CARRINGTON, Flamstead & Great Gaddesden, circa 1780
Daniel Gubler-Jones (gublerjones @t yahoo.com) of Salt Lake City has a question about the parentage of Ann Carrington. I find an Ann Carrington marrying George Gregory 2 January 1804 in Flamstead. They are the parents of 9 children: Ann, Thomas, Sarah, James, William, Elizabeth, Thomas (again), Josiah, and Arkeah (also found as Harker or Arker). Ann dies in Jan 1862 aged 75 (birth year 1787/8). In the parish of Flamstead I find a couple, Jonathan Carrington and Ann having children: James, Jonathan, Joseph, William, Elizabeth, Martha, Daniel, and Harker. However, there is no baptism for an Ann listed. There is a three year gap between the christenings of Daniel (7 May 1786) and Harker (24 May 1789). I found a marriage for Jonathan Carrington and Ann Harker in 1770 in Great Gaddesden, thus explaining the origin of the name Harker. I thought she belonged to this family regardless of the missing christening date except for the existence of another christening in neighbouring Great Gaddesden - Ann, chr. 20 Apr 1788, daughter of the unmarried pauper couple Philip Carrington and Sarah Purratt. Philip was the above listed Jonathan's nephew; he died five years after Ann's christening in January 1793 in Flamstead. I find no burial date for the daughter Ann Carrington. How likely would have been the scenario of Jonathan taking in his nephew's daughter and raising her as her own? Or was she Jonathan's daughter for whom there exists no christening record? Your opinion on this would be greatly appreciated.
All branches of a family tree will eventually end at a date when no earlier relevant records exist, but often along the way you get an ambiguous situation where there are more than one "possible" path back to a common ancestor - and it is not clear which path is the correct one. I have this with one of my Buckinghamshire ancestors - he was illegitimate and we know the name of the father - but there are two candidates - father and son - but which was the one I have resigned to never knowing.
One problem is that "informal adoptions" within a family are rarely recorded. In my own family, in the first half of the 20th century, I know of two girls who may have spent more time with an aunt that with their own mother/siblings. Two other children were brought up by a childless aunt and uncle when their parents were killed in a car crash - but I do not know whether they were ever officially adopted. The chances of finding any formal documentation for the transfer of a girl from one branch of the family in the 18th century would be virtually nil for the average villager.
You do not say whether you have been working with a microfilm of the registers - or simply with the IGI index - but it might be worth having a close look. My ancestors Thomas Burchmore and his wife Sarah Andrew were living in Flamstead at the same time as your Jonathan Carrington was getting married. The register contained a number of baptisms to Thomas and Sarah Burchmore, then two to Thomas and Mary (in 1770 and 1772), and then another to Thomas and Sarah. Fortunately Sarah left a will because two of her daughters married Ralph Thrales (see Right Name, Wrong Body) and I think we can be certain that Sarah knew who her children were. A look at the register showed that the register was for a period around 1770-1772 written in a different hand to the other entries - and it may be that there are other errors around this period.
Your interest in the Flamstead register is a few years later, and it would be well worth comparing the register with the Bishops Transcripts at HALS (are they also on microfilm?). Each year the minister had to send a list of all the baptisms, marriages and deaths to the diocese office. This should record the same names and dates as the register - however sometimes differences occur. For instance some ministers may have kept a private note book and updated the register whenever they felt like it - rather than when each event occurred. (In some registers there are short gaps which may indicate that the minister never got round to transferring the entries into the register.) This means that sometimes there are entries missing from the register but not the transcripts - or the other way round - and it may be that you will find a baptism for Ann in the Bishops transcripts.
Another possibility is that you have Ann's age wrong - and it would be worth looking at the 1851 census on microfilm to see if that agrees as to date and place of birth.
Assuming that the Bishops Transcripts turn up nothing, and there are no relevant family wills, you may simply have to resign yourself to not knowing. In fact there may be other possibilities and non-conformity was strong in the area (with a lack of surviving records), and a Thomas Gregory was involved in the licensing of John Cooper's house in Flamstead for worship in 1800 [A New History of Flamstead] - suggesting that some Gregory records at least may not have made it into the parish church registers.
If you can add to the information given above tell me.