James BRADSHAW, Braughing area, 1776 to 1846.

March, 2014




Margaret Eyre (margeyre @t bigpond.com) of Wombarra, NewSouth Wales, Australia writes: My GG grandfather Thomas Bradshaw came from Hertfordshire to Australia on the Ramillies in 1855. On the shipping list he gave his place of birth as Hertfordshire, his age as 44 his occupation as labourer, both parents from Hertfordshire and both were dead Their names were given as James and Sarah. He was married to Jemima Camp at Westmill in 1828. She was born in Hertfordshire in 1810 Her father James was dead but mother Letitia was alive. Searches thru Ancestry, Find My Past and The Genealogist tracked down several Thomas Bradshaw's born about 1811 but the only entry that seemed to fit all the info I had was a birth in 1811 in Thornhill, Yorks West Riding. The parents were given as James and Sarah Bradshaw, their abode as Overton. A search of marriages gave a marriage of a James Bradshaw to Sara Thornton in 1803 in Thornhill, Yorks. The difficulty is that both Sarah and James went back to Hertfordshire to die.  James in Bishop Stortford in 1846 and Sarah possibly in Watford in 1837.

Genealogists here in Australia are certain that the Thomas that came to Australia and is recorded as living in Westmill with Jemima and his children on the 1841 census giving his birth place as Herts and on the 1851 census is in Essex, occupation, a shepherd, place of birth Herts is highly unlikely to have been born in Yorks.

Is it possible that James and Sarah would travel from Herts to Yorks to marry, give birth to a son and then go back to Herts. I have James on the 1841 census in Union House Braughing age given 65 which coincides with a birth from the same area of  Braughing in 1776 for a James Bradshaw.

One of the problems with online data bases is that they contain so much information that it is usually very easy to find someone with the "right name and approximately" the right age who is not your ancestor! (See Right Name, Wrong Body to find out how easy it is to get things wrong) In addition they are very bad at telling you why your ancestor is not recorded in their files! As a result many people who don't understand the social conditions at the time, and the limitations of the surviving documentation (and the modern indexes) get led up the garden path. You should forget about any Yorkshire connection.

The 1841 census for Thomas and Jemima and their family seem straight forward enough - and FindMyPast  shows that the eldest child William was baptised at Westmill in 1830, his father being a labourer. This fits in with the following marriage in 1828 at Westmill:

As one might expect from the fact that Thomas was a labourer, he clearly could not read and write - not even being able to write his own name. We can be certain he knew nothing of the formality of paper records - and if something he said was written down there was no way he could check its accuracy. This means that we have to have an open mind when interpreting the Australian records. Errors could easily have crept in.

So the Australian records say that his parents were James and Sarah Bradshaw and they had both died before 1855.  Unfortunately the 1841 census is not as detailed as later censuses, but if we combine with burial records  and if we look we find the following:

We can't be certain but this could be the James and Sarah that Thomas named as his parents. If Sarah was seriously infirm in 1841 that could explain her being in the Workhouse and James being left "at home" on his own. But if we look for James and Sarah's marriage we find the following at Standon in 1820.

This was followed by the baptism of a child, Charles Bradshaw, at Standon on 3 June 1821.

But don't panic. Unfortunately the marriage record does not say - but James could have been a widower with young children. It was not uncommon for the wife to die (often in child birth) leaving her husband with young children. When this happened an unmarried lady (often a relative) moved into the house to look after the young family ... and no-one was surprised if another child appear less than 9 months after the subsequent marriage.

So let us probe further back when we find a marriage in 1797 at Braughing:

A number of baptisms can be associated with this marriage. Eliza and Lydia were baptised at Braughing in 1798, followed by William in 1799 - and Susanna at Broxbourne in 1802. There was then a very long gap (surely there must have been other children) until James was baptised at Braughing in 1814. Susanna was buried at Braughing in 1817.
Unfortunately no sign of Thomas who should have been born around 1811 - but the baptism of James gives an important clue. All the earlier baptisms had been in a parish church - but James was baptised in an Independent Church.  But the Braughing Independent Church records only start in 1812 - so if Thomas was baptised there in 1811 no record of the event survives.
So while we haven't got definitive proof proof that Thomas was the son of James Bradshaw and Susanna Clark, everything fits if we assume that (1) the illiterate Thomas gave the authorities the name of his step mother, rather than his mother, and (2) there is a good reason which explains why the relevant birth/baptism record has been lost.
In fact it could be worth you trying to look at the microfilm of the Braughing Independent Church Records as these documents often include other valuable information which is not indexed, such as lists of members, etc. According to the familysearch web site the nearest Family Centre where you can order the microfilm is at Cambelltown, but it might be easier for you to get to Sydney or Woolongong.
The familysearch web site can take you further back - although I haven't looked further than the baptism of James Bradshaw at Braughing on 26 May 1776, the son of Henry and Sarah Bradshaw. However I did look at the militia lists for Braughing (available on CD from the Herts Family History Society) and these show that Henry had 3 children in 1773 and 1776. James would have become eligible for the militia at the age of 18 and he first appears in the list in 1794.

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

March 2014   Page created