Friday, 28 September 2007

Saddington sex change shock - Richard becomes Laura!

On the whole, Saddington men are generally called John, Thomas, Joseph, William or Samuel (a sweeping statement, I know), so when I thought that I was on the hunt for a Richard Saddington, I was delighted as he should have been easy to find. I was wrong - you can't find someone who doesn't exist!

Why was I looking for Richard Saddington? Well, taking advantage of the free access to Ancestry now available at Nottinghamshire County Libraries, I came across the 1907 marriage of Emma Jane Saddington to William Brown in Huntsville, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada. Emma claimed to be 31 years old, born in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England, and the daughter of Richard Saddington and Laura Colbert. One of the witnesses was a Kate Saddington, also of Huntsville.

So I went looking for Emma born circa 1876 in Wolverhampton in the various censuses on-line. The first to pop up was a 1891 census reference, but when I checked it out, my hopes of finding Richard Saddington died a death, as you will see:

RG12/1237 Folio 70 Page 19
Sch No 124 - London Street (3 rooms), Godmanchester, Huntingdon

Laura Saddington Head S 36 Laundress Employed Hunts, Stukeley
Emma Saddington Daur - 15 - - Staffs, Wolverhampton
Kate Saddington Daur - 10 - - Huntingdon

No Richard, but Laura instead! Well, Laura is an uncommon name for a Saddington, so she shouldn't be too hard to find either. I was wrong again! No Laura Saddington in 1871, 1881 or 1901! However I did locate a birth reference and a reference for the 1861 census.

Laura Saddington was born in the September quarter of 1852 in Little Stukeley, which is just outside Huntingdon, and is within the Huntingdon Registration District (3b 229). In 1861, she was living with her family in Little Stukeley, as below:

RG9/975 Folio 130 Page 11
Sch No 57

Charles Saddington Head M 39 Labourer ag Hunts Woodwalton
Elizabeth Saddington Wife F 34 - Hunts Lt Stukeley
Charles Saddington Son M 9 - Hunts Lt Stukeley
Laura Saddington Daughter F 8 - Hunts Lt Stukeley
Dennis Saddington Son M 6 - Hunts Lt Stukeley
Elma Jane Saddington Daughter F 5 - Hunts Lt Stukeley
Emily Mary Saddington Daughter F 2 - Hunts Lt Stukeley

Using this information, I tried the 1871 census, but without success - Laura was not at home with her family, and her whereabouts remain a mystery. However, a bit of experimenting with search terms located Laura in 1881. Mistranscribed as Haddington, Laura and her little family were in the Huntingdon Union Workhouse, as below:

RG11/1604 Folio 53 Pages 37 and 38

Laura Saddington Inmate Unm 28 Cook Domestic Serv Hunts Little Stukeley
Elizabeth J Saddington Inmate - 5 Scholar Staffordshire Wolverhampton
Alfred G Saddington Inmate - 3 Scholar Hunts Huntingdon
Kate Saddington Inmate - 1 - Hunts Huntingdon

I believe that Elizabeth J and Emma Jane are the same person. As yet, however, I have been unable to find birth references for any of Laura's 3 children, even though all of them were born after the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1874 came into force in 1875. But I did find a marriage reference for Laura Saddington in the September quarter of 1896 (Huntingdon, 3b 574), which explained why I couldn't find her in the 1901 census.

By 1901, Laura had started a new family with her husband, one Richard Binge, in the St Mary's district of Huntingdon.

RG13/1475 Folio 90 Page 29
Sch No 191 - 25 East Street, Newtown

Richard Binge Head M 35 Bricklayers Labourer Worker Huntingdon
Laura Binge Wife M 47 - - Hunts, Little Stukeley
Richard Saddington Binge Son - 1 - - Huntingdon
Emma Measures Boarder S 73 Living on Own Means - Leicester
James Allen Horner Boarder S 66 Grocers Labourer Worker Hunts, Alconbury

But there was no sign of Emma, Alfred or Kate anywhere in 1901. I did, however, finally have a Richard Saddington, but he was only a baby and his surname was Binge!

So I went back to the Ontario marriages, and spotted a marriage for one Kathleen Laura Saddington in 1908, also in Muskoka, Ontario. Was this Kate, and was she perpetuating her sister's cover-up?

With the kind assistance of fellow Guild members, I was able to discover that the answer to both of my questions was Yes! Kathleen Laura Saddington, age 27, claimed to be the daughter of Richard Saddington and Laura Colbourn! The cover-up continued, but it had to, because Kathleen Laura, or Kate, married her brother in law's brother, Charles Brown!

Further information supplied from the 1911 census of Canada tells me that Emma Jane was born in March 1876, emigrated to Canada in 1906, and that she and William had, by 1911, one son, Clarence S (born May 1908), and one daughter, Jessie B (born March 1911). Kate was born in June 1881, emigrated to Canada in 1907, and she and Charles had one daughter, Hazel, born February 1910.

