Wednesday, December 31, 2014

One Lucretia or two? A mystery solved (I think)

I had a bit of a problem with my 3x-great-grandmother, Lucretia. I didn't know if she was Lucretia Haslam or Lucretia Knight as I couldn't work out if these were one and the same person, or mother and daughter.

My great-great grandmother (her daughter) was Mary Ann Julia Flynn, who married James Annesley in 1875 in Kurrajong, NSW. Her marriage certificate does not list her parents. She died in January 1930 and her death certificate states that she was 78 years old, which combined with the birth certificates of her children all point to a birth c.1851. Her death certificate also says that she was born in Parramatta, and that her father was William Flynn and her mother was Lucretia (no surname given).

The NSW death indexes pointed me to a brother, William, who died in 1919.  William's death certificate says his father is William Flynn and his mother is Lucretia Haslam. Various conflicting records indicate that he was born some time between 1842 & 1846.  I also found another brother called, Albert, who was baptized and buried at St Patrick's RC church in Parramatta in 1852. Albert's baptism states that his parents were William Flinn and Lucretia Flinn. Other baptisms on the same page give mothers a different surname, implying that they were not married to the father, whereas Lucretia appeared to be married to William - or at least pretending to be. That is the only baptism for any child of William and Lucretia that can be found, and there are no births for the couple after the commencement of civil registration.

After many years searching, I finally found William's death in 1875 and obtained a copy of his death certificate (see previous blog post). The informant was his son, William, and it states that the deceased's spouse was Lucretia Haslem [sic], though place married and age at marriage are both "not known". There is no indication as to whether Lucretia is still alive or not at that point in time.

I cannot find any record that gives me an indication of Lucretia Haslam's age. 

There is no marriage for a William Flynn and a Lucretia (or variant) in the NSW indexes, and no baptism record for Mary Ann Julia or her brother William. It appears that the only child that was baptised was the one who was to be buried the following day - obviously his death was expected and they felt he should be baptized.  

Note that not a single one of these records gave any indication that Haslam was not Lucretia's maiden name (e.g. Lucretia Haslam formerly Knight).

All this might indicate that William and Lucretia were not very interested in the church and following its rites and didn't baptize children who lived and didn't bother getting married, or it might indicate that they did get married, but that the record hasn't survived. Or, of course, it might indicate that they couldn't get married because she was already married.

I found the marriage of John Haslam and a Lucretia Knight at St John's C of E in Parramatta in 1833. Lucretia Knight was the daughter of convict Cordelia Knight, who arrived in the colony in 1823 on the "Lord Sidmouth" bringing her four young daughters.  Lucretia had been born on 7 July 1814 in Hampstead, Middlesex and baptized there on 11 Jan 1818.

St John's Parramatta, where John Haslam & Lucretia Knight were married
(State Library of NSW)

The indexes also show baptisms of two children to the couple - Petronilla C in 1835 and Samuel in 1836.  I felt that they must also have had a daughter, Lucretia Haslam.  Many researchers, however, disagreed. They felt that if there wasn't a baptism in the records then there couldn't have been another child, Lucretia, which I felt was not necessarily true.  These other researchers felt that Lucretia Haslam nee Knight was the same Lucretia Haslam that had children by William Flynn, and that she must have left John Haslam and taken up with William Flynn. I still wasn't convinced.

There is no record of a death of a Lucretia Haslam or Flynn or Knight to help clarify matters.

To make matters more complicated, Lucretia Knight had already had an illegitimate child, Thomas S Higgins in 1832 before she married John Haslam. She did not marry the father (Thomas Edward Higgins).

It was only when I started to put together a timeline that I started to have doubts.

1814   Lucretia Knight born
1832 (aged 18) has an illegitimate son Thomas S Higgins
1833 (aged 19) married John Haslam
1834 (aged 20) daughter Petronilla born
1836 (aged 22) son Samuel born

Now, what if they'd had an extra daughter. For the sake of the maths, lets say she was born in late 1833 - the earliest that seems possible. Any later just makes the conclusion even more obvious.

c.1842  (Lucretia K was 28, hypothetical daughter was 9) earliest date for birth of William Flynn jnr
c.1846  (Lucretia K was 32, hypothetical daughter was 13) latest date for birth of William Flynn jnr
c.1851  (Lucretia K was 37, hypothetical daughter was 18) birth of Mary Ann Julia Flynn
1852  (Lucretia K was 38, hypothetical daughter was 19) birth and death of Albert Flynn.

Even though no records indicate that the maiden name of Mary Ann Julia Flynn's mother was anything other than Haslam, it looks like the data speaks for itself.  I really looks like there was only one Lucretia and that she left John Haslam and took up with William Flynn. The mother of William Flynn  junior can't be the daughter of John Haslam and Lucretia Knight.  And since Lucretia Haslam is such a rare name, the consort of William Flynn must be the wife of John Haslam.

If only I could find a death record for her.....