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.

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