Sunday, 24 April 2011

Another family mystery solved

 Above: Edward Atkins was one of South Australia's earliest settlers and would have lived in settlements like this.

Another piece of the puzzle has been put in place. There has been more progress through the efforts of fellow family researcher, Kylie Nott who has found a death record for Mary Cann Mashford.

My great-great-great grandmother died in South Australia on November 14, 1850, just eight weeks to the day after her son George May Mashford died. John Cann Mashford had died a year or so earlier so it was a difficult time for Elizabeth Mashford Lewis. Within three short years of their arrival in the colony, Elizabeth had lost two brothers and her mother.

Mary Cann Mashford’s death is recorded by Josiah Mashford so we know we have the right person.

Given the fact that 24 year old George died just two months before his mother, one wonders if both died in the all too prevalent cholera and typhoid epidemics which ravaged the colonies and the times. No doubt the death record will tell us. However, having lost 26 year old John exactly 12 months and two days before the death of George May, Mary may well have died of a broken heart. 

However, as is the way of things with ancestry research her age doesn’t fit with previous information giving her an age of 61 at the time of her death which would have her born in 1789 and the age of 29 in 1818 when she married John Mashford. The 1841 census has her listed as 48 which would have had her born in 1793, but, if the death record is correct, she was actually 52.

The curious thing about this is that her marriage certificate registers parental approval which is normally linked with being underage. I have sent a query to the Devon researcher who has been helping out to ask if there were other reasons why parental approval would be required. One thing which springs to my mind and which may be completely off the mark, is whether Mary Cann was a ward or niece who worked for the family and therefore required permission to marry.

 Above: the first settlement in South Australia was at this point on Kangaroo Island.

The age discrepancies raise important questions and given the number of Canns in Devon at the time and how common names were, particularly Mary, with a nine year difference between the age of this Mary Cann and the Nymet Rowland Mary Cann previously mentioned, born in 1798, who married John Mashford, there is a chance that we may not have the correct Mary Cann in Devon.

The other piece of information is that a birth was recorded in Adelaide, on November 17, 1843 for a Henry Atkins, mother Hannah McLeod Atkins and father, Edward Atkins. This of course puts into question a birth year of 1843 for Jane Atkins McKinnon unless they were twins although surely this would have been recorded. An earlier mention of Jane did give her birth year as 1845 and this would work with our other calculations for the children of Edward and Hannah.

We also have a record of an arrival for a Hannah McLeod on the Eliza, from London, May 14, 1840 with a Daniel McLeod. This could be a brother as usually husband and wife would be mentioned as such but there is always the possibility that Hannah and Daniel were married and that Daniel died sometime between May 1840 and 1843 when Hannah married Edward Atkins

An E. Atkins is listed on the same ship, perhaps as a member of crew and this may well be our Edward which would fit with his more than 50 years a colonist at time of death. Fifty one years to be precise.  This would also make my great-great-grandfather one of the earliest colonists in South Australia, arriving just six years after the colony was established and four years after the first settlement and the founding of Adelaide.

In 1840, the year Edward arrived,  the Adelaide to Port Adelaide road was completed and the City of Adelaide council was elected with James Hurtle Fisher as mayor. The free passage immigration scheme, on which Edward Atkins and Hannah McLeod probably came to South Australia, was terminated due to lack of funds.

At this time there was a total of 1,013 hectares of cultivated land, some 959 horses, 16,050 cattle and  166,800 sheep. The population, excluding the indigenous Aborigines, numbered some 15,485 in the January census although neither Edward nor Hannah are mentioned in it. Perhaps by 1841 Edward had gone north to the Clare Valley to seek his fortune.

In the following year the Governor George Grey arrived in the colony and Edward John Eyre crossed from Fowler's Bay to Albany in Western Australia. A silver and lead mine opened at Glen Osmond, the first Australian mine and the South Australian Savings Bank was opened. 

The Adelaide Hospital also opened its doors and records show a total of 2,720 hectares under cultivation... some of it probably in the hands of Edward Atkins.

Edward and Hannah were amongst the earliest settlers to seek their fortune in Australia but the Mashfords were not too far behind. One thing which does seem unusual is that
if Hannah and Edward travelled on the same ship,and were both single, that they waited three years before marrying.

