50 Marriage Mondays – Golden Wedding Anniversary celebration

In honour of my parent’s Golden Wedding Anniversary on 1 September 2012, I pledge to publish 50 marriages, one for each year of my parent’s marriage, of people that appear in the joint family tree.  I plan to achieve this over the coming year, so that means weekly, with a couple of weeks off.
50 Marriage Mondays

The rules

  1. Publish each Monday.
  2. The marriage featured each week will have occurred in the seven day period from that Monday.
  3. Marriages of living people can only be featured with their blessing, and they must leave a comment.  Otherwise, in good genealogical fashion ‘I like dead people’.
  4. Guest posts are welcome, especially from family members.  There are a few gaps to fill in the calendar…
  5. Family members – if you would like to see a particular marriage featured, please let me know.  If you have documents or information about it, even better.


  • I have had intentions of posting more often and regularly for quite a while, but you know about good intentions.  Michael Hait at Planting the Seeds suggested that a publishing calendar was particularly useful.  Quite a number of themed blog posts have been suggested on Geneabloggers.
  • Cousin bait.  Information in context tends draw out better contacts than needle in the haystack trees.
  • To put the marriages into the historical context.
  • To make me re-visit my database (apparently containing 819 marriages on 22 August 2012), verify the data, properly record sources and share a useful output.

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!