Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Definitely Devon with Lincolnshire Links?

PHOTO: Holy Trinity Church, North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia. It was built in 1838 within two years of the establishment of the settlement. The foundation stone was laid by Governor Hindmarsh, the first Governor of South Australia.

In that way of things sometimes you are right, sometimes you are wrong and sometimes you are a bit of both.

In terms of the Mashford ancestry I think it is the latter. I have not yet heard back from Lesley Mashford but in the meantime, Luke Scane Harris has come across some crucial information linking Elizabeth Mashford (Lewis) Atkins to Devon.

 On Thursday, June 18, 1908 the Advertiser (Adelaide) printed the following death notice:

AITKENS: On the 11th May, at the residence of her daughter, M. Ross, Gladstone, Elizabeth Aitkins, nee Mashford, aged 89, late of Devon, England.
New Zealand and home papers please copy.
A colonist of 52 years. At rest after suffering.

There seems little doubt that Elizabeth is descended from the Devon Mashfords. However, research to date indicates that the Devon Mashfords are linked to the Lincolnshire Mashfords anyway so while the detail may make research easier, in some ways it is a moot point.

The spelling of the name as Aitkens instead of Atkins is not surprising. Mary was illiterate and would have dictated the death notice to someone who would have written it down and sent it to the newspaper. If the handwriting was poor, which is likely, then the typographer may have misread the word. Or, Mary's pronounciation of Atkins may have sounded like Aitkins. In truth, it was common to have varied spelling with names in earlier centuries because of the levels of literacy. And ditto for the 'mistake' about Elizabeth being a colonist of 52 years. If it is a mistake of course. We have found a record of an Elizabeth Mashford arriving at Port Adelaide on the Princess Royal, March 16 1847 but there is no way of knowing that this is our Elizabeth!

However, it does seem likely given that an Elizabeth Mashford married a Peter Lewis on November 9, 1847 in Holy Trinity Church, Adelaide.  On July 7, 1848 ... some eight months later... Elizabeth would give birth to a son, George Lewis, in the suburb of Kensington, then a village, Adelaide.  In nine years time Elizabeth would marry Edward Atkins and he would become young George's stepfather. And the descendants of that George Lewis are not about to unexpectedly appear.The marriage, it would seem, was one of necessity.  One can only presume that Peter Lewis died and this is why Elizabeth married again.

The Holy Trinity Church, on North Terrace, where Elizabeth married Peter, was also where Edward Atkins had married his first wife, Hannah McLeod some four years earlier. And it was Elizabeth Mashford Lewis who married Edward Atkins in the Anglican Church of St. Mark's in Penwortham, Clare Vally ten years later. One discrepancy is Elizabeth's age. The marriage certificate for 1847 shows her age as 26 - born in 1821; the marriage certificate of 1857 shows her age as 33 - born in 1824 and the death certificate in 1908 shows her age as 89 - born in 1819. While it may sound odd in this day and age, as cousin Luke pointed out, it was not uncommon for people at the time to be unsure of their birth date. Then again, human nature being what it is it is more likely that Elizabeth should have 'wanted to be younger' each time she married.

Photo: Adelaide in 1839 showing Holy Trinity Church.

I have found a birth record for an Elizabeth Mashford for December 5, 1819, Winkleigh, Devon, England. Her mother is listed as Elizabeth Mashford and her father, curiously as Partridg(e). There is only one name. It could be a christian name or a surname. It is common for a wife or mother to be singly named on such records but unusual for a father or husband.  Clearly this Elizabeth takes her mother's name as surname which would be the case if she was, as we suspect, illegitimate. If I can find a Haynes Partridge or a Partridge Haynes then we would have another piece to the puzzle.

When Elizabeth married Edward Atkins she listed her father's name as John. Her father's name was not listed when she married Peter Lewis. An Elizabeth Mashford was born to John Mashford and his wife Elizabeth on November 11, 1798, Winkleigh, Devon. The 'age fit' and place of birth make it likely that this is the Elizabeth who gave birth to a daughter with a man called Partridge. And a John Mashford married Elizabeth Lewis on May 22, 1791 in Winkleigh, Devon.

