I have written before about information I have found and questions I have been asked by family researchers, as an Online Parish Clerk. In many of the cases, there was a situation where an individual or a family changed or went by different surnames over the years. Following is one of those cases.
A query came from a descendant of a man that some records said was born in Cornwood Parish but we had information on George Chapple, alias George Chapple Standard, from his military service record dated 1854, that he was born in Denbury, Devon. Denbury is about 24 miles east of Cornwood. Other information said he was from Cornwood. The descendant asked me what I could find.
1854 – portion of military service record for George Chapple, alias George Chapple Standard, completed on his induction in the navy, showing his birth place as Denbury, Devon
1825 August 21 – baptism record for George Chapple Standard in Cornwood Parish, Devon, base child of Margaret Standard, servant, of Lutton, Cornwood
I found that George was, in fact, baptized in Cornwood Parish on August 21, 1825, the base child of Margaret Standard. Chapple was shown as part of his forename. The military records said he was born August 2, 1824. It appears he may have lied about being older than he was to be able to get into the navy, not an unusual case. It also may be that he was born in Denbury but came to Cornwood with his mother, possibly for reasons of her employment, before he turned one year old, and was baptized there.
Subsequent searches of census and other records, showed his mother and her family were from Denbury. She apparently went back there shortly after his birth. A Margaret Standard, possibly the same woman, married a William Haddy in Denbury, in 1830.
On censuses between 1861 and 1901, there is different information about George’s place of birth. He has not been identified on either the 1841 or 1851 censuses. The various censuses indicate he was born in either later 1825 or early 1826, except for the 1891 census which indicates 1824-25. All entries, however, show his surname as Chapple.
According to his descendants, he married Maria Angel on August 1, 1849, under the name of George Chapple Standard. His designation at that time was seaman. The name of his father was not shown on the marriage certificate. George has not been found on the 1851 census but his wife, Maria Standard, is shown living in Denbury.
According to George’s descendants, his first three children were baptized George Herbert Standard in 1856, William Angel Standard in 1859, and Henry Standard in 1861. The civil birth records for George Herbert and William Angel, in Newton Abbott Registration District, shows their surname as Standard but a birth record for Henry, in the same registration district, shows his surname as Chapple. On the 1861 census, and from then on, they are all shown with the surname of Chapple. George’s fourth son, James, born in 1867, was also registered with the surname Chapple.
1851 England Census – Denbury Parish, Devon – Maria Standard, born in Newton Abbott, Devon; shown as married but living alone
1861 England Census – Denbury Parish, Devon – George Chapple, seaman in Royal Navy, born in Cornwood, Devon, living with wife, Mary, born in Newton [Abbott], Devon, and three children, all born in Denbury, Devon
1871 England Census – Devonport, East Stonehouse Parish, Plymouth, Devon – George Chapple, naval pensioner, with wife, Maria, and four children; all family members shown as born in Denbury, Devon
1881 England Census – Denbury, Devon – George Chapple, widower, agricultural labourer, living with son, James; both shown as born in Denbury, Devon
Maria died in 1879. George married Susanna Grant in 1882 using the name of George Standard Chapple, with his father shown as John Chapple. There are a couple of John Chapples, born in Cornwood, who could be his father – one in 1806 and one in 1796 – but confirmation of either cannot be made.
1891 England Census – Denbury, Devon – George Chapple, farm labourer, living with wife Susana and six children; all family members shown as born in Denbury, Devon
1901 England Census – Denbury, Devon – George Chapple, widower, naval pensioner, born in Cornwood, Devon, living with four of his children, all born in Denbury, Devon
George died in 1908, aged 86 according to a descendant, which would make his birth year either 1821 or 1822. There is a death index for a George Chapple in the June quarter of 1908 (Totnes Registration District, Devon) that says this man was 87 (born 1821).
So there is a bit of a conundrum – with name, place and date of birth. And where was he in 1851? According to the service record, he did not join the navy until 1854. But his 1849 marriage record says he was a seaman. Was he privately employed in the merchant marine service? Most importantly, what happened prior to 1861 to make him want to change his name – and that of all the members of his family as well?
Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He serves as the Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated.