Walter Fordham Cox (1890 – ?)

Following on from this post, I decided to investigate the Cox family a little more, and have corresponded with a likely 2nd to 3rd cousin.

It seems from all available evidence that the most likely ancestor of mine who could be linked to the wider Cox family was most likely an unknown son of Louisa Cox (daughter of William Cox and Louisa Moore), born in about 1874.

Louisa sadly died in 1890 aged 16, which meant that if this theory were to prove true, Louisa would have had to have had a child fairly shortly before her death.

I decided to do a search of the new online GRO birth index, which includes mother’s maiden name from 1837 to look for any possible Cox’s which could fall into that category, and found the following entry:

walter-fordham-cox-birth-1890
My great grandfather?

A Walter Fordham Cox was born to a single Louisa Cox on the 11th March 1890 at 27 Richmond Road, Walthamstow, Essex, England.

The Louisa on the birth certificate was a domestic servant.  It seems probable that the father’s surname was Fordham.

Unfortunately, at this point in time it cannot be confirmed that this Louisa is the same daughter of William and Louisa (nee Moore), and I have not been able to sight Walter Fordham or Cox in the English, Welsh or Scottish Census of 1891, 1901 or 1911.

However, neither have I found a likely death for this Walter Fordham Cox.

I believe that Walter could possibly be my great grandfather, or, I suspect if this is my direct descendant, that Walter, like his mum became a parent at a young age, and that child, possibly born between about 1904 to 1908 in Scotland, who is likely registered under his mum’s surname, whatever that is, is my great grandfather.

If a descendant of Walter is reading this post, and has considered doing a DNA test for family history, then that would be a great idea!

If anyone reading this thinks this all sounds familiar and can help to solve this mystery, then please do get in touch through the online form by clicking here.

A step closer to my great grandfather?

For some time now, an enduring mystery has been who is the father of my grandmother, Beatrice Eleanor Chapman?

I have been going through DNA matches for a while trying to sort them into those that also match with 1st cousins and a half 1st cousin of my mum and dad, so I can identify a grandparent related to each match that I can see in common with any particular cousin who has tested.

Recently, my mum also tested with Family Tree DNA, and her results were interesting to look at, as one of my top matches is also one of mum’s top matches on FTDNA.

ftdna-screenshot-mum-top-matches
Some of mum’s top matches on Family Tree DNA

The 2nd DNA match down in the image above is the match of interest to my mum.  In the image below, the 1st DNA match is the same match on my match list:

ftdna-screenshot-my-top-matches

I have deliberately removed any names from the screenshots above.

Having been in contact with this DNA match some time ago I can say that this person’s ancestors in the relevant timescale were from south east England, from London and the surrounding counties.

I decided to try playing around with an experimental family tree, to see if I added different people’s names during the right timeframe in different positions, based on the amounts of shared DNA in common and making an educated guess based on those shared amounts in relation to DNA matches I have managed to confirm, whether I would get any shared ancestor hints on the Ancestry DNA test, which I upoaded to FTDNA some time ago.

Sure enough, I had to get a shared ancestor hint eventually from this process, and it came by placing this family in the tree on the branch of my unknown great grandfather!  And it links in fairly nicely with my estimate, although possibly a generation out.

cox-shared-ancestor-hint

Although this isn’t the same DNA match as on the FTDNA website, they are related, through a different branch of the Cox family.

I mentioned briefly above that I am possibly a generation out.  If you’ve read my “Beatrice’s Story” post, you may know that my grandmother, Beatrice Eleanor Chapman was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1925.

I decided to try looking for a Cox family in the Edinburgh area on the Scottish 1911 census who were born in England, I found this family living in Quality Street, Cramond, on the outskirts of Edinburgh in 1911:

george-cox-and-family-1911-cramond-census

As you can see from the above image, George Cox, aged 44 was born in England.  This would mean that he was born in about 1867.

Going back to the shared ancestor hint image further above, you’ll notice the shared ancestors are William Cox and Louisa Moore, they did have a son called George, only he was born much later than 1867.

William Cox, however, also had a brother called George Cox born at about the right time to be the same George as shown in the 1911 census. William and George being children of Robert Cox and Amelia Morgan.

From the birth registration of one of George and Mary E’s children, the certificate states that George and Mary Ellen (nee Tuttle) were married in London, England in the mid 1890s, this would place them in the right area to fit in with the other Cox family members at the right time.

And so, it is possible that one of George and Mary Ellen’s son’s is my great grandfather.  George W, born about 1896, Tom R. C. born about 1901, or Jack A, born in about 1905.  The same year Frances Eleanor Chapman was born.

Or I could be completely wrong!

