Family history ups and downs

Over the last year we seem to have been jumping wildly from one branch of the family tree to another. Usually a breakthrough in one branch keeps us working almost exclusively on that for a month or two, and then a breakthrough in another branch gets us busy on that. For the last couple of months it has been the Ellwood family of Cumbria.

We had the family in Whitehaven, Cumberland, and have been chugging along finding a cousin here and a cousin there, going through microfilms of parish registers collecting all the people with names we were interested in, trying to reconstruct families and see what fitted. Then we discovered that the Ellwoods originally came from Westmorland, and that opened up a lot that we are still trying to catch up with.

Before that, in April and May, it was the Hannans. That was mostly because we went on holiday to the Western Cape, visiting relatives, and most of the relatives we saw were on the Hannan side of the family. And also managed to find a few of the Scottish relatives on Facebook, though we haven’t followed that up much yet.

At the beginning of the year it was the Mortons of Colchester in Essex. Val’s great great grandmother came from there and we knew her father’s name from her marriage certificate, and that was about all. Then we found her brothers and sisters, including two sisters who married on the same day as her and came to the Cape Colony, and an uncle Henry Morton who was transported to Australia.

And this time last year it was the Bagot and Cottam families of Lancashire,. where we found a whole bunch of ancestors and descendants we hadn’t known about before, including some who were interested in the family history, and with whom, we were able to share information.

For the moment we are still being kept busy with the Ellwoods, but I’m wondering what next.

The mysterious Bessie Bagot

Bessie Bagot, aged 21

For the past few days I’ve been trying to find out more about Bessie Bagot and her relatives.

In the 1861 Census of Chorlton-upon-Medlock in Lancashire, England, she is shown, aged 5, staying with her cousins John and Mary Worrall.

That means she was born about 1856.

Mary Worrall’s maiden name was Cottam, and her mother was Margaret Bagot, born in 1811. So Margaret Bagot must have been Bessie’s aunt, and since Bessie was a lot younger than her married cousin Mary Worrall, her father must have been one of Margaret’s younger brothers. None of the census records, however, give a clue to Bessie’s parentage. She was brought up by other relatives — uncles, aunts and cousins.

The 1881 Census is no more helpful. Bessie was then about 25, and it was a couple of years after the photo was taken.

Dwelling: 20 Gloucester Rd
Census Place: Birkdale, Lancashire, England
Source: FHL Film 1341896     PRO Ref RG11    Piece 3746    Folio 40    Page 46
Household:
Marr Age   Sex    Birthplace
Robert RICHMOND
U    55    Male   Lancaster, Lancashire, England
Rel: Head
Occ: Annuitant
Margaret RICHMOND
U    58    Female Lancaster, Lancashire, England
Rel: Sister
Occ: Annuitant
Betty A. BAGOT
U    62    Female Lancaster, Lancashire, England
Rel: Cousin
Occ: Annuitant
Bessie BAGOT
U    25    Female Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Rel: Niece
Occ: Annuitant
Elizabeth MASON
U    20    Female Carlisle
Rel: Serv
Occ: Gen Serv.”

The “Betty A. Bagot” is probably Betsey Alice Bagot, a younger sister of Margaret Cottam (nee Bagot). So that would make Bessie Betsy’s niece in the strict sense of the word, as the daughter of a sibling. But which sibling?

There is a Robert Bagot born in 1814, and a Thomas born in 1821. Neither of them appears in the 1881 Census. Thomas appears in 1861, as a widower, a painter, living in Chorlton, not far from the Worralls, where Bessie is staying. That makes sense. He can’t look after an infant daughter while he’s out working all day, so let his niece, Mary Worrall, married with no kids, look after her.

And then the Worralls start having children of their own and move to London, which would be too far away for Thomas to see her regularly, so he asks his unmarried sister Betsy to look after young Bessie.

Betsy is living with unmarried cousins Robert and Margaret Richmond, and that seems to be a long-term arrangement, at least as far as Robert was concerned, and young Bessie seems to have been brought up by them after the Worralls moved to London.

This was confirmed by Robert Jordan, a descendant of Bessie, who had a copy of her baptism entry at St Peter’s Church, Liverpool, where she was baptised on 15 September 1864, and her parents are recorded as Thomas and Ann Bagot.

But that raises some more questions: Bessie was in fact born in Liverpool, but she never grew up there. In 1861 she was living at Chorlton, in 1881 she was at Birkdale, near Southport, both quite some distance from Liverpool. So why did someone, presumably her aunt Betsy Alice Bagot, take her all the way to Liverpool to be baptised at the age of 8?

Anyway, Betsy was married in 1890, at the age of 33, to James Smith Breeze, and they had two children, James Hedley Breeze and Robert Bagot Breeze. The Breeze brothers married two Taylor sisters. James Hedley Breeze’s only child died young, but Robert Bagot Breeze has several descendants, among them Robert Jordan, who helped unravel some of the mystery, but also to deepen some of it. Among other information he sent a transcription of a gravestone, which confirms a lot of the above:

In Loving Memory of Robert Richmond who died 29 October 1895 aged 70 years. “Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty.” Isaiah XXXIII 17. Also of Betsy Alice Bagot who fell asleep at Birkdale 6th July 1905 in her 88th year. “In my father’s house are many mansions … I go to prepare a place for you.” St. John XIV 2. Also of James Smith Breeze born 15th of June 1858. Fell asleep 25th of August 1916. [Biblical quotation is illegible].

Betsy Bagot and Robert Richmond were related, but how?

Robert Richmond was born about 1825, and there was a Robert born around then who had a sister Margaret, children of Thomas and Alice Richmond. In 1851 Robert was staying with an uncle Henry Richmond. But which one of Robert’s uncles or aunts married a Bagot, or, possibly, a Mashiter? Or was his mother Alice possibly a Mashiter or a Bagot?

Just to confuse things still further, there is another Robert Richmond, born about 1833.  His sister Betsy Richmond married John Cottam in 1852, and that John Cottam was the brother of Richard Cottam who married Margaret Bagot, the sister of Betsy Alice Bagot who lived with her cousin Robert Richmond. And there is the possibility that one or both of the Roberts’ middle name was Casson.

If anyone can help us to find our way through tat tangled web, please join us on the Bagot Forum!

 

Bagot researchers unite

As a result of an earlier post on the Bagot, Cottam and Mashiter families, I’ve now made contact with two other Bagot family researchers, Johnny Marsh in the UK and Bill Geddes in Canada. It seems that we are all descended from John Bagot and Dorothy Mashiter of Lancaster. It’s always good to discover cousins that one didn’t know about before, and especially when they are also interested in the family. We’ve been exchanging information, and each of us had pieces of the puzzle that the others didn’t, and so we all know more than we did before.

Cottam, Bagot and Mashiter ancestors in Lancashire

John Bagot Cottam, my great great grandfather, came to Natal in 1863 with his wife Adelaide Herbert and three children. Several more children were born in Durban. We knew that his parents were Richard Cottam and Margaret Bagot, but only in the last few months did we find out who their parents and grandparents were, so here they are.

And we’re already beginning to discover new (well hitherto unsuspected) cousins, and we hope that anyone else related to this femily will get in touch.

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.

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