Thomas Cadman – that wasn’t supposed to happen!

For some years, my Cadman line was stuck on my 3-greats grandfather, Thomas Cadman (abt 1804 – 1845). He died in a farming accident while still in his 40s – a tragedy for his family, which seems to have been broken up as a result, but also (a very minor effect in comparison) a nuisance for me as Thomas died before the 1851 census could tell me his birthplace. According to the 1841 census, he was born between 1801 and 1806 in Staffordshire. His wife (the former Margaret Sproson) also gets a birthplace of Staffordshire in that census – but as later censuses show her to have been born in Wybunbury, Cheshire, I had little faith in the Staffordshire birthplace for Thomas, either.

Some time ago, an old school-colleague had suggested to me that my Thomas Cadman was to be found in his tree and had been baptised in Audlem, Cheshire, in 1805 as a son of Charles Cadman. As there are very few recorded Thomas Cadman baptisms in North Staffordshire or Cheshire at the appropriate time, this seemed a very plausible suggestion. A short time ago, I sat down to write this up with a view to demonstrating that Charles Cadman was my 4-greats grandfather. But, now, doing it properly, I looked into the adjacent Shropshire parishes, found another Thomas Cadman, looked for the evidence to exclude him and realised with a sinking feeling that I couldn’t find it. There were two Thomas Cadman candidates, both appeared in the 1841 census, and I seriously couldn’t tell which was which. Until Ancestry’s Public Member Trees came to the rescue…

To begin at the beginning – this was my previous state of information:

  • Thomas Cadman’s death certificate indicates a birth in the range September 1804 to September 1805. He married Margaret Sproson in 1825, at Wybunbury, so there’s no father’s name on the marriage record. The witnesses include a John Cadman – possibly a brother?
  • According to the 1841 census, Thomas, his wife Margaret, and all their children up to Joseph (b abt March 1841) are all born in Staffordshire.
  • We know the above is not true for Margaret – she was born Wybunbury, Cheshire, as later censuses give Wybunbury and her baptism there even gives the exact date.
  • It’s also not true for their eldest son, William, who also claims to be born in Wybunbury (written as “Widdinbuy”) in the 1861 census. (And while the 1851 has Staffordshire, it’s “Whittenbury” – clearly the same place).

We therefore have issues with the 1841 birthplaces of Margaret and William. Could Thomas also be wrong? Perhaps he wasn’t born in Staffordshire after all?

Searching for potential births and baptisms

To search for Thomas’ birth in Staffordshire, start with the FindMyPast parish records. As he married a woman from Wybunbury and stayed in the Audley and Barthomley area, we will look at Audley, its adjacent parishes / chapelries and those adjacent but one. Altogether, these are:

  • Betley
  • Biddulph
  • Burslem St. John and also St. Paul
  • Hanley
  • Keele
  • Madeley
  • Maer
  • Newcastle
  • Newchapel
  • Norton-le-Moors
  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • Swynnerton
  • Talke (chapel in Audley)
  • Trentham
  • Whitmore
  • Wolstanton
  • Woore (Salop)

Strictly the list above should include Chorlton, but I decided that was too far away. Look in the FindMyPast Staffordshire parish register collection first. Search for Thomas Cadman (and variants) b1805 +/- 10y. There are four, but none in the qualifying parishes / chapelries.

But Staffordshire is not complete in FMP. Those parishes / chapelries listed below are those not covered by FMP’s baptisms for 1795-1815, the years that I am interested in.

1. Betley
1.1 A Staffordshire Parish Register Society book gives baptisms to 1802. No originals survive for 1802-12 apart from 3 entries in this book. There are no Cadman baptisms – I searched for “Ca”, “Co”, “Ka”, case-sensitive – no Cadman or similar appear.
1.2 FamilySearch covers 1513-1859 except for the 1802-12 gap – no Thomas Cadman (or similar) baptisms at Betley.

2. Maer
FamilySearch covers 1674-1878 – no Thomas Cadman (or similar) baptisms at Maer in that date range.

3. Stoke-on-Trent
FreeReg covers 1629-1856 – no Thomas Cadman (or similar) baptisms.

4. Swynnerton
FreeReg covers 1646-1837 – no Thomas Cadman (or similar) baptisms.

5. Whitmore
FreeReg covers 1558-1812 – no Thomas Cadman (or similar) baptisms.
FamilySearch covers 1674-1837 – no Thomas Cadman (or similar) baptisms.

There is, therefore, no plausible candidate in Staffordshire for Thomas Cadman (b abt 1805) who has been baptised in Audley, the parishes next to Audley, or those next but one.

This leaves Cheshire and Shropshire.

