Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mystery #5: Where was the bishop born?

Humphrey Henchman, Bishop of Salisbury, England in the 17th century, was the son of Thomas Henchman and Anne Griffith. Of this we are pretty certain since he mentions his brother Morris in his will and Morris was a son of Thomas and Anne, baptized in Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire, England in February 1597. Three of Morris' siblings were also baptized there - in 1584, 1587 and 1588. But three others, born between 1589 and 1596 (including Humphrey), are not in the parish register.
There was a debate raging for many years as to the birthplace of the bishop. Author A. Wood says Humphrey Henchman was born at the home of his aunt and baptized in Barton Seagrave as per notes made in the parish register by kinsman William Henchman who was rector of that church in the mid-17th century. The notation reportedly stated that Humphrey was baptized December 22, 1592 in that parish. However, this cannot be verified because microfilms of Barton Seagrave parish records are not available before 1609. Rev. Henchman stated that the early registers were in very poor condition.
Another researcher vehemently disagrees with Mr. Wood's claim because Thomas and Anne Henchman were living in Burton Latimer during that time frame. Anne's sister, Jane, was the wife of the rector at Burton Latimer, Owen Owen. Jane died 7 months before Humphrey was born. Rev. Owen died 3 months after Humphrey's birth. It would seem likely that, since Jane and Owen had young children, Thomas and Anne would remain in that town to help out. But, since three of their children were not listed in the parish register, one might wonder If the family was somewhere else during that time frame. Occasionally a baptism or marriage was missed, but three in a row for one family seems a bit of a stretch.
Since Thomas was originally from Wellingborough in that same county, it would seem likely that they might have gone there. However, the missing children are not mentioned in Wellingborough records. Anne was born in Wales. Could they have been visiting her family for an extended period of time? Records for Carnarvon are very sparse during that time frame since it was a very poor part of the country and paper and ink were expensive. No records were found for that area. Thomas was a skinner, a member of the Skinners Guild of London, so it is possible that they could have gone to London for a time and that the three missing baptisms could have been done there. Research is being done in the microfilmed records of the Skinners Guild to see if Thomas is mentioned there during that time frame. Since there are so many churches in London, it would be very difficult to search all of them for those records.
More to follow. Keep tuned.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mystery Solved!

With so many "brick walls," it is so satisfying to break down at least one. John Shoens of Camillus, Onondaga County, New York, had a wife named Rebecca. In the 1850 census, a Ruth Randall was living with the family. Unfortunately, in that census, relationships are not given. Oh, one might surmise, that must be Rebecca's mother and, therefore, Rebecca's surname must have been Randall. Many researchers have made that mistake and linked John to a Rebecca Randall who was born and married in Oneida County. She was born about the same time as the wife of John Shoens. Just one problem - she married someone else and died in Oneida County. A visit to the Shoens plot in Belle Isle Cemetery gives a valuable clue. The gravestone for John and his wife lists "John Shoens" and "Rebecca Fox his wife." Her birth year is 1800.

A search of indicated that a Ruth Randall applied for a widow's pension for Revolutionary War service by her first husband, Lemuel Fox. In order to prove her relationship to Lemuel, Ruth tore pages out of her bible and sent them with her application. Those pages are found among the digital images on Footnote. The bible pages showed the date of her marriage to Lemuel, the names and dates of birth of her children and the date of Lemuel's death. Rebecca Fox is listed as their first child, born 17 June 1800. Is that the Rebecca we have been looking for? The surname and date of birth match the information on the gravestone.

Ruth's application was denied because no record of Revolutionary War service was found for a Lemuel Fox in New York. Ruth subsequently remarried - to a John Clark, a proven Revolutionary War soldier. When John died, Ruth applied again under his name. That application was denied due to the previous application. Ruth remarried and her surname became Randall. Mr. Randall died, and, you guessed it, she tried once more. She was never successful in getting her pension. That might be one of the reasons she, as a widow, was residing in the home of her daughter and son-in-law in Camillus in 1850.

The 1855 New York State census states that John was born in Oneida County and Rebecca was born in Onondaga County, NY. Ruth Randall is living with them and is identified as "mother-in-law." The children of Ruth and Lemuel Fox were born in Onondaga County. Upon preponderance of the evidence, the wife of John Shoens was Rebecca Fox, not Rebecca Randall.