Sunday, December 8, 2013

What's your evidence?

Photo credit Photo credit: Foter.com / CC BY-SA
In a comment on my last post (about the Masons and their neighbours in Currie Street) Amy asked if there were any standards in genealogy. "How much evidence you would need to say a Mr X mentioned in one place is definitely the same person as the Mr X you're interested in?" she asked.

It's a very good question, one that set me thinking about how do I ensure that I'm not just throwing names together to produce a totally fictitious family history. Up to now I've used my knowledge of how historians generally evaluate evidence, tips and information from genealogical books and websites, and plain common sense, to check that my facts are reliable. But is there a widely accepted standard for genealogical research?

There is, I've discovered. It's known as the Genealogical Proof Standard, and it's produced by the Board for the Certification of Genealogists. The document runs to 190 pages and has 74 standards, which anyone who wants to work as a professional genealogist must be able to meet. I must confess, I haven't read it, but the standards are summarised under five main points which apply to any family history research. In order to be credible, the researcher must ensure:

1. A reasonably exhaustive search has been conducted.

2. Each statement of fact has a complete and accurate source citation.

3.The evidence is reliable, and has been skillfully correlated and interpreted.

4. Any contradictory evidence has been resolved.

5. The conclusion has been soundly reasoned.

And, any proof statement is subject to re-evaluation when new evidence arises.

Let's look at what these mean in practise.

1. A reasonably exhaustive search has been conducted. Simply assuming that the first person you come across with the right name is the person you are looking for can lead to chaos. The web is full of family trees with thousands and thousands of names attached. The sheer number of names immediately suggests that the people who created those trees have either been working on them for a very long time, or they've not done adequate research. Sadly, information from one tree often gets copied into another and misinformation gets spread. 

To avoid this situation, the family historian needs to find as much evidence as possible to support their conclusions. Negative evidence (no-one else can be found who reasonably fits the facts, and no other history can be constructed for this person) is as important as positive evidence. In the case of Mr Mason in Currie Street, I have some evidence (newspaper reports) that some members of the Mason family lived in Currie Street, but I need a lot more evidence than that to link them to the other newspaper reports mentioning "Mr Mason". I know from other research that there were several people named John Mason in Adelaide at the time, and even more men with the surname Mason. 

A newspaper report or other information about Currie Street that gave Mr Mason's first name, and his age or the name of his spouse would be helpful, (though I'm not likely to find that much detail). But I should also be looking for evidence that John and Catherine Mason lived in another street at the time, as a means of excluding John Mason from being the Mr Mason mentioned in the Currie Street stories. (I already made sure that the newspaper reports were from before the date that John Mason died.)

2. Each statement of fact has a complete and accurate source citation. The actual standards for recording source citations are quite complex, but they boil down to being able to easily find the information again, and allowing others to do the same. Most family history software allows sources to be recorded in accurate detail. One of the reasons I prefer my current program to some of the simpler, and often more attractive, software that I've tried is that it allows for recording multiple sources for the same fact.

For the sake of brevity and ease of reading, I don't often quote my sources in detail on this site, but I do have a record of where I found the information, which I'm always happy to share with anyone who requests it.

3. The evidence is reliable, and has been skillfully correlated and interpreted. No historical evidence is 100% reliable, since it was all recorded by fallible human beings. In general, though, the closer the source to the original, the more reliable it will be considered. So if it were possible to find the full name, age and address of Mr Mason living in Currie Street on, say, a municipal record, a bill of sale, or some other legal document, that would far outweigh the reliability of a newspaper article.

Skillful correlation and interpretation is where knowledge and experience play a role. When I first started looking at family history, I was totally stumped by things like how to tell one John Mason from another. Now I know more about the sort of records that are available and how to find information, but also how to exclude some of the John Masons from my list. But I'm still learning new things all the time.

4. Any contradictory evidence has been resolved. There's little point in constructing a whole life story for someone, no matter how good the evidence seems to be, if they died in infancy! Likewise, it's generally impossible for a person to appear in two places simultaneously on the same census. 

Sometimes the explanation for contradictory evidence is simple, such as a family naming a later child after an earlier child who died (thus leading to two dates of birth for the same name), or a newspaper getting their facts wrong (yes, it sometimes happens!) Sometimes the contradictory evidence has a surprising explanation - a bigamous marriage, for instance, or an adoption. 

5. The conclusion has been soundly reasoned.  It would be silly to say "The Mr Mason mentioned in the newspaper articles about Currie Street must be John Mason,  because I know some of his family lived in Currie Street." All I've got is a tantalising possibility that the two may be connected, but nothing more.

Any proof statement is subject to re-evaluation when new evidence arises. That's common sense really. All history, including family history, is provisional. It's far better to say "I have a hypothesis, and here's my reasons for it, but I'm happy to change my hypothesis if new evidence comes to light." than to insist on only one possible explanation.










Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Masons and their neighbours in Currie Street, Adelaide.

Currie Street ca 1861
State Library South Australia B4545
We know from the newspaper report on Susan Mason's first court appearance in August 1865 that she lived in Currie Street in Adelaide, and was familiar with the Ship Inn. The death notices for Margaret Atkin and Rose Morris (both sisters of Susan) also mention Currie Street.

I thought it would be interesting to see if there were any other reports mentioning members of the Mason family in Currie Street, so I've done a bit of hunting on Trove. (Trove.nla.gov.au) Here's what I found. Note that I'm not claiming that any of these people called Mason are definitely related to Susan - they might be, but they might not.

The first report comes from the South Australian Register, 20th June 1849. (I've edited it slightly to make it easier to read)
LOCAL INTELLIGENCE: 
An inquest was held yesterday, by William Wyatt, Esq., Coroner, at the 'Ship Inn,' Currie-street, on the body of Joseph Penfold, baker, in that street, who met his death on the preceding night. A post mortem examination had been made by Dr Nash, at the house of deceased, and after the jury had been to view the body, the examination of witnesses commenced.  
Dr. Knott sworn— Said he was sent for on Monday night to attend deceased. A little fluctuation about the heart was the only remaining sign of life. Had at tended him before in apoplexy. Was not surprised to find him so near death upon the recent occasion, for he had noticed in the course of the day that he was not only paralytic and imbecile, but evidently in a dying state. Witness had expressed that opinion to a Mr Mason [my emphasis]. 
He was found the previous night in a hole into which he had fallen. It was three or four feet deep, and made near a house which was building on his (Dr. Knott's) account. Deceased had for years been a remarkably sober man, but had become paralytic, and at length given way under the pressure of old age and disease. Dr. Nash, Colonial Surgeon, had made a. post mortem examination on the body of Joseph Penfold. [A detailed description of the post-mortem follows which I'll spare you from reading] 
 Fanny Moyle, spinster, heard quarelling at about 6 o'clock the night before, between deceased and his daughter. Saw his face bleeding, and that he wanted to go away. She would not let him, but said she would fetch a shoemaker to put a stitch in his wound. A short time elapsed, when all at once witness heard a scream from Dr. Knott's building. Presently she met Matilda Penfold, who said her father would insist upon following her, and in doing so he had fallen into a pit and killed himself. When witness approached, several persons were removing deceased from the cellar into which he had fallen. It was a cellar near Dr. Knott's house. Matilda had had too much to drink. The father and daughter were always quarrelling. In her hearing, Mrs Edwards, a neighbour, said she (the daughter) had killed her father with a jug. The mother seemed to take no notice of what was said. She was in the same state as her daughter [More descriptions of the wounds etc snipped for the sake of brevity].
From a member of the Total Abstinence Society who was on the jury, we learned that deceased, who was in his 67th year, had been a water drinker during 47 years of his life, and although he had latterly indulged to a certain extent in strong drinks, he had done so under the sanction of medical prescription, and certainly not to any injurious extent. The unfortunate deceased appears to have had a most unhappy home ; and if the fatal termination were attributed to mental excitement alone, there seems to have been reason enough for the assumption; but when we state that the unguarded excavation into which he fell, in the dark, was not less than five feet deep, and deceased a heavy man, there can be no doubt his death was at least accelerated by the fall. This want of caution, and the serious accidents thereby occasioned, of which we have so many instances, cannot be too much deprecated, and ought no longer to be without legislative interference.
Whether or not the Mr Mason mentioned here was John Mason (Susan's father), the article still reveals some interesting things about the type of people and activities that were to be found in Currie Street. I was fascinated to see that a shoemaker was to be sent for to put a stitch in Mr Penfold's wound.
Currie Street ca 1871
State Library South Australia B1871
The next article, from the South Australian Register, on 28 November 1853, also mentions the Ship Inn* as the place where inquests took place. I found several other references to it being used for this purpose. This article doesn't have any reference to the Mason family, but does give more insights into life in Currie Street. Again I've edited it to make it shorter and easier to read 







