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The Watsons in Beverly, Yorkshire

Some Field Notes by Rick Watson
Some time ago, I was combing the genealogical library in Salt Lake City, trying to pick up on the trail left by the excellent work of Leslie Watson on the Watson family tree. I was able to locate a marriage record as well as some baptisms, which are of interest, thereby adding some detail to the story of our little clique. But first, a digression about calendars....

In dealing with the year of an event, one must keep in mind, that until very recently, the new year began on March 25, as opposed to January 1. This is admittedly a small point, but intriguing nonetheless. In his book "Calendar - Humanity's Epic Struggle to Determine a True and Accurate Year," David Duncan notes that the date of the New Year was changed by an Act of British Parliament entitled "An Act for Regulating the Commencement of the Year, and for Correcting the Calendar now in Use." The Act also hacked eleven days out of the calendar by causing Wednesday, September 2, 1752, to be followed by Thursday, September 14, 1752. Just try and get away with that today...Thus did England and America adopt the Gregorian calendar and abandon the Julian calendar, almost 170 years after had been done so by most of Europe.

Which brings us to the 1841 census. This is where I found the Watson's living in Beverly, Yorkshire, a small town slightly north of Kingston upon Hull in England. If I may be allowed another digression about the census...Under the 1841 census, or "An Act for the taking of an Account of Great Britain" for the purists in the room, persons who refused to answer or gave false information to the census taker could be fined "...a Sum not more than Five Pounds nor less than Forty Shillings, at the Discretion of any Justice of the Peace or Magistrate..." Five Pounds had to get you much further in life in those days than it does now.

The directions to the "Enumeration Schedule" were quite clear and precise. Census takers were instructed to write the age of every person under "...15 years of age as it is stated to you. For persons aged 15 years and upwards, write the lowest of the term of 5 years within which the age is." Well, the directions were somewhat clear. Fortunately, they provided a little table as follows:

Census Instructions
When we run across the Watson's in 1841, they are living on Hengate in the Parish of St. Mary in Beverly, Yorkshire. St. Mary's church was on the north side of town during the mid-Victorian, period on the corner of Hengate and North Bar Within. The family is sharing an abode with George Clark, who appears to be outnumbered by Watsons. In addition to John, who gave his occupation as "Male Servant," and Jane, both listed as aged 40, their sons and daughters are as follows: Thomas, aged 12; John, aged 8; Harriet, aged 6; Ann, aged 4; Mary Jane, aged 2; and Jane Baker, aged one month. Considering the almost uniform spacing of two years between each child, one wonders about the four year gap between Thomas and John. Given the high mortality rate of children in those days, it is possible that there was a child between Thomas and John who would have been 10 years old in 1841.

The relevant portion of the 1841 census is duplicated below - "do" is used to indicate that a common surname is shared.

1841 Census
There are two more curious facts about this census. Living in the same household in 1841, is a second Jane Watson, also aged 40. No doubt the Mormans are silently nodding their heads in approval (I did say that I was rummaging around the library in Salt Lake City!), but rather than a second wife, Jane quite possibly could be a sister. Although, you do have to consider that the Watsons did live in Salt Lake City when they first came to the States. More about siblings later.

The second curious item concerns John and Jane's (Jane #1, that is) neighbors on Hengate...more Watsons! George Clark must truly have been a kind and benevolent soul (or possibly hard of hearing) to have been surrounded by so many of us. In one household are listed John and Sally Watson, both aged 60. I believe that John and Sally Watson could probably be John's parents. Their age is correct and when asked "Whether born in same County," John answers "no" to this question, whereas Sally answers "yes." In his work on our family tree, Leslie Watson notes that the father of John Watson was, wait for it..., John Watson (we got more creative with names in the 20th Century, e.g. Moya Lynn, Samantha Caleigh and McKenna Skye for openers...). John Watson, the Patriarch as opposed to the Son (a feeble pun if you will), is listed as hailing from Ferris, Scotland, "north of Glasgow." This could only in fact be Forres, Scotland, near the Moray Firth, which is actually quite a bit north of Glasgow and slightly east of Inverness.

If my supposition about the neighbors is correct, this means that John left Scotland for sunnier climates as a single man. When in Yorkshire, he meet his wife Sally, settled down, and proceeded to populate Beverly, and poor George Clark, with Watsons.

....to be continued....

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