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Re: Parents of James Birchall b1824 Whiston

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I have just recently joined the St Helen's Connect forum and hope that the following question is relevant and someone can help.

I put this question to Rootschat back in 2008 so apologies for putting it forward again To St Helen's Connect, but I'm still no further forward in resolving my query. I have got back to my great grandfather (2X) who was a James Birchall born in 1824 in Whiston, Lancs. He married Alice Mather on October 6, 1850 at St Thomas Church Eccleston. On the certificate it says that his father was James Birchall and his occupation was a labourer. Also on the marriage certificate, the witnesses are shown as John and Phoebe Birchall. I have since found on the 1851 Census that John and Phoebe lived at 106 Shuttle Alley, Prescot. On the 1851 Census James and Alice lived at number 86. In those days families did tend to stick together so it may well be that John and Phoebe and James are related but I don't know whether they are cousins or whether John was a brother or Uncle.

 

A further piece of information that I have is that in the 1871 Census, James and Alice, along with their numerous children were now living at Peacock Nook, Sutton, St Helen's, Lancs. Also on the Census described as 'mother in law', is a Mary Birchall aged 75 born 1796. I am convinced that this person should have been described as 'mother' as first of all her name is Birchall and secondly Alice's mother would have been a Mather and Alice's mother's name was Mabel born 1811. If I am correct then my James father and mother, were James and Mary. I desperately need to know what the mothers maiden name was and any children that they had, other than James.

 

I've also discovered in the 1851 Census, a James and Mary Birchall born 1796 and 1797 respectively, living in Hard Lane, Windle, Lancs. This is not very far from Prescot, so these may be James parents but I can't as yet prove it. Also living with James and Mary was a granddaughter Mary Birchall born 1843 aged 8. I was hoping that the granddaughter would lead me to her parents, but unfortunately Mary Birchall is a very common name in this area.

 

I realise that there is quite a lot of information in my query, but it is given in the hope that someone might be able to make a connection and help me find another generation of Birchall's.

Edited by billbir (see edit history)

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Hi Billbir and welcome to Connect.

 

I have been talking to you on Roots lately about your Birchalls and am glad you decided to join this site, you will find people helpful and the information interesting, if you look to the menu at the top of the page you will find the Genealogy menu from which you can accces the name interests and contact others who have the same family names as you, along with census and parish information which may be useful. There are some great old pictures of the town and surroundings also.

Heres hoping you find your answers.

 

:wave:

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Hi Billbir, Welcome to Connect. I am sure you will find your answers on here. Good Luck. :welcome:

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Hi Billbir, Welcome to Connect. I am sure you will find your answers on here. Good Luck. :welcome:

 

Hi Ratty/Phyll

 

What a very friendly lot you are on this forum! I do hope that you are right and I do get some answers here because I am finding researching my Lancastrian family roots, difficult.

 

Bill

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I can understand why with the name Birchall, there are hundreds of them :rolleyes:

 

I think it will be a long job and that you will have to separate out all the different families in the area and get to know them before you can find who belongs to who, the information on here will help you do that because you wont get false matches from other places coming in, if it does turn out that they are catholics though you will have to contact the churches or use the History/Archives office at the library who are also very helpful and knowledgeable.

 

At least its not Smith eh!

Edited by RATTY (see edit history)

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Hi All,

I got some very nice introductory comments, sometime ago, but unfortunately nothing to help me break down my 'Brickwall'. I thought that I would try again, as over the years, someone may have joined, who could help me, pull the strands together. I have therefore decided to give a precise of my current research, in the hope that it may trigger something. Here goes:-

 

"For those interested, this is a summary of where I am:-The fundamental problem is that I have no birth information on James Birchall born c1824 in Prescot. We know it was that date, from his marriage details and subsequently census records. He was married to Alice Mather on 6 October 1850, at St Thomas, Eccleston, Lancashire. James was 28 and Alice 20. James father was another James, a Labourer and apparently, still alive. Witnesses, were John and Phoebe Birchall. Question-What relationship were they, to James?

Another piece of information we have is that the 1871 Census, shows a Mary Birchall, 75 described as Mother in Law, and staying with James, Alice and the family. With the name ‘Birchall”, it is assumed that she was actually James mother. This Mary was born in Tarbock, Lancs., which is about 2 miles from Prescot and 7 from St Helens, for locational purposes.
If the assumption is correct, we now have James and Mary, as the parents of James Birchall born c1824.

