In reviewing the earlier research, I have benefited by the fact that so many digitized records now appear on Ancestry, not just census returns, but also parish records and I have looked at these in some detail.
So What is the Evidence?
- All the census returns (1851-1901) consistently gave Robert's birthplace as Marton, Lancashire and his estimated date of birth as c. 1821. This birth year was also confirmed by his age on death in 1904.
the Register of St. Paul's, Marton, there is an entry for the baptism
of a Robert Rawcliffe, son of William (labourer) and Nanny Rawcliffe on
22 April 1821. The maiden name of his mother was not given.
also in the St. Paul's Register, was a Robert Rawcliffe, baptized 10
September 1820, son of John (shopkeeper) and Catherine Rawcliffe
I also found:
- At St. Chad's Church, Poulton-le-Fylde on 22 April 1821, the baptism was recorded of a Robert Rawcliffe son of William (labourer of Great Marton) and Anne Rawcliffe.
- Also at St. Chad's Church,Poulton was the baptism recorded on 10 September 1820 of Robert Rawfliife, son of John and Catherine Rawcliffe.
Here was the second puzzle - where was "my" Robert born/baptized - Marton or Poulton?
Was it too much of a coincidence that both Robert Rawcliffes were baptized on the same date in both Poulton and Marton?
It was time to explore church history.
I discovered that the parish of St. Chad's Church, Poulton had at one time included eight surrounding villages including Marton, whose residents had to travel five miles to worship. In 1804 the Church of St. Paul's was built in Marton, but was designated a "Township-Chapeltry in Poulton Parish". It was not until 1892 that it became separated from St. Chad's.
This raised the question: was the same baptism, marriage and burial. recorded in registers at both Poulton and Marton? It certainly seems to be the case, as was found with other searches - namely the death of Nanny Rawcliffe (Robert's mother?), recorded at both Poulton and Marton, but with the entry assuming she was buried at each respective church. No monumental inscription has been traced to confirm which church.
I also took a close look at Christian names within the two families of William/Nanny, and John/Catherine:
one of Robert's eight daughters would have been called after his
mother, if his parents had been John and Catherine Rawcliffe. His
eldest daughter was named Anne with Robert's mother' name of Nanny a
well known diminutive.
- Robert had two sons with his second wife - named Robert and John - so this fact does not lead anywhere near a conclusion, as John was also the name of his wife's father - as confirmed in earlier census returns for the Brekall family.
- Research also established that Robert had a sister, Grace born in 1814 to William and Nanny. In the 1851 census, William was living with Grace, now married with a family. And Robert named a daughter of his second marriage Grace.
Rawcliffe too had a large family of 15 children, with several dying in
infancy. Daughters names included Anne, Jenny, Alice and Margaret.
names of also of Robert's daughters - so no help with this information.
death entry for 1859 was found for a Robert Rawcliffe, born 1820 aged
38, son of John Rawcliffe. But given the proliferation of Rawcliffes in
this area, it is impossible to say if that is the correct Robert and
This fact has not stopped someone on Ancestry showing this death but also linking Robert with the two wives Jane Carr and Elizabeth Brekall, despite the dates clearly not tallying.
So I have Revisited the information I held, checked the Records - and no I have not Revised any of my early findings. My conclusions:
- I am inclined to go along with the consistent census returns, confirmed with a baptism entry, that Marton was Robert Rawcliff'e's birth place not Poulton-le-~Fylde.
was Robert's father remains a mystery - William or John? My gut
feeling says William, but then as family historians we know we should
rely on evidence. Efforts to trace more information on both men have come to naught,
Copyright © 2015 · Susan Donaldson. All Rights Reserved