Genealogy Mystery: Jane Finally Found

Our family has long known that ancestors Benjamin Booth married Jane Ebrey in 1866 in northern Shropshire, England, and they came to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on their honeymoon.  Benjamin’s older brother George, also a carpenter, was already in Milwaukee, a likely reason they came. Ben and Jane stayed to work and raise their family.
 
Benjamin’s parents and birth date and place were known. But when was Jane born and where, and who were her parents? The usual online records did not yield an answer. No International Genealogy Index or IGI record for her and nothing in FreeBMD that matched what we knew from later records.

Following considerable genealogy sleuth work, answers have turned up in a number of records –  including Benjamin and Jane’s marriage certificate ordered from the General Register Office or  GRO in England. It proved to be the key that opened the door to solving the mystery of Jane Ebrey’s family and early life.

An important clue was found on a family tree that a cousin wrote out some years ago, based on his research. It was this:
> In the 1861 Census, Jane Ebrey was recorded as keeping house for her uncle Robert Ebrey and his sons Henry and Frederick in Prees, Shropshire. They lived on on Whitchurch Street. The men all worked as butchers.
 
Benjamin and Jane’s marriage record revealed that:
> Benjamin, a carpenter, age 21, and Jane, age 27, were married in the Prees parish church on 23 April 1866
> Benjamin’s father was Joseph Booth, a builder
> Jane’s father was John Ebrey, a butcher
 
With Jane’s father’s correct name, I at last was able to find Jane’s family and her presence in key records.

John and Robert Ebrey were among the sons of Thomas Ebrey who in 1828 and 1835 was listed in Shropshire Directories as Thomas Aberey & Sons, Butchers, in Prees. Thomas Aberey [also Eberey and Ebrey] had on 31 Dec 1795 married Isabelle Gilchrist, who sometimes was recorded as Elizabeth [Elizabeth is the English version of the name Isabelle].
 
John Ebrey was recorded as John Gilchrist Ebrey when he was baptized on 15 Aug 1802 in Prees. He most likely was named for his maternal grandfather John Gilchrist, Isabelle’s father.
 
On 15 Nov 1827, John Ebrey married Mary Palin, or Paling, in Ightfield, a rural village about 4 miles northeast of Prees and 4 miles southeast of Whitchurch. He and Mary then settled in her home village of Ightfield where John was a butcher while his brother Robert continued the butcher business in Prees. John and Mary had 10 children.
 
So that’s one reason Jane Ebrey was hard to find. It turns out that she was born in Ightfield, not Prees or Hodnet as the family had assumed. Likely born in October 1836, she was baptized in Ightfield on 20 Nov 1836 as shown in the parish records on microfilm. [In the 1900 Census, Jane's birth was recorded as October 1855. She never liked giving her real age!]

But why no IGI for Jane’s baptism? It turns out that the IGIs for Ightfield are based on a document the ended with 1830.  And the FreeBMD records start with required registration in 1837. Jane’s birth fell in the gap, but the microfilm of Ightfield parish records , ordered through the local Family History Center,  had records of her birth and those of her siblings.
 
So why was Jane not with her parents in the 1841 Census? In fact, I believe she was – but the census taker hearing “Jane who is four” wrote down “James, age 4, son.” There is no birth of a James Ebrey to John and Mary in the microfilm records. So the census error is the likely reason Jane seems to be missing in 1841. In that year, the John Ebrey family lived in Prees but by 1851 they were again in Ightfield.
 
In the 1851 Census, Jane Ebrey, 14, born in Ightfield – surely our Jane – was in service in the household of John Paling in Prees. John, a grazier and butcher, was Jane’s maternal uncle, being her mother Mary Paling’s brother. [It was this record, giving her birthplace in Ightfield, that sent me to the Ightfield microfilm].
 
In this period, it was typical for young women from families of modest means to work as a servant in another household.  In 1861, Jane, as yet unmarried, was recorded as keeping house for her paternal uncle Robert Ebrey in Prees. Robert was a widower with two sons and so in need of someone to run his household.

Then on 23 April 1866, in the Prees parish church, Jane married Benjamin Booth, who had been baptized and confirmed at the church in Hodnet. The Booth family lived in the nearby village of Marchamley at the entrance to Hawkstone where the Booth men were carpenters and builders. Benjamin and Jane came to Milwaukee where he was listed in the 1866 Milwaukee Directory as a carpenter, living with George Booth, carpenter.
 
A fun extra. On 15 May 1866, at the Prees parish church, Sarah Booth, Benjamin’s sister, married Henry Ebrey, Jane’s first cousin and the son of Robert Ebrey mentioned earlier. Sarah had been a witness when Benjamin and Jane married.
 
One last bit gleaned from Shropshire Directories about John and Robert Ebrey. In the 1851 Directory for Shropshre, in the Whitchurch Trades Directory section, both John Ebrey and Robert Ebrey were listed as “country butchers who stand at the market in High Street” in Whitchurch [History, Gazetteer & Directory of Shropshire, 1851, p. 351.] Whitchurch was a market town where on Fridays merchants and tradesmen set up their booths to sell their wares.

Thus a genealogy brickwall – built of various errors and omissions – was finally overcome. Evidence that it can be done!

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SNGF – Ahnentafel Roulette No. 2

Note: After reviewing my Ahnentafel with greater care, I found that Jane Ebrey is No. 23 on my ancestor table while Marianna Stocker is No. 19. See Saturday, September 19,  for Ancestor 19.

This week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is Ahnentafel Roulette, a game played using your father’s age and a quick formula to find a number in your Ahnentafel or ancestry table.

My father was born in 1919 so would have been 90 this year. The figure 90 divided by 4 is 22.5, rounded up to 23. Ancestor 23 is a second-great grandmother on your paternal side.

My Ancestor 23 is Jane Ebrey, born about October 1839 in Prees, Shropshire, England. I say “about” because the many records I have for her show her birth year ranging from 1837 to 1855!  I suspect the 1837-1839 period is right, as census records give her age as 14 in 1851 and 22 in 1861.

To date I have not found a birth record for her, either through IGI or FreeBMD. I’ve even searched the latter for the name Jane in Shropshire, September 1837 through December 1840, hoping for a unique surname spelling, but no luck.

Research by a cousin showed Jane’s parents were Thomas Ebrey and Anne, and her uncle was Robert Ebrey, a widower for whom she kept house as we know from the 1861 Census in England.  While many records are available about Robert and another uncle, John Gilchrist Ebrey, Jane’s father Thomas Ebrey is illusive in the records. There is enough evidence to know these people are her family, but more research is needed!

The happy and romantic story for Jane Ebrey is her marriage to Benjamin Booth in the second quarter of 1866, perhaps in May or June,  the same time that her cousin Henry [Robert's son] married Sarah Booth, sister to Benjamin.

Then Benjamin and Jane sailed for America on their honeymoon, according to family lore, coming to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where they established  family and career. They had two sons and four daughters including the oldest daughter, Grace, who is my great-grandmother.

Relative Musings:  Jane and Benjamin arrived in 1866, just 31 years after the building of Milwaukee had begun in the woods and swamps at a harbor on Lake Michigan and just 20 years after incorporation as a city. Benjamin’s carpentry skills played a role in the building of what has become a great city on a Great Lake!

NOTE: What is an Ahnentafel? The word is German for Ancestor table. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahnentafel

Thanks for the SNGF, Randy! http://www.geneamusings.com/

Please follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBPetura

Please join my group Finding Family for Free at GenealogyWise:
http://tiny.cc/GWFindingFamilyforFree

-o0o-

Published in: on September 20, 2009 at 5:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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