I now move on to the witnesses, John and Phoebe and their potential relationship with James. I found a John Birchall on the 1851 census, coincidentally, living in Shuttle Alley, which was a few doors down from James and Alice, the newly weds. John also had a daughter Phoebe 22. They could have been the witnesses and were possibly James uncle and cousin respectively. We know that John was 44 in 1851, ergo he was born about 1807. On searching for a John Birchall born about this period, in the Prescot area, I found:-


Baptism: 29 Jun 1806 St Mary the Virgin, Prescot, Lancashire, England
John Birchall - Son of James Birchall & Margt.
Born: 9 Jun
Abode: Prescot
Occupation: Labourer
Register: Baptisms 1766 - 1809, Page 185, Entry 15
Source: LDS Film 1657583

This lead me to search for other Birchall’s born to James and Margaret over a 12 year period. The following is a summary:-
Abode
William 1797 Whiston
Richard 1799 Whiston
Mary 1800 Whiston
James 1802 (possible father of our James) Prescot *
Thomas 1802 Whiston *
Phoebe 1804 Prescot
John 1806 ( details above) Prescot
Thomas 1809 Prescot

All of the above baptisms were at St Mary the Virgin, Prescot, Lancs.

Based on the two asterisked births, there must have been two marriages of James Birchall and a Margaret. Searching Lancashire online, I came up with:-

Marriage:

19 Aug 1793 St Mary the Virgin, Prescot, Lancashire, England
James Birchall - Husbandman, X, Whiston
Margaret Ackers - (X), spinster, Whiston
Witness: James Worrall; James Bradshaw
Married by Banns by: William Ellam, Minister
Register: Marriages 1788 - 1812, Page 36, Entry 213
Source: LDS Film 1657584 item 10

Marriage: 24 Dec 1798 St Luke (formerly St Wilfrid), Farnworth (Widnes), Lancashire, England
James Birchall - (X), Cooper, Farnworth near Prescot
Margaret Burrows - (X), Spinster, Farnworth near Prescot
Witness: Peter Shaw; John Hooton
Married by Banns by: William Thompson - Minister
Register: Marriages 1781 - 1812, Page 130, Entry 1577
Source: LDS Film 1655235 item 4

With the dates of the marriages and assuming they were married before having any children, then Whiston ones would be James Birchall and Margaret Ackers. The Prescot ones, which include James, John and another Phoebe, would be James Birchall and Margaret Burrows.

, I still need to find the marriage of James father and mother Mary!! I have discovered a possible marriage:-

Marriage: 19 Aug 1793 St Mary the Virgin, Prescot, Lancashire, England

James Birchall - Husbandman, X, Whiston

Margaret Ackers - (X), spinster, Whiston

Witness: James Worrall; James Bradshaw

Married by Banns by: William Ellam, Minister

Register: Marriages 1788 - 1812, Page 36, Entry 213

Source: LDS Film 1657584 item 10

 

Can anyone see any faults in the logic and even if all of this is correct

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Is this the marriage you meant?

 

Marriage: 27 Jul 1818 St Luke (formerly St Wilfrid), Farnworth (Widnes), Lancashire, England
James Birchall - Nailor, this Parish
Mary Leicester - (X), Spinster, this Parish
Witness: James Shaw; Margaret Ashall
Married by Banns by: David Hewitt - curate
Register: Marriages 1813 - 1824, Page 89, Entry 267
Source: LDS Film 1655235 item 5

Edited by Tony J (see edit history)

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Potential baptism of Mary with father Jas

 

Name Mary Leicester Gender Female Christening Date 18 Feb 1798 Christening Place SAINT HELENS,LANCASHIRE,ENGLAND Birth Date 03 Feb 1798

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Hi billbir,

 

Thanks for being so precise about your results/requirements on this subject. I just took your confirmed connection as per the marriage, and independently searched backwards with the following results.

1. For the forums benefit, 'Peacock Nook' was in the Thatto Heath area of Sutton Township around Crossley Rd, Alexandra Vaults, Brittania Vaults location.

 

2. I am quite sure the 1851 James and Mary with Grandaughter Mary, are not the parents of your James, not having any 'children' with them also in the 1841 Census. Although as you said it is 'reasonably' close to Prescot where they were in Hard Lane, it is still a relatively long way for these early days without transport when there was more job availability at Whiston/Prescot Area.

Interestingly for the forum, this James in 1841 was the Sexton living at Windleshaw Abbey Cottage, the Grade11 listed ruins of the Chantry built in 1415, marking the site of the RC Cemetry, and he would highly likely have been RC, as opposed to the alternatives.

