Hunting Sarah Edwards

Discussion in 'Ask The Experts' started by Apricat, Jul 9, 2014.

  1. Apricat

    Apricat New Member

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    I hope this isn't too long.
    Many years ago one of my father’s brothers gave me a copy of their grandmother’s birth certificate, with the information that it had been obtained when she was applying for the pension. The date of the copy is 1917 and she was born about 1850 so this sounds OK. I duly entered the data into my tree and moved on.

    The data as given is Sarah EDWARDS dau of Joseph EDWARDS and Sarah KENTFIELD, born 1853 in Golden Place, London. Her husband was known (Luke BENNETT) so I didn’t fork out for the marriage cert, but traced them forward through census finding all the ‘right’ children. Approximate dates were found through FreeBMD (to whom many thanks). I got the marriage cert for Sarah K & Joseph E and hence their fathers’ names, but was unable to get further back. This was what I considered to be my brick wall. I was unable to find Sarah with her parents in the census between her birth and marriage, but I could imagine several scenarios where she might not be with them.

    As my situation improved I started sending for certs, and so many years later, I sent for the EDWARDS / BENNETT marriage – shock and horror – when they married in 1877 she gave her father as Charles Henry EDWARDS – where was Joseph? Again, I could see maybe I couldn’t find her with them because she wasn’t so she gave the wrong name through either ignorance or malice. I couldn’t find a Sarah with a Charles Henry either in the relevant census so went with the birth cert being correct. Like Joseph, Charles Henry was a coachman, though unlike Joseph he is entered as deceased on the marriage cert.

    So I started using a commercial site to investigate the EDWARDS / KENTFIELD couple, as my uncle assured me the birth was right as Sarah Bennett had owned it. I found a probate index entry for a William Kentfield, executor Sarah Edwards his niece – ah ha – so I purchased his will and her will. Strangely, neither mentioned ‘my’ Sarah, but instead an apparent sibling Elizabeth Sarah.

    So I started to really dig into EDWARDS / KENTFIELD. Using a matrix in OneNote I recorded all their children from parish records; by recording addresses as well was able to plot them clearly. They had seven children including ‘my’ Sarah and the Elizabeth Sarah mentioned in the wills. However only Elizabeth Sarah was with them in the 1861 census – hmmmmm. Pause for thought. So I started looking for burials – found six burials, added them to the matrix, addresses fitted in – including what seemed to be their Sarah’s burial. So I sent for the death certificate – and yes – she was the daughter of Joseph & Sarah Kentfield, and therefore not my great grandmother.

    So where the *&%$ is Charles Henry? If he was deceased, how long after her birth and before her marriage? Apart from sending for the birth certificate of every Sarah Edwards born in London for a 5 year period how do I track her down? Added to this, she seems to have been older than Luke, as she aged 35 years between the 1881 and 1911 census! Oh, and Luke lied about his age when they married, adding 4 years (18 to 22). They were both 22 in 1877 and by 1901 she was 6 years older than him, so I really have no realistic idea of when she was born.

    Although born in Regents Park area from three of four census, she married Luke in Bermondsey and they spent the rest of the lives in Hastings, so no interesting rellies living with or nearby in census. Witnesses at their marriage were one of his half-sisters and a male with a surname common where Luke grew up so possibly a friend.

    I am stumped, please can anyone suggest a method of cracking this brick wall, as my head isn't enough!! Thanks.
     
  2. Huncamunca

    Huncamunca The Knowledgeable One

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    Hello Apricat and welcome to Top Dog :)

    Ooh, that marriage certificate must have been a shock: it just goes to show how that just because someone has a copy of a birth certificate doesn't mean it is the right one.

    I haven't any answers, but some questions and a few musings . . .

    Re. the Joseph Edwards/ Sarah Kentfield family, you have shown that their daughter Sarah died. Have you traced their daughter Elizabeth Sarah forwards, to rule out the possibility that she might be your 'Sarah'? (Might she have been known as Sarah?) Would Joseph still have been alive when your Sarah married in 1877? If so you wouldn't think his daughter would give the wrong name and say he was dead . . . unless she was trying to cover something up.

    Now moving on to the possibility that the above family is not the right one at all . . . perhaps your Sarah was illegitimate and didn't know her father's name, so made something up when she married, to avoid the shame of the blank in the register. (Charles Henry Edwards may have been entirely fictitious, but in such circumstances it was common to give the name of a family member, e.g. stepfather or mother's father.)

    Later, when Sarah needed a copy of her birth certificate, she or her representatives may have had trouble identifying the correct birth registration in the indexes. Her birth may even not have been registered at all. With a name like Edwards - and her own uncertainty about her age - it is easy to see how she may have got the wrong certificate the first time round. You'd think she would have known it was the wrong one, but perhaps no-one ever questioned it, and it served its purpose in getting her her pension.

