My Problem Female Ancestor #internationalwomensday

Firstly, I must share just how distressing I found typing that hashtag without the apostrophe. Regrettably, it seems that hashtags and apostrophes are not compatible.

On International Women’s Day, I thought I’d introduce my genealogy obsessed friends to my problem female ancestor. I do have information about many of my ancestresses. I wrote about my direct maternal line here and you can find out more about some of these women by clicking on the appropriate surname links on my family history page. There you will find details of what I know about them and their families.

My great great grandmother, Mary Cardell, is proving more of a problem. If anyone feels like a challenge over the weekend, please see if you can confirm who Mary’s parents were (PS I‘d also be pleased to find her in the 1851 census, when she would have been Mary Woolgar). I am afraid there are no prizes but I promise a warm fuzzy feeling and the satisfaction of having succeeded where, so far, I have failed.

Mary Cardell is my great great grandmother. I know quite a bit about her married life; you can read it in my file on the Woolgar family. On her marriage certificate and the birth registrations for her four children, her birth surname is consistently spelt CARDELL. The marriage certificate suggests that she signed her own name. Earlier generations may not have been literate, so the name might be rendered differently and my searches have included all phoenetically likely variants of the name.

I have used a range of documents to calculate Mary’s probable date and place of birth:-
Her burial has not been located
13 January 1892 death certificate age 74 – born 13 January 1817- 12 January 1818
1891 census age 74 born Highgate, Middlesex – born 6 April 1816-5 April 1817
1881 census age 63 born Middlesex – born 4 April 1817- 3 April 1818
1871 census age 53 born Highgate, Middlesex – born 3 April 1817- 2 April 1818
1861 census age 44 born Highgate, Middlesex – born 8 April 1816-7 April 1817
1851 census not located
1841 census age 25 born Middlesex – born 7 June 1811- 6 June 1816
1 May 1841 (when she married Philip Woolgar) marriage certificate ‘of full age’ – born before May 1820

Mary Woolgar née Cardell 1817-1892This seems to suggest that Mary (or at least whoever provided the information to the enumerator) was convinced that she was born in Highgate, Middlesex. Ignoring the 1841 census evidence, when ages should have been rounded down in any case, the suggested dates of birth from the other sources are consistent. If all ages are correct, then Mary was born on 4 or 5 April 1817. It seems probable that she was born between 1816 and 1818.

Other clues are provided by her marriage certificate. This was obtained from the General Register Office in 1983 and is handwritten, so there is scope for transcription errors. Ideally, I would check with the local register office (Edmonton) or, even better, access the registers for St. Mary’s Hornsey where the marriage took place; these are held by London Metropolitan Archives ref. DRO/020/A/01/011. Assuming that the certificate I have is accurate, Mary’s father was James Cardell, a gardener and one of the witnesses was a Catharine Cardell who is likely to be Mary’s mother or sister. There is no indication that either of the fathers were deceased. I know the groom’s father was still alive at the time but it may be that whoever filled in the register didn’t not make a habit of noting if the fathers were deceased

The obvious first search was in the parish registers for Highgate and this was carried out on my behalf by a reputable researcher some years ago. He was however using a transcript of the Highgate baptism registers. I would like to recheck this and use the original baptism register. These are in London Metropolitan Archives P90/MIC1/004 (003 for 1791-1812). He also checked the birth and baptism register of the Highgate Salem Chapel, although the entries in the chapelry registers are sparse. These records are at The National Archives RG4 1131 and I have rechecked this using the online images of the registers at FindmyPast; there is no mention of the Cardell family.

Mary claims to have been born in Highgate and she married in Horsey, giving her address as Fortis Green, which lies between Finchley and Muswell Hill, so Middlesex seems a likely county in which to begin to seek the Cardell family.

NB subsequent research, after this post was written, has established that Mary Ann Guteridge was definitely not my 3 x great grandmother. So most of what follows can be ignored!

A marriage between a James Cadwell and a Mary Ann Guteridge took place in Highgate in 1813 and these are very strong possibilities as Mary’s parents. Mary Ann was the daughter of George and Sarah Guteridge born 14 August and baptised 7 September 1783 at St Leonard’s, Shoreditch. She is likely to be the Mary Ann Cardale who was buried 10 April 1841 at St Andrew’s, Holborn, ‘of Regent’s Park’, just a month after Mary Cardell’s marriage to Philip Woolgar. I could check the original entry for more information and purchasing this death certificate is on the list when the family history budget has recovered from my certificate ordering fest prior to the recent price increase. The burial register records Mary Ann Cardale’s age as 58. The corresponding GRO death indexes can be searched on their website and give age at death. Here, Mary Ann Cardale was said to be 57, which ties in exactly with the Shoreditch baptism of Mary Ann Guteridge.

There is also a Maria Cardell in St. Pancras workhouse in the 1841 and 1851 censuses. (1841 census for St. Pancras workhouse, Marylebone, Middlesex HO107 681/9 folio 9; 1851 census for St. Pancras workhouse, Marylebone, Middlesex HO107 1497 folio 599.) This workhouse would have covered Highgate. Maria Cardell was born in Dudley, Worcestershire and is almost certainly the Maria Withenbury, baptised in 1780, who married James Cardall at St. Alban, Worcester, Worcestershire on the 12th February 1798. These too could be Mary’s parents. A Samuel Cardel was baptised in 1802 in Worcester, son of James and Maria. Samuel cannot be found in the census returns.

A James Cardall aged 49 of ‘Mermaid Court’ was buried 17 November 1824 at St George’s, Southwark, this is probably the James who married Mary Guteridge but is he my 3x great grandfather?

Mary Cardell’s marriage took place only a month before the 1841 census, there is no trace of a likely Catharine Cardell (the witness) in that census and no death or marriage for her in that quarter, using variants of both her names. There is a Catherine CAWDLE aged 27 bur Hoxton 24 Sept 1841 possibly wife of Henry Cawdle anf living in Shoreditch in 1841, neither were born in county. So could Catherine have been Mary’s sister-in-law? I don’t find this very convincing.

What this case study does illustrate is that, even after over forty years’ research, it is possible to have that pesky family line that is stuck in the more recent past. It also underlines that it important to periodically revisit sections of our family history that have been in abeyance. With luck, new sources will have become available, or a fresh pair of eyes with bear fruit. My own eyes are feeling far from fresh at present and cost me a significant sum yesterday when I , unexpectedly, had to buy new glasses. So, over to you friends and good luck!



2 comments on “My Problem Female Ancestor #internationalwomensday

  1. […] I issued a challenge to help me find the parents of my great great grandmother, Mary Cardell. Thanks to helpful fellow […]

  2. […] you to the wonderful family history friends who took up the challenge I outlined in my last post, to help me find the parents of my great great grandmother, Mary Cardell. As a result, I have had […]

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