If a death record could be found for Daniel McLeod during this time it would lend weight to the theory that Hannah and Daniel were a married couple, despite this not being mentioned in the shipping register.

Then again, there were quite a few McLeods in the colony, some arriving as early as 1836 and perhaps Hannah was to be re-united with a husband in South Australia who had only a few short years to live. Or perhaps Edward went north to make his way and Hannah waited for him in Adelaide.

All conjecture of course and none of it crucial to the research
given that Hannah McLeod is not a direct descendant and there is no shortage of relatives appearing in our search.

Monday, 18 April 2011

The relative overload is hardly relative

I have received death certificates for Jane McKinnon and Margaret Newberry whom we believe were two of Edward Atkins daughters and both are shown as being born in the Clare Valley.

One slight hiccup might be the fact that Jane McKinnon, as referred to on the McKinnon family website is listed as arriving in South Australia as opposed to being born here. However, since I have the Jane McKinnon death record from details made available on that site I am wondering if they did not access a death record and instead mistakenly linked their Jane Atkins with another Jane Atkins who emigrated.

The Clare connection puts these two in the highly likely category and I think this puts to rest the theory that Edward returned to England after Hannah died and his other 'three daughters' mentioned in his death notice, were born there. This also leads me to believe that they are the daughters of Hannah McLeod Atkins.

We have no death record for her but then we have none for Edward Atkins either, despite having his death notice. This also suggests that living as they did in the Clare Valley and later Wirrabarra Forest, it was difficult to register deaths officially. 

The reason I believe Hannah McLeod lived longer than we thought is because two things were pretty much givens at the time; you got married and you had children and for men particularly, when they were widowed and left to care for children, they remarried quickly.

This makes me think that Edward's first wife Hannah may have died, perhaps in childbirth, a year or so before he married Elizabeth Mashford Lewis.

Jane was born in 1843 and Margaret in 1847. There is a record of an Edward Atkins arriving in South Australia December 31, 1842 and there is every chance he met Hannah on board or shortly after arrival. Although his death notice for 1891 states he is a colonist of over 50 years which means he had to have arrived in South Australia prior to 1841. However, time appeared to be more fluid and facts more flexible in the 19th century and it is much more likely that if he married in 1843 that he had arrived in the previous year.

Edward and Hannah married in 1843, perhaps because Hannah was pregnant with Jane, and by 1849 Edward is registered as living in the Clare Valley. With both girls born here it's a good bet that he and Hannah moved north to Clare shortly after they married or perhaps even before and they returned to Adelaide for the wedding ceremony. It is also a good bet that there were more children and we certainly know there was one more daughter because she is mentioned in the death notice.

ATKINS.— On the 15th November, 1891 at the residence of his son-in-law, Whyte Park, 'Wirrabara, Edward Atkins, aged 84 years A colonist of over 50 years, leaving 1 son, 5 daughters, 47 grandchildren, and 3 greatgrandchildren to mourn their loss. Gloucestershire papers please copy.

One other avenue to pursue for records is the Anglican Church archive to see if they have baptism records for the girls born in Clare.

We have a record from the South Australian Marriages Index of Registrations for  James Stacey, 26 years, father Charles Stacey, married 8/4/1872, To Sarah Atkins, 22 years of age, Father Edward Atkins, at Saint Mark’s Church Penwortham.

This seems to fit. The father is called Edward Atkins,lLiving in the Clare valley and got married in the same church as Edward and Elizabeth Mashford did. If Sarah Atkins was 22 years in 1872 then she was born in the year c1850. This matches up with time line of Edward Atkins.

There is a death record for Sarah Stacey, 47 years, North Koolunga, 30/7/1896, rel James Stacey, Dist of Clare. This is the same person as above because if she died in 1896 at the age of 47 then she was born in the year c1849.

Sarah Atkins Stacey is a good bet for the other daughter because she was alive at the time of his death. Also, North Koolunga where she died is in the region where Edward Atkins lived.  

Another possibility is Ann Atkins Pole, if the given age at marriage is wrong. It is less likely but the name Pole re-appears and so it must be considered.

John Pole, 25 years, father Richard Pole, married 23/12/1887, Ann Atkins, 20 (or 30) years of age, Father Edward Atkins at Registry Office. P1509. If Ann Atkins was 20 years of age in 1887 she was born in the year 1867.

