Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Whose That Girl?

I received a friendly email from my cousin's ex-hubby AF. It's kind of funny that I have never met her, but am in regular contact with him. Anyway, he brought up a good question about one of our ancestors. He wanted to know who was Bertha Crawford?

You will find Bertha Crawford, along with father, Frank and sister, Fanny in the 1891 Census of England & Wales, RG 12, Piece 2573, Folio 126, Page 21, Household #136. The family is living at 43 Norfolk Pl.
When I first viewed this census I was delighted to have found Fanny. If you remember she is one of my paternal great grandmothers. I was even more delighted to discover she had a sister. When I continued my census research and looked for Bertha Crawford, age 16, in the 1901 census, I could not find her. I finally did a search using only the surname and age and found a Martha Crawford in the home of Sarah Morrell, age 85. Martha is listed as being her niece.

Were Bertha and Martha the same person? Who is Sarah Morrell?

My gut feeling said yes that Bertha and Martha were indeed the same person, but I needed evidence to prove this. Fanny's mother, Sarah Stainfield, had a sister named Martha Louisa. It would be reasonable to assume that Fanny's sister would also be named Martha.
Frank Crawford is listed in the 1901 census (RG 13, Piece 3046 , Folio 112, Page 21, Household 130) at #5 Irby Place with his housekeeper Martha L. Stainford (Stainfield). This Martha is no housekeeper - she is Sarah's sister, who is living with Frank as his wife, which was against the law at the time. When the law was repealed in 1902 they were married.

A search in the Civil Registration Index for Births for 1884 for a "Bertha" Crawford born in Lincolnshire provided no results. However, a search for a Martha Crawford produced this result: Martha Louisa Crawford, SEP 1884, Boston, Volume 7a, Page 446. A-ha! Just the result I was looking for. Now I need to order the birth registration certificate.

It turns out that Sarah Morrell was in fact Sarah Stonehouse, sister to Sarah Stainfield's mother, Fanny Stonehouse. Sarah Stonehouse was married to John Morrell. She was grand aunt to Fanny and Martha Crawford. You will notice the repetition of names from one generation to the next. Confused yet?

Okay - Fanny and Sarah Stonehouse were sisters. Sarah was married to John Morrell and had no children. Fanny was married to Thomas William Stainfield and had 5 children, including Sarah and Martha Louisa Stainfield. This Sarah was married to Frank Crawford and had Fanny and Martha Louisa Crawford. When Sarah died, her sister Martha Louisa Stainfield came into the household to look after her nieces, Fanny and Martha Louisa Crawford.

If you are still confused go to my webpage Lake Family of Lincolnshire at

So, why was young Martha enumerated as Bertha on the 1891 Census? There are a couple of possible reasons, however, we will never know for certain. First possible reason is that Frank and the girls were not at home and someone else supplied the information - possible but not likely as we do not find them anywhere else in the census. Second possible reason - Fanny at age 12, supplied the information to the enumerator. I think it may be fair to guess that Frank may have taken to drink to ease the pain of losing his wife, Sarah only 4 months prior. This family was still grieving her loss. It could have been possible that Frank was in no shape to provide the answers asked by the enumerator and so, young Fanny did her best to provide the information. When Fanny gave the name of her younger sister in her Boston accent, it is likely the enumerator thought her heard Bertha and this was what was written down. Furthermore, you will notice on the census record that places of birth for Fanny and Martha are given, however, NK (not known) is listed for Frank. Fanny would have known where she and her sister were born; she didn't' know where her father was born.

Well, there you have it. The mystery of Bertha Crawford has been solved.