The Penultimate Dead End

Updated: 23 August 2013

My aunt never let the truth or mathematics get in the way of a good story.  She had this theory that her grandfather was the illegitimate offspring of one of his older sisters by a gypsy.  This was because he was considerably shorter than his descendents and “swarthy” in colouring.  His birth certificate doesn’t support this theory.  And his oldest sister was only 10 years older than him.

However, it turned out that she was only a generation out, although, as far as I’m aware, still wrong about the gypsy.  When I received my gg-grandfather James Hartley’s birth certificate I was very surprised to see he had no father.

Birth Cert - J Hartley

Which leads me to this post.

Every genealogist eventually finds a dead end in their tree.  By this I don’t mean a roadblock.  A roadblock is where further research, thinking outside the box or a new source of research might find you something that will help.  A dead end is where further information just doesn’t exist and there is nothing further you can do.

I was going to call this the ultimate dead end.  But then I remembered the foundling children I’d seen on parish registers who had no parental information at all.  This to me is the ultimate dead end.

So the penultimate dead end is – an illegitimate child.

My gg-grandfather James Hartley was born in 1840 to Elizabeth Hartley, aged 25 (so not a teenage pregnancy!).  In the 1841 census he’s living with his mother, his aunts Jane, Ellen and Mary, his uncles Henry, John and Joseph and Jane’s illegitimate son Richard Hartley aged 6.  All the grownups worked including 15 year old Joseph.  This was clearly a family where the parents were deceased and the children had stayed together into adulthood.  Jane, the eldest, was around 35 years old at the census (remembering that ages in the 1841 census are rounded).

So what does having an illegitimate child mean for the genealogist.  Generally speaking it means that you lose the paternal line.  But not always…

Some genealogists are lucky because the parish register records the father of the illegitimate child.  Like this from Middleton in Norfolk:

Example of an illegitimate child's baptism from Middleton, Norfolk

[In one Norfolk register I was perusing, the vicar was keeping count and through the baptismal register voicing his disapproval as the couple got up to 9 children without the mother’s husband being anywhere in sight!]

I can’t find a baptism for James in his local parish (which makes me wonder all sorts of things!).  But on James’ marriage certificate from 1862 he suddenly has a father – one John Widdup,  coal dealer.  This leads to a series of ‘what ifs’.

Marriage Cert - J Hartley A Titherington

I have a suspect and I’m reasonably sure it’s him.  Having perused the censuses for 1841, 1851 and 1861, there is only one John Widdup in Yorkshire/Lancashire who was a coal dealer.  And he lived in Salterforth where James lives.  However, this is not confirmation.

There are two last places to look.

The first is in the minute books of local parish.  There I may find John Widdup being “encouraged” to pay maintenance for his son.  This assumes that Elizabeth and her wider family could not support James and asked for poor relief.  Familysearch has a great article on this and similar sources depending on when the child was born.

The other, if you’re lucky enough to find one, is in the will of the putative father.  My possible John Widdup died in 1877 and did leave a will.  However, he left everything to his wife Margaret and their adopted daughter Annie Elizabeth (Possibly the daughter of one of his brothers as she’s listed as a niece in the 1871 census aged 5.  She married Dewhurst Broughton Slater in 1887 and had at least 8 children.).

So I’m now down to the poor records.  If there is nothing there, I will have reached a dead end.  The end of the line, literally!

I’m going to note here that DNA could prove that James was a Widdup.  There are male descendants around for both lines.  However, it won’t prove that this John Widdup was his father.

Being illegitimate

There is a common belief that being illegitimate carried a huge stigma which has only changed in recent times.  It did and it didn’t.

I’ve come across relatives on the England census where the first three children have their mother’s surname and the last 5+ have their father’s.  It wasn’t uncommon for couples to try each other on for size before committing to marriage – if they were poor.  These children were not considered illegitimate by the church although their legal position on inheritance was a bit dubious (see article by Alan Macfarlane on the subject).

