Pieces of Evidence – Corroborating a Family Tale

Early in my genealogical career, I was given a copy of a hand-written narrative of the Wilson family, a snippet of which is shown here.

Extract of Wilson family narrative (Carno document)

Extract of Wilson family narrative (Carno document)


Richard [Wilson] m. Miss Wathing of Lower Chaddesley, sister of Mrs Wilks of Tanwood, Chaddesley.  They went to live at Hill Pool Nr Chaddesley.  Issue 2 sons & one daughter viz. John Mary & Richard.  They were leaving Hill Pool for Aston Hall, Claverley when Richard died rather suddenly, his wife went with her 3 children to Aston Hall, she afterwards married John Perry issue 2 daughters, Elizabeth & Ann.

This is an intriguing story, but can I corroborate it?  Although rich in relationship and place details the narrative is short on dates.

Set the time frame

A published transcript of the Claverley parish registers confirms Mary was a widowed before her 1805 marriage to John Perry and sets the events in a time frame.

1805 June 28. John Perry, widr., & Mary Wilson, wid., lic.
Wit: Adah Heynes, John Wilson.

On a visit to Claverley, I found this gravestone:

Gravestone - John Perry, Mary, and Richard Wilson

Gravestone – John Perry, Mary, and Richard Wilson

In memory of
____ of Upper Aston
in this parish
who died
___r_ary 28 th 1840
__ed 78 years
MARY reli__
of the above
who departed this l[ife]
___ry 15 18[45]
a___ 80 y____
of Ackleton
in the [p]arish of Wor[field]
son [in law] of the above
named John Perry
and son of Mary Perry
by a former marriage
who died Augt [3 r]d 18__
aged _6

This confirms Mary had been married to a Wilson prior to her marriage to John Perry and sets the couple’s lifespans at 1765-1845 for Mary and 1762-1840 for John.  Mary’s 3 children by her first husband should all have been born before 1805.  Sadly the parts of the inscription that indicate her son, Richard Wilson’s age and death date have been worn away.  However, a place of residence is legible, Ackleton, a small hamlet, in the neighbouring parish of Worsfield.

Set the location

Did a Richard Wilson born before 1805, live at Ackleton?  Yes, he did.  The 1841 and 1851 record farmer Richard Wilson, aged 40 (rounded down) and 53 respectively, with a wife, Mary and children.  Both of this couple share a place of birth on the 1851 census, but it is indistinct, so has been indexed as Chacesley, Worcestershire.  By 1861, this Mary had been widowed, and her place of birth is clearly Chaddesley Corbett.  So, Richard’s date of birth ca. 1798 and place of birth, Chaddesley, are consistent with the family story.

Did any of this Wilson family live at Aston Hall, Claverley?  Again the answer is yes.  John Wilson, born ca. 1793 at Chaddesley, Worcestershire was recorded at Aston Hall 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, you guessed it.  Richard junior was a son of Richard Wilson of Ackleton recorded on the 1851 and 1861 censuses.

Given that so much of this story can be corroborated, would you be tempted to believe the other details, such as Mary’s maiden name?

© Sue Adams 2013

Keeping it in the Family?

When I first examined the microfilm copy of Clent parish registers back in 1998, I wondered if this couple was connected to the Wilson family of Walton, Clent, from whom I am descended.

Bride: Catherine Hanbury
Groom: William Wilson
Date: 12 June 1789
Location: St Leonard’s, Clent, Worcestershire
Witnesses: Edward Price, Jane Price

The Will

The Will of William Wilson of Walton, made on 15 May 1788 and proved on 7 February 1789, identifies his nephew, also William and a grand-niece Catherine Hanbury as beneficiaries:

And I give to my Nephew Matthew Hanbury (Son of my late Sister Mary) and my Grand Niece Catherine Hanbury (daughter of my late Nephew John Hanbury) the sum of twenty pounds each


I give devise and bequeath all my messuages lands Tenements and Heredittaments and all other my real and personal Estate whatsoever and wheresover with all and every appurtenances unto my Nephew William Wilson of Walton aforesaid who now lives with me (another of the Sons of my late Brother Richard Wilson deceased) and to his Heirs Executors Administrators and Assigns to his and their own use and behoof forever, and I do herby appoint the said last mentioned William Wilson sole Executor of this my Will

The relationships between the beneficiaries mentioned above are:


The Wilson-Hanbury connection. William Wilson of Walton – red. William Wilson, nephew – yellow. Catherine Hanbury, grand-niece – green

So, did William Wilson, the nephew and main beneficiary, marry his first cousin once removed, Catherine Hanbury?

The Gravestone

Sadly, parish registers of this period do not generally record ages of the nuptial couple.  However, William of Walton shares a gravestone at Clent with a couple named William and Catharine.

Wilson gravestone at Clent

Wilson gravestone at Clent

In memory of
who departed this life
the 28th day of January 1789
aged 81 years.
Also WILLIAM WILSON late of Bournheath
He departed this life October the 30th
1821 aged 82 years
and two of his daughters who died
in their infancy.
Also of CATHARINE, wife of the said
WILLIAM WILSON of Bournheath.
she departed this life Septr 2nd 1830.
Aged [8 or 6?]6 Years

The inscribed age of Catharine is worn, so I am not sure if it is 66 or 86.  The former suggests a birth year of 1764, making Catherine 25 years younger than her husband (born ca. 1739).  The age difference is consistent with the relationship suggested by the will.

The FamilySearch baptism index confirms that a Catharine Hanbury, daughter of John and Grace Hanbury was baptised at Halesowen, Worcestershire on 17 October 1764.  The pieces are fitting together quite nicely, but I have not yet made a connection between the gravestone couple and the Hanbury family.

Bournheath, the place named as the gravestone couple’s residence, lies in Bromsgrove parish, near the boundaries with Catshill and Belbroughton.  Clent lies on the other side of Belbroughton from Bromsgrove.  A search of the FamilySearch index of baptisms for the children of William Wilson and Catharine revealed this family in Bromsgrove:

Name Date
William Wilson 4 June 1790
Jane Wilson 6 January 1792
Eleanor Wilson 5 June 1793
John Wilson 20 February 1795
Hanbury Wilson 25 January 1797
Thomas Wilson 19 April 1799

Note the name of the third son, Hanbury, which suggests a connection with the Hanbury family.

So, it is looking very likely that William Wilson did marry his 1st cousin once removed, Catharine Hanbury.  Next steps include investigating property records, electoral rolls and possible connections with the marriage witnesses, the Price family.

© Sue Adams 2013