Thursday, 14 June 2012

A Solid Foundation On The Ashtons

After I hit my brick wall with the Ashton family recently I was a bit disheartened, but I'm one of those people that (after a little bit of moping and feeling sorry for myself) sees an obstacle as a personal challenge - an affront that must be beaten into submission and tamed!
So it was that I decided to go right back to the basic facts and proof that I had: the birth certificate for Constance Mary Ashton (Mark's mum), which shows her dad John William Ashton and mum Gertrude Constance Musk. I was also lucky enough to have found a copy of their marriage certificate amongst some paperwork that we inherited from Mary. I used the latter vital record to apply for each of their birth certificates from the General Register Office in the UK, and once I have those I will keep working back, ordering more and more vital records as information presents itself and I can build a good fact-based argument for each step back in the history of this family.
In the meantime I also decided to adopt the Research Worksheet I had learned about while listening to episode 23 of Lisa Louise Cook's Family History Podcast. With a background in journalism, and a pedantic streak a mile wide, I love recording information in the clearest, most concise way possible, and the Research Worksheet provided by Lisa, which makes use of the Genealogy Proof Standard, is fantastic. I simply tailored it to fit my own needs (and see myself tailoring it to fit each research goal) and used to create a solid foundation for the argument that the John William Ashton listed on the birth certificate of Constance Mary Ashton, dated 17 May 1926, and on the marriage certificate of Constance Mary Ashton and Peter Eden, dated 12 April 1955, is the same John William Ashton listed as the son of Thomas William Ashton and Rachel Mary Ashton (nee???) in the 1911 Census of England and Wales.
As is evident I decided to go right back to basics and to even use the Research Worksheet to provide an argument for something I was already fairly certain about... my theory was that, in this way, any future Research Worksheets would build upon the surety established in previous ones.
Having completed the worksheet I now feel confident that I have found Mark's grandfather in the 1911 Census, and so can keep moving going back in time. I will probably hold off completing the next worksheet until I have got John's birth certificate from the GRO... I am hoping it will arrive this week!
I am also trying to figure out how to work out death dates and order death certificates from the GRO, but have so far not found much information about this.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Ashtons Keep Their Secrets

I've been making such good progress with the Ashton family in the censuses of England and Wales; I did a search of the 1861 Census: the criteria entered were John Ashton, b. abt 1827 (+/-2) in Wales, spouse Jane, lived in Walker, Northumberland.
The first result was, at first glance, a good match: John Ashton, wife Jane Ashton, b. abt 1826 in Llanwnog, Montgomeryshire, Wales, resident at the time of the 1861 census in Weeg, Montgomeryshire, Wales. However the couple have several children already; children who should have been born at this time (using info from the 1871 Census) are Martha (who would be three) and Elizabeth (who would be eight) and neither of them is listed on the 1861 Census result.
The second result didn't have a match for birth place, even though the name was a match, and had children that didn't match my guy; the third guy didn't have a match for birth place, even though the name was a match, and was listed as living with Jane Ashton and his 62 year old father, also John Ashton, in Stockport, Stockport, Cheshire (this result may be worth investigating at a later date); there was another match further down the list for a John Ashton, b. abt 1829 in Southwark, Surrey, and living with his wife Jane Ashton in Lambeth, Surrey with their son Thomas Ashton, however the child is 13 - all-in-all not a good match; even further down the list is another John Ashton, b. abt 1828 in Wales, but married to a Mary Ann Ashton and living in Walker, Northumberland with their 6mo child Thos Wm Ashton - I wasn't particularly happy about this match either, but it may be worth investigating at a later date should discrepancies arise.
I refined my search for John Ashton, b. abt. 1827 in Wales, to include Martha and Elizabeth in the search criteria as children. I also changed the criteria to search for only one year on either side of his approximate birth year, and stipulated that his spouse's name had to be Jane. This reduced the results to 37.
I still wasn't happy with any of the results and finally decided that I would have to consider this a brick wall and come back to this family with further information, perhaps obtained from vital records.
I am hoping vital records will provide me with a marriage date for John and Jane Ashton, as well their full names, and that this fruther information will lead me to their birth information and parents. At the moment, however, I am resigned to letting these family members keep their secrets and will try tracing another branch. 
I have been working on a Research Worksheet to track my findings, which I will blog about in a few days. I am determined to backtrack and use the information I do already have to build a good solid foundation and then start my research again with the vital records I am expecting to receive from the GRO sometime next week (so exciting!).