The head scratcher

#2 genealogy post 2017

Just about everyone with an interest in their family history has at least one brick wall – like where your direct line ends because your great, great grandma had all of her children without a named spouse – so you’ve absolutely no chance of finding out who your great, great grandfather was. Though these are frustrating, there is so little chance of ever solving the conundrum that it isn’t worth getting into the issue of possibilities.

What I find most frustrating is the brick wall that, one day, just might be broken down. My longest lasting, and most persistent one is my 2nd great grandfather. I know neither when he was born, nor when he died, though I have hints for both events! It even took an age to find his marriage registration bcause the name was written down incorrectly.

So, what do we know?

Peter Ellam

I first find him on the 1851 census, living in Monmore Green, Wolverhampton, married to my 2nd great grandmother, named on that census return as Rosa. Unfortunately the names on that return are inaccurate; maybe as a result of their accent not matching the local one (??)

Peter’s surname is given as Ellen, and his in-laws are listed as Lucas, rather than Lewis. Fortunately the names, dates and places of birth match well enough to be confident that this is the right family.

Estimated date and place of birth is 1823, Stockport.

1861 and 1871 the family remained in Wolverhampton, Peter giving his place of birth as Stockport and then Manchester.

1881, Rose is now listed as head of the family, though still showing as married. There is no sign of Peter, anywhere, as far as I can see.

1891, Rose is listed as a boarder with a widowed gentleman, and reported as single, rather than widowed.

Again, no sign of Peter anywhere.

Rose died in 1897, and her death certificate says she was widow of Peter Ellam.

So, providing that Rose knew that Peter had died, rather than just assumed it, then the nearest I can get to a death date for him is somewhere between 1873 when his last child was conceived, and 1897 when his widow died.

Scouring the death registrations with a heap of variations on his name has so far yielded nothing hopeful.


Working back to look for a birth, it’s all a bit woolly! His marriage certificate gives his father’s name as Samuel, and there is a Samuel Ellam about the right age in Warrington.

There’s a Peter Ellams in Liverpool about the right age in the 1841 census, but it isn’t ‘my’ Peter, it’s easy to follow him forward through the census returns.

No sign of a baptism apart form the Liverpool Peter.

So, this is my head scratcher. Any suggestions would be most gratefully accepted!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s