Thursday, January 03, 2008

Who witnessed the Wrights and why ?

In the last post, I discussed searching for the baptism of my 4xgreat-grandfather John Wright in 1804. His place of birth as given by the census was 'Dringhouses', which covers 3 different adjoining parishes on the Southwest corner of the City of York. I am quite confident that I have found the correct entry - a John Wright son of Thomas Wright. This is based on it being the only baptism of a John Wright at the right time in the parish that I knew John to live in (Holy Trinity Micklegate). However, as the marriage entry for John Wright to Ann Calvert in 1829 did not give the name of his father, I want to have another record to link John Wright to Thomas Wright to be completely satisfied.

Did Thomas Wright live until 1841?
What I ideally would be able to do is find some record that has John Wright and his wife Ann Calvert, that link directly to Thomas Wright', or at least the other children that Thomas had. I suggested in the last post that perhaps the banns would help here. As I don't have access to that yet I thought about other possible routes. One thing I thought about was whether I could find Thomas Wright in the 1841 census. If he had lived until then, he would be at least 66 (his first child Jane was born in 1793 so his earliest possible birthdate would be 1775). There would therefore be a good chance that he would not be alive, but I thought it would be worth a try. Therefore I searched for "THOMAS WRIGHT" "Born 1765 +/- 10 years". I gave a wide margin for the date of birth due to the unreliability of ages in the 1841 census, and the possibility that Thomas didn't marry and have his first child until his late twenties. Using this criteria there were 15 Thomas Wrights born between these dates living in Yorkshire in 1841, and one living in Holy Trinity Micklegate! As there were no other Thomas Wrights living in any other York parish, I think there is a good chance that this is the Thomas Wright assuming he lived until 1841! A good test of this would be to search the burial records in the parish to see if Thomas did die between 1810 (the last time I have a definitive record for Thomas, at the baptism of his son James) and 1841.

The Thomas Wright I found was aged 77, which is a little older than I anticipated, but also suspicious as people were not meant to write the exact age only put their age down to the nearest '0' or '5'. Thomas is living with a Sarah Wright aged 75. Now, I already know that the Thomas Wright I am
researching was married at least twice (to Ann Shaw on 12/2/1793 in Acomb and to Jane Morris between 1796-1799 at some place unknown). I think he may have also remarried to another Ann between 1810-1813, based on finding a baptism of a Henry Wright in Holy Trinity Micklegate to a Thomas and Ann Wright in 1813. However, there is no way to be sure if this is the same or another Thomas Wright. Thus, if the Thomas Wright in the 1841 census is indeed the right one, then it appears he has remarried again. Working from this hypothesis, I searched for a marriage between a Thomas Wright and Sarah in York between 1813 and 1841. I found in the IGI a record for a marriage in the neighboring parish:

"25/10/1829, Thomas Wright & Sarah Smith, St. Mary Bishophill Junior, York"

Can I get a witness?

Although this research is somewhat speculative at the moment, I think that it is very plausible that this is the Thomas Wright I'm interested in for three reasons. Firstly, Thomas Wright is living correct parish and is a 'farmer' - exactly the occupation that is described in the Dade registers of his children between 1793-1812. Secondly, John Wright and his wife Ann Calvert are living just down the street and are listed on the very next census page. Thirdly, when I re-examined the census image I noticed that living next door to Thomas Wright was a 'Robert Bellerby - aged 30'. I also then saw that living next door to John Wright was another 'Robert Bellerby - aged 63'. This was strange, but the name also rang a bell with me - I then remembered that I had seen the same name on the marriage record of John Wright and Ann Calvert in 1829 at St.Mary Bishophill Junior, as Robert Bellerby was a witness to their marriage. Both Robert Bellerbys are gardeners like John Wright.

