More Cottams in Lancashire

When we first started researching our family history 35 years ago, we made rapid progress. Every couple of months we discovered an earlier generation on one or other branch of the family. But then we got stuck. And so it was with the Cottam family. But now we have discovered two new generations going backin as many months. First was my great great great grandfather Richard Cottam — I discovered his parents, John and Mary Cottam, of Oxcliffe Hall in the village of Heaton with Oxcliffe near Lancaster, as described here.

Yesterday Rick Cowey, of the Cottam Connections mailing list, sent me a copy of the 1851 census page for Oxcliffe Hall, showing that John Cottam was born in Kellet in Lancashire. I’d already copied records from the Cottams there (in the parish of Bolton-le-Sands), thanks to the hard work of the Lancashire Online Parish Clerks (OPCs), and so once the link was clear, bang, instant family. John Cottam was clearly the son of Thomas and Isabella Cottam

Baptism: 27 Jul 1777 Holy Trinity, Bolton le Sands, Lancashire, England
John Cottam – Son of Thomas Cottam & Isabel
Abode: N Kellet
Register: Baptisms 1737 – 1812, Page 42, Entry 16
Source: LDS Film 1849647

and it looks as though the Henry Cottam, also found in Heaton with Oxcliffe, who married Alice Edmundson, was probably John’s brother:

Baptism: 7 May 1775 Holy Trinity, Bolton le Sands, Lancashire, England
Henry Cottom – Son of Thos Cottom & [Isabel]
Abode: Nether Kellet
Register: Baptisms 1737 – 1812, Page 39, Entry 19
Source: LDS Film 1849647

Unfortunately Henry decided to annoy future generations of the family by inconsiderately dying in 1848, before the 1851 census, so it isn’t possible to confirm this, but it seems likely.

Then yesterday I went to the Mormon family history library in Johannesburg and looked at the films for Overton, and especially for the period 1800-1812, looking for the baptism of an Isabella Cottam. I had one who had died young — born in 1809, daughter of Henry and Alice Cottam, and she died in 1818 at the age of 9. But there was another one who married a John Bagot, who was a brother of the Margaret Bagot who married Richard Cottam, my ggg grandfather.

There were two films, one the actual register of St Helen’s, Overton, and the other a copy that was sent to St Mary’s, Lancaster, of which St Helen’s was a chapelry, so I compared both. The copy had an Elizabeth Cottam at about the right period , daughter of John and Margaret Cottam, coming immediately after an Isabella Mashiter. I checked the original and found that it was what I was looking for — Isabella Cottam, daughter of John and Mary, only it was very faint, so I had missed it the first time.

So a Cottam brother and sister had married a Bagot brother and sister.

So two Cottam family mysteries were solved on the same day.

Of course it also produces more mysteries. Just as Cottam families suddenly appeared in Heaton-with-Oxcliffe towards the end of the 18th century — and we now know they came from Kellet — so they suddenly appeard in the parish of Bolton-le-Sands in the middle of the 18th century, and apparently came from somewhere else. That’s the thing about family history. You never finish.

Surname Saturday: Cottam, Bagot, Mashiter

For the last few weeks I’ve been concentrating my genealogy research on my Cottam, Bagot, Mashiter and related surnames in and around Lancaster in Lancashire, so I thought I would mention them today for Surname Saturday.

My great great grandfather John Bagot Cottam married Adelaide Herbert in Manchester in 1858, and in 1863 they emigrated to Durban with their three daughters, Maggie, Ada and Jessie. In Durban they had another five children.

John Bagot Cottam was the son of Richard Cottam and Margaret Bagot, who came from around Lancaster, in the north of Lancashire. I’ve been going through the microfilms of parish registers to try to find their origins, together with the registers that have been transcribed by the Lancashire Online Parish Clerks.

I note each instance of records of the surnames of interest in a database, whether known to be related or not, and then try to connect them into families with the help of census records. FreeCEN has relatively complete records for the 1861 census, and FamilySearch has for the 1881 census. This also helps to get the names into families, which I keep in a lineage-linked database in the Personal Ancestral File (PAF) program, which is free. I have a separate database for Lancashire research, and throw everything in, whether the people are related or not. When I think there is enough evidence of a confirmed relationship, then I transfer them to my main database in Legacy.

The Cottam surname goes back to the mid-18th century in Heaton-with-Oxcliffe, just west of Lancaster, but before that they seem to have come from somewhere else. The Mashiter surname goes back a bit further. Heaton-with-Oxcliffe was in the parish of Overton, but Lancaster was almost as close as Overton, so some members of the families were baptised, married or buried there. Using Lancaster as the centre, I am working outwards and checking other parishes to see if I can find where the Cottams came from.

Here are some of the other surnames in the area that members of my families have married into:

Lord, Barnet, Parker, Atkinson, Richards, Monks.

Variant spellings include Cotham, Cottom, Bagott, Baggot, Baggott and Masheter.

Some of the related places mentioned in the register and census entries are Poulton-le-Sands and Bare (now Morecambe), Heysham, Sunderland, Scotforth, Ellel, and Skerton.

Research at the LDS Family History Centre

Val is on leave and last Friday we went to Johannesburg and did some research in the LDS Family History Centre in Parktown.  One of the things I always enjoy when going to the LDS Family Centre is the walk through the garden between the car park and the reading room. It is a pleasant place with ponds and lots of shady trees, and is especially enjoyable on hot summer days.

Garden at the LDS Family History Centre

Val was checking Methodist records from the Cape Colony, looking for the Stewardson and Morris families of Damaraland (now part of Namibia), who were said to have had Cape connections, and to have been Methodist missionaries.

I (Steve) was looking at microfilms of the parish registers of Lancaster, Lancashire, England, where the Cottam and Bagot families came from. I managed to find a fair number of entries relating to the siblings of my great-great-great grandmother, Maragaret Bagot, who married Richard Cottam in Lancaster in 1835, and I’ve been reconstructing the families from the parish records.

We also met Gwyneth Thomas there, who is indirectly linked to the Stewardson family through the Gunning family of Walvis Bay — John William Gunning married Charlotte Caroline Stewardson (sister of Val’s great great grandmother Kate Stewardson who married Fred Green) exactly 135 years ago today — they were married at Omaruru on 13 April 1875. Gwyneth Thomas is descended from John William Gunning’s younger sister Sarah Petronella Gunning (1845-1930) who married Thomas William Thomas in Cape Town.

We’ve been trying to exchange GEDCOM files with Gwyneth, but though hers reached us OK, ours seems to get mangled in the transmission, and ends up unreadable.

Cottam and Bagot and reading novels

I went to the LDS Family History Centre in Johannesburg today and transcribed more baptism records for the Cottam, Bagot and Mashiter families.

I reread Rider Haggard’s novel Allan Quatermain, and found that family history made me enjoy it more, as it had links with my great grandfather Wyatt Vause and Val’s great grandfather Daniel William Pearson. I’ve written about it more fully in my LiveJournal.

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