Richard Bate and the error in Acton Parish Register

St Mary's Church, Acton, near Nantwich, Cheshire

St Mary's Church, Acton, near Nantwich, Cheshire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Richard Bate, my great-great-great grandfather, married Ann Higgins 11 July 1844, at Sandbach. Who were his parents? For some considerable time I thought they were James and Susannah Bate of Acton (near Nantwich) in Cheshire, but in trying to sort out their family, I was getting deeper and deeper into trouble. You see, there are two people named Richard Bate baptised in Acton in the 1820s – one in 1825 to James and Susannah Bate and the other in 1822 to Richard and Sarah. Since mine was the child of James and Susannah, why were all the connections to Susannah’s family from the otherRichard?

Eventually I realised – there is an error in the Acton Parish Register. How did I know? Or was I kidding myself to get an answer I wanted?

What did I know about the Richard Bate who was my 3G grandfather? The censuses from 1851 to 1871 (when he’s at Talk o’ th’ Hill, Staffs.) give his birth details as:

  •  March 1822-23, apparently Cholmondeley but probably, based on the next entries, Cholmondeston;
  •  April 1822-23, Acton (the parish for Cholmondeston);
  •  April 1821-22, Nantwich (next to Acton);

From his marriage certificate, his father is James Bate, a gardener. So I searched the Cheshire Collection on FindMyPast for baptisms of Richard Bate (with name variants) on a date of 1822 +/- 5y. The six results were:

  • 1818 at Marbury, father William (Parish Register and Bishop’s Transcript)
  • 1822 at Acton, father Richard, mother Sarah (PR only);
  • 1825 at Acton, father James, mother Susanna (PR and BT);
  • 1827 at Hanmer, father Richard (BT)

Only the 1822 and 1825 match the parish to his census birthplace. Only the 1825 entry has the correct father’s name. This 1825 entry matches on father’s name; his occupation (labourer) is compatible with a gardener and the residence is Cholmondeston – which matches on parish of Acton. It is 3y out in date, which may be a worry since my Richard is quite consistent in saying his birth is 1821-23.

Conversely, the 1822 baptism is right for the year, but he has a father, Richard, that does not match. Note though, that he is also from Cholmondeston.

So only the 1825 baptism matches. But maybe my Richard was not baptised? In which case the 1825 baptism must be someone else. Could it be any other person? In which case, either my Richard was not baptised or his father’s name (James) was recorded incorrectly.

Search Ancestry census for Rich* Bate* born 1825 +/- 10y in Cheshire and we get these responses:
1841 census (when Richard should be about 15)

  • b abt 1816, resident Alderley – too old;
  • b abt 1821, resident Marbury – male servant – see 1851 which shows him as not ours;
  • b abt 1826, resident Acton (Cholmondeston on the image) – male servant;
  • b abt 1826, resident Wybunbury (Blakenhall on image) – male servant;
  • b abt 1835, resident Sandbach – only 6, so discarded – also, see 1851 which shows he is not ours;

One further 10y old at Grappenhall – discarded by age and distance;

1851 census

  • b abt 1818, born and resident Marbury, married to Mary so not ours;
  • b abt 1823, born Cholmondeley, resident Audley (ours);
  • b abt 1834, born and resident Sandbach, father Robert.

1861 census

  • b abt 1818, born Marbury, resident Lancs – see 1851, not ours;
  • b abt 1823, born Acton, resident Talke (ours);
  • b abt 1825, born Acton, resident Cholmondeston, single ag lab;
  • b abt 1835, born and resident Sandbach;

1871 census

  • b abt 1822, born Nantwich, resident Audley (ours);
  • b abt 1826, born Acton, resident Cholmondeston, single ag lab;

So the only ones born in our area are:

  • b abt 1822/23, born Acton parish, resident Talke or Audley (ours);
  • b abt 1825/26, born Acton parish, resident Cholmondeston, single ag lab;

We therefore have just two people in the censuses (including the 1841) for the two baptisms. The Cheshire Collection on FMP shows that the only Cheshire burials recorded for a Richard Bate(s) in the 1820s through 1850s are:

  • 1834, Great Budworth (b abt 1771);
  • 1836, Warburton (b abt 1776);
  • 1852, Alsager (b abt 1776);

Hence, there seems no local justification for the view that the two children on the two baptisms did not survive into the 1851 and 1861 census era. Thus, from an analysis as complete as practical for the local area, the 1822 and 1825 baptisms must be the two in the censuses. One of those is ours and only one has James as a father – the 1825 one.

Issue 1: Note that the 1825 baptism is matched to the one claiming to be born 1822/23 in the censuses (mine), and the 1822 baptism to the one claiming to be born 1825/26 in the censuses. While matching the other way round might be more logical, the fact is that his marriage is clear about my Richard’s father being James, thus disqualifying the 1822 baptism.

Issue 2: It is perfectly possible that one of the two Richard’s is about 3y out in his understanding for the censuses of when he was born. It is less likely that the other Richard was also 3y out in his own understanding – and in exactly the opposite direction.