 

3. Just one small point, James at his Marriage in 1850 recorded his age as 28 years which of course approximates his birth at 1822, not 1824, but this doesn't in this case, change much. I also agree the Mother in Law recording is incorrect in the 1871 Census.

 

4. I too found the two options for James' Parents, and looking at all the related details combined with local knowledge, I am confident that your ancestor came from the union of the 24th December 1798 Marriage of James Birchall and Margaret Burrows for the following reasons.

Going back from the 1871 Census which found James/Alice with Mother Mary in Peacock Nook, the previous Census of 1861 had them at Hillock St Prescot, with James aged 36, a Coal Mine Labourer.

Hillock St was a main Street leading from the Prescot Town Hall and St Mary's Church, meeting up with the main Turnpike of Warrington Road. The significance of this is numerous for this family, because in this street was a reasonably large Cotton Mill, and branching off was Shaw Lane, with Prescot Colliery very close as was Prescot Hall.

It is likely that James was employed at this Colliery although there were others within a short walking time at Whiston via Shaw Lane.

 

5. In the 1851Census [as you found], James and Alice are recorded at Shuttle Alley which I believe is a side lane off the Hillock St Mill. James aged 27 born in Whiston, is a Lab,but Alice is a Power Loom Weaver, no doubt at the Mill, prior to her first child William.

 

6. In 1841 we find a James Birchall aged 17 a Lab, living at 'Prescot Hall' with a Margaret Birchall aged 60 therefore born approximately 1781, indicating she was about 43 years old when he was born. Prescot Hall goes back many Hundreds of years, being well recorded on the Internet. Also in 1841 I found the marriage of Pheobe Birchall at St Mary Prescot on the 6th of March, to a Thomas Hulme, a Farmer, with them both recording their abode also as Prescot Hall, but no age given, this being the Sister of James.

In Shaw Lane I found the same John Birchall you found in 1851 with James in Shuttle Alley, and having his Daughter Pheobe aged 12, who jointly I agree, were Witness at the Marriage of James /Alice in 1850.

 

7. James Birchall Senior appears to have died prior to the 1841 Census, but a quick search only finds one burial within the general age grouping, being on the 29th of January 1837 aged 61 [ 1776], but it was at St Mary, later St Helen, the Parish Church in St Helens, with his abode Eccleston Township. Eccleston Township was closely mixed in with Prescot area's, and Margaret obviously was 'living in' at the Hall so the record could fit in with a nearby James's residence. This appears to be a little speculative, but as a Cooper he could have been employed at one of the many Breweries in the St Helens Townships on a short duration at the time of his death. However travelling down either the Warrington Turnpike or Shaw Lane, the short distance to Dragon Lane, there were a number of Breweries employing many Coopers in this period, so the burial itself is a little strange if the correct one.

In Summary I generally concur with your findings, and hope the additional information helps to progress your Family tree !

Regards, HJ

 

 

 

 

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Potential baptism of Mary with father Jas

 

Name Mary Leicester Gender Female Christening Date 18 Feb 1798 Christening Place SAINT HELENS,LANCASHIRE,ENGLAND Birth Date 03 Feb 1798

 

Hi Tony,

Thanks for that. Yes that was the person that I was considering but Henry J is now making me rethink.

Regards

Bill

 

Hi Henry,

First of all let me offer my thanks for your comprehensive reply to my query. It was more than I could possibly have hoped for.

 

I hope that you do not mind my seeking clarification and or amplification, on a number of points.

 

1) You say I am quite sure the 1851 James and Mary with Grandaughter Mary, are not the parents of your James, not having any 'children' with them also in the 1841 Census." When I tried to find the 1871 census Mary, being described as Mother in Law, I discovered in the 1861 census a Mary Birchall with her granddaughter Mary aged 19, no James the grandfather so he must have died by then, and it seemed to fit in. They lived in Prescot Hall.That seems to tie in with the point you made see my point 2)

 

2) Referring to your point on the 1841 census where a James Birchall aged 17 was living with a Margaret Birchall aged 60. There were a number of Birchall's on the same page an example being Thomas b1809, who was among a number of Birchall's, born to a James Birchall and Margaret between the years of 1797 to 1809, according to the Lancashire Online records.. The baptisms were all at St Mary the Virgin, Prescot. One of the children was James b1801/2 , who I thought may be the father of, our James Birchall's b c1824.