Within the same geographical criteria, but in Shropshire, we have Woore, a chapelry in the parish of Mucklestone, Staffordshire. Woore’s baptism registers in FMP cover 1792-1808 and 1831-1895 as far as the years we need go. Shropshire Record Office indicates there are no surviving originals for 1809-1830.

If we search FMP for Thomas Cadman (and variants) baptised 1805 +/- 10y in Shropshire and look for Woore entries, we do find one entry to satisfy our criteria:

First name(s)     Thomas
Last name     Cadman
Baptism date     14 Jul 1802
Denomination     Anglican
Place                      Woore
Father             William

That entry reads:

July 14 <1802> Bap’d Thomas of William Cadman of Woore

Note that I also found no matching Thomas Cadman entries in the registers of Mucklestone, Staffordshire, on FMP, which does have the relevant years.

The above logic produced some leads to interesting areas in Shropshire – I therefore modified this search to add the Shropshire parishes of Adderley and Norton in Hales, both adjacent to Audlem, and Market Drayton (also known as Drayton in Hales), adjacent to them. This brought up one extra entry:

First name(s)     Thomas
Last name     Cadman
Baptism date     26 Jun 1796
Denomination     Anglican
Place                   Adderley
Father               William
Mother                 Mary

(The remaining Shropshire entries on FMP are in Wombridge, Whitchurch, Church Aston and Broseley. Wombridge is east of Wellington, so too far south. Whitchurch is just a bit too far, being two more parishes west. Broseley is SE of Shrewsbury and Church Aston is east of Shrewsbury, near to the Staffs border. ) There are no extra Staffordshire parishes brought in from extending the search area in Shropshire, though Ashley perhaps should be added – its entries are all in FMP.

So, we have two possibilities for my Thomas Cadman in Shropshire.

Now search Cheshire. Search FMP for Thomas Cadman (and variants) bap 1805 +/- 10y in Cheshire. In the whole of the county there are only these three:

First name(s)     Thomas
Last name     Cadman
Baptism date     29 Sep 1805
Place     Audlem
Father’s first name(s)     Charles
Father’s last name     Cadman
Mother’s first name(s)     Mary

First name(s)     Thomas
Last name     Cadman
Baptism date     15 Jan 1809
Place     Acton (near Nantwich)
Father’s first name(s)     Thomas
Father’s last name     Cadman
Mother’s first name(s)     Hannah

First name(s)     Thomas
Last name     Cadman
Baptism date     10 Apr 1814
Place     Prestbury
Father’s first name(s)     Samuel
Father’s last name     Cadman
Mother’s first name(s)     Sarah

We discard the Prestbury entry as too distant. This leaves two candidates in Cheshire.

The possible baptisms of Thomas Cadman

Our candidates are therefore:

  • Thomas of Woore, bap 1802;
  • Thomas of Adderley, bap 1796;
  • Thomas of Audlem, bap 1805;
  • Thomas of Acton, bap 1809.

Are any of these in the 1851 census (by which time our Thomas is dead)? Because if they are, then they’re not our Thomas.

Search Ancestry 1851 for Thomas C*dm*n b1805 +/- 10y and look for those born in these 3 counties. This gives us:

  • Thomas b 1801 Adderley, Shrops., living at Buerton in Cheshire, m Sarah, ag. lab. – by reason of his birthplace, we match him to the 1796 baptism at Adderley;
  • Thomas b 1809 Acton, Ches., m Elizabeth, res. Dodcott – we match him to the Acton baptism;

There is also a Thomas b 1814 Adlington, Ches., but Adlington is too far away to be any of the four we want to investigate, so we forget him. We also discard one born “Coalpit Bond”, one in Shrewsbury and one born Wombridge.

Hence, based on the 1851, the baptism candidates’ fates are:

  • Thomas of Woore, bap 1802 – fate??;
  • Thomas of Adderley, bap 1796 – appears in 1851, as b Adderley, res. Buerton;
  • Thomas of Audlem, bap 1805 – fate??;
  • Thomas of Acton, bap 1809 – appears in the 1851, as b Acton.

So the only possible matches for our Thomas are now:

  • Thomas of Woore, Shropshire, bap 1802 to William;
  • Thomas of Audlem, Cheshire, bap 1805 to Charles;

The 1861 and 1871 censuses add nothing – in fact, there is no sign of any of the 4 candidates in either census.

