… Cutler, Sadler, Bricklayer – and Beggarman!
The COLLEY who had twelve children with Elizabeth WHITING, three of them before his sixteenth birthday, was a Bill of several trades and the master of just one at best. But he could multi-task in different parts of Yorkshire (at the same time); could die and be reborn. On the FamilySearch Shared Tree, he is unbelievable.
Seemingly the first child to arrive, little William Colley, was christened in Doncaster in June 1813, the son of a soldier. Two months earlier, his brother John had been blessed in Ecclesfield, where William senior worked as a cutler.
George, next on the list, is a mistake, christened in Hull but perhaps born in Leeds. His father isn’t William anyway, it’s George.
Back to Doncaster for Mary Ann, where dad is William again and a “sadler”. Three years later in the same place, a second John appears, and father William has re-enlisted. Maybe sadler is a spelling mistake.
Between the Donny kids, Mary Ann and John Two, Rosanna shows up in Ecclesfield, the cutler’s daughter. She is christened just 6 months before her younger brother John.
Next comes the only real child of the real Elizabeth Whiting, Maria. Eighteen years-old in 1841, she is a dressmaker, living with her parents in Skipsea.
Henry is something of a puzzle. On the Shared Tree, he is born in Doncaster but his single source shows him in the 1861 census as a 38-year-old boarder, working as a waterman. The only Henry Colley I could find born in Doncaster in 1823 was illegitimate, his putative father named as Thomas JINKINSON (sic).
Walter is next, born in Bridlington, his father a sailor.
The last three children are a tailor’s children all born in Scawton, though John the Third has a Gravesend christening source attached to him.
The Scawton Colleys were the easiest to trace through the censuses. Their mother, Elizabeth Somebody, gives Bridlington as her birthplace in 1851 and 1861. In 1841 she is with her husband and sons Lawrence and John in Scawton. (At the same time, remember, Elizabeth Whiting is in Skipsea with her William, Maria and a relative, Robert PAPE, 14.)
So, the Tailor of Scawton found his bride Elizabeth on the Yorkshire Coast and their first child was born in the area known as the Quay, though his christening entry raises the spectre of another spelling mistake (or trap for transcribers).
But in 1841, as mentioned above, the Tailor and his Bridlington born wife were in Scawton with two of the three boys. Not far away at Rye House Farm, an agricultural labourer called William Colley, calculated birth year 1822, is living-in with other farm servants, working for Farmer Ann WIND, 76.
On 30 November 1819 in Bridlington, a William Colley married Elizabeth JARMAN. Her christening record gives “JARMAINE”. She lived to the grand age of 85. There are records for the burials of the couple at St Mary, Scawton, in 1877. William died in February, aged 78, and Elizabeth in June. Their calculated dates of birth and death closely match those given in the Shared Tree, where so much else is wrong.
Oh! Beggarman. At the 1851 census, William senior of Scawton is described as a “Pauper”. Elizabeth too. But ten years later he is tailoring again, ripe old age beckoning.
Curiously, if you examine all the sources given for fantasy William and his impossible offspring, you’ll find quite a few that support the narrative arcs I’ve tried to briefly describe.
There are too many descendants of the erroneous couple for me to set things straight on the Shared Tree. I’ll leave it to “family”. I will, though, attempt to make correct the misrepresentations of the St Oswald’s churchyard Colleys.
Here is a photograph of one of them, donated to Looking at Filey by David Dickson.