 

3) I am still not clear on your point 4) and desperately want to be, as it is a crucial point. On the marriage certificate of James Birchall and Alice Mather, in 1850. his father is described as James Labourer. All of my Birchall's seem to be Colliery men or Labourers, so I could not see him being a Cooper, in earlier days, as I thought that was a skilled job, but maybe he had fallen on hard times. I could only find a couple of children for (i believe ) James and Margaret Burrows, whereas there seemed to be many for James and Margaret Ackers all at St Mary Virgin.

 

 

4) You say, "having his Daughter Pheobe aged 12, who jointly I agree, were Witness at the Marriage of James /Alice in 1850.

 

Could you be a witness at age 12? I thought that it might be James's Aunt Phoebe b 1804 to a James and Margaret Birchall at St Mary Virgin, Prescot.

 

I do hope that you do not mind me seeking your comments on the above, but I am hoping that I am seeing some chinks in my "brick wall"!

 

Regards and thanks

Bill

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Bill,

My apologies for your confusion but my eyes are not what they used to be. I have no trouble typing my findings and thoughts, but I have significant problems reading my presentation for clarity etc. I will try and be a bit more specific within the same structure to avoid further confusion.

 

1. I am sorry I am confused myself with this one as it seem's to mix up a couple of my details ! What I was stating was purely that the James and Mary Birchall, being just together in the 1841Census, with Grandaughter Mary aged 8 in the 1851 Census, and just Mary as a Widow with Mary 19 in the 1871 Census at Hard Lane, were not in my opinion your Direct ancestors. I believe this primarily because of the RC connection, and I am not sure where the Prescot Hall ref' you quoted, come into this particular family.

 

2. I agree that James b 1801 would be a logical consideration for your confirmed James's father. However there is a James also born in 1824 that appears to have married a Mary Dagnall in 1858, and as Ratty said previously there are quite a few Birchalls with the same children's names right across this area.

3. The occupation of the James Birchall at his 1798 Marriage was of course recorded as a Cooper, which you are correct in saying was a skilled occupation. However there could readily have been a number of reasons why he had to forgo that occupation, and I also know many recordings where the occupation at the Marriage was falsely entered [ it happened in my line]. Note that throughout the Birchall line covered, many of the entries were marked with an x, as was this marriage, so there was certainly a lack of basic education. The James/Mary Ackers marriage was in 1793, yet I cannot find many children possibly from that line, at least up to the James/Margaret Burrows marriage in 1798.

 

On a general note where there are a number of family's such as this with siblings of the same Christian name, it is important to try and concentrate on one [ or more if available], child with a less common name to get a link. In this search I did this with Phebe/Pheobe, which I think gives a connection through a few records as I presented. Pheobe first presents as a highly probable daughter of James/Margaret Burrows, and also Pheobe presents as a daughter of John Birchall, a highly probable son of James/Margaret Burrows, and therefore a link to your James.

 

4. Pheobe born 1804, married Thomas Hulme in 1841 as I said, and therefore would be recorded as Pheobe Hulme at James's marriage in 1850 if a witness. I agree it is confusing where I have stated Pheobe as a Witness to this marriage appearing to be only 12 years old. What I was trying to say was that I found the 1851 Census record of the same John with daughter Pheobe that you found in 1841 when she was 12. She was clearly recorded as being 22 in 1851, so my apologies for that.

 

5. If it is accepted that your confirmed James came through from this 1798 marriage, the question remains, who was the Father ? Is it sibling James with Mary Leicester as Tony J brought up, or was it a late birth with Margaret Burrows herself with the 1841 Census showing them together. Note in regard to records I do 'Not' have the actual census record access, relying purely on the Family Search records which don't always give the complete record.

In this case I do Not know the relationship shown with James on the 1841 census at Prescot Hall,or if she was a Widow, but assume it was his Mother.

 

There is a Burial record for a Margaret Birchall at St Mary Prescot for the 26th of August 1847, aged 69 which gives an approximate birth year of 1778 which I would consider a realistic variation tolerance to the census based birth of about 1781. My opinion for what it is worth is that James being the direct son of Margaret is a feasible possibility, but less probability.

 

6. There is one final consideration for you to ponder over. There is a baptism record at St Mary Prescot for a James Birchall on the 15th of June 1828 showing an illegitimate birth to a Pheobe Birchall, who I believe was the 1804 born Pheobe. Under many similar situations without a shortly, 'after marriage, ' the child is usually brought up in the family by the Grandparents as the Mother has to go out to work until she can perhaps support the child herself.

Note it is a Baptism record and it could certainly be a birth of some years earlier, although I agree 4 years difference is about the upper limit for this.

