The Fate of a Guesswork Wife

Elizabeth, the fourth child of Pearson FOSTER and Elizabeth HEWSON born in Muston in 1848, doesn’t appear to be related to the Gristhorpe, Muston Grange and Newbiggin Fosters of recent posts. In Filey Genealogy & Connections she marries Frederic JOHNSON, has four children with him and dies in 1886. But a Reference Note states “wife=guesswork”.

On FamilySearch Tree, the first wife of Frederick Johnson is Elizabeth STAVELEY. Census returns show the same four children but only one has a Mother Staveley in the GRO Index of Births. I can’t find Emma’s entry at all; George and Jane may have mistranscribed mothers – STABLER and STATHERS. There is, though, a fifth Johnson child who surely belongs to the family. Sadly, little Annie didn’t stay long.

It is no surprise that Elizabeth Staveley has the same date of death as Elizabeth Foster. On both FST & FG&C the first wife made a space for Eliza BURR to fill. Eliza had two children with Frederick but brought a son, Frank, to the marriage. His bio father isn’t known but FST attaches him to Frederick.

Frederick was an illegitimate son of Emma JOHNSON and, aged three, he was with his mother under the roof of grandparents, George and Jane. Ten years later, in 1861, he was working for Elisha ELDERS at Church Cliff Farm. For twenty years or so he worked as a “carrier” and then settled for simply labouring on a farm again. He seems to have gone by “Fred” – the diminutive that adorns his gravestone.


But what of Elizabeth Foster? I can’t even guess. I haven’t yet found a death that fits a young Elizabeth, nor a spouse after she reaches marriageable age. Her fate is unknown, to me at least.

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