In the last few days I’ve been looking at filling in a few gaps in my own family tree. One was to confirm the parents of my great great great grandmother Mary Ann Pearce.
Earlier this year I ordered my great great grandmothers birth certificate, Mary Ann’s daughter Sarah Ann Thomas. As she had a common name and there were several possible entries, I had to order without a GRO reference. Through her marriage certificate I had already discovered her fathers name was David Thomas, a boatman, which helped me locate the family on the census records.
I had been told by a distant relative on Ancestry that Mary Ann Thomas’ maiden name was Pearce/Pierce, and as expected Sarah Ann’s birth certificate confirmed this. The next step was to order David and Mary Ann’s marriage certificate. This gave their fathers’ names – David Thomas and William Pearce, both labourers.
Today I thought I’d have another attempt at finding Mary Ann on the 1861 census, which was 3 years before she married. Taking another look at David and Mary Ann’s marriage certificate gave the name of two witnesses – James and Selina Haudley/Handley. The marriage certificate also showed they were both living in Tipton.
In the past I had found various family trees on Ancestry which recorded Mary Ann’s parents as William, from London, and Ann, from Somerset. While this was almost certainly the correct family, I wanted to find more proof. There were some large variations in Mary Ann and David’s years and places of birth across the 1871, 1881 and 1891 census records. In 1861 the likely Pearce family were recorded as living at Bell Street, Tipton, Staffordshire.
It was on the 1851 census that everything started to come together. The same Pearce family were lodgers living with the Hadly family, including a 7 year old Selina Pearce – surely the same Selina named as a witness on Mary Ann’s marriage certificate. After trying a few variations on a marriage search on Find My Past I found a marriage record in Dudley registration district in 1862 for James Handley, which showed he married one of Silena (sic) Pierce and Thomas Taylor (it appears Thomas Taylor’s bride is missing from the index)!
The 1871 census added a final piece of evidence. In 1871 James and Selina Handley and family lived with three lodgers – a widow named Ann Pearce, and presumably her two sons, Thomas, 22, and Charles, 18. A quick check back on the previous census records confirmed these were indeed Ann’s sons and Mary Ann’s brothers.
My next aim is to confirm Mary Ann’s mothers maiden name. There is one entry in 1846 in Dudley for the birth of a Mary Ann Pearce, however the 1851 census shows another Mary Ann Pearce born in Dudley around 1846. If this turns out to be the wrong Mary Ann Pearce, I may again have to use the help of her sister Selina!