It’s been years since I did any serious research on the Ratcliffe family of Cheshire and Lancashire, England. Recently, due to some new DNA matches, I started to look at my old information on the family. I saw my notes saying that “according to family, Samuel Ratcliffe supposedly drowned in the River Mersey”. That fact remains true, however, the details passed down left out some details.
Up until now, all that I had as far as documentation was his burial record in Little Leigh, Cheshire, England.
I was told that Samuel was a “waterman” and that the assumption was that he drowned while working on the river. Today I decided to search the newspaper archive on FindMyPast and see if I could find anything on his death. The absolute last article in the search results was exactly what I was hoping to find.
As you can see in this article, while he was an employee of the Bridgewater Navigation Company, Samuel’s death was the result of a bad decision made after a night of drinking. Not exactly as noble as falling off a boat while working as a waterman.
I had been in a discussion on Twitter the other day with other genealogists about “Family Lore” and stories handed down vs facts. This discovery is a prime example of how much they can differ. Family lore is always great to “clues”, but it’s always smart to try to back it up with facts.
credit: Jaggery on geograph/ wikipedia
I recently was working on a DNA match match for my Morgan family. Elizabeth Morgan born 1815, the daughter of David Morgan of Moor Corner, married John Bevan in Penrice. As I was filling in the info on their family, I came across some sad, but interesting facts concerning their son, Morgan’s, family.
I had noticed that in 1911 Morgan was a widower living with his brother John and his family in Landore. The Census taker has mistakenly written down information normally recorded for the wife in a family. It was crossed out but readable and led me to believe that Morgan’s daughter, Esther, was still living in 1911. She would have been about 22 at the time so I decided to see if I could find out where she was and if she was married.
At this point I found out that not only did Morgan’s wife, Sarah Ann Evans, die in 1907 in the Women’s Infirmary at the Swansea Union Workhouse, but a month later, Esther was admitted and was listed in later records as “feeble minded”.
I had done some preliminary research on my the family of my Great Great Grandmother, Dora Keen Wardell, a while ago. I found her and her mother and sisters in the 1841 Census in England. That info enabled me to figure out that they were from Broughton Gifford, Wiltshire.
Keen is a very common name in that area of Wiltshire, and to compound the difficulties of research in the 18th century, the families weren’t very unique when it came to first names.
I am very confident that my Great Great Grandmother’s grandfather was a William Keen of Broughton Gifford. I am fairly confident that I know who is parents are, however, at this point I can’t be 100% sure. There were a few William Keens born about the same time in Broughton Gifford. Two of those are possibilities. A third William Keen who was the son of Daniel Keen and his first wife, Jane Shepherd, is the one that I am pretty sure is my ancestor.
I had been working on compiling as much data as I could for all of the Keen families in Broughton Gifford and attempting to connect them either to my family or others, when I found that I had a DNA match with a descendant of a Samuel Keen from Broughton Gifford.