Mary, Mary, quite contrary

Thanks to the General Register Office (GRO) continuing its trial for supplying PDF versions of entries of birth, marriage and death, I was able to solve a mystery, but not the one I expected.

paradise row 1881-82 1885
Paradise Row, Moira. Ordnance Survey. Surveyed 1881-1882, published 1885. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

In Andrews Kindred I have a number of females whose maiden names I have yet to discover.  Over the festive period I decided to see if I could find some out.  I only have first names because they appear in censuses after they were married, or as the mother of a baptised child.  In both cases they appear with their husband’s name – only rarely are mothers’ maiden names evident from baptism records.

Top of the list, purely on alphabetical order was Ann, wife of Thomas Dennis, and mother of John Dennis, baptised at Measham on 24 June 1821 (John II: Centenarian), and five younger children.  From the 1841 census Ann, age given as 45, but could be rounded down, was born about 1796, and the last child, Mary aged 4.  The nearest GRO registration was for Mary Dennis in the last quarter of 1837, so I applied for the record.

Yesterday it became available to download.  But it was the wrong Mary.  Her parents were William Dennis and Sarah, formerly Wright.  This only added to the mystery.  Mary was born on 13 November 1837 at what looks like Cop darnel Woulds in the parish of Ashby de la Zouch.  Ashby Woulds I could find.  I even had a William Dennis and Sarah, but no Mary.

ashby woulds os 1881 1882 1885
Ashby Woulds (inset) and showing the relationship to Moira (bottom), which share the same census pages.  The road aligned approximately north north east goes towards Burton on Trent, now Moira Road.  Ordnance Survey. Surveyed 1881-1882, published 1885. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

A search on Findmypast found the wedding of William Dennis to Sarah Wright on 23 November 1835 at St Helen’s, Ashby de la Zouch, but still I could not be sure that this was right.  I began to think this was a branch of Dennis that I had not previously discovered.

Next I searched Ancestry for census records to see if I could find out their ages and any connection to my other Dennis kindred.  In 1851 they were at the delightfully-named Paradise Row, Moira, which rang a feint bell, but there were so many Dennis families in the area that I could not recall which lived there.  There were five children (no Mary), the oldest being Joseph, aged 15.  Here was a way in.  I already had this Joseph in my tree, but had not found the family in the 1841 census.  At that time William, Sarah and Joseph (5) were at Moira, and there was Mary (4).  So, this Sarah was Wright.  Mystery solved.

Ann is still a mystery and probably will remain so.  I suspect that the birth of her daughter Mary was not registered, either because it was too early or because it took time for everyone to comply with the new requirement from 1 July 1837.

Viewed on Google Earth it appears no trace of Ashby Woulds remains, and Paradise Row has been redeveloped.  St Helen still stands.

st helen ashby geograph andrew abbott
St Helen, Ashby de la Zouch. Via Geograph. Copyright Andrew Abbott. Creative Commons.

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