Thursday, November 10, 2016

Lee Origins -- Across the Water to Cork

In case you've forgotten (see earlier posts), the John Tidball who immigrated to Minnesota married Mary Ann Lee, the daughter of Bartholomew Lee of Bristol, England. Bartholomew's birth family was living on Host Street in Bristol at the time of the 1851 census. John Lee, 46, and Hannah Lee, 43, were born in Cork, as were the three children – Margaret, 19, Bartholomew, 14, and John, 7 – were born in Cork,[1] suggesting the family came to Bristol between 1844 and 1851. Possibly the economic dislocations associated with the great Irish potato famine pushed the Lees out of Ireland.

The Lees lived with six other families at 33 Host Street. Three of the families were Irish, including the Timothy Hennesey family. Both Timothy and his wife Mary were born in Cork. Timothy Hennesey also was a mason’s labourer. Possibly, they were related through their wives. The Henneseys probably came to Bristol by 1847, as both their children, Patrick, 4, and William, 2, were born in Bristol. If the Lees and Henneseys came to Bristol together, their date of arrival would be narrowed to the 1844-1847 period.

Later censuses pinpoint the Lee’s Irish origins at the towns of Castle Martyr and Middleton, about 15 miles northeast of the city of Cork. The 1871 census indicates John Lee was born at Middleton about 1805; Joanna (Hanna) was born at Castle Martyr about 1806.[2]

Since Margaret Lee was born about 1832, it is likely John and Joanna were married in Ireland about 1825-1832. Surviving Catholic church records might document the births or baptisms of Bartholomew and John. The Castle Martyr Catholic parish is in the civil parish of Mogeeley. Birth records date from 1835 and marriage records from 1833. (When I did the research several years ago, they are in the custody of the local parish, but the National Library of Ireland had a microfilm copy, but I have not accessed it. The records were indexed at the Mallow Heritage Center.)

Lee and Hennesey families did live in Castle Martyr during this time. An 1846 Irish directory listed a James Hennesey and a Thomas Lee in Castle Martyr. Both were bootmakers,[3] increasing the possibility that the two families knew each other. A Christopher Lee was a saddler and harness-maker, a William Lee was a tailor and a Margaret Lee was a straw bonnet-maker. A John Hennesey was a boot-maker in Cloyne, five miles southwest of Castle Martyr.[4] These might or might not have been the families that went to Bristol.

Cloyne was a market town about 20 miles east of the city of Cork and about four miles from the coast. The directory reported: “With the exception of large quantities of boots and shoes made here, the trade of the place is very inconsiderable.” Cloyne had a cathedral and a Roman Catholic chapel. Castle Martyr had only an established parish church, but several Roman Catholic chapels served surrounding hamlets. The directory author added: “The scenery in the neighborhood is particularly fine, and the land around is in a good state of cultivation.”[5]

John and Johanna Lee probably lived at Cloyne and Aghada, where baptisms are found for the three children living in Bristol in 1851. [6]

            Baptized at Aghada Parish, 22 October 1831
            Father: John Lee; Mother: Johann Kenefeck
            Address: Lorog
            Sponsors: John Hurley and Frances Nenefeck

            Baptized at Cloyne Parish, 19 May 1836
            Father: John Lee; Mother: Johanna Kenifeck
            Sponsors: Timothy Ahren and Johanna Lee

            Baptized at Cloyne Parish, 7 May 1843
            Father: John Lee; Mother : Johanna Kenefic
            Address: Ballycroneen
            Sponsors: David Sheehan and Catherine Haly

I have not extended my Irish research since viewing transcriptions of these records. There is more work to be done, but my research priorities have been elsewhere. This, alas, is a problem for genealogists -- we can only pursue a few branches at a time.

[1] 1851 Census of England, Gloucestershire, Bristol St. Augustine the Less, p. 13, schedule 67, John Lee household, HO 107, Piece 1,951, GSU film 87,351.
[2] 1871 Census of England, Gloucestershire, Bristol St. James, p. 20, schedule 122, John Lee household, RG 10, Piece 2,531. GSU film 835,256.
[3] Slater’s National Commercial Directory of Ireland (I. Slater, 1846).
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Irish Family History Foundation (, digital transcripts of baptism records, accessed 28 June 2009.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Will the Real John and Johanna Lee Please Stand Up?

