Answers to Questions


WEBB, Standon, circa 1851

February, 2006




Teresa Burge (teresa.burge @t has looked at REEKS, Little Munden/Standon, circa 1800 and writes: My gt. gt. grandfather John Webb married Jane Reeks of Little Munden in 1851. Her father Martin, was a gamekeeper. According to their marriage certificate, John was a widower and his father was named Joseph. Census returns show he was born in Thundridge around 1811 and had a daughter, Catherine b.1830, from his first marriage. There is another child, Martin, born in 1847. Later children were born in 1852, 1855 and 1859. Catherine and Martin are noted in the 1851 census but by 1861, there is no mention of them in the family. Perhaps you may have information that will shed light on this puzzle.

If you look at the 1851 census for Standon on Ancestry, and compare the numbers with those on adjacent pages, you will see what the major problem is.

John Webb is 36, Jane is 36, Martin is 4 and Catherine 2 (but has been wrongly indexed as 21). OK - in isolation the character looks like 21 until you see how other 2s are written, with an upward end stroke, which in this case is more pronounced. There are two good reasons for being suspicious of the "21". Children of the head of the household are supposed to be listed in age order, eldest first, so Catherine should be younger than Martin because she has been entered on the form after him. Secondly John would only have been about 14 when she was conceived!

John presumably married his first wife about 1845, she had Martin and Catherine in quick succession. His first wife died, and with two young children he needed a wife quickly. Often an unmarried female relative moved in to help out. This often led to marriage - and two of my direct ancestors married their late wife's sister - although a cousin is perhaps more likely.

It may well be that Martin and Catherine died - as child deaths were common and one of my ancestors lost three children within a few weeks, I suspect from diphtheria.

You should be able to get Martin and Catherine's birth certificate - which will tell you the first name and maiden name of their mother., A check of the deaths index should allow you to get their death certificates between 1851 and 1861 (if they died) and also their mother's death certificate - before the second marriage. (For how to do this see the tutorial.)

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

age created February 2006