If you were rich, then it was a completely different thing.  Money means inheritance and men preferred their money to go to their own offspring.  Woe betide the woman who strayed, although for men it was okay.

Of course, some men acknowledged children that weren’t really their own.  A classic example is Henry Carey the son of Mary Boleyn (sister to Anne).  He was rumoured to be the son of Henry VIII, not his mother’s husband William Carey.  But as William gave Henry his surname we can never be sure if the rumours were true.

So did having one child out of wedlock mean that Elizabeth Hartley never married?  No, she did in 1847 to John Inman.  They had 3 daughters together (haven’t found any baptisms for them either…).

For her sister Jane, it was a different story.  Ten years later in 1851, Jane and Ellen are still unmarried, living with their brother John and young Richard. As far as I’m aware, Jane never married.  There may be a tragic tale associated with her son’s father.  Or not.


Family of Richard Hartley and Sarah Hall

Richard and Sarah married on 24 Mar 1806 in Barnoldswick, Yorkshire but lived down the road in Salterforth. Both died before 1841.

They shouldn’t be confused with Richard Hartley and his wife Sarah Smith who married in Barnoldswick in 1797 and lived in Barnoldswick where their children were born.

1.  Jenny (baptism)/Jane (census) Hartley was born in 1806 in Salterforth, Yorkshire

1.  Richard Hartley born around 1835 (not be confused with the other Richard Hartley born in 1835 in Barnoldswick, up the road from Salterforth)

2.  Richard Hartley was born in 1807 and died in 1808.
3.  Ellen Hartley was born on 14 Oct 1808 in Salterforth, Yorkshire.
4.  Henry Hartley was born on 19 Nov 1811 in Salterforth, Yorkshire. He married Elizabeth Wilkinson on 27 Jun 1841 in Colne, Lancashire.
5.  ELIZABETH HARTLEY was born before 14 May 1815 in Salterforth, Yorkshire, and died between Jan-Mar 1880 in Burnley area, Lancashire. With JOHN WIDDUP:

1.  JAMES HARTLEY was born on 21 Feb 1840 in Salterforth, Yorkshire and died after 1891. He married ANN TITHERINGTON (1843-aft 1891) on 15 Nov 1862 in St Bartholomew, Colne, Lancashire.

Elizabeth married John Inman (c1813-c1887) on 22 Feb 1847 in Colne, Lancashire.
2.  Sarah Inman was born around 1849 – never married
3.  Elizabeth Inman was born around 1854 – married Hartley Laycock in 1877
4.  Jane Inman was born around 1857 – never married

6.  John Hartley was born before 18 Oct 1818 in Salterforth, Yorkshire.
7.  Mary Hartley was born about 1821 and died before 1871.  She married William Banks on 3 Jan 1847 in Barnoldswick, Yorkshire.

1. James Banks was born around 1847 in Salterforth, Yorkshire.
2. Robert Banks was born around 1851 in Salterforth, Yorkshire.
3. Craven Banks was born around 1861 in Salterforth, Yorkshire.

8.  Joseph Hartley was born about 1826. He married Elizabeth Lee on 30 Dec 1849 in Barnoldswick, Yorkshire.

1.  Ellen Hartley was born around 1850 in Foulridge, Lancashire.

Please note that the marriages and grandchildren are the ones I’ve found.  There may be more.


Gleanings from the Census: West meets East – Tree

Here are Rennie and Harriet’s ancestors.  Not the best diagram, but gives you an idea of where they all fit in.