UPDATE 22/11/16.  The George Cox in the census image above appears to have been born in Lincolnshire, not London. 

John Walter Chapman

Chapman family Ampthill 1841
1841 Census – Grange, Ampthill, Bedfordshire, England

John Walter Chapman, my 3 times great grandfather, was born between about 1835 and 1837, we believe in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, England.  All the available evidence to date points to his parents being Thomas Chapman and Sophia Money, who married at Ampthill in 1819

However, there is a certain amount of mystery surrounding him, and a story which some of the descendants of John Walter Chapman have had passed down to them via their parents, grandparents etc…

We can say that the approximate birth date is most likely correct, as that is pretty much consistent throughout all the available census returns, and matches up pretty much to his age at his death in Preston, Lancashire in 1895.  The birthplace of Ampthill, Bedfordshire is also consistently given.  However, no record of a baptism has been found to date.

We can also say with certainty that John was a joiner.

The wife of a 2nd cousin twice removed has carried out quite a bit of research in the past into the Chapmans from the Ampthill area, and these can be traced several hundred years back to Steppingley, also in Bedfordshire.  Among her research is information related to poor relief, which lists John as a child of Thomas.

On the 1841 Census, John Chapman aged 4 is listed living at “Grange”, Ampthill alongside others with the surname Chapman;  Thomas – Ag. Lab. (60), Sophia (50), Thomas (15), William (15), Sophia (10) and Joseph, aged 7.

The residence before in 1841 lists another Chapman family – Thomas (35), Mary (30), Jane (2) and Emma (10 months)

John Walter Chapman Ingrave Essex 1851 census
1851 Census – Ingrave, Essex, England

In 1851 John is no longer in Bedfordshire, and is living with a family called Skinner in Ingrave, Essex, he is listed as a scholar, and there is no relationship given to the head of the household.

The head of the household at Ingrave is Edwin Skinner, aged 42, a school master born in Brede, Sussex.  His wife is listed as Ann, aged 33 a school mistress born in Fittleworth, Sussex, their children being Sarah aged 9, Richard aged 7, Walter aged 5, Robert aged 3, and William aged 1.  It is interesting that they have a son called Walter, given that Walter does not seem to appear anywhere else within either the immediate Chapman or Money families.

In the June quarter of 1841 there is a likely marriage for Edwin Skinner, to either a Harriet Bowles, Mary Budd or Martha Ann Hamman in the Chichester registration district.

I have found a possible baptism of Martha Ann Hamman to Luke Hamman and Elizabeth Farley on the 29th March 1818 at Burton Roman Catholic church in Sussex.

This could be significant, potentially.  The family story I briefly mentioned earlier is that John Walter was born out of wedlock, and if he remained as a Catholic he would get some money from the Catholic Church for his upkeep.  Apparently, he did not remain so, and, money went to the “little sisters of Nazareth”.

John married Elizabeth/Betsy Pym/Pimm at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic church in Lancaster, Lancashire in 1857, and although no father’s name appears on the marriage certificate that can be ordered, St. Peter’s church have in their records a note with the marriage saying that John was the son of Thomas and Sophie.

So is this conclusive proof?

Well, we cannot say with 100% certainty.  What can be hoped for however, is that eventually the descendant of an aunt or uncle of John Walter does a DNA test, and we can then compare our results.

One other potential clue, is that living with John Walter Chapman and family in Preston, Lancashire in 1871 is a George Chapman, a nephew, aged 17, an iron works labourer born in Gawcott, Buckinghamshire, England.

There is a possible baptism for a George Chapman, to a James and Amy Anne at Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire on the 4th February 1855.

There is another potential baptism of a George Chapman at Paulerspury, Northamptonshire (Not very far away at all) to a William and Elizabeth on the 25th December 1854.

John, possible son of Thomas and Sophia did have a brother called William, however, there are baptisms to seemingly the same William and Elizabeth at Paulerspury going back to 1848, and William Chapman (brother of the possible John Walter Chapman) son of Thomas and Sophia is currently thought to appear on the 1851 census as a single man, at Oliver Street, Ampthill.

Perhaps time will eventually confirm or deny that John Walter was possibly a grandson of Thomas and Sophia, via an illegitimate birth, with the father being a Chapman, and the mother possibly being a Hamman/Hammon/Hammond or a Skinner.  (I’m thinking Martha Ann Hamman was the likely wife of Edwin Skinner.)

If there are any descendants of any of the Hamman/Hammon/Hammond and Skinner families reading this, you may hold the keys to unlocking this mystery in your DNA.

Until then, I will continue checking my matches regularly.

Update 2nd June 2016 – I have been informed that a baptism record has been located at Ingrave, Essex.  John was baptised to Thomas and Sophia.

