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Missing Harringtons

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Missing Harringtons

Postby janiej » Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:37 pm

I have two missing births in the same family which have been puzzling me for a long time.

My 2x great-grandparents, Joseph (b 1832/33) and Christina Harrington (nee Smith b 1840) of Sible Hedingham were married in the village on 13 June 1856. The 1861 Census immediately threw up some confusion because it showed Joseph living next door to his parents-in-law, with a wife called Martha, aged 21 and a daughter Mary Ann aged 2 (it could be mistaken as 21 but this would be impossible, given Joseph’s age). Christina’s sister was called Martha, but she was aged 11 and was next door with her parents, William and Maria Smith. However, William’s wife’s name was actually Ruth so I believe that the enumerator must have muddled the names. Christina and Ruth were definitely alive in 1861 and cannot be found anywhere else. They both appear in the 1871 Census.

(To add to the confusion, Joseph had a cousin, also called Joseph Harrington DOB 1832/33 who was a widower in 1861. He later married Lavinia Dowsett, giving his father’s name, and appeared with Lavinia in the 1871 census. He died in 1876 with her as informant - so I am certain that he was the cousin)

There was no birth record for Mary Ann Harrington. I have searched from 1850 to 1862 under the names Harrington and variations, and Smith, using Mary and Mary Ann. The GRO search with the mother’s maiden name of Smith, showed nothing until her sister, Emma, was born in 1862.

Mary Ann appeared in the baptism register of St Peters Church, Sible Hedingham, on 8 June 1870, being baptised at the age of 8 years (margin note), along with her sister, Emma, and brother Arthur Samuel (or Samuel Arthur as sometimes known). This suggests that she may only have been 2 months, not 2 years, old in 1861. In any case, there was still no birth record.

In 1871, she was with her grandparents, William and Ruth, along with her sister Emma, while her parents and four other siblings were a few doors away. In this Census, she was 10 years old.

After that, Mary Ann went missing until I recently discovered a marriage record for Mary Ann Harrington, father Joseph Harrington, to William Merrill, Private with the ASC, in Aldershot on 31 May 1879, followed by a second identical marriage in Dublin on 30 October 1882 (suggesting they did not have the Army’s permission for the first marriage). There was nothing to say that she was from Sible Hedingham, and she also said that her father was a Brewer, not the Ag Lab that he was. For a while I discounted it, thinking it could not be my family member.

Further searches in the census records, however, showed that, after leaving the army, William and Mary Ann settled in Sheffield where, in 1891-1911 census records, she gave her place of birth as either Halstead or Castle Hedingham. (The area where Joseph and Christina lived was in the Halstead registration district and on the village border with Castle Hedingham). I went back to the 1861-1881 census records and searched every Joseph Harrington from the Halstead district and none of them was a brewer, and none of the Mary Harringtons in the area had a father called Joseph, so did she just elevate his status? I am minded to believe that this Mary Ann was my relative but wonder if I have done enough to prove it?

It isn’t just Mary Ann whose birth is missing. Joseph and Christina registered Emma (1862), Joseph (1863), and Kate (1865) but there is nothing for Sarah Jane who, on later census records, shows her DOB of around 1868. Her baptism record of 29 March 1882 confirms that she was 14 when baptised. She also named her father as Joseph on her marriage in 1887.

The births of all the other children, Samuel Arthur, Fred, Robert, Ann, Alice and Lewis were all registered. They were also baptised within a year of their births. It was only Mary Ann, Emma and Sarah Jane that were baptised some years after they were born, and Joseph (son) did not appear to have been baptised at all.

I realise that, when Mary Ann and Sarah Jane were born, it was not illegal if the birth was not registered, and quite possible that the family forgot, were too busy to take time off to go to the next town to register, or perhaps it was severe winter weather that prevented them going. I have also wondered whether they adopted these two girls and that may have been the reason for delaying their baptisms.

If anyone has any clues on this, I would love to hear.
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Re: Missing Harringtons

Postby MayHam » Sun May 28, 2017 1:10 pm

I assume you have already checked out the following?

GRO Reference: 1869  J Quarter in THINGOE  Volume 04A  Page 463

Not sure where Thingoe is located other than County Suffolk.
Google Maps shows a Thingoe Hill in Bury St. Edmunds about twenty miles North of Halstead.
Couldn't find anything for Sarah Jane or Joseph, though, sorry.
Hope this helps.
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Re: Missing Harringtons

Postby Mick Loney » Sun May 28, 2017 4:57 pm

With respect to her child being shown as 21, could this possibly have meant 21 months? I recently came across something similar, with a baby who I knew was under 1 year old, being shown as 11, with no abbreviation for months shown.

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Mick Loney
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Missing Harringtons

Postby paulr1949 » Mon May 29, 2017 8:38 am

Thingoe is definitely the area of Suffolk south/south west of Bury st Edmunds, so not far from the Hedinghams. Have you tried the Essex records office online? I think you can get a days access for£10 or so.

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Re: Missing Harringtons

Postby ianbee » Mon May 29, 2017 9:57 am

But you can't just take one record on its own.
Marriage, Sep 1868, Thingoe
Herrington, Alfred
Smith, Eliza

Birth reg of Mary Ann, as mentioned, then in June 1870, Thingoe, Edmund Herrington, mother Smith.
In the 1871 census Alfred, Eliza, Mary Ann, and Edmund Herrington are together in Flempton, living with Alfred's father.
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