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Posts Tagged ‘south mimms middlesex’

If you haven’t already, please first read “Connecting the dots: Charles Evans (Part 1).”

Did Charles Evans have two families?

Charles Evans seemingly disappeared from England after the 1851 census and seemingly reappeared in England on the 1871 census, newly with a wife named Catherine and a son named William. In 1871 William was reportedly age 8 & born in Scotland. Since searches of the 1861 England & Wales census had gone nowhere, a search was conducted of the 1861 Scotland census. Evans may be a very common surname in Wales and a relatively common one in England, but it is an uncommon surname in Scotland, and there were very few Charles Evanses of any age listed in the index to the 1861 Scotland census.

A Charles Evans in Scotland

A Charles Evans was located in the district ScotlandsPeople calls “Shipping” and I used some of my credits to purchase the scan of the census page. Rather unusually for Scotland censuses of the time period, Charles Evans’s exact birth place in England is listed – “Devon Hartland.” Charles Evans is listed as married, age 32, and an “A.B.” (which stands for Able-Bodied Seaman). The enumeration page doesn’t list any details at all at the top, but thanks to a tip from Kirsty of The Professional Descendant, a search for the citation on Ancestry yielded an enumeration district of “Hogue” in Greenock, Renfrewshire. I developed the theory that the enumeration district was the name of a ship. It took much less time than I expected to discover that a ship named H.M.S. Hogue was serving as a Coast Guard ship out of Greenock at the time, according to this site. This is the only Charles Evans who was indexed as being within 2 years of “my” Charles’s estimated age; the next closest one was listed as 5 years younger than “my” Charles.

A search for births of children named William Evans in Scotland similarly yielded a small number in the entire country. One of them was indexed as having been born in Greenock, Renfrewshire, in 1862, and I used some of my ScotlandsPeople credits to purchase the record, which turned out to be a wise purchase. The birth record for William John Evans listed his father as Charles Evans who was serving on the Hogue, but any hopes of discovering Catherine’s maiden name and confirming this was the same family were shattered. Rather, William’s mother was listed with the maiden name of Susan Stokes. Scottish birth records handily also list a marriage place and date, and Charles, who reported the birth, listed their marriage date as 23 December 1859 and the place as “South M__ Middlesex,” the __ being difficult to read on the scan. William John Evans’s exact birth date was listed as 1 September 1862 at 3 a.m.

A search of “Scotland, Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950” on FamilySearch did not turn up any further births of an Evans child to a Stokes mother in Scotland. This index-only database allows for searching by the maiden name of the mother in the mid- to late 1800’s, which ScotlandsPeople’s site does not.

A Charles Evans in Middlesex

Using the information from William’s birth record, a banns record was located for Charles Evans and Susannah (not Susan) Stokes in the London Metropolitan Archives records that have been scanned onto Ancestry, their banns taking place in January 1860 at St. Giles in South Mimms, Middlesex. They subsequently married at St. Giles in South Mimms on 23 March 1860, exactly three months after the marriage date that Charles listed on William’s birth record. This initially puzzled me, as William wasn’t born until over 2 years later, so why lie?

A possible answer was quickly discovered. On the 1861 census, Susannah was not in Scotland but in the parish of South Mimms, living with her brother Andrew Stokes’s family and with a 1-year-old child named Charles Evans. Susannah’s age was listed as 36. Susannah had no occupation listed, not even a reference to her husband’s occupation, though the latter was included on English censuses for many other women who had husbands working away from home and no paid job of their own. Susannah and Andrew’s widowed mother Ann Stokes was living next door with John and William Stokes, sons who reportedly had never married.

Younger Charles Evans’s baptism record, at Christ Church in Barnet, lists his name as Charles Evens Evans (that’s not a typo) and his parents as Charles and Susannah Evans; the baptism occurred on 29 April 1860, a day that two other baptisms also occurred at the church. FreeBMD has an index of the birth of a Charles Evans Evans (also not a typo) in the 1st Quarter of 1860 in Barnet Registration District, which includes both Barnet and South Mimms; the certificate has not been reviewed.

