Q is for …

… more questions than answers.

Well, there are 3,658 persons in Andrew’s Kindred, my family tree, or “hedgerow”, but none has a family name beginning with “Q”.  Nor, even, a first name beginning with “Q”.  And there is no royalty, so none of our queens is featured. Continue reading “Q is for …”

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Rebecca

This short excursion into family history reveals a tale of early deaths and takes in a range of questions that help to make sense of the complex relationships that can arise from multiple marriages.

Asking the right questions

This is another name that cropped up when searching Findmypast’s BMD records: Marriage of Daniel Bache to Rebecca Dennies at the Parish church, Measham, Derbyshire on 24 June 1833. Rebecca? Who was she? This was not a name associated with Andrew’s Kindred, it was the first I had found in my Dennis / Dennies ancestry. Often the first place to look is the newspaper archive as reports sometimes give age, residence and occupation, which can be especially helpful with more frequent names.

What the papers said

Sadly, there was no genealogical information, but reports involving Daniel Batch add to the story.

Daniel Batch turned up in the local press. He was an engine man at Church Pit, Church Gresley and was charged with cutting a rope with intent to cause damage at Swadlincote Colliery. He had been many years in the employ of the Marquis of Hastings at Church Gresley. At the County Assizes, 29 April 1844, Daniel was accused of maliciously damaging a steam engine, but was found not guilty.

Three years later Daniel was in the news again. This time lives were lost. Derby Mercury 7 April 1847:

DREADFUL CALAMITY AT CHURCH PITT,
CHURCH GRESLEY — SEVEN LIVES LOST.

church-pit-1847-daniel-batch

On Tuesday, the 30th ult., about half-past five o’clock in the morning, fourteen colliers, men and boys, got into the cage at the Church Pit, Church Gresley, to be let down to their usual employment. Daniel Batch, the engine man, let them down, but when they had descended about forty yards, he heard one of the wheels crack, and immediately stopped the engine. He ran the pit mouth, and found the drum running fast, the spur wheel having broken, and fallen under the drum. The cage was precipitated to the bottom of the pit …

A detailed account can be found at The South Derbyshire Grave Rabbit.

Among the victims was William Chamberlayne, who died of his injuries. I think this was Rebecca’s father, in other words Daniel’s father-in-law.

Currently, there are 3,516 individuals in my tree, including nine Rebecca, but only two are in the Dennis “quarter”, and none born Dennis or variant. It was simply not a preferred name for my ancestors, so this one came as something of a surprise. What I discovered was a sad tale of early death; all too common in the nineteenth century.

Census and other records

Finding Rebecca, sometimes Back, but mainly Batch, and husband Daniel in the censuses for 1841, 1851 (Church Gresley) and 1861 (Navigation Street, Measham, which I recognised) was straightforward enough. The only other record for Rebecca was apparently in the Index of Deaths, registered Burton on Trent, in 1877, aged 77. This, at least fitted with ages in the censuses, but I could find no baptism to fit.

The back story

Samuel Batch married Jane Jewsbury 12 Mar 1827. Jane was buried 15 May 1828, aged 23, at Measham. It appears there were two children:  John and Daniel, baptised 1829 and 1831 respectively.

So, Daniel Batch was looking for a new bride and mother to his two sons:  a matter of some urgency. I was looking for a woman named Rebecca whose name was not Dennies, who was a widow and had been married to someone named Dennies. Clearly, that marriage had to have been before Samuel’s death in 1833.

The key piece of the puzzle was that there was only one record of a Rebecca marrying someone named Dennies: Samuel Dennies to Rebecca Chamberlain on 14 December 1824 at Measham (FMP image). Samuel was buried, aged 29, on 24 April 1833. I already had this Samuel Dennies in my tree, baptised 9 October 1803 at Measham – his second great grandfather John Dennis (1689-1728) was my sixth great grandfather. There were no children, which was unusual for seven years of marriage.

So, another loose end tied up. The computer-based trees I have are not great at showing these relationships, so here is a hand-drawn diagram.

rebecca-chamberlain-tree-640x309

Oh Eliza!

Over the years I have managed to connect very nearly all people named Dennis or Dennies, born, baptised or resident in Oakthorpe, Donisthorpe, Measham, Moira and Bagworth, with some from Church Gresley and other nearby places, in south east Derbyshire and north west Leicestershire, so when someone crops up I am keen to find out where they fit.

I seem to have the habit of finding things while looking for something else. Findmypast have added some non-conformist records for Derbyshire and I thought I would see if it adds anything to my exploration of Andrew’s Kindred. So far it has not, but it did lead me to look at the newspaper archive, where I found an article about an Eliza Dennies who had stolen a collar. I think this was probably a muslin-backed lace collar.

ram-inn-instock-geograph-the-bitterman
Ram Inn, Ibstock. Via Geograph, copyright: the bitterman.

What the papers say

The Leicester Mercury 27 Jul 1844 reported that Eliza Dennis, Bagworth, was committed for trial, charged with stealing a muslin-laced collar, property of Harriette Tunstall.

The Belper News 10 Aug 1844 reported that Eliza had pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one month’s hard labour.

On the same date the Leicester Mercury, reported on the Leicestershire Midsummer Assizes of Mon 5 Aug, before Lord Chief Justice Denman. It said that Eliza Dennis, 14, was charged with stealing a muslin-lined collar on 13th July at Ibstock. She was sentenced to one calendar month’s hard labour, two weeks of which solitary.

Background

I have so far been unable to find out anything about John Tunley or Harriet Tunstall, but I did already have Eliza in my tree. She was baptised at Measham on 8 Aug 1830, daughter of Thomas and Ann (whose maiden name I have yet to discover; some say Hinks, but that must be different family). Our common ancestor was Eliza’s grandfather Henry Dennis, born 1718, Measham.

Imagine: a 14 year old young woman – she would not have been seen as a girl at that time – in solitary confinement! What impact would this have on her young life? There are several papers online that deal with the physical and psychological impacts of solitary confinement, though I think these are to do with considerably longer spells than two weeks. Nonetheless, it would be a stiff ordeal for a teenager and would probably just further entrench any resentment for authority that she already had.

What happened to Eliza after that is a complete mystery: she seems to have disappeared without trace! In 1844 an Eliza Dennies was buried, but she was born in 1843. In 1848 an Eliza Dennis married someone, presumably one of the four men on the same page: Joseph Blount, James Davys, Joseph Knight, John Proudman; but the 1851 census and index of deaths both draw blanks. One tree owner has Whetton and, indeed, an Eliza Whetton of the right age appears in the 1851 census, but that Mr Whetton’s bride was Eliza Plummer. I have not found a record of emigration, voluntary or otherwise.

A mystery it remains …