However,if the age is wrong and she was born in 1857 it is possible and it is plausible in that this is the year Edward married Elizabeth Mashford Lewis.... he may well have been a widower, his wife Hannah dying in childbirth, left with a baby and two, three or more small children. I have not requested a death certificate for this one but I will do so.

Another possibility is Emily Atkins Puddy. Edward Puddy, aged 26 years, Father Robert Puddy, married Emily Atkins, age not recorded, on the 4/5/1872, Father Edward Atkins, at Res of John Pole, shepherd, Booleroo Station.  This was where Edward Atkins also worked as a shepherd.

And here, because of this and because of the Pole link and the fact that she married at the same place as Margaret Atkins Newberry, we need to take it into consideration.

So we have Jane 1843 and Margaret 1847 as very likely and Sarah, born 1849, extremely likely;  Emily, born between 1850 and 1852 as a possible and Ann born 1857, also possible.

Most women gave birth roughly every two years in the 19th century because breast-feeding until at least 10 months was a form of natural contraception. This suggests that Hannah and Edward probably lost one or two children between 1843 and 1847 or had at least one other living child and there were further pregnancies in 1853 and 1855, if not 1857.

 I think the number of grandchildren at the time of Edward's death, particularly given the ages of his children by Elizabeth Mashford, suggests that there were more than three children who survived to adulthood.

It is highly unlikely that Edward lost Hannah early in their marriage and married again. Family oral history records one marriage before Elizabeth Mashford and this suggests that Hannah lived until at least 1856 if not 1857, given the habits of the time which had widowers, particularly those with children marrying within months of losing their wives. In fourteen years of marriage Edward and Hannah probably had seven children, or at least seven pregnancies. 

So, along with Jane McKinnon and Margaret Newberry there is a good chance that Sarah Stacey, Emily Puddy and Ann Pole are also Edward's daughters. Edward left forty-seven grandchildren and given that at the time of his death James, Mary and Elizabeth might have had half a dozen, or no more than ten between them.... I haven't checked carefully but suspect it was only about seven.... it leaves nearly forty to be provided by three other daughters.

Jane and John McKinnon had eleven children and Margaret and Jasper Newberry had three. NB: New material became available in January 2013 revealing that Margaret and Jasper had more than three children, including a son. These details are published in January 2013.

It is hardly likely that the one unknown daughter living at the time of Edward's death had twenty-six children which suggests that there were other children who had married and had children of their own, but had died before him. 

The relative overload at this point is hardly relative but it is all a part of the picture of my family ancestry. There is always the chance that connecting with other family members information will emerge as it did with Kylie Nott, George Lewis's descendant, who provided the previously unseen photograph of Elizabeth Mashford Lewis Atkins.

In trawling through the past the threads become more complicated but more rewarding.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Confirmation of the Cann connection

ABOVE: Nymet Rowland woodland.

It looks like the Devon researcher has confirmation of the Cann connection in Nymet Rowland for the mother of Elizabeth Mashford Lewis Atkins.

This takes us no further toward explaining the family story of Elizabeth being a 'Lady' with noble parentage on her father's side but it does take us a step closer in tracing the family tree.

John and Mary Cann, as recorded in the Nymet Rowland records, which is a very tiny parish (pic of church below) it seems, with well kept records, had the following children:

Mary baptised 20 August 1798 who marries John Mashford and who we think is the mother of great-great-grandmother Elizabeth Mashford Lewis Atkins;

Stephen baptised 27 April 1800 -whose signature is on his sister's marriage certificate to John Mashford as witness - and

William baptised 31 March 1802.

We still have no death records for Mary Cann Mashford despite having traced them for most of her children. She seems to have disappeared after landing in South Australia in 1847.

She may well have re-married and changed her name and died in South Australia and if the children did not post death notices for her, there is no way of tracing her. She may also have moved to New Zealand with Jane but that is an avenue I have not yet pursued.

But clearly, my thought that the illegitimacy and 'noble links' may have belonged to Mary Cann Mashford have been disproved. Which leaves us pretty much nowhere in terms of putting that family story/myth to rest but it does leave us more advanced in terms of tracing the family lineage. 

In terms of where the 'May' name fits, as with George May Mashford, we have no clue other than a suggestion by the researcher that it may have been the surname of a god-parent, a May family being resident in the area at the time.