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My biggest brick wall...

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My biggest brick wall...

Postby Lainey1978 » Sun Sep 11, 2016 5:40 pm

Hello, I'm new here. *waves* :)

I have a few brick walls, but the biggest one concerns an ancestor of mine by the name of Ruth Twiss (sometimes it's recorded as "Twist"). She is my 2x great-grandmother. She was born on 18 May 1851 in Haydock, Lancashire, England to Eliza Twiss.

Family story is that Eliza was "slow" and that she was working as a live-in servant in a noble's house, when the son of said noble took advantage of her, and Ruth was born. There was also something about the father of Ruth being sent to Australia by his parents, and him returning every year to ask if he could raise Ruth, and Eliza's parents refusing. His parents also supposedly asked to raise Ruth, but were refused.

Here is what I know:

--for some reason, on her birth certificate, her mother is not listed as "Eliza," but Margaret. This is the ONLY place I have ever seen the name Margaret in connection to her. I know it's Ruth's bc because of the date, location, and name.

--Eliza was living with her parents on the 1851 census, shortly before Ruth was born. In fact, she was never able to live or care for Ruth alone. On the 1871 census, she was listed as an "imbecile" while living with her sister's family (her parents had died of cholera in 1866).

--Eliza and her family lived in Haydock for almost their entire lives (all of Eliza's sisters and brothers were born and raised there, as was she).

--On Ruth's marriage certificate, her father is listed as Joseph Twiss, but he was actually her grandfather.

So that's it. I really want to know who Ruth's father was. I can't believe there seems to be absolutely NO mention of who he was. Not even a rumour of a name. Just that family story, and in other branches of my family tree I have heard some doozies of family stories, so I take them with a big grain of salt. This one is persistent, though.

I have been told that solving this mystery is impossible, but...I don't listen real well. :P So if anyone would have any suggestions, I'm all ears. One thing I don't know how to find, if it exists, is a record of employment, or tax records, or something for when Eliza was a servant? Did they keep those sort of records in 1851?
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Re: My biggest brick wall...

Postby AdrianB38 » Sun Sep 11, 2016 6:52 pm

I doubt hugely if there are any employment records. Some estates do have surviving books of records, including that sort of thing, but since they aren't centrally indexed, you'd have to know which the estate was - which is kinda cart before horse.

One thing that ought to be considered is to see if there are any bastardy proceedings. Lancashire seems to have a good survival of such records. The Lancs Record Office Catalogue is on and you could enter Twiss or Twist as a search term and see what comes up. Some of the Lancashire Quarter Sessions stuff is on Ancestry in the collection "Lancashire, England, Quarter Session Records and Petitions, 1648-1908", including bastardy orders.

The caveat to all this is that I have never been sure what happens if the mother does not wish to claim what we would today call child support. (And even when I write this in posts, no-one else seems to know!) I got the impression from looking at some of the LRO stuff, that the local Poor Law guys in my area were active in seeking out illegitimate births, simply to ensure that they wouldn't be landed with a Poor Law support bill later on. Other areas and eras may differ.
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Re: My biggest brick wall...

Postby Lainey1978 » Sun Sep 11, 2016 6:56 pm

Whoops, I forgot to add that--yes, I have looked for bastardy orders, but found nothing in this case.
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My biggest brick wall...

Postby SoozOne » Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:18 pm

Hi Lainey1978
This is a long shot but have you traced any of Eliza's family who were also in service around the same time? I've found in my family that rellies - siblings and cousins - tended to be employed by the same 'big house', possibly on family recommendation.
I first came across this when I was researching a cousin, surname Culley, employed as a lady's maid. I was looking at the hand written census then caught sight of the name of another cousin, surname Bowsher, who I'd been looking for for some time on the same estate census. Since then I've seen other cousins in service together. Even if Eliza had left her employer by then if you find rellies employed as servants it could be a lead as to trying to track down the employing family to find any info on Ruth's father.
You need to sight the actual handwritten census, not a typed version.
Hope this helps.
As a PS.
My Aunt Margaret married an Alfred Twiss in 1943. They then went to live in Swaziland for some decades before returning to the UK.

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