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Bits of a Puzzle

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


JannieAnnie Report 30 Aug 2013 13:48

I know I said I would post anything interesting - sorry, it isn't really, but I have had another idea.

First I asked myself the question - Why is Joseph John French's mother shown as Mary Ann Clifton in the majority of trees I have been able to view? Surely someone must have some evidence! But I answered No, not necessarily. I have tried some members - and the responses are either the wrong French line or information came from the databases.

So my next thought was - perhaps it was her because the marriage of John French to Mary Ann Clifton occurred in 1825 (presumably before any births) and she appears in so many trees BUT what if the marriage didn't occur before births.

So I have now found another (yes yet another) John French to Mary Ann Corker.

This one occurred in October 1826 (so after the birth of Eliza French - see baptism posted by Chris Ho on 29 July at 16.33) but still a John French to a Mary Ann and in the Parish of St Georges. This could of course be another dead end but while I am waiting to see if I get a response from any who seem to be descended from Jane (the youngest and potentially most likely to have been registered) thought I would see if anyone can see anything else about Mary Ann Corker please?

I am considering trying the GRO again, with a search request, last time I used mother as Mary Ann Clifton, but might try again with Mary Ann Corker - obviously all depends if Joseph John French was registered or not.

Thank you



JannieAnnie Report 24 Aug 2013 20:43

I think you are right - I did have a couple of other 'Janes' come up - I think one died young. These ancestors (whoever they belong to) are elusive. Thank you for looking again. Now I just have to wait to see if I get any responses from the messages - and who knows what may turn up.

I will post anything interesting.



ChristinaS Report 24 Aug 2013 11:11

Oh dear, I'm SURE I saw something about another Jane French born around the same time, living in the same area, but now I can't find a thing. Have looked at deaths, baptisms and censuses, but nothing.

I wish I made proper notes when I'm doing this.

So I don't know. Maybe she is your Jane after all. This is an expensive hobby.


JannieAnnie Report 23 Aug 2013 23:12

I was looking earlier today on Mundia, particularly at Jane, hoping to find a descendant who was also researching family French - I came to the conclusion that the details I could see for Jane don't seem to have much more than her own children.

I was hoping that a direct descendant might have obtained her birth cert, I also had a quick look on here at family Precious (as she married William), but it turns up the same contacts. Most of the research seems to be through offspring of Joseph and Louisa.

I'd appreciate a fresh pair of eyes if you have the time



ChristinaS Report 23 Aug 2013 21:12

After oringinally thinking that Jane could be Joseph's sister, I remember that I saw another Jane French (same age) with another family, on the censuses.

I don't have time to look through them now as I need to go out. But if you, or no-one else has found her by tomorrow, I'll take a look.


JannieAnnie Report 23 Aug 2013 15:20

I was just following a different theory and to see if there was a natural line drawn between the baptised / unbaptised children / years of birth (ie early births had baptisms, later did not but Mary 1830 throws that out) - and found this one but can't remember if this was posted (John French - the Chingford born Coppersmith perhaps)

John French, "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975"
Name: John French
Gender: Male
Christening Date: 23 Jun 1805
Christening Place: Chingford, Essex, England
Birth Date: 01 Jun 1805
Death Date:
Name Note:
Father's Name: Richard French
Father's Birthplace:
Father's Age:
Mother's Name: Sareh
Mother's Birthplace:
Mother's Age:
Indexing Project (Batch) Number: C16394-4
System Origin: England-ODM
GS Film number: 1482468 IT 1-2
Reference ID:

So just keeping my stuff together. I am also trying to see if any members with Jane (1846) have any evidence of her mother's maiden name before I consider whether to get her birth certificate.............waiting for replies to my messages.



JannieAnnie Report 21 Aug 2013 00:05


I have been informed by the GRO that they are sending me a refund for the Joseph French Birth certificate I requested.

It seems either his birth was not registered OR his mother was not Mary Ann Clifton. They did a wide search (1837-1840) - I only expected a year either side of 1838 but they included 1840 too.

For the time being, I am stuck!

Thanks again everyone for your help.



JannieAnnie Report 1 Aug 2013 00:50

I think I am probably waiting in vain!! I was about to sleep but had John Frenches dancing around with Mary Anns in my head. Then I realised - I requested a birth cert for Joseph with father John French mother Mary (Ann) French but mmn CLIFTON - but it seems that she is probably the one who married the other John French.

