Sunday, 27 September 2015

Thomas BRADSHAW, or is it STEERS?

This is the gentleman who initiated my surname study. When I discovered him around four years ago I thought he was a STEERS, but now I’m not so sure.

The conundrum that started the one-name study (ONS) was my husband’s four times great grandfather. He was, by all accounts a Londoner; born in Bishopsgate, lived in Bethnal Green and died in Shoreditch. He worked as hearth mat maker. His children all lived and worked in London. However, they were all born in Hull. Yorkshire. Which is not near Shoreditch, or Bethnal Green. His wife, Maria, was born in Durham, which is also not near Hull, or London. She outlived him, but appears to have died as a result of complications of epilepsy in Hanwell Asylum. William was my husband’s three times great grandfather. His marriage certificate states his father was Thomas Bradshaw STEERS. On the death certificate of Thomas Bradshaw STEERS the informant was Maria Steers.

However I couldn’t / cannot find a baptism or marriage for him to Maria. I also couldn’t find him in 1841.

I had identified the children as Ellen (born c. 1834), William (born c. 1840), Eleanor (born c. 1841), Anna M[aria?] (born c. 1844) and Watson (born c. 1846). However I had been unable to find GRO birth index references or baptisms for them.

And thus created a brick wall, which began the ONS, and then later a DNA Study.

Fast-forwarding to the present …

The Y-DNA (37 marker) test that my husband allowed me to do have had no other hits for STEERS. 

His Haplogroup in I-P37 and the hits that he have appeared appear to be Irish. However I don’t understand enough about DNA yet to fully explore this aspect.

The Society of Genealogists ran a (rather successful) series of ‘Brick Wall Workshops’, facilitated by Amelia Bennett. To this I took my conundrum. The sessions produced useful ideas and suggestions for ‘where / what next’ options.

One suggestions made was searching the datasets with the surname blank and ‘Bradshaw’ in the forename box. Another was to search the 1841 census by occupation and forename.

And herein lived the possible breakthrough. A couple of days later I received an email from a fellow attendee and One-Namer, Nicola Elsom.

She had done the above and found a marriage on 26 February 1859 at St. John’s in Bethnal Green for a Thomas BRADSHAW, mat maker to Maria Griffin whose father was William Blackstone. They were both widowed.

Source: London Metropolitan Archives, Saint John, Bethnal Green, Register of  marriages,   P72/JN, Item 013 Accessed at
In 1841 she had found an entry for a Thomas BRADSHAW, rug maker living in Reynolds Court in St. Giles without Cripplegate. He was living with an Ann BRADSHAW, born in Ireland, who was probably his wife.

The problem is there are two Thomas BRADSHAW’s, both are rug makers, both are in Reynolds Court and both have a probable wife called Ann, who was born in Ireland.  One of the Thomas’s was born in county, around 1814, and the other was born out of county around 1818. From Thomas’s death certificate he was born about 1814, so is most likely the Thomas born in Middlesex.

Ref: HO107; Piece: 727; Book: 2; Folio: 26; Page: 46. Accessed at

She also located GRO references for a Watson GRIFFIN, and I was able to locate Anna Maria GRIFFIN, both born in Hull in the correct time-frames.
The certificates were ordered and came back as
  •  Anna Maria GRIFFIN was born on the 4th of July 1843 to Maria GRIFFIN formerly FEATHERSTONE and Thomas GRIFFIN, a labourer in Green Lane, Hull.
  • Watson GRIFFIN was born on the 4th of June 1845 to Maria GRIFFIN formerly FEATHERSTONE and Thomas GRIFFIN, a labourer at 46 Carr Lane, Hull.

However I cannot find a record for William or Eleanor GRIFFIN / BRADSHAW born in Hull. There is a registration for a William Gower FEATHERSTONE in March 1840 in Sculcoates, but he died there in March 1840.

I cannot find an Eleanor GRIFFIN / BRADSHAW or FEATHERSTONE, and Ellen would not have been registered as she was born before Q3 1837.

To date I have been unable to locate William on the 1841 Census. He was not with Thomas and Ann BRADSHAW.

It appears that the family as seen on the 1851 census are blended, i.e. Maria’s children from her previous marriage(s) and Thomas’s children from his. But whose is who?

Well the certificates above show Anna Maria and Watson as Mary’s. That leaves Ellen, William and Eleanor. It is possible that Eleanor is also Mary’s whereas William and Ellen are Thomas’s. William gives Thomas as his father on his marriage certificate, but I’ve not been able to marry off Ellen or Eleanor.

If Thomas BRADSHAW is ‘my Thomas’, and his wife is Ann who is Irish this would support the theory that William is Thomas’s. This would also explain the initial DNA hits.

So the new challenge is – Who is Ann? Why did Thomas change his name? and the biggest question – Should this be a BRADSHAW study?!