It seems that perhaps marrying a bit longer before the birth of his apparent first child (or possibly “before at all”) was more acceptable to the elder Charles, though apparently only enough to lie about it to others, not to do it. It is particularly interesting to note that the banns took place two months before the marriage. A fellow researcher believes that some men wanted to wait to see whether their pregnant and betrothed girlfriend was very likely to carry the fetus to term as a living infant before going through with the marriage. It seems that the Charles Evans/Susannah Stokes marriage could be used as an example of that researcher’s theory, regardless of whether that is a correct interpretation of Charles’s behavior.

“You’re the best he’s had, you’re the best so far

All the way to the church from the back of a car.”

The Beautiful South

Susannah on Her Own

In 1871 Susannah, age 37, listed as married and still listed with the surname “Evans,” was living with her widowed mother Ann Stokes, age 76, and (only) a third child, Sarah Ann Evans, age 4, in South Mimms at a “Brewers Company Almshouse,” of which Ann is described as an “Inmate.” This almshouse seems to have been exclusively for widows, as everyone listed as an inmate of it in 1871 was also listed as a widow. By this point Susannah is listed with a paid job as a dressmaker. It took little time to determine that by “Brewers Company,” the enumerator meant the Brewers’ Livery Company of the City of London, which had run almshouses at South Mimms since 1686. Ann Stokes’s exact connection to the Brewers’ Livery Company is unknown so far.

Sarah Ann’s baptism was not until 11 September 1876, but the baptism record lists a birth date of 13 March 1867, consistent with Sarah Ann’s 1871 census enumeration. Listed as Sarah Anne Evans on the baptism record, her parents are listed as Charles and Susannah Evans, but it is the only baptism in the surrounding 4 pages of 1876-1877 baptisms at St. Giles where the father’s profession is left blank. There was no space provided for listing the mother’s profession.

Had Susannah and her husband Charles split up by this point? Was Susannah supporting herself and her daughter on her own? Was Charles’s profession blank on Sarah Ann’s baptism because Susannah now did not know for sure what it was?

Is this Charles the same Charles Evans who in 1871 was reportedly married to Catherine Evans and was living with a William Evans who was described as a son, 8 years old, and born in Scotland? The William John Evans who was born in Greenock in September 1862 would have been 8 years old when the census was taken in April 1871. But just because it could be the same William, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is. In 1871 this Evans family was living in Mile End Old Town; while it was near the other end of Middlesex from South Mimms, it was within the same county.

No matching Charles Evans has been found on the 1871 Scotland census.

More Questions Than Answers

So far, the 1876 baptism record of Sarah Ann Evans is the most recent record located that lists Susannah (Stokes) Evans. It is possible that Susannah shortly remarried or died. A search by birth place of the 1881-1901 censuses on FindMyPast did not reveal any Susanna(h)/Susan Evans who reported her birth place as South Mimms (or variant spellings) nor Potters Bar (the parish next to South Mimms, Potters Bar had been part of the parish of South Mimms when Susannah was born and was where Susannah generally stated on censuses that she had been born). The search did locate a few women named Susanna(h)/Susan who were living in various places around the UK and were married to other men. While almost all of the households had children who were born before Susannah would have remarried, without having done further research tracking the other families back in time, I must keep in mind that it is possible that they were the wife’s stepchildren.

There is no definitive indication of what happened to Susannah and Charles’s first child, Charles, after his 1861 enumeration, though he may be the Charles Evans who is indexed as having died in South Mimms’s registration district, Barnet, in the 1st Quarter of 1864; the certificate has not been reviewed. A burial record was found in the St. John the Baptist in Potters Bar burial records for a Charles Evans who died at age 4 and was buried on 27 Mar 1864; while this is consistent with what is known so far about Charles Evans Evans, nothing in the record clearly identifies this Charles as Charles Evans Evans. This is the only Evans burial that matches this family in the digitized burial records from St. John the Baptist in Potters Bar and from St. Giles in South Mimms.

While a separate parish named Potters Bar was created in 1835, St. John the Baptist was a part of South Mimms parish even though it was called St. John the Baptist at Potters Bar. Similarly, the Stokes family seems to have lived in the section of Potters Bar that remained part of South Mimms parish when Potters Bar parish was spun off, as the family’s records usually refer to the children as born in Potters Bar, the 1841 census says they are living in Potters Bar in South Mimms parish, and the family primarily used St. John the Baptist after it was opened in 1835 as the second church in South Mimms parish. This map shows South Mimms parish in 1842, when Susannah would have been about 9 years old, and includes part of Potters Bar near the upper right edge of South Mimms. The railway came to the area in 1850, with a station opening at Potters Bar/South Mimms, and apparently drastically changed the area. There is more on the Potters Bar and South Mimms area at Potters Bar History Online, where I found the linked map and station photo.

