Where is my 4x great grandmother’s birth record?
I’ve been trying to locate the birth record of my 4x great grandmother Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Waters for a while now. The facts I do have is that her father was named George Waters, a merchant seaman, and that she married a man named William Donaldson in 1875. Her marriage and death certificates both put her year of birth at around 1845.
The 1881 census also suggests that she may have been born in Hull, but I can’t find any birth records from the area that match. Can you help? Karen Shortall, via email
William Donaldson was a widower in 1875 when he married Betsy Waters in Haslingden. In the 1871 census he had been in the same area, lodging in a house in Tottington Higher End with his son Abraham. Close by at Foulcoats in the parish of Holcombe, a 22-year-old Betsy Waters was living with her widowed mother, Charlotte, and two siblings.
In 1861 the same Waters family were living in Bury. The head of the family is listed as George Waters, age 52, “formerly sailor”, born in Scotland. Betsy (recorded as Betty) is 14 years old. A decade earlier in 1851 they were in Dewsbury, where Betsy appears as Elizabeth, age two.
Birth registration details for the other Waters children reveal that Charlotte’s maiden name was Lowe – and there is a marriage in Keighley, West Yorkshire, in 1858 between Charlotte Lowe and George Waters, a sailor.
Betsy Waters’ birthplace on the censuses is shown as Hull, Penrith, Bury and Accrington (with other children born in Blackburn and Skipton) and her birth year is between about 1844 and 1849, so finding a birth registration may be difficult. To make matters more difficult, Betsy’s parents didn’t actually marry until 1858 (despite being listed as married in the 1851 census), meaning that Betsy’s birth may have been registered in her mother’s maiden name of Lowe.
None of the places in which the family lived were that close to the sea, but many were on the country’s extensive canal network. Maybe that is where George did at least some of his ‘sailing’? Antony Marr
The death certificate of Betsy Waters gives her birth year as 1845