Burgeoning Bristol was a British Isles melting pot in the mid-1800s. The industrial revolution stoked manufacturing, which pulled workers from Southwest England, nearby Wales, and Ireland. Yes, migration is both a pull and push matter, and the Irish potato famine did some pushing. Bartholomew Lee, born about 1836 in Ireland, found work in Bristol as a railroad porter. The Lees first appear in Bristol in the 1851 Census of England. Bartholomew, already a porter at age 14, was living with his parents, John and Hannah in the St. Augustine The Less district of Bristol (see 2 September 2016 post). In 1857, he married Eleanor Price, daughter of a "dairyman" from Wales. They had a daughter and four sons before Bartholomew disappeared around 1870.

Bartholomew's final fate is unknown. Tracking his parents in Bristol also proved problematic. In 1851, John was 46 and Hannah was 43.

A search of the 1861 census found two candidates for John and Hannah:

St. Augustine, Bristol
John Lee, 54, born Ireland
Johanna, 46, born Ireland

St. Paul’s, Bristol
John Lee, 50, born Ireland
Johanna, 44, born Ireland

The first John Lee was close to the right age for Bartholomew’s father, but the first wife Johanna was too young. Based on age, the second couple was an even poorer match. Yet, as the table below illustrates, the second couple, living in St. Paul’s, probably were the parents of Bartholomew for two reasons:

- They had a son John, age 17, who was a good match for Bartholomew’s 7-year-old brother from 1851.
- The Lees in St. Augustine had children Margaret, 14, and James, 11, who did not appear as siblings of Bartholomew in 1851.

Looking back, the St. Augustine’s family was clearly the same family living on Waterloo Court in St. Augustine the Lessor in 1851. This John and Johanna Lee probably lived in the Bristol City Workhouse at Stapleton in 1871 and 1881.

The 1861 ages of Bartholomew’s parents were probably incorrectly reported or recorded. John and Johanna Lee lived on Earl Street in the St. James district in 1871, with recorded ages appropriate for the couple in 1851. They are clearly the correct Lees because their 7 year-old grandson John, born Trowbridge, was very likely the son born to Bartholomew Lee and Eleanor Price at Melksham in 1867. Trowbridge is about 5 miles from Melksham and on the same rail line.

The two families could be easily confused because both John Lees were mason’s labourers in 1851, both had wives named Johanna, both had daughters named Margaret, and both ended up living in public workhouses. As the table shows, the St. Augustine Lees, with their sons Edward and Maurice, were living in the workhouse at Stapleton in 1871. They were from Limerick. Bartholomew Lee’s parents were from Cork. His mother probably died before 1881, when widower John Lee was living in the Barton Regis Union Workhouse.

Bartholomew’s apparent London-born brother Stephen has not been located after 1861. His sister Margaret likely married, but is also unaccounted for after 1861. A London birthplace for Stephen is a bit of a mystery.

Two John Lee Families in Bristol
33 Host St.
St. Augustine the Less
Bristol [1]
8 Penn St.
St. Paul’s
Bristol [2]
3 Earl St.
St. James
Bristol [3]
Barton Regis Union Workhouse
Bristol [4]

John Lee, 46
Mason’s laborer,
b. Ireland-Cork
John Lee, 50
b. Ireland
John Lee, 66
Mason’s laborer
b. Middleton
John Lee, 66, widr
Mason’s laborer
b. Ireland

Hannah Lee, 43

b. Ireland-Cork
Johanna, 44
b. Ireland
Joanna Lee, 65

b. Castle Martyr

Margaret, 19
b. Ireland-Cork

Bartholomew Lee, 14
b. Ireland-Cork
[married, living in Weymouth, Dorset]

John Lee, 7
b. Ireland-Cork
John, 17
b. Ireland

Stephen, 3
b. London

John, 7
b.Trowbridge, Wilts

3 Waterlooo Court
St. Augustine the Less
Bristol [5]
3 Lower Lamb St.
St. Augustine
Bristol [6]
Bristol City Workhouse
Bristol [7]
Bristol City Workhouse
Bristol [8]
Bristol City Workhouse
Bristol [9]
John Lee, 43
Laborer (mason’s)
b. Ireland
John Lee, 54
b. Ireland
John Lee, 66
b. Limerick, Ire.
John Lee, 76
b. Ireland

