We all know of the seemingly impenetrable brick walls which we bump into on a fairly regular basis. I hit one one these with my 4th great-grandfather, Benjamin Ferguson, who, according to the 1841 census was living in Kendal, and born in 1766 in England but not in the county of Westmorland. He did not appear on the 1851 census, so I assumed that he had moved on to higher things.
Over the years I have tried to find out more about him, visiting the Kendal Archives to find his burial, but without any luck, in fact I cannot even find the christenings of his children in the Kendal Parish Registers. My research has not been helped by the fact that northern England is an outpost of internet indexing, meaning that the Union Tavern in Kendal is almost a second home!
Regularly I search new registers which come on-line, and three months ago I had a minor break through, I found a Benjamin Ferguson born in 1776 in Pardshaw, Cockermouth, Cumberland, on the Beta Family Search site. OK, the surname was spelt "Furgison", but the given names of the family were those commonly found in my family. Could this be my long lost relative? With still some way to go, I contacted Kendal Archives again to see if they had the Kendal Settlement Certificates for the period between 1770 and 1790, but unfortunately they only had those to 1734.
Every now and again I switch the main search site which I use, and this month moved back to Findmypast. As always, I carried out a quick check on my brick walls and nearly fell off my chair when I found my Benjamin on the 1851 census living with his, now married, daughter Mary Airey, of whom I had never heard! This time his surname was given as "Ferginson" and his place of birth Cockermouth - Eureka!! I am left with another brick wall though - where does his father "Samual Furgison" (sic), date of birth unknown, come from??
Advances can happen in most unusual ways. Like many of you I try and help other researchers whenever I can, and this week received an email asking if an Ann Owen born 1807, father George, had any connection with the Owen family of Prescot, Lancashire, in my tree. Not having an Ann in my Owen family I asked for more details, only to be be told that since her Ann and my family came from the same area she wondered if there may be a connection.
A Richard Owen born 1791 is my one of the 3rd great grandfathers on my maternal side, and I wondered if Richard might have had a brother called George who might have been Ann's father. I have not even looked at this side of my family for years, so I started by looking for his birth in Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerk, and there was his christening, and the names of my previously unknown 4th great grandparents.
Yes, persistence does pay, as time goes by it may not seem like it, but consistently checking records and revisiting sites which may well have been updated since last time often brings results. Now, if only I could get my hands on the person who ignited the 1851 Salford Census records and with it my 3rd great grandfather's history, but congratulations to Manchester & Lancashire FHS who have recovered so much of them.
© Ron Ferguson 2010