My Family Brickwalls

Any genealogist, amateur or pro, will always come across a stumbling block during their research, which will somehow prevent them from taking their investigation further. This is what genealogists often refer to as “a family brick wall”.

Often, genealogical brick walls tend to be resolved, although sometimes not as speedily as one would like. This sections is designed to share with you the individual stories which have constituted a long-lasting brick wall in my own research. Can you solve any of these family mysteries?

Samuel Morris – when and where was he baptised and who were his parents?

My four-times great-grandfather Samuel Morris’s origins are something of a mystery. His parentage is as much a mystery as his year of birth, and without a name or a date, I’m stuck for good! Samuel Morris married Ann Cartwright on 7 August 1814 in Kington, Herefordshire (Ann’s hometown) and had three children: Mary (1820), Samuel Cartwright (1823) and Charlotte (1826), all born in Kington. While Ann’s year of birth is consistently given as 1788 in both the 1841 and 1851 census (she died in 1858 aged 69 so, again, a birth year of about 1789), Samuel’s is a bit trickier: in 1841 he is mentioned as being 49 (so born in 1792), in 1851 he is 61 (so born in 1790), in 1861 he is 72 (so born in 1789) and in 1867 he passes away at the age of 79 (so born in 1788). In all Samuel’s year of birth varies from 1788 to 1792. What is more, his place of birth is equally puzzling. In 1841, living in Kington, he is mentioned as being born in the county of Herefordshire; in 1851 he is listed as being from Hereford All Saints, but in 1861 the place of birth changes to Hereford St. Peter! My efforts to find a baptism for Samuel in either parish have drawn a blank every single time, and without a baptism I’m unable to go back on my family tree!

Ann Williams – the mystery of her origins and first marriage (SOLVED!!!)

My English ancestor Edward Allen (born in Colwall, Herefordshire in the early 1800s) married a woman called Ann sometime in the 1830’s. I know this because their first child, also called Ann, was born legitimately in Colwall in 1838. Edward’s wife was also born in Colwall around 1809, as consistently indicated on the 1851 and 1861 census.  A contact shared information on a likely entry of marriage which took place in Withington, Herefordshire, so I ordered the marriage certificate. It confirmed Ann’s maiden name was Williams (father’s name Thomas Williams), and that she was a widow (married name Lewis). Edward was also listed as a widower on the certificate, but strangely it did not mention either one of them as residing in Colwall at the time. Unfortunately, all attempts to find a marriage certificate or an entry for a marriage among church records for Ann Williams to a Mr Lewis proved fruitless. Even more worryingly, I couldn’t find a baptism for a Ann Williams in Colwall in 1809/1810, nor for an Ann Lewis for that matter. Read here how this mystery was solved.

Elizabeth Symonds – parentage and origins?

Born presumably in 1719, Elizabeth Symonds married William Allen on 9 October 1751 in Colwall. Transcripts by Herefordshire Family History Society indicate no information on the bride’s place of origin; therefore, she may have been from Colwall, or elsewhere. The couple had the following children: Richard (1752), Elizabeth (1753), William (1755), John (1757), Joseph (1759), Thomas (1760) and Peggy (1762). It is possible that the name of any of their children reflected Elizabeth’s parents’ names, given that her husband’s parents were called Richard and Margaret. In any case, Elizabeth died on 15 November 1795 and was buried in Colwall, being survived by her husband. Her headstone says she was 76 years old, and confirms she was the wife of William Allen (cordwainer), of Evendine, Colwall.