DICKINSON, Abbots Langley, 1820-1850
Neil Rolph-Dickinson (neil.rolph-dickinson @t edsgfs.co.uk) of Reading writes I'm desperately looking for a marriage between 1823 and 1852 around the Abbott's Langley area of William Dickinson b 1774-5-6 (born Cottered) to Susannah Rolph b 1805-6 (born Ardeley). Their first child William was given Rolph as his surname and was baptised in 1823 (Abbot's Langley) however his sister Mary was baptised in 1829 (Abbot's Langley) and was given the surname of Dickenson. I've got both William Dickinson and Susannah Dickinson's (note name change) death certs 1852 and 1881 and it states on Susannah death cert that she is the widow of William Dickinson, so I can only deduce that they got married probably sometime between their 1st child and their 2nd child baptisms. However they may of got married afterwards up until Williams death in 1852. Neil also supplied information on the family from the 1841, 1851, 1861 and 1881 censuses.
I think it is important to summarise the key information, including that from the census data, and ignoring minor changes in spelling at a time when most people were illiterate.
William Dickinson was 77 in 1851 (in full agreement with the 1841 census in which adult ages were in 5 year bands) and was born at Cottered. In 1841 he was a farmer in Abbots Langley, and in 1851 he was an annuitant in Bedmond, Abbots Langley, possibly at the same actual address. This suggests that he was comparatively well off compared with the average inhabitant in Abbots Langley at the time, although the absence of live-in servants in 1841, and the presence of lodgers in 1851 suggest that he could not be described as rich. However he may have left a will, and he would have been a rate payer, etc., so should appear in contemporary village documents (if they have survived).
His wife Susannah was 47 in 1851, and was born in Ardeley, which adjoins Cottered and to the east of Stevenage. The age difference is noteworthy.
According to familysearch there are a series of baptisms in Abbots Langley as follows
|William||9 Nov 1823||William Dickinson||Susannah Rolph|
|Mary||4 Jan 1829||William Dickenson||Susannah|
|John||16 June 1833||William Dickinson||Susannah|
|Sarah||18 Sept 1836||William Dickinson||Susannah|
Your unsuccessful search for the marriage may be due, in part, to assuming more than is justified from the first entry, unless you have looked at the microfilm of the register and it explicitly indicates that they were not married at the time. (This is one reason why you should always check indexes such the the IGI on familysearch with the original microfilm.) There are a number of possibilities and some of them can only be sorted out by looking at the register as a whole and seeing how the minister at the time recorded legitimate and illegitimate births.
Three of the children baptised in Abbots Langley, Mary, John and Sarah, were with their parents in the 1841 census. Mary (now married) and Sarah were with their parents in the 1851 census. There is no sigh of William junior in any of the censuses - but he was clearly old enough to be away from home in 1841.
Also in the 1841 household was a William Rolph, 17, dealer. Unfortunately this census gives no indication of relationship (apart from the fact that he is not listed in age order, which suggests he is not part of the immediate family), and little useful about the place of birth, so his identity is unknown. I think it extremely unlikely that he is the William whose baptism is given above. Familysearch shows several possibilities - and he might be the William Rolph, plait dealer, listed in the 1881 census. He could well turn out to be Susannah's nephew,
So what about the marriage? Assuming that they were officially married my assessment of the information you have provided is that they were married in or before 1823, and it is not impossible that they had earlier children - who might have been born before the couple came to Abbots Langley and left home (or died) before the 1841 census. It would therefore be useful to find out when William started farming in Abbots Langley and as he was a farmer he may have been mentioned in land tax returns, poor rates, church wardens' accounts, etc. You will need to check with HALS as to which of these have survived and you will find the book Tracing Your Family History in Hertfordshire a useful guide to the types of documents that may exist.
Because of the age difference he could have been married before, perhaps with children of an earlier marriage. This means checking whether he made a will important as it could mention any such earlier surviving children. It is important to realise that many women died in childbirth and if there was a surviving young child the father would have needed help. It was not uncommon for an unmarried female relative to move in to help with the baby and before you knew what happened .... If the couple formalised the marriage there could be problems - particularly if the bride to be was the late wife's sister - as someone might raise objections when the banns were called. For this reasons such marriages often took place in a church where the couple was unknown, and the minister was not too fussy. For example my own ancestor Daniel Hill, a well-to-do farmer of Pinner, Middlesex, married Elizabeth Burchmore of Flamstead in Flamstead in 1821. She died in 1826 leaving three small children, and in 1827 Daniel married her sister Martha. Clearly he could not marry her in Flamstead or Pinner, where the couple would have been well known, and in fact a surviving family bible showed that they married in St Pancras New Church, London. If William Dickinson was a widower and Susannah was his first wife's sister the marriage (if there was one) would probably be "out-of-area" - perhaps in London, and the record would probably not record the "correct" parish.
I am afraid I have not found your missing marriage, but I hope I have given your some ideas about what kinds of evidence might be useful. My suggestion is that you try and find out when William Dickinson first turned up in Abbots Langley - and if he was there several years, was a possible first wife buried there.
Neil Rolph-Dickinson (neil.rolph-dickinson @t edsgfs.co.uk) responds: I have since discovered that Susannah Rolph was in fact born in Hemel Hempstead to William Rolph and Mary (Pearle) Rolph on the 18/10/1804, which will now change the direction of the marriage search. Going on from that I have since discovered a William Dickenson (note spelling difference and problem why I dismissed it before) born in Hemel Hampstead in 1774. However I must conclude that if you were unable to find a marriage between a Dickinson and a Rolph I feel your deduction that they were probably not married is correct.
[While I didn't find anything this doesn't mean nothing will
ever turn up, as I was really indicating why it may not have been found
-so one should always keep one's eye open - perhaps for an error somewhere which
had distorted the record.]
I will though continue to try and find this missing link as I have found a
William Dickinson who got married in 1832 in Kings Langley but to a Mary
Freeman (you never know that may of typed the wrong name in!!)
There are web pages for Abbots Langley
If you can add to the information given above tell me.