Sunday, 25 February 2007

Geoff's Genealogy Update 25 February 2007

Well, another week has rolled by. It's hard to believe that already two months have sped past since Christmas. Here in the UK the days are lengthening and our thoughts are turning to the joys that come with the spring and summer - gardening, holidays etc.

During the past week I have been diligently entering more data into my family history records. So what, you say; you've been doing that since the blog started. True. However, there was a bit of a difference this week.

My mother used to speak fondly of her uncle and aunt - James Archer Smith and his wife Ophelia. They were more prosperous than mum's family, and helped them in times of need. Mum bore the name Ophelia as a third forename, named after her aunt. She hated it!

Some months ago traced the marriage of James Archer Smith and Ophelia Eliza Florence Kerr in Shoreditch, London in 1901, and this week this record came to the top of my pile of items for entry. I noted that although the groom was a bachelor, his bride was a widow, and her father's name was George Worthy (deceased). In the interests of getting the whole story (or as much of it as is possible) I decided to research the Worthy/Kerr clans, using the censuses on Ancestry.com, the Mormons family search website and Free BMD.

I had quite a bit of success in this enterprise, tracing the families on several censuses. Ophelia's parents were George (b c1826) and Annie (b c1829) Worthy, Londoners both, and for the most part living in the Shoreditch area in the second half of the nineteenth century. I failed to trace their marriage, so don't know Annie's maiden name. I have also been unable to trace George's birth. George and Annie were enumerated on the 1891 census, but as per the marriage certificate I mentioned above, George had died by September 1901, and as I cannot trace Ann on the 1901 census, I suspect that she also may had died by then.

I traced the marriage of Ophelia to William Henry Kerr in 1882 by using Free BMD. I also traced her with her spouse and 3 Kerr children on the 1891 census. Free BMD tells me that William Henry Kerr's death was registered in the December quarter 1897. Ah! I hear you say. Without buying the certificates you can't be sure of these facts. True. However, I am very confident that I am drawing the right conclusions. The age of the deceased William Kerr just about ties with the age on the 1891 census. I'll let you know if it transpires that I am wrong!

In 1901 Ophelia was enumerated with her seven Kerr children, living in 2 rooms! How on earth did they manage.

All of this information was news to me. I had no idea that Ophelia's marriage to James was her second marriage. Still less did I know that she had all those children! Mum never mentioned any of this. However, there is one other surprising fact that has arisen out of this piece of research. In the records that I have found this week Ophelia was recorded as Eliza Florence Worthy/Kerr No Ophelia. However, on her marriage and death certificates her name shows as Ophelia.I wonder why. Mum hated her third forename, although I must say I like it. I wonder whether her aunt also disliked the name so much that she wouldn't use it. Quite possible, but even if that were that case it surprises me that her parents didn't use it when giving information to the census enumerator.

I really need to round off this by tracing Ophelia's birth record, and seeing how she was named. I hope to be able to do this soon, and will let you know the outcome.

All this goes to reiterate what I said in this blog a few weeks ago - it's amazing how much research you can accomplish online, without leaving home.

Finally, the microfilm I ordered a couple of weeks ago has arrived at my local LDS family history centre, so I shall be going there this week to start searching it for Heppell baptisms at Monkwearmouth c1765-1830.

Happy hunting!

Geoff

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