Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Unsolved and mysterious past of Mary Ann Goodwin, the Gleesons, the Lesters and More

When she arrived  in New Zealand aboard the Brodick Castle in 1876 the past of Mary Ann seemed fairly obvious. She was listed as Mary Ann Gleeson age 17 , Domestic Servant from County Kerry Ireland.
This in itself from a genealogical point of view was a little problematical as Irish family history can be difficult to trace, however the past of Mary Ann was to prove even more difficult and mysterious and full of red herrings.
The first confusion arises in details on her death certificate where Mary Ann is listed as being born in Dublin but despite her maiden name of Gleeson, her parents names in this document are listed as James Lester and Mary Lester.
Certainly Lester is a name that has proved important in the family. Her son Phillip used Lester as his middle name, and he named is eldest son Lester.
A search of the few records available in Dublin bought no joy in finding any trace of James and Mary Lester.
Mary Ann's obituary has no mention  of parents but does say she grew up in Dublin.
The mystery still remains, why would her name be Gleeson if her parents names were Lester? Perhaps she was adopted and it was the Lesters who raised her in Dublin. It seemed that her past would remain unknown.
That was until another document came to light. 
The birth certificate of her eldest daughter Gertrude, reported by Mary Ann's husband James added more confusion into the mix .
James reported that his wife's place of birth was not in fact Ireland, but was Leeds, England. Further research showed that the same place of birth was reported on the certificate for son George Goodwin, a birth also reported by husband James. Just to confuse things more, on the birth certificate of son Phillip the birth place is reported as Dublin, however this birth was reported not by James but by James’ mother.  I would surmise that Jane assumed Mary Ann was born in Dublin as this was where she grew up, when James knew otherwise and perhaps this fact was not widely known among the family.
The good news from a genealogical point of view is that Mary Anns birth date of circa 1859 means if she was born in England, then her birth should have been registered.
A look at all births for Mary Gleesons in the Leeds area of Yorkshire yields  several worth investigation
The only one actual listed as born in Leeds was born in 1856, which is probably a little early as every document that we have with Mary Ann's age consistently places her birth around 1859-60 . In addition this Mary Ann , whose parents were Thomas and Frances Gleeson appears to remain in Leeds throughout her childhood .
A second Mary Gleeson born 1859/60 appears in the 1861 census with parents William and Mary.
This family is also traceable through to 1871 so is not a likely candidate.
There is another Mary Gleeson, born in 1860 in Rotherham Yorkshire to parents Daniel and Bridget Gleeson. Daniel and Bridget are both from Ireland and their children were born in the Leeds area . Bridget and Mary appear on the 1871 census so we can probably discount that family too.        
The 4th and I believe most likely entry in the 1861 census is a Mary Ann Gleeson age 2 and is a         
visitor in a house with an Ann Smith ( aged 30 Widow, Hawker) and a Kelly family.
 I strongly suspect this is our Mary Ann.  Where are her parents and who are they?  In order to  solve this mystery we will need to order the birth certificate of this Mary Ann Gleeson. - and when we do we will know her parents but will the rest of the mystery be solved? Only time will tell.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Francis Henry Goodwin- a genealogical conundrum

Ive been concentrating on my Goodwin branch lately. When looking for another relatives photo on the wonderful Auckland Libraries Heritage Images website , I came across the image above for Francis Henry and recalled the research I had done on him a little while ago.

I first came across Francis Henry when his name appeared in a list of casualties during World War I . He was listed as being from Ngaruawahia where much of my Goodwin family resided, and his next of kin is listed as Sarah Moffit (Aunt). Sarah Moffit was in fact Sarah Ann Goodwin (daughter of my 3x G Grandparents William Henry and Jane Goodwin) who had married Edward Moffit and lived in Ngaruawhahia. So Francis must have been the child of one of her Sarahs siblings--- but which one? His birth did not appear in the New Zealand births deaths and marriages register.  He was certainly old enough to appear there - I estimated he must have been born prior to 1896 to be eligible for service in WWI.
Francis, was serving in the Dardanelles when he went missing on June 6th 1915. The next record in his file is August 11th of the same year when he is admitted to the hospital with Enteritis and on the same date he is transferred to Cairo to the NZ hospital there. From there he is discharged as medically unfit when it is discovered that he is in fact underage. His attestation form gives a date of birth of 10 August 1894. Stating he was born in Newmarket Auckland.
His war record file is thick - it covers both his service in WWI and later in WWII, where surprisingly he still seems confused by his date of birth. He lists it as 10 August but the year is crossed out twice and eventually listed as 1898. This date seems more in line with his looks in the photo above, however was of no use in finding a birth or discovering who his parents were.
In 1919 Francis married Ada Hill. He lists his age as 21 which coincides with a birth date of 1898. At last - I could find out Francis’ parents , from his marriage certificate.

