Answers to Questions


SHARP(E), Ippollitts and Hitchin, mid-19th century

April, 2003





Joan Seabrook (j.rseabrook @t Turtleford, Sask, Canada, writes: My husbands great grandfather, John Sharpe, was married in Ippollitts in 1845 His wife was named Ann Newberry. We wondered if there were any other siblings in the family besides William Sharp our grandfather. William was born in The Pound Hitchin Dec 31 1853. He married Alice Page Mar. 5 1879. Her parents were Thomas Page and Elizabeth Gray. We would be interested to know if Alice had any siblings also. Her parents were married in St. Mary Hitchin Herts on 11th July 1835. I have their marriage certificate and their birth certificates.

Basically there are two main places to search for siblings in the mid 19th century when the surname is as common as Sharp(e). 

If the family were members of the Church if England and regularly had their children baptised the place to start are the baptismal registers - and many for this period (but not all) are indexed online at familysearch or the British Vital Records Index (series 3). A quick search for Sharp suggests this in not the case, and this could mean that the Sharp family used a chapel (whose register may well not be available) or did not get their children baptised. (unfortunately this applies to a lot of families.)

A more generally useful source if you know where the family lived are the census returns, If John and Ann Shape married in the village of Ippollitts in 1845 and William was born in 1853 in the nearby town of Hitchin they were probably living in Ippollitts or Hitchin at the time of the 1851 census and a search of the microfilms should reveal surviving children born between 1845 and 1851. If the family is still in Hitchin at the time of the 1861 census the returns should add children, including the your William. The 1871 census may show more, but the older children will mainly have left home. 

Currently I understand that the above censuses are only available unindexed on microfilm - but you are lucky that Turtleford is an easy drive from Lloyminster - when there is an LDS Family History Centre (see familysearch for the opening times and address). Admittedly the hours are limited and you will need to order the films in advance - but the Centre is closer to you than Hitchin Library, or HALS, is to me - so I would have to travel further than you to see the census returns, despite the fact that I live in Hertfordshire and you live in Canada!

The 1881 census index is readily available to you online (and on CD) and a search could turn up some more information as to people called Sharp(e) born in the Hitchin area born between 1845 and about 1870 who might be siblings. Bearing in mind the way Christian names are passed down in families I would expect a John Sharp(e) born shortly after 1845 - and the 1881 census shows a 34 year old John Sharp (labourer, born Hitchin) and family who may be your William's brother. It also shows a 60 year old John Sharp (general labourer, born St Ippollits) - ?? William's father ??, with a son, widowed daughter, and grandchildren.

Similar approaches should allow you to track down members of the other families you mention, (for the Page family you might want to include at the 1841 census) and uncertainties may be solved by buying birth certificates from HALS.

B.T.W. I am afraid I will not have time to visit Turtleford this year - but I will be in nearby Lloydminster for their centenary celebrations. A relative of my wife's was one of the founding fathers - a shopping centre is named after him and his farmhouse is being opened at the town museum!

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