Sunday, March 11, 2012

He Lives?

*Just so you are aware, we were told that we are done posting for the semester so we can concentrate on our next big assignments. So this will be my last post until the end of April. I just wanted to tie up the loose ends for now.

Clue #2

In order to make sure my research was thorough, I decided that I should explore the idea that Susannah left Thomas Hughes to go to America, and that he was still living in England. Thomas and Susannah were found together in the 1851 census, the year after they were married. Susannah Tonks left with her son Job to America in 1856. That means I need to search for Thomas Hughes in the 1851 census. We know from the 1851 census that Thomas was born in Willenhall, Staffordshire.

I did a census search for Thomas Hughes living in Staffordshire, England. And this is what I found in the 1861 census:
This is the only Thomas Hughes that was living in Staffordshire with the birthplace of Willenhall. To make sure that there were no other Thomas Hughes born in Willenhall, I did the same search in the 1851 census. The only Thomas Hughes that came up as being born in Willenhall is the Thomas Hughes that married Susannah! So that means this should be our guy.

If you look closely at this census, you will see that Thomas Hughes is an unmarried lodger. I find that interesting because he does not say he is divorced. But it doesn't say that he is married either. So I wonder if this really is our guy. I don't think we have quite enough information here.

The best thing for me to do is order those death certificates so I can determine if he died or if Susannah left him. I don't have any answers yet, but hopefully the death certificates will help!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hunting for Thomas Hughes

Clue #1: Free BMD

Since we are not exactly sure where or when Thomas Hughes died, the best way to find out is by searching the UK free BMD. Thomas Hughes is not a very uncommon name, so searching for him in Staffordshire would probably give us too many results. So we need to narrow it down:

Job, the last child of Susannah and Thomas Hughes, was born on 13 May 1855.
May 1855 MINUS 9 months (in case Thomas died while she was pregnant)= August 1854
Susannah left England on 1 June 1856 (add 6 months for good measure)= December 1856

The free BMD website separates the year into quarters. Here are the final search terms:
Event: Death
Surname: Hughes
First name: Thomas
Start Date: Sep 1854
End Date: Dec 1856
County: Staffordshire

And here are the results:

Now that we have some results, it is important to figure out which ones are logical by doing a search on Google Maps. It is also important to note that the UK free BMD separates the county into districts. Since we're not sure where Thomas died, we just need to figure out which districts are closest to Willenhall.

We can automatically rule out Wolstanton and Newcastle because they are more than 40 miles away from Willenhall. It's about 4 miles from Willenhall to Wolverhampton, 8 miles to Dudley, and 15 miles to Stourbridge.

Since Thomas grew up in Willenhall, it is most likely that he died there too, making Wolverhampton the most likely district by far. That means there are 3 possible Thomas Hughes dying in this time frame.

The real question is: Did Thomas really die? Let's find out!