Brick Walls

For more than 60 years, I have been engaged in extensive research putting together my family tree and have published a website listing 14 of these ancestor trees and 6 descendent charts. Along the way, I have encountered numerous "brick walls", which are genealogical research problems that seem impossible to solve. While my website includes a list of these brickwalls, I have decided to supplement it with this blog. Some of the brick walls you will read here have been resolved, while others have not. My hope is that readers will perhaps have answers or possible different solutions to the ones I have presented.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A New Approach - The Ancestors of Thomas_1 York

For years I have searched for the ancestors of Thomas_1 York.  I decided to try once again.
Note: Traditionally, genealogists have labeled the immigrant generation as name_1.  However, Thomas York and Mary Dickens were the first generation on my first York descendency chart.  So I called him Thomas_1 even though it was his sons that were the immigrants.  The parents of the immigrants would usually be labeled name_A, the grandparents, name_B, etc.  Since I had already labeled the parents name_1, the grandparents became name_A.
What's New  The impetus for trying once again to break down the brick wall comes from a new technology - DNA.  Thanks to one of my brothers, who is one of the few living direct male descendants of Thomas_1 York, we now know his Y-DNA haplogroup.  See York Y-DNA.

As many of you know well, I am no stranger to tracking down descendants.  But those I have searched for in the past are descendants of known ancestors.  In this case, I would be looking for descendants of an unknown ancestor!

What's Not New  What I have known for years:

The Yorks came from Long Buckby, Northamptonshire, England.

Thomas_1 York, the son of Thomas_A York and Alice_A Boreman, was baptized 25 Dec 1778 at Long Buckby (Church of England, Long Buckby, Northamptonshire, Parish register for 1778).  According to his age in the 1841 and 1851 censuses and at his death, he was born about 1778 at Long Buckby.  He died on 7 Nov 1852 at Long Buckby (England Deaths, Long Buckby, Northamptonshire, 1852 Vol. 3b, p.66).  He was a flaxdresser/cordwainer.

See The Descendants of Thomas York and Mary Dickens for information about Mary Dickens and their children.  Thomas and Mary lived their entire lives in Long Buckby, and all of their children were born and raised there.

Thomas_A York was married on 27 Aug 1775 at Long Buckby to Alice_A Boreman (Church of England, Long Buckby, Northamptonshire, Parish register for 1775).  They had three children baptized at Long Buckby parish church:
  • Alice York, baptized 26 Aug 1776
  • Thomas_1 York, baptized 25 Dec 1778
  • Grace York, baptized 23 Aug 1781
See The Descendants of Thomas York and Alice Boreman for information about Alice Boreman and their children.

The Problem  Who is Thomas_A York?  Who are his parents?  Where and when was he born?

Other than the marriage of Thomas and Alice and the baptisms of their children, no other information has been found in Long Buckby records that can be tied to them with any certainty.

Finding related Yorks in Long Buckby is complicated by a remark made in a 26 Mar 1913 letter from Maria York of Long Buckby to George Dallas York in Iowa, "We [she and her brother] are the only two now living in this town of our family, mine and yours.  The other Yorks, if they once belonged to us, the Kinship has died out for neither my Grandma York nor my mother ever spoke of any."

My Strategy  My goal was to learn more about Thomas_A York, through analysis of existing records and/or through DNA matches.  I launched a York One-Name Study, with Long Buckby as its focus.  I had no idea where this effort was going.