CORONER'S INQUEST. 
Mr. Stevenson held an inquest on Friday, and, by adjournment, on Saturday, at the Ship Inn, Currie- street, on the body of John Grayson, an infant six weeks old, who died on Thursday last, as mentioned in the Register of the following day.    
The Jury having been sworn, The Coroner told them there were some circumstances of suspicion attending the death of the child, inasmuch as it had happened rather suddenly, and no medical aid had been called in. It would be their duty to enquire into the particulars, and it was quite possible they might find it had arisen from natural or accidental causes. The Coroner and Jury then proceeded to a house of disgraceful repute, next door to Mr. Wadey's, butcher, Currie-street. The body of the child was lying on a table in the front room. It had the appearance of having been tolerably healthy; but there were very visible marks of pressure: its nostrils were distended, its mouth open, and the tongue slightly protruding.  
On the return of the Jury, Eliza Quinlan, the mother of the child, was called into the room. She was crying bitterly, and seemed much distressed. The Coroner, kindly, had one of her female companions brought in to sit beside her. She was then sworn, and duly cautioned to answer no questions which she thought might criminate herself. She is a young woman of about twenty five, and, for one of her class, tolerably decent in appearance, though her gaudy tawdry dress harmonized as little with the occasion as with her own uncontrollable emotion. [There follows a long description of the trial, detailing who was in the house at the time and so on, which you can read at the link provided.]
 The Jury, after some consultation, returned a verdict of "Accidental death," believing, apparently, that the child had been suffocated by overlaying, and not, as alleged by the mother, that it died from the effect of illness in her arms. Dr. Baruh then asked the Coroner if there were no means of closing the house kept by Corbis and Ward, as it was an intolerable annoyance to the neighbourhood. The Coroner said that any respectable neighbours might lay an information at the Police-office, and there was no doubt the Magistrate would take the necessary steps for abating the nuisance.
This, and many other articles from the time, suggests that "houses of ill repute" were common in and around Currie Street. Note the condescending tone of the newspaper towards the poor mother in her "gaudy tawdry dress".
The next article describes another tragedy, and includes mention of a Mr and Mrs Mason. It appeared in the South Australian Register, 2 August 1852.
MELANCHOLY ACCIDENT.
 — A poor woman named Wyburn, who has for some time resided with her daughter (aged 16), in Currie-street, was, during the early part of this week, nearly driven to distraction by the disappearance and continued absence of the girl from her home. After many enquiries, the anxious mother obtained a clue to the girl's retreat, and on Wednesday last, discovered her in a house of 'ill-fame', which the misguided creature refused to leave. The poor woman returned to her now cheerless home in a state of dejection, that no doubt hastened an epileptic attack, to which she was occasionally subject. A kind neighbour, named Mason, [my emphasis] observing that the poor woman was, on her return home, quite incapable of ministering to her own wants, supplied her with some tea and other matters, and left her in some degree composed and apparently preparing to retire to rest.  
In the course of the night, Mrs. Mason heard screams in the residence of Mrs. Wyburn, and induced her husband to get up and enquire into the cause of the outcry. On entering Mrs. Wyburn's house, Mr. Mason found the poor creature lying on the floor near the fireplace enveloped in a sheet of flame. The loose portion of her attire was entirely consumed. before the fire was extinguished, and even her stays were in part consumed. Dr. Baruh, who was called in immediately, applied the usual remedies; but, as the case was one of great danger, he took prompt measures to have the sufferer removed to the Hospital, where she now lies in a most precarious state. It is supposed that the poor creature sat by the fire absorbed in grief, until she fell down in a fit, and that she lay helpless while the fire raged around her, until she was rescued from instant death by the active humanity of Mr. Mason.
I'd like to think that the kind-hearted Mr and Mrs Mason were Susan's parents.


*The History Girl blog has an interesting article about the Ship Inn, which apparently changed it's name to the Bedford later on. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Two more small clues about John Mason

In a previous post (John Mason - where did he come from?) I explained my reasons for thinking that the John Mason who married Catherine Murphy in Sydney in 1841 was probably the convict named John Mason who was tried and sentenced to transportation for stealing cotton in Limerick, Ireland, in 1833. He arrived in Sydney on the Parmelia in 1834.

However, there were still several other convicts who could potentially have fitted the bill. The next most likely after 'John from Limerick' was a John Mason, born in 1813, who was tried in York in 1835 and transported on the Royal Sovereign. I've now discovered from the New South Wales Convict Indents 1788-1842 (on Ancestry.com.au) that this John Mason was Protestant, and could read and write. Which means that he is very unlikely to have been the John Mason who married Catherine in a Catholic church, and who signed his name with an X.

Another small piece of information I gleaned from the New South Wales Settler and Convicts list, 1787-1834, was that the John Mason who arrived on the Parmelia was assigned to an Alexander Fotheringham in Sydney. As yet I haven't been able to find out much about Alexander Fotheringham except that he seems to have been a shipwright who owned several properties around Sydney.

If you would like a copy of a spreadsheet listing all the details I could find about 19 of the convicts named John Mason who arrived in NSW before 1841, please contact me and I'll email it to you.




Sunday, October 6, 2013

Follow-on weddings

In a previous post I mentioned that Esther Lambert and Matthew Cragg seem to have been together at a wedding some time before their own marriage. Their names appear as the witnesses at the wedding of Grace Lambert and John Singleton in Preston in 1831. Esther and Matthew married two and a half years later in 1833.

This wasn't the only occasion when the witnesses at a family wedding were to marry each other. In October 1890 when Matthew and Esther's grandson Matthew Ward married Elizabeth Anne Brown in Rastrick, Yorkshire, the witnesses were Matthew's father John Ward, his brother John Willie, and John Willie's future wife Mary Hannah Butterworth.

John Willie and Mary Hannah married in Smallbridge, Lancashire, in March 1893. The witnesses at this wedding were John Willie's sister Esther, and Travis Kershaw. Five years later, in March 1898, Esther and Travis were married in Milnrow.

