Friday, 30 September 2011

Trying again, a clever friend has removed the formatting.....and I am wondering if our Edward was a bigamist!

Apart from the fact that we have gained a horde of new rellies, it does give us a place of origin, which, without this confirmation would have been difficult, perhaps impossible to find.

So our Edward is from Gloucestershire and he was married twice, as Luke’s oral history attests, and my great-grandmother had another half a dozen step-sisters and step-brothers about which we knew nothing.

The unsolved part of the mystery is now focussed on the death notice 'numbers’ which do not look to include the children from his marriage to Elizabeth. But that is a far smaller mystery in reality although it may prove to be a more interesting one should we ever establish the why of the what. And I am now wondering if the why is that Edward was a bigamist.

Cherrielee Sherriff, our co-researcher from the Puddy side, and now confirmed relative raised an issue about an age discrepancy with Edward and Kylie replied:

Don’t forget the age on the death notice is not from Edward but his family.  There is a tendency to put age down at 50 and to put it up at 80.  It was also common for families to use the 84 year i.e. he was 83 plus a bit.

Elizabeth  was baptised in Oct 1820, so 36 is probably correct in Jan 1857.  If you do a quick calculation 1857-1820 = 37 but in reality it is just  1857.  Unless she was born in the first 12 days of the year she is 36  still.
If you use a date calculator on the marriage date, say Edward was 44 years 11 months, his birth date comes out at 1 Feb 1812.  Unless he was born in the first 12 days of the year it is 1812.

The same on his death, say he is exactly 84, date of birth is calculated as  15 Nov 1807.    These dates are 4 years on 2%2B months, not quite so different. 

It takes 84 years and 11 months gets you to Dec 1806.
So basically you’re looking for a baptism between 1807 and 1812.

 So now I can get back to the Gloucestershire researcher with some information which is relevant to our search. Interestingly the name Atkins does look like Aitkins on the marriage record for Hannah Mcleod. And the name has appeared as Aitkins in some records so I shall give both options to the researcher.

It has been a week of talking about handwriting in regard to a variety of issues so it is synchronistic that final resolution should come from that source.

Kylie also resolved the question as to whether or not Henry Coches was the Henry Cox who married Elizabeth Atkins, and it seems he was.

The researcher in Adelaide wrote:
There is no record of burial of Henry Edward Atkins in West Tce Cem in 1843 or to 1846.
If he died at Hutt River Clare he may be buried anywhere in the district but with no record

The marriage certificate of Elizabeth Atkins in District of Clare shows Henry’s surname as Cocks
the same handwritten letter is used for k in his X mark, her X mark and in Atkins so the registration reads -

Henry Cocks 31y tradesman, son of Charles Cocks
married 9 Feb 1880 in St Johns Church Laura by James Corvan
Elizabeth Atkins 22y daughter of Edward Atkins
both signed with an X

witnesses  J Lucas tradesman at Gladstone  and Mary Atkins her X mark at Gladstone

The handwriting discussion arose because this piece of information made me think again about earlier discussions we had from oral family history that Mary  Atkins Ross was illiterate. Given that Elizabeth is also illiterate one  would presume that James was as well although perhaps as a son he might have had more education.

What I find puzzling is that if Elizabeth Mashford was literate, as we  have come to believe, then why are at least two of her daughters able to  sign only with an X?

There were levels of literacy and with a literate  mother (and now we know father) I find it hard to believe that these children would not at least be able to sign their  names. An X suggests total illiteracy.

Perhaps I am more of a cynic, but it seems to me that a lot of ancestry  research is like a lot of archeological research.... it is conjecture.  There’s nothing wrong with that, it draws upon our intuitive skills in a  bid to better understand something which does not make sense.

But the explanation of it not being fashionable to sign one’s name, which has been given as a a possibility, does  not make sense to me given the hierarchy of society at the time and the  snobbery associated with the class system.

Writing was a sign of one’s status.... illiteracy a sign of  inferiority... I can accept that a woman who could sign her name might  use a mark if her husband was illiterate so as not to embarrass him but I  don’t see why a witness would.

More to the point, the oral history in my family had Mary as illiterate.  Given the shame associated with illiteracy I don’t think that is the  sort of story which would be made up and handed down through  generations.

And Mary’s signature on her marriage certificate is so shaky and badly  formed .... it is not the signature of someone who is literate. The  George Lewis signature as witness on the other hand is well formed and  is actually very similar to Kate Clavin so if he put a mark on his wedding certificate I am wondering if someone wrote  their signatures. I might see if I can find a handwriting expert to ask  about this because it could be an important source of information.

And there is certainly time for Mary to become semi-literate before she married eight years after Elizabeth.

