Q and A
HOW CAN I FIND MY INTERNATIONAL RELATIVES?
According to family legend, my mother’s ancestors originated in Corsica where a Greek Consul married a Corsican lady (dates unknown) and emigrated to the USA. Their daughter was a Creole who married an ‘American’ called ROGERS, the owner of a stud farm in New Orleans, Louisiana. The family, including their son (my grandfather, John Edward Dean ROGERS ), eventually sold the business and came to England. John ROGERS then developed rheumatic fever as a result of the drastic change in temperature.
I obtained a birth certificate for John ROGERS, which stated that he was born in Liscard, Birkenhead, in July 1875. His father was Joseph Mead ROGERS, widower, and his mother Sarah READ (née DEAN), widow. On both the 1881 and 1891 census, his father stated the birth details as in this certificate. However on checking the 1901 Leicester census, when John was living in lodgings prior to marrying my grandmother, Minnie JACKSON, I discovered he had entered his birthplace as USA (British Subject). Also his age was shown as 27, which probably meant he was born in 1873 or 1874.
Despite many years of my own research (and occasional professional help), I am still no nearer discovering the truth.
Mrs S Blaxley
While it is, on the one hand, intriguing to have elaborate family traditions passed down to us, it is always essential to undertake your research in a methodical and logical way. You have to proceed in an orderly fashion from what you know for certain, in order to discover the next linked piece of previously unknown information. Family stories may be absolutely true, have some elements of truth or be complete fabrications.
You told me you have your grandfather John’s birth certificate. This shows that he was born in Birkenhead, not the USA, although I note from the birth indexes that he was ‘John Edward D’ and not plain John as you implied. As you say, both the 1881 and 1891 census returns correctly state his place of birth; but the 1901 census gives this as the USA. Why this would be can only be guessed at: was he trying to hide his origins and invented this convoluted storey that was passed down to you? It is hard to say.
The truth, or at least part of it, is very simple: John Edward Dean ROGERS was born in Birkenhead in July 1875, the son of Joseph Mead ROGERS and Sarah (née READ). The marriage indexes reveal that William Mead ROGERS married Sarah READ in Altrincham in the September Quarter 1874. If you have not already done so, you need to obtain this marriage certificate as it will give the name of Joseph’s father, and possibly confirm his approximate year of birth. His first marriage was probably in 1845 when a Joseph Mead ROGERS married in Southampton Registration District in the March Quarter. Again, you should obtain this marriage certificate.
This first marriage may have been to Jane Amelia BIDDLECOMBE, as in the 1851 census of Ampthill there is a Joseph M ROGERS, born in Ampthill, married to Amelia. Joseph is described as a ‘linen and wool draper’ (Joseph Mead was a ‘retired linen draper’ in 1891) but his age is 28 and therefore born c1822 – but this could be an error.
In my brief search I have not been able to locate the ROGERS family in the 1861 or 1871 censuses – perhaps you will have more luck. Or possibly they were sojourning in America!
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