Johanna Lee, 35
b. Ireland
Johanna Lee, 46
b. Ireland
Johanna Lee, 56
b. Limerick, Ire.
Johanna, Lee, 69

b. Limerick, Ire.
Joanne Lee, 76, wid
b. Ireland

[1]1851 Census of England, John Lee household.
[2] 1861 Census of England, Gloucestershire, Bristol St. Paul’s, John Lee household.
[3] 1871 Census of England, Civil Parish of St. Philip and Jacob, Clifton Registration District, Gloucestershire, p. 6, Eleanor Lee household, Record Group 10, Piece: 2556, Folio: 39, GSU microfilm roll 835264, digital image viewed online at, January 2008.
[4] 1881 Census of England, Civil Parish of St. Philip and Jacob, Clifton Registration District, Gloucestershire, p. 28,Eleanor Lea household, Record Group 11, Piece 2498, Folio 115, GSU micrrofilm roll 1341602, digital image viewed online at, January 2008.
[5] 1851 Census of England, Gloucestershire, Bristol St. Augustine the Less, p. 43, schedule 199, John Lee household, HO 107, Piece 1,951, GSU film 87,351.
[6] 1861 Census of England, Gloucestershire, Bristol St. Augustine, p. 6, schedule 28, John Lee household, RG 9, Piece 1,24, GSU film 543,857.
[7] 1871 Census of England, Gloucestershire, Stapleton, Bristol City Workhouse, p. 33. no. 19, John Lee, RG 10, Piece 2,575, GSU film 835,271; Johanna Lee is enumerated separately on p. 24.
[8] 1881 Census of England, Gloucestershire, Stapleton, Bristol City Workhouse, p. 26, no. 22, John Lee, RG 11, Piece 2,508, GSU film1,341,605.
[9] 1891 Census of England, Gloucestershire, Stapleton, Bristol City Workhouse, p. 21 (stamped 121), no. 12, Joanne Lee, RG 12, Piece 1,993, GSU film 6,097,103.

 Note: It has not been my intention to present these blog posts as research reports. My intent has been two-fold: as an exercise in organizing my what I think I know and as a way to share information with family members. My practice has been to loosely identify sources in my narrative. However, I am now realizing that researchers who encounter these blog posts deserve more complete citations, and I am experimenting with ways to include footnotes. So far, this has been problematic, especially when pasting and copying from Word documents. I will keep experimenting, but it may slow my publication schedule. I have anticipated that everything I post in this blog will in due time appear in a fully documented research report; that make take some time.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

My Dear Pollie -- Clues from a Family Bible

Here's the problem with family Bibles: invaluable as they can be for genealogy, we usually don't have the one we need. Great-Grandma's Bible may have been passed down to some second cousin that we don't even know about. It's the same thing with old letters or diaries. It takes some good fortune for them to land in our hands.

Mary Ann Tidball's Bible
I've been lucky only once.My wife's cousin didn't even know she had an old family Bible until she starting cleaning out an attic, but when she found it, she knew who to call. The Bible she found had apparently belonged to Mary Ann Tidball, nee Lee -- the cousin's great-grandmother.  Yes, that would be my wife's great-grandmother, too. An inscription inside the front cover reads:

M. A. Lee:

With best wishes from her loving grandmother

March 30th, 1878

On a facing page, another inscription reads:

Mary Price, my dear grandmother, gave me this bible on my 18th birthday. She died in 1882 at Colston’s Almshouse on St. Michael’s Hill. When she died, she was the oldest but one on the premises. She was respected by all who knew her. Buried at Arno’s Vale Cemetery, Bath Rd., Bristol.

A small card found in the bible has a handwritten note:

For dear Pollie

With love and best wishes from her loving “Mother”

March 30, 1878

Immediately below on the same card, in different handwriting, is:

This is the card I got when my grandmother gave me the bible on my 18th birthday.

Pollie was likely a nickname for Mary. Presumably, Mary Price was the married name of Mary Ann Lee’s maternal grandmother. However, if Mary Ann Lee was born in 1862 as he death certificate and other records indicate, March 20, 1878, would only have been her 16th birthday. Her death certificate states she was born in Bristol, but English 1871 and 1881 census records say she was born in Melksham, Wilstshire, about 25 miles east of Bristol. A civil registration record of her birth has not been found, so the facts regarding her birth remain at-large.