It makes me ponder again an earlier rumination as to whether or not  Elizabeth was literate.

Kylie replied:
I  have always wondered about this.  I have found places where the same  person has signed their name and others where they used a mark and it confused  me no end.  However I was reading a book on English records for tracing  the family tree and he made the point that using a mark was common even  in the literate and that you should never use that as an indication that the ancestor was illiterate.  It seems  they considered the signature and the mark as interchangeable and that  it did not reflect on their intelligence or education to use a mark.

Also,  at one stage, it was considered unlucky for a girl to sign their name on a wedding certificate if the man used a mark.  I wonder if this just  became unlucky to sign on a wedding certificate at one stage.  If this  is the case, it could explain why they have used marks on this wedding  certificate, whereas Elizabeth’s generation seemed to use their signature.  It may just be a fashion.

Mary  could sign her name, she did on both copies of her marriage certs.  It looks like George signed his name on her marriage cert but he put his  mark on his marriage certificate in 1872.  This marriage took place in  1880, 8 years before Mary’s marriage.  Perhaps the fashion had changed  by then, or she was old enough not to bother with the fashion.

All  history is conjecture and interpretation.  I can’t find the exact page and it is not indexed but the author was talking about wills and other  documents such as letters that were known to be written by someone,  competently in their own hand, then finding they had done a mark only on  other documents, such as wills, marriage certs or witnessing documents.  Having come across a few examples myself now,  it struck a chord with me. 

You  wondered if Edward was illiterate, and that was why the children  weren’t taught.  I don’t think so as his signature on Elizabeth’s cert is very  confident and well formed.  It is definitely in a different hand to the  rest of the cert so I presume it was his signature. 

Anyway  these are the two certificates with Georges mark and signature.  NB: When the site lets me upload images again I will post these. You are correct that sometimes the clerk would copy the certificate but he  was supposed to do the mark or signature as a facsimile, so it is hard  to tell what’s what (and it should have been marked as a copy).

 I have  wondered if the mark was actually Sarah’s as her sister only gave a mark as the witness.  I can’t imagine the clerk  doing one mark but not others, so I assumed that George couldn’t read or  write.  However it certainly looks like he signed Mary’s certificate.   Also attached is the bible front page.  I wondered who filled this out.  If you check the letters are the same as  his signature on Mary’s cert.  Fancier and neater but formed in the same  basic way.

And as I now can see from the signature on the two marriage  certificates, Edward Atkins had a well-formed hand as Kylie pointed out,  which looks like that of a literate man.

So the issue of handwriting can prove fruitful if not conclusive in such research. If Mary and Elizabeth were illiterate it does raise questions which could bring important answers.

Such questions prompt ponderings. Perhaps Edward was a bigamist and spent little time with Elizabeth given the size of his family with Hannah. Left on her own Elizabeth would have been busy with her two sons from her first marriage and three more children in quick succession with Edward. If Elizabeth were literate but spent much of her time alone it would not be surprising that her children did not learn to write, if indeed that were the case.

It would also explain why it looks like Elizabeth and her three children moved to Gladstone, some time before 1880, when Elizabeth Atkins marries and Mary is her witness and lists her place of residence as Gladstone, while Edward remained at Wirrabarra.

Did Hannah stay on at Bundaleer while Edward worked at Wirrabarra, only to re-appear years later as the first wife? Her son Henry, if he lived, would have been fourteen in 1857 and the oldest girls around twelve and ten. Bundaleer (Jamestown) is some 50km from Wirrabarra and probably a day and a half’s journey.

Could this be why Elizabeth and her children, from what we can see, did not put up a death notice for Edward and were not mentioned in the death notice which the children of his first family published? Clearly by the time Edward Atkins died at Whyte Park, Wirrabarra, at the home of his daughter and son-in-law, Hannah would have been dead or she would have been mentioned.

 Or perhaps it was her death, sometime in the 1870’s, which brought Edward Atkins’s children from the first marriage to Wirrabarra where they discovered his second family and Elizabeth learned the truth?

The fact is that Edward Atkins was married twice and when he died we know his second wife was living but she did not get a mention. Neither, by the look of it, did the children he had with her. The daughters mentioned fit with his marriage to Hannah and there is every chance that Henry Edward who was born in 1843, survived.

If a woman discovered her marriage was bigamous in the late 19th century and her children were illegitimate, would she wish to hide that fact by leaving her husband and moving her children far enough away to keep the secret? Gladstone is some 30km from Wirrabarra and a good day’s travel by horse.

A bigamous marriage could explain why they moved away and why there was no death notice for Elizabeth Mashford and her children.

