A Minnie Problem

John Hendry NORTH, born 1820 in Hull, first married Sarah Doughty SPINK. After bearing seven children between 1842 and 1858 she died in London, but is remembered on a headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard.

John Hendry was 47 years-old when he married Frances Ann Elizabeth SHAILER, 24, in the summer of 1867.  Their first child, Arthur Guildford North, was late to the scene – in 1872 – and he didn’t marry Minnie SMITH until he was forty-three.

Even though she was a Smith, I thought Minnie would be easy to find. Initially, I had the information that she was born in 1879 in East Yorkshire. I added 1878 to the search term and Free BMD offered the following girls.

I had a moan about all these Minnies but it didn’t take too long to find a parish marriage entry that gave her father’s name – William Henry.

My family history detective work is sometimes haphazard and the first two-year-old Minnie I found in the 1881 census was a  boarder in the Sculcoates household of Harriet SHAKESBY, a married charwoman with an absent husband. I had a picture of her in the original Looking at Filey folder.

A page from Albert’s Autobiography, courtesy an anonymous donor

Minnie’s mother Ann Smith, though also described as a boarder (and married with an absent husband), was the eldest of ten children born to Harriet HARTLEY and James Shakesby. The couple’s youngest child, Albert (sometimes Albert Edward) was seven  in 1881 and probably saw Minnie as a little sister. When he was a few years older he lived as a “street arab”, becoming ayoung man of dubious character until he morphed into an evangelist. In later life he was occasionally a local hero in Filey. He died just a few doors from where I am writing this.

It was with a heavy heart that I discovered that this Minnie’s father wasn’t called William Henry. In 1881 that gentleman was living across the River Hull in the Old Town, about a quarter of a mile from the Shakesbys, with his wife Mary née BEEDHAM, three sons and the no longer problematic Minnie.

You can find the three families on the FamilySearch Shared Tree.

Sarah Doughty North née SPINK

Minnie North née SMITH

Albert SHAKESBY (and Minnie Rogers née SMITH)

Tree 50 · Martin’s Ravine

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