While I don't have proof yet that this Thomas Wright is the father of John Wright, there certainly seems to be strong connections. The next steps for me would be to get details of marriages, births and importantly deaths to map the life of Thomas, his wives and family. Unfortunately, this Thomas didn't live until 1851 so I cannot look to see if he was born in Patrington, where I believe he was born according to the Dade Baptismal Registers of his children. Another thing I could try would be to follow the lives of the other children of Thomas Wright to see if I can connect my John Wright to Thomas Wright. Also, doing some research into the Bellerby family of this area may also be helpful - perhaps the link was more than friends, perhaps they were related in some way.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Eighteenth Century Wrights

My 4xgreat-grandfather John Wright was born in Dringhouses, York, in approximately 1804. I found this information from the 1841-1871 censuses where he was described as a gardener still living in Dringhouses. In 1829, he married Ann Calvert, and they had 7 children together between 1831 and 1844 including my 3xgreat-grandfather James Wright in 1836. In this post I shall try and find out more about the early life and parents of John Wright.

Weighing up the baptismal evidence of John Wright
The first step in finding out more about the early life of John Wright was to find a baptism. As I've mentioned previously, this part of York at this time had 3 parishes that were very close in distance. Thus, if someone moved only a small distance then they may move from one parish to another. Therefore, one needs to search the registers of St. Mary's Bishophill Junior, St. Mary's Bishophill Senior and Holy Trinity Micklegate when looking for a baptism in the 'Dringhouses' area. When I first researched this family, I only found the one record for a John Wright - he was baptised on Sunday June 10th 1804 at Holy Trinity Micklegate, the son of Thomas Wright a farmer at Dringhouses. This is also corroborated by two other family history researchers who had been studying the Wright family and had come to the same conclusion that my John Wright was the son of this Thomas Wright (and whose research I trust!). Another positive was that Holy Trinity Micklegate was also the parish that on John Wright's marriage record in 1829 he was registered as being from - hence why I searched these registers first. Unfortunately though, the marriage record for John Wright and Ann Calvert did not record their father's names so I cannot cross-check that I have the correct baptism. I therefore do not have a direct record other than the baptism with 'John Wright son of Thomas Wright' upon to prove the link. However, as John Wright and Ann Calvert were married by banns (this is where the announcement of intent to marriage was read out for 3 consecutive Sundays in the parish church of each individual), I may be able to get these registers to check. I also need to think if there is anything else in the local records that may help me here, as well as consulting with others who have worked on this line to see what records they have looked at.

Another way to be completely sure would be to establish if any other John Wrights were born in neighbouring parishes. I found two, maybe three, born in St. Mary Bishophill Junior according to the IGI between 1802-1803. It appears as if two John Wrights may actually be one as the same date (26th September) is given for the baptism of a John Wright son of George Wright, but one is 1802 (from the parish records) and the other 1803 (from an LDS member, so perhaps not as reliable). The chances of these being two John Wrights seem slim and therefore they are probably one and the same. The other John Wright was the illegitimate son of a Hannah Wright (bp 27 Aug 1803). I cannot completely eliminate the possibility that one of these is my John Wright. I could try and start doing this by 'killing them off', i.e. checking the burial registers to see if either of them died in infancy. Alternatively, I could 'marry them off' to another wife rather than Ann Calvert, which would demonstrate that they couldn't possibly be the correct John.

Nevertheless, the fact that my John Wright stated on his marriage record he was from Holy Trinity Micklegate parish and that there was only one John Wright born there at the correct time leads me to believe that this is the correct John Wright for me. It has to be remembered that when moving into Eighteenth Century research, it becomes harder to have more than one piece of evidence that clarify relationships, though this is always the ideal. Currently, I'm happy to think that my John Wright was the son of Thomas Wright, as are the other researchers who have looked into this. I would hope to find extra records to prove this, or to look for records that eliminate those John Wrights baptised at roughly the same time in neighboring parishes.