If nothing else, the timing of these 'follow on' weddings suggest that the couples knew each other for quite a while before they married. But that's not so surprising given that many people in the past married someone from the same village as themselves. It would be interesting to know if the same thing happened in any of the marriages on the Beales side of the family, but I don't have enough details about these marriages to know who the witnesses were.








Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Is it worth subscribing to commercial family history sites?

For the first couple of years of my research into family history, I didn't subscribe to any of the commercial family history sites. Most of the time I went as far as I could by using non-commercial sites such as familysearch.org (provided by the LDS), freebmd.org.uk, freecen.org.uk, and the Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerk project. The data in the last three are all provided by an army of incredibly generous volunteers who have spent hours transcribing records so that others can have access to them.

It was perhaps fortunate for me that most of family lived in Lancashire - the Parish Clerk projects in many other counties are not nearly so comprehensive as the one for Lancs. I also found the New South Wales Government State Records online service and the Genealogy SA online database very helpful in researching my Australian ancestors. Sometimes I discovered useful information simply by Googling a person's names and dates.

Over time I became quite adept at squeezing as much information as I could out of the commercial sites' free indexes. But often I found that I just couldn't confirm the leads I had without purchasing some pay-as-you-go credits to access the full database. Eventually I decided that life would be a whole lot simpler if I forked out the money for a subscription. Most sites cost around $20-30 per month for a basic subscription, which is the cost of a couple of magazines or a weekly coffee. It's certainly much easier to do the research if you can click on links to your heart's content without thinking "there go another 5 credits" if some turn out to produce irrelevant information.

One of the reasons for not subscribing earlier, apart from a (familial?) miserly streak, was that the sites all have different sets of data, and none of the sites offered everything I wanted. In the end I went with Ancestry.co.uk because it seemed to be the most comprehensive, and didn't ask for separate subscriptions to access the Australian site. But I still sometimes find information on other sites and use pay-as-you-go to purchase it. (David Whybrew's army records, for instance, could only be found on FindMyPast.co.uk.)

Most of the commercial sites also offer other benefits, such as  being able to upload your family tree so that you have access to it online (and make it available to others if you choose to), the chance to connect to other people doing research on the same ancestors, and 'hints' about possible links to your tree (though sometimes these seem to be quite ridiculous and clearly churned out by a computer programme without being checked to see if they are reasonable.) Many offer these options even with a free account. Some also provide the ability to create all sorts of charts and booklets (MyHeritage.com is one example of a site that does this.)

Overall, I could probably have reduced the amount of time I spent researching quite a bit if I'd taken out a subscription earlier. Having said that, the amount of genealogical information available online is growing all the time, and I could also have shortened my research time if I'd started five years later. I'm full of admiration for those who researched their family history on foot and by mail before the internet made it so much easier.




Sunday, September 15, 2013

Esther Lambert

Esther Lambert was my grandfather's grandmother. She was the youngest daughter (or at least the youngest known daughter) of William and Betty Lambert, and was born in Catterall, near Garstang, Lancashire, on 31 August 1807. She was christened at Garstang in September 1807. Esther didn't have an easy life, but nevertheless she lived to the relatively great age of 79, dying in 1887 in Walton le Dale.

Her life story is full of unanswered questions and intriguing hints. I haven't been able to find out much about William and Betty, nor about Esther's oldest sister Betty (born July1802). Her other sister, Hannah (born 23 March 1805) seems to have had two children while she was still unmarried and living in Garstang - Daniel in April 1829 and Esther in 1831.

In May 1831 an Esther Lambert and a Matthew Cragg were witnesses at the wedding of Grace Lambert and John Singleton at St John's church in Preston, Lancashire. It seems likely, but it would be fascinating to know for sure if this is the same Esther and Matthew who were later to marry in the same church. I haven't been able to find any connection between Grace Lambert (born about 1801) and William and Betty, or with the other members of the family. Unfortunately although Grace and John appear in the 1841 census with their two children, Grace had died before the 1851 census when her place of birth would have been recorded. She remains an enigma.

William and Betty both died within a few weeks of each other in June 1833, aged in their sixties. A few months later, in October, Esther married Matthew Cragg at St John's, Preston. The witnesses were Samuel Smails and Margaret Beesley, neither of whom seem to have any family connection.

In 1834 another son, James, was born to Hannah Lambert, who was now living in Accrington. She married a widower, James Cronkshaw, in 1834 and the whole family was living in Accrington at the time of the 1841 census. Whether she had any further contact with Esther is unknown.

Esther and Matthew's first son, William, was born in 1835 and Richard followed in 1839. At the time of the 1841 census the family were living in Cabbage Row, Radcliffe, Lancashire. A nephew, William Newsham, aged 9, was also living with them. Mary Ann came along in December 1843. As mentioned previously, tragedy struck in February 1847 when the two boys, William and Richard, died. 

It looks as though Esther and Matthew continued to provide accommodation for William Newsham, along with his older sister Mary Newsham. They were living with Esther, Matthew and Mary Ann, still in Radcliffe, at the time of  the 1851 census. 

Who were William and Mary's parents? One possibility is that they were the children of William Newsham and Anne Lambert, who married at St John's Preston in 1829. Anne died in 1832 (aged 37) and William senior in 1835. I haven't been able to discover what the connection was between Esther and Anne, although Mary and William Newsham are described as niece and nephew in the census, suggesting that Anne may have been a sister. There is a baptism record for an Anne Lambert, daughter of William and Elizabeth Lambert, in Warton, near Lancaster, in May 1795, which could fit. 

By 1861 Esther and Matthew had moved to Walton le Dale. William and Mary Newsham were gone, but another child, Nancy Heap, was living with them. Here is another puzzle - who was Nancy? Matthew had a sister Mary who married a William Heap, but they don't seem to have had any children name Nancy or Anne (Nancy being the diminutive form of Ann.)

It's possible that Nancy was the daughter of Mary Newsham. A Nancy Heap was born in Radcliffe in 1852 whose mother's name was Newsham. A Mary Newsham (father's name William) married Joseph Heap in 1851. This is all rather tentative evidence, but seems to be confirmed later, as we'll see.

The 1871 census records that Nancy was still living with Esther and Matthew Cragg in Ribblesdale Place, Walton le Dale. By this time Mary Ann had married John Ward and they had 3 children (John Willie, Matthew and Esther). John and Mary Ann moved to Littleborough sometime between 1874 and 1877, leaving Esther and Matthew and John's father Richard behind. Why did they move? It's one of those questions I'd love to know the answer to, but probably never will.

Matthew died in August 1878. Now Esther had no immediate family in Walton le Dale. However, it seems that Nancy had become very much part of the family. In 1881 Esther was living with Annie and John Parkinson and their three children in Walton le Dale, and she's described as "mother in law". My guess is that Annie is Nancy. An Annie Heaps, daughter of Joseph Heaps, married John Parkinson, clogger,  in Walton le Dale on Christmas Day 1875. Annie Heaps' address on the marriage record is Ribblesdale Place, the same as Matthew and Esther's address in the previous census. Perhaps Nancy and her children filled the place left in Esther's life when her grandchildren moved away.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Some interesting statistics

St Matthew's church Rastrick
where Matthew Ward and Elizabeth Brown
were married in 1890
cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by Tim Green:
http://flickr.com/photos/atoach/8158579073/
Recently I've been looking at the marriage records for the family of my grandfather, Thomas Henry Ward. While I was writing up the results, it occurred to me that he and his siblings almost all married quite late in life. Apart from Matthew, who married Elizabeth Brown at the age of 22, they were all over 26 years old when they married.