It is of course all conjecture but there is food for thought? My hope now is that I will be able to trace Edward Atkins to his Gloucestershire roots.

The two marriage records...

The marriage record of Edward Atkins and Hannah McLeod.

Above: The marriage record for Edward Atkins and Elizabeth Mashford Lewis.

We have solved the mystery of the 'two' Edwards - and he was a Gloucestershire lad

Being thwarted at a moment of breakthrough seems to be the way of things with ancestry research and the long post I did yesterday turned into unreadable format. I am in the process of getting help to fix it or will rewrite.

But for those who were frustrated by the headline with no information, the breakthrough is that the two Edwards are one. Kylie has received the marriage certificate for Hannah Mcleod and Edward Atkins and Edward's signature, which is quite distinctive, is exactly the same as that on the marriage certificate for our Edward and Elizabeth Mashford Lewis.

So, he was married twice. We have hordes of extra relations. And he was a Gloucestershire lad.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Another dead end in the process

I won't say that hopes were high but there were hopes that the Anglican archives for Wirrabarra might throw some light on our ancestor, Edward Atkins and whether or not he and Hannah Mcleod's Edward are one and the same.

But it seems we have found another dead end. The response from them is as follows:

Your request for info re your great-great grandfather came to me in a roundabout manner from Joan Reed and Janelle Shephard.  The early records from our area were kept at Clare. While doing research for Yet Still They Live -- Wirrabara's Story  in 1972 - 74 I made a note of baptisms in Wirrabara,Wirrabara Forest (Whites' Forest), Charlton, Bangor, Stone Hut from 1855 to 1877, which were  listed in the St Barnabas' register, and also those listed in the Seven Hills Jesuit College Register.  

The only reference I have to Atkins is the baptism of James Haines on 28/10/1862 son of  Edward and Elizabeth Atkins -- occupation of father - Bushman.  I haven't any records for Edward and Hannah Atkins.  It seems that this is another  family.
Some of the records for this area could be listed in the registers at Holy Trinity Church, Melrose.  These would go back further than Wirrabara's.

However, one door closes and another opens for I have the name of a contact at Melrose who might be able to help. However, I will have to phone when I am next in Australia so that will delay the process for a couple of months. If one does not have patience beginning ancestry research then it is a skill which must be learned. 

Apart from the incorrect spelling of Haynes (often Haines) and the registering of Edward as a bushman... not sure what that means and it may be another name for shepherd... there is no new information to hand. 

At this point it is safe to say that we simply do not know if our Edward is Hannah's Edward although if one were to lean in any direction it would be toward there being two families, not one. That is however conjecture and so we need to keep an open mind at this point and continue to pursue a death record for Hannah or any information about her family which could help us make a decision once and for all, either in the positive or the negative. 

And Kylie has responded to the latest tidbit of information with a comment I find heartening:

Disappointing but if the register only dates from 1855 then I wouldn’t have expected anything, although where are the girls?  Perhaps not that accurate?
I do hope that the marriage certificate from Holy Trinity is readable.  It now seems the most likely to help.  Beryl did warn me that they are very scratchy etc (the microfilm I presume).  More waiting……..
And it is a good point. It is too easy to become disheartened when information must be assessed in context and if the source is not so accurate then neither are the results. The search continues.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

An education in life and times as well as family

There is no doubt that ancestry research is educational and not just about one's own family. In trawling through the past one ends up researching general as well as personal history.

It is in fact an important part of the process in terms of understanding the material which is uncovered and gaining greater understanding of the lives our ancestors have lived.It can also be quite sobering if not depressing which is why I have chosen the image of a flower to head my post, to balance the images of death which come later.

Kylie and Luke are far more seasoned researchers than I am and have a wealth of knowledge to offer to the process, but, as with many things, we see the world differently and don't always agree. And that's a good thing because it means the focus of research covers a variety of bases instead of just one or two. 

Having more than one person involved in this process is absolutely invaluable and I am sure increases the chances of making progress just because there is more minds and more time involved. 

Our latest discussion has been about the death notice for the Edward Atkins who died at Whyte Park. My sense, and that is sourced in common sense and gut feeling, is that the wording should be taken seriously, absolutely seriously, but Kylie is not so sure and neither is the researcher who has been doing some work for us. 

Kylie writes:

.....they seemed to make up the lists including dead and alive, sometimes a rough estimate, sometimes an exaggeration, and then seemed to choose any form of wording to go with it. She  (the researcher) laughed at the idea of taking it too seriously.

Think about how it would actually happen. Someone would write up the list, most probably one of the daughters in this case. They would do a rough draft of what they wanted to say but they may not know how many words or how the words were counted. They would give it to someone to take to town when they were next there, maybe a week or two later.

