The Holmes Family

We’ve made some progress on our investigations of the Holmes family – and it turns out that the Ellis we found on Anglesey was a complete red herring!

Searching through the 1861 Census the family have turned up living in Tranmere but the key bit of information this has given us is their ages – this census shows William Holmes (the head of the household) to be 42 and Margaret Holmes (his wife) to be 35.

The 1871 Census was never very clear – someone had drawn a line right through his age – but it looked very much like he was 32 and considerably younger than his wife Margaret. Now we can be reasonably confident that his age in 1871 was actually 52 and so other things start to make much more sense.

For example Ellis Holmes – the eldest son – is shown as 23 on the 1871 Census and would therefore have been far too old to have been William’s son. Now we can resonably assume that Ellis is the son of both William and Margaret and we’re not looking for some third party to explain the discrepancy in their ages.

More good news is that the place of birth for both Margaret and Ellis is actually legible on this Census – both are shown as being born at Mostyn, Denbighshire on the North Wales coast.

As both William and Margaret were born long before Civil Registration in England and Wales, this at least gives us a starting point when delving into the world of Parish Registers…

Martha Cross

Another birth certificate arrived this morning, this time for Sarah Ellen Cross – my mum’s maternal grandmother.

As reported earlier there was a bit of mystery surrounding Sarah, we thought she was the daughter of Richard Cross and Sarah Burgess but on the 1881 Census she’s listed as being their niece. Well the certificate that arrived this morning show’s her mother to have been Martha Cross (who at this stage I’m assuming is Richard’s sister) but no father is listed.

Sarah Ellen was born in 1873 in Chorlton upon Medlock and on the 1871 Census i’ve found a Martha Cross born in Plumley in 1841 (where Richard Cross lived) who was a general servant to the Brown family at what looks like Brislington Villa in Victoria Park, Rushholme – a neighbouring district.

The plot thickens… 😀

Margaret Williams

We’ve finally got the birth certificates for John and William Holmes from the Holmes family we found living in Bebington on the 1871 census – and it’s at least confirmed that we’ve definitely got the right family.

Unfortunately it’s shown their mother’s maiden name to be Margaret Williams – and as just about all we know about her is that she was born somewhere in Wales (there’ll not be that many Williams in Wales will there?) around 1827 (conveniently before the start of Civil Registration) this could turn into a bit of a dead end. The only possible lead we have is the eldest son on the 1871 census – Ellis Holmes.

He’s listed as 23 years of age, which is only 13 years younger than William Holmes – which would suggest to me that he maybe William wasn’t the father!

He’s also shown as being born in Wales like his mum, and is listed as ‘Crippled from Birth’ – which may explain why Margaret left Wales and married a labourer from the Wirral.

After a length search I can find no Ellis Holmes on the index of births, but there is an Ellis Williams registered in Carnarvon (born on Angelsey) at around the right time. It could be a completely different Ellis, but it’s probably worth sending for the certificate to find out…

Sarah Ellen Cross

The first signs of something out of the ordinary on my mum’s branch of the tree have surfaced.

Her maternal grandmother, Sarah Ellen Cross, was believed to be the daughter of Richard Cross and Sarah Burgess – and indeed on her marriage certificate she gives Richard Cross as the name of her father.

However on the 1881 census, whilst she appears living with Richard & Sarah Cross in Lostock Gralam near Northwich, she is listed as Richard’s niece – and her birthplace is given as Manchester.

Richard & Sarah and all their offspring where born in several small villages around Northwich – Lostock Gralam, Lach Dennis & Nether Peover – there’s certainly no indication they ever made it as far as Manchester.

Searching the index of births I’ve found a Sarah Ellen Cross born in Chorlton in 1873 – it may not be our Sarah but she’s the right age so we’ll have to send for the Birth Certificate to find out.

Richard & Sarah Cross

More from my mum’s branch of the tree, this time her maternal grandmother’s parents – Richard Cross and Sarah Burgess.

