Sunday, 13 February 2011

Maria or Martha? The Mystery of my Great Grandmother's Name


I had always been told my great grandmother's name was Maria Rawcliffe of Hambleton, the Fylde, Lancashire.   But there was a puzzle in that many official  records, such as her 1877 marriage certificate, the 1881 census entry and my grandfather's  birth certificate  gave her name as Martha.   I sent away to Garstang Registrar for Maria's  birth certificate c.1859 and outlined my confusion over her Christian name.

To my great surprise the result was two certificates - for Maria, daughter of Robert Rawliffe and Jane Carr, born 15th January 1859 and another daughter Martha, born to Robert and Jane on  20th January 1863. 

Four months later Martha had died.  Maria would only have been four years old then, but did she later adopt the name of her younger sister?   

I also found on the International Genealogical Index  that Martha was listed with the middle name Septima - 7th daughter,  after Anne, Jane,  Margaret, Alice, Jane and Maria.  How her Ag. Lab. father knew the Latin tag is another puzzle!  The submitter was American (I suspect a descendant of Maria's sister Alice who emigrated to USA).  I did write to the address given, but the letter came back "unknown", so very frustrating.

Another puzzle, Lancashire OPC online and the IGI record a Peggy Rawliffe , born 1861 to Robert and Jane.   which means Martha would not be the 7th child but the 8th.  Sadly Peggy only survived 16 days. 

It is scenarios like this that make family history so absorbing a hobby. 

The photograph is Maria Rawcliffe (1859-1919).  At the age of 18, she married James Danson in 1877 and they lived in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.  Maria, one of 8  daughters went on to have 10 sons before finally a daughter Jennie. 

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Copyright © 2011 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

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