        +--+ 3-JOHN WIDDUP
        |    (listed on James' marriage certificate)
     +--+ 2-JAMES HARTLEY (1840 - 1891)
     |  |
     |  |       
     |  |  +----- 4-RICHARD HARTLEY (? - Bef 1841)
     |  |  | 
     |  +--+ 3-ELIZABETH HARTLEY (1815 - 1880)
     |     | (married John Inman in 1847)   
     |     |    
     |     +----- 4-SARAH HALL (? - Bef 1841)
  +--+ 1-RENNIE HARTLEY (1877 - 1969)
  |  |
  |  |          
  |  |     +----- 4-BENJAMIN TITHERINGTON (1767 - 1851)
  |  |     | 
  |  |  +--+ 3-ELI TITHERINGTON (1807 - 1850)
  |  |  |  |    
  |  |  |  +----- 4-MARY ROBERTS (Abt 1768 - 1807)
  |  |  | 
  |  |  |
  |  +--+ 2-ANN TITHERINGTON (1843 - 1894)
  |     |
  |     |       
  |     |  +----- 4-JAMES HARTLEY
  |     |  | 
  |     +--+ 3-SARAH HARTLEY (1808 - 1870)
  |        |    
  |        +----- 4-ANN Mrs Hartley
  |        +----- 4-JOSHUA KIME (1780 - 1861)
  |        | 
  |     +--+ 3-THOMAS KIME (1805 - 1881)
  |     |  |    
  |     |  +----- 4-ELIZABETH BLAKEY (1781 - 1848)
  |     | 
  |     |
  |  +--+ 2-JOHN ROBERT KIME (1838 - Aft 1911)
  |  |  |
  |  |  |    
  |  |  +--- 3-MARY LEESING (Abt 1802 - 1889)
  |  |
  |  | 
  +--+ 1-HARRIET ANN KIME (1874 - 1958)
     |     +----- 4-RICHARD WRIGHT (1786 - Bef 1871)
     |     | 
     |  +--+ 3-WILLIAM WRIGHT (1817 - 1871)
     |  |  |    
     |  |  +----- 4-SARAH RINCH (1791 - Aft 1871)
     |  |
     |  | 
     +--+ 2-SARAH ANN WRIGHT (1841 - 1895)
        |  +----- 4-WILLIAM GOOSE (1792 - 1838)
        |  | 
        +--+ 3-ELIZABETH GOOSE (1818 - 1843)
           +----- 4-MARGARET CAWDRON (1799 - 1883)


Gleanings from the Census: West meets East

My g-grandfather Rennie Hartley was born in Lancashire, England (the West).  My g-grandmother Harriet Kime was born in Lincolnshire (the East).  How did they meet?  And what did coming from different sides of the country mean for their families and ancestors?  This post has a look at the comparative fortunes of these two branches back through the Industrial Revolution to the early 19th century, using the English census, Wikipedia and Google Maps/Streetview.

Rennie and Harriet

Photo of Rennie & Harriet's Wedding 1806
Rennie & Harriet’s Wedding 1806 taken by Rennie’s brother Herbert in 1906

I always knew Rennie travelled for his work.  His brother Herbert Hartley owned one of England’s first cinema chains and Rennie managed them.  My great-aunt told me her father spoke French and Spanish – she always made it sound like that was a strange thing for a boy from (near) Manchester to be able to do.  It probably was.

My great-aunt wasn’t very forthcoming on the family history.  She did tell me once that they didn’t see much of her mother’s family – Lincolnshire wasn’t very accessible unless you had a car, which they didn’t.  So I always assumed that Rennie and Harriet had met while he was travelling for work.

The census has proved me wrong.

In 1901 (the census before they married), Harriet is living in Crawford St, Nelson, LANCASHIRE.  I can’t find Rennie in this census – he may have been overseas.  But in both 1881 and 1891, he was living in Barkerhouse Rd, Nelson (different numbers but same street!) – just around the corner from Harriet.

So how did Harriet get there?  The birth locations of her siblings provide some clues. The 1881 census lists 5 of Robert and Sarah Ann (nee Wright)’s children.  Sabina, the oldest, was born in Lincolnshire.  John and Jane were born in Yorkshire.  Harriet herself was born in back in Lincolnshire but her younger sister Eunice was born in Grimsby, Yorkshire where the family were living in 1881 and 1891.

Harriet may have been an anomaly – born while her mother was visiting family in Lincolnshire.  It looks unlikely she ever lived in Lincolnshire.

