Tag Archives: Halden

Which Elizabeth Halden?

I have drifted from writing about my direct ancestors for this blog post. It serves merely to alert any Halden researchers worldwide (and they are worldwide) that two Elizabeth Haldens have become, understandably, confused with each other.

I have always known via my Grandmother that her Grandmother Rachel Halden had two sisters and one brother. She also told me that Rachel, her siblings and parents had emigrated to the USA. The brother had run away, never to be seen again but the oldest sister had married and had children and the second may have done.

Through census research I found the family in 1841, minus the brother and with the addition of another sister. So there are Elizabeth, Mary (guess Elizabeth is the elder as ages rounded for census) Jemima (who sadly died in 1845) and Rachel.


The next census finds the family in the USA, Edward has died, brother Edward has joined them but eldest sister Elizabeth is not with the family.

Screenshot 2016-05-14 18.37.07

I thought it was likely that Elizabeth had married by 1850 and that was the reason she was no longer living with the family. I looked for marriages in the USA and even for English Elizabeths living nearby, but to no avail.

It did occur to me that Elizabeth may have married in England before leaving for the USA or maybe my Grandmother was wrong and she never left England at all.

There were two possible marriages Elizabeth Halden to Joseph Briscoe  on 18 Apr 1844 at Saint Chad, Stafford and Elizabeth Holden/Halden to Thomas Hiden 21 Jul 1844  Rugeley, Staffordshire.

I looked at the original marriage record for the Halden/Briscoe marriage and found this to be the daughter of Joseph Halden, Tailor. Interestingly both Elizabeth’s and Joseph’s names were originally recorded as Hawthorn and then changed to Halden.

Joseph is in fact cousin to Edward Halden, the father of the family who went to America and my GGG Grandfather. Joseph’s father William and Edward’s father Roger were brothers, their Grandparents in common were Thomas Halden and Dorothy.

Screenshot 2016-05-19 09.35.32

So eventually I looked at the record for Elizabeth Holden and Thomas Briscoe which I had dismissed earlier for some reason. It shows this Elizabeth to be daughter to Edward and his occupation is given as schoolmaster and hers as governess, a seemingly unlikely profession for someone marrying a coal miner.

Halden Hiden marriage.png

If further proof were needed that this is my GG Grandmother’s sister, she named her daughters Elizabeth, Jemima and Rachel like herself and two of her sisters.

So how did people get confused? Well currently there seem to be no baptism records for either Elizabeth. Elizabeth daughter of Joseph is not living at home in 1841 and there are a couple of possible female servants that may be her but the only definite Elizabeth Halden is daughter of Edward. Then when it comes to marriages there is only one Elizabeth Halden marriage, the Joseph Briscoe one, the other is mistranscribed (quite reasonably) as Holden.

By 1851 both Elizabeths are married, Elizabeth Briscoe is well reported appearing in censuses up until 1901 and not dying until 1907, she spent her latter years living with her daughter Mary Elizabeth who married a Samuel Walker. However Elizabeth Hiden and family disappear from the censuses, so what became of them?

Something for another blog.








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52 ancestors – Rachel Halden/Willis

Rachel Halden is my Great Great Grandmother, she was baptised on 2 September in Milwich, Staffordshire. On the 1841 census she is living with her parents Edward, a school master and Jemima, she also has older sisters Elizabeth, Mary and Jemima.

The family move to the USA sometime between 1841 and 1850 she is living in Chicago with her widowed mother Jemima, brother Edward a butcher and sister Mary.

Rachel married Thomas Willis in 1852 and went on to have eight children, sadly only two survived Katie Elizabeth (my Dad’s Great Auntie Kitty) and his Grandmother Eleanor Eaton (Nellie).  In 1860 she is living with her mother and husband Thomas Willis a carpenter.  By 1870 Jemima has died but there is the addition of Kitty aged 7 to the family and they have a visitor, Thomas’s half sister Katherina aged 17 is staying with them.

I understand that Rachel died in childbirth when she was about 44 and Thomas returned to his native Yorkshire with Kitty and Nellie.


Nellie Eaton was born on the corner of Clarke and Laselle Street, so Rachel must have live there, this is a picture of that area in Chicago

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Posted by on January 25, 2015 in Uncategorized


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52 ancestors Thomas Willis

Thomas Willis was my Great Great Grandfather, he was born at Barnard Castle, County Durham in 1828, part of a large family. His father Joseph married twice and had 12 children, Thomas was the son of the first wife Ann Kipling, Thomas is possibly working as a man servant to a farmer in the 1841 census, living at Aislaby, near Yarm, but I’m not certain it is him. He went out to America around 1850 (have found a possible passenger record for him then) and in 1852 married Rachel Halden in Chicago, Illinois, the story is they went to see the parson to discuss their wedding plans and he offered to marry them there and then, so they agreed. When they returned home, Rachel’s brother was so horrified at the news, he ran away and was never seen again!

Halden Willis marriage

It must have been quite brave to move from County Durham to the USA; interestingly in 1870 in America his sister (half sister) Katherine is living with the family, I wonder if she stayed in the USA? Also the family paid a visit back to England in 1873.

New York Passenger List 1873 May 13th Willis family

Passenger list May 1873.

Thomas and Rachel had eight children but only two Katie Elizabeth (Kitty) and Eleanor Eaton (Nellie) lived to any age (84 and 80 respectively), Thomas also lived until he was 80, dying in 1908.

Rachel died in childbirth in the USA and when Nellie was about five Thomas returned with his two daughters to England where they were brought up by an Aunt. Many of the houses Thomas built in the USA burnt down in The Great Fire of Chicago as did the girls’ birth records. On returning to England Thomas apparently never worked again, although on the 1881 census he is described as a builder, not a retired builder, he was a member of the Masons and this photograph shows him with his masonic sword. In 1880 he married a second wife,  Ann Longstaff but by 1891 he is widowed and living with his daughter Katie/Kitty.

My Grandma told me that he used to sit her on his foot when she was a baby and sing “Yankee Doodle Dandy” to her which she joined in with as “Yannee Nannee Noona” she was Winifred, so Winnie for short, so he called her Winnipeg and from that Peggy. My twitter name Jopeg comes from Grandma saying she thought of me being Jopeg (like her Winnipeg) because of my name being Joanna Margaret and Peggy being a derivation of Margaret.So Thomas Willis has in an indirect way made his mark on Twitter!


Thomas Willis with his masonic sword.

Thomas Willis with his masonic sword.


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