John Wright in the Dade Registers
The complete transcript from the Holy Trinity Micklegate baptism register reads:

"Born Sunday June 10 1804, John Wright, son of Thomas Wright, farmer at Dringhouses, son of Thomas Wright, farmer at Patterington. Jane daughter of Robert Morris carpenter at Harton neigh Burlington"

In the same register, there were entries for five other children between 1799-1810 for the same parents. There were also three entries for children between 1793-1796 to the same father, but a different mother:

"son/daughter of Thomas Wright, farmer at Dringhouses, son of Thomas Wright, farmer at Patterington. Ann daughter of William Shaw, farmer at Cottingworth."

The last entry of these children in 1795 had Ann's father William Shaw being a farmer at "Pattrington".

These detailed baptismal entries are thanks to Rev. William Dade who proposed the use of the so-called 'Dade Registers', a system of detailed baptism records with much family history information as seen above. The system was discontinued in 1812 when the printed baptism form was introduced thanks to George Rose's Act, but between 1770 and 1812 many Yorkshire parishes used this system. See here for a list. A good tip for Yorkshire research is that if you find an IGI entry for an ancestor in one of these parishes, be sure to check the original entry as you may find much, much more.

Putting the Wright information together
It therefore appears that a Thomas Wright was born in Patrington (a place in Holderness, on the peninsula of the East Coast of Yorkshire, about 50 miles from York) and that he was a farmer and that he had a son Thomas Wright. The younger Thomas Wright at some time before 1793 married Ann Shaw the daughter of a farmer William Shaw who was from 'Cottingworth'. It is a bit difficult to be sure where this place is as there isn't a place exactly of this name today. The most likely candidates are the parishes of East Cottingwith or West Cottingwith which are half-way between York and Hull (Patrington is East of Hull, the other side from York). If this is the right place, one has to wonder why William Shaw then left there to move to Patrington in 1796? It is always possible that he did not and that the entry in the printed copy of the Dade Registers is a misprint or transcription error when it states William Shaw as being from Patrington. The other potential place could be 'Cottingham' which is a parish within Hull itself.

Nevertheless, Thomas Wright the younger and Ann Shaw went on to have 3 children together, after which between 1797-1799 it seems Ann died. Thomas remarried Jane Morris, whose father was Robert Morris, a carpenter from 'Harton neigh Burlington' - or 'Harton near Burlington' in modern parlance. Burlington is an older name for today's Bridlington, which is on the East Coast of Yorkshire about 40 miles from York. Again, it is difficult to be precise where this Harton may be. There is a village of Harton that is only about 4 miles Northeast of York, but this is not near 'Burlington' and yet there is no 'Harton' near to Burlington/Bridlington that I can find. There is a Marton however which is a parish within Bridlington, so perhaps this is another case of transcription error as 'H' and 'M' can often be confused. I shall have to consult the original entries rather than relying on the transcripts that were published by the Yorkshire Parish Register Society. Thomas Wright and Jane Morris went on to have 6 children together between 1799 and 1810.

In the Holy Trinity Micklegate registers I also found another baptism, unfortunately after 1812 when the Dade Registers were discontinued:

'28th April 1813, Henry, son of Thomas & Ann Wright, Dringhouses, labourer in husbandry'.

Now, there were no other Thomas Wrights from Dringhouses having children baptised during this time-period. My working hypothesis is that perhaps Jane Wright (nee Morris) died around 1810 and Thomas again remarried to another Ann and had another child - Henry in 1813.

Thomas Wright and his wives
So far I have only been using baptism records as evidence. Ideally, I need to be using death records and marriage records to reconstruct families and relationships. Therefore, I searched for the marriages of Thomas Wright using the IGI -

1. Ann Shaw - 12 Feb 1793, Acomb.
2. Jane Morris - cannot find yet!
3. Ann ? - cannot find yet, and perhaps never happened!

