Thursday, December 29, 2016

Family Ties in Tidball Tax Records

If Thomas Tiboald of Cutcomb was the same man as Thomas Tidball of North Molton (see December 8 and 15 posts), what explains him taking up land at Thorne farm in Cutcombe when he was in his 50s? The most likely answer is family ties.

You might recall that Walter and Elizabeth Tidball of Exford baptized eight children between 1728 and 1745, including Thomas (1739), a sister Annis (1730), and six brothers: Alexander (1728), Walter (1731), Richard (1734), Gregory (1737), John (1742), and William (1745).

In last week's post, we learned that Thomas Tidball was proprietor of Thorne Sheaf farm in neighboring Cutcombe Parish between 1793 and 1804. Also appearing in the Cutcombe land tax assessment lists were Richard and Alexander Tidball/Tudball. Plausibly, they were Thomas' brothers.

  • Richard was an occupier of Hole Moor (Thomas Dyke, proprietor) from at least 1784 to 1808. His identity is not certain, but he could have been Richard born at Exford in 1734. He was likely the Richard Tidboald who died of "old age" and was buried at Exford in 1810. He would have been about 74.
  • Alexander was an occupier of South Hill from 1795 to 1801. Alexander was buried 22 March 1801 at Cutcombe. Because parish burial records before 1812 did not usually record the age of the deceased, it is difficult to know Alexander's identity with certainty. He could have been the Alexander born 1728 at Exford. He also could have been the Exford Alexander's son, baptized to Alexander and Anne Tudball 10 October 1761 at Cutcombe. However, this younger Alexander was buried at Cutcombe in December 1833; he was 72.
The younger Alexander also was an occupier in Cutcombe parish. He occupied land of John Avis from 1814 to 1822 and occupied Quarn (proprietor, Richard White) from 1823 to 1833.

The proximity of these farms to the Thorne farm held by Thomas Tidball from 1793 to 1804 is the clincher for the family ties argument. South Hill was a half-mile north of Luckwell Bridge. Quarn was less than a mile east of Luckwell Bridge. Thorne farm was a half-mile southeast of Luckwell Bridge. According to parish records, only one Tidball/Tudball/Tidboald family lived in the Exford-Cutcombe area from the 1720s to the 1830s, and all the Tidball farms appearing in the Cutcombe tax records were within a mile of each other.

Locations based on Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record (; Locations mapped using Grid Reference Finder (

NOTE: The last sentence of the December 22 post incorrectly stated that Lyddicombe (the Tidball farm in North Molton) was a half-mile from Luckwell Bridge. It should have stated that Thorne farm was a half-mile from Luckwell Bridge. A correction has been made.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Taxing Thomas -- on-the-ground Evidence

Thomas Tidboald/Tidball of North Molton, Devonshire was the great-great-grandfather of John Tidball, who immigrated to Minnesota in the 1880s. Was Thomas of North Molton the same man as Thomas Tidball baptized 10 miles away at Exford in 1739? Geography, chronology and family naming patterns suggest a strong possibility (see 15 December 2016 post).

They say two things are certain in life. Thomas died at age 76 in 1814. And, yes, he paid taxes. The tax records provide another layer of evidence for Thomas of North Molton being Thomas of Exford.

Starting in 1693. A tax was levied on land with an annual value of more than 20 shillings. Imagine a record connecting names with land! The most extensive surviving records span the period 1780 to 1832 -- a convenient time-span for pinning down Thomas. The records, created by parish, list proprietors (owners) and occupiers (tenants).

A man looking suspiciously like our Thomas appeared in three series of tax records over a thirty-year period.

Cutcombe Land Tax Assessments, 1791, FHL film 1,526,821, item 5
  • Thomas Tudball first appears in 1782 as an occupier of a parcel called Smith's, or Smyth's, in North Molton parish; the proprietor was William Thorne (Sir Charles Bampfylde was proprietor starting in 1784). Thomas' land was probably the same parcel occupied by Henry Smith in 1781. Thomas might have been taxed before 1782, but earlier records are not available. Thomas occupied Smyth's from 1782 through 1792, after which Smyth's was occupied by John Thorne.
  • Then, in 1793, Thomas Tidbold appeared as proprietor of land known as Thorne Sheaf in Cutcombe parish. If this is the same Thomas, it is also likely that Thorne Sheaf was in some way associated with the Thornes of North Molton. Thomas Tidbold (sometimes Tidboald or Tudball) was listed as proprietor of Thorne Sheaf from 1793 to 1804, when Sir Philip Hale became proprietor.
  •  In 1804, Thomas Titbale/Tidbald/Tidball reappeared in North Molton as occupier of a half of Lyddicombe, land owned by Charles Bampfylde. Thomas occupied the land through 1811, after which he was succeeded by Richard Shapland.
Chronology says Thomas of North Molton was Thomas of Cutcombe. The earlier and later North Molton taxpaying Thomas almost certainly was the man whose children were baptized there between 1769 and 1792 and who died there in 1814 -- no other man of the same name appears in the North Molton parish registers. His last child was baptized about the time Thomas Tidboald acquired Thorne Sheaf in Cutcombe. He would have been about 65, when he moved back down to Lyddecombe. He was about 72 when he left the tax list in 1811.

The geography also works. Cutcombe is only about 15 miles northeast of North Molton. The two farms were even closer together. North Molton is a large parish. Lyddicombe was about three miles north of North Molton village. A farm known as Thorne was a mile or so southwest of the Cutcombe parish church. As the crow flies, Thorne was only 11 miles from Lyddicombe.

