Monday, September 20, 2010

Rachel Morley's Birth and Parents

I've enjoyed searching for Whittle, Morley and Mansley records in the online English Births and Christenings and English Marriages on the LDS FamilySearch Beta and FamilySearch International Genealogical Index.

In this post, I'm going to try to find and show the christening record of Rachel Morley, and the marriage of her parents.

From earlier posts, I knew that:

* Rachel Morley's parents were Thomas Morley and Jessie Haslam (see Lesson Learned - Check the Image too!)

* Rachel Morley's parents were dead when she migrated to Australia in 1841 (see Lesson Learned - Check the Image too!)

* Rachel Whittle was born about 1820 in England (see I Found Rachel in the 1852 California Census ) and her "native place" was Bolton in Lancashire (see Lesson Learned - Check the Image too!).

Using the English Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 Collection on FamilySearch Beta, I easily found a christening record for a Rachel Morley in St. Peter's Church in Bolton-le-Moors in Lancashire:

This record indicates that Rachel Morley was christened on 25 December 1821. The record lists her mother as Jane Morley (not Jessie?). No father's name is listed. There were also records for three other children with Jane Morley as the mother in the same church and source - James christened 19 November 1809 (Thomas and Jane Morley as parents), Robert Morley christened 5 February 1815 (Thomas and Jane Morley listed as parents), and Leah Morley christened 25 December 1821 (only Jane Morley listed as a parent).

The source for this record is Microfilm 559177 - the Parish registers for St. Peter's, Bolton-le-Moors, 1587-1838. Why would no father be listed for Rachel and Leah Morley? Was he not known? Was he dead? Was he not married to Jane Morley (Jane or Jessie Haslam?)? I have no answers yet, but perhaps there are other records, not available online, that provide answers.

What about a marriage record for Thomas Morley and Jane? Haslam? There is a marriage record in the English Marriages, 1538-1973 collection for a Thomas Morley and a Jane Bury on 29 September 1806 in St. Peter's Church in Bolton-le-Moors:

Jane Bury? Was she married before? There were several other records listed for marriages of a Thomas Morley, and one of them was:

This record also lists Jane Bury on the same date, but this record notes that the bride was widowed! Ah, so perhaps Jane Haslam married a Bury before she married Thomas Morley. I searched again and found:

This record shows that Jane Haslam married Robert Bury on 28 November 1798 in Bolton-le-Moors. The mystery is solved - Jane Haslam married Robert Bury, who died, and widow Jane Bury married Thomas Morley in 1806, and they had at least four children, James in 1809, Robert in about 1815, and Rachel and Leah before 1821. That's a neat little package. Case proved? The entries for James and Robert list the parents as Thomas Morley and Jane Morley, but the records for Rachel and Leah only list Jane Morley as a parent.

All three of these marriage records are extracted from the Parish Registers of St. Peter Church in Bolton-le-Moors, so they are probably accurate. The extractions for the same marriage came from two different microfilms of the same records.

We know from Rachel (Morley) Whittle's immigration record that her parents were dead in 1841. Are there death records for them? I looked for a Jane Morley (perhaps born between 1770 and 1785) who died before 1841. In the English Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991 collection, a Jane Morley, aged 53, was buried 2 July 1834 in Bolton-le-Moors in Lancashire. Age 53 in 1834 implies a birth in about 1781, which is within my target range, and the place is right. That seems to be the only record that fits my two criteria. However, not all deaths and burials were recorded in the Parish Registers.

What about Thomas Morley? My search criteria are a Thomas Morley that was born in the 1770 to 1785 range and died before 1841 (and probably before 1821), probably in or near Bolton in Lancashire. Only one entry in the Collection met my criteria:

Is this Thomas Morley, born in 1780 and buried 7 August 1814 in Bolton-le-Moors, the husband of Jane (Haslam) (Bury) Morley, and the father of Rachel and Leah Morley, born to Jane Morley? Perhaps, but there is a significant problem here. He died in 1814, seven years before the christening of Rachel and Leah Morley by their mother, Jane Morley.

This implies that if this Thomas Morley was the father of Rachel (Morley) Whittle, then she was born in 1814 or 1815, not in 1820 as previously thought. Births after the death of a father are not unknown, but are relatively rare. Robert Morley was baptized several months after Thomas Morley died. Why weren't Rachel and Leah baptized then also?

Or were Rachel and Leah Morley, daughters of Jane Morley, born out of wedlock after Thomas Morley died? And then baptized in 1821 as infants or young children?

One of the unknowns here is the presence of Non-Conformist churches. Before Civil Registration started in 1837, children baptized in Non-Conformist churches may have not been recorded at all, or were recorded in the Church of England Parish Registers when thier parents returned to that church.

So what should I do now? My first thoughts are:

* Look for the St. Peter's Church in Bolton-le-Moors Parish Register in the Family History Library Catalog, and, if available, order it at the FHC to review the entries.

* Look for Non-Conformist church records on the Family History Library Catalog and order them if available.

* Look for any other records in the Family History Library Catalog that might provide more information about Bolton-le-Moors in Lancashire.

* Look for more information about records held in the Lancashire Record Office about this area - my first stop probably should be

I welcome comments about the records I've found so far, my analysis and conclusions above, and any other suggestions for more research. I am painfully aware that I don't know a whole lot about researching in England!


Earlier posts in this series include:

* I Found Rachel in the 1852 California Census where I found Rachel "Wadle" and three children in San Francisco in the 1852 California State Census on

* Jane's Birth Record, and more... - I found out that Jane's parents were Alexander and Rachel Whittle, not Joseph and Rachel.

* Finding the Whittles in Australia highlighted some of the newspaper articles about the family in The Sydney Morning Herald in the 1840 to 1850 time frame from the Historic Australian Newspapers , 1803-1954, Trove website.

* The Whittles Migrating to Australia - a Forrest Gump Genealogy Moment in which the immigration record was found and analyzed.

* Lesson Learned - Check the Image too! in which I learned that not all information on the immigration record was in the FamilySearch index entry.

* Whittle Marriage Record in England - I found the marriage of Alexander Whittle and Rachel Morley in Lancashire in two places online - the English Civil Registrations and the LDS IGI (and on the site).

* Whittle Birth Records in Australia - birth records for the Whittle children were online in the FamilySearch Beta Australian Birth and Baptism collection

* Whittle Birth and Marriage Records in England - Alexander's birth record and his parent's marriage record were found in the English Birth and Christening Collection
UPDATED: Corrected several errors concerning parish register sources.


Finn said...

Randy, I am glad that is of help to you. From looking at your screen prints I notice that you are not signed on. I don't know if it will change anything in this particular case, but with a familysearch account, which anyone can get, you will be able to access more images because of various licensing agreements. Signup by going to sign in and "follow the bouncing ball.

Rosemary said...

You theorised that Rachel and Leah Morley were baptised as young children or infants. I've transcribed baptisms and the children being baptised can be considerably older when the whole family is baptised. On occasion I've seen children in their early teens baptised with their younger sibs and the latest addition to the family.

Anonymous said...

Hi -- I don't know if this is connected to your search, but I found a photo of a Mary Alice Morley, dated Christmas 1902, with her address 14 Warrington New Road St. Helen's Lancashire England on the back of the photo. In searching baptism records, it appears there is a woman of this name who was a daughter of Thomas and Jane Morley, address 20 Young St., Lancashire. The baptism date is July 9, 1884. I'm wondering if she is a later generation of the family you're searching. (I'm actually trying to find a home for this photo -- it has no monetary value, but I suspect it might be of interest to her descendents.