Searching historical documents

Extracting genealogy from a document or article.

Using Historical sources to extract genealogical information:

Taking a case in point with names familiar but very distant to me.

If I look at a History of Stafford.

‘Burslem: Buildings, manors and estates’, in A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 8, ed. J G Jenkins (London, 1963), pp. 105-121. British History Online [accessed 13 January 2020].

From <> 

“The Burslem family were living at Burslem by the end of the 13th century. (fn. 365) By the end of the 16th century their Burslem house was Dale Hall, (fn. 366) but they had also acquired the Park estate in Oldcott. (fn. 367) By 1616 they had moved their Burslem home to the Overhouse on Burslem Bank, (fn. 368) and on the division of the family estates in that year the Overhouse and Dale Hall were assigned to Thomas Burslem, his younger brother Robert taking the Park estate. (fn. 369) When Thomas died in 1628 both the Burslem properties passed to his younger daughter Katherine and her husband William Colclough. (fn. 370)

From <> 

So from this, we know now that there were at least two Burslem brothers, Thomas and Robert, Thomas being the elder, also that Thomas died in 1628, also that his daughter was Katherine, who had married William Colclough by 1628. It can be implied that Thomas had at least one elder daughter. So using conventional searches in Ancestry, FIndMyPast, The Genealogist etc. It might be possible to start putting  more together. Anyway back to the text, 

“Katherine died at the Overhouse in 1669 and under the terms of the will of her son John Colclough (d. 1666) the house and some 100 acres in Burslem and Sneyd passed to her nephew Thomas Wedgwood of the Churchyard House, second son of Katherine’s elder sister Margaret and her husband Gilbert Wedgwood. (fn. 371) Thomas Wedgwood died in 1679 and on his widow’s remarriage in 1680 the Overhouse passed to his son John (fn. 372) who died in 1705 with his daughter Katherine as his heir. (fn. 373) Thrice widowed, she died as Katherine Egerton at the Overhouse in 1756 and the house and some 160 acres in and near Burslem, 59 acres of it in hand, went to Thomas son and heir of her cousin Thomas Wedgwood of the Churchyard. (fn. 374) In 1742, however, Thomas was either already living at the Overhouse or working the pottery attached to the estate. (fn. 375) His son Thomas succeeded in 1773 and died in 1787 with a son Thomas, a minor, as his heir; the potworks was by then leased out. (fn. 376) In 1810, a year after the death of this next Thomas, the Overhouse estate was sold to a Christopher Robinson, and he later sold it to John Wood who in turn sold it to a Mr. Challinor c. 1860, (fn. 377) probably Edward Challinor who had bought the pottery in 1819. (fn. 378) The house, rebuilt as a small double-fronted structure of brick evidently in the late 18th or early 19th century on ‘the site of the old timber-built manor-house’, (fn. 379) was occupied by the Twigg family about the middle years of the century (fn. 380) and was still a private residence in 1924. (fn. 381) It still (1960) stands, though in an altered form, and is occupied as offices. The potworks is still in operation.

Dale Hall, in the tenure of a Thomas Robinson in 1666, passed on Katherine Colclough’s death in 1669 to Burslem Wedgwood, her great-nephew. (fn. 382) He may have been living there in 1673, (fn. 383) but the hall had evidently been abandoned by the early 18th century. (fn. 384) The site is thought to be in the built-up area south-east of St. Paul’s churchyard. (fn. 385)”

From <> 

Now there is a date of death for Katherine Colclough nee Burslem, 1669, and detail that she had at least one son, John Colclough who had died 1666, certainly having lived and quite likely to have died at Burslem. 

Next Katherine’s nephew Thomas Wedgewood is mentioned, the son of her elder sister, which confirms the implication from above, Margaret Burslem is Katherine’s elder sister, she will have married a Wedgwood, named as Gilbert. Gilbert and Margaret have at least two sons, Thomas being the second. We have a death date for him of 1679, he was married, and his widow remarried 1680, it appears under the terms of Thomas’ will he had a son John died 1705, John had a daughter Katherine who became his heir. This Katherine was widowed three times, final name being Egerton, died 1756 at the Overhouse in Burslem. It could be that she had no heirs, as the estate went to her cousin Thomas Wedgwood’s son, also Thomas.

Writing it all down becomes cumbersome, so get a sketch down, or maybe use software such as Family Tree Maker:

See below.

With these two paragraphs and about an hour’s work there is the basis of something researchable. A cursory look in Ancestry gives Katherine Colclough’s date of death as 25 September 1669. But no more verifiable at first glance, a word of warning here, search for her and her spouse William Colclough will return interesting but completely unsourced ‘facts’, adding these will just perpetrate more trees with unsourced ‘facts’, find sources!

Searching for Gilbert Wedgwood in FIndMyPast returned a few hits, one interesting one being a baptism of a Gilbert who was baptised in  December 1622 and died a few weeks later in January 1623. Timeframes seem right but needs more thought.

Earlier in the article the Wedgwood family is outlined, and mention of the Churchyard Estate is made. Thus a link to Thomas of the Churchyard.

“… [A descendant of the owners of the Churchyard estate in Burslem] John Shaw conveyed half the house and 50acre estate, with the reversion of the other half, to his daughter Margaret and Thomas, son of Gilbert Wedgwood, on their marriage in 1653. 

From <> 

  So here we have a name for Thomas Wedgwood’s wife and a marriage date Margaret Shaw, 1653, which I can add into the draft tree

A further unsuccessful attempt was made in 1679 to secure the estate for the church, this time by the curate of Burslem, (fn. 306) who, however, married Thomas’s eldest daughter in 1681.

From <> 

Now there is a daughter of Thomas married to the curate of Burslem…

The estate passed to John Wedgwood’s younger brother Thomas in 1680 when their mother remarried and John moved to the Overhouse. (fn. 308) Thomas was succeeded in the Churchyard estate in 1716 by his second son Thomas (fn. 309) and he in 1739 by his son Thomas who later inherited the Overhouse and moved there.

From <> 

A younger brother of John now, another Thomas, he had at least two sons, one named Thomas, died 1739, he too had a son Thomas…

Add these into the tree…

A couple of paragraphs from a local history and relationships can be visualised and cousin relationships identified…

Many more hours/days/weeks/months/ a life’s work… If this is your family.

The above took me about 2.5 hours from scratch.

Maps and their information

John Colclough • Nov 11, 2019


A Vision of Britain Through Time.

A valuable resource.

Type the name of the place you live into the search box and see what results you get. You should be able to gauge how it has changed over time. Perhaps your own house might appear.

The National Library of Wales has a searchable database of the Tithe Maps of Wales

You can search the National Archives for maps and land usage.

However viewing actual records might involve subscribing to or being charged by a ‘partner website’ such as The Genealogist

In Ireland the Griffiths valuation of the mid 19th century will show townlands, and an overlay to a modern map Ask about Ireland is free and searchable

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