To date there is also no indication of what happened to Sarah Ann Evans after her 1876 baptism. An initial census search for a Sarah Ann Evans or Sarah Evans who was born in South Mimms or Potters Bar did not return any good hits past the 1871 census. This isn’t conclusive that she died; for example, if Susannah (Stokes) Evans remarried, Sarah Ann could be enumerated under her stepfather’s surname. There are also no indexed deaths of a Sarah Evans or Sarah Ann(e) Evans dying in Barnet Registration District between 3rd Quarter 1876 and 2nd Quarter 1881, though this could just mean she wasn’t properly indexed (misindexed or not indexed at all) or that she died elsewhere.

Leads on Charles Evans

The records tell more than what I have revealed so far.

The 1860 records indicate that the Charles Evans who married Susannah Stokes and had a child Charles Evans Evans with her was living in South Mimms at the Militia Barracks there, working as a “Sarjeant Middlesex Rifles” (marriage record)/”Staff Sergeant of Militia” (baptism record). South Mimms was in the corner of Middlesex on the Middlesex/Hertfortshire border and was already occasionally listed on records as being in Hertfordshire, which it would later officially become. The younger Charles’s baptism record says that the family was living on New Road in Barnet at the time of the baptism, but since this was only about a month after the marriage record that listed both adults as living in South Mimms, it is unclear whether this is correct. It is possible that the family had the child baptized in a different church than where they were married so that they would be interacting with a Curate that didn’t know they had married around the time of their child’s birth, and consequently they may have deliberately lied about their residence.

Unfortunately the banns and marriage records only list Charles and Susannah as of full age. However, the marriage record, which correctly (based primarily on censuses so far) lists Susannah Stokes’s father as Andrew Stokes, Wheelwright, lists Charles Evans’s father as John Evans, Pensioner. This fits with the large amount of known information on “my” Charles’s father, but since John Evans is such a common name overall in the UK, it could simply be a coincidence. To date, the only record that definitively ties Charles and Susannah together and lists an age for Charles is the 1861 Scotland census, which lists his age as 32. This age is most consistent with the stated age of the Charles Evans who was discharged from the Army in (probably) September 1850 at a stated age of 22. This does not necessarily mean that it is the same Charles Evans, nor that it rules out the possibility of a deliberately or mistakenly given incorrect age on any record. If it is the same Charles Evans who enlisted in the Army, it could even be that the military already had an incorrect age from his previous service and simply continued using it.

A Search for Military Records

A search of digitized militia records has so far not revealed a Charles Evans serving in that area at that time, although the search is ongoing, as a thorough review of the files necessitates going through each one page-by-page to confirm that the indexing is accurate and the file holds no additional information that might confirm or discount that it is the correct Charles Evans. Based on Charles Evans showing up on the 1861 census serving in the Coast Guard, he appears to have transferred to the Coast Guard before the 1861 Army Census, but I searched the Army Census as well to be thorough, and did not find any matching Charles Evanses.

In My Ancestor Was in the British Army, Watts and Watts help explain why I have had so little success so far, such as: “It must be noted, however, that much material relating to the militia was never collected centrally and should be sought in County Record Offices and private collections.” According to them, so far no full book has been published on militia records, though they believe the subject deserves one. Through reading on the National Archives site and other websites I grasped that: 1) the militia consisted of volunteers by the time that Charles Evans the Sergeant or Staff Sergeant was serving in it; 2) the militia was generally a part-time job; 3) the militia group known from 1794-1813 as “the Volunteers” was, to quote the National Archives site, “revived as the Rifle Volunteers in 1859.” This fits perfectly with Charles Evans being listed as in the Middlesex Rifles in 1860. If the two Charles Evanses are one, the typical part-time nature of the work could help explain how Charles would have had the time to pick up the trade of tailoring.

