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