Yeomans of Brum

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St Philips Church, Birmingham c.1829 (where William & Catherine Yeomans were wed)

While tracing back through the life of James YEOMANS recently, I came to a standstill at his birth.  There were two likely baptismal records of Josephs whose fathers were both called William but which one was the correct one? One had a mother called Mary, the other, Elizabeth.  Never mind, I thought, I’ll just use the censuses.

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Possible baptismal records of Joseph Yeomans side by side

The problem was however, that I couldn’t find Joseph YEOMANS in the 1841 census – the one that could give me his parents names and take me another step back in the line. I had Joseph’s marriage record so knew he was married in St. Philip’s Church, Birmingham in 1845 (now Birmingham Cathedral) and the ’51 and ’61 censuses located him there. A general name search (variants on and off) and an area limiting search came up with nothing. It’s possible he was living/staying elsewhere that night but also possible the transcription was askew.

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Marriage certificate of Joseph YEOMANS & Catherine SANDFORD

The marriage certificate gives his father’s name as William YEOMANS – a tin plate worker. Joseph’s precise age is not given, only ‘of Full age’ to indicate he was at least 21. The 1851 census gives 27 which means he would only be 17 in 1841 and likely (although not guaranteed) still living at home. Locating it would hopefully solve the issue of which mother was his.

William and Mary YEOMANS were found quite easily, yet I could not find William and Elizabeth.

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1841 census entry of a William and Mary Yeomans

Presuming it was likely a different spelling of the name, Yeomans, I searched using a variety of name combinations.  Finally, I searched for Jos* Yeomans and huzzah! There he was WITH his father William and mother, Elizabeth, who had been recorded as Wm & Elizth. For further proof this was the right family, both Joseph and his father were recorded as Tin Plate workers AND they were living on Summer Lane (the address given on Joseph’s marriage certificate).

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1841 census entry of Joseph Yeomans, with his parents William and Elizabeth

His age was a couple years out from the birth years given on subsequent censuses but it fit very well with the 1822 baptismal record.

Interesting to note that he gives his age as 1 year younger than his wife, Catherine on the 1851 census and 1 year older than her on the 1861 census which are both 2/3 years younger than his actual age. 

When life gives you LEMMENS…

Grandma Befay's father's parents - Frederick Lemmens
Mevr. Lemmens & Frederick Lemmens (and a mystery daughter?)

I haven’t written a lot about my mother’s side of the family – in fact, I just checked and I don’t seem to have written at all about them!  This saddens me but it’s largely because her family history is centred around Belgium and so the records are not easily accessible to me (physically OR ‘literally’ as I don’t read French or Dutch).  Hopefully that will change with a little help from growing records and Google Translate.

This weekend my mother passed on a photo that my grandmother gave my mother of HER mother’s parents – got that? Basically I got a pic of my mother’s maternal great-grandparents (and maybe a great-aunt in the background).  So that’s great – an ‘ID’ed family photo… almost.  The problem is my grandmother has forgotten their names (!) although she’s pretty sure her grandfather’s given name was Frederick.

So I blow off the digital dust on my Belgian ancestors to check their names to discover I don’t actually have them on there yet.  I know that my grandmother was one of nine children born to Eduard LEMMENS and Gabrielle MINNE.  Eduard himself was one of seven siblings seen in the photo below:

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Children of Frederick LEMMENS

(The youngest girl lying on the floor looks most like the mystery woman in the first photo – could it be her?)

Since I don’t currently have a ‘world’ membership, I wasn’t expecting much from searching a Belgian on ancestry.co.uk, but I actually may have struck lucky!  The very first result was a British 1901 census entry for a Fredrick LEMMENS born in Ostende, Belgium.  My grandmother was born in the coastal city of Ostende, Belgium and the man’s age fit (b.1855), so it immediately interested me.  This man was on board the S.S. Truro in Hull that night and recorded as a ‘Pilot Dutch’ but it didn’t seem to be a Belgian vessel or crew.

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1901 census – Fredrick Lemmens aboard the S.S Truro, Hull

A quick glance at some of the other results didn’t show any other connections but Google threw up a record on the Oostende Archives site of a sea fishing captain who “sailed for shipowners”.  So could that delightful outfit that looked to me like a milkman’s uniform actually be a captain’s uniform?

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Ostende in the 1920s
Next steps:

Mystery Grandson Solved

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William James Cussans birth entry

In my last post, I mentioned that I wanted to find out more about the mystery grandson, William CASSANS, found staying with the ALLEN family in the 1851 census.  I’ve actually wanted to do this for years – ever since I first found this census record.  If I could find who his mother was, I could add another child to that family and perhaps open up more doors.  Even though I guessed it was a spelling issue, I was never able to locate this child anywhere else.  To be fair, I wasn’t that bothered since he wasn’t a direct line from me, but seeing his name again bugged me and I set about to solve this mystery.
William CASSANS was only 3 years old (so born c.1848 in Gillingham) and staying with his grandparents William Henry & Sarah ALLEN in the 1851 census.

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1851 Census – William CUSSANS with the ALLEN family

I had previously searched the subsequent censuses under various spellings since Cassans gave me nothing.  (Some of the variants I found included; Cussans, Cussons, Cossons, Cousins and even Custance)
A search within two years of 1848 on findmypast, brought up the birth of a William James CUSSANS, registered in the Medway area, and a death in London that looked ‘promising’.

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A search for census records under this name found someone of the right name, age and birthplace married to a Jeanette in London 1881.

