What hap­pened to my Sus­sex an­ces­tor?

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - QUESTIONS & ANSWERS - Ian Hilder

QMy an­ces­tor Jane B (pos­si­bly Betsy) Parks was born around 1874 to John Parks and Amelia (née Wood) in Lewes, Sus­sex. I can’t find Jane’s bap­tism, although her sis­ter, also Amelia, was bap­tised on 24 Jan­uary 1869 at St John the Bap­tist, Lewes. In 1881, Jane’s with her mother and four sib­lings, her fa­ther hav­ing died. By 1891, her mother was re­mar­ried, to Wil­liam New­man, and only the youngest child is with them.

I think I’ve found Jane B in the 1891 cen­sus – as El­iz­a­beth Jane, an ‘in­mate’ in a Home for Fe­male Pen­i­tents in Brighton. What hap­pened to her? An­gela Bun­yan, by email

ALet’s re-ex­am­ine the facts to see what leads they pro­vide. The 1881 cen­sus is your main source of ev­i­dence. This shows her aged seven, liv­ing in South Street, Cliffe, Lewes, with her wid­owed mother Amelia Parks and three sib­lings: Amelia 11; John, nine; and James, five.

The data­bases avail­able to Sus­sex Fam­ily His­tory Group (SFHG) mem­bers show the bap­tism of Jane’s older brother John at St Thomas, Cliffe, in 1872; and younger brother James Ed­ward at South Malling in 1876. So it’s likely that Jane, born around 1874, was bap­tised at one of these two churches. The SFHG in­dexes re­veal the bap­tism on 7 June 1874 at South Malling of a daugh­ter of John and Amelia Parks named ‘Sarah Betsy’. The year of birth and sec­ond fore­name agree with the cen­sus in­for­ma­tion, as do the par­ents’ names. The Gen­eral Reg­is­ter Of­fice (GRO;

gro.gov.uk) in­dexes show a birth reg­is­tra­tion in the same name in the sec­ond quar­ter of 1874 with the mother’s maiden sur­name of Wood. So it ap­pears the enu­mer­a­tor of the 1881 Lewes cen­sus mis­tak­enly recorded Sarah Betsy as ‘Jane B’.

Sarah (as I will call her from now on) lost her fa­ther in 1876 when he was 34. He was buried in the church­yard at South Malling, just north of Lewes. This sad event was fol­lowed just a few weeks later by the bap­tism of her younger brother James at the same church.

Her mother Amelia would have strug­gled to sup­port four young chil­dren over the next five years, work­ing as a char­woman at the time of the 1881 cen­sus. Later that year, ev­ery­thing changed when she re­mar­ried, to Wil­liam Newn­ham. Sarah would have been 17 in 1891, but was no longer liv­ing with her mother. Her older sis­ter Amelia had found work as a do­mes­tic ser­vant in the Sus­sex sea­side town of Seaford, later mar­ry­ing Ge­orge Finch in 1893.

A search of the data­bases avail­able on An­ces­try, Find­my­past, The­Ge­neal­o­gist and Fam­i­lySearch failed to re­veal any­thing about Sarah af­ter 1881. Wil­liam and Amelia Newn­ham were recorded in the 1901 and 1911 cen­sus for South Malling, but Sarah/ Jane was not liv­ing with them. There is no mar­riage or death recorded for her up to 1910.

The El­iz­a­beth Jane Parks you found in the 1891 cen­sus at St Mary’s home for ne­glected girls in Brighton is a pos­si­bil­ity, as she was born in Lewes c1874. There is no al­ter­na­tive birth, mar­riage or death for some­one of this name reg­is­tered up to 1910, so she can’t eas­ily be elim­i­nated from your en­quiries.

What be­came of Sarah (or Jane) Betsy Parks re­mains a mys­tery. I rec­om­mend join­ing the SFHG ( sfhg.org.uk) to ben­e­fit from its jour­nal, ad­vice and on­line data­bases. Per­haps one of its mem­bers has re­searched this fam­ily and can point you in the right di­rec­tion.

Amelia Parks, whose daugh­ter Sarah was mis-recorded on the 1881 cen­sus

Re­search sug­gests ‘Jane B’ Parks (line 6) on the 1881 cen­sus should have read ‘Sarah’ Parks

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.