Which means:

1) I won't get the cert because Joseph John was NOT registered (too early), but if registered then
2) I won't get the cert because parents shown are NOT John French and Mary Ann Clifton, or
3) I won't get the cert because father is John French but Mary Ann is NOT Clifton


4) I will get the cert because (a) Joseph was registered, (b) John French and Mary Ann Clifton are his parents!

Also was there some rule that men named John French had to marry women called Mary Ann (it is very annoying)?

Chris - thank you for those additional baptisms - they seemed to get them done quite quickly after they were born.

J-A (Still on the trail of the true Mary Ann)


ChristinaS Report 31 Jul 2013 21:17

Good luck. Without the birth certificates (which may not exist) it's going to be very difficult to pinpoint the true Mary Ann.


JannieAnnie Report 31 Jul 2013 19:24

OK so it seems then that I am looking for Mary3 .......................(who has not yet been identified in this little scenario) .........................and who is really Mary still Unknown, ancestor and mother of Joseph.

Then the others - Mary1 and Mary2 need to get out of my tree file! (Will give them some time though because they didn't know). That also means that lots of other trees have a spurious Mary! Unless they have managed to get a birth cert for someone.......

However - as there does not (so far) seem to be another obvious marriage I am just hoping that GRO can turn up a birth certificate for Joseph (1838) even though that is very early. If not I may need to get back to Jane!

So waiting (impatiently) to see.....


ChristinaS Report 31 Jul 2013 13:27

Looks like the Mary Ann Clifton marriage was also a red herring. As, going by the signatures, the John French who married her is the one who later married Mary Ann Charles.

Chris Ho :)

Chris Ho :) Report 31 Jul 2013 12:56

Name: James Thomas Clifton
Record Type: Burial
Estimated Death Date: abt 1847
Burial Date: 6 Sep 1847
Age: 44
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1803
Parish or Poor Law Union: St George in the East
Borough: Tower Hamlets
Register Type: Parish Register
(Prospect Place)

(just saw above, and thought of witness on 1825 Marriage, in case it matches with any future reference!)

Chris :)


JannieAnnie Report 31 Jul 2013 12:43

So two John Frenches who were coppersmiths married two Mary (Anns) - and the census age for Mary aged 30 in 1851 was just a red herring it seems.

Thank you for all your hard work - clears up my Mary ? Mary ? query - I have ordered via GRO a request for a search for a birth cert for Joseph John c1838 - will wait (until 21st August) to see if anything results.


Chris Ho :)

Chris Ho :) Report 31 Jul 2013 11:28

(have put your Census findings together folks, if it helps!)

FRENCH, John M 35 1806 Middlesex (Coppersmith)
FRENCH, Mary F 35 1806 Middlesex
FRENCH, Eliza F 15 1826 Middlesex
FRENCH, Sarah F 13 1828 Middlesex
FRENCH, Mary F 11 1830 Middlesex
FRENCH, John M 5 1836 Middlesex
FRENCH, Joseph M 3 1838 Middlesex
Piece: 696
Book/Folio: 9/13
Page: 18
Registration District: St George, East
Civil Parish: St George
Municipal Borough: Tower Hamlets
Address: Grove Street, St George, Tower Hamlets
County: Middlesex

FRENCH, John Head Married M 56 1795 Blacksmith
FRENCH, Mary Wife Married F 30 1821
FRENCH, Mary Daughter Unmarried F 20 1831 Umbrella Maker
FRENCH, Jane Daughter F 5 1846
FRENCH, John Son Unmarried M 16 1835 Umbrella Maker
FRENCH, Joseph Son M 14 1837 Umbrella Maker
Piece: 1547
Folio: 457
Page: 41
Registration District: Saint George in the East
Civil Parish: Saint George in the East
Municipal Borough: The Tower Hamlets
Address: 3, Matilda Street, Saint George In The East, The Tower Hamlets
County: Middlesex

FRENCH, John Head Married M 55 1806 Coppersmith
FRENCH, Maryan An Wife Married F 55 1806
St George in the East, Middlesex
FRENCH, Jane Daughter Unmarried F 15 1846 Scholar
St George in the East, Middlesex
Piece: 277
Folio: 98
Page: 11
Registration District: St George-In-The-East
Civil Parish: St George East
Municipal Borough:
Address: 12, Marmaduke Street, St George East
County: London

FRENCH, John Head M 65 1806 Essex (Coppersmith)
FRENCH, Mary A Wife F 65 1806 Middlesex
Piece: 538
Folio: 27
Page: 5
Registration District: St George in the East
Civil Parish: St George, East
Municipal Borough:
Address: Anthony St, St George, East
County: London, Middlesex

Chris :)

(also added with other Baptism, Eliza and Sarah. Mary and Joseph not found, yet!)