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1881 Census – CUSSANS

A quick search for marriage record with a ‘Jeanette’ as spouse brought up:

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Marriage of William CUSSANS (search results)

1873 fits with the age of the first child (6 years in 1881, therefore born a year or two later in 1874/75) but notice there is also another possible bride listed.
Ordinarily, a certificate would need to be ordered to actually prove which of these women was the one he married, however since this marriage took place in London, I was able to find the parish register entry in the London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921 records on the ancestry website.  As well as proving the marriage, this record gave his father’s name as James CUSSANS, an upholsterer.

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Marriage of William CUSSANS (parish register)

Tracking William back to the 1861 census finds him in London with his parents, James (yay!) and Emma, who was born in Faversham, Kent (double yay!).

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1861 Census – Cussans

But was his mother an ALLEN?

Well, my many hours hunting the Kent parish registers showed that William Henry and Sarah did indeed have a daughter named Emma so the last thing I had to do was look for a marriage between a James Cassans and an Emma and…

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BAM!  I love it when a plan comes together…

Wrestling with Death (places)

William WREFORD was my famous (in those times) wrestling ancestor hailing from Devon (previously mentioned here and here).  So, the fact that the only likely death entry for him was registered in London was a bit worrying for me.  Could I be confident this was really him?
Luckily, I had found a newspaper article mentioning he had died ‘in the metropolis’ to help put my mind at ease:

DEATH OF A RENOWNED DEVONSHIRE WRESTLER. – On Sunday last the veteran William Wreford died after a very short illness at the house of one of his children, in the metropolis. (Exeter and Plymouth Gazette (Friday, 07 December, 1866)

The Wreford Pedigree also notes that he died 26 November 1866 aged 74 which matches the death record, so I’m confident this is my William WREFORD.

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The death record states William, a yeoman, died of ‘Natural decay’ on 26 November 1866 at 5 New Street, Bishopsgate [London].  However, the informant is listed as Thomas Cusiok/Cuscok (also living at 5 New Street), NOT one of his children.
Two of his children were living in London around this time.  William’s son, also named William, had been living in London from at least 1840 – he had married at St Dunstan in the East, and was in the censuses until 1861 as living in the court behind St Clement’s church, Eastcheap. (He was in the police force but by 1871, he was a ‘coffee house keeper’ a little further north in Paul Street.)

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Also, his daughter, Elizabeth had married a mariner (Alexander SMALL) in London, 1853 and was a widowed lodging house keeper by the 1871 census (where she lived further north in Tower Hamlets – I’m yet to find her on the 1861 census).  Could Thomas Cusiok have been one of her lodgers?

Next steps:
  • Who is Thomas Cusiok/Cuscok?
  • Find Elizabeth SMALL (nee WREFORD) in 1861 census

Adopting a New Approach

The 1881 census first told me that my second great grandfather, Alexander Gibson REID (also featured in my post, Dating Photographs) was adopted. I found it very interesting but soon realised that this created a problem for my research.

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Alexander Gibson REID on a family outing circa 1928
see Dating Photographs post for more information

Finding Alex on the 1871 census confirmed the adoption and cemented the final stone in a very solid brick wall.  Unfortunately, it will probably take a minor miracle to break this one as there were no adoption records in the 1860s.  In fact, there were no scottish adoption records at all until 1930. This problem is not unique to Scotland either as many family historians have no doubt discovered.

REID family on the 1871 census

Both censuses state Alex was born in Dunoon, Argyllshire about 1863.  I have tried searching for birth records under that name but have got no results.  This indicates to me that Alexander may have been renamed by his adoptive family; which also indicates that he was probably adopted very young.  Possibly from a family member, possibly from the victim of a colliery accident, possibly this, possibly that… There could be so many other explanations – too many for me to list all the possibilities here.

In the hopes a miracle will be bestowed on me, I want to gather as many clues as I can by studying the adoptive family.  The key (or sledgehammer) may just lie in the family names or newspaper reports from the places they lived.

REID family on the 1861 census

Gibson REID had been a coal miner since he was at least 15 (source – 1841 & 1851 censuses) but by 1861, he was a colliery clerk in New Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire.  He lived with his wife, Agnes (nee GIBB) in Knightswood (now part of Glasgow but then still a rural area with small scale mining source).

Gibson was 35 years old, born in Crichton, Midlothian; Agnes was 36, born in Bothwell, Lanarkshire.  They were living in Knightswood Cottage with their children; Mary, Alexander, Janet, Robert & Isabella, who were aged between 1 & 13 years of age.  All the children were born in Bothwell, Lanarkshire except the youngest, Isabella, who was born in New Kilpatrick the previous year.

Death certificate of Gibson REID – 27 Jan 1872, New Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire

A brief timeline of Gibson REID:
About 1826 – born in Crichton, Edinburgshire.
1841 – living in the HOGG household (William and Euphemia) with Robert, John & William REID (siblings?) & 50 year old, Agnes REID (mother Agnes listed on death certificate)

Sometime after 1841 – moved to Bothwell, married Agnes and had their first child, Mary in 1848.
Between 1851 and 1860 – became a colliery clerk and moved to New Kilpatrick.
Between 1863 and 1871 – adopted Alexander Gibson.
1871 still living at Knightswood Cottage.
1872 died of chronic bronchitis.

Next Steps:
Search for male births (first name Alexander, blank surname) for familiar or possible mother names
Check Argyllshire newspapers for local tragedies
Check 1841 census for Agnes Gibb and her family found 4 possible matches – 1 most likely in Bothwell (sisters Catherine & Jean?)