Are you descended from Emma Jane or Kate Saddington? I would be delighted to know what happened to them after 1911, so please get in touch.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Searching for Sarah's Nieces or In Praise of Maiden Aunts

The following post is a bit of a cheat, because it is actually an article I wrote which appeared in the December 2006 edition of the Leicestershire & Rutland FHS Journal. However, the reasoning behind the article remains sound. Please note that I am now back at college two nights a week, and forgive me for any shortcomings in the number of posts made.

In Praise of Maiden Aunts or Why every family historian should have at least one! – A work in progress.

"The phrase ‘maiden aunt’ sounds terribly old-fashioned and Victorian, and fits in with those other similar phrases such as “left on the shelf” and “ape-leader”, and that word more familiar to a family historian, “spinster”.

She’s the end of the line, nowhere to go from here, or so it may seem. However, every family historian should search out and treasure their maiden aunts, both living and long gone. The chances are that she is the child that stayed at home and looked after her parents in their old age, and who carried on living in the family home; the one who accumulated and treasured family papers; the one who knew all the family stories. Just because she never got married doesn’t mean that the juicy bits of family gossip passed her by!

But the best thing is that, should you be fortunate enough to have a maiden aunt who left a Will, it is likely that she will have left various parts of her estate to various different branches of the family, male and female. And this is where your research benefits. Often, family heirlooms and other bits and pieces end up in with a family, which appears to have no connection with yours whatsoever, and that you know nothing about, because they were passed down to a niece or great niece, who married into a different family. Your maiden aunt’s Will might well give her female beneficiaries’ married names, and possibly their addresses!

These thoughts are what occurred to me a couple of years ago, whilst waiting for a lecture to start at the Federation of Family History Societies’ Conference at Loughborough in 2004. I had some documents with me, foolishly thinking that I might have the time to do some active research, and amongst those documents were some Wills.

The Wills included that of Sarah Saddington of Foxton, who died on 12 June 1906. She had written her Will on 30 November 1894, and added a codicil on 24 July 1899. Sarah was born circa 1820 in Great Bowden, the 11th and youngest child of John Saddington and Frances Goward. From the censuses, I already knew that she had spent most of her life keeping house for her elder brother, John, a blacksmith and coal dealer in Foxton, and a bachelor who had died in 1889, leaving her his entire estate.

When I first received Sarah’s Will from the Probate Registry, I had read through it and copied the relevant information onto one of the useful forms previously supplied by Allen and Todd. Then I put it to one side. It wasn’t until I was flicking through my folder before the lecture at Loughborough when it occurred to me that, although I knew exactly who all the men mentioned in the Will were and how they fitted into the family tree, I could only identify two of the eight women listed as beneficiaries. This was a serious failing on my part, so I set out to track down Sarah’s nieces.

The women listed (in the same order as in the Will) were Sarah Rusby (niece), Elizabeth Saddington (wife of Thomas Saddington), Ann Archer (niece), Mary Farthings (niece), Ann Taylor (niece), Sarah Warton (niece), Fanny Laxton (niece) and Fanny Cooper (great niece).

I already knew that Elizabeth Saddington (nee Smith) was the wife of Sarah’s nephew, Thomas, also mentioned in the Will, and the eldest son of Sarah’s eldest brother, Thomas, my 3x great grandfather, and his wife, Hannah Deacon. I also knew that Ann Archer (nee Saddington) was the younger of Thomas Saddington the elder’s two daughters. But who were the other six women, and whose daughters were they?

Two years down the line, I know that Mary Farthing, Fanny Laxton and Sarah Wharton are the daughters of Joseph Saddington and Mary Lawrance; Joseph being Sarah Saddington’s youngest brother, and only 4 years older than her. I also have a fairly solid theory that Sarah Rusby is actually Sarah Busby (nee Lewin), and the daughter of Hannah Saddington and Benjamin Lewin of Wellingborough, Northants; Hannah being the eldest of Sarah’s five sisters. As to the final two, Ann Taylor may also be a daughter of Joseph Saddington and Mary Lawrance; they baptised a daughter called Ann in 1848. But Fanny Cooper still remains a mystery, for the time being.

So what have I learned so far?

I have learned that even your maiden aunt doesn’t necessarily know how to spell your married name; that it is easy to lose someone, even on the 1881 census, if their unexpected and unfamiliar birthplace is transported to a different county (Gilmorton in Worcestershire, anyone?), and that, even after 20 years research, the chances are that there are still things about your family history that you don’t know.

Two generations and fifty years down the line, Sarah Saddington’s great niece, Emily Ann Saddington, spinster daughter of Thomas Saddington and Elizabeth (nee Smith) left a Will, which mentioned seven nieces and a great nephew! Didn’t I say that every family historian should have at least one maiden aunt!"