    Is it a coincidence that Charles Henry Edwards (deceased) and Joseph Edwards were both coachmen? Perhaps the 1853 birth certificate was the only one that could be found with a father who was a coachman???

    Must go and get some coffee now . . . will keep thinking about how you might tackle this. Back later!
     
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  3. Apricat

    Apricat New Member

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    Hi Huncamunca,

    Thanks for your ideas and input. You are so right about the shock when I saw the marriage cert - and I refused to accept the obvious for several years!

    I agree, Charles Henry could also be wrong, but Elizabeth Sarah is E S Hildersley in 1909 when her mother dies, while Sarah Bennett is living in Hastings, widowed, with my grand mother and great aunt in 1911, so I'm sure E S is not Sarah.

    I agree, when it arrived in 1917 a) she /they assumed she'd got her father's name wrong, especially if C H is real and had died before she married, so had likely not been mentioned for decades; b) she / they knew it was wrong but didn't care as it got her the pension - maybe even made her older; c) she was away with the fairies and no-one sorting out her pension noticed. The uncle who gave it to me wasn't born till 1923.

    In 1917, three years into WWI how precise was the ordering process?

    Joseph E died between 1881 and 1891, so yes, he was alive in 1877. It was the fact that I couldn't find her with her parents in any census that made me uncomfortable and started me to dig deeper.

    I have to say, I love the idea that her birth may not have been registered. That really gives me a buzz!!!

    Regards, (off to do the washing up - and think)

    Sue
     
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  4. Jellylegs

    Jellylegs Well-Known Member

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    There is a baptism on Ancestry (England, Select Births and Christenings 1538-1975) of a Sarah EDWARDS (father Joseph, mother Sarah). Born 26.12.1852, baptised 11.03.1853 in St. James', Westminster. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that they have the original parish registers - well, I can't find them – but then I can't get on with their new searches [​IMG]:(

    A quick look also found baptisms to what appears to be the same parents, also in St. James', Westminster, for William (1851), Joseph (1857) and Elizabeth Sarah (1859).

    I would think the birth for Sarah mentioned above is the one on FreeBMD for the March Quarter 1853, St. James - Vol. 1a, Page 303 - and would be a good candidate for your Sarah.

    There is a death registration of a Joseph EDWARDS in 1885, East Hampstead (FreeBMD). Vol. 2C, Page 315. This Joseph is shown as aged 61, which would fit with the age of Joseph in the census (assuming I have found the right one). Also, in 1891 and 1901, Sarah says she is a widow.
     
  5. Apricat

    Apricat New Member

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    Hi Jellylegs,

    Thanks for your work, but this is the Sarah I discounted when I found her burial in 1858. Daughter of Joseph Edwards and Sarah Kentfield.

    Regards,

    Sue
     
  6. Jellylegs

    Jellylegs Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, must have missed that bit :(
     
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  7. Apricat

    Apricat New Member

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    It was a long post, and I am grateful for the work you did for me. :)
     
  8. Huncamunca

    Huncamunca The Knowledgeable One

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    It's the weekend at last so I am allowed a bit more time on Top Dog. No lightbulb moments I'm afraid but here are a few ideas for some search strategies:
    • In case Sarah was the legitimate daughter of a real Charles Henry Edwards, look for Charles Henry Edwards in London parish records on Ancestry and Westminster ones on Findmypast: a marriage for him, or baptisms/marriages where the father's name is given as Charles Henry Edwards. Perhaps you will find possible siblings for Sarah this way. Also look for him on censuses, possibly just listed as plain Charles or plain Henry.
    • In case Sarah was the stepdaughter of a Charles Henry Edwards: check out the brides of any Charles Henry Edwards marrying fairly soon after Sarah's birth, to see if they had had a daughter Sarah before they married. In this scenario Sarah's birth name would have been something different, and then she only became an Edwards when her mother married (if a single mother) or remarried (if a widow).
    • In case Charles Henry Edwards was fictitious: look for a Sarah born to a single mother and perhaps still with her on censuses. The mother may have died, or the daughter may have been cared for by relatives or ended up in the workhouse system, so look out for any Sarah Edwards who you find in such a situation on the census and see if you can find out more about them.
    If there are any little Sarah Edwardses of the right age in London workhouses or workhouse schools on censuses, you may find more about them in the poor law records on Ancestry. Most aren't searchable by name: instead you have to identify likely sets of records and then browse through the images. If you're lucky there may be an index at the beginning or end of the register.

    It's not going to be easy task with such a common name and the added problem of the doubt about Sarah's age. You will have to hope that at least the bit about being born in the Regent's Park area is correct.

    Hope there are some fresh ideas here. Will keep thinking . . .
     
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