If this is our Elizabeth's family there is always the possibility that her first husband, Peter Lewis, was a relation. In such times it was not uncommon for people to marry first, second or third cousins. Or it could simply be chance.

The other potential 'link' is the child of Edward Atkins and Hannah McLeod. A child was born in 1843, the year of their marriage and perhaps the reason for their marriage. Henry Edward Atkins seems to have disappeared .... along with his mother. It is of course possible that both mother and child died in childbirth as was so tragically common at the time, but this leaves Edward Atkins unmarried and alone (as far as we know) for another 14 years. When Edward married Hannah he listed himself as a 'batchelor' and his rank as 'blacksmith.' The Biographical Index of South Australia 1836-1885, as shown in research done by Luke Scane Harris, shows Edward Atkins place of residence as Hutt River. The Hutt River is in the Hundred of Clare, discovered in 1839 by William Hill and now one of Australia's prime wine regions. The first settlers moved to this area in 1840 and Edward Atkins may have been there a few years later.

Neither Edward Atkins or Hannah Mcleod appear on the 1841 South Australian census and so must have arrived sometime between when the census was completed and when they married in the first days of 1843.

 However, in this week of 'breakthroughs' there is a chance we might yet find out the truth. This morning I found the following comment on Finding Charlie Ross:


My husbands GGG Grandmother was Elizabeth Mashford. She married a Peter Lewis in 1847, and had a son, George Lewis in 1848, all in the Laura/Gladstone area in South Australia. I have just had contact from Luke Harris saying that he is related to her via Edward Atkins. I believed him immediately because in our family bible we have a photo of Mrs E Atkins and son. It's about the size of a matchbox but still a photo. If you think this is the same woman contact me on noddynt @ bigpond.com.

Cheers Kylie

The wonder of the net! Connecting families across the ether. Clearly this is the same Elizabeth Mashford and how wonderful it will be to have a photograph of her. I have written to Kylie and now await a copy of the photo and hopefully some more information.

The other thing which has become clear is that Great-great grandfather Edward Atkins was one of the early pioneers of South Australia.  The Pioneers Association of South Australia offer membership to any person with an ancestor who arrived in South Australia up to December 31, 1845. Records show that Edward Atkins married Hannah McLeod at the Holy Trinity Church, North Terrace, Adelaide on January 3, 1843. A Hannah and Daniel McLeod, aged about 14 (brother or son) are listed arriving on the Eliza, on January 1, 1840.  But given that Hannah does not appear on the 1841 census there is a good chance it is not the right Hannah Mcleod. As yet there is no record of when Edward Atkins arrived but his age on this marriage certificate is listed as 30. However, there is every chance that both Hannah and Edward were residing in the new colony of South Australia for some years before they married. Given the isolation of many communities and the difficulties of travel it is highly likely that the 1841 census did not reach everyone.

At the time of his marriage to Hannah McLeod the South Australian colony was only seven years old. It was the first State to be founded by free settlers .... no convicts for South Australia. It was established in the reign of King William IV and his wife, Queen Adelaide, after which the city of Adelaide was named.  In 1843 there were some 17,196 people living in the colony. Of these 9,526 were male and 7.670 female.

You would think that with so few people it would be easy to find out more about Edward Atkins. Then again, they are both such common names and many people were illiterate. It was easy to disappear. However, I am struck by the fact that he did marry  legally and therefore had no desire to hide his whereabouts... as so many clearly did at the time.

Having trawled dozens of ship's passenger lists to no avail my next step is the South Australian Genealogy Society to see what can be found in the records pertaining to the State's pioneer settlers. We don't have a convict in the family, so far, but we do have an ancestor who was one of the first Europeans to settle this wild and wonderful land.

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