Sarah Elizabeth WHITE/ALDRIDGE?, Hoddesden?, born 1879

January 2002

Roy Harvey (con-roy @t of Australia says My maternal grand mother grew up under the name of Sarah Elizabeth White (d.o.b.29March 1879) in Hoddesdon, Herts. I have found the family that she lived with in the 1881 census living in West Ham, London, however Sarah is not recorded as living with them at that time, nor have I been able to find a record of her birth under the name of White. Her mother's maiden name was Aldridge, and there would seem to be a connection with a Wilkinson family from Hoddesdon, and in particular a John Byott Wilkinson. Can you suggest a church where she may have been baptized, and whose records may be on micro fiche that I can purchase.

This kind of problem can be very difficult and I am afraid there is no magic answer. If you looked for the birth certificate in the national records you might have more luck with the local registrar's office, as the the national indexes meant many stages of copying by hand and there are many errors - see A Comedy of Errors. A name as commonplace as Sarah Elizabeth White is less likely to be prone to copying errors than more unusual names - but an error could still have occurred. In addition the local registrar might be more sympathetic and look to at his register sto see if he can spot something.

Secondly there may be problems with the surname. Illegitimate children often took the surname of the wife's husband when the mother married, and grew up using his surname. A family who were unable to cope with another child may have farmed it out with a childless couple who were closely related without any formal adoption process. A lot depends on the social status of the family, and as you don't identify the West Ham family I can't comment in detail - but in the case of an illegitimacy better off people may have made private arrangement to ensure the child did not end up in an orphanage.

Thirdly there is the question of the place of birth. - and it is not uncommon for the place that the child first remembers as being their place of birth. As unmarried mothers could have been sent to a midwife in a different town if the child was not to be kept, the actual birthplace may not be where the mother lived either. So possibly one cannot be certain of Hoddesdon.

Fourthly, the combination of the above factors adds to the uncertainty of where, and whether, they were ever baptised. You don't mention religion - but of course parish church registers only record Church of England baptisms.

  The following is the best fit I could find - but the date of birth is wrong.

Sarah Elizabeth Aldridge, daughter of Alice, born 11 March 1880, and christened at Watton at Stone, Herts, on 14th March 1880.

She also turns up in the 1881 census living in Watton Village





Ag Labourer






Ag Labourer Wife






Ag Labourer








Elizabeth ALDRIDGE






There is no Wilkinson listed for Hoddesdon in the 1850 Post Office Directory or the 1882 Kelly's Directory.

Not very helpful, I'm afraid, and it could be very expensive buying in information just to find what you want isn't there. You don't say where in Australia you live, and for all I know it might be in the middle of the Gibson Desert. However, despite the fact that I live in Hertfordshire, about 90% of Australians live closer to a LDS Family History Centre (addresses on familysearch) than I live to the county records in HALS. It is possible to order and view an extraordinary range of material at one of these centres anywhere in the world.

February 2002

Roy Harvey (con-roy @t replied:  Thank you for your help Chris, I am almost sure that I have my paternal grandmother I shall keep you posted warmest regards Roy

November 2003

Rosemary Hill ( writes: On reading the query about Sarah Elizabeth White. I was surprised to realise that my great great grandmother appears to be her mother. I had assumed that she was Alice's brothers daughter as every body told me that my great grandfather was the oldest however I have yet to find any information about any other siblings.

It may well be that Roy may have got some more information since the original posting, and you may wish to contact him. It would then be appropriate to report here on what has been found.

If you can add to the information given above tell me.