Still, the inscriptions were invaluable because they placed the Tidball and Lee families squarely in Bristol, and opened the door for Price research. 

1881 Census of England

Indeed, the 1881 census for the Colston’s Almshouse listed Mary Price, age 81, born in Cardigan. She had lived there at least 10 years, as evidenced by her listing in the 1871 census for the same almshouse, where she was apparently single and a recipient of alms. Her 1882 death registration gives her age as 77, so there remains some doubt about when she was born. The informant for the death registration was “Eleanor Lee, daughter.” The registration reported that Mary was the widow of Charles Price, a dairyman.

Charles probably died before 1871, when the census recorded Mary as a 72 year-old widower. Charles was involved in the dairy business, but his occupational status is unclear. The 1861 census found 74 year-old Charles Price, a “milkman,” and Mary Price, 63, at 7 Stubbs Court in St. Paul’s, Bristol. Charles Price told the census taker he was born in Llanigon, Breconshire. Mary said she was born in Cardigan, Cardiganshire. Price (ap Rhys) is a common Welsh name.

The couple has not been found in the 1851 census.The Price family does appear in 1841 on Dale Street in the St. Paul’s district of Bristol. Charles was a milkman. Charles and Mary had three children: Ellen, 4, Elizabeth, 3, and Mary, 1, all born in Gloucestershire. This suggests the family came to Bristol by 1837 or before. The birth of Mary, and possibly Elizabeth and Ellen, should have been recorded in civil registration records, but searches have not found them. (Civil registration of births began in 1837, but non-compliance was not uncommon).

Granddaughter Mary Ann Lee was the key to following the Prices in Bristol. Nineteen year-old Mary Ann Lee was not living with her mother and brothers in St. Philip and Jacob in 1881. “Mary A. Lee,” 19, born in Melksham, Wiltshire, was living with the George Pocock family across the river in Bedminister. The census identified Mary as a niece to George, implying Mary’s Ann’s mother was a sibling of either George or his wife Elizabeth. In fact, George Pocock married Elizabeth Price of Newfoundland Street in Bristol 22 November 1857. The marriage registration states that Elizabeth was the daughter of Charles Price, a dairyman. Eleanor and Elizabeth were, indeed, Price sisters.

Oh, yes, Colston's Almshouse still stands int the center of Bristol on St. Michael's Hill.
Colston's Almshouse, St. Michael's Hill, Bristol. J. H. Fonkert photo, 2009.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Distracted Genealogist

It was a dark and stormy night...

No, that was another writing project. My last Four Generations blog was some six weeks ago. Vacation "Up North" was a good excuse for a short pause. Then, frantic preparations for the North Star Genealogy Conference extended the pause into a hiatus. Then post-conference lethargy set-in, combined with the mind-rattling distraction of presidential politics. Oh yes, I also had a journal to edit.

But, I'm back! I will resume blogging about the English Tidball family this Thursday. I think the Tidballs are good for a few more blog posts, and then I'll need to think about what branch to crawl out on next.

I might decide to ruminate about the relationship between traditional documentary research and DNA. Mind you, I am not even close to being an expert, but I have been learning as I work through a real world research problem.  Stay tuned.

There's more to life than genealogy, but life would be less fun without genealogy.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

What about Mary Ann?

Last week, we saw how shifting names can make it hard to follow a family in the census – in this case, the Census of England. Attention to occupation and children’s names, combined with searches in birth registration indexes, led to the John, aka Bartholomew, Lee family in Dorset. This week, we follow a similar strategy to track down Mary Ann Lee, who was not with her mother in 1881 as expected.

Bartholomew Lee’s youngest child, Laurence, was born in August 1869 in Bristol. So, Bartholomew (did anyone call him “Bart?”) was likely still in Bristol in early 1869. But as noted in last week’s post, he was absent by the time of the 1871 census – presumably off to America, possibly in search of gold.