Robert Kime (1839-aft 1911) – Harriet’s Dad

Robert started out in a trade many would like to be in.  In 1871 he was a ‘maltster’s labourer’ – he worked for a brewery!  Given many of his neighbours had the same trade, it’s possibly they all worked for the Wath Brewery, later Whitworth, Son & Nephew.  They lived on Station Road, Wath-upon-Dearne.  Unfortunately with the demise of the railways in Wath, the houses seem to have gone too.  Station Road is now mainly light industrial and farmland.

In 1881, Robert and family were in Grimsby, Yorkshire.  He was listed as an agricultural labourer.  He was still there and labouring in 1891.  Their house in Lord Street looks like a typical working class terrace.  At the front there is a front door and one window on each of the two floors.  The ‘satellite’ shot shows that each house had a sizable garden.

In 1901 he’s a widower and a road labourer.  He’s 63 years old and living in Nelson, Lancashire.  In 1911 he’s retired and living with his son Wright Kime.  Wright is a maltster’s labourer back in Wath upon Dearne, Yorkshire.  The family are back near the station.  Their household numbers 6 and includes 2 boarders from the railway.  The house had 8 rooms excluding the bathroom, so was quite sizable – mine only had 6 in the last Kiwi census!

James Hartley (1840-aft 1891) – Rennie’s Dad

James has the distinction of being my first ‘illegitimate’ ancestor.  He has no father on his birth certificate, but he obviously knew who he was as a John Widdup is listed as his father on his marriage certificate.  When James was about 7, his mother married John Inman and James got 3 half-sisters over the next 10 years.

James seems to have been that cliche of the child worker.  In 1851, aged only 11, he was a bobbin winder in one of the dozens of mills in Colne, Lancashire.

But he seems to have worked his way up the ladder.  In 1861, aged 21, he’s a moulder in an iron foundry (which doesn’t sound like much fun).  But by the time he’s 51 in 1891, he’s the foreman of the iron foundry in Nelson, next town over from Colne.  His house in Barkerhouse Road was not dissimilar to Robert Kime’s house in Grimsby, although made of stone not brick and with only a small garden.

Going back another generation?

So it would seem that both of my gg grandfathers were part of the Industrial Revolution.  But if we go back another generation, to Rennie and Harriet’s grandparents, what will we find?  I should note here that it was a rare occasion where the wife had an occupation.  Widows usually did.

Interestingly, all my 3x great grandparents were born between 1805 and 1818.  But their longevity varied quite a lot.  And I can’t honestly say it was work related…

Thomas Kime (1805-1881) – Harriet’s paternal grandfather

Thomas seems to have spent his entire life in Thornton, Lincolnshire where he was an agricultural labourer.  Like his son Robert he does a stint as a road labourer but ends up at the age of 74 in 1881 as a general labourer.

Like most the other residents of Thornton, Thomas lives at “cottage”, having no particular address.  Thornton is a hamlet and certainly hasn’t increased much from the 19 households mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.  It looks like one of those places people from the city pay a lot of money to live in.

William Wright (1817-bet 1861-71) – Harriet’s maternal grandfather

William also worked on a farm, but he was a tenant farmer – working 144 acres in North Hykeham, Lincolnshire in 1851 aged 35.  He had two farm workers and a “house servant”.  By 1861 he was moved to West Ashby where he has 180 acres and a dairymaid!

North Hykeham now looks like a suburb of Lincoln.  There are no signs of its agricultural past from the air.  West Ashby, like Thornton, is still part of the Lincolnshire farmlands.

Unfortunately he dies before the 1871 census – in his late 40s or early 50s.  His widow Judith is listed as a ‘retired farmer’.  He obviously left her comfortably off.

Eli Titherington (1807-1850) and Sarah Hartley (1808-1870) – Rennie’s maternal grandparents

Eli lived in the town of Colne, Lancashire where he died aged only 42, leaving 5 children, the youngest only a few months old.  He was also an agricultural labourer.

His widow Sarah worked on as a housekeeper and charwoman to support her family until she died 1870.  All her children of working age worked.  Rennie’s mother Ann, aged 8 in 1851, is listed as a ‘nurse’ possibly to her 11 month old brother Ely.  Her older siblings were power loom weavers and 13 year old Joseph was a bobbin winder.