Francis’parents were Samuel Henry Goodwin and Lettie( Letitia) Goodwin nee Meekin. Samuel was in fact the younger brother of Sarah Ann Moffit as I had thought. Samuel was born in 1866 so was 8 years younger than his sister Sarah. Letitia Meekin was much younger than Samuel. Her date of birth is listed as 1882, and in 1898 when Francis was born, Samuel and Letitia were not married.
I suspect the fact that Letitia was under the age of 16 when Francis was born has a lot to do with why his birth was not registered, however it is interesting to note that Samuel and Letitia did in fact marry, 7 years later in 1905. They went on to have at least four more children together before Samuel died in 1926.
The interesting thing is during the period of World War I Samuel and Letitia were in fact living in Ngaruawahia as well. They were all a family at one point if this photo below is as described, a photo of Samuel and Letitia with Frank and his younger brother James Henry. Why did Francis not list his parents as his next of kin? Was he estranged from them? This part of the mystery will probably not ever be solved.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

William Boyt 1804-1884: Fencible

The term Fencible comes from the word “defencible” meaning “capable of defence”

The Royal New Zealand Fencible corps were retired soldiers from Britain and Ireland, often referred to as 'Pensioners', who enlisted as a military reserve to act as a 'defence force' for the protection of the early settlers in the fledgling town of Auckland, New Zealand.

In return for signing up to provide defense against local attack and to perform garrison duties, they were given passage for themselves and their children and were provided with a cottage and an acre of land which after a term of service of 7 years, they would own outright .
 There were over 2,500 men, women and children who arrived in New Zealand during the years 1847 - 1852. They settled in the now south and eastern suburbs of Auckland, namely Onehunga, Otahuhu, Panmure and Howick. service they would own.
Generally members of the Fencibles were required to be under 48 and  had attained a minimum of 15 years service and most had significant overseas service
The fencibles settled in speciallyh created villages in the Auckland suburbs of Howick, Onehunga, Otahuhu and Panmure.
In the 1849 census of Auckland nearly 1/3 of all recorded were Fencibles.
They were first called to action in 1851 when a large party of about 350–450 Ngati Paoa from the Thames and Waiheke Island areas arrived at Mechanics Bay Auckland in about 20 waka to attack the city. A British regiment at Albert Park Barracks was called out to the hill overlooking the bay. It was reinforced by fencibles who had come from Onehunga, the closest fencible town. Fencibles at Howick and Panmure were stood to in case of further trouble. The frigate HMS Fly trained its guns on the Maori war party from offshore. The cause of the aggression was the arrest of a Ngati Paoa Chief who had stolen a shift from a shop in Shortland St. The situation was defused when the attackers were given tobacco and blankets.
William Boyt was aged 21 when he enlisted to the Royal Marines in 1824. He was born in Wellington Somerset England to parents Parmenas Boyt and Jean Boyt nee Greedy.
He is described as a Sawyer (a trade he recommenced later in his life) , 5 foot 10 inches , brown hair, blue eyes and fresh complexion and of good industrious character.

William’s regiment was posted to Wales where he met and married his wife Mary Mathias. It was whilst posted in Wales his older  children were born.

He was discharged unfit with a fractured left clavicle after serving 10 years and 11 months .

William and his family were aboard the first Fencible ship to arrive in Auckland. The Ramilles arrived on August 5th 1847 with 67 Fencibles and their families aboard and this group formed the settlement in Onehunga.
The Fencibles and their families off the "Ramilles" were housed for three months at the Albert Barracks in Auckland. They moved to the village of Onehunga on the 17th November 1847, where a large wooden 100ft building housed them and their families. Later in the year detached cottages were built on a ten acre site and the families moved into their new homes in April, 1848, laying out their gardens and planting vegetables. By July the village of Onehunga boasted its first school attended by 31 boys and 23 girls and by 1850 the population of Onehunga had grown to 867 persons.

