Thursday, August 4, 2016

Matching up the Minnesota Tidballs in the English Census

The Tidballs were from England -- that much was pretty certain. Some family history notes passed down to John Tidball stated that his grandfather John's parents were William Tidball and his first wife, Elizabeth. One note stated that William married Elizabeth about 1859. Grandfather John's death certificate stated that his father was "Wm." Tidball, but did not record his mother's name. It stated that he was born 30 March 1862. The death certificate for his brother, Thomas, said he was born 29 December 1859, but did not name his parents.

John Tidball, about 19 years old, should have been with his parents in 1881. The index of the 1881 census lists 24 William Tidballs, including a William with a wife, Elizabeth, living in Bristol. There was no son John listed, but there was a daughter, Jane, 18. Could "Jane" have been John, or was this the wrong family?

Thomas had emigrated in 1880, so the best chance to find the family intact was the 1871 Census of England. The William Tidball family enumerated in the St. Philip and Jacob district of Bristol was a good match -- even though William and Elizabeth seemingly had been able to slow down the aging process.
St. Philip and Jacob, Bristol
 St. Philip and Jacob, Bristol
St. Philip and Jacob Out, Bristol
William, 39
b. Brushford
William, 51
b. Somersetshire
William, 59
b. Brushford, Somerset
Mary Ann, 30
b. Somerset, Walton
Elizabeth, 50, b. Trowbridge, Wilts
Elizabeth 58
b. Trowbridge, Wilts
Elizabeth, 5
b. Bristol

Thomas, 11
b. Bristol
Thomas, 11,
b. Bristol

John, 8
b. St. George's, Gloucestershire
Jane, 18
b. St. George's, Gloucestershire

Michael, 6
b. Bristol
Michael, 16
b. Bristol
Source: Census of England, images viewed at

As censuses so often do, the 1861 census offered a surprise. Thomas was there, as well a previously unknown daughter, Elizabeth. (John was not yet born). But, William's wife was Mary Ann, born in Walton, Somerset. Apparently, Elizabeth was a second, not first, wife. William obviously married Elizabeth after 1861, raising a question of whether John Tidball's mother was Mary Ann or Elizabeth.

A family photo album passed down from John Tidball's wife, Mary Ann (not to be confused with William's 1861 wife, Mary Ann), helped make sense of the census. One photo was labeled "Michael Tidball -- brother." This was presumably the Michael born about 1865. Another photo of an older, not so handsome woman, with a child about 2 years old, carried a handwritten note: "Liz's baby and boys' stepmother." This was apparently William's second wife, stepmother to the younger boys -- Thomas and John -- but it is not immediately apparent who Liz's baby was.

Using the photo album and English civil registration records, the blogger will sort the family out next week, setting the stage to track the Tidballs back to Brushford, Somerset.

1 comment:

  1. How lucky you are to have the old photo album to help sort out the family. I'd never heard the surname "Tidball" before and I'm amazed that there were 24 Williams in the 1881 census.