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The dark origin of William Nichols?

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  • The dark origin of William Nichols?

    Hello everyone


    I think I need your opinion since my mind tends to imagine too much


    It seems that there is not much information on William Nichols background, the husband of Mary Ann Nichols, so I wanted to know more for my book. I bought his birth certificate: William Nichols was born on April 13, 1840, in George Street, Oxford.
    There is something strange about this certificate, as you can see in the photo below, there are two sections to fill in, one with the father's name and the other with the mother's maiden name. The father's box is empty, and the mother's maiden name is 'Nichols'. Did mother and father have the same last name?

    Then I found William's baptismal certificate. He was baptized on May 15, 1840. Again it is his mother who appears, Elizabeth Nicholls, George Street.

    And I found the census of 1841:

    George Street, Oxford:

    Head: Sarah Nichols, 80, Widow
    Elizabeth Nichols, 37
    William Nichols, 1

    From the census we cannot know Elizabeth and William's relationship to the 'Head'. It does not tell us if she is married or widowed; or if she is a daughter or daughter-in-law, or something else.

    I made up the story: Sometime between Elizabeth's pregnancy and the 1841 census, which was taken in June, the father of her child die. But the fact that he died does not explain why his name did not appear on either the birth certificate or the baptismal certificate. Well, he either died or left, and Elizabeth lived with her elderly mother and her one-year-old son in George Street. Then I thought that maybe Sarah wasn't her mother, but her mother-in-law. I kept trying to track down William, the father of her child (I know his name is William because it's on Mary Ann and William Nichols' marriage certificate). I couldn't find any William after 1841 to fit our man, nor any Elizabeth (except for her possible burial record), but I found something that seemed very interesting, two baptismal certificates, one of a certain Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Nichols, dated January 21, 1801; and the other to William, son of Thomas and Sarah Nichols, dated December 27, 1803. Both from the neighborhood church (an eight-minute walk from George Street) St Aldate, Oxford. Of course, this Elizabeth and this William may not be ours Elizabeth and William.

    The 1894 census says that Elizabeth is 37 years old and Sarah is 80, there is a difference of 43 years; a little old to have a daughter. According to the birth certificate, this Elizabeth could have been born in 1800 or before, so in 1841 she would have a difference with Sarah of around 40 years.
    William disappeared from the face of the earth and Elizabeth's marital status seems to be a secret, she is neither married, nor widow, nor daughter nor daughter-in-law.

    Were the parents of William Nichols siblings?


    Surely there is a very simple answer and I am going so far, but I've been into this for so long now that I can't see it clearly. Any help would be very welcome.



    Regards
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Thanks for posting all that interesting information.

    Despite what the marriage record says, the baptism entry says that Elizabeth was a spinster, and in that case it would be usual for the father's name not to be recorded on the birth certificate. So I'd say the likeliest solution is that in order to conceal the illegitimacy, at some point a dead father was simply invented. Presumably it was done by William's mother, as in the 1851 census (below) she describes herself as a widow. Perhaps William himself didn't know the real circumstances of his birth.

    The 1851 census, for 3 Hanover Court, St Martin in the Fields, contains another genealogical clue in the form of Elizabeth's "niece", Annie Brace, aged 3. Next door at number 4 are Sarah Hayward, widow, 44, Annuitant, and her daughter Charlotte Brace, married, 23, both born in Oxford. But that clue may not be easy to follow either. The birth of an Anne Brace was registered at St Martin in the Fields in June quarter 1848, but the GRO online index shows no mother's maiden name, which again probably indicates an illegitimate birth (I can't see a marriage of a Charlotte to a Brace either).

    WilliamNichols1851Census.jpg

    Perhaps the real clue is that very unusual occupation of William's supposed father on the marriage record - Herald Painter. Hallie Rubenhold noted this, but evidently didn't go further back into William's background than the 1861 census.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Chris Phillips View Post
      Thanks for posting all that interesting information.

      Despite what the marriage record says, the baptism entry says that Elizabeth was a spinster, and in that case it would be usual for the father's name not to be recorded on the birth certificate. So I'd say the likeliest solution is that in order to conceal the illegitimacy, at some point a dead father was simply invented. Presumably it was done by William's mother, as in the 1851 census (below) she describes herself as a widow. Perhaps William himself didn't know the real circumstances of his birth.

      The 1851 census, for 3 Hanover Court, St Martin in the Fields, contains another genealogical clue in the form of Elizabeth's "niece", Annie Brace, aged 3. Next door at number 4 are Sarah Hayward, widow, 44, Annuitant, and her daughter Charlotte Brace, married, 23, both born in Oxford. But that clue may not be easy to follow either. The birth of an Anne Brace was registered at St Martin in the Fields in June quarter 1848, but the GRO online index shows no mother's maiden name, which again probably indicates an illegitimate birth (I can't see a marriage of a Charlotte to a Brace either).

      WilliamNichols1851Census.jpg

      Perhaps the real clue is that very unusual occupation of William's supposed father on the marriage record - Herald Painter. Hallie Rubenhold noted this, but evidently didn't go further back into William's background than the 1861 census.

      Thank you very much Chris for your help. I will certainly trace that 1851 census.