 

I forgot to mention in my first response, that you should look up the 1850 Ord Survey Map for Lancashire, using individual sheets of Zoomable maps covering Prescot [ if you havn't already done so], where you will clearly see all the reference locations quoted.

Your confirmed James obviously went to St Helens after the 1861 census, to give his wife/family a better opportunity [ as did thousands of others], at the Pilkington Sheet glass works.

I hope this at least clears up the confusion, but again if you have further questions just 'ring the bell'.

Regards,

H.

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Hi Henry,

 

Thanks for your excellent reply. I still have to question this 'Prescot Hall' issue. You say, In 1841 we find a James Birchall aged 17 a Lab, living at 'Prescot Hall' with a Margaret Birchall aged 60 therefore born approximately 1781, indicating she was about 43 years old when he was born. I am assuming that is James grandmother, probably Burrows. James and Mary and the granddaughter, were in 1841 living at Prescot Hall. May be the word Sexton was 'overstated' and he just kept the church tidy as a labourer. Would he have to be a RC to do that job?

 

You also say, Pheobe first presents as a highly probable daughter of James/Margaret Burrows, and also Pheobe presents as a daughter of John Birchall, a highly probable son of James/Margaret Burrows, and therefore a link to your James. How do you link those two, John and Phoebe to James and Margaret Burrows. My problem is that all the children that I found on Lancashire Online from 1797 to 1809 were baptised at St Mary the Virgin, Prescot, which is where james Birchall and Mary Ackers were married. Whereas, James Birchall and Margaret Burrows were married at Farnsworth. May be my assumption that the children are James and Mary Ackers is wrong but I think the logic that they would be baptised where the parents were married, is sound. I would be interested to know, why you are convinced that the children are Margaret Burrows.

 

I have also thought that James born circa 1824, might be Phoebe's, but if so, why in 1871 does a mother in law Mary Birchall appear? This argument also applies to the conjecture that Margaret could be the mother of James.

 

​I hope that you do not mind me 'challenging' the facts, as I think that is the only way to break this brick wall down.

 

Regards

Bill

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Hello Bill,

It couldn't have been too excellent of a reply as I seem to have still created some confusion, so let's see if we can at least clear that up.

 

1. Yes I was assuming that the Margaret Birchall aged 60, with James Birchall aged 17, at Prescot Hall in the 1841 Census was Nee Margaret Burrows and speculatively, his Mother [ with a late life birth] or his Grandmother.

2. 'Your' second point was a repeat of the previous post which confused me then and therefore still does. Could you please show the 1841 Census detail for James, Mary his wife, and Granddaughter Mary at ''Prescot Hall .'' Remember I do not have access to the Full Census records you obviously have.

I stated that in 1841, a family with these members was at Windleshaw Abbey Cottage which was in Hard Lane.

Again in answer to your query you have to understand the significance of this location particularly to St Helens. It has been the location for hundreds of years of among other things, the RC burial ground, and which continued on for many years again after 1841.

In 1841 I believe James Birchall was recorded as the Sexton, and any Sexton in a large significant cemetery like this, would have a responsible job even though it could be looked upon as a labouring occupation. My knowledge over many years of life in the area, was there was a fair bit of prejudice between the Cof E and the RC religions. As such I believe a paid job such as this [ actually contributing to a sacred act of burial ], the appropriate church would see it as a job for a believer in their faith.

The term Sexton really is not the point, it was a large cemetary, and not a tidy up job. I might be wrong on this and Forum members might have alternative opinions, but where there are 'brick wall' I suppose nothing is off limits so to speak. All this particular aspect might be irrelevant when your information on the James/Mary/ Mary at Prescot Hall is considered.

 

3. I know I am repeating myself in respect of your next point, the connecting of James/Margaret Burrows via Pheobe, thenJohn Birchall and his Daughter Pheobe. Pheobe is not necessarily an uncommon name, but it is less common than say Mary or Elizabeth, and in difficult searches for me anyway, these type of names repeat, but very often repeat with a younger sibling because they probably have for example, happy times with them

In this case I believe Peobe born 1804 and John born 1806, both baptised at St Mary Prescot are children of James Birchall /Margaret Burrows. We also know a John Birchall had a daughter named Pheobe [ I believe after his Sister], who was 21 years old in 1850 when James Birchall married Alice Mather, and at which marriage a John and a Pheobe Birchall were witness, in effect the Best Man /Bridesmaid.

I previously said that John's sister Pheobe had married prior to James's marriage, and therefore could not be the Pheobe recorded in this. We also firmly know that in the 1851 Census John with this daughter in the family, was living at Shuttle Alley Prescot, neighbours to James Birchall and wife Alice who was a Loom Operator at the adjacent Mill.