My first objective was to identify all of the people with the surname York(e) who had any connection with Long Buckby.  My second objective was to try to fit all of these people into families.  To accomplish this, I drew on a number of resources:
  • All of the notes I had accummulated over the years
  • Excerpts from several books in the Family History Library:
    • Victor A. Hatley, Northamptonshire Militia Lists, 1777. Northamptonshire Record Society, 1973. p.60-1, 188.
    • R. L. Greenall, editor, The Parish Register of Long Buckby, Northamptonshire, 1558-1689.  Vaughan Papers in Adult Education No. 17, University of Leicester Department of Adult Education, March 1971.
  • York Letters - Letters between Canada and England
  • Transcripts (usually in the form of indexes) of parish and Independent church records: some were prepared by Mona Harrison in Northamptonshire more than 20 years ago; some Kay York and I prepared on a visit to the Northamptonshire Record Office in 1994; some from the IGI (later moved to Family Search); and currently, thanks to a York cousin, some from a newer site, FreeReg
  • Actual copies of parish and Independent church records from microfilms at the Family History Library.
  • Census records and indexes to vital records on and Find My Past.
  • Several York wills
  • A test of my brother's DNA on Family Tree DNA to confirm the 23andMe finding and facilitate matching on that site.
Old Leads and Questions
  1. Since no baptisms of children are recorded after 1781 for Thomas and Alice York, Thomas_A York is likely the Thomas York who was buried on 21 Sep 1781 at Long Buckby (Long Buckby parish register).
  2. In the 1777 Militia list, there is a Thomas York, collarmaker, in Crick, but no York in Long Buckby.  Thomas and Alice York had children baptized in Long Buckby in 1776 and 1778.  Why isn't he on the Long Buckby list?  There are York families in Crick.  The York entries in the Crick parish register burial index and in the baptismal register end about 1770.
  3. There is a York family in Long Buckby, going back to the 1600s (early parish register), that were collarmakers.  The earliest known ancestors of this family are John York and Alice Webb who were married 7 Apr 1670 in Long Buckby.  The wills that I found were primarily from this family.
At the beginning of this project, the connection between the early York family in Long Buckby and the York family in Crick had not been identified nor had the relationship of Thomas_A York to either family been determined.

Data  As information was gathered from the various sources, it was added to a database in Legacy.  At present, that database contains over 300 people with a York surname.  Where possible, people were grouped in families.  There is probably some duplication, because of difficulty in determining ties between generations.

Most of the family groups have been entered in an Ancestry Family Tree - Yorks from Long Buckby.  The "tree" is actually several disconnected trees.  Some families have been followed beyond England.  Please contact me if you would like an invitation to the tree.  It is a public tree, but an invitation makes it easier to find.
Census records were searched for each available year to locate other Yorks.  Two searches were done: (1) Long Buckby households that included at least one York, and (2) Yorks throughout England who were born in Long Buckby.  In this second search, because of my interest in Y-DNA, I was particularly interested in males born in Long Buckby.  These families were followed over the years, regardless of where in England they lived.  Households of later generations may not include a York born in Long Buckby.

The records from the census searches are in several documents, by the year of the census: 1841-1871, 1881, 1891-1901, and 1911.

There are some "loose ends" that could not be assigned to a particular family.  This particularly occurred with burials, where there was more than one possible person, and no age or other identifying information.  Another group of "loose ends" are census records of single persons not living with their family.

  • Thomas York, son of John and Mary York, who was baptized on 25 Dec 1755 at Long Buckby (Long Buckby parish register) is the same person as Thomas_A York.  By the time all of the Thomas Yorks were addressed, there was only one who was born early enough to have married in 1775.
  • Children of "John and Mary York" baptized in the Long Buckby parish church, are all the children of John_B and Mary_B York:
    • John York, baptized 19 Aug 1753
    • Thomas York, baptized 25 Dec 1755
    • Mary York, baptized 25 Dec 1757
    • William York, baptized 29 Apr 1759
    • Alice York, baptized 18 Jan 1761
    • Samuel York, baptized 9 Apr 1762
    • Martha York, baptized 28 Mar 1764
    • Jane York, baptized 22 Feb 1767
    • Joseph York, baptized 6 May 1770
Further information regarding John_B and Mary_B York 
  • No baptism, marriage, or probate record has been found for John_B York, nor any record giving his occupation.  He is probably the John York, husband of Mary, who was buried 12 Jul 1788 in Long Buckby.
  • No baptism, marriage, or probate record has been found for Mary_B.  She is probably the Mary York, widow, age 84, who was buried 24 Dec 1812 in Long Buckby.  She would have been born about 1728 which is consistent with the births of her children.
  • There is a will of a John York of Long Buckby, collarmaker, made 9 Feb 1759 and proved 3 Mar 1759.  His son John is named executor.  John_B York would have been of an age and station to have been that executor.
  • The above 1759 will does not name any wife.  In addition to John, sons Samuel and Thomas are named.  There must have been at least one daughter, probably two.  The will names grandsons Humphrey and Thomas Davis, and William and Richard Bunnwich, the latter two as sons of William Bunnwich.
Go to Thomas_A York in The Thomas York and Alice Boreman Descendant Chart

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mary Beith Research Notes

The Problem  There are two possible birth records for Mary Beith.

The life of Mary Beith Many details of her life are known, because of her Poor House Case, filed 13 July 1843.  Born in Campbeltown, Argyllshire, she moved to Paisley, Renfrewshire before her marriage.