John Willie was 28 when he married Mary Hannah Butterworth, Esther was 28 when she married Travis Kershaw, and Edward married Susan Lord Sagar at 30. Henrietta married John Henry Christopher Massey at 26, and by the time Fanny married the widowed John Henry Christopher she was 59 years old. Grandfather Thomas Henry himself was 38 when he married.

I haven't been able to find figures for the average age at marriage in England around this time (the end of the 19th and beginning of the early 20th century). What I have been able to do is analyse the age at first marriage for various cohorts within my own database, using the software I use for recording family history (Roots Magic).  

Admittedly the numbers are very small. But for what it's worth, here are the results, using only those individuals for whom I have both a date of birth and date of marriage:

For those born before 1865 (John Willie's date of birth), the average age at marriage was 25.94 years for men and 23.28 for women. The average number of children per family was 3.63.

For those born after 1865 the average age at marriage for men was 26.35 and for women 26.47. Clearly, Fanny's very late marriage affected this figure. If I take her out of the list, the average age of marriage for women becomes 24.31 - still a good year older than women born before 1865. The average number of children per family was 1.55.

This drop in the number of children per family is also something quite noticeable. Compared to, say, Richard and Mary Ward (married in 1831) with their 9 children, or James and Rosanna Beales (married 1867) with their 15 children, or even Thomas Henry's own parents, John and Mary Ward (married 1864) with 9 children, Thomas Henry's generation had very few offspring. Matthew and Elizabeth had 6, and the rest of the family had 4 or less. In fact, 6 children is the largest family for anyone in my database born after 1865.

It's interesting to speculate on why Thomas Henry and his siblings married so late in life, but I don't have any answers. Grandfather Thomas Henry may have married earlier if it hadn't been for World War 1, but he was already 32 and still unmarried when the war began. As is often the case in family history research, finding the facts is much easier than explaining them.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

John Ward’s siblings

Recently I've been trying to trace what happened to the siblings of John Ward. While I don't have any great interest in extending the family tree sideways, I often find that information about siblings can be helpful in understanding the life of the person I'm focusing on.

Of Richard and Mary Ward’s nine children, four (William, Frances, Mary and Margaret) died in infancy, and were buried in Walton le Dale. The only remaining daughter, Ann (born about 1833) remained in and around Walton le Dale all of her life and in 1860 she married Thomas Gardner. As I've mentioned before, it seems likely that Thomas Gardner was the younger brother of Elizabeth (Betsy) Gardner who became Richard Ward’s second wife after the death of Mary. When the 1911 census was taken, Ann was still living in Walton le Dale, aged 78, in the home of her son Richard and daughter Margaret.

John Ward’s oldest brother, Thomas (born about 1832) was a joiner’s apprentice when he was 18, but later he worked as a railway guard in Salford. In 1857 at about the age of  25, he married Sarah Ann Surr, a 17 year old girl from Manchester. They were married at the cathedral in Manchester. They had three children, Fanny, Mary Ann (both born in Manchester) and Andrew, born in Walton le Dale. In 1861 they were living in Preston, but their stay in Preston may have been brief, as Sarah is recorded as having died in Salford at the age of 25 in April 1863.

In January 1865 Thomas remarried, to Lucy Mansley, nee Sharples, a widow. Perhaps they had known each other growing up, as Lucy was also born in Walton le Dale. Her father, Johnson Sharples, was a clogger there. Thomas and Lucy had a daughter, Margaret Ann, and in 1871 the couple were living with the four children in Hope Street, Salford. Lucy, Andrew and Margaret Ann were still living at the same address in Salford at the time of the 1881 census, but I haven’t been able to trace what became of Thomas. Presumably he died between the 1871 and 1881 census.

John’s second oldest brother, James, is much more elusive. The only definite references I can find to him are his baptism in Walton le Dale in 1837, and his residence with Richard and Mary in the 1841 and 1851 census. In 1851 he is described as a tailor’s apprentice, aged 14. A James Ward born in Walton le Dale appears in the 1881 census, married to Alice and with a son named Enoch and a daughter named Mary Alice. He is a painter and plumber. Despite the unusual name of his son, I haven’t been able to trace him back to the 1871 or 1861 census or forwards to 1891.

Fortunately the third of John’s surviving brothers, Richard, is much easier to follow. Like Thomas, he worked on the railways in Salford. He married Hannah Moss, from Eccles, in 1861 (the same year his father Richard married Betsy.) In 1871 they were living in Preston, where Richard was a railway guard. They had four children at this stage – John, Alfred, George and Sarah. Little Sarah died in Preston in 1873. By the time of the 1881 census the family had moved back to Salford, and had added Clara (born in Preston) and Bertha (born in Pendleton).

Hannah died sometime after 1881. In February 1886 the widowed Richard married  Elizabeth Clarkson, who was a 40 year old 'spinster' and one of John and Mary Ann’s neighbours from Crabtree Street. They married at Holy Trinity in Littleborough and John Ward was one of the witnesses at the wedding. Richard and Elizabeth had a daughter, Amy, born in Pendleton in December 1887. By the time of the 1891 census only 13 year old Bertha and 3 year old Amy were at home with the couple in Pendleton. By now Richard had become a railway inspector. He had retired by 1891 and he, Elizabeth and Amy had moved to Littleborough. Richard appears to have died and been buried at Calderbrook, above Littleborough, in 1911.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Happy and sad family events in Littleborough

Holy Trinity in the snow
© Copyright SMJ 
licensed for reuse under this CC Licence
 

Many years ago my husband and I were temporarily part of the congregation at Holy Trinity in Littleborough, Lancashire, and our first child was baptised there. So when I came across the parish records for Holy Trinity online recently, I was delighted to discover that my grandfather, Thomas Henry Ward, was also baptised there, on 9 January 1883. His sister Mary Ann was baptised at Holy Trinity on 20 August 1877, Fanny was baptised 24 January 1880, and Henrietta 26 September 1886.

Thomas' baptism is recorded as a private baptism, and John Ward, Mary Ann Ward and Thomas Howarth were his godparents.

Another happy event happened at Holy Trinity in February 1886 when John Ward's widowed brother Richard married one of John and Mary Ann's neighbours, Elizabeth Clarkson. (Elizabeth was also Fanny's godmother.) They moved to Pendleton, but eventually moved back to Littleborough when Richard retired from his job as a railway worker.

On a much sadder note, the local parish registers also record the burials of two of John and Mary Ann's children, Richard and little Mary Ann, within four days of each other in April 1879. They were buried at St James churchyard, Calderbrook, just above Littleborough.  Richard was 7 years old, and Mary Ann was about 20 months. The register doesn't record the cause of death, but some sort of infectious disease seems most likely.

It must have been a terrible time for their parents, and especially for their mother Mary Ann, who would have been pregnant with Fanny at the time. As I mentioned in a previous post, Mary Ann’s two brothers, William and Richard Cragg, both died in the same week when she was 3 years old, so the deaths of Richard and Mary Ann must have brought back sad memories for her, and also for her mother, Esther Cragg, who was still alive in Walton le Dale at this time.

