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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Did Thomas Pittard really marry sisters

1646 Map of Somerset
My mother-in-law visited recently and I had a lot of pleasure in showing her what I found over the
last year on Find My Past for her recent immigrant ancestry.  Her grandmother, Elizabeth Pittard, was born in Martock, Somerset, England.  Thanks to finds on FMP we not only broke down a wall but have a lead on a new possible line.

There is a family story, like there always is, that goes along with this ancestress.  Elizabeth’s mother died when she was very young.  The story passed down was that her father married her mother Ann’s sister, Jane, after her death.  Growing up the joke was that even though they were half siblings the children were really full siblings since their mothers were sisters.  Got that?

Well from her Grandmother Elizabeth’s wedding certificate I discovered her mother’s name was Ann Tatchell.  The name was confirmed with her certificate of marriage to Thomas Pittard which I ordered from the UK.  I was very excited, except that there was no father listed for Ann.  Questions began to percolate in my head.

To make matters worse, I also ordered Thomas Pittard’s death certificate from the state of New York.  His wife’s name was Jane Talwood.  I don’t know about you, but Tatchell and Talwood are not very similar. If these women were siblings, wouldn’t they have the same surname?  Once again, the maiden name was confirmed when I found their record of marriage on FMP listing Thomas Pittard as a widower and Jane Talwood as a spinster.  Yeah, the questions were now even bigger.

What the heck was going on here?!  At best these 2 women are ½ sisters.  Could the women have considered themselves sisters for some reason now unknown to us?  Most interesting, Jane has a father listed on her marriage record but Ann does not.  I did notice there was a Jane Tatchell listed as a witness on her marriage record.  Now, who is this woman?

While talking about my finds with a friend who does a lot of UK research I was informed that if there was no father listed it was more than likely that Ann was born out of wedlock.  Well, now I have a scandal and I have to keep digging!  It also got me thinking, could the mysterious Jane Tatchell be her mother.

In the UK, as in the US, sometimes the easiest way to trace people at first is through the Census Records.  I knew that Ann was born and married in the same general area according to all the records I had.  With that in mind I went back 10 years from her married Census Records (1871 contained Thomas, Ann and daughter Elizabeth) and found her on the 1861 census with a woman named Jane.  Jane Tatchell was listed as an unmarried head of house employed as a glove maker with 3 daughters Ann 11, Eliza 7 and Sarah 4. 

1861 England and Wales Census

Then I went back 10 more years.  Ann should be 1 in the 1851 census and maybe we can solve this riddle.  I find a Jane Tatchell in the same town and employed as a glove maker, the occupation listed from before.  However, there are other people now too.  18-year-old Jane is living in the household of John Tatchell, a 33 widower, who is listed as her father and a slew of siblings.  There is no Ann though, but maybe she has not been born yet.

1851 England and Wales Census

Things get a bit murkier when we follow this Jane forward in time.  In 1871 she is in the same town, with the same job and we find Eliza and Sarah 10 years older.  Jane is now listed as a widow and is still employed as a glove maker.  There are now a total of 4 children: Eliza 15, Sarah 13, Masen 8 and John 4.  What I found most interesting is that the children were born in different places in Somerset, Wales or Dorset.  Jane was not located on the 1881 census and, while I don’t have the document yet, I did find a Jane Tatchell listed on a death index from the 1st quarter of 1880 for the town she last lived.
1871 England and Wales Census

Now what do I do?  Was she a widow?  Was she a woman who had bad luck and loved the boys?  On a lark I looked to see if I could find a marriage record for her in the town she lived.  There was a Jane Tatchell listed in an index from 1858 marrying a Simeon Eglon.  However, I have no proof that was her.  There were also several Mary Janes and Eliza Janes who all married in that area.  I have a feeling there were Tatchells everywhere!

This little puzzle is just another reason why I need to make a trip overseas.  I wonder how much more I could find in person.  On that note, if you have any research ideas, thoughts or comments let me know.  I am not used to doing research for people in this location and at this point I need some help.

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