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 Ancestry.com 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.

Conclusions
  • 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

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