What about the 1841 census? It gives these born in Cheshire:

  • Thomas, b1806-11, with Elizabeth, res. Audlem, matched by wife’s name to the Acton baptisms as per 1851;
  • Thomas, b1813/14, res. Prestbury – matched to the Adlington from the 1851, who we’ve discarded;
  • Thomas, b1801-1806, res. Buerton, stonemason w. Harriett;

There are, of course, others, include our Thomas in Staffordshire. But it was at this stage that I got that sinking feeling. I had two candidates from the baptisms – Thomas of Woore and Thomas of Audlem. The 1841 had two unmatched Thomases – mine in Staffordshire and the one in Buerton, so the two candidates in the baptisms ought to match the two in the 1841 – but which was which? I began to have an inkling which way round they might be. Thomas of Audlem was baptised to Charles Cadman and he was the original suggestion made to me for my Thomas in Staffordshire. But there were several Cadmans in the Buerton area in the 1841 and they started to look a lot like Charles’ sons (as taken from the Audlem baptisms). If the Buerton stonemason was also one of Charles’ sons, then mine would be the Woore one. Which wasn’t quite what I’d expected. But I still couldn’t decide which was which for certain.

Enter Ancestry

Ancestry’s Public Member Tree “Some East Tuddenham Families” makes a clear and convincing case that the 1841 census Thomas Cadman, who is the stonemason living in Buerton with Harriett, emigrated to Canada in 1842, and further that he was baptised 29 Sept 1805 at Audlem to Charles and Mary Cadman. The evidence includes matching children for Thomas and Harriet when comparing Canadian and English censuses, and (crucially) a letter written back from Canada that lists some of Canadian Thomas’ siblings – and they match members of Charles and Mary’s family.

So, therefore, the 1805 Audlem baptism (to Charles) is the 1841 stonemason at Buerton, meaning that the only remaining possible local match of a baptism record for our Thomas is Thomas of Woore, baptised 1802 to William.

So, huge thanks to the owner of that tree for telling us what happened to her Thomas Cadman – and I was careful to send her a Private Message saying so. And here’s a lesson – while Ancestry’s Public Member Trees are often highly suspect, sometimes they contain valuable suggestions that you can follow-up in the real records – and sometimes they even contain valuable research when they link to real records such as censuses and newspaper reports.

Double check

It is always possible that my Thomas was not baptised. If that were so, then there should be an alternative fate for him, such as finding five burials for the four baptisms. Looking at Thomas of Woore, baptised 1802 to William – is there an alternative fate for him? Certainly, there is no other person he could be in the censuses apart from those we have already considered. Could he have died at other times?

Search the Cheshire, Shropshire and Staffordshire burials on FMP for Thomas Cadman burials in years 1790-1870. Many of those will have ages at death, allowing us to decide when they were born. Remove those with ages who were born outside 1792-1812. Those burials in the parishes in the area are:

  • Thomas b abt 1805, bur 1845 Barthomley (which I know already is ours);
  • Thomas b abt 1808, bur 1859 Audlem, res. Dodcott – his will is on FMP’s Cheshire Wills and this shows his wife to be Elizabeth;

I rejected burials in Wombridge, Hinstock, Broseley, Wolverhampton and Bloxwich.

The 1859 burial in Audlem is clearly Thomas of Acton, bap 1809, who is visible in the 1851 as res. Dodcott, m. Elizabeth.

There is, therefore, no alternative fate for Thomas of Woore, bap1802.

What about John Cadman, the witness at our Thomas’ wedding? Thomas of Woore is bap 1802 to William Cadman of Woore. The only Cadman baptisms in Woore in 1802 +/-20y are three to William: Thomas (bap 1802); John (bap 1805) and an unnamed son (bap 1808 to William).

A John Cadman, b Woore (Staffs) abt 1811, m Sarah, appears in the 1851 at Knowl End. He is the only candidate for the John bap 1805. The 1861 and 1871 add nothing – he appears in the 1861 at Knowl End again but is not in the 1871. While the baptism is 1805 but the census claims he is born about 1811, our Thomas is also out in his age, if he is the 1802 baptism. So the Cadman brothers don’t seem that accurate with their ages. Further, John thinks he was born in Woore but also thinks Woore is in Staffs – just as our Thomas also claims to be born in Staffs in the 1841. Dodgy ages and dodgy geography for the two of them. John Cadman and Sarah Warham marry at Audley in 1834 – a witness is Thomas Cadman, mirroring the situation with our Thomas, who has a John Cadman as his witness. Finally, John is found in the censuses at Knowl End and our Thomas has children baptised when he is living at Knowl End, albeit rather earlier.

So, we conclude:

  • Our Thomas Cadman (abt1804-Sep 1845) is baptised at Woore in 1802 to William;
  • Thomas has a brother, John, bap 1805 at Woore, who marries Sarah Warham at Audley in 1834;
  • Thomas has an unknown brother bap1808 at Woore.

No, not quite what I was expecting, as I was expecting our Thomas to be Charles’ son – but he went off to Canada.  And that’s why I sit down and write these things out properly. And why I’m writing it out for you, in case one of you has an interest in Thomas Cadman and his wife, Margaret Sproson.

About brucefuimus

Retired IT professional; family historian and mathematician by training.
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