We’ve just received their wedding certificate, which shows they were married at the Parish Church in Great Budworth on 31st December 1861.

Their parents are recorded as James Cross (Wheelwright) and Thomas Burgess (Labourer) so they’re the next people to track down…

Thomas & Ellen Wood

Thus far my mum’s branch of the family tree has proven a little more straightforward to investigate than my dad’s – noone strayed to far from the Runcorn area as yet.

We’ve just received the marriage certificate for Thomas & Ellen Wood – the parents of my mum’s paternal grandfather (William Wood).

It shows they were married in Widnes in 1875 and gives their father’s names as Thomas Wood and Thomas Knowles respectively – we need to find birth certificates now in order to find out their mother’s names.

Maggie Holmes

Although we can find no sign of her on the 1891 or 1901 census, family history suggests that Maggie outlived her son John who died in 1906.

I’ve been searching for a death certificate and have found one in the index for 1908 – a Margaret Holmes aged 81 (consistent with the 1871 census) registered in the Prescot district.

We’ll probably have to send for this certificate to be sure – but it does beg the question where is she on the census?

Susanah Bamber

Looks like the Sarah Jane Smith we found is not our Sarah Jane Smith – even though her father has the right name.

We’ve managed to track them down on the 1881 census, as well as our Robert and Sarah Jane Smith – interestingly our Sarah Jane Smith seems to have lost a couple of years on the 1901 census and her place of birth has changed from Cavan in Ireland to St Helens.

It would be much easier if everyone stopped telling porkies on the census. 😀

Anyway taking a different tack has thrown up another lead – the International Genealogical Index at is a partial index to vital records from around the world including some from Ireland.

A search has thrown up a Susan Smith born on 21 Jul 1872 in Cavan in Ireland to a Robert Smith and Serah Johnston.

We’ll see of we can send for that Birth Certificate, but at least it gives us a concrete lead in the search for the Irish branch of our family tree.

Another John Holmes

Some more census searching at has thrown up some promising leads in the search for John Holmes.

On the 1871 census we have found a Holmes family living in Bebington on the Wirral with six children – the youngest of which are a William J aged 6 and a John aged 4 both listed as born in New Ferry. All of which is just about as close to Rock Ferry as you can get without actually being there. 🙂

Although we were looking for a James aged 6 and a John aged 2, we’ve got good reason to believe that John lied about his age – both on his marriage certificate and the 1901 census – as he’s the best part of 10 years older than his wife Elizabeth which was frowned upon at the time. From his death certificate and colliery records, which list his age as 38 in January 1906, we would expect his age to be around 4 on the 1871 census.

We’ve also found a birth certificate in the index that suggests the William J stands for William James, and as their father’s name was William it’s quite possible that in later life he dropped the William in favour of James.

On the 1881 census William (the father) has died, and the mother Maggie Holmes is running a Lodging House in Eccleston near St Helens – young William and our John are still living with her along with two of the other children, and John is listed as a Scholar aged 14 and William J as a labourer at the Glass Works aged 16.

On the 1891 census Maggie has died and John Holmes is listed as a Collier aged 24 living with his older sister Margaret, who is now married to a Frank Grundy but still running a Lodging House in Eccleston (a different one to the one on the 1881 census though) – but there’s no sign of William J Holmes.

Anyway we’ve sent for William James birth certificate which will hopefully give us Maggie’s maiden name – we know from the census she was born in the North Wales but the place name is indecipherable – and we’ll see where that takes us.

John Holmes

Looks like the John William Holmes we discovered recently is probably not our John Holmes after all.

After a length trawl through the 1871, 1881 and 1891 censuses (or should that be censi) on the excellent we discovered this particular John Holmes had an elder sister Ann, but apparently no elder brother James.

That would make it difficult for them to be sharing a house on the 1901 census – so either we don’t believe the 1901 census or there’s another John and James Holmes out there waiting to be discovered.