With respect, your assumption about the relationship between church weddings and church baptisms is not correct. The Bride nearly always marries in the church nearest to where she and her parents reside, with the abode record location again suiting the church Parish, ie Of This Parish. When it comes to children the common feature is that the wife goes home for the first born [ sometimes second], but baptises the child at her new residential parish, and the baptism's above would match this.

I am not sure Bill what more I can say to show the link you seek, but I personally am very confident that the James/Alice at Shuttle Alley in 1851 are directly connected to James/ Margaret Burrows.

 

4. I only presented the James, child of Pheobe, as a 'possibility', because of your inability to find a pre marriage James to match. I agree if the 1871 Census record is incorrect and it is his true Mother, then this James is obviously not your James, but I am certain would still be Sister Pheobe's child, brought up by Margaret. This aspect however has in my opinion, no bearing on the link outlined above.

I thought you had covered all the James's possibilities over the years you have been searching, but I realise now you have been basing them on a false premise regarding the Marriage/Baptism relationship. I will have a search myself and get back to you.

Cheers,

H.

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Hello Bill,

After the confusion clear up I had a look for any new detail that might help break down the wall, and managed to find a couple of records that for me, do just that.

Importantly I found the baptism record for a James Birchall [ you may have this], that I strongly believe is the first born son of James and Margaret, nee Burrows. My confidence fits in with the similar record descriptions for Pheobe, John, and also a Thomas, all being Prescot abode.

As I have said previously the James/Mary Ackers marriage in 1793 strangely didn't appear to show any children in the OPC records until 1797, and as you said primarily when they do, have I think,the Whiston Abode.

 

James was born on the 23rd of December 1801, so I searched for possible marriages for him which I am sure you have also found many records. The one that jumped out for me was on the 4th of April 1820 at St Luke Farnworth to a Susannah O'Neil, with both signing with a x, James a Lab, Susannah a Spinster. The key features of this are the Groom and Bridesmaid Witness's, James Hulme with Catharine Brownbill.

Thomas Hulme you will recall was the Farmer [ much older than her],who married Pheobe Birchall in 1841, and the Brownbill Surname comes into play in another record. Susannah born in 1800, was the daughter of Thomas & Rachael O'Neil, a Weaver with abode at Prescot.

The problem with this is that I cannot find any James from this marriage nor any burial record for Susannah who I suspect may have died early, probably in childbirth. However, of significance with her name is that your confirmed James had one of his daughters with the same name !

 

Interestingly I found an 1861 Census record for a James that fitted the 1801 birth at Prescot [ as above], being a Farmer at Whiston Cross [about 1 mile from Prescot town], and he was recorded with a Jane Birchall aged 46, suggesting a second marriage. Again my Census records are incomplete as I said, and you can determine the status of this partnership. There were two Servants, one of which was an Elizabeth Brownbill aged 14, suggesting to me a connection to the first marriage as its a not too common name. I realise that none of these records directly bring in your confirmed James [ the Susan link being some support], and to be honest I have not totally dismissed the option of him being the son of Pheobe.

The outstanding question mark though for you is the Mary born about 1800 living with James, and although I have had unusual exposure to similar records over a number of years that could provide a possible answer, it would be speculation without too much support. I know that the Census takers were for example not always the educated people they are now, and were purely locals who knew the district but importantly selected because they could write.

 

Without the full available Census records it is difficult for my eye's to quickly cover likely options, but I do however think that these are relevant to your family and hopefully after your consideration, are worthy of further checks.

Regards,

H.

 

 

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Anyone doing family research should take note, that the 1841 census rounds down ages over 15.

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May be the word Sexton was 'overstated' and he just kept the church tidy as a labourer. Would he have to be a RC to do that job?

 

The small cemetery was extended in 1835 and the lodge and hearse house built roundabout then. Henry might be able to give you a more precise answer but as far as I know about this time burial in C of E churchyards for catholics which had been the norm since the reformation started to be refused and the Gerard family donated land to extend the original cemetery so I would say yes the sexton would be catholic and as there was a gardener living there too yes he would have been a sexton responsible for arranging and conducting the burials.

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Hi Henry,

Thank you once again for your input. Unfortunately, it has caused me to be even more confused, if that is possible. although I understand your logic, I am stuck with a Mary being the mother. I also cannot get my head around my James father being a Farmer in the 1861 census, when he was described as a Labourer in 1850. Regarding the Brownbill's, I should point out, that they are another direct line ancestor and I have them going back to the early 1700's unlike the Birchall's which is causing me so much difficulty.

