Tuesday 16 August 2016

Finding a Lost Cousin

In putting together information for my post last week I went back to try to find some information on a cousin that I had lost. Actually she was not “lost” but I just had not spent much time looking for her. There is always someone else, or some other branch, closer in terms of a personal connection, that seems to take my attention and energy, so I lose track of other people I want to learn about or forget to keep the search going for them.

That was true for Thomasin/Tamzine Julia Jane Short, a 1st cousin, 4X removed. She was the daughter of a 3rd great-grand-aunt and granddaughter of my 4th great-grandparents. As it turned out she was also the last in her line.

I went back to my mainstay databases, Ancestry and Find My Past to see if I had missed anything in previous searches or whether new information had been added that might help.

Firstly, her mother was Thomasin Shepheard, daughter of John and Jane Treby Shepheard. That’s how she was identified on her 1807 baptism record in Cornwood, Devon. She married John Short in St. Andrew, Plymouth in 1839, as Thomasine Shepheard, although she made her mark on the register indicating she could not read or write. She died in 1841, in Plymouth, shortly after giving birth to her daughter. Both her death certificate and burial record show her as Thomasin. She was buried back home in Cornwood on 6 June 1841.

Thomasin Julia Jane was baptized on 6 June 1841, the same day as her mother’s burial, in Cornwood. I do not have her birth certificate so cannot confirm that is the name she was formally given.
1841 baptism record for Thomasin Julia Jane Short in Cornwood Parish, Devon; image used courtesy of Plymouth & West Devon Record Office
She appeared on the 1841 England census with her father as Thamsin Short. On the 1851 England census she was living with her aunt, Jane (Shepheard) Pinhey, in Buckland Tout Saints, Devon as Tamsin Short. I thought the spelling of her name might just represent how it was pronounced rather than the exact spelling. On the 1861 England census I found an individual I think is her, Tamsin Short, age 19, working as a servant and living in St. Andrew, Plymouth.

In my search this week, I finally found a marriage record for Tamzine Julia Jane Short. She married Charles Grape Watson, a private in the Royal Artillery, in St. Andrew, Plymouth, in 1869. I’m not sure when the record was added to the Find My Past database but Devon BMD information has been expanded over the past few years. Anyway, there can be no doubt this is my cousin, with her full name, shown and her father named as John Short.
1869 marriage record for Charles Grape Watson and Tamzine Julia Jane Short in St. Andrew, Plymouth Parish, Devon; image used courtesy of Plymouth & West Devon Record Office
Now I thought I had it made. I should be able to find Thomasin/Tamzin/Tamsin/Tamzine without much trouble since she had a husband with what I thought was a unique name. While Charles was a common forename and Watson was probably not a rare surname, how many men with a second name of Grape could there be?

In spite of being married in 1869, they were not to be found on the 1871 census. There was a child named Charles Grape Watson born in 1877 and I did find Charles G. Watson on the 1881 England census but his wife was Eliza who had been born in a totally different region of England. I figured this had to be the right Charles, but where was Tamzin?

I then looked for military records, since Charles had been a soldier according to the marriage entry. And there on Ancestry was his service record in the Royal Artillery, but just as Charles Watson, no Grape. Unfortunately it did not list a next of kin but did list his birth place (1857, Ely Parish, Cambridgeshire), occupation (driver), postings, discharge date (1880) and intended place of residence (Woolwich). It also indicated he had spent 19 years at Home and two years in East India. Curiously the record did not mention he had been married but at least now I had several other references I could use to look for the family. The 1881 census with wife Eliza seemed to be correct as the family was in Woolwich, the man was a pensioner and he had been born in Ely Parish.

Once again, where was Tamsin? Did they divorce? Had she died? A search of FreeBMD resulted in nothing for her, under either the names Watson or Short, between 1869 and 1881, the outside dates I had from the marriage and the Woolwich census. But a search back on Find My Past for Tamzin Watson found a death in Bengal, India in 1870.

Ah ha! This had to be her! The website even had a copy of the burial entry which showed her husband as “Driver Watson” who was with the Royal Artillery. That date also fit with his service record, as he had been “invalided to England for Change” in 1872 and probably been out of the country for the previous two years shown as being in East India. That fit exactly with his marriage in Devon in 1869.
1870 death record for Tamzin Jane Watson, in Kamptee, India; retrieved from Find My Past website 9 August 2016
Tamzin Jane Watson died 15 September 1870, in Kamptee, Bengal, India, of “Effusion of the brain.” (Definition: a collection of fluid trapped between the surface of the brain and the outer lining of the brain…) When I looked back at her mother’s death certificate it said, “Tubercular disease of the Lungs and an effusion of water in the Pericardium.” While the causes of death were not the same, how curious it was to see the same word used relating to water.

This was one of those star-crossed families, with a mother and an only child dying so young and ending a family line that started with so much promise.

All the pieces seemed to come together for this family this week. Whether they were there online all along or had been added since I last looked, I don’t know. The main result was that I finally found this lost cousin. [Note to self: always check back on databases because you never know what you might have missed or what might have been added.]

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 in several family history society journals. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated