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Help with brick walls

(54 Posts)
Nagyi Sun 24-Jul-11 20:49:36

Sometimes it helps to have a fresh look at the brick walls we have in our family research. How about posting them here and perhaps another member can knock that wall down. BUT, FOR PRIVACY REASONS PLEASE DO NOT POST ANYTHING ABOUT PEOPLE WHO MAY STILL BE ALIVE.

gkal Tue 26-Jul-11 11:58:29

I have come up against brick walls in my family research and am having a break but I do long to get back into it and consolidate it. The trouble is that I'm not very good at concentrating on one branch so tend to do a lot of juggling. One branch of my family has been researched (not by me!) back to the 1550s so Tudor times, and I find it amazing to look into what was going on in the world at that time. In another branch, in the 1880s I found that my g. g. grandparents had moved round the corner from their son, DIL and new baby, probably to help out, as both parents were working - some things never change! A very sad entry in the Scottish BMD register showed the death of a new-born baby boy who would have been my great uncle and 2 days later, on the same page, the death of his Mum following complications from the birth, leaving a whole family of little ones to be cared for. It's a fascinating hobby, but time-consuming and can be expensive.

SueDonim Tue 26-Jul-11 12:20:45

Sometimes even now the passage of time breaks through the wall for you. I had been searching fruitlessly for years to find out about my dad's siblings who all died young. Then late one night (I do find family history keeps me from my bed!) I came across the names of two of the three siblings on a BMD site. They had definitely not been listed before and so I assume had recently been added by transcribers.

It was a major breakthrough for me as from that I was able to discover their living descendants and have now met a cousin and been able to expand my knowledge of our family. So do keep checking and re-checking - one day that knowledge may pop up when you least expect it!

janreb Tue 26-Jul-11 18:09:24

I hit a brick wall with my father's family almost from the word go - it took me five years to discover anything about his father's family but when I did so much more came to light. I've now hit another brick wall with the family but will keep looking. Also have come to a standstill with other research, there seems to be a gap in one family that I can't sort out and the other records were lost in a fire so am not sure I'll ever discover anymore about them. So if anyone comes across the Christie family in Cornwall before 1820, the Bartlam's in the midlands pre 1815 or can help fill the big gap in the Bagley family I'll be delighted for any info. The Bagley's were bell founders in the 15/1600s in Northampton then they go missing until they are found in Birmingham in the early 1800s as brassfounders.

Dobbie Wed 27-Jul-11 08:40:46

Have also seemed to have arrived at the Brick Wall as well. Arrangements were made for me to be adopted before I was born 66 years ago. After a few tries at trying to locate my birth family I finally had a break through three years ago. My mother's maiden name had been incorrectly spelt in the birth records. I now have spent a year with my mother before she died two years ago, but have now found three lovely sisters and a brother. Large families feature in our ancestry and is continuing. I have no end of cousins, nieces and nephews etc. However, trying to find family beyond 1880s through websites without costing too much is hard. I have found out that the Pinn family originate from Somerset, Devonshire and Cornwall area and that probably a sister and I will have to travel to Taunton to try to turn up more. An excuse for a holiday and to spend time with each other again! Lovley.

Nagyi Wed 27-Jul-11 20:57:42

@ janreb

Have you looked at Cornwall OPC site. There are a number Christie baotisms, marriages and burials in Probus, St Erme and Isles of Scilly. See

Nagyi Wed 27-Jul-11 21:01:05

@ Dobbie

Can you post some details of your Pinn ancestors. Someone with a subscription to a genealogy site may be able to look up information for you.

janreb Thu 28-Jul-11 10:41:17

Nagyi - yes some of those are "mine" but the one John Christie was in the army so he travelled around and that is causing the problem. Am also trying to find his wife - Elizabeth Seaton's birth - there are a few but not sure which is the correct one. I've looked around St Erme churchyard but no Chiristie's buried there. Think the William in Probus is a 3xgreat uncle and he was prosecuted for not giving maintenance for his illegitimate children! Seems he ran the pub in Probus.
Dobbie - I subscribe to ancestry so could look up anything for you if you can give me more details.

