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Friday, 18 July 2014

Sibling Saturday: Eight Rawcliffe Sisters

The birth of eight sisters (with three dying in infancy), the intriguing name of Septima meaning 7th daughter,  the early death of their mother, a step-mother with three illegitimate children and the birth of three  half-siblings - all findings I discovered in the search for the background of my great grandmother. Maria Rawcliffe (left).  

Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe (1859-1919)  of Hambleton, near Poulton-le-Fylde Lancashire,  has been at the heart of my family history story and featured regularly on my blog. 

But what of her family?

My first knowledge of my great grandmother's sisters  came from the 1871 Hambleton census, which listed Robert Rawcliffe aged 49, born at Marton,  a widower at Town Row, with his three daughters Anne aged 23,  Jane aged 20 and Maria aged 12, all born at Hambleton.  Thsi tied in with my mother's  vague recollections of a great aunt Anne who married  a farmer and great aunt Jane who married a man from nearby Fleetwood

Turning backwards to earlier records, the family were listed in the 1851 census for Hambleton - Robert, a carter aged 28, his wife Jane, aged 30,  and two daughters (named I found out later  after their  grandmothers),  Anne aged 3, and Jane aged 7 months.

Onto the 1861 census where Robert was described as a farmer and carter aged 39, wife Jane is 41, daughter Jane is 10 and “Mariagh” 2 - the enumerator’s idea of spelling !  Their eldest daughter Anne is not listed, but may well be the Anne Rawcliffe, aged 13, a house servant, resident with John Rawcliffe, taylor and grocer, his wife Barbara, 5 year old son Thomas and apprentice Richard Parkinson.  So far no family connection has been traced between these two Rawcliffe families.

However of most interest in the 1861 census was the first knowledge of two other daughters Alice aged 6 and Jennet aged 4. But where were they 10 years on in 1871?  In service elsewhere perhaps?  

I tuned to the IGI (International Genealogy Index) (this was in the days of microfiche) and discovered two more daughters born to Robert and Jane Rawcliffe - Margaret, born 1852  and Martha Septima - a second name that intrigued me - born 1863.   But I could not find trace of Martha in the 1871 census. So what had happened to her?   

The family group record on www.familysearch.org  gave confirmation of the seven children of Robert and Jane Rawcliffe.  However the individual record search produced details on an eighth  daughter Peggy. born 1861.  More confusion, as this meant Martha Sepitma was not in fact the seventh daughter, but the eighth. 

I next turned to the Lancashire Parish Records Online to find that three of the sisters had not survived infancy, with Margaret dying at 3 weeks old, Peggy just 16 day old  and Martha aged 4 months, just after her baptism - all buried at the  Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Hambleton.   Unfortunately there is no gravestone nor listing in monumental inscriptions. 

So  Maria’s mother Jane, gave birth to 8 children in a sixteen year period   Jane was aged 44 at the birth of her youngest daughter Martha and died two years later, buried on 4th May 1865, leaving her five  young daughters motherless at the ages of 6, 8, 11, 14 and 17. - the youngerst my great grandmother Maria.  

So what happened to the five surviving sisters - Anne, Jane, Alice, Jennet and Maria?  I will follow their stories in future posts.  
Alice Mason, nee Rawcliffe & Family

Through the Internet,  I made contact with Jane Rawliffe's great grandson and Alice Rawcliffe's  great granddaughter  and discovered we held the same family photographs.   

The surprise finding was to discover that Alice Rawcliffe died in Jamesburg, New Jersey  - the first time I was aware of any American connections.   

Again It was a story of births outside marriage, infant deaths, large families and remarriage - all features of  life at the time. 

So watch this space for more tales of the Rawcliffe sisters.   

[Sibling Saturday is one of many prompts from Geneabloggers.com 
 to encourage bloggers to record their family history. ]

Copyright © 2014 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

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