 

I too have continued searching. The big issue, that I have is the 'Mary' mother in law aged 75 on the 1871 census. I f she did not exist, then I would be more open to other suggestions. On the census it says that she was born in Tarbock. I have assumed all along, that James parents were James and Mary, but now I am unsure. Why was Mary described as 'mother in law'. I suppose if the transcribers question was answered by Alice, then she would have said that it was her mother in law, which was correct.

 

I realise that I am bombarding you with alternatives but I thought that this might be interesting for a possible James father, (though I hope that I am wrong ) but the records show:-

Baptism: 1 Oct 1797 St Mary the Virgin, Prescot, Lancashire, England

James Birchall - illegitimate son of Mary Birchall

Born: 14 Sep

Abode: Sutton

Register: Baptisms 1766 - 1809, Page 142, Entry 31

Source: LDS Film 1657583

Mary Leicester was also born in 1797.

 

If James father, was born in 1801, is it conceivable that he could have married Mary Leicester in July 1818? The reason I ask, is the coincidence that they were married in St Luke, Farnsworth, as was James and Margaret Burrows and they both had a witness with the surname Shaw.

 

Your point in another missive . 'Your' second point was a repeat of the previous post which confused me then and therefore still does. Could you please show the 1841 Census detail for James, Mary his wife, and Granddaughter Mary at ''Prescot Hall .'' I apologise as I got that completely wrong. It was James aged 17 and his Grandmother Margaret 60 who lived in Prescot Hall in 1841. They lived close to a Thomas Birchall aged 32 who lived next door. He I suspect is one of the many children of James and Margaret as he was born in 1809. It was in 1851 that a James 55 and Mary 54 together with their granddaughter 8 lived at 16 Hard Lane Windle. On the Ancestry census details this Mary Birchall had ( Mary Leicester ) beneath the name. Mary Leicester was my favourite for being James mother, but maybe that is not correct.

 

I do think that we have a number of pieces here, which if we could somehow link up, we would have a much better picture. Closer but not there yet.

 

I hope that you do not mind me giving you some alternative options.

 

Best wishes

Bill

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Hi Bill,

My we are swinging all over the place on this one, and in doing so I think are not working on previous findings that do have some positive aspects. Your concluding sentence states Mary Leicester is your favourite for being James's Mother, yet his Mother in previous posts was suggested as being the Windle Mary.

In all the records we have explored there isn't one that records a Mary of that approximate birth year with a James Birchall that also fits, and as such I don't have much confidence in this logic.

So let me again try to answer your last thoughts/concerns.

1. Mary as James's Mother I cannot explain, but can think of many [as I said previously], reasons why this might be recorded this way. I repeat, the Census taker were in part only appointed because they knew the district and could write, and in the early days of first Census's it has been proven to be much less quality than desired. The Census Taker would not I think by choice,be wondering around at night because of the security situation, and inability to see adequately for recording. Who knows who might have been in the house when he called, it could have been only a child, and here is a 75 year old woman asleep in a chair, or he asks a neighbour the details. All I am saying is that we know for a fact that that it wasn't perfect at that time and we have to make allowances for this, using all the ' cross checking' information.

 

2. I suggested the Farmer James in 1861 as a 'possibility' because of, a. his 1801 birth at Whiston, b. James Birchall who married Margaret Ackers [ I think your previous favourite], was a Husbandman which as you may know was a Tenant Farmer. In those early days many people who were only Agricultural Labourers would be recorded purely as a Lab by these not highly educated Census Takers, and this even covered some 'casual' Tenant Farmers. I have covered hundreds of people in my searches who have been also recorded for example,as a Coal Miner & Farmer, where they have been living on one/two Acres. You didn't tell me if this James in the Census was a Widow and what relationship Jane was to him.

 

3. Mary might be a possibility somewhere in the big picture, but it is straying from the highly indicative known's. The only known relativity with this is the Church, and the name James, which we have already said many times , that there are a large number. This Mary is recorded as being of Sutton, one of the very large early Townships that formed the later St Helens, and within this she could have lived at Sutton itself, quite a distance from Prescot ,but as many others did, used this Church for BMD.

