A couple of Ellwood mysteries

One of the long-standing mysteries in our research into the Ellwood family history is the appearance of a Mary Ann Disno in the 1881 Census of Whitehaven, Cumberland.

She is shown as staying with John Ellwood (1819-1892) and Ann his wife, and is listed as their niece, aged 23, and born in Liverpool. Presumably one of her parents was a brother of sister of John or Ann Ellwood, or possibly even of John Ellwood’s first wife, Bridget Anderson (1819-1876). But Mary Ann Disno seems to come out of nowhere. There is no mention of such a person in the 1861 or 1871 censuses. So who was she, and who were here parents?

We can only conclude that her name was misspelt in 1881, and was actually something else. Someone pointed to a Mary Ann Dyson, born in Liverpool in 1857. Perhaps she could fit. Her parents seem to have been William Westword Dyson and Mary Ann Ellis, but it seems unlikely that they would connect with Ellwoods in Whitehaven. They seem to have been Roman Catholics, and John Ellwood’s second wife Ann was a Primitive Methodist, and seems to have converted him to that faith. Back in those days Roman Catholics and Primitive Methodists had little in common.

And then there is John Ellwood’s second wife herself. Who was she?

We haven’t been able to find a likely marriage of John Ellwood to an Ann after the death of Bridget in 1876 and before the census in 1881. Someone drew our attention to an Ann Kidd who married a John Ellwood in that period at Ulverstone, but we know about her, and she seems to have married a different John Ellwood closer to her own age. And even the first wife, Bridget Anderson, is something of a mystery. We have her birth date from family Bibles, and we have her father’s name from her marriage certificate when she married John Ellwood in 1839. But there is no record of a baptism for her, and we don’t know the names of her mother of any of her siblings, so that is no help in solving the mystery of Mary Ann Disno either.

So there are three mystery people linked to John Ellwood
  • Bridget Anderson, his first wife, born 19 Nov 1819 in Whitehaven
  • Ann, his second wife, born about 1824 in Hensingham, maiden name unknown
  • Mary Ann Disno, niece of one of them, born in Liverpool about 1857
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