Oxon70 Sat 30-Jul-11 18:30:29

I am stuck with my grandfather at 1922.
I know lots about his father and grandfather, because of the 19c censuses and newspapers.
I have some info ab out where he worked, as a bridge designer, before this, but when my father left home, he stopped recording where his father's part of the family was.
He was last heard of, from 1911 – E. Wood & Co, Manchester, for 11 years. Chief Designer, Estimating, Outside Sales Rep, London Sales Manager. By 1911 the family were in Royal Avenue, Old Trafford.

Any ideas, anyone?

Oxon70 Sat 30-Jul-11 18:31:11

Oops, sorry - he was Andrew Little.

pinkprincess Sat 30-Jul-11 22:45:06

I have come to a brick wall in my father's family. His father was born to a single mother in 1889, and was brought up by his mother's parents as one of their own. His mother then seemed to have dissapeared all together.
I have a copy of my grandfather's birth certificate and on it his mother is the informant so she did survive his birth.His father is down as unknown. His mother's name was Catherine Main and his birthplace was Bishopwearmouth in County Durham.
She may have left the family home in South Shields altogether, as she is not listed in any of the later Census records.I am just curious as to what happened to her that's all.

pinkprincess Sat 30-Jul-11 23:22:31

I have another brick wall in my husband's family.His maternal grandfather came from Ireland in what he thinks were the 1890's as his mother and her two brothers were born in the UK at the turn of the 19th century.It is very difficult tracing Irish Ancestry as alot of the records were destroyed.
DH has a feeling his grandfather came of the travelling people so if that is correct it will be almost impossible to trace that side.

Nagyi Tue 02-Aug-11 15:03:52

@ pinkprincess

There is a Catherine Main on 1891 census at 2, Eleanor Street, Westoe, South Shields, Co Durham. She is a nurse in a private house. She is single and aged 25 (making her DoB about 1866) and her PoB is given as South Shields.

Could this be your Catherine? If not, can you tell us a bit more about your Catherine such as where and when she was born and names of her parents. Also the name of her son (your grandfather) so we can try to trace Catherine for you.

pinkprincess Tue 02-Aug-11 16:28:14

Nagyi Thankyou I have posted a private message to you.

Nagyi Wed 03-Aug-11 08:15:26

@ pinkprincess

Here is what I have found about the Catherine Main who I think is your ancestor. Don't worry about the discrepancies in her year of birth. This was quite common and also, I suspect, Catherine was trying to make out the older she got the younger than she actually was!!

In 1871, aged 9, she was in East Street, South Shields with parents Thomas nad Mary Ann and siblings Thomas, Marion and Isabella.

In 1881, aged 19 and a milliner, she is still at home with parents and the 3 above siblings plus 2 more William C and Cairns. Father is a tailor and the family are now living at 18 Ocean Road, Westoe.

In 1891 the parents are now at 32 34, James Mather Terrace, Westoe with Marion, Isabel and Cairns and they have 2 more children and Jane K and Frances C. Frank Main, described as grandson and aged 5, is also in the household.

Catherine is working as a nurse in the home of a Thomas (a master mariner) and Isabella Hunter at 2 Eleanor Street, Westoe. Her place of birth is given as South Shields and her age as 25 (giving approx date of birth as 1866).

In 1901 father, now a widower, is at 30 George Scott Street with 4 of his children.

Catherine is now a cook domestic at a boarding school - 2, 4, Percy Lodge (Harrogate Ladies College), The Oval, Harrogate. Age this time is given as 32 making year of birth approx 1869 and place of birth as South Shields.

In 1911 Thomas is still at the same address as in 1901 with various children and grandchildren.

Catherine in now a housekeeper in a drapery house (looks like some sort of hostel for drapers' assistants) at 59 & 61 Granger Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. She is still described as single, aged 44 (giving approx year of birth of 1867) and place of birth as South Shields.

I've found a marriage between a Catherine Main and a William B Hemsley registered in Morpeth district in Apr-Jun 1911 and then the death of a Catherine Hemsley aged 60 registered in Newcastle-upon-Tyne district in Jan-Mar 1925.

Birth of William Brewis Hemsley was registered in Morpeth district in Jan-Mar 1887 (making him about 20 years younger than Catherine!). He was son of Thomas and Mary Scott Hemsley (per census 1891). In 1901 he was at boarding school in Barnard Castle. By 1911 census, aged 24, he had his own farm at Bockefield Felton, Morpeth where he was living with just a housekeeper. His death was registered in Northumberland Central district in Oct-Dec 1945.

