Serendipity and Amusing Research Discoveries

While I am a firm believer in using research techniques to find information on my family there is the ever present serendipity that shows up at the most opportune times.

I had found a reference to a possible marriage between Thomas Kelly and Mary Orford in the Marriage Licence Indexes at the National Archives of Ireland. The reference read:

Kelly, Thomas, Kildare, Gent, Mary Orford, Dublin, Sptr, 3 Aug 1767 St. Anne’s parish

I thought this was a great find for so early a record. Then in the 1980s I ordered some copies of “The Irish Ancestor” edited by Miss Rosemary ffolliott. There were nine journals to read and I was enjoying going through them all. In journal No. 2 from 1971 I came across an article called “Old Parochial Registers of Scotland: References to Parties from Ireland” extracted by Donald Whyte.

The first page described the project and the first few extractions were noted. When I turned the page the second extraction jumped out at me. It read:

“11th August 1767: Thomas Kelly from Kildare in Ireland and Mary Orford from Dublin being well attested as single persons & of good Character having got publication of Banns, were lawfully Married here this day”

This extract came from the OPR’s for Kirkcudbright. I ordered the film from the Family History Library to confirm the extraction. What they were doing in Kirkcudbright and why they married there is a mystery. The marriage licence is dated the 3rd of August and the marriage took place on the 11th of August. Since they had a marriage licence from Ireland it is possible that they only read the banns once. The distance from Kildare to Kirkcudbright is over 400 kilometers and travel in 1767 was not the swiftest.

If I had not decided to order some back copies and if there was not an extra copy of the 1971 journal then their actual place of marriage would not be known. Why they went to Scotland and how they actually got there remains a mystery which I hope one day to solve.

While doing a cluster research project in Cheshire in England I came across an interesting entry in the marriage register. Daniel Broadbent married Martha Cheetham by licence on 9 March 1780. Daniel signed his name and Martha signed her mark. “Behold!” in bold letters is written above the entry. There is a note by the minister who presided over the marriage:

“N.B. A peculiar Marriage! Daniel Broadbent was aged twenty three – Martha Cheetham aged eight three!”

The minister’s feelings may be the reason the marriage was done by licence and not banns. Maybe he refused to read the banns for a marriage with such an age difference. It would be nice to know why they decided they should get married.

While looking for the marriage of my Great Great Grandparents I came across the first marriage for my Great Great Grandfather Henry Thompson. In a round about way this also helped me find the marriage of his sister.

They were married at the same time. I would not have found this by ordering the marriage record from Ireland as they only provide you with the marriage record for the couple requested.

The Family History Library has microfilms for early civil registration records in Ireland and when you get a copy you get the full page of entries. This is how I found the marriage of Priscilla Thompson.

Henry married Hannah Fayle and Priscilla married George Richard Fayle. It is a case of siblings marrying siblings. George was a witness to Henry’s marriage and Henry to George’s. William Thompson was a witness to both and is Henry and Priscilla’s brother.

I had not known of Henry’s first marriage. My Great Great Grandmother was his second wife. He lost his first wife and child within six months of each other just over a year after the marriage.

Have you come across interesting entries in parish registers or other records? Has serendipity found its way into your family history research? Please tell me your stories in the comments below.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

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