Detail is Useful

I am grateful to Judith for sending me today a death notice from the Huddersfield Examiner. The notice gave details of 2 wives and 3 children of a Frank Micklethwaite who sadly passed away this week aged 88.

I had to struggle to find the family until eventually I realised one son was using his second name, a practice that does not endear itself to genealogists. Then it became a little clearer and I was able to link up all the people together, putting a few more little pieces of the jigsaw in place.

Sometimes, little details like these can be a real help.

The Devil is in the Detail

Well, what an interesting couple of days. I’d been looking at images of the 1841 census for Micklethwaites. I came across one for a James Micklethwaite (mistranscribed as Mickelswate of course) living in Padfield near Glossop (Derbyshire). Living with him is a Maria Horsman. I had previously found a marriage for Jane Hosman [sic] and James Micklethwaite in Glossop in 1830.

Now I know a lady who is doing a One Name Study on the Horsman families. So after a bit of a palaver, I finally got in touch with her and between us we’ve sorted the families out – and it is not quite how I had it before. When you really look into things you find details which can help if you take notice! As well as the marriage for James and Jane, there was another marriage for James and Susannah Beeton in Glossop in 1832. I had assumed (bad move) that these were both the same James as there was no Jane living with James in 1841. In my defence I offer the following excuses:

  • Jane wasn’t with James on the 1841 census
  • James’ age was mistranscribed by Ancestry as 40
  • I couldn’t find (and still can’t) Susannah on the 1841 census
  • James (snr) is in Yorkshire (where he was born) in 1851

Firstly I had assumed Jane had died. Wrong. When I look more closely, Jane is still alive in 1841 – with on the night of the census she is with her daughter Sarah who was now married (twice actually). Secondly, James’ age is actually 60, but there’s an enumerator’s mark right through it which could make it look like 40. There being such an age difference, James (jnr) being 44 in 1851, it seems most likely that these are 2 different James.

I now believe that James (snr), a widow (although it doesn’t say so on the marriage record),  married Jane (also widowed). And it was his son James who married Susannah 2 years later. So Joe is the son of James (snr) and Jane, and not the son but half brother of James (jnr). Fortunately I only have a small branch to prune and regraft. And I’m still looking for James (jnr) and his family in 1841!

The family is visible in the old (wrong) configuration at the top left of page 2.6 of the old tree file

Transcription Errors

I came across a good one last night. I’ve started to look at the West Riding Parish Registers that Ancestry recently digitised – I know quite a few problems have been reported (and some have been fixed) but so far I’m only doing the simple stuff of getting what’s indexed.

Back to the error: the image says “Gen uxor Ricardi Micklethwaite”

The transcription says “General Ricardi Micklethwaite” 🙂

For those unfamiliar with the Mock Latin the church used to use, “uxor” means wife, and Ricardi is used instead of Ricardus to mean “of Richard”. I know the burial was in the time of the Civil War, and indeed one Micklethwait was killed at the battle of Marston Moor, but uxor gives the game away.

This error brings back memories of another transcription error I came across a while back – I don’t know if it’s still there. In the 1851 census, Mary Newsome of Lepton, Huddersfield, Yorkshire has her birthplace transcribed as “Italy Bridge Lane”. Checking the image reveals the nonsense should be “Staly Bridge Lancs” 🙂

John Micklethwaite died Paddock 1849

As I mentioned in my first post, I am stuck at my 3rd great grandfather John Micklethwaite who died in Paddock, near Huddersfield, Yorkshire. This post will detail what I know about him and a brief description of his descendants – a later post will detail possibilities for his ancestry.

The first evidence I have for John is his marriage at Almondbury (near Huddersfield) on 27th Oct 1827 to Hannah Mitchell. They are described as both being resident in “Crosland of this parish” (South Crosland is on the South side of the Colne Valley not far from Paddock)

I have baptism records for 4 children:

  1. Sam Henry 29 June 1828 Huddersfield
  2. Daniel  1 August 1830 Paddock
  3. Allen  13 July 1843 Paddock
  4. (Frederick William) Mitchell also on 13 July 1843 Paddock

In addition, twins Betty and Charlotte were buried in Paddock in late 1830 just a few weeks old.

The family is shown on the 1841 census living on Johnny Moore’s Hill – John is a woollen cloth weaver (Allen is shown as John – whether he was known as John in 1841 but as Allen in 1843, or whether it is a mistranscription is not known) The family also show on the 1847 rate book, where they are too poor to pay rates.

In 1849 a cholera epidemic hit the area claiming the lives of first Allen, then John. Hannah survived despite the horrific ordeal of lying in bed ill with cholera unable to move, with her dead husband lying beside her. On his death certificate, John was said to be 44 years old.

John’s eldest son Sam Henry, who died in 1883, married Sarah Hoyle in 1851 – Sarah has links to the Singleton family documented on  Steve Whitwam’s excellent Colne Valley Site. They had 5 children:

  1. Allen 1851-1932, married Mary Hannah Wood, 7 children of whom 2 died in World War 1.
  2. Emma born 1853 married James Barker in 1873 and had 3 children.
  3. Martha Ann born 1857 and appears to have married  in 1878 but as yet I haven’t worked out her husband’s name.
  4. Sarah Hannah born 1860, appears to have married in 1881
  5. William born 1863 married Sarah A Lodge in 1886 and had 2 children for whom I’ve found no marriage.

John’s second son Daniel was my great great grandfather – he married Sarah Hetherington from Ossett in 1857 and had 2 children: my great grandfather John who married Sarah Clapham and had 5 children, and Sarah Ann who married Alfred Thorpe and had 4 children.