This would probably have been one of the men or even a neighbour. The wording was chosen in consultation with the newspapers agent, often the owner of the local paper, or the general store, using one of a selection of currently used ‘phrases’, to fit to size allowed. The person approving the final wording may not remember the list includes dead or alive, so the wording was entirely appropriate to them. 

They may have to reduce the wording of the original they were given or have words to spare. The ‘to mourn their loss” looks like such words, as do the “Gloucestershire papers please copy” (even more so when you see the “English papers please copy”). Some people take these things seriously, some don’t.

Luke is right about how there are different conventions at the time too, and these are very hard to pin down, even today, but I also think that even in Victorian times these things varied greatly from family to family. Some families never complied with the forms of the day, others were horrified by the smallest variance.

If you read the etiquette books of the day you would get a very different view of behaviour from the actual behaviour of the day, just as if anyone followed some of the modern etiquette books today we would think them pompous and unnatural. Things change with each decade, each generation and vary from area to area, from one social set to another, from family to family, even between two people in a marriage. Some people always talk about their dead as if they are still alive and others never mention them.

The Victorians were no more homogenous that we are. I think this notice is more about being proud of taking part in and surviving the settlement of South Australia, noting the mark their father had left on such a project, his part in building the Empire.

That is the thing I find strangest about this notice, it is saying look what a difference Edward made, he was 84, a pioneer of over 50 years and “leaving one son, 5 daughters, 47 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren” in SA, a significant contribution. 

The leaving could have merely referred to leaving that many children, grandchildren, making their mark on South Australia, even if that mark was a small grave. They were there, they were South Australian, they counted.

The real question, when advertising your contribution, is why not include all the children, your total contribution? It was when I realised that the total in this death notice was only the first family and almost certainly did not include Elizabeth’s children, that I started questioning what links we did have between the two families. Even if we find Hannah died before 1857, we are still left without a definite link. Cherrie’s comment that she has seen this sort of separate notice before is interesting, a rift is another explanation, but we are still left with a question mark.

Luke, the reason I doubt that James is the “1 son” is that his children are not included in the grandchildren, I can’t think of why they would miss them. Unless we find Henry lived past 4 or 5 years, I would assume it was Joseph, he would be remembered by the oldest girls, Henry may not have been remembered even if he lived to four or five.

I don’t think these people were of a social class who could afford too great a degree of mourning.  Anyway our rituals never reached the heights of Victorian England. 
In Australia, funerals were less extravagant and mourning rituals less strict - especially in rural areas. From the 1870s, funeral reforms in both Britain and Australia resulted in a move toward more modest and cheaper funerals, and encouraged recycling or adapting old clothing for the mourning period rather than purchasing new outfits

We’ll have to wait and see if (the historian) can find any mention of him. There is certainly no marriage or death in the indexes for him.

Anyway, we’ll just keep chipping away at it and we may end up with an answer, one day.

I think Kylie's position is sound in general but I still have misgivings about not taking the wording of the death notice too seriously.

I agree with Kylie that I doubt James would have been included and my guess is that Henry lived to adulthood. I do think it is a bit of a stretch to have younger sisters in adulthood, including brothers who have died as very young children, in a death notice.

As to how seriously one takes the death notice, I am not sure that differences of opinion matter too much at this stage because the only thing which needs to be pursued at this point is a death record for Hannah. Finding more children or a death record for Henry would help but at this stage of the game the Whyte Park family does not include our ancestors and the most important thing about linking our Edward to Hannah's Edward is the link to his place of origin.

However, I think it is certainly highly likely at this stage that Hannah's Edward is our Edward and there was a rift between his first and second families... there are enough clues so far to make that a likely possibility. I also feel it is a bit of a stretch to make things 'fit' better by not taking the death notice seriously.

In terms of 'not taking it too seriously,'  this runs counter to every instinct and all of the knowledge that I have about human nature. Death in those times was taken very, very seriously indeed, partly for religious reasons and partly because there was so much of it.

In eras past, people were actually more homogenous because they were bound by religious and social tradition in ways we are not. This applied to everything from how they dressed, how they wrote, how they talked etc., but it applied to death more than anything.

They took death so seriously that I actually found myself trawling through photographs of the dead, many of them children, which were sourced in Victorian funeral traditions. There was and is something very, very sad, if not traumatic about looking at the face of a dead child.

In many cases these children were propped up next to a living sibling; lying on a bed or couch behind living siblings, 'sitting' on the lap of a parent or in their agonisingly small coffins. Needless to say the parents looked utterly traumatised and no doubt they were. 

