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George Frederick Helsden born 22/12/1822

Mon Feb 26, 2018 12:36 pm

Hi everybody....
My brother and myself are researching our family tree and we have hit a brick wall with our great great grandfather George Frederick Helsden and we are hoping that a kind soul might help get us back on track. Our problem is that he was born at sea on The Tagar and therefore his birth was not registered in this country. We know (from his marriage certificate) that his Fathers name was James but have no idea of his mother’s name. We know he was a mariner and that he married in 1846 but prior to this, his childhood and siblings there seems to be no records. We have tried all the usual subscription websites,chased up the mariner side of his life but it told us nothing new, we’ve tried the national archives, passenger ships coming into and leaving the country about the time of his birth but at every corner we hit yet another brick wall. If anybody out there can point us in the right direction we would be very grateful.

Re: George Frederick Helsden born 22/12/1822

Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:52 pm

How do you know he was born onThe Tagar? Do you have any records to confirm this? Was his Father a mariner? Any extra info you can give us would be very helpful, however insignificant you feel it may be, even after his marriage. The more info we have the more likely we are to be able to help you.

Re: George Frederick Helsden born 22/12/1822

Mon Feb 26, 2018 3:20 pm

Folios 13-16: HMS Conflict allotment numbers 54596-54607, year of allotment 1850. Folio...

Reference: ADM 27/110/6

Folios 13-16: HMS Conflict allotment numbers 54596-54607, year of allotment 1850.

Folio 13: HMS Conflict allotment cover sheet.

Folios 13 and 16: George F Helsden; Ship’s name: HMS Conflict; Pay book number: SB 103; Rank: Able Seaman; Relation: Sister Charlotte Cheatham.

Folios 322-324: HMS Constance allotment numbers 33030-33146, year of allotment 1846....

Folios 326-327: George F Helsden; Ship’s name: HMS Constance; Pay book number: SB 138; Rank: Able Seaman; Relation: Wife Esther.

Records taken from The National Archives Discovery section

Re: George Frederick Helsden born 22/12/1822

Mon Feb 26, 2018 5:36 pm

Just throwing in a couple more things, some of which you may already have and some of which Sally alludes to above.

- 1846 Marries Esther Magee in Stoke Damerel - father is James, also a mariner. (See FMP)

- 1856 Marries Charlotte McGee(?) in Stoke Damerel as a widower. (See FMP - I've only found the banns so far - would be useful to check his father again)

- 1861 Census in Brightlingsea - wife is Charlotte - he is a Coast Guard Officer - do records survive of these guys? I've no idea.

- 1881 Census in Deptford - wife is Esther - huh?

One of his Royal Navy Allotments sends his money to his sister, Charlotte Cheetham / Cheatham, 26y old living in Torpoint, Cornwall (see FMP). Clearly something to try to follow up.

According to Ancestry's "UK, Naval Officer and Rating Service Records, 1802-1919", he served on the Viper as George Fletcher - presumably because he "ran" from the Belleisle - i.e. deserted, so gave a false name when he returned to all he knew.

Edit: - I'm getting twitchy at having 2 (maybe) Charlottes and 2 Esthers.

Re: George Frederick Helsden born 22/12/1822

Tue Feb 27, 2018 7:41 pm

Wow thank you have helped us a lot with additional info, we found out that George Helsden (GFH) was born at sea in the Tagus between Spain and Portugal so his mum must have been on board from census records etc and that his father was James Helsden from GFH wedding certificate in 1846, we also believe from the allotments of 1852 that GFH second wife, (well the banns) was possibly his first wife's sister and the spelling was incorrect. The main problem we have is that GFH appears to have been parachuted onto the planet in 1822, there is no trace of him or his family until he joined the navy so we are struggling to trace the the family before 1822 and after he was born prior to going in the navy. unfortunately this is as far as we have got

Re: George Frederick Helsden born 22/12/1822

Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:22 pm


I just tried again to find that 2nd marriage. I can't. The banns were read at Devonport, St Mary, 18 May 1856, 25 May, 1 June, according to FMP.

I can't find the marriage on FreeBMD (but Helsden and Magee/McGee could be mis-spelt) in 1856.

I then went to Devon, Plymouth & West Devon Parish Registers Browse on FindMyPast - I've manually checked Devonport, St Mary, from 1 June 1856 to 1 September 1856 - no sign.

If you look at the banns entry, the bit for the "Married" date is actually empty - not even a tick.

If you are right and Charlotte McGee was indeed the sister of his first wife, Esther Magee, (and the same thought had occurred to me) then, at this time, the marriage was not supposed to take place. Could it be that someone shopped them and while the banns were called, the marriage didn't take place? On the other hand I'd have hoped to see some indignant comment scribbled into the banns book if that were the case, and there isn't. So - not sure, but I really can't find that 2nd marriage, other than the banns.

NB - for info - the TNA Discovery Catalogue entry for ADM 139/19/1853 gives this:
ADM 139 - Admiralty: Royal Navy Continuous Service Engagement Books
Name: Helsden, George
Place of Birth: At Sea off the Tagus
Continuous Service Number: 1853
Date of Volunteering: 01 July 1853
Date of Birth: 24 December 1822

Being born at sea, off the mouth of the River Tagus, is not quite the same as being born on a ship called The Tagar which is how I first read the original post.

Re: George Frederick Helsden born 22/12/1822

Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:54 pm

http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/Coastguards/H-I mentions him as "Helsdon or Helson, George" and gives his children - wife is Charlotte. I suspect this is simply taken from censuses, so whether the Coastguard stuff has any more I don't know. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/coastguard-officers/

OK - so I am seriously confused over his wife(s).

He married Esther in 1846, Charlotte in 1856 (or at least had banns called), he's with Charlotte in the 1861 and Esther in 1881. That 1881 census includes sons Augustus (reg Q3 1862) and Adolphus (reg Q2 1871) - which as an aside (or maybe not) makes me want to call their father Georg Friedrich... Mother's name Magee in both cases - of course it was. So that's Esther Magee in 1881.

Was 1856 a (failed?) attempt at marriage to a deceased wife's sister? Or a (failed?) attempt at bigamy? Or does she like having 2 names? (Surely not if there were banns of marriage)

I haven't looked for any evidence of Esther's death.

Re: George Frederick Helsden born 22/12/1822

Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:15 pm

Is Charlotte Cheetham the sister of Esther?
June 1844 St. Germans 9 123
Cheetham, Thomas Henry
Magee, Charlotte
(plus others)

1851 in Antony (for Torpoint?)
Charlotte with children including Martha and Frederick

Re: George Frederick Helsden born 22/12/1822

Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:44 pm

I reckon that's right, Ian. So the pay allocation to "Sister Charlotte Cheatham" is actually to his sister-in-law, which blocks any hope I had that her details might be for a sibling of GFH. And those children from the 1851 suggest strongly that Charlotte and Esther really are 2 different people.

Re: George Frederick Helsden born 22/12/1822

Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:56 pm

Still with Charlotte in 1871 in Portsea

Why though were banns called with Charlotte as Magee? When she should have been Cheetham (presumably widowed!)
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