couldn’t find either of them under the names Newby or Wallinger anywhere on the census, or by tracing their families. I then began various searches to identify children of roughly the right age, called Walter, with mothers called Sarah also of roughly the right age. And yesterday (on my birthday no less), after lots of fruitless attempts, I finally struck what I hope is gold!
Walter Barker is aged six, giving him a birth year of 1905, which ties in nicely with a September 1904 birthdate – in April 1911 when the census he would indeed have been aged six. He was born in Wakefield, which is a strong match for his birthplace of Snapethorpe. His mother Sarah Barker is 34, meaning she was born roughly around 1877, which is a match, and her birthplace is given as Kellington, which is also a direct match.
Her husband Henry Barker, is aged 38 (b. around 1873). He works as a ‘cowman’ on a farm and the family live in Hemsworth, which is roughly halfway between Wakefield and Doncaster.  Yet Henry was born in ‘Ardsley, Wakefield’, which is to the north of the city, on the way to Leeds.
Sarah Barker claims to have been married to her husband Henry for eleven years, and they have three other children – Tom, aged nine, Charles, aged eight, and Albert aged three. Of course, none of this makes much sense in the context of what I know about Sarah Jane and Walter – Sarah Jane certainly can’t have been married for eleven years, because she was still Newby on the birth certificate of Walter in 1904.
However, this is where it gets interesting: The census states that Tom and Charles Barker were born in Blackpool – where we know that Sarah Jane and Thomas Wallinger were living in 1901, and where it would seem Thomas died in 1905.
So, here’s the theory: Walter was not Sarah Jane and Thomas’s first child – I had assumed he was. But I know they were living together from 1901 and Sarah Jane could potentially have been having children from the mid to late 1890s, so there was no reason to think that she/they hadn’t had other children. Tom (named for his father?) and Charles were born while the couple were living in Blackpool in 1902/03. By late 1904 they had returned to Yorkshire, where Walter was born. Following Thomas’s death in late 1905, Sarah, effectively widowed, met Henry Barker, giving birth to their first child Albert in 1908. (The census indicates only four children, all accounted for).
Alternatively, Tom and/or Charles were the children of Henry Barker from a previous marriage. Henry was in Blackpool, with his children, and it was here that he and Sarah Jane met following the death of her husband
On his marriage certificate, perhaps Walter took his own surname and combined the names of his father and stepfather to ‘invent’ a fictional Thomas Henry Newby? (This still doesn’t explain where the ‘market gardener’ came from, as it doesn’t really describe either father figure, though both were in farming at one time or another.)
Now to test the theories.
An initial search for relevant marriages shows a Sarah Jane Newby marrying a Henry Barker in Dewsbury... in 1922.
Dewsbury would make sense. Walter Newby marries Margaret Thompson in Chickenley just 7 years later, and the parish record describes him as ‘of this parish’, so he was living in the Chickenley area, which is in Dewsbury registration district, by 1929.
Did Sarah Jane and Henry not marry until 1922? If not, why not? Money? Or was Henry married already? (It reminds me of Mabel Hall, who couldn’t marry George Jones until later life when her estranged husband William Hayward (AKA Hedgcock) died. ) If so, why did they lie on the census? Sarah Jane and Thomas never lied about their marital status, so why would she do so now with Henry?
The next step is to order this marriage certificate and see if I can confirm that this is indeed my Sarah Jane, based on her father’s name and occupation and any marriage witnesses. It should also shed some light on Henry’s circumstances, whether he was previously married, etc. I also intend to search for potential births for Tom and Charles in Blackpool, and also Albert’s birth in Badsworth (not far from Hemsworth) and see what names their births were registered under.
I have quite a strong instinct that I’m on the right lines here, so fingers crossed!
L x

Friday, 12 October 2012

On the criminal element

I begin with a caveat, otherwise you might get something of the wrong idea: Thus far in my family history, my ancestors appear to have been generally decent, law abiding citizens (with the exception of Sarah Ann Semley, possibly).
However, I have begun investigating my newly identified Wallinger branch, and it would seem they are a BAD lot!
My 2 x great-grandfather Thomas Wallinger was born to parents William Wallinger, ag lab, and Alice (maiden name unknown) in Hanslope, Buckinghamshire in 1844. Alice was William’s second wife, and he would marry again in later life to Harriet Hensman. Eleanor gave William a son, George, and Alice went on to give him five more sons.
Two of Thomas’s brothers, Benjamin and Thomas (the elder, in memory of whom my Thomas was presumably named) died young, but some of the other Wallinger boys, it seems, were not the best behaved!
I’ve already talked a little about Thomas, who left his wife Charlotte for the much younger Sarah Jane Newby, with whom he had a son, my great grandfather Walter. The year after Walter was born Thomas was summoned to court for debt, and he died shortly afterwards. I still don’t know what happened to Sarah Jane and Walter. Until Walter married in 1929, his life is a mystery.
Thomas’s brother William was married to Rosannah Cook, with whom, presumably, he had his daughter Clara, in Yorkshire. On two censuses William is in jail, in London in 1871 and then in Surrey in 1881. As yet I’m not sure what he was convicted for.  I can only assume that he had abandoned his family. Rose ,as she appears on the 1861 census, completely disappears after this point. His daughter Clara, born 1860, is not present either, and nor does she appear again until 1891 when he elderly father is living with her and husband George Surby.
More shocking and intriguing though, is Peter Wallinger. In March 1845, at the grand old age of ten, he is convicted of arson – on ‘stacks of [illegible]’ – and sentenced to transportation for fifteen years. At this time transportation meant to Australia. This isn’t an area of genealogy I’ve encountered before, but initial searches don’t reveal any trace at all of Peter Wallinger following his conviction, either in Australia or the UK, so what happened to him is, for now, something of a mystery.
With more Wallinger brothers still to investigate, who knows what else they got up to?!
L x

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Clifford: connection or coincidence?

So, I’ve set to work on the family of Sarah Jane Newby, and this time I’ve started as I mean to go on, trying my best to get a handle on all siblings and relevant parties in a methodical manner rather than getting sidetracked. I’m hoping that tracking down as many relatives as possible might lead me to where Sarah Jane and Walter are hiding on the 1911 census, but no luck so far.
However, my searches have revealed something else rather interesting – the recurrence of the name Clifford.
In 1896, Sarah Jane’s older sister Clara Newby marries a man with the surname Clifford. In 1911, Sarah Jane’s father Henry is living with the Clifford family.
Occurrence number two of the name is in 1895, when Sarah Jane’s mother Elizabeth’s brother, Mark Lockwood, christens his son Clifford Lockwood. My first thought was that this was a sort of family tribute, as I have started to notice a few reuses of names in the family. However, Clifford is baptised a year before Clara marries into the Clifford family. And Clifford definitely isn’t Mark’s wife’s surname, which was my other thought – so where did it come from?
Only two possibly unconnected occurrences in the immediate family so far. However, during my searches for the Newbys I have also come across a family of Clifford Newbys not too far away.
Strangely, though this is most likely a coincidence, I also note that Clifford has been used as a middle name for one of the Semleys – Charles Clifford Semley, nephew of my direct ancestor Sarah Ann Semley. And it is Sarah Ann’s granddaughter, Margaret Thompson, who goes on to marry Walter Newby in 1929.
Am I now facing one giant Newby/Lockwood/Clifford/Semley/Thompson knot? Or is it all just a big coincidence? Only genealogy will tell!
L x