Mary Beith and John McKaig were married 22 Jun 1798 (Church of Scotland, Abbey Paisley, Renfrewshire, Parish register for 1798 p.109).  Both of them were "of this parish" at the time of the marriage.  John died in September 1824.  No death has been found for Mary.  She may be the Mary Beith, age 74, but born in Renfrewshire, who was living with the Robert Andrew family in 1841 at 90 Canal St. in Paisley.  That is in the same area as Causeyside, a location mentioned in her Poor House Record.

Mary and John had two children who were named in Mary's Poor House Record:
  1. Archibald McKaig, born 20 Oct 1802 Paisley, baptized 29 Oct 1802 High Church, Paisley (Parish registers for High Church, Paisley 1802). He died after June 1840 "fighting in Mexico".
  2. James McKaig, baptized 28 Jan 1807, Middle Church, Paisley.

Birth Records in Campbeltown  According to Mary's Poor House Record, she was born about 1768 in Campbeltown.  There were two children named Mary Beeth (AKA Beith) who were born in Campbeltown, Argyll, Scotland around the time of Mary's estimated birth.
  1. Mary, daughter of John Beeth and Henrietta Glass was born 6 Apr 1766 (Church of Scotland, Campbeltown, Argyllshire, Parish register for 1766).  Other children of John and Henrietta: Finuel 1757, Henrietta 1759, Margaret 1764, James 1768, poss John 1775.
  2. Mary, daughter of Alexander Beeth and Barbra McLarty was baptized 17 Jul 1767 (Church of Scotland, Campbeltown, Argyllshire, Parish register for 1767).  Other children of Alexander and Barbra: Margaret 1761, James 1763, Hellen 1769, Kathrin 1771, Archibald 1772, Barbra 1775, Alexander 1780.

Mary Beith marriages  There were two known marriages:
  1. John Gray and Mary Beeth 24 Feb 1795, Campbeltown, Argyll, Scotland (Church of Scotland, Campbeltown, Argyllshire, Parish register for 1795).  Their children: Barbra 1795; Margaret 1798; Neil 1800; Ann 1803; Mary 1804; Elizabeth 1805; Catherine 1807; Flora 1810.
  2. John McCaig (AKA McKaig) and Mary Beith 22 Jun 1798, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland (Church of Scotland, Abbey Paisley, Renfrewshire, Parish register for 1798 p.109).  Their children: Archibald 1802; James 1807 (the only children named in her poor law record, no others found in parish records).

Clues or lack of them 
  • Neither marriage identifies the parents.
  • Neither Mary died at a time when civil death records were available.
  • Both families had children that suggest ties to Alexander and Barbra: Barbra Gray and Archibald McKaig.  The descendants of Mary Beith and John McKaig have a strong tradition of connection to the Clan Campbell of Argyll.  Efforts to prove this connection have so far been unsuccessful.  However, Archibald Campbell, 3rd Duke of Argyll (1682–1761) may explain the appearance of the name Archibald among the Beith family.

  • Mary Beith Gray and Mary Beith McKaig cannot be the same person since the births of their children overlap.  John Gray and the Gray children were not named in Mary McKaig's Poor House record.
  • Mary Gray emigrated to Ontario, Canada with her husband and children in 1832 and died there in 1846 (gravestone). (See Pringle/Kall family tree,  There is no evidence that she ever returned to Scotland.
  • Mary McKaig was living in Paisley at the time of her Poor House record in 1843.  She probably died soon after that.  (There are no burial records in any of the Paisley parish records).
  • Mary Gray was age 79 at her death in 1846 [b.c.1767].  Mary McKaig was age 75 in 1843 [[b.c.1768], but in a possible 1841 census record she is age 74 [b.c.1767].  Based on the death age for Mary Gray and the Poor House age for Mary McKaig, Mary Gray should be the older of the two.
  • The descendants of Mary Beith Gray believe that she is the daughter of Alexander Beeth and Barbra McLarty.
  • Were John and Alexander Beeth related?  If so, that might explain why Mary Gray had a brother Archibald and Mary McKaig had a son Archibald.  Another explanation may be the possible connection to Clan Campbell of Argyle.

Summary  Even though one of the Mary Beiths has been claimed by another line, no clear evidence has been found to support either choice of parents for Mary (Beith) McKaig.

Go to Mary Beith in the McKaig-Allan Ancestor Chart