The Elusive John Hartas Lawson

You would think that fellows with unusual middle names would be easy to track and trace in Victorian Britain. Not so.

I have given “our John” a tick of approval because the minimal information attached to him on the Shared Tree is sound. Opening his single source on FamilySearch gives Emma Atkinson and Agnes Ramsden as possible spouses but, fear not…

The couple married in Filey St Oswald’s and the register entry tells us more.

John died less than eighteen months later but I couldn’t find any newspaper reports of his passing.

In 1901, Ann is “living on her own means” at 10 Mitford Street, Filey, with granddaughter Elizabeth. Ten years later at the same address she is described as a lodging house keeper, and a different granddaughter, Everellda, is with her. Helpfully, Ann noted the length of her marriage to Robert Killingbeck on the census form, 21 years, and that she’d had six children with him, of whom three had died. (Elizabeth is the illegitimate daughter of Ada, though she is Elizabeth ALMAND on the Shared Tree. Everillda is the daughter of Robert Tate KILLINGBECK and Christina SELLERS/SELLARS.)

John Hartas’ birth year – 1847 – has been calculated from his given age at death. A search of this year on Free BMD offers eleven boys called John Lawson plus one with a the middle name “Heslin”. This lad, born in Sunderland, was still alive in the twentieth century, so no misspelling involved there. There are sixteen just Johns born in 1846, plus four with middle names that can’t be mistaken for Hartas. None of the birth registration places caught my eye – and knowing his father was a labourer called John is of little assistance.

However, knowing that John Hartas had been married before suggested another strategy. I looked for a John H. marrying in a place of interest and found one in 1866. This is a little too early to be encouraging, but the marriage to either Johanna BENFIELD or Ella SOLOMAN took place in Kensington. At the 1871 census, Robert Killingbeck and Ann were enumerated at different Kensington addresses, Robert at York House Stables, where he worked as a coachman, and Ann at Dukes Lane (with daughter Ada, 1, mother Mary Tate nee HOLLAND, 46, and a nephew, Thomas, aged 2).

It is tantalising to think that Ann and John may have met in Kensington, even as she had more children with Robert, but for this to eventually end in them marrying requires  the wife of John H to follow Robert Killingbeck to the next world before 1889. I have found no evidence of this happening.

I will keep searching but other tasks await. Perhaps you, dear reader, can help.

Landscape 140 · Filey Bay

Cliff path above Muston Sands

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