I wonder if it comforted them to have an image of their dead child or baby? Somehow it seems so much worse than just a tombstone but that is a modern view of death and I am projecting my own values onto it.
Death, in Victorian England, was a grand and complicated business. There were many social rules in the classes who could afford it about mourning clothes, degrees of mourning, and the length of time for which different mourning colours were to be worn.

In fact, if anything they were obsessed with death which makes it more likely that death notices, even if they had to save words to save money, said exactly what they were meant to say. There are so many ways of writing a death notice without using the words 'leaving to mourn.'

In fact the notice would have been cheaper if it had said: One son, five daughters etc. in mourning. There is in fact no need for 'leaving' and if it was a penny a word, the less words the better. These families would also have had to count every penny and that suggests greater, not lesser attention to such things.

The 'death' industry of Victorian times was massive. The death notice was one of the most serious things anyone ever did. People in the colonies travelled hundreds of miles to send letters and to register deaths and notices, when they could.The Victorians had quite rigid rules regarding death and I find it hard to believe that at this time, those living in the colonies were much different.

Ridiculous as it sounds and as it was, even my parents generation, born in Australia in the 1920's and often to parents who had also been born in Australia, would talk about England as home. Immigrants often hold more tightly to the traditions of 'home' than those they have left behind ever do. 

there is no doubt that the poorer classes  in England and Australia could not afford to take part in this commercialized notion of death, although they continuously desired to replicate the mourning etiquette of their social superiors. As such, during times of hardship they would often dye their own clothes black to create a similar effect.

In the  Victorian age, however,  death was more likely to be embraced rather than feared. No doubt there was an aspect of the, 'if you can't fight it, join it,' at work.  In comparison to today's secular society, Victorians held stronger convictions to the teachings of the Bible - the doctrine of the eternal soul and an eventual bodily resurrection. With so much death, particularly of children, no doubt they needed such comfort even more.

I suspect this is why religion tends to have a far more powerful hold in the Third World than the First. When death is ever-present you are going to be looking for answers or comfort of some kind. In these times the working classes in particular had a very short life expectancy mainly because of poor nutrition and poor sanitation. The prevelance of syphilis also caused high numbers of deaths of babies and children.

I suppose it is a given that when one is doing ancestry research you are dealing with the dead most of the time. It just makes their lives more real when one sees images such as those above.  

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Sifting through the sands of time!

It is a slow process sifting through the sands of time, grain by grain, trying to establish just how much we really know about our ancestor, Edward Atkins. It is a circuitous process because at this stage we are still trying to 'put together' links which will make it possible or impossible that the Edward who married Hannah Mcleod is also our Edward. 

There is not much more to report at this stage but fellow researcher Luke has been doing some more work and it is worth posting. 

He writes:
 I have tried to look for the record I had of an Elizabeth Cox, but cannot seem to find it again. I do remember having a record unless I realised it was the daughter of Edward and Elizabeth Mashford who married Henry Cox in 1878 and then just left her out of the picture as a missing daughter of Edward Atkins and Hannah McLeod.

However, their first child Henry Charles Cox was born in 1880. This made me to re look at my information and my sources concerning Elizabeth Cox again this morning and I am glad that I did.

When I asked my mother about the Cox side of the family she just said she did not know a lot about them. She said for some reason when she was young, her side of the family did not have much to do with the Cox side of the family and as a result, she knew very little about them.

I have a record of an Elizabeth Cox (the daughter of Edward and Elizabeth Mashford) marriage date as 1878, but had no information as to where she got married. My source on her was from Spike Jones' website on the Atkins family. I think he may be related to you Ros and my mother. (N.B. Spike, alias Leonard Jones, is a third cousin on my paternal grandmother's side. His grandfather was my grandmother's brother - Hilda Rose Jones married Charles Vangelios Ross, second son of Mary Atkins and Charles Ross.)

I did a search on this morning and cannot find a marriage for a Henry Charles Cox and an Elizabeth Atkins. There is an Elizabeth Atkins on the site, but no spouse. I do not know where Spike Jones got his information from on the marriage date of Elizabeth Cox nee Atkins and Henry Charles Cox as 1878. When I do a search on TROVE nothing comes up for a Henry Coches or an Elizabeth Coches. However, there is a listing for COX

“Cox. On May 17th, at the residence of her daughter. Terowie. Elizabeth, relict of Henry Cox. Late of Gladstone. Aged 85 years.”[1]

“Cox on the 18th June at Wirrabara Henry Charles dearly-beloved husband of Elizabeth Cox aged 81 years late of Gladstone, leaving a wife, two sons, and 2 daughters to mourn their loss. English papers please copy”[2]

“Medlin- COX.-On the 11th April, at St. Alban's Church, Gladstone, by Rev. De Chs, Leonard R, second son of Charles Medlin, Esq, of Perth, Western Australia, to Edith S, second daughter of Mrs. E. Cox of Gladstone. Western Australian papers please copy”[3].