Update 4th July 2016 – According to the records of Thorndon Hall RC Chapel, West Horndon, Essex, John Walter Chapman, son of Thomas and Elizabeth was born on the 14th March 1837 and baptised on the 19th April 1851.  Research courtesy of P. Chapman

 

 

 

 

 

DNA testing for family history

In recent years, DNA testing has been linked closely in the popular mindset with those tv programmes which are on during the day, with titles such as “I’m going to prove you’re the dad of the baby we had before you decided to run off with the babysitter”.  And in some ways, lots of people think of that sort of scenario when you mention the words “DNA test” to them.

However, in this post, I am aiming to explain that DNA testing can be very useful for family history and genealogical research.

It was only relatively recently that the cost of having a DNA test has fallen, making it more affordable for many people, who couldn’t previously afford it, to take one of these tests.

There are several different types of test available however, with different testing companies.

Many who have taken a test with one company also choose to take a test with another company.

One of the tests which is useful to take for family history purposes is called the “autosomnal DNA” test.  Different companies will obviously market their own products differently.

Another interesting thing which various companies test is the geographical genetic composition within your dna.  Here’s an example of mine from Ancestry DNA:

Ancestry DNA geographical DNA screenshot

23 and me is a company which also tests for certain traits and potential risk factors for various health conditions, however, you can easily opt out of receiving your “health reports” by ticking a box on their website.  As you can see from the screenshot below,  they also provide a geographic genetic composition results section for those who test with them.

23andme screenshot

While Family Tree DNA is another provider of DNA test services.  I uploaded my Ancestry DNA results to FTDNA, which you can do free of charge.  Although haven’t yet made any confirmed matches through that website.  Their services, however, do seem very professional.  This is a screenshot as an example of how matches will appear.  (I’ve scrubbed out some of the personally identifiable information here)

FTDNA Matches page screenshot

So, as you can see, there are different companies available for you to test with, if you are interested in using DNA to further your family history research.  And, using DNA for this purpose can certainly help.

I’ll give an example.

One of my 8 times great grandparents, called Randulph (or Randle) Poynton/Pointon was a potential son of 2 different sets of parents.  Looking at baptismal records from Norton in the Moors, Staffordshire, and then searching through my match lists for people with the surname Poynton/Pointon in the family trees also solved this riddle.

I could not have been related to another match via one of the baptisms as following that line would have taken me well beyond the predicted relationship range of the match, while looking at the predicted relationship range on Ancestry, and then using the Gedmatch website to check what it said about the number of estimated generations to our most recent common ancestor, the other baptism was a perfect match when comparing our trees also.

And that is a key thing I believe, when you decide to take one of these DNA tests, make sure you have a family tree available for comparison, otherwise, the process doesn’t seem to make any sense.

When I first took a DNA test, I didn’t have a clue how they worked or how the matches worked, I still don’t know a lot, however, i’m learning more now.  One of the main things is to provide some method of comparison, or at least provide a method of contact so that somebody who is a potential match can get in touch to share notes, and ask how they may be related.

This is a screenshot of some of my closest matches at 23andme, I haven’t scrubbed any of the names, or anything else out, this is how they appear, except for the one at the very bottom of the image whose name just showed up on the image:

23andme DNA relatives screenshot

As you can see, none of some of the most closest matches have any method of either comparing results, getting in touch, or have provided even surnames they are interested in, or places of interest.

When you have provided your sample with one of the companies, and registered the DNA kit, before sending the kit back to the company, please take a little time to familiarise yourself with the settings on the website, and to at least add some family surnames and places where the family lived, possibly add a tree, privatising any people who are living if you would like to do so, or, indeed, any other family members, and, please, if you are going to take a DNA test and add no other information, please at least provide a means for contact.

Finally, when you have your results and are able to log in and view them, I highly recommend the Gedmatch website.

Gedmatch Analysis tools screenshot

It’s a great free tool for making comparisons with others who have been tested, and, it gives you an estimated number of generations to a most recent common ancestor. So far, the estimated number of generations with my confirmed matches has been pretty much exact.

Additionally, and, crucially, I believe for DNA and family history research combined, it does combine DNA and family tree data pretty well.

Your testing company will have a section allowing you to download your DNA data.  If you do that, you can then upload it to Gedmatch, there is even a section which checks your DNA and brings up family tree results for people who match your DNA.

DNA testing is fascinating stuff which I don’t fully understand, I don’t believe that any of the sites quite understand how to combine both DNA testing and family trees fully as yet.   However, it’s clearly the case that DNA testing can bring some successes, and can sometimes confirm your research, if you are unsure.