What leaps out immediately is that Thomas Wright (who we know was the son of Thomas Wright of Patrington in Holderness) married Ann Shaw (who was probably from Cottingworth in East Yorkshire) in 1793 in Acomb. This is the same parish that my Wright family have lived in until the present day after James Wright (Thomas Wright's grandson) moved there in 1868. Between 1793 and 1868, Thomas Wright and his son John Wright had lived in the neighboring parish of Dringhouses. It seems very coincidental that they married in Acomb without any prior connection to it. I still don't know why they married there despite not living or being from that parish. Perhaps if they were married by banns and these registers survive I may get more information, such as which parish they came originated. One reason for marrying in a different parish was if the wedding had to be 'hurried', but this does not seem to be the case here as their first child was not born for 9 months. I remained perplexed as to why they chose Acomb.

What is to be done?
From this long entry, one realises that when doing research pre-1837, things get trickier, but there is still a lot of information out there. My problem is that I am currently quite reliant on already published information that I can access, when I really need to get to the original documents - especially banns, baptisms, marriages and deaths. The only way you can completely understand a family is to know exactly when each individual was born, married and died. This is particularly true when studying a large family with a common surname such as Wright. In family history and genealogy, you can get too caught up with rushing to find out your direct line rather than looking at all related individuals. My next steps with the Wright research will be to review various side branches and cousins to myself to see if they give any extra clues as to what happened to my own ancestors.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Calvert Family of York

My 4xgreat-grandmother Ann Calvert was married to John Wright in 1829 and lived in Dringhouses, a parish on the South-West border of York. From the 1841-1871 censuses, I knew that she was also born there around about 1803. In 1826 she had an illegitimate child, George Calvert, and had 7 children with her husband John between 1831 and 1844. I also knew that prior to her marriage she had lived in the parish of Bishophill Senior (next to Dringhouses, closer to York) as this was stated on the marriage entry and the IGI entry for her bastard son George.

The Calvert Family
The key in tracing Ann Calvert was to find her baptism. I searched the corresponding parish records (Bishophill Jnr, Bishophill Snr and Holy Trinity Micklegate - HTMK) and found a baptism for Ann Calvert:

"Ann Calvert, born Wednesday 22nd June 1803, baptised Sunday June 26th 1803, daughter of Mathew Calvert, labourer at Dringhouses, son of William Calvert labourer at Acomb, and Elizabeth his wife, descent unknown."

This seems to be the correct entry as there is no other Ann Calvert baptised at the right time in these parishes. There was however, an Ann Calvert baptised in April 1803 in the parish of Holy Trinity King's Court, York, who was the daughter of a James Calvert and Ann Bland. I found this entry when doing a sweep for all Ann Calverts born 1798-1808 in Yorkshire on the IGI index. This is unlikely to be the right Ann Calvert as the parish is not a neighboring one although it is in York. However, I would really like to have one more connecting piece of evidence to be completely sure that the HTMK baptism is the correct Ann to follow. As she married pre-1837 I won't be able to get this from her marriage certificate, and her marriage church entry did not mention her father's name. I shall have to come up with some other secondary confirmation, ideally with her married name Ann Wright connected to either Mathew or Elizabeth Calvert. Perhaps Ann was the informant of death of her parents?

Nevertheless, following the Ann Calvert from the HTMK baptism registers, I found four elder siblings of Ann also baptised. They were, William (1791), Ann (1795), John (1796) and George (1800). Of these, Ann the elder does not appear in the IGI. I'm hoping that my note-taking from 10 years ago hasn't failed me and that she really was in the registers! All of them described their father as Mathew Calvert (a labourer) son of William Calvert (a labourer), except for the eldest child Willliam when both are recorded as 'farmers'. For all children, Mathew's wife Elizabeth is described as 'descent unknown'.

I haven't managed to find too much extra information from parish records, though I have sporadically looked through them. I did do an IGI search for the baptism of a Matthew Calvert son of William which produced one possible match - 25 Feb 1757 in Saint Mary Bishophill Junior. This Calvert line will need much more systematic research of parish registers and other records in the future to get further.