      It is true that in most cases the truth is simpler than we think, and, possibly, in this case, Elizabeth simply had an illegitimate child with some man, but even this 1851 census makes me think even more in my farfetched idea, since if Elizabeth was 50 years old in 1851, it fits perfectly with the baptism certificate of 'Elizabeth' of 1801, and in turn with the name of the mother, Sarah, and with the evident relationship with the birth baptism of such William.

      Comment


      • #4
        Chris

        Regarding HR, I find it unsustainable to keep a record of mistakes or misguided statements, since it is a long and continuous succession of unaccurate facts and endless speculations, I would not know how to extract them separately, some merge with the following and so on. But I can confirm with full reason that practically all the dates recorded in her book are incorrect. I have clearly seen that she sets baptismal dates as birthdates (baptismal records are more commonly found online for free than birth certificates) and deathdates are set based on an ill-advised use of logic, that is, if a child died of scarlet fever and was buried on a certain day, she establishes the death the day before, since, logically, funerals should be carried out quickly because of contagious diseases, but that is too simple a logic that here it has no effect.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Jose Oranto View Post
          Chris

          Regarding HR, I find it unsustainable to keep a record of mistakes or misguided statements, since it is a long and continuous succession of unaccurate facts and endless speculations, I would not know how to extract them separately, some merge with the following and so on. But I can confirm with full reason that practically all the dates recorded in her book are incorrect. I have clearly seen that she sets baptismal dates as birthdates (baptismal records are more commonly found online for free than birth certificates) and deathdates are set based on an ill-advised use of logic, that is, if a child died of scarlet fever and was buried on a certain day, she establishes the death the day before, since, logically, funerals should be carried out quickly because of contagious diseases, but that is too simple a logic that here it has no effect.
          Yes, I agree it's hard, because there are so many errors and there is so much speculation. However, I am keeping notes of what people post, and I think it will be worthwhile to try to put them into order and make them available. I think it will have to be a selected list of errors, though, because compiling an exhaustive list would be too exhausting.

          Comment


          • #6
            Interesting stuff, Jose.

            It seems most likely that William Nichols’ father was absent throughout his life, but of course HR uses the occupation of herald painter to support her contention that WM was a printer before he met Polly. It’s all part of the ‘Street of Ink’ nonsense designed to portray Polly as more educated and therefore more deserving of our sympathy than other girls of her class.


            Nichols was the son of a herald painter, one who traditionally applied coats of arms to carriages and signs, but who increasingly in the nineteenth century had moved into printing stationery and bookplates.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
              Interesting stuff, Jose.

              It seems most likely that William Nichols’ father was absent throughout his life, but of course HR uses the occupation of herald painter to support her contention that WM was a printer before he met Polly. It’s all part of the ‘Street of Ink’ nonsense designed to portray Polly as more educated and therefore more deserving of our sympathy than other girls of her class.


              Nichols was the son of a herald painter, one who traditionally applied coats of arms to carriages and signs, but who increasingly in the nineteenth century had moved into printing stationery and bookplates.
              Yes. Whether there was a grain of truth behind the "Herald Painter" father or not, no father seems to have been in the picture by 1851 (when William was only 10), so Rubenhold's theorising about herald painters moving into printing doesn't appear to be relevant.

              Comment


              • #8
                Jose, I worked on this for the new A to Z and also came to the conclusion William Nichols was illegitimate.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks Chris, Gary and Debra. I sense that there must be something more, I understand that my idea of ​​incest is a bit extravagant and exaggerated, but I still cannot easily rule out those two baptism certificates from 1801 and 1803

                  Comment


                  • #10

                    This is probably a waste of effort, but looking for herald/heraldic painters in Oxford I found a Richard W. East:


                    1841: Unmarried, an heraldic painter, 20, living with his mother, Elizabeth, in St Peter, Oxford.

                    1851: Unmarried, an heraldic painter, 34, living with his mother, Elizabeth, in St Giles, Oxford.

                    1861: Unmarried, an organist and herald painter, 43, living as a boarder with a family named Blackwell in St Aldate, Oxford.

                    1871: Unmarried, a herald painter, 52, still boarding with the Blackwells in St Aldate, Oxford.

                    I don’t know how many heraldic painters there would have been in the city of Oxford. This one at least doesn’t seem to have morphed into a printer.



                    Comment


                    • #11
                      This looks like Richard East’s 1817 baptism record. His middle name was William and his father was a servant at Brasenose College, Oxford. It’s quite likely that Richard did his heraldic painting for the college/colleges.
                      Attached Files

                      Comment


                      • #12


                        This all reminds me of the marriage certificate of Matilda Sullivan, the stepdaughter of William Crossingham. She claimed her father was named Jeremiah Sullivan and that he was a ‘gentleman’. In fact, she was illegitimate, Sullivan being her mother’s maiden name, and almost certainly her father was a vicious street robber named Jeremiah McCarthy. Her brother was also named Jeremiah.




                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Debra Arif View Post
                          Jose, I worked on this for the new A to Z and also came to the conclusion William Nichols was illegitimate.
                          Is there a new A - Z coming out Debs? ;-)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post

                            Is there a new A - Z coming out Debs? ;-)
                            Regards

                            Michael🔎


                            " When you eliminate the impossible whatever remains no matter how improbable......is probably a little bit boring "

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post

                              Is there a new A - Z coming out Debs? ;-)
                              Updating the A to Z database is a full time job for us. As to it actually coming out...

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