John’s youngest son Mitchell married Ellen Broadbent in 1862 and they had a child Hetty Ann in 1865 but Mitchell died shortly afterwards. Hetty Ann married William Wallis in 1886 who died in 1893. She then married William Henry Bamforth and had a son William Harold. They emigrated in 1906 to Kamsack in Saskatckewan, Canada. I fould all this out after discovering by chance Hetty Ann’s marriage in Orillia Ontario in 1926, her third, to Charles Alfred Walter – he died in Vancouver, Bristish Columbia in 1948.

As far as I know, I am the only male descendant of John still living – which makes cross-checking DNA tests difficult.

The mystery still remains that I don’t know where John was born, nor who his parents were – I will post some theories another time.

Slow Progress

I’ve been looking at the 1841 census images for my One Name Study of Micklethwaites. It’s quite a job as there are about 150 images that I know have Micklethwait(e)s on, especially as the quality of the transcriptions on to the index is so poor. There were so many errors that I stopped sending in corrections. I know Micklethwaite is a difficult name, but some of the trancriptions were pure fiction. To be fair, the image quality is poor (I believe most are in pencil) and some of the writing is appalling. The page and folio references also have errors, both on Ancestry and on the Family History Society transcriptions I have.

The disappointing aspect is that there have been no amazing revelations. I think I’ve added one or two pieces of the puzzle, but it was not a good return on investment of time and energy. However, I suppose (in the words of the TV ad) every little helps. A bigger test will come when I go through them again and add them to the LostCousins site.

Backing Up

I know this isn’t strictly family history, but if you don’t back it up you may lose all your data.

I recently upgraded my hard disk. In the process I discovered that I couldn’t restore the data on to the new disk from my backup. So all my backups were useless. Thankfully I could swap the old disk back in and try another method. Needless to say I have revised my backup procedures and most of yesterday I was using FSync to create a mirror of my data on an external hard disk. I also have monthly disk images on another external hard disk. Hopefully this is better than before.

What do you do for backup? When did you last do it?


Family History Methods

I’ve been meaning to post a link on how to get started in family history in case any newcomers fall over this site.  A correspondent asked me yesterday how I made contact with others researching the same folks. Before posting my reply which I hope is of some interest, I must point new researchers to Roy Stockdill’s excellent guide for beginners

This is a must-read, although a little out of date withe respect to how the Internet has changed things. But Internet research brings its own dangers – perhaps I’ll leave that for another post!

This is my reply to my correspondent:

I had no personal information to go on. I started family history too late as my mother had been dead for a dozen years, and every relative I asked said “You should have asked your mother, she’d have known, I don’t!”

So then you’re on to the tried and tested birth/marriage certificate cycle, until you get into the census information. However, there are pitfalls everywhere. Not everyone told the truth on certificates, sometimes accidentally, sometimes deliberately. Also you can so easily make incorrect assumptions – on a census, the wife of the head of the household may not be the children’s mother. I’d like to think I’m as ready to prune incorrect information off my tree as I am to add it. Before 1837 (civil registration) and 1841 (first useful census) life gets much more difficult. Parish records are one way, and the IGI was, and new FamilySearch is) extremely helpful as an index to the real information . But again assumptions can wreck it all. I’ve had many promising lines broken by the additional word (not on FamilySearch) on the parish record “widow”!

As for finding others researching the same lines, there are many sites. Genes Reunited, Ancestry and WorldConnect have many contacts, but the quality of contact can be poor, if they bother to reply! LostCousins is much better quality, but much lower quantity. Emails lists (eg. Rootsweb) have been extremely helpful to me. I guess forums (eg. Rootschat) would do a similar job. Google is of course your friend, and I presume the route that helped you find my website. I’ve found that my website has provided a good number of links – and it’s also not so prone to copying. It’s so easy for someone to attach your tree off Ancestry to theirs, right or wrong. Much less so if it’s got to be copied off a PDF file. Apparently, search engines, like Google, like blogs, so I’m just starting one!

In Remembrance

Today being Remembrance Day, I thought I would mention my interesting discoveries a couple of months ago. I already have a Roll of Honour for those who perished in war. Trawling the Net, I came across John Mickelthwate – a “seesoldat” (marine) buried in a German cemetery in France (see FindaGrave). Looking in my database I found his ancestor emigrated from Sheffield to Germany around 1850. Further research showed that he had a cousin Horace also buried in France. It is so sad to think that these cousins were fighting each other on opposite sides. Both are on my Roll of Honour. Today especially we remember them and their colleagues.

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog on

This blog is about my family history – both my own tree and my One Name Study of the name Micklethwaite and its many variants.

I’d had a slight interest in my family history for many years but never had the time to do anything about it. Then my mother-in-law showed me what was available on the Internet and I found I had a distant great aunt who had “died crossing the Platte River, Wyoming” and was “buried at the side of the Platte River, Wyoming” – I was hooked. (More on her later I hope)

I quickly found my way to my 3x great grandfather John Micklethwaite, and there I got stuck. I started collecting data about Micklethwaites, initially in Huddersfield (Yorkshire, England) where he lived and died, then in progressively wider areas. So the One Name Study has grown, but I still don’t know where he was born (more on him later too)

So I’ve made a start on this blog. I hope to add interesting things I find out, either general family history or specific to my studies, such as news, tips, new web sites, new discoveries – anything I fall over that might be of interest. Please send me your comments as I’d love to hear from you, but I’m not going to fill the blog with user comments in order to reduce clutter.

You can find more about the Micklethwaite One Name Study here

My own family is here