Colne has a long history in the woollen trade.  The industrial revolution added cotton.  It would have been the ‘big smoke’ for centuries.  I can’t quite make out their addresses on the census to find their homes, but they’re likely to have been working class terrace houses.

John Inman (c1813-aft 1881) and Elizabeth Hartley (1815-1880) – Rennie’s paternal grandmother and step-grandfather

John married Rennie’s grandmother Elizabeth Hartley in 1847.  They also lived in Colne.  In 1851, he’s a 38 year old labourer.  She’s 36 and a handloom weaver ‘de laine’ (ie wool).  By 1861, Elizabeth appears to have no occupation and John is a warehouseman.  Interestingly their eldest daughter Sarah is a ‘nurse girl’ so has left school.

John is a labourer for an ironmonger in 1871.  Elizabeth is still keeping house.  Their 3 daughters, aged 14-21, are all cotton weavers.

Widowed in 1880, John is back being a warehouseman.  His eldest and youngest daughters are now power loom cotton weavers and unmarried.

Interestingly, John and Elizabeth spend their entire married life in the same street, possibly even the same house.  There don’t appear to be any houses in Buck Street from that era still standing.  However, the 1871 census has the iron foundry on the same page.  There are still some light industrial buildings across the road.

Another generation back?

If we go back to my 4x g-grandparents, we’re now back in the 18th century.  They were born between 1760 and 1799.  Needless to say, many of them don’t live until the first census in 1841.  But the ones that do started their working lives before the Industrial Revolution.

Benjamin Titherington (1767-1851) – Rennie’s maternal g-grandfather

By 1851, Benjamin had been a widower for over 40 years.  Aged 84 he’s living with his daughter Betty Mrs Foulds in Great Marsden, Lancashire.  He’s listed as a ‘pauper, formerly labourer’.  I’m glad to see that his family could support him, and that he wasn’t in a workhouse.

Joshua Kime (1780-1861) – Harriet’s paternal g-grandfather

Joshua spent his life as a farmer.  He lived in Scremby, Lincolnshire where he farmed 80 acres.  Widowed in 1848 at 69, he married his 25 year old housekeeper Betsy Elvin in 1851.  They added another son to the 9 children he had with his first wife Elizabeth Blakey.  He doesn’t seem to have retired before he died in 1861.  Scremby is still a village in the middle of farmland.

Richard Wright (1786-bef 1871) – Harriet’s maternal g-grandfather

Richard farmed for many years in Martin, near Timberland in Lincolnshire.  Some time after 1841 he moved to West Ashby with his wife.  There he farmed 140 acres and employed 3 men.

By 1861, now in his 70s, Richard and his wife Sarah Rench move up the road to the big smoke of Horncastle.  There he is a ‘proprietor of houses’ having obviously invested well through his long working life.  The Wong, where they lived, now has a mixture of old and new houses.  Some the older ones look quite spacious, so they may have lived in quite a large house compared to the terrace houses seen in other places.

Margaret Cawdron Mrs William Goose (1799-1883) – Harriet’s maternal g-grandmother

Margaret was widowed in 1838 leaving her with as many as 12 surviving children to support.  In 1851, aged 55, she is living in Martin farming 123 acres and employing 2 men.  Ten years later, like her in-laws the Wrights, she is living in Horncastle on ‘independent means’.  These means keep her going until she died in 1883 leaving an estate of £38 and change (now £3-44k)..

I’ll also note that her mother-in-law, Elizabeth Spencer Mrs John Goose (c1771-1851) was living happily in Martin on ‘independent means’ in 1841.


There is something to be said for running a farm.  If you live that long.

It is apparent that the Industrial Revolution took my farming ancestors off the land.  Whether this was due to family size or the industrialisation of agriculture, I don’t know.  But in the end, their descendents ended up in the same place as those that had started out in town.

I’ve added a quick tree so you can see where everyone fits in.