 

4. It is conceivable that the correct James married Mary Leicester, but I [ probably as you would expect ], do not think it is highly likely for the reasons above. I have seen no births or Census records that match the criteria, with the 1871 one being questionable anyway, even as recorded. I am however possibly prepared to accept that the James Birchall/Mary Leicester are the couple at Windleshaw Abbey in 1841/1851 on the grounds that his birth is consistently recorded as Whiston, his Census age birth matches, and you have now stated in this last post, that the name Leicester was entered below Mary Birchall in the Transcript, this being in spite of my doubts regarding the RC religion aspect. Sorry, but again be careful as Ancestry do put in some records the results of searchers connections, which don't always show their sources. My relaxing on the RC consideration is based on the fact that James could well have been Sexton in the C of E part of the Cemetery, which was adjacent, sorry !

 

5. Again you have to be careful with the Witness's at Marriages in those days, as the people getting married very often did not have their own witness friends who were available to take time off etc. The Church catered for this by having church officials such as Church Wardens, to carry out this role. If you study St Luke, or St Mary Prescot, or indeed any Church at this time, you will see similar names repeating themselves as a Witness, and I happen to know that the Shaws were very prominent landowners/ Church people in the St Luke Parish. In the case of the Witness's I quoted I always check this Official aspect out.

 

6. I will add my latest finding for your confirmed James Birchall. James and Alice had a Son James in the 1871 Census at Peacock Row who was baptised on the 23rd of April 1865 at St Mary Prescot, James being a Collier Abode Prescot, which was correct at the time. James Junior is recorded as being Buried at St Mary Prescot on the 21st of July 1886 aged 20 years, with Abode Prescot, which would also be correct as his parents had gone to Durham. Interestingly his name was recorded as James Hulme Birchall. This I again believe makes the previous connection with Pheobe, her Husband Thomas Hulme, and of course the Thomas Hulme witness for the James Marriage in 1820 to Susannah O'Neil.

 

I have to say Bill for all the years you have been searching this Family with the Brick Walls you have had, I am amazed that you have not tried another approach by looking into your family connections for example the Brownbills that you revealed when I referenced their name twice as witness to different Birchall Marriages. It seem logical to me that the reason you have them in your Tree is perhaps because they are indeed linked, and you are the common denominator.

I realise it might be a new connection I have given to you but you have also said they are/ were, a much easier traceable Family, so it shouldn't take too long, why not have a 'crack'.

 

I honestly believe I cannot advance your search very much more, and in fact because of my persistent approach to genealogy over many years, I might actually be part of the problem of clouding issues. Apart from the Brownbill route, my suggestion is that you have to cover all the information found on a single name aspect over all the 'BMD''s/ Census's, and then move on to the next one. All this should be then arranged in potential Tree's, which I know will overlap, and then come down on the weight of evidence for the most likely. In other words narrow your thinking/recording before moving to the next one, which you might be doing at home, but it doesn't come across this way on the Forum, I am not sure what other Forum members think !

As I said a number of times, your main 'Block' is this Mary aged 75 in the Census, and your efforts to prove this, one way are another, whilst admirable, is not bearing any 'fruit' simply because the information is not there.

Just to give one final point on this particular aspect, I searched a Leicester Family in a nearby district not too long ago, and Two of the daughters had no children in their lifetime, with another two siblings only having one child each. Now please don't conclude that Leicester Families have child bearing problems, but I was trying to illustrate with a same name family, that it does happen, and in this case there is no record of any children to this couple that I could find, with young Mary just being a siblings child. I think it will finally come down to the two options you started out with, and you know my opinion for what its worth of the most likely one.

You have been a great example of what it takes with difficult searches, but remember Bill, people who say they have gone back to the early 1500's with their Family Tree are having themselves on in regard to accuracy, it is all speculative, but I do hope the Brownbill's might just confirm that link you need.

Best regards,

H.

 

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My relaxing on the RC consideration is based on the fact that James could well have been Sexton in the C of E part of the Cemetery, which was adjacent, sorry !

 

The adjacent borough cemetery with RC, C of E and Non Conformist sections was only opened in 1858.

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This may be of help ? Assuming that the granddaughter Mary had her birth registered in Prescot which at that time was the Registration District for St Helens According to 1851 census she was 8 so either born 1843 or 1842 if her birthday was after the census date,

 

There are just 3 Mary Birchall listed on the GRO for 1842/3 reg in Prescot. 1 Mary Birchall req Q4 1842 Prescot mothers maiden name Cross.2 Mary Birchall also reg Q4 1842 mothers maiden name Taylor and 3 Mary Birchall reg Q2 1843 mothers maiden name not given - illegitimate ?

 

There is a baptism for a Mary Birchill (sic) child of Mary Birchill baptised 25 June 1843 at Prescot St Mary - abode Prescot

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