Answers to Questions


UNCLE, Much Hadham, early 19th century

September, 2010



Much Hadham

Marion Fountain (marion.fountain @t of  Pembroke,.Wales, writes: I am trying to trace information about my G.G.Grandfather, Joseph Uncle, born circa 1806, Much Hadham. I cannot find any trace of his Birth, 1841 census shows him married to a Susannah but I cannot find any trace of a marriage either, here's hoping you can help

When someone was born before 1837 there are many reasons why you may not be able to find a birth/baptism record for your ancestor - See Where is my ancestor's baptism before 1837. Joseph's names may be a clue because Old Testament Christian names often indicate a non-conformist family who did not use the Parish Church. In fact the surname Uncle is comparatively common in this part of Hertfordshire so care must be taken - see Right Name, Wrong Body.

There are many errors on the civil registration indexes (see A Comedy of Errors) which means that if you can't find one partner you can often still find the other. Have you looked for the marriage by looking up Susannah under her maiden name on FreeBMD. You can easily get her maiden name from any of the children's birth certificates. If you find Susannah's marriage the certificate will provide Joseph's fathers name and occupation. The location of the marriage may suggest any religious affiliations, especially if it is not their local parish church.

A quick glance of the census returns show Joseph's age/place of birth as 1841 (1806-11, Hertfordshire), 1851 (1811, Much Hadham), 1861 (1806, M Hadham), 1871 (1806, London) and there is no matching entry on familysearch.

At this period children were often given family names (see The Inheritance of Single Christian Names) In 1861 his children were named as Eliza (17), Maria (15), Josh [=Joseph?] (11) Emily (8), William (6), Susannah (3) and Clara (6 mo). There is a good chance that Joseph's father was either Joseph or William. As the couple were married at the time of the 1841 and the earliest recorded birth was circa 1844 the couple were probably not long married in March 1841.

There is another trick to try and bypass the missing birth/baptism record, and that is to try and locate possible brothers and sisters born in the same village at about the same time. A quick glance at the census showed a Jabez Uncle was born in Much Hadham in about 1816.  A search on familysearch shows "Jabish" Uncle was one of seven children all the children of William and Sarah Uncle, who were baptised at the Independent Chapel, Little Hadham between 1811 and 1825. HALS has a microfilm of the Chapel register covering baptisms between 1804 and 1836 - so if Joseph was an elder brother - where is the baptism? However the earliest Uncle record (in 1811) only has an incomplete date, possibly indicating that the register was not well kept at that date or there was some special reason. Non-conformist registers of this period contain much more information than Parish Baptismal Registers so it is important that you have a look at the microfilm. You can do this, by prior arrangement, at your nearest LDS Family History Centre. The register may, for example, show that William and Sarah Uncle only joined the church in 1811 and earlier children had been baptised elsewhere (where the records may not have survived).

Anthony Carter (acarter @t from Denmark commented: I am not convinced that Joseph was non-conformist. His first 6 children (including two named Joseph Richard) were baptized in the Anglican faith and the records can be viewed on Ancestry (London Baptisms). Indeed, I am inclined to think that our man was baptized 15 June 1806 at Standon son of John and Sarah Uncle. A John Unkel (sic) and Sarah Warman were married at Much Hadham on 1 July 1801. Standon is not at all far from Much Hadham. The Little Hadham Chapel register can be viewed on The Genealogist and is well kept with the lack of exact dates for Hannah Uncle being an exception. I have looked either side for a Joseph that might have been missed on IGI or The Genealogist; there is none. I cannot find a marriage between Joseph and Susannah and have tried hard using Ancestry (London Marriages and Banns) as she was from St Pancras and they lived in Islington 1841 before the first kids arrived.

I scratched my head over this one - and asked Anthony where he got the information. It turns out that while the normal familysearch search contains information from the Standon parish registers it is far from complete. A new "Research Search Pilot" has been introduced which contains more records including at least some of the missing Standon records - including three brothers for Joseph. As Standon and Much Hadham parishes share a boundary there may well be farms in the area in between - as not all people who live in a parish live in the village. In addition it is possible (bearing in mind the marriage) that John and Sarah lived in Standon, but she went home to her mother for the birth. In the circumstances it seems very likely that your Joseph Uncle was the one baptised in Standon in 1806.

This incident raises an important problem which I may raise in more detail in a later blog. In the days when the only way to carry out research was to look at the actual registers it was very obvious where the problems were (gaps, unreadable or even missing pages, etc) but search was extremely time consuming and expensive. Modern online indexes allow very fast (and comparatively cheap) searches but few (apart from FreeBMD) provide an easy guide to what they don't cover. The information I had got suggested that the baptisms from Standon register was on familysearch between 1671 and 1875 but an examination shows that what was there was little more than a small selection.

I note that there are two family trees on Ancestry which appear to have made the same mistake about Joseph Uncle's parents as I did - and there may be other people who have been mislead by the fact that the Standon register entries on familysearch were (until the pilot) incomplete.

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

September 2010   Page created - and updated