Photo: Elizabeth Mashford Atkins and her son James Haynes Atkins.

Spike Jones date of 1878 as a marriage date of Elizabeth Cox nee Atkins is only 2 years out of the marriage date of Elizabeth Coches nee Atkins of 9/2/1880. Both Elizabeth Cox and Elizabeth Coches father was called Edward Atkins. 

N.B. Writing can be difficult to read on records and  numerals can be difficult to distinguish accurately. It is easy to make mistakes on dates and names.

After looking at my sources again I now think that Elizabeth Coches nee Atkins is the same person as Elizabeth Cox nee Atkins. So as a result, I take back that I think Elizabeth Coches may be a possible missing daughter of Edward Atkins.

I have recently noticed when I was doing some research on my father's side of the family that the computer system that digitised the original English census does not always get the spelling correct. Most of my father’s family came from Highworth in Wiltshire, but the records on shows the spelling of Highworth as Highwood.  I have been trying to find a death record of my GGGfather Cornelius Clavin, but on the spelling of “Clavin” is shown as “Clarin” Maybe Henry Cox’s middle name Charles and his last name “Cox” has got mixed up by the computer is shown as “Coches.”

N.B. I have found the name Mashford spelled as Matherford and Chrysantheous, the name of Charlie and Mary Ross's son, spelled as Clesanthows. Cox to Coches is no more of a stretch than either of these mistakes.

As result, Elizabeth Coches could not be one of the missing daughters of Edward Atkins because she is really Edward Atkins’ and Elizabeth Mashfords’ daughter and not the daughter of Hannah McLeod. 

Elizabeth Coches and Elizabeth Cox birthdates are the same.  Elizabeth Cox nee Atkins was born c1858 if you look at the first obituary. Elizabeth Coches was also born in c1858.

Elizabeth Atkins:-  Henry Coches was 31 years of age at the time of his marriage. His father was called Charles Coches. Henry Coches married on the 9/2/1880 to Elizabeth Atkins. She was aged 22 years and her father was called Edward Atkins. The couple married at St John Church at Laura. If Elizabeth Atkins was married at the age of 22 in the year 1880 then she was born in the year 1858.

I cannot find a death record for an Elizabeth Coches on, but there is one for Elizabeth Cox

Death Date:
17 May 1943
Death Place:
South Australia
Registration Year:
Registration Place:
South Australia
Page Number:
Volume Number:

As a result, I do not think there was ever a person called Elizabeth Coches.

Photo: Edward Atkins with Mary (left) and Elizabeth (right) circa 1870.

I think I agree with Kylie that there are no more daughters of Edward Atkins, who died at Whyte Park, Wirrabarra, to be found.

Ros” maybe you and Beryl at SAGHS are both right about the obituary of Edward Atkins. In your email Ros you said “to mourn their loss is just so specific” but Beryl at the SAGHS said “She thought that the “mourn their loss” would often include the living and the dead regardless of the phrases” Maybe people living in the 1800s did not consider a dead member of the family “as dead” in the sense you and I would understand “dead” today. 

(N.B. I still find it a stretch to believe that the line 'leaving to mourn their loss' could include the dead as well as the living. My instinct, if indeed the two Edwards are one, is that Henry did survive to adulthood and was the one son mentioned. )

People in the 1800s believed that people did not die, but were alive with Jesus in heaven so the obituary was “specific” and Ann Pole who had died before Edward Atkins is listed as one of the people to “mourn their Loss” even though she was no longer alive. May be it was a sign of the respect of the dead that they were still alive in the memory of the living and hence were included in an obituary.

N.B.  Except it just does not make sense. And that is because of the word 'leaving.' He is dead and those who are mourning have been 'left.' If they wanted  to acknowledge living and dead there are other ways of phrasing it but from my understanding of history, amateur that I am, but well read, the Victorians were as pragmatic as anyone and I simply don't believe this death notice refers to dead and living children.

Henry Edward Atkins and Joseph Atkins were long dead and hence no longer  alive in the memory of the living. As a result, the one remaining son just may be James Atkins and Elizabeth Cox, Mary Ross and Elizabeth Mashford were cut out of the obituary due to a split in the family.

N.B. Possible but not likely. Again, social courtesies being what they were I don't believe a son from a second marriage would be mentioned while two daughters from the same marriage are excluded. It does not make sense. 

