Monday, 14 April 2008

Tasmania Fitzhenry - a lifetime of mispelling

Ages ago when I can upon the name Tasmania Fitzhenry in the GRO marriage index (1884 Q2, Newport M. 11a 240), I was struck by how glamorous the name sounded amongst all the Marys and Sarahs. However, the marriage was in Wales and I couldn't find her anywhere else in any other records (including censuses), so she went on the back burner as she didn't seem to be "one of mine".

I've only been able to solve the mystery of Tasmania when I swapped information with Joan Stafford from the Isle of Lewis. Joan had bought a marriage certificate in error, thinking it was one of her Fitzhenrys. It was the marriage in June 1882 between John Joseph Fitzhenry (aged 21, a seaman) and Tasmania Palfrey (aged 16) in Newport Monmouthshire, Wales. Her elder brother Edwin was one of the witnesses.

So Tasmania spent 2 glorious years as a Fitzhenry before she was widowed (I assume John Joseph died at sea as he isn't in the GRO death index) and the 1884 marriage was as an 18 year old widow to Christopher Hendley.

But if you are thinking of looking for Tasmania Palfrey or Tasmania Hendley in other records, you won't find her.
Her GRO birth record in 1868 is as Tesmania Palfrey.
In the 1871 census, the actual record looks like Tasmanea and is transcribed as Tennessea.
In the 1881 census it looks like her mum just put down "Minnie" to confuse us all.
In the 1891 census she's Tasmenia Hendley (still living in Newport)
In the 1901 census she's now named her third daughter after herself, but they are both still mispelt as Jasmenia and transcribed as Lasmenia (now living in Cardiff).
The only way of finding her is to look for the names of her Mum (Elizabeth) and brother (Edwin) and then her second husband (Christopher).
I've not yet found Tasmania's death record or the marriage of her daughter. If any Palfrey or Hendley researchers have any more info or indeed any photos of this much maligned woman, then I'd be very pleased to hear from you.

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