Sister Act

Bonsall Lodge viewed from Holly Finnis via Bonsall History

After establishing that Sarah Jane BATES (aka Sally) was a daughter of Hannah Bates, I wanted to know more about her.

The 1939 census gave her birth year as 1872 and so Sarah Jane Bates was easily found in the 1881 census staying as the niece of Edwin Wright in Holly Finnis, Bonsall – but was this our girl?  Could Edwin’s wife, Ann be Hannah BATES’ elusive sister, Ann BATES? I needed more evidence to link the two families.

1881 Census – Bonsall

Searching for an Ann Wright brought up her second marriage to an Ebenezer BANNER in 1886. This excited me as Hannah had used the name ‘Ann Banner‘ when she married William Henry LAMB but I’ve never known why. However, even though this bride’s father is also named as James Bates (same as Hannah), there was still a chance it could all be coincidence.

1886 marriage of Ann Wright (nee Bates) to Ebenezer Banner

And then I found Ann’s first marriage record…

1872 marriage of Ann Bates to Edward Wright

Bing, bang, boom!

Witnesses: Alexander Rollett and Hannah Rollett (!!)

This is the proof I need that the 1881 census record is Sarah Jane and the Ann in all these records is Hannah’s sister Ann BATES. [I believe Edward was misrecorded as Edwin in the 1881 census – ‘his mark’ indicates he could likely neither read nor write so wouldn’t know to correct the census taker.] Interestingly, Hannah was also living on Duke Street (number 51) when she married Alexander a few months earlier – perhaps both girls had been living with their mother. (They appear to be with her in the 1871 census taken the year before their marriages.)

Divorce at the time was rare and limited almost exclusively to the rich. My presumption is that when Ann’s second husband, Ebenezer died in 1891, Hannah saw her chance and married William by using her sister’s name a few months later. If anyone was suspicious, records would show that ‘Ann Banner’ was in fact a widow and legally able to marry.  I have no idea if Ann consented to this or not. Of course there is the possibility William did actually marry Hannah’s sister for some reason but there is a lot more evidence proving the relationship between William and Hannah.

Next Steps:

  • Confirm Hannah, Ann and their mother’s 1861 and 1871 censuses
  • Search newspapers for Ann and her husbands

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.