Ros: Just as a thought about church records and when a church was built. When I was a young boy growing up in Tea Tree Gully the Catholics priest moved into a house across the road from us there was no church built. For many years we use to have mass in the priest’s garage, but records were still kept showing that somebody was baptized etc at St David’s even thought there was no church  built. So I think you are right Ros that even though there was no church built, Priests were around to undertake their functions.

 N.B. Yes, I think tracing church records is a good way to go because priests were on the spot pretty much from the beginning and keeping records long before churches were built. 

I also think you are right Ros if we can find a death record of Hannah Atkins nee McLeod then it would really throw a lot of light upon if there was one or two Edward Atkins.

If a Hannah Atkins died before Edward Atkins marriage to Elizabeth Mashford then it would indicate only one Edward Atkins. However, if there is a listing for a death of a Hannah Atkins nee McLeod after the marriage of Edward Atkins to Elizabeth Mashford then it indicated two Edward Atkins.

At this stage, I am still leaning on the side that there is only one Edward Atkins and not two, but to get that finial bit of evidence would just be fantastic.

And yes it would. Finding some conclusive fact which would establish once and for all whether or not our Edward is the Edward who died at Whyte Park would either make much which has been posted on this blog valuable family history or useless digression.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

One more piece of information as we try to find Edward Atkins.

As of today we have one more piece of information which helps to cross the t's and dot the i's as we try to establish if there is only one Edward Atkins or two.

I have had a response from the Anglican minister for Clare, the Reverend Joan Reed, regarding my query and  she says:

I have checked the church burial records and have found a record of the death of a Joseph Atkins who died on November 28th 1855 aged 3 ? years who is buried at Bundaleer.? I didn’t find any record of the death of Hannah McLeod Atkins or Henry.
So now we know that young Joseph did not live to adulthood, marry and have children but Henry may have done. It does not take us far but it does take us further because we have one more piece of information about the family of Hannah and Edward Atkins.Little Joseph, born in 1851 must have been four when he died and was buried at Bundaleer. His sister Emily, born 1854 in Bundaleer, means the family moved to Bundaleer from the Clare Valley sometime between 1851 and 1854.

It is pretty clear at this point that Hannah and Edward moved to Bundaleer and it looks likely that Henry lived to adulthood and could well be the 'one son' mentioned in the death notice for the Edward Atkins who died at Whyte's Park, Wirrabarra Forest. 

The Reverend Reed has passed my query on to the Reverend in charge of the Ministry District of Southern Flinders which includes Wirrabarra so fingers are crossed that there might be some further information which comes to light. A death notice for Hannah Atkins would help enormously or a second death notice for another Edward Atkins would solve the mystery once and for all.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Taking advantage of tangents and turns

PHOTO: Charleston in the Adelaide Hills.

Going off on a tangent is part and parcel of ancestry research. If the direct approach does not work then try taking a turn toward something less direct.

In this case I have decided it might be useful to do some research on the one Joseph Atkins we have found in South Australia.

He is too young to be the father of our Edward but there is always the possibility that he could be the brother. I came across some information on this Joseph and have sent off emails to those who were posting the information. In the meantime here is what we have on Joseph Atkins, possible brother of Edward Atkins.

This Joseph Atkins lived in the tiny hamlet of Charleston in the Adelaide Hills and he was born in 1816, just three years before the birth of our Edward Atkins, if the age on his marriage certificate with Elizabeth is correct. Even if not, it is close enough for them to be brothers.

Joseph Atkins, his wife Leah, nee Clarke and their two children, William and Harriet are listed as passengers on the David Malcolm which arrived from London, via Plymouth on December 21, 1847.

If it was our Edward who arrived with Hannah and Daniel McLeod, on the Eliza, May 14, 1840 then this is seven years later and certainly could fit with family emigrant reunion.If it is not our Edward then it is possible that our Edward followed his older brother and family out to the colonies because we have a record of him for 1849.

Joseph's wife, Leah Clark(e) was born in Aston Abbotts, Buckinghamshire, in 1820 and she married Joseph Atkins on June 2, 1844 in Cublington, Buckinghamshire. This is not to say he was from Buckinghamshire but there is a good chance that he was. Buckinghamshire is an 42 miles north-west of London, from where Joseph Atkins and his family and the E. Atkins who travelled with Hannah McLeod, took ship to Australia.

A Joseph Atkins was recorded as being destitute in the mid 1850's with four children. Records posted show Frederick baptised 21 Jun 1844  just 19 days after his parents married; Harriet born 12 Oct 1846 both born in England before the family emigrated; Thomas born 19 May 1849 Kensington,  Adelaide;William 1851; Leah/Eliza 17 Nov 1853 and Mary Ann (25 Sep 1855 - 15th mar 1856) Charleston.

