Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The wrong Anastasia Welch ...

Some while ago Wendy Rutter sent me some information about the family of Michael Fitzhenry and Anastasia Welch that she had had passed to her from another Fitzhenry researcher.
I was quite excited about this, as the information said that Michael Fitzhenry had been baptised in St Peter's Church, Nottingham in April 1793.

Now Nottinghamshire (where I live) is one of the most Fitzhenry-less places in England, so have even one record to dig out of our local archives would be fab.
St Peter's Church is right in the middle of the city centre and is the oldest building in Nottingham in continuous use. It may not be as grand as St Mary's which is cathedral-like in its architecture, but for hundreds of years it has been the church of the working people of Nottingham. Here's more about it.

So I was really excited about taking this family back one more generation. All of the parish records for Nottinghamshire are on fiche at the local archives. Unfortunately the fiche for St Peter's baptisms 1780-1794 looked as though it was the "go to" fiche that all researchers started with, manufactured in the 1970s, very faded, very scratched and a little warped.
Although the writing was very faint indeed, there was nothing that approximated to Michael Fitzhenry for April 1793 .... or the whole of 1793 .... or even for the whole of the fiche.

Perhaps this wasn't the St Peter's in Nottingham, but somewhere in Nottinghamshire. Using the archives' parish directory I found that throughout Notts there are 26 parish churches dedicated to St Peter (including 5 Ss Peter and Paul). And Michael wasn't in any of these registers either.

And I also checked the registers of the two other old churches in Nottingham, St Marys and St Nicholas ... and the very small number of Catholic pre-1800 records.

So I went back to the original St Peter's fiche. And cleaned it down with my glasses cleaner, cleaned the fiche reader lens .... and then sat and stared at April 1793 again.
And then it became apparent -
14 April 1793 Anastasia d. of John and Mary Welch (upholsterer)
A eureka moment - further searching on the fiche found
Samuel son of John and Mary Welch (upholsterer) baptised 30 January 1792.
And then on the marriage fiche
John Welch of this parish and Mary Lawrie of this parish were married in this church by licence this twenty seventh day of April 1790 by me Jeremiah Bigsby
In the presence of Ann Lawrie and A Lawrie.
Well, at least if I hadn't found Michael, at least I'd found his wife and her parents....

But you can't let a good find get in the way of facts.
If this indeed was our Anastasia, this would mean that she was in her thirties before she started having her children and her last baby would have been born when she was 47. She would have also been 57 when she died in 1851, although her death certifcate said she was 45.

So reluctantly I've come to the conclusion this is not "our" Anastasia Welch, and that Michael Fitzhenry was not baptised in a St Peter's church anywhere in Nottinghamshire. But it does show the value of going back to the original records and checking things out for yourself.

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