His wife, Eleanor – the former Eleanor Elizabeth Price – supported her young family from what she could earn as a charwoman. At home with their mother was William, 13; Mary A., 9; Charles, 6, and Laurence, 1.  Eleanor’s 7-year old son, John, was living with Eleanor’s parents. As far as is known, Bartholomew never returned. The family believes he died in America, possibly in New Orleans, but he has never been found in American records, alive or dead.

The family situation had changed again by 1881. Widow Eleanor was living in Flooks Court in the St. Philip and Jacob district of Bristol. She was a tailoress. With her were her three sons: John, 18, Charles, 16, and Laurence, 12. This Charles was born about 1865 in Trowbridge. The Charles born in Weymouth had apparently died young, but his death registration has not been found.

Mary Ann Lee did not marry John Tidball until 1884. Where was she in 1881? A good candidate was a Mary A. Lee, 19 and born in Melksham, living in the home of George Pocock in Bedminister, across the river from Bristol. The census identified her as a niece of George Pocock. If a niece, she could have been a daughter of either George’s sister or of his wife Elizabeth’s sister. Indeed, Elizabeth Pocock was Eleanor Lee’s sister. Elizabeth Lee married George Pocock 22 November 1857 in Bristol. Witnesses were Elizabeth’s brother-in-law Bartholomew Lee and a woman named Sarah Laver. Marriage registrations indicate that both Elizabeth and Eleanor were daughters of Charles Price.

This blog post is being written on the edge of the wilderness along the North Shore of the world’s largest freshwater lake, so it has been hurriedly assembled. There just isn’t enough time or internet bandwidth to insert images of any of these people, or the census and civil registration records that would illustrate the path of discovery.  Next week is week 2 of vacation, so no promises that a post will be written, but rest assured, there is more Tidball family history to come. In the meantime, I'm off to Honeymoon Rock to watch the sun set.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Bartholmew, Where art Thou?

A completely undocumented family story  states that Bartholomew Lee left his family in England for the gold rush in America -- which gold rush is not clear.

Bartholomew Lee was John Tidball's father-in-law. Bartholomew, 21, married Eleanor Elizabeth Price, 21, 12 May 1857 in Bristol. Bartholomew Lee was the son of John and Hannah Lee. The Irish-born family was enumerated in the St. Augustine the Less district of Bristol in 1851. Bartholomew, 14 was a porter.

Jumping forward to the 1871 census, Bartholomew was indeed missing. Eleanor was living in St. Philip and St. Jacob, Bristol, with four children:
William J., 13, born Bristol
Mary A., 9, born Melksham, Wiltshire
            Chs., 6, born Trowbridge, Wiltshire
            Laurence, 1, born Bristol

 Another son of Bartholomew and Eleanor was living with Bartholomew’s parents in1871. John, age 7, born in Trowbridge, was enumerated as “grandson” in the household of John and Joanna Lee in St. James, Bristol. The census indicates John was born in Midleton and Joanna in Castle Martyr, allowing a confident conclusion that 7 year-old boy was a son of Bartholomew.

Bartholomew has never been found again in later records in England or the United States.

Stepping back again in time, the young family of Bartholomew and Eleanor should have been easy to find in 1861. With approximate birth dates from other records the somewhat unusual name Bartholomew, and Bartholomew's Irish origins, searchable online census indexes should have produced a fairly short list of candidate families.

Searches for Bartholomew Lee anywhere in England produced no good matches. Why not? Because, when the census-taker came, Bartholomew gave his name as “John.” John and "Ellen" Lee were living in Melcombe Regis in Dorset. The proof that John Lee was the same man as Bartholomew Lee came from the birth places of the family members and John’s occupation. As enumerated in the census, the family included:

            John Lee, 24, a porter, born in Ireland,
            Ellen, 24, born in Bristol,
            William, 3, born Bristol, and
            Charles, 1, born Weymouth.

In 1851, fourteen year-old Bartholomew Lee must have been a porter for the railroad. The clincher came from the birth registration of 1 year-old Charles. He was born 14 January 1860 to “Bartholomew” Lee and Eleanor, “formerly Price.” The father was a porter for the Great Western Railway.

The last traces of Bartholomew come from the birth of two more sons. John was born September 1863 in Melksham. Laurence was born August 1869 in Bristol So, Bartholomew was probably still in Bristol in early 1869, but off to America sometime in the next two years.