Answers to Questions



March, 2008




Gary Pearce (gary @t of South Africa writes: In 1849 David Pearce and his wife Charlotte (Johnson) emigrated to Knysna, South Africa with their 2 children. David listed his occupation as a "Sawyer" and kept doing this in the forests around Knysna. Charlotte had been a "silk thrower". On his 1846 (Baptist Church Watford) marriage certificate he names his father as William Pearce. William and his wife Eliza are found living a few miles away in Rickmansworth in the 1841 and 1851 census. William also lists his occupation as "Sawyer". In the 1851 census he gives his age as 71. My objective now is to try to identify William's parents and any other children that they may have had.

You don't say which sources you have looked at  unsuccessfully (see tutorial for some ideas) but the fact that David married in a Baptist Church is a bad sign (see Where is my ancestor's baptism before 1837?) and I assume that you have looked on familysearch and didn't find his baptism. Because he lived in a corner of Hertfordshire there could be records just over the county boundary in Middlesex or Buckinghamshire.

This suggests that your starting point must be census information, and I had a quick look at the 1841 census - which showed that David was then 15 and born in Hertfordshire. William was 70-75 (adult ages are in 5 year bands) and Eliza was 65-70). Neither William or Eliza were born in Hertfordshire. From this you can assume that William and Eliza would have married between about 1800 and David's birth circa 1825. Because David is 15 there could have been older children (surname Pearce) who had left home by 1841.

While non-conformist baptisms are often not recorded, marriage had to take place in the Church of England. The birthplaces for William and Eliza (if not too far apart) should give you some idea of the likely area of the marriage and with any luck you should be able to find a marriage on familysearch. As they were born outside Hertfordshire this falls outside the scope of this site - but familysearch might help find their birth/baptism.

As to siblings, if David had older brothers you may be able to find males called Pearce in the 1841 and later censuses who were born in Rickmansworth (or perhaps the place of William and Eliza's marriage if different) of suitable age (i.e. born between 1800-1825). It would be a good sign if some are sawyers. If they got married you may be able to find the name of their father from their marriage certificate.

Sisters are more difficult (once married) but if any female Pearce married at the Watford Baptist Church their marriage could be worth following up.

In addition the witnesses at David's wedding may also help - for instance one might be a married sister.

Another factor to consider, if David had a large family in South Africa, is that children were often named after uncles and aunts - See The Inheritance of Single Christian Names

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


Page created March 2008