By the current logic, the “other” Richard, the ag lab, is baptised in 1822 at Acton, to father Richard and mother Sarah. This Richard is found in the censuses to be associated with the Arrowsmiths, who are my Richard’s mother’s family:

  • In the 1861, he is lodging with Samuel and Martha Arrowsmith and their family;
  • In the 1871, he lives next door (at least, in the census) to Samuel and Martha Arrowsmith, who he lived with in the 1861 census.

This Samuel Arrowsmith is one of the children of James Arrowsmith and Hannah nee Huxley – and James and Hannah live next door (in the 1841 census) to Susannah Bate, formerly Arrowsmith, who, by the logic above is mother of my Richard Bate.

Issue 3: By the logic above, the “other” Richard is associated in 2 censuses with the Arrowsmiths, but there is no known genealogical connection between him and them. Instead, the Arrowsmith connection is supposed to be with my Richard. It’s as if the wrong Richard is connected.

Issue 4: The “other” Richard is baptised in 1822 at Acton, to father Richard and mother Sarah – but I can find no trace of a Cheshire marriage of Richard Bate and a Sarah at all. The only such marriage in North Staffordshire in the timescales is one in Stafford in 1802. (FMP has, errors and omissions excepted, full coverage of all Cheshire marriages 1754-1837, and FamilySearch has near complete coverage for North Staffordshire in that era).

Issue 5: If my Richard’s parents are indeed, as per the current logic, James Bate and Susannah Arrowsmith, then he has a brother, Thomas, who marries in 1845, describing his father (died in 1837) as a bricklayer. Yet my Richard (married in 1844) describes his father as a gardener. Why the difference?

Is there any way to deal with these five issues? My Richard’s father is James Bate. Suppose there were another James Bate and my Richard’s baptism is not recorded. In fact, there is another James Bate in the Acton area – James and Sarah Bate have children baptised in Acton in 1815, 1817, 1820, 1825, 1827, 1829 (Wybunbury), 1831 (Nantwich Wesleyan) and 1837. Note that there is a gap sufficient – almost demanding – to have a child about 1822, which is about the time of the birth of my Richard from the censuses.

Is it possible, therefore, that the situation is:

  • my Richard born about 1822 to James and Sarah and unbaptised;
  • another Richard baptised 1822 at Acton, father Richard, mother Sarah;
  • a third Richard baptised 1825 at Acton, father James, mother Susanna.

This would mean three children named Richard Bate in the same parish, all born in the 1820s, but as only two are visible in the censuses and none seem to die before then, this set-up of three seems unlikely. (FindMyPast has no Richard Bate buried in Cheshire with a birth 1822 +/- 10y at all, specifically none in the Acton area before the census era. All burials in this era should have ages, so this is a valid search).

Is it possible, therefore, that the situation is:

  • my Richard born about 1822 to James and Sarah, baptised 1822 at Acton, but incorrectly recorded there as father Richard, mother Sarah;
  • the other Richard baptised 1825 at Acton, father James, mother Susanna.

Does this solve the issues?
Issue 1: The 1825 baptism was matched to the one claiming to be born 1822/23 in the censuses (mine), and the 1822 baptism to the one claiming to be born 1825/26 in the censuses. This issue is resolved as my Richard (1822/23 in the censuses) is now matched to the 1822 baptism and the 1825/26 census one is matched to the 1825 baptism.

Issue 2: It is perfectly possible that one of the two Richard’s is about 3y out in his understanding for the censuses of when he was born. It is less likely that the other Richard was also 3y out in his own understanding – and in exactly the opposite direction. This issue is resolved as both are now correct in their understanding of when they were born.

Issue 3: The “other” Richard was associated in 2 censuses with the Arrowsmiths, but there is no known genealogical connection with him. Instead, the Arrowsmith connection is supposed to be with my Richard. It’s as if the wrong Richard is connected. This is resolved as the “other” Richard, who is still associated in censuses with the Arrowsmiths, now has a mother named Susannah Arrowsmith, so the Arrowsmith connection is now as expected.

Issue 4: The “other” Richard is baptised in 1822 at Acton, to father Richard and mother Sarah – but I can find no trace of a Cheshire marriage of Richard Bate and a Sarah at all. This is resolved as that baptism is, we now believe, recorded incorrectly and should have parents James and Sarah Bate, found in baptisms on numerous occasions.

Issue 5: If my Richard’s parents are indeed, as per the current logic, James Bate and Susannah Arrowsmith, then he has a brother, Thomas, who marries in 1845, describing his father (died in 1837) as a bricklayer. Yet my Richard (married in 1844) describes his father as a gardener. This is resolved as my Richard Bate and Thomas Bate are no longer related, so are free to describe their father differently.

Finally, note that my Richard’s father is still James, as per my Richard’s marriage certificate. It’s just a different James.

Is the error on the baptism plausible? Yes, because it should read as Richard baptised to James and Sarah, whereas it reads as Richard baptised to Richard and Sarah – a simple repeat of the son’s name has accidentally replaced the father’s.