Joseph's wife Leah, baptised 18 Feb 1821 died August 30, 1858 Charleston. Within four years it looks like the children were orphans.

The obituary for Harriet nee ATKINS says both her parents were deceased by Harriet's sixteenth year, meaning Joseph ATKINS died c1862 and this fits with a death record:

South Australian Deaths Registrations 1842 to 1915
Joseph ADKINS (incorrect spelling but par for the course with this research)
Date: 1862-12-06
Age: 46y
Status: N
Relative: (not recorded)
Residence: Marryatville
Death Place: Marryatville
District Code: Ade / Book: 15 / Page: 13

There is also a record of a William Atkins marrying in South Australia, father Joseph Atkins, in 1861, aged 24 years to Sophia Staples and again, seven years later, presumably following the death of his first wife, to Emma King (nee Palin).

This means the Wm. on the ship's record was ten when the family arrived in South Australia and the Hr. which is Harriet was one or two. Frederick would have been two or three but he appears not to be listed on the ship's record. None of this is exceptional and such records are as variable and unreliable as ages.

Or this William is not the son of Joseph and Leah given the fact that the death notice for Samuel Frederick states that he was the eldest son. Not that it matters. Establishing facts for this family is not what it is about. The goal is putting information out into the ether which might bring facts to hand which link our Edward to this family and therefore make their ancestry of use to us.

Harriet married 1866 aged 21years and Eliza married 1876 aged 27years. William died at the age of 42 and his death notice states that he is the youngest son of the late Joseph and Leah Atkins.
'Brother of Mrs. D. Guidi (Harriet),Mrs. J. P. Edgecombe (Eliza-Leah),and Thomas. Atkins, Victoria.'

Samuel Frederick Atkins moved to Victoria and went on to have a large family:

Pioneer Index. Victoria 1836-1888
Samuel ATKINS,
Birth Place: ADELAIDE
Event: M
Year: 1871
Spouse: Rosanna MCKENNA
Reg Number: 353


Leah Harriet ATKINS
Father: Samuel Frederic
Mother: Rosan MCKENNA
Birth Place: MORTLAKE
Year: 1873
Reg Number: 18694

Isabella ATKINS
Father: Samuel
Mother: Rosanna MCKENNA
Birth Place: STAR
Year: 1875
Reg Number: 12596

William Frederick ATKINS
Father: Samuel
Mother: Rosannah MCKENNA
Birth Place: STAR
Year: 1876
Reg Number: 19448

Sarah Jane ATKINS
Father: Samuel
Mother: Rose Ann MCKENNA
Birth Place: STAR
Year: 1881
Reg Number: 12633

Catherine ATKINS
Father: Samuel
Mother: Rosanna MCKENNA
Birth Place: STAR
Year: 1883
Reg Number: 12662

Joseph Samuel ATKINS
Father: Samuel
Mother: Rosanna MCKENNA
Birth Place: STAR
Year: 1885
Reg Number: 29065

Pioneer Index. Victoria 1836-1888
Samuel Frederick ATKINS
Event: D
Father: Joseph
Mother: Leah CLARK
Age: 41
Birth Place:
Death Place: ST ARNAUD
Year: 1886
Reg Number: 14636

ATKINS -On the 10th November 1886, at St. Arnaud. Victoria, of typhoid, Frederick. beloved husband of Rose Atkins, eldest son of the late Joseph Atkins, of Charleston, and beloved brother of T.W. Atkins, Mrs. D. Guidi. and Mrs. J. P. Edgecombe, of this city, aged 41 years. Blessed are they who die in the Lord.

There may be absolutely no connection between this family and ours but it is worth putting the information out on the internet to see if something comes up. If there is a connection then it raises the chances of finding out, circuitously where our Edward is from.

It is a flimsy link but with nowhere else to go for the moment it is worth a try.

I also finally heard back from the Anglican Church Archive and have sent them some questions which may or may not bring results.

N.B. And a note from Luke suggesting an Atkins connection which may mean I am on a better track than I thought. Given the tendency of early settlers to emigrate where family members were living and to remain close to family members and if we are 'related' to most of the Atkin's in South Australia, I would not be surprised to find that Hannah's Edward is our Edward. But we are not there yet.

'I do not think you are going out on a tangent at all. exploring ever angle is important I think. It would not surprise me if Edward Atkins had brothers and sister in South Australia it is just finding the link. It reminds me of something my grandmother use to tell my mother "nearly all the Atkins you met we are related to somehow" that is a good clue that maybe Edward Atkins had an extended family in South Australia.'