ChristinaS Report 31 Jul 2013 10:55

No!! I've gone back on the wrong family. So, your John French isn't the one who married Mary Ann Charles.

Found this family on the 1851 census:

St. Giles

John French - head - 50 - coppersmith - Croydon, Surrey
Mary French - wife - 48
Fanny Charles - - 18
Edmund Charles son in law - 9
Thomas Brooker - newphew - 22

So there's two John Frenchs who are coppersmiths!


JannieAnnie Report 31 Jul 2013 09:34

Hi ChristinaS

Thank you so much for all that research, I really appreciate it, so interesting and probable. I have booked a place a the library later today so will look at the marriage certs.

I need to think about it - because if Mary Ann Brooker was baptised in 1803 - then the aged 30 (born 1821) on the 1851 is incorrect and should be aged 50(ish) - unless she told him she was 30 (daughter already married in 1848) - I don't think she had her daughter when she was 6! Plus on the 1861 their ages are closer together and finally agree on the 1871.

It makes more sense to me that an older widow would remarry - more convenient than a 30 year old would marry a 56 year old - unless she had small children to care for which she apparently didn't, maybe a 30 year old could get work easier?

I am more convinced that there were 2 Mary Anns - both about the same age - and either an error or a lie somewhere. It also explains why John and Mary2 didn't have any more children perhaps?

Not yet but I think at some point to prove it I might need to try to get a death cert for Mary1.


ChristinaS Report 31 Jul 2013 08:54

Here's some food for thought.

On the marriage certificiate for John French and Mary Ann Charles, Mary Ann's father is John Brooker, a hatter.

Baptism 22nd April 1803 - Denmark Park, Southwark
Mary Ann Brooker - parents John Brooker (a hatter) and Rebecca Brooker

Marriage in 1827 between Mary Ann Brooker and Edmund Charles

Mary Ann and Edmund Charles have a daughter - Elizabeth Rebecca Charles, baptised 1831 in Westminster

This Elizabeth Rebecca Charles marries Francisco Lopez in 1848
The witness of the certificate is Mary Ann Charles

This is all on Ancestry. If you take a look at the signatures for Mary Ann Charles on Elizabeth Rebecca's marriage certificate, and the Mary Ann Charles on the John French marriage certificate, I think you will agree that they look very similar.

But I also think the John French signature on both the Mary Ann Charles marriage certificate and the Mary Ann Clifton marriage certificate are made by the same person.

So maybe John French did get married to two Mary Anns. But how did he get the ages so wrong!?

What do you think?


JannieAnnie Report 30 Jul 2013 22:26


Sorry missed your 1861 as I was posting - and how funny that your ancestor lived in the same street!

I was looking on another site beginning with M - found Mary Ann Clifton - variously born in St Olave (SE London) and St Georges (East London) who seems to have died in 1879 - or was that Mary2.

If it wasn't for the marriage in 1850 I would think it was the same Mary in 1871 - bit concerned that she has now aged 20 years again - then again he might have been confused which one she was! Also a bit surprised that there were no further children - she was still quite young when they married.


ChristinaS Report 30 Jul 2013 22:12

Okay, so here's the 1871 census, just to send us loopy.

St.George in the East - 80 Anthony Steet

John French - head - 65 - coppersmith - Chingford, Essex
Mary A. French - wife - 65 - St. Georges, Middx.


JannieAnnie Report 30 Jul 2013 22:01

Just searched all trees and found I had been given access to a tree when I first started researching - it has Bicks, Catchpoles and Precious' - but not the tree of a direct descendant of Jane (died young in 1889 apparently) - and no sign of Mary2.

Interestingly there is a note of John's death occurring in 1880 in Bethnal Green (aged 74) - so he must have been somewhere in 1861 and 1871.


EDIT: 22.43 - Another tree has Jane's date of death as 1927! Typical