GG-Grandparents – Maternal Side

Updated: 30 March 2017

My mother, to put it bluntly, is descended from peasants.  Upwardly mobile peasants as they’re the side that has come up, as opposed to my Dad’s side that has gone down.  However, if you go back a few generations prior to their arrival here, her family is made up of the common people and therefore her lineage is not as well documented as my father’s side.

General note: children with a ‘+’ are known to have descendents, those with a ‘-‘ are known not to.  If there is neither, then I don’t know.

Please post a comment if you have further information or if there are any errors.  Child(ren) in caps are my ancestors.  Further posts with more information on each will follow in due course.


b. 1848 in County Tyrone, Ireland to Robert Black (1820-1887) and Rachel C Greacen (1818-1872)

immigrated to Queensland with parents and siblings on Fiery Star in 1863, then onto Christchurch, NZ in 1865

d. 28 Jun 1931 in Auckland, New Zealand

m. 27 Nov 1872 in Magherafelt, Londonderry, Ireland


b. 1854 in Cressona, Pennsylvania, USA to William E Wilson (c1820-1859) and Matilda Bushe Wilson (c1830-?)

returned to Ireland with her parents and sister Florence in 1859 where her father suddenly died, and immigrated to NZ with husband Robert in 1873 on the Bangalore to Melbourne and the Albion to Lyttleton.

d. 7 Mar 1939 in Auckland, New Zealand


+ Robert Frederick Black

+ Thomas Arthur Black

+ William Ernest Black

+ Arthur Garfield Black


+ Florence Margaret Black

– Eric Wilson Black


b. c.1844 in Falkirk, Stirling, Scotland to John Johnston (1815-?) and Helen Young (1813-?)

worked in Shanghai as a tailor before returning to Ireland to marry

d. 20 Jan 1925 in Auckland, New Zealand

m. 04 Oct 1881 in Garvary Church of Ireland, Enniskillen, Fermanagh, Ireland


b. 1 Jan 1860 in Enniskillen, Fermanagh, Ireland to William Foster (c.1839-1904) and Isabella/Elizabeth Corrigan (c1836-1919)

d. 18 Sep 1940 in Mt Eden, Auckland, New Zealand

immigrated to NZ on the Duncraig in 1882 – all children were born in NZ and Elizabeth’s parents and siblings also immigrated to NZ


+ Robert Foster Johnston


– Ena Nellie Johnston

+ Olive Margaret Johnston


b. 21 Feb 1840 in Salterforth, Yorkshire, England to James Widdup (?) and Elizabeth Hartley (1815-1880)

James’ parents were not married and his father’s name only appears on his marriage certificate.  His mother later married John Inman and had 3 daughters – Sarah, Elizabeth and Jane.

d. 20 Jul 1891 in Great Marsden, Lancashire, England

m. 15 Nov 1862 in Church of Colne, Burnley, Lancashire, England


b. 28 Mar 1843 in Dent Fold, Colne, Lancashire, England to Eli Titherington (1807-1850) and Sarah Hartley (c.1808-1870)

d. 24 Jul 1894 in Great Marsden, Lancashire, England


John Hartley

Sarah Hartley

Elizabeth Hartley

– Rennie Hartley

Joseph Hartley

+ Herbert Hartley



b. 06 Jul 1839 in Thornton Parish, Nelson, Lincolnshire to Thomas Kime (1805-1881) and Mary Leesing (1811-1889)

d. aft 1911

m. 05 Dec 1861 in Billingshay Parish Church, Lincolnshire


aka Sallie

b. 04 Dec 1841 in Swineshead, Boston, Lincolnshire, England to William Wright (1817-1861) and Elizabeth Goose (1818-1843).  William secondly married Julia Barnsdale/Barsdale and had a son Richard (1845-?).

d. Betw Jan and Mar 1895 in the Burnley area of Lancashire


+ Thomas Wright Kime

– Wright Kime

Sabina Kime

John Robert Kime

+ Mary Jane Kime


Emily Elizabeth Kime