I'm fairly confident this is your great grandmother and step great grandfather but the only way to prove it is for you to send off for the marriage certificate between Catherine and William in 1911. If you do, please let me know the outcome.

Nagyi Wed 03-Aug-11 10:24:08

@ pinkprincess PS to earlier message

I forgot to mention that, although in your oriignal post about this, you said Catherine's son was born in 1889, I believe he was born earlier than this as in the 1891 census his age is given as 5 and I found a birth record which is probably his: Francis Main registered in Sunderland district in Apr-Jun 1886.

Death a a Francis Main aged 81 was registered in South Shields district in Jul-Sep 1967.

pinkprincess Wed 03-Aug-11 14:06:09

Thankyou ever so much for all this work Nagyi.
I can remember the time of my grandfather's death.It was probably in August 1967.My dad got a message about him being seriously ill after no contact for years.
It is interesting to learn my greatgrandmother worked for a master mariner, as Francis my grandfather was also a master mariner, as well as my Dad's elder brother.
Many thanks again.

janthea Wed 03-Aug-11 14:20:57

Nagyi where did you get all this information. I'm trying to trace my father's family. I only have his father's name and a possible name for his mother. They were divorced and I never met either of them. My father was estanged from his family.

Nagyi Wed 03-Aug-11 16:14:45

@ janthea

There are a number of sites, some free, some pay-as-you-go and some subscription with birth, marriage & death records, census info 1841 to 1911 and even baptism & burial records. I subscribe to Find My Past and Ancestry both of which have masses of records online.

If you post your father's name, date of birth and any other info you have about him I'll have a go at tracing his line back.

Oxon70 Sat 13-Aug-11 09:54:38

Nagyi - could I ask for a quick look at something? I was on findmypast but my sub has expired....

I copied the page from the death register and didn't include the column where the date that the entry was made is put.
The record is for the death of John Little on the 16 May 1889 in Newton-le-Willows. Death duty register record – index to records: (1889. Liverpool 6223) He was my gggrandfather.

His wife Emma registered the death and it puts her in Liverpool on the day of registration, yes? It would be interesting if it was on the day of his funeral! (25th). She didn't go to the funeral. It might be a clue to when she went home up north to Sunderland.

Nagyi Sun 14-Aug-11 07:51:43


Death of a John Little was registered in Warrington district in Apr-Jun quarter 1889. Ref: 8C 91. Age given as 77.

Is this your gggrandfather? If so, you'll need to send off for the death certificate for full details.

Oxon70 Sun 14-Aug-11 12:34:14

Yes, that is the right John Little, but not what I am after. If I could put an attachment on here I could show you.....I have a screenprint from fmp and the list is headed 'Death Duty register record'.
Maybe I am wrong and there wasn't another column on the left for the actual date that the death was recorded, maybe they are all lumped together as three months of deaths.
I just want to know if I can find the date that Emma Little was in Liverpool, because there is a mystery about when she went home to Sunderland.

Nagyi Sun 14-Aug-11 12:47:11


Sorry to disappoint you but this is all there is:

Name of deceased: Little John
Residence: Newton-le-Willows
Date of death: 16 May 1889
Executor/administrator: Emma Little
Registry: Liverpool
No of affidavit: 6223
Will or administration: Will

You can buy a copy of the grant of probate which may give you more information. It will also have the will attached to it.

Oxon70 Tue 16-Aug-11 10:54:19

Seems I was looking for something that wasn't there...thanks, though. Another correspondant asked me if I knew when Emma left Newton.
I wish I knew more about her, she married John (71) at 19 (!) then when he died she didn't go to the funeral...she and her father inherited everything....but she put in Memoriam notices in the local paper for years.....
She probably didn't dare meet the rest of the family!

apricot Wed 17-Aug-11 20:10:21 (I think that's right) is FREE and gives you lots of information.
I met a brick wall then by chance I spotted a name in the parish register and it was my ancestor's mother. His baptism was in his mother's name as he was base-born and was also wrongly spelled and back-to-front. An awful lot of my peasant family were base-born, the mothers usually married later.