The Story of my Four Branches
with some twigs, nuts, deep roots and many little leaves


Finding Sarah Ann

Sarah Ann Rothbourne is my biggest (to date) brick wall. So who is Sarah Ann Rothbourne?

Sarah Ann is my Great Great Grandmother on my maternal side - more than this, she is my direct maternal line!

Her husband was William Taylor, a glassblower back when the industry was manual - no machines to manufacture fancy bottles then! Blowing glass really was blowing the glass!

Now I can hear you saying "Taylor! A very common name - he'll be hard to trace!"
In fact, he wasn't difficult at all; I have him on every census from 1861 to 1911. My Grandmother, Ethel Jackson had fond memories of her Granddad; the stories she used to tell me about him are the subject of another story when I get round to writing it. But for now, let's concentrate on Sarah Ann.

Rothbourne - not a very common surname.

Well, so I thought. Sarah Ann will be easy to trace! How wrong was I? For starters, I found her on her daughter Emily's birth certificate. Now that was another toil. Do you know how many William Taylors had a daughter named Emily back in 1874? A good few pages in the old Records index (yes - the good old-fashioned way to search your ancestry). I eventually found the correct birth certificate by finding the family in the 1881 census.

Emily's birth certificate, as one would expect gives her mother's name. So we have our first piece of evidence for Sarah Ann giving her maiden surname as "ROTHBOURNE". Sarah Ann cannot write, nor presumably read, giving "x" as her mark. She wouldn't have known if her surname had been written down correctly or if the name had been spelt wrong.

So, here we are, searching with a fairly uncommon surname, and what do we find? Nothing. At all. So, maybe the surname was spelt incorrectly after all. Or perhaps transcribed incorrectly... after all, the copy of the certificate I have is most obviously NOT the original. But the lovely people in Salford's register office have been transcribing the old records for a long time for amateur genealogists like myself, so surely they're proficient in old writing styles. Therefore, I must conclude that the registrar way back in 1874 wrote down what he heard, but what was the accent? Mancunian? Well, maybe, but my guess is that Sarah Ann was most probably NOT a Mancunian despite the census saying she was born in Hulme. (Hulme is a suburb of Manchester for anyone not local).

Next I looked for deaths - any deaths before 1891 - since William is by now a widower. Sure enough I found her death certificate. Sarah Ann Taylor (married name obviously) died 17th November 1888 address 152 Lodge Street, aged 31 years. Cause of death -inflamation of the bowels, enteritis. William Taylor was the informant, again William couldn't read or write, giving "x" as his mark. His occupation given as a "Glass blower journeyman".

So onto census searches for a family in Manchester prior to 1881 with a child named Sarah Ann. But I expanded the search to include the spellings "RATHBONE" AND "RATHBURN". Found a few.... YAY... well done me! Next I followed the census trail of those families, and marriages. Here's the results:

1861 England census.

  • 14, Hancock Street, Manchester, Lancashire, England.
    Joseph Rathbone Head Married age 44 born 1817
    Sarah Rathbone Wife Married age 43 born 1818
    Their daughter Francis age 8 born 1853
    their daughter Sarah Ann age 5 born 1856

Unfortunately the paper trail for this Sarah Ann led to a marriage with William Holt on 02 Jun 1873. The census for 1881 gives her still with William Holt.

1861 England census.

  • 111, Naylor Street, St John, Manchester, Lancashire, England
    Charles Rathbone Head Married age 49 born 1812
    Jane Rathbone Wife age 47 born 1814
    Their daughter Ellen age 13 born 1848
    Their daughter Sarah Ann age 8 born 1853

Again the paper trail for this Sarah Ann led to a marriage with Charles Kitchin on 31 Dec 1877. Again the census for 1881 gives her still with Charles Kitchin

So, what next? Maybe her marriage to William Taylor wasn't in Manchester after all. So I expanded the search to cover all of England.... and I found a marriage! But before I could begin a celebration dance, I realised there was a problem.

You see, according to the 1881 census (link above) William and Sarah had their children Emily and Thomas Edward and also with them on the night of the census was Willim's 10 year old cousin Edward. Edward Taylor was born in Birmingham in Warwickshire. Here's the marriage information I found:

  • Name William Taylor
    Birth Date 1846
    Age 18
    Spouse's Name Sarah Rathbone
    Spouse's Birth Date 1845
    Spouse's Age 19
    Event Date 25 Dec 1864
    Event Place Rowley-Regis, Stafford, England
    Father's Name Edward Taylor
    Spouse's Father's Name Samuel Rathbone

Well, that certainly seems to be my William Taylor.... Oh dear, if they lied about their ages to get married then William would have been 12 years old and Sarah Ann would have been about 7?

Now it has been pointed out to me that back in 1864 you could get married at 12 for girls, 14 for boys with parental permission - Yes, I know BUT would a 7yr old really pass as a 12 year old?

So I am back to square one! No nearer than a death certificate for Sarah and her name on the 1881 census and daughter Emily's birth certificate.

If you can shed light on this lady please Contact me


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