Tuesday 19 August 2014

Look Next Door for Family Members

I recently had a request to look up the baptism of a Henrietta Agnes Carpenter recently. She had married William Eli Taylor in Cornwood parish, Devon, in 1919. The family researcher wanted to confirm the parents’ names which were on the entry in the church marriage register. That request was easy to answer as I have copies of all of the parish registers. As it turned out, Henrietta was also related to me – a 2nd cousin, twice removed. The information I was able to provide was new to this family historian and, it appeared, many others who were interested in the Taylor family.

Henrietta is shown on the 1901 and 1911 censuses living with her grandparents. That fact by itself raises the question of what happened to her parents. Well, her father, William Henry Carpenter, lived right next door, in the other side of a duplex residence. He was a widower, his wife and Henrietta’s mother, Agnes Fox (Ellis) Carpenter, having died in 1896, right after Henrietta’s birth. We think she died of complications arising from childbirth but have not confirmed that information with a death certificate.
Portion of 1901 England census – Cornwood,Parish, Devon – showing William Henry Carpenter in one side of duplex and daughter Henrietta in the other; census image owned by The National Archives downloaded September 20, 2008 from Ancestry.
William Henry, with his new wife, had moved into the side occupied for over thirty years by his grandparents sometime after 1881. He and Agnes were living there with their first two daughters in 1891. In 1901, as shown above, William Henry lived alone in his side of the residence. By 1911 he had a niece and nephew living with him, both adults. There seems to be little doubt that he was unable to care for a child after his wife’s death, leaving it to his parents to take over.

The house is interesting in itself. I wrote about it in a post on February 18, 2014. It was occupied by a member of the Carpenter family from at least 1841. My 3rd great grandparents, William and Mary Carpenter lived there from the time of the birth of their eighth child in 1833 until William’s death in 1877. By 1871, their fourth son, James, his wife, Elizabeth, two of their Children, William Henry and Elizabeth Saunders and a nephew, John Carpenter, the son of another of William and Mary’s sons, and had moved in to one side of the duplex. As I mentioned above, eventually William Henry and his wife moved into the other side of the duplex after the deaths of his grandparents.
Duplex in which Carpenter family lived – Corntown, Cornwood, parish, Devon; photo taken by Wayne Shepheard 2004 – insert photo by current owner, George Colton, taken in 1962.
Anyway, the point here is that children did always live with their parents because of the lack of space, the death of one of the parents or the convenience of having a relative right next door. If you are missing a child or a parent in your search sometimes it is wise to look next door or at least nearby where a sibling might reside. Sometimes they are close such as was the case for William Henry Carpenter and his daughter, Henrietta. Sometimes they are across town or on the other side of a parish. Usually and adult and their minor child won’t be far from each other, though.

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated. Census records are the property of The National Archives and published under their Open Government License. Census image was downloaded from Ancestry.