I had a request from Patricia, a lady from Australia, who found two links to online family trees concerning her grandmother, born Maude Isabel Mallet, parents Thomas Britten Mallet and Emma Hulance, nee Davis. Both references indicated she had been born in Plympton, Devon in 1856. As the Online Parish Clerk for the parish she asked me whether I could verify the parents’ names, birth date and location.
One of the trees was on Genes Reunited and gave only the year, quarter and registration district for Maude’s birth. The other reference was on a webtrees family file, Britten Family of Northamptonshire & London. The second, again, only had information on the quarter when the birth was registered but had substantial other data about Maude’s family, including parents and siblings. Her younger brother and sister had been born in Australia which gave us a time frame for when the family moved there from England.
I set out to see what I could find in my parish records. Sometimes these searches that seem simple end up leading you around in circles.
As is often the case with lookups in the area, I determined that the Plympton reference was for the Plympton St. Mary Registration District not the parish as Maude Isabel was not listed in the baptism registers of any of my parishes.
A quick search of Ancestry and FindMyPast records brought up information about Maude’s parents on various family trees: his baptism in 1811, in Hampshire, England, parents Thomas Mallet Esq. and Sarah Saunders; her baptism in 1828, in Somerset, England, parents Jacob Davis and Catherine Hulance; their marriage in 1853, in Middlesex, England; his death in 1864, in Australia; and her death in Australia in 1912.
Maude’s birth on Ancestry, again, was only shown on the civil birth index in Plympton St. Mary Registration District in 1856. Her baptism was indicated to have been in July of 1856, in Australia, though, which indicated she may have been born in Devon just before the family left for Australia. Perhaps they were just waiting near the port to board their ship when the baby decided to come.
I suggested to Patricia that she order the birth certificate from the General Record Office using the volume and page references given in the index. The document she received did indeed confirm that Maude’s parents were Thomas Britten Mallet and Emma Hulance, nee Davis and that she was born in Plymstock parish, which is just across the inlet from the port of Plymouth; so a couple of important questions were answered.
Birth certificate for Maude Isabel Mallet, parents Thomas Britten Malled and Emma Hulance Mallet, formerly Davis; obtained from General Register Office, England
In further correspondence with Patricia I learned quite a bit about this very interesting family. Thomas Britten Mallet was born in Hampshire, England however the family soon after moved back to their “homeland” of Jersey in the Channel Islands where Thomas and later siblings were baptized. He served in the local militia from a young age, according to one source, being promoted to 2nd lieutenant at fifteen and to Captain at twenty-three. By the 1840s he was a shipping agent, and owner (?) for emigrant ships to Australia and probably other destinations. There is an 1845 freedom of the City of London document that shows him being admitted to the Company of Spectaclemakers. It is not known whether he was actually involved in the making of eye-glasses or whether this was a way to gain access to the business community of London. He ended up taking his family to Australia in 1856, as we first discovered in the search for his daughter, Maude Isabel. He bought a sawmill business near Melbourne from his brother-in-law in 1860. The business was not viable and went bankrupt in 1862. He died in 1864, apparently leaving his young family in some economic hardship.
One of the reasons why this particular story resonated with me is that I believe one of my 2nd great-grandfathers, Robert Anderson, may also have been born while his family waited by or even on the ship to take them from Glasgow, Scotland to Canada. His birth, indicated on numerous records, including his own death certificate, was on January 6th, 1832, in Glasgow. No baptism record has been found for Robert, which is curious as that was a common practice of the day in the absence of civil birth records.
A note on the 1901 Canada census showing his brother, John, says the family arrived in Canada in 1832. His older siblings were born in Scotland, near but not in Glasgow, and those younger were born in Canada. So we have some written reports and some indirect information that Robert was born in Glasgow in 1832 but nothing direct to confirm it. If he was later baptized in Canada those records appear to have not survived.
Robert Anderson (1832-1912)
Other of my ancestors’ families are split with some births in Great Britain and others in Canada; so that, too, is similar to the story of the Mallets. I will have more to say about my immigrant families in my next blog – number 100.
Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, 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