The Ward family continued living in Littleborough until sometime after Henrietta's birth in 1886, and then for reasons that are unclear they moved to Rastrick in Yorkshire.










Saturday, July 13, 2013

John Ward, clogger

Clogger's tools
cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Kevin Harber
John Ward (1842-1905) was a "clogger". In other words, he made the tough wooden-soled, metal-tipped lace-up clogs worn by labourers and mill workers all over Britain during the 19th and early 20th century.

Some cloggers were itinerant, but most villages had one or more resident clog-makers who made clogs on order, individually fitted to the buyer's feet. The traditional village clogger usually carved the wooden soles themselves, before cutting the leather uppers and nailing them in place. A well made pair of clogs was waterproof and would last for years.

John possibly learned some of his trade in Walton le Dale from his father Richard, who was a bootmaker. He continued as a clogger when he moved to Littleborough, then to Rastrick and finally to Milnrow. Whether he worked from home (as in the picture below) or had a workshop elsewhere I've yet to discover.

Clogger's Shop in Weaver's Cottage Museum - geograph.org.uk - 528761
Clogger's shop in a weaver's cottage museum


More information about English clog making:


The Last Clog Maker in England - series of YouTube videos on clogs and clog making by Jeremy Atkinson

Informative website by Chris Brady

Clogs (Mike Cahill, maker and repairer of traditional English clogs)


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mary Ann Cragg

When Mary Ann Cragg married “the boy next door”, John Ward, she was twenty years old and he was 22. Her parents, Matthew and Esther Cragg had moved to Walton le Dale sometime between 1851 and 1861 and took up residence as neighbours to the widowed Richard Ward and his son John in Mansleys Row. Both Mary and her father worked in the cotton mills, he as a block printer and she as a cotton loom weaver. The marriage entry in the church register lists her as 'Mary Craig' daughter of Matthew Craig, but this is almost certainly an error. The mother's maiden name for their children, where it is recorded, is Cragg.

http://www.geocities.com/radcliffeuk/misc/rad-bridge.jpg
Radcliffe Bridge about 1854
Photo taken by William Smith
Mary Ann was born in Radcliffe, near Bury in Lancashire, on December 21, 1843. She had two older brothers, William (born 1835) and Richard (born 1839). Tragically, both boys died within a few days of each other in February 1847. Perhaps they were victims of the typhus epidemic which swept through Britain that year, hitting Lancashire particularly hard, with nearly 10,000 deaths recorded in the Northwest. If so, three year old Mary was very fortunate to have survived. Perhaps it is an indication of her strong constitution.

Following her brothers' deaths, Mary Ann seems to have remained the only child of Matthew and Esther.  But she was not always alone with them. The 1851 census shows that Matthew, Esther and Mary were still living in Radcliffe, though they had moved from Cabbage Row to Radcliffe Hall. Living with them were a nephew and niece, William and Mary Newsham. They were much older than Mary, and were already working.

By 1861 they had left, but a 9 year old child named Nancy Heap was living with Matthew, Esther and Mary. She is described as a niece, but as far as I can tell she was probably the daughter of Mary Newsham. (More of these connections in a later post).

Lower Newlands, Rastrick, Yorkshire
Photo  copyright Humphry Bolton under a CC license
After her marriage to John Ward in June 1864, Mary Ann continued to work as a cotton weaver, even after the birth of John Willie, Matthew and Esther. According to the 1911 census, she and John went on to have 10 children in all, 7 of whom lived into adulthood. The family moved from Walton le Dale to Brighouse near Calderbrook before 1881, then to Rastrick in Yorkshire, and finally by 1901 to Clifton Street in Milnrow, Lancashire. Later in life, after John’s death in 1905, she continued his business as a boot and shoe retailer until her own death in 1916.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

From Essex to Lancashire in 1921

In January 1921 my grandmother, Rosina Beales, married my grandfather, Thomas Henry Ward, a returned soldier nearly twelve years her senior. Soon after the wedding, which took place in her home town of Colchester in Essex, they  moved to his home in Milnrow, Lancashire. And there my grandmother stayed for the rest of her life (except for occasional holidays) as a wife and mother and  later as a widow.

Sir Isaacs Walk, Colchester
© Copyright David Hawgood and
licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Having just visited both Lancashire and Essex briefly, l have been thinking about what my grandmother must have experienced when she moved to Milnrow from Colchester in her mid twenties. Lancashire and Essex are physically very different. Essex, as a whole, is one of the driest regions in Britain, while Lancashire is one of the wettest. The area of Essex around Colchester is mostly flat and given over to agriculture. Towns and villages nestle among fields of peas, wheat and other crops.  Colchester, with its ancient castle, sits on a low hill, and gives the impression of being a comfortable market and garrison town.

Milnrow from the air in 1926


Milnrow, near Rochdale, is close to the border between Lancashire and Yorkshire, with the Pennines and Saddleworth moor as a backdrop. The stony hills produce sheep rather than crops. It was once a woollen weaving area, until the industrial revolution brought cotton spinning mills, drawn by the abundant supply of water and damp atmosphere. The cotton mills are all closed now, but in the 1920's, the chimneys of Milnrow's many operating mills would have been a prominent feature of the landscape.

Dale St, Milnrow
© Copyright David Dixon [under a CC licence], via Wikimedia Commons


Many of my grandfather's relatives worked in the mills. What did my grandmother make of their north country way of speaking and relating? What did they make of my grandmother, with her 'southern' accent and Salvation Army upbringing? Strangely, it had not occurred to me before I visited Essex that my grandmother would have had a different accent to those around her when she arrived in Milnrow. I don't remember her sounding 'different' when I knew her as a child, so perhaps she gradually took on the local accent. Or perhaps I just didn't notice.

She certainly left the Salvation Army to join the local C of E church, though whether willingly or in deference to my grandfather I don't know. As far as I'm aware she became part of the Milnrow community. But how different the culture and environment must have seemed when she first arrived. And how little we know or think about our  parents' and grandparents' background until it's too late to ask them.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Mary Baines of Westmorland

Kirkby Lonsdale (now in Cumbria)
Photo: cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by Cheekablue:
http://flickr.com/photos/cheekablue/2769879983/

We know from the 1851 census that Mary Ward (nee Baines) was born in Kirkby Lonsdale in Westmorland. Her stated age in the 1841 and 1851 census suggest she was born about 1814-1815. This also tallies with her age given when she died. In the absence of records of any other person of the same name and approximate age, it seems likely that she was the daughter of James and Anne Baines (nee Preston) of Kirkby Lonsdale.

St Mary's church, Kirkby Lonsdale
Photo: A P Kapp via Wikimedia Commons




Mary and four of her siblings (George, Thomas, James and Anne) were all christened on the same day, 28 June 1818, at St Mary's church in Kirkby Lonsdale. This sort of family baptism en masse was apparently not uncommon in the past, and could mean that James and Anne had a rather itinerant lifestyle. Or it could simply be that a more diligent minister arrived in the village. Since births (as opposed to baptisms) were not registered before 1837, it's difficult to know in what order the siblings were born.

Another son of James and Anne Baines, Joseph, was baptised in Kirkby Lonsdale in November 1815. If this was the same family, it's strange that Mary was not baptised at the same time, unless she was born right at the end of 1815. There are also a couple of other earlier baptisms (William in 1796 and Diana, in Great Mitton, in 1798) that may have been children of the same family.