The Boyt family  made their home in Grey Street Onehunga and later William is known to have lived in Captains Street (later renamed Neilson Street) .
Mary Boyt died on 23 August 1883, followed by William a year later on 27 August 1884.
He was buried in the Church of England Cemetery in Symonds Street.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Remarkable Story of the Boams and the Wilsons of Winster and how a girl became her own Sisters Mother!

Firstly I must thank Dawn Scotting for her research and for purchasing the marriage certificate in this layout. Without her I never would have worked out this part of my family tree!!

Here is the journalling from this layout :
This story of huge genealogical confusion, begins in the village of Winster Derbyshire in the early 19th century. Thomas Boam, born c 1804 was a lead miner like many in his village, which was the centre of the lead mining industry in the area. Thomas married Ellen Fryer on 26 January 1826 and together they had 4 children. Martha,born 1827, Thomas, born 1829 ( who we will call Thomas Jr to avoid confusion) John, born 1832 and James born 7th September 1835. Tragically though baby James survived Ellen died during his birth.
Thomas managed alone with his 4 children for many years. In 1841 he was living next door to his brother in law Thomas Fryers family in Woolleys Yard Winster, so he may have relied significantly on family help to bring up his children.
In 1849 Thomas jr, who was the eldest son, married Mary Wilson, who was one of the eight children of William Wilson, a joiner of the same village of Winster. Thomas jr and Mary went on to have 9 children of their own, including my GG Grandmother Mary Jane.
In the mean time, the elder Thomas’s children were almost grown. He shared his house in  1851 with his daughter Martha and her husband and children, and perhaps having babies around pleased him . It was time to find a new wife.  New and young, for in 1859 aged 55 Thomas married none other than the younger sister of his daughter in law Mary Wilson.  Sarah Wilson, aged just 17 was 7 years younger than Thomas’ youngest child James!
It was with this union that Thomas Jr became his fathers brother in law, and Sarah Wilson became her sister Mary’s Mother in Law!!
Unconventional though it was, this marriage was a long lasting and fruitful one. Sarah and Thomas remained married until his death in 1874 and she bore him 7 further children , the youngest of whom was born in the year that Thomas died aged 70. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Man of the Railway - Lemuel Wheatcroft

Lemuel Wheatcroft was my Great Great Grandfather, his daughter Susan Wheatcroft married John Lowe, and their daughter Nellie Lowe married my Grandfather Ralph Poole.

The Wheatcroft family will require a lot more research as there were so many of them.
Lemuel was one of 10 children of Thomas and Maria, and Lemuel and Harriet went on to have 10 children of their own. I have only just barely touched the surface of this family.

The information in the layout above was taken from 2 articles I found in Derbyshire papers. One was a report on the Golden Wedding of Lemuel and Harriet and the other was a short obituary of Lemuel published after his death in 1941.

The journalling on the layout is below:

Lemuel Wheatcroft was born in Draycott, Derbyshire to parents Thomas Wheatcroft and Maria (nee Deaville), in the second quarter of 1858. He was one of 10 children. His father Thomas, was one of the earliest workers on the South Midland Railways. Thomas had paced the route to Nottingham before a rail had been put down, and he was on the first train between the two neighbouring towns, an event that required a man to walk in front of the train waving a red flag!
At the age of five Lemuel’s family moved from Draycot to Little Chester Derbyshire- Being one of so many meant a childhood didnt last long and by the age of 8 Lemuel had a job  working in the local greengrocer where he was paid 4 shillings and sixpence a week with a bonus  of 3pence for being a good boy!
Lemuel eventually followed in his fathers footsteps and sought employment with the railways. 

He spent several years in various departments and eventually became Chief Mechanic of Engineering in the Locomotive Department.
Lemuel remained working in the railway until 3 days before the age limit of 70 when he would be forced to retire.
A true Railway family, all Lemuels brothers also worked in the railways .
Lemuel married Harriet Wells on December 26th 1883 at St Werbaughs Church Derby,and together they  had 10 children, one of whom also attained a high position in the railways.
The family lived at 36 Roman Road Derby for at least 30 years, and Lemuel and Harriet had celebrated their golden wedding anniversary there on 26 December 1933, and had been married for 57 and a half years when Lemuel died, FWS 83, on the 26th May 1941 and Boundary House Infirmary.