Category: Brick Walls

GRO provides mother's maiden names during free search

Category: Brick Walls

Mary Ann Hellyer
Mary Ann Hellyer

I've mentioned before about the discrepancy I have regarding the maiden name of my 2 x great-grandmother (see my blog post at In 1871 she married my 2 x great-grandfather, John Gale Hellyer, in the parish church at Shanagolden, Limerick, Ireland. For some while I have had two possible names for her; Mary Ann Burgoyne and Mary Ann Congdon.

On the plus side, since the recent changes at the GRO (General Register Office) where they are now providing the mother's maiden name when you carry out a search in the birth indexes, I do not now need to purchase the birth certificates for each of the children of my 2 x great-grandparents. However, after looking up the records, I am just as confused as ever.

Of the couple's ten children, the first six birth records have Mary's maiden name down as either Congdon, Condon or Cougdon. The final four children's birth records give a previous name of either Birgoyne or Burgoyne. At this stage, some might be thinking that perhaps John Hellyer married twice, to two women who both happened to be called Mary Ann. This theory falls down when I compare the name on the couple's marriage certificate which I obtained some time ago from the Muller Trust, an orphanage where two of the couple's children were sent after their parents died. The name on the certificate is Burgoyne. Her father was apparently a sailor called William Burgoyne and this is all I know about him.

Maybe both names are correct. Perhaps her mother was called Congdon and was unmarried when she had Mary. Why did Mary begin by giving her maiden name as Burgoyne, then Congdon and later revert to Burgoyne again? Was William Burgoyne her father or step-father?

Irish records are sparse so I'm hoping that DNA may hold the key. My mother and maternal aunt have a number of matches who have Irish ancestors but, at this stage, I'm not even certain whether they are on my maternal grandfather's or grandmother's side. In the future, as more cousins test, the answer may become clearer. Of course, there's a chance Mary wasn't Irish at all!

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Mystery Monday: Burgoyne or Congdon! What was my gr-gr-grandmother's maiden name?

Category: Brick Walls

Hibbitt Family Tree section

John G Hellier & Mary Ann Burgoyne

Having recently sent away for some details about the children of John Gale Hellier and his wife, Mary Ann, I acquired by default a copy of the couple's marriage certificate amongst some documents which had been submitted to a Bristol orphanage re two of their children. This marriage has been a stumbling block for me for a number of years but a mystery still exists.

Marriage Certificate - John G Hellier and Mary Ann Burgoyne
The Marriage Certificate of John G Hellier and Mary Ann Burgoyne
(Click the image above to see a larger version.)

My great-grandmother's birth certificate shows her mother's name as Mary Ann Hellyer formerly Congdon. However, the recently discovered marriage certificate states that her maiden name was Burgoyne. They married at Shanagolden Church in the parish of Shanagolden in the County of Limerick - family legend had supported an Irish connection. I am going to need to obtain further certificates to see what they give as Mary's original surname.

The ceremony took place on 15th February 1871 and, unusually, the couple's first child wasn't born until 1878. John was in the Navy and I will have to study his naval service record in greater detail but, on first glance, it would seem that he was based in Plymouth much of the time. This is where John and Mary settled and had their children but perhaps she didn't come to this country immediately.

Place names: Tavistock and Plymouth in Devon; Shanagolden, Ardaneer and Foynes in the County of Limerick, Ireland.

[Why Mystery Monday? This phrase has been included in the title in order to take part in Daily Blogging Prompts at Geneabloggers]

[Note: All content on the Hibbitt & Barnes Family History website and blog is copyrighted. Click here for conditions of use.]

Do you know this man?

Category: Brick Walls

Who was this man?
Click the image to see a larger version.

This photograph was amongst a few old pictures previouly in the possession of my maternal grandmother, Phyllis Grace Geake (nee Weaver). I don't know who this gentleman was and I'm wondering if anyone has seen a copy of this photo before and knows who he might have been. Was he a Geake or Hellier/Hellyer (there were other Hellyer photos with this one) or might he have been a Smale? Any help on this would be gratefully received. Please either respond by posting in the comments section or by sending me an email.

Henry Ridley from Birmingham. How do I tell I have the correct man?

Category: Brick Walls

My great-grandmother's (Alice Ridley) birth certificate states that her father was Henry Ridley, a blacksmith, and her mother, Ann Ridley formerly Cotterill. Henry was 'Harry' on Alice's marriage certificate.

I see her family in Birmingham on the 1871 census before Alice was born. Living there are Alice's three elder siblings:

Henry's age is difficult to read but it looks like 30 (b. abt 1841), born in Birmingham, Warwickshire. He is a blacksmith on the census too.
Ann (actually Hannah Maria Cotterill) was born in Dudley Worcestershire in abt 1842.
1) Joseph (who is Joseph Henry), b. abt 1864 in Wednesbury, Staffs.
2) Mary A, b. abt 1868 in Moxley, Staffs
3) Alfred, b. abt 1870 in Derby, Staffs

I've traced Alice's mother in later censuses and she was no longer with Henry. She married a George Oakes in 1874 as Cotterill, her maiden name. As I hadn't been able to find a marriage between Alice's parents, this fits.

My problem is all I have for Henry Ridley is one definite census where his age is uncertain. I believe he might be the same Henry that I see in later censuses living with 'Elizabeth' in various parts of Lancashire.

Firstly, how might I gather further evidence to support the supposition that my Henry is definitely the one with Elizabeth - there's no marriage again as far as I can see.

Secondly, and even more pertinent is how can I find out who Henry's parents were? FreeBMD doesn't offer any clues as to his birth. The censuses show a possible family where the father is William and the mother is Lydia. FamilySearch reveals the same family with a baptism in 1839 in St Thomas, Birmingham. However, there may be other possibilities and I don't feel there's enough to go on so far to be certain that I'm tracing the correct ancestry. Even if I do manage to find a birth certificate for Henry, what information might it reveal to help me ascertain that he's definitely mine?

Will of John Worgan of Alvington - 1673. Where does he fit in?

Category: Brick Walls

Here is a transcript of a will for John Worgan of Alvington dated 1673. Might he be an ancestor? My proven line of Worgans stops at John Worgan (died 1791), buried at Alvington. Although he might have been the son of John Worgan & Anne Worgan who married in Woolaston in 1700, I'm still looking for further evidence to support this. The will for the John Worgan who eventually died in 1677 reads as follows........Read more »
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