Mary's father appears to have died in Kirkby Lonsdale in 1827. Perhaps some of the family, including Mary, moved to Lancashire looking for work, or perhaps they had distant relatives there. It's not clear what happened to her mother, Anne. An Anne Baines, aged 72, was buried in Walton le Dale in 1845, but her name doesn't appear in the census four years earlier. This could be Mary's mother, but it could just as likely be one of several Anne Baines in the local area.

Mary married Richard Ward at St Leonard's church in Walton le Dale on June 26, 1831. If she really was born in 1815 or so, she would have been 16 years old. One of the two witnesses recorded on the parish register - James Tomlison snr - was a chapel clerk who witnessed many other weddings in the same church. The other, John Briggs, doesn't seem to be related to the family, as far as I've been able to discover.

In the next 20 years Mary gave birth to 9 children who lived long enough to be recorded and baptised. Given the strain this must have placed on her body, and the living conditions and health care available at the time, it's perhaps not surprising that, like many other women, Mary died at an early age. She was 38 and her youngest child only 18 months old when she was buried in 1852. (A quick count shows that of the 99 deaths recorded in Walton le Dale in 1852, only 1 in 3 were aged over 50).




Sunday, March 17, 2013

Richard Ward, a summary

Richard Ward must have been less than 4 years old when his father, Thomas, died in 1813. He was the youngest of four children. His mother, Frances, seems to have remarried in 1829, when Richard would have been in his teens and probably already supporting himself. Nothing more is known about him until he married Mary Baines on 26 June 1831 at St Leonard’s in Walton Le Dale.

The marriage entry in the parish register records that Richard was a bachelor, and Mary a spinster of the parish of Preston, but gives no details about their age, their parents, or Richard’s occupation. We know from the 1851 census that Mary was born in Kirkby Lonsdale in Westmorland, so it would be interesting to know when she moved to Lancashire, and how she and Richard met, but that too is a mystery. We do know that they continued to live in Walton Le Dale, in fact Richard remained there for the rest of his life.

By the time of the 1841 census, Richard and Mary had four living children – Thomas (c 1832), Ann (c 1833), James (1837) and Richard (1839). Another child, William (1835), had died in infancy. Richard senior recorded his occupation as shoe maker. It was a trade he passed on to his youngest son, John (born 1842), who in turn passed it on to his youngest son Thomas Henry.

Further children were born in the following 10 years – John (1842), Frances (1844), Margaret (1845)  and Mary(1850). Frances survived only 8 weeks old, and Margaret only 5 weeks. 

By the time of the 1851 census the eldest son Thomas, now 18, was working as a joiner’s apprentice, a trade followed by his grandfather and his uncle John (Richard’s oldest brother). Ann was working in one of the local cotton mills and  James, at 14, was a tailor’s apprentice. For some reason Richard himself was employed as a gardener at this time.

Sadly Mary, his wife, died in 1852 at the age of 38. Further tragedy followed with the death in 1859 of Richard’s youngest daughter Mary, at the age of 9. Of nine children born to Richard and Mary, only five survived into adulthood. Yet such statistics were not uncommon amongst the working class at the time.

Only John, now aged 18, was left at home with Richard when the 1861 census was taken. Richard was working as a shoe maker again, and John as a clogger's apprentice. Walton Le Dale had more than one shoe maker at this time, and the census doesn't record who John was apprenticed to. Did Richard teach him his trade, or someone else?

In July 1861, with all his surviving children grown up, Richard re-married. His wife, Elizabeth (Betsy) Gardner was several years younger than him, having been born in 1827 in Kirkland, near Garstang, in Lancashire. Richard’s daughter Ann had married a Thomas Gardner, also from Kirkland, in May 1860. It seems likely that Betsy and Thomas were sister and brother, since Stephen Gardner is recorded as the name of the father on both marriage records. If so, it must have been strange at family gatherings with Ann having her sister-in-law as her step-mother, while Richard’s son-in-law was also his brother-in-law.

Richard and Betsy had a son, Robert, in 1866 and they continued to live in Walton Le Dale. Ann and John both lived in Walton Le Dale with their spouses and produced several grandchildren who would have been of a similar age to Robert.

By 1871 Richard had returned to working as a gardener. By the time of 1881 census Richard was 72 years old and almost blind. He could no longer work, although with no pension scheme to fall back on, most men his age were still employed. Betsy found work as a washerwoman and Robert, now 14, was employed as a cotton weaver in one of the mills.

Richard died some time before 1890. (When Robert married his father was already deceased). The most likely date seems to be late in 1881 and he was probably buried in the church yard at Walton Le Dale.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Which Richard is 'our' Richard?

On the 17th of August 1809, in Walton Le Dale, Thomas Ward and his wife Frances had a son named Richard. His birth date was recorded in the register of St Leonard’s Anglican church when he was baptised on October 1st of the same year.1

However, on the 20th June, 1813, another child named Richard Ward was baptised at St Leonard’s. The record states that he was born on the 20th April 1813 and his parents were Thomas Ward, joiner, and Fanny.2

This creates a problem – which of these two Richards was ‘our’ Richard, husband of Mary, the father of John, and the grandfather of Thomas Henry Ward? Having looked at the images of the original documents (online) there doesn’t seem to be any doubt about the accuracy of the transcriptions. The fact that the dates for the two births and baptisms are so different makes it highly unlikely that they’re records of the same events. I can think of a number of other possibilities:
  1. The first child died in infancy and Thomas and Frances called the later child by the same name. This was a common practice in those days. Unfortunately for this theory, I can’t find any record of a death for a Richard Ward between 1809 and 1813.
  2. Another child of Thomas and Frances was mistakenly recorded as Richard instead of by their correct name. If so, it would be very difficult to trace them.
  3. There could have been two couples in Walton Le Dale named Thomas and Frances/Fanny Ward and both had sons named Richard. These names are all very common.  However, I can’t find any record of another Thomas Ward married to a Frances, or Fanny, anywhere in Lancashire, who would be of roughly the right age.
The census records don’t shed much light on the problem. The date of birth for ‘our’ Richard, calculated from his stated age on the census, varies from 1809 (in 1861), 1810 (1871 and 1881) to 1812 (in 1851). When he married for the second time in 1861 he was said to be 51, giving a date of birth about 1810. Overall, these dates suggest that Richard was more likely to have been born in 1809, but that leaves the question of what became of the Richard (if he was Richard) born in 1813?

In all the census records I can only find one Richard Ward of approximately the right age who was recorded as being born in Walton Le Dale, although there was another Richard Ward living in Walton Le Dale in 1841 and 1851. (Born in Treales in 1801, he was the husband of Margaret, and possibly a cousin of the other Richard.) It’s all rather confusing.


Notes
1. Ancestry.com. Lancashire, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 [database on-line].
2. Ancestry.com. Lancashire, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1911 [database on-line].

Sunday, February 17, 2013

James and Lydia Whybrew

JamesWhybrew 1819
This is a photo of James Whybrew, who was born in 1819 in Essex. It comes from the family history website of Rodney Jones, and it’s used with his permission. I’m fairly well convinced that James was the older half brother of David Whybrew through his father’s first marriage to Mary Webber.









LydiaStevens The James who appears in the photo was a brick layer who married Lydia Stevens in St John’s church, Lambeth, Surrey in 1845. His father’s name was also James Whybrew according to the marriage certificate. Lydia was the daughter of James Stevens and Rebecca and was born in 1822. That much is certain.










On the census records James Whybrew’s place of birth is given variously as Hornsey, Essex (1851), Great Horsley, Essex (1861), Bures, Essex (1871), Wallingford, Essex (1881) and Bermondsey in Surrey (1891). If we discount the 1891 entry (the family lived in Bermondsey) it’s clear that he was born in Essex.

Bures is on the Suffolk-Essex border and is the place where David Whybrew’s father James and Mary Webber married and had their son James baptised. There is a tiny hamlet named Horsely Cross in Essex, but it’s quite a way from Bures. I can’t find anywhere in Essex named Great Horsley or Wallingford. However there is a Great Horkesley not far from Bures, and Wormingford is also close by. I suspect that these place names have been mis-spelled on the census returns.

Map picture

The James of the photo became a master bricklayer. He and Lydia lived in Bermondsey, Southwark in Surrey until the 1860’s then moved to Croyden in Surrey. They had ten children:

David Whybrew, 29 January 1846 (died 19 February 1846)
George Whybrew, 24 January 1847
Rachel Whybrew, 9 December 1848
Joseph Silas Whybrew (twin), 5 October 1850
Mary Elizabeth Whybrew (twin), 5 October 1850 (died 26 May 1852)
Samuel Whybrew, 23/28 February 1852
Hephsibah ("Epsey") Whybrew, 25 September 1854
William Whybrew, 1 February 1856
Ellen Whybrew, 16 November 1858
Annie Whybrew, 7 January 1861
(The links will take you to Rodney Jones’ site where you can see more photographs of the family.)

James died in 1898 and Lydia in 1908.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

What happened to Jane and Bridget Mason?

When John Mason died in Adelaide in January 1857, his widow Catherine was left with 8 daughters - Mary Ann, Catherine (both born in Sydney) Margaret, Rose (or Rosanna), Susan, Eliza, Jane and Bridget. Although the births of the younger children weren't officially recorded (many Catholics refused to register their children at this time), their names appear in the Biographical Index of South Australia.

I've been able to trace what happened to the first six girls through newspaper items, records of their marriages and deaths, and in the case of Susan and Eliza, their appearance with their soldier-husbands in British censuses. But I've never been able to discover anything for certain about Jane and Bridget.

Perhaps they were taken in by another family, as Susan's daughter Harriet was, and in the process their names changed. That would make sense if Catherine was struggling to raise so many children. Or maybe they died, unrecorded, in childhood. It's also possible that they married in another state, but I haven't come across any marriages with enough information to identify them.

The South Australian Register of Monday October 1, 1877 carries this intriguing snippet of news:
Jane Mason, single woman, was charged, on the information of T. Boddington, licensed victualler, with disturbing the peace of the Shamrock Hotel, Currie-street. Mr. W. V. Smith defended. Fined 5s.
If this was the same Jane, she certainly wouldn't be the only Mason daughter to be charged with disturbing the peace! But there were several Jane Masons in Adelaide at this time, and there's nothing here to identify this Jane as being Catherine's daughter. As for Bridget, I can't find any newspaper mentions. 



Friday, January 18, 2013

Susan Mason, a wild colonial girl

When I first read about Susan Mason's marriage in 1869 to David Whybrow at St Luke's Anglican Church in Adelaide I had a rather romantic image of the event. She would be elegant in a long white dress, he would be proud and smart in his red-coat uniform and the church would be set in the leafy streets of Adelaide, "city of churches".

Currie St, Adelaide ca 1864
The Mason family lived in this street
State Library of South Australia B1871
What I've discovered since then suggests a very different picture. At the time, twenty year old Susan was pregnant with their second child, David had recently been arrested for deserting his regiment before they left the colony, and Adelaide had many more pubs than churches and few trees.

Susan didn't have a genteel upbringing. As mentioned in a previous post her father, John Mason, died in 1857 when Susan was only 8 years old, leaving her mother Catherine destitute. Susan probably got very little education. The evidence suggests that she was illiterate.

It seems she also ran wild, and was familiar with the inside of hotels well before her 18th birthday. A lot of what I've discovered about Susan comes from newspaper reports of her appearances in the police courts, both in Adelaide and Colchester. While it would be unfair to judge her character solely from newspaper reports, they do give the impression of a woman who was street-wise, sometimes belligerent, but who stuck up for her rights and was faithful to David despite a difficult and rather stormy marriage.

Her first reported appearance in the Adelaide Police Court was in August 1865, at the age of 16. An itinerant Italian musician, Pasquale Nicro, was charged with using "insulting language and gestures tending to provoke a breach of the peace towards Susan Mason, a young female". The events took place at the Ship Inn in Currie Street**. Nicro had called her "a little whore", amongst other things. Susan denied any provocation on her part. After a rather comical discussion about whether the defendant knew enough English to understand the meaning of what he'd allegedly said, he was ordered to pay costs but was not fined.

Susan's next reported appearance in court was in December 1867 when she was charged with "using obscene language". She was find 10 shillings, quite a large sum in those days. In June 1868 Susan accused a woman named Mary Barron of stealing a cotton jacket from her, but then withdrew the charge.

The most interesting case involving Susan (and from a family history point of view the most informative) was first reported in  April 1868. The case eventually went to the South Australian Supreme Court. Here's how The South Australian Register reported the initial court case:
David Whybrow and Richard Hughes, of the 50th Regiment, and Bridget Jules, single woman, were conjointly charged with stealing from the person of Frank Jones an order for payment of £9 1s. 11d., a silver watch, and other articles. The prisoners pleaded not guilty, and were undefended.  
Frank Jones, residing at the Terminus Hotel, Adelaide, deposed to the effect following:— On Friday night I left the Shamrock at 11 o'clock. Near the Albion I met two girls, to whom I gave a few shillings, and then went up Hindley street. On reaching the steps of the Baths 1 sat down and went to sleep there.  
I was awakened by two soldiers and two girls. One of the latter asked me to shout. I said 'No,' and putting my hand into my waistcoat-pocket I found that an order for £9 1s.11d. was gone, as also a silver watch, worth £6, and other articles and papers, which were safe when I sat down, as I could see by the light of the lamp.The prisoners are the soldiers I saw. They were then in red coats. Susan Mason was one of  the girls.  
Susan Mason, single woman, deposed - On the night mentioned I was coming from North Adelaide along the Bridge-road. At the City baths I saw a man (Jones) lying down and asleep. The prisoner Hughes shook him, put his own hand into his (Jones's) pocket and took out some papers.The order for £9  1s. 11d. now produced was among them. There were other papers which he gave to Whybrow, who gave them to me. Whybrow put his hand into Jones's pocket, and took out his watch, which was without chain or guard. I am quite clear that Hughes took the order, with which I went to Messrs. Giles & Smith's the next day. 
The prosecutor and witnesses were severally examined by Mr. Dempsey, of the Detective Office,who called in succession Detectives Keegan, Gibbison, and Doyle, who supplied the links of evidence, and were questioned by the prisoners.It appeared that the watch was not yet forth'coming, and Mr. Dempsey asked for a remand. Remanded until the following Thursday.
The following Thursday, April 16, David Whybrow had his turn to tell the story:


State Library of South Australia  B3904
King William Road looking north, and City Baths c 1890
State Library of South Australia  B3904  
 On the morning of the 11th of April, between the hours of 3 and 5 o'clock, I and Susan Mason, with Richard Hughes and Bridget Jules were in company together, and coming from North Adelaide. When we got to the City Baths, we saw a man lying drunk on the steps. Susan Mason said to Jules, 'I will bilk this man,' meaning, I suppose, that she would rob him. She then commenced to search his pockets, After she was satisfied with doing so, the four of us went up the road together.
Afterwards Mason and Jules went across the road together away from us. After they had done talking together Mason came back to me and handed me a small account-book. I opened it, and as I did so saw there were only two leaves. Mason said, 'Do not tear that book.' I said,'You have already done that yourself;' saying which I threw the book down, and said I would not have anything to do with the man that was robbed. 
She then put her hand into her pocket, saying she thought she had some notes. She showed some papers to me to tell her what they were. It was dark, and I could not tell her what they were with the exception of an order. I could see the figures on that to be £9 1s. 11d. As soon as I told her the amount she laughed and snatched the order out of my hand, and said in presence of Jules and me that she would get the order cashed in the morning, buy a new dress for herself, and a ring for Jules if she would come to her house for it between 10 and 11. She put the order and some other papers into her pocket, and said, 'I felt some more notes in that man's trouser pocket. I will go back and try again.'She did so, and we three went back with her. When we had got back I saw her put her hand into the man's right-hand trousers pocket and pull out a lot of pieces of paper, some tobacco, and a knife. 
In doing this, a watch fell from the man's pocket on to the step on which he was sitting. I picked the watch up and looked at it. I laid it down again in the same place with the face upwards. The four of us then proceeded towards Elizabeth-street, and when we got 50 or 60 yards from the spot where the man was robbed Susan Mason said to me, 'Give me that little watch, old duck, and I will give you for it one I have at home,  which is too big for a woman to carry.' I said to her, ' Do you think I was fool enough to take that man's watch?'  She said, 'Did you not take it!' I replied. 'No; I laid it down again in the place I took it from.' Then, to satisfy her and Jules that I had not got the watch, opened my coat, took my cap off and held it in my hand, and let Mason search me in presence of Jules. They then said they were both satisfied that I had not  got the watch: Mason then said, 'You must be a d..d  fool not to take the watch.' I replied, 'I'd be a bigger fool if I did do so.' 
By this time we had reached Elizabeth-street. There Mason said to Jules, 'As soon as those two men go home we will go back again and take the watch and. more money if the man has got it.'' I separated from Susan Mason and went home to the Barracks. I did not see Mason again until between 11 and 12 o'clock the same morning, when she told me that before she could go out of her own house to get the order cashed a detective came in and asked her if she had got anything that did not belong to her. To the detective she had given up some papers and the order, saying that she picked them up in King William street, opposite the Gresham Hotel.  She told me to tell the detective the same if he came down to the Barracks to me. 
The prisoner then requested the Clerk of the Court to append what follows - I am in my twelfth year in the service, and never was charged with either theft or drunkenness since I have been in the service. I have been six years in India, and between three and four years in the campaign in New Zealand, doing hard duty, and fighting for my Queen and country whenever required. I now think it very hard if a girl of such a character is to try and swear her deeds upon my back. That is all I have to say at present.
Susan and David obviously had rather different memories of the event!  Even though she was almost certainly involved in the theft, Susan seems to have turned 'crown witness' against David Whybrow, Hughes and her friend Bridget Jules, while David seemed keen to implicate Susan as the main culprit. 

The case went to the Supreme Court in May 1868, and the newspaper reports of the trial suggest that the reason Susan acted as a witness was that the detectives involved had promised that she wouldn't be prosecuted if she did. Susan herself denied that they'd ever said this to her.

South Australian Supreme Court 1878
State Library of South Australia B 39362/3  
Further details of the events of April 11 came out. It seems that the four friends had been on something of a pub crawl before they came across Jones asleep, although they disagreed as to who was drunk at the time. Susan mentioned that she had known David for 6 months. Mr. Boucaut, the lawyer who appeared for David Whybrow claimed that the statements from Whybrow and Hughes had been unfairly obrtained and "referred to the unsatisfactory evidence of Mason, who, if any felony had been committed, was probably the culprit." David Whybrow and Richard Hughes called on three of their superior officers to act as witnesses to their good characters.

Finally the case was concluded -
His Honor, in summing up, charged the Jury not to give credence to the evidence of Mason unless they considered it had been confirmed as regarded all the prisoners. That had not been done except as to the prisoners being present at the robbery, while there were many discrepancies between the two and the statements of the prisoners to the detectives, to which he referred; and also to the good character given to the soldiers, while they had nothing against that of the female prisoner.The Jury retired, and in a short time returned a verdict of not guilty, and the prisoners were accordingly discharged.
What is strange is that Susan must surely have been pregnant with Harriet during this time, since Harriet was born in September 1868. Did David and Susan collude in some complicated plan to confuse the jury by giving contradictory evidence, or was David as innocent as he claimed? Perhaps it was a case of there being no honour among thieves. 

Susan's name doesn't appear in the Adelaide newspapers again after this trial, but in later years it starts to crop up in the reports of the Colchester Police Court and Petty Sessions (as Susan Whybrew - David's surname generally seems to have been reported as Whybrow only in Australia). In April 1895, Susan charged a woman with assaulting her near the army camp gates. Then in 1900 she claimed that one of her neighbours had assaulted her after accusing her of saying things about the woman to the woman's boss. The case was dismissed. In 1905 she accused a man named McBirnie, an agent of an art company, of assaulting her after an argument over a framed picture. He counter-summonsed John Whybrew, Susan's son, claiming that he had been assaulted by him. The Whybrew's won the case and McBirnie was ordered to pay costs.

Sadly, a couple of Susan's appearances in court involved quarrels with members of her own family. In August 1888 David Whybrew was charged with assaulting Susan Whybrew during a domestic dispute. The newspaper (The Essex Standard, West Suffolk Gazette and Eastern Counties' Advertiser) reported that David called on his daughters Harriet and Eliza as witnesses to Susan's "intemperate conduct". They reportedly said that they "led wretched lives" and the newspaper headed the report "An Unhappy Family". David was bound over to keep the peace for 6 months.

Then in October 1888 Susan appeared in court charged with assaulting her daughter Harriet by threatening to throw a plate at her, after a trivial argument over some washing. Harriet called her father as witness, but as the husband of the defendant, his testimony could not be accepted. Eliza stated that she had separated her mother and sister from each other while they were fighting. Susan complained that she was "treated most shamefully" by her daughter and her husband and didn't know whether she or her daughter (ie Harriet) was the "missus of the house". This time the newspaper report was headed "A miserable famly" and it was Susan who was bound over to keep the peace.*

Despite all this, Susan and David remained married until his death in 1917. According to the 1911 census, Susan and David had 14 children, of whom 7 were still alive. (I've only found names for 9, so perhaps there were several miscarriages.) She described her occupation in the census as 'nurse', an unexpectedly soft touch at the end of a hard life. She died in Colchester at the end of 1921 aged 73.

*The newspaper reports are to be found on the 19th Century British Library Newspapers site provided by Gale News Vault, a pay-to-view site, which is why I haven't provided links. I'm happy to provide them on request.

** I've since found other newspaper accounts which say that while Nicro met Susan at the Ship Inn, the "insulting behaviour" took place in Hindley St. See http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article94738467