While Coast Guard files are digitized as part of the Royal Navy files on the National Archives site, when I didn’t find any matching Charles Evanses nor any matching people from Hartland in the indexed files, I reviewed the section on possible reasons why the person one is seeking may not be indexed even if they did serve in the Royal Navy, and determined that people who were serving as early as Charles seem to only be included in the digitized but unindexed register, not the indexed files. I downloaded the Coast Guard register, but it is 202 pages of handwritten lists of names that aren’t indexed and aren’t listed chronologically by enlistment date nor alphabetically by name, so searching it has been extremely slow going. The only relevant things I have managed to determine so far are that people from the time period Charles enlisted and people who enlisted directly onto the HMS Hogue are both included in the register. Unfortunately the register only lists the name of the first ship onto which the person enlisted, so if Charles initially enlisted onto a different ship, scanning for the word Hogue wouldn’t help locate him. So far I have failed to find him in it. If I do locate him, it would give me the number through which his Coast Guard file could be located.

How Many Charles Evans from Hartland Are There?

So far it seems reasonably clear that a single Charles Evans reportedly was in the militia in Middlesex (apparently in the one known as the Middlesex Rifles, though googling that gets one, um, interesting results) and married Susannah Stokes in South Mimms and had at least two children – Charles Evans Evans and William John Evans – and probably a third, Sarah Ann Evans. Because of William John Evans’s birth record, it also seems reasonably clear that this same Charles Evans transferred from the militia in Middlesex to the Coast Guard and was stationed up in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland, by April 1861, and that Susannah went up to Greenock to give birth in 1862. Something happened to Charles Evans Evans between 1861 and 1871, but while it was most likely death, that is not clear. William John Evans was not enumerated as living with Susannah (Stokes) Evans in 1871, but whether he had died or was living elsewhere, perhaps with his father, is also unclear.

Susannah was listed as married in 1871 but also still as an “Evans,” suggesting that she was still married to Charles Evans and likely at a minimum believed her husband was still alive, but whether he really was alive and where he was, if so, is not clear from the census. There is a Susannah Evans indexed in Barnet Registration District as dying in the 2nd Quarter of 1877 at age 43, which is consistent with what is known to date about Susannah (Stokes) Evans, though the certificate has not been reviewed. This is the only indexed death for a Susanna(h) Evans at any time in Barnet Registration District, although Susannah (Stokes) Evans could have remarried and/or could have died in another registration district.

As mentioned, William John Evans could be the William Evans living with Charles and Catherine Evans in Mile End Old Town in 1871, but that is not clear. There is a William Evans, 18, b. Scotland, living in Hertfordshire on the 1881 census (when William Evans is not living with Charles and Catherine); he is boarding with a family and listed as being in the Militia. So far no militia record has been located for a William Evans that even roughly matches the census information, so it is unclear whether this 1881 William Evans has any relationship to any of these other Evanses. To date no marriage record has been located for Charles and Catherine (___) Evans in England & Wales or in Scotland. While at this point it seems possible that they did not officially marry, that is far from definitive. Even if they did not officially marry, that does not necessarily mean that “Charles Evans the common-law husband of Catherine ___ and apparent father of William Evans” is the same person as “Charles Evans the husband of Susannah Stokes and father of Charles Evans Evans, William John Evans, and probably Sarah Ann Evans.”

And one overarching question lingers: If this isn’t the same Charles Evans, then where was “my” Charles Evans from 1851 to 1871?

“Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

[genealogical saying]

Major Additional Steps Taken So Far

  1. Contacted someone researching the Stokes family and Susannah’s Charles (no response yet)
  2. Searched digitized newspapers without success
  3. Traced some, but not all, of the Stokes family members looking for further clues to Susannah and Charles and their children, since Susannah and (at least some of) the children seem to have spent most of their time living with her biological family rather than with her husband

Planned Next Steps

  1. Continue searching for/through military records from afar
  2. Order more certificates from England
  3. Continue tracing Stokes family members looking for clues to what happened to the Evans family
  4. Attempt to determine connection to unidentified marriage witness (one witness was Hannah Stokes, probably Susannah’s brother Andrew’s wife; the connection, if any, of the other witness to the couple is unknown)

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Note

Due to a small but significant editing error on my part, when I initially published “Connecting the dots: Charles Evans (Part 1),” one bullet point was missing a “not.” While I corrected my error in my post when I realized it, I am also noting it here for anyone who may have read that post before the correction. The bullet point should have read, “In these census searches it was also noted that there did not appear to be any other Charles Evanses living in England & Wales who reported a similar age and a birth place of Hartland” (with emphasis on the “not” added here for clarity).

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