Three Wilson-Wilson marriages and the Family History Library Experience

The will of William Wilson of Claverley, Shropshire, England, made on 17 May 1833 and proved on 4 May 1837 revealed that he had three daughters who each married men with the Wilson surname.  Dorothea was the wife of John Wilson of Aston Hall, Claverley, Elizabeth was the wife of Joseph Wilson of Bushbury, Staffordshire and Mary (deceased) was the wife of John Wilson of Astley, Alveley, Salop (=Shropshire).

Even though Wilson is a common surname, I wondered if it could possibly be true!  The first step in verifying the will is to find records of the three marriages.  English civil registration started too late (1837), so my best option is to turn to parish registers starting with Claverley, the place most strongly associated with the couples, followed by Bushbury and Alveley.  The 40 years prior to 1833, the date the will was made, is the most likely time frame.

Normally I would use the IGI and any other online resources I could find to narrow down which original registers to examine. Viewing the originals could possibly entail travelling from Norfolk (on eastern side of England) to the visit the Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Shropshire County Records Offices.

But I was in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, the home of the Family History Library (FHL), the largest in the world.  If you are wondering what I was doing in SLC see my previous post.

How much clobber do you take to archives, repositories and libraries?  Notebook, laptop, camera, pencils, change for photocopies, library card or other identification, spare batteries for gadgetry, …  You could probably add to the list.  I wanted to travel light, so I left the heavy stuff behind.  I could have taken just this:

picture of a flash drive

Yes, a flash drive!  Not an empty drive.  It had my research plan, copies of related documents and other stuff on it.  I used one of the many computers in the library to read the contents of my flash drive and consult the catalogue.  All the records I consulted were available on microfilm or fiche, so I used the free film scanners to copy the records I wanted directly onto my flash drive.

Getting back to the three marriages project.

First, I found that a published transcript of the Claverley parish registers was available:

Fletcher, W.G.D. 1907. Shropshire Parish Registers.  Diocese of Hereford. Vol X. privately printed for the Shropshire Parish Register Society.  (FHL microfilm: 162094 item 2, book shelf mark 94245 B4sh v.10)

p 332

1795 June 21  John Wilson of Alveley, b. & Mary Wilson,  lic by Matthew Pilkington, Clerk.
Wit:  James Wilson, Sarah Wilson

p 337

1808 Apr 21  Joseph Wilson of Chetton, b. & Elizabeth Wilson, sp., lic.
Wit: Dorothy Wilson, Wm Wilson

Note that these are transcriptions of the parish registers, not the originals.  The book contains a detailed description of the registers and their contents and claims the transcript is faithful to the originals.  The originals comprise ten volumes: vol VII contains marriages from 1795-1812 and vol VI contains marriages from 1774-1795.  According to the transcript, both marriages are in vol VII.

The will indicates Elizabeth married Joseph Wilson of Bushbury, so why is he recorded as of Chetton on the marriage?  Chetton is ca 15 km west of Claverley.  Bushbury is in Wolverhampton ca 15 km NE of Claverley.

Then, I searched the FamilySearch index for a marriage between John and Dorothea Wilson which lead me to this:

Bishop’s transcript, Brewood (FHL microfilm: 425497, entry no 11)

8 July 1816 Brewood, Staffs John Wilson of Aston Claverley m Dorothea Wilson of this parish [Brewood] by license
Witnesses: Wm Wilson, Beatrice Hill

This clearly seems to be the marriage of our Dorothea, but why is she recorded as being resident in Brewood, and not Claverley?  Brewood is near Wolverhampton, ca 13km ne of Claverley.    This is the bishop’s transcript, a copy of the original register that was submitted to the bishop periodically (usually quarterly).

So, these do look like the marriages of William Wilson’s daughters, but not all the details match up.  How many other Wilsons were there in Brewood, Chetton, and other locations?  If the husbands were as mobile as seems to be indicated, then I should check surrounding areas to rule out other possible men of the same names.

Map of locations connected to 3 Wilson-Wilson marriages and apparetn movements of people involved

Map of locations connected to 3 Wilson-Wilson marriages and apparent movements of people involved. Interactive version of map here

Other considerations are:

  • The records I found in the Family History Library are copies, so may not be reliable.
  • The index (e.g. IGI) entries on FamilySearch are derived from the FHL holdings, and may not refer to original or the most reliable records.
  • There are original parish registers available, but not at FHL.

Before I can truly claim to have cracked the three Wilson-Wilson marriages case, I need to:

  • resolve the apparent discrepancies
  • complete the search in likely locations and extend the search area
  • identify and rule out other possible husbands
  • as all three marriages were by license, search Lichfield and Worcester diocese records

Lots still to do then!

8 Comments on “Three Wilson-Wilson marriages and the Family History Library Experience”

  1. It looks like you are off to a good start. Looking forward to reading about your progress.


  2. […] Consulting the FamilySearch Card Catalogue, I find that a transcript of Claverley parish registers is the likely source of the index entry I found on microfiche. A copy of the book is housed at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, reference (call no) 942.45 B4sh v. 10, a volume I have previously consulted (see Three Wilson-Wilson marriages and the FHL Experience). […]


  3. […] on the 1841, 1852 and 1861 censuses.  In case you were wondering, we met him in an earlier post Three Wilson-Wilson marriages and the Family History Library Experience. John died in 1862 and appointed nephew Richard Wilson of Ackleton as one of his executors.  Yes, […]


  4. […] The left side of the source tree depicts my understanding of the arrangement of things I accessed through archives. I have expanded the top levels for just one record, the marriage of Joseph Wilson and Elizabeth Wilson at Claverley in 1808, that I discussed in Three Wilson-Wilson marriages and the Family History Library Experience. […]


  5. mariegriffiths says:

    I have some Perry’s from Claverley in my tree and also lots of Idiens, they migrated between Claverley, Brewood and Bushbury. I’d also check Trysull and Penkridge in your searchs. I think they used the canal network ti get about and in the case of the Idiens family were involved with canals.


    • Sue Adams says:

      Hi Marie

      There are some Perry connected to this Wilson family, through the second marriage of Mary Wathing, wife of William Wilson’s nephew Richard, to John Perry. Who were your Claverley Perrys?

      It is going to take an extensive search of all the placed mentioned and a lot in between to be sure of the mobile Wilson family connections.


  6. Philip Martin Hudson says:

    Thomas Wilson (my GGG Grandfather) married Married Margaret Adams of Farmcott and later lived at Farmcott Hall. He was the son of William Wilson and Mary Lythall who farmed initially at Wolverley and then at Beobridge. William was the son of Matthew Wilson and Sarah Raybold (or Raybould) of Clent. Later generations of Wilsons seemed to mary farmers or moved to farm in the Brewood area so it is quite possible that there were already Wilson’s in that area. Williams’ son Edward (brother of Thomas of Farmcott) married Eleanor Moody from The Hattons (Brewood) who was the daughter of his father’s second wife and went to farm The Hattons. So they clearly had connections with the Brewood area.


    • Sue Adams says:

      Hi Philip

      Thanks for making the Brewood connection. Can you tell me more about the Moody’s connections and how you worked it out?

      These marriages between extended families are fun to untangle. Dorothea and John were first cousins. It isn’t clear if Mary and Elizabeth’s husbands were related.

      I suspect land may be an important key, with female inheritance playing a part.


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