Conclusions:

  • Richard Bate (my 3G grandfather, married Ann Higgins 11 July 1844, Sandbach) was born to parents James and Sarah Bate of Acton parish, about 1822;
  • He was baptised 1822 at Acton but the baptism records his parents as Richard (incorrect) and Sarah (correct);
  • The Richard Bate who is baptised at Acton in 1825 to James and Susannah Bate is lodging with Samuel and Martha Arrowsmith and their family in the 1861 census and in the 1871, he lives next door (at least, in the census) to the same Samuel and Martha Arrowsmith.

So – I hope I have made a convincing case that there really is an error in the parish registers of Acton.

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About brucefuimus

Retired IT professional; family historian and mathematician by training.
This entry was posted in Acton, Bate, Error, Family history and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Richard Bate and the error in Acton Parish Register

  1. Dave Bate says:

    Hi, My name is David Mark Bate. I am trying to find information about my ancestors but at every turn I have web companies asking for my money. Your pages are very impressive and I am so glad you have made this effort. I really am impressed. I dont think I can get anywhere with using “free” web sites. Can you or will you send me some relevant websites that, for free, I can investigate my heritage without lining some multi-national company directors pockets with my money. I feel this information should be accessable.

    The Info I would like is about my Dads family. Born 2/6/35, my Dad was Frank Bate. His Father was John Bate who married Phoebe Manniex. I cannot go back further on his side, but I can go back 3 generarations on my mothers side. Obviously,not to the same extent as you have done.

    We are from England. Dad emigrated to Australia in 1974, with his wife and 5 kids. (i am eternally gratefull)

    Without giving you too much information about our family, can you point me in the right direction to learn more about mine?

    I really hope you can assist me in my search for my Dads family without costing me a lot of money. Cheers

    Dave Bate
    D.O.B.1/7/1967
    0457335551

    • brucefuimus says:

      If you want to understand UK Genealogy, then a good site to start with is GENUKI – this is a series of pages written by volunteers about either the UK as a whole or (much of it) by county. What records are available, where, etc.

      Of the various sites, I’d recommend http://www.ukbmd.org.uk/ which is a gateway to the various county based sites for civil registration indices. You need to understand that in England & Wales (but not Scotland) there are two sets of registration certificates for Births, Marriages & Deaths. The originals are held in local Register offices but every 3m or so, they sent copies to the General Register Office (now at Southport). The GRO will provide copies of certificates and many of the local Register offices do as well. But it is crucial to realise the offices all have different filing systems so a reference number for the GRO will be no use if you want the certificate from the local office and vice versa. As for which office you use – well, that depends on various things. In all cases you have to pay – no-one can see any certificate without paying – but not all local offices can accept credit card orders, whereas the GRO does. On the other hand, getting hold of the GRO reference might be tricky for most of the 20th century, whereas a site like LancashireBMD (say) might have the local Lancashire office references. These (free) county-BMD sites are works in progress.

      Once you get back to the early years of the 20th century then the GRO references can be found on FreeBMD. Whatever you do, do not order certificates from anyone other than the GRO or the local Register offices. Many of these agents charge extra for doing exactly what you’d do!

      Censuses – the UK kept theirs, thank goodness, but they are only a/v after 100 years. Most are on pay sites but FamilySearch has the 1881 and volunteers are slowly transcribing other censuses for free sites, chiefly FreeCEN.

      Once you’re past 1837 (when civil registration started), then you’re into church records of baptisms, marriages and burials. Depending on whether your ancestors were Church of England or others, such as Methodists, this may be easy or tricky. However, between 1754 and 1837, all marriages had to take place in Church of England parish churches, except for Jewish and Quaker marriages. Those exceptions were nothing to do with religious tolerance and everything to do with the fact that those 2 denominations were good record keepers, so were trusted to maintain their own records. In addition, in many places the only burial facilities were in CofE church-yards, so many non-conformists appear in CofE registers for marriages and burials. Major sources of church records or indexes to them are FamilySearch and some other county based sites such as the OnLine Parish Clerks project for Lancashire. In all cases, coverage is far from complete for virtually all counties (Cheshire’s coverage is exceptionally good).

      Do any of your public libraries subscribe to Ancestry or similar? I can get access via my library card to some sites (e.g. containing 19th century newspapers) for free and actually from home – but not Ancestry!

      As an example of where to start, the above mentioned FreeBMD has this entry:
      Surname First name(s) Spouse District Vol Page
      Marriages Mar 1924
      Manniex Phoebe Bate Leigh 8c 317
      (Actually – this is late for a FreeBMD entry – they tend not go go that late). Click on the page and you see it’s “Bate John Manniex Leigh 8c 317”
      That gives you the GRO reference to order from them.

      Once you have the marriage certificate, you can find their fathers (no mother, sorry – English certificates are a bit poor in info compared to the best Australian!) then work back. (Manniex is probably a good candidate for misspelling!)

      Best of luck.

  2. brucefuimus says:

    Forgot – the GRO Certificate Ordering Service is on http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/

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