Answers to Questions

Parkins or Champkins, Leverstock Green & St Albans, 1859-1901

October, 2008

Robin Lindsay (pepper650 @t from Canada writes My question is: how to determine the correct name of the father of Hannah Parkins Champkin when different documents list different names, but no birth certificate has been found.

Robin provided the following document details in the order found - but I have reorganised the list into date order.

1859   BMD Index only lists one birth for a Hannah Parkins (none for Hannah Champkin) born in 1859 (+/- 5 years) in Hertfordshire, but both mother and child are both named Hannah, child was born @ Bennett's End, Hemel Hempstead, and no father is listed).
1861   1861 Census lists Priscilla Parkins (unmarried) and Hannah Parkins (Age 2, born Leverstock Green) living on West-wick Row.  There is no George Parkins in household.
1862   BMD Index lists 1862 marriage between Priscilla Parkins and Richard Champkin.
1881   16 June 1881 Marriage certificate for George Shaw and Hannah Parkins lists George as a Butcher.  Hannah (aged 22) is listed as [from] Leverstock Green. Father is listed as GEORGE PARKINS, labourer.  The Witness was Tom George (made mark) and Priscilla George and the marriage was at Trinity Church. Leverstock Green.
1884   16 June 1884 Birth certificate for Frederick Harold Hugh Shaw lists father as George Shaw (butcher) who registered the birth, mother as HANNAH PARKINS SHAW formerly CHAMPKINS.
1889   Birth Certificate of Edith Alnetta Shaw registered by Hannah Shaw formerly Champkin.
1891   1891 English Census lists Shaw family living on Bernard St. in St. Albans as: George (crossed out as Head), Hannah (Head, born abt 1859, Leverstock Green), George William (son), Frederick (son) born St. Albans 1884, Emily (dau), Alnetta (dau).  BMD search lists full names for daughters as Emily Priscilla and Edith Alnetta.
1895   1895 marriage certificate for Charles Muskett (an inspector for Midland Railways) and Hannah Shaw (widow, aged 35, residence at time of marriage: Bernard St., St. Albans) lists Hannah's father as RICHARD CHAMPKIN. They married at the Registry Office, St Albans, witnesses John Muskett, Emily Anderson and Arthur Grimer.
1901   1901 census for 10 Bernard St. lists residents as Charles Muskett (Head), Hannah (Wife, born Leverstock Green), and Fred (Dyers apprentice), Emily and Alnetta as step children.
1911   On the Canadian 1911 marriage certificate for Frederick Harold Hugh Shaw, mother is listed as HANNAH CHAMKINS.  Father is George William Shaw.  (Note: Frederick Harold Hugh Shaw had two daughters: Emily Priscilla (my grandmother) and Edith Annetta). 
1915   1915 Cdn. Attestation paper lists Frederick's birthdate/place as 16 June, 1884, in St. Albans, Herts. Fred's occupation is listed as tailor.

I've been unsuccessful in locating a birth certificate for the correct Hannah Parkins (Champkins?).  Nor can I decipher how/why George Parkins is listed as Hannah's father on one marriage certificate, Richard Champkin as her father on another, or why, on her son's birth certificate, she's listed as "Hannah Parkins Formerly Champkins". (why "formerly"?)

I've only been doing genealogy for about a year- I wonder if it would be unusual if Hannah's mother "invented" George Parkins to try and hide the fact that she was unmarried when her daughter was born..?  Or is there another more likely explanation that I haven't considered...  .

First of all a bit of local geography. Leverstock Green was a new parish created in 1849 out of parts of the parishes of Hemel Hempstead, Abbots Langley and St Michaels (rural). Before the new parish was formed Bennett's End was part of the parish of Hemel Hempstead and Westwick Row was part of the parish of St Michaels. The original hamlets (as they then were) of Bennett's End, Leverstock Green and Westwick Row are close to each other. The urban part of St Michaels parish is in the town, later city, of St Albans.

Now add a summary of the census records for intermediate years:

1851   The 1851 census shows a Priscilla Parkins, aged 16 and born St Michaels, living at Westwick Row, St Michaels Rural, with her father William (an agricultural labourer), her mother Priscilla, and siblings William and Sylba
1871   The 1871 census shows a Priscilla Champkins (36, born Hemel Hempstead) with her husband Richard (labourer), 11 year old Hannah Champkins, and younger siblings James, Frederick, Kate and Alfria.
1881   In the 1881 census Richard and Priscilla Champken (as indexed in Ancestry) were living in Totteridge, Herts, with their children while  Hannah P Champkins (21, born Leverstock Green) was working as a housemaid in Camberwell.

If we work on the basis that in practice your name is what you are called, rather than what your birth certificate says) Hannah Parkins became Hannah Parkins Champkins when her mother married with Parkins being treated as a optional given name. Looked at in this way there are three points that need some discussion - the name of her mother on the birth certificate and the names of her father on her marriage certificates.

The Birth Certificate: Errors on certificates do occur, as  A Comedy of Errors shows, and it is likely that at least one certificate in 10 contains a clerical error, or is indexed incorrectly. This may occur when the original certificate was filled in - possibly as a result of the informant not understanding the question, or the registrar mishearing the answer - or in the sequence of handwritten transcriptions between the local registration book and the central centrally held and indexed copy which is the normal one supplied. Duplicating a name by mistake is one of a number of possible errors.

One possibility is that Priscilla Parkins was also sometimes known as Priscilla Hannah Parkins.

If the infant Hannah Parkins was baptised this should give the  name of her mother. A check for a possible baptism on familysearch reveals that an Ann Parkins, daughter of George and Eliza Parkins, was baptised at Flamstead on 25 February 1860 and there is a matching birth registration in Hemel Hempstead area. In addition (using the British Vital Records Index) we find an Ann Parkins, daughter of Betsy Parkins, baptised at Leverstock Green on 12th October 1856. I noted that Richard & Priscilla Champkins children were baptised at Leverstock Green. Perhaps Hannah was never baptised?

The 1881 Marriage: The father's name is given as George Parkins. It could be that the father really was called George Parkins (perhaps a relative) as there were several people called George Parkins in the area - including the one married to Eliza at Flamstead. On the other hand it could be a made up name to disguise the illegitimacy - but as Hannah was brought up in the Leverstock Green area, and married at Leverstock Green, it would have been no great secret - so why bother to lie about it. However if your father's surname was Parkins the bride's surname would be expected to be Parkins - and Hannah Parkins was her birth name. We may never know for certain who her father was.

The 1895 Marriage: The use of the step-father's name in these circumstances is not exceptional.

To conclude. Errors and ambiguities often occur in even the best kept records - and in this case it is reasonable, in the absence of contradictory evidence, to assume that the Priscilla Parkins was Hannah's mother.

There is a web page for Leverstock Green

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


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