But, what about Thomas of Exford? The tax records help here, too, but that part of the story will be told next week. In anticipation, you might want to remember this: Thorne was only half mile from a place called Luckwell Bridge.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Doubting Thomas Tidball

William Tidball, the great-grandfather of John and Thomas who emigrated to Minnesota in the 1880s, was baptized at North Molton, Devonshire, in 1769. He was the son of Thomas and Agnes. Moving back through the parish registers, no Tidball baptism, marriage, or burial is found before 1769. Clearly, Thomas Tidball came from somewhere else.

Thomas was buried at North Molton in December 1814. The parish register states that he was 76, suggesting he was probably born about 1738. But where? Thankfully, the Tidball name was not common outside far southwestern England. One approach to narrowing down a search area is to find where a name commonly occurs. The International Genealogical Index, which includes birth/baptism, marriage, and death/burial information gathered from parish records, can help identify hot points for surnames. A search for Tidball (and close variants) in the IGI found numerous occurrences of the name in and near Cutcombe, Somerset. Cutcombe is nestled among the Exmoor hills about 15 miles northeast of North Molton -- close enough to be worth a closer look.

A search of Cutcombe parish registers found no record of either a baptism or marriage for Thomas. In fact, the earliest Tidball event recorded in Cutcombe is the marriage of Alexander Tudball and Anne Tucker in 1759. The Cutcombe Tidballs (or Tudballs, or whatever) came from somewhere else.

A search of neighboring parishes produced one solid lead. At Exford, adjacent Cutcombe to the east, numerous Tidball baptisms, marriages, and burials were recorded before 1760. Among them was the baptism of Thomas Tidball 23 August 1739 -- a plausible baptismal date for the Thomas buried at North Molton. The Exford Thomas was the son of Walter and Elizabeth Tidball.

Could this be Thomas of North Molton? Yes, it could be. For one thing, no burial record is found at Exford for this Thomas, meaning he could have moved away and died somewhere else. However, there is also no marriage record that could have linked the Exford Thomas to Agnes, the wife of the North Molton man. In short, no evidence has yet been found that directly connects Thomas of North Molton to Thomas of Exford. In the genealogy world, we say there is no "direct evidence" -- nothing that directly answers the question: Was Thomas of North Molton the same man as Thomas of Exford?

However, the timing is about right and the geography is good -- North Molton is only 10 miles on to the southwest from Exford. Three additional pieces of "indirect evidence" bolster the case. The first is naming patterns. According to baptisms recorded in the parish registers, Walter and Elizabeth had seven sons at Exford between 1728 and 1745: Alexander, Walter, Richard, Gregory, Thomas, John, and William. Thomas of North Molton had five surviving sons: William, John, Walter, Gregory, and Thomas. If Thomas of North Molton was, in fact, the Thomas baptized at Exford, he named sons after four of his brothers.

This still isn't proof. It might just be coincidence. But the similar set of names lends credibility to the idea that Thomas of North Molton was the same man as Thomas of Exford. Next week's blog will solidify the case with another bit of indirect evidence.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Two more Generations of Tidballs

Several posts ago (August 11, to be precise), we used English censuses and civil registration records to track William Tidball -- father of the immigrants John and Thomas -- back to Brushford, a small village nestled on the Somerset side of the Devon-Somerset boundary in Southwest England. There, we viewed the record of the 14 April 1822 baptism of Thomas Tidboald, son of Michael and Eleanor Tidboald.

Very nice, but where did Michael come from? No Tidballs appear in the Brushford records before 1822. A search one parish to the west on the Devon side of the border found the 29 November 1821 East Anstey marriage by banns of Michael "Tidball" and Eleanor Dascombe. The curate recorded that Eleanor was from Dulverton, but did not name where Michael came from.

Tidball-Dascombe marriage, East Anstey, Findmypast image
Another approach did give a clue. The 1841 census, which listed Michael (40) and Eleanor, listed another Tidball of similar age in Brushford. Thomas, a 45-year old cordwainer. In the 1841 census, adult ages were usually rounded down to the nearest multiple of five; Michael could have been as old as 44 and Thomas as old as 49. The census stated only that Thomas was not born in Somerset; the entry for Michael is difficult to interpret (Census says only "yes" or "no" for birth in the census county).

The 1851 census asked specifically what parish an individual was born in. It is of no help for Michael, because he died in 1845, and English civil death registrations, unlike many American ones, do not name either parents or birthplaces. The 1851 Census of England listed Thomas Tidball, a 58 year-old cordwinder (a variant of cordwainer), born in North Molton, Devon -- a village (and parish) about 15 miles west of Brushford village.

Map from FamilySearch wiki; click to enlarge
North Molton Bishop's Transcript, FamilySearch image from Devon Record Office
Next stop: North Molton. Indeed, Michael Tidball was baptized to William Tidball and his wife, Margaret, 25 January 1801. (Parish register images are indexed at, a subscription service. Annual Bishop's Transcripts can be browsed free at  William Tidball and Margaret Squire were married 15 April 1792. Michael's uncle, Thomas, was baptized 24 June 1792.

Following the North Molton parish records back two more decades leads to the baptism of William, the son of Thomas and Agnes "Titbald," 27 July 1769. William's baptism is the earliest Tidball (or variant) entry in the North Molton parish registers, and no record names Agnes' maiden name. Thus, the direct Tidball trail evaporates on the Devon side of the Somerset-Devon border nearly 250 years ago.

There are strong hints that the trail leads back across the border to the Exmoor hills in Somerset, but that is another story for another blog post.

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.