Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Marlow Line: Joseph Long and Joseph Long Johnson in the Newspapers

To start, a word of explanation—as mentioned in previous blogposts, (e.g. William Marlow 1830 to 1895), the parents of my great grandfather on my paternal grandmother’s side, Joseph Marlow, were William Marlow and Elizabeth Johnson. They lived in North Yorkshire, England, and never came to Canada to my knowledge. Elizabeth Johnson, later Marlow, was the daughter of Joseph Long Johnson (1792-1862) and Elizabeth Watson (1796-1843). Joseph and Elizabeth had in common that they both appear to have been children of unwed mothers, John having the surname of his mother, Sarah Johnson, and Elizabeth the surname of her mother, Ellis Watson. I was stuck in my research on Joseph’s line because I could not find his mother’s forebears, and, of course, there was nothing to identify his father.

As you may be aware, it is very difficult normally to ascertain the fathers of children of unwed mothers in previous centuries, although sometimes there are notations in parish records. The first and middle names of sons can also be clues to the father’s identity in some circumstances. Recently, when I was doing some research in British newspapers, I decided to see what I could find on the Marlow line. I was mainly searching first and last names together, as I noticed that it was rare that middle names were included in nineteenth century newspaper stories. In Joseph Long Johnson’s case, Joseph Johnson proved to be all too common a name, and I could not find any articles about him just using his first and last names. I decided to try searching using all three of his names and—bingo! The following article came up about four times in different newspapers in various parts of England in the year 1840:

Legal notice re: Children of Joseph Long,
Yorkshire Gazette, July 25, 1840
Accessed via Find My Past
The Joseph Long Johnson and Sarah Johnson named in the notice are without a doubt our Joseph and Sarah, as the names place of birth match  exactly. Of course, this also means that the three other children mentioned in the article are Joseph’s half siblings. I did some research on all of them on Ancestry, but did not find as much as I hoped—yet. However, I now had the name of Joseph Long Johnson’s father—Joseph Long—as I, and likely others, had wondered about. Surprisingly, he is a “veterinary surgeon”. How he met the young women he had dalliances with is a matter for speculation, but obviously he did get around the country. At first, I was unable to find any other records pertaining to Joseph Long. I still have no real clue where he was born, except that it may have been where he died. Unfortunately, he lived his entire life before cilvil registration began, and before the census started in Britain.

He is quite an enigma, as “natural” children had no rights of inheritance under British law at the time, as far as I am aware. Why did he choose to have his solicitors seek out his own natural children twenty years after his death for some unnamed benefit? Did he have no other heirs? Why did he risk bringing embarrassment to his family with these revelations? Clearly, Sarah Johnson had no qualms naming her son after his father—is this another clue about the relationships involved? She was not the only mother named in the article to include part of the father’s name in her child’s (e.g. "James Long Pritchard"). Furthermore, did Joseph Long Johnson or any of the other children ever see this notice?

I decided to see if I could find the will mentioned in the article, and, lo and behold, I was able to locate it through the National Archives website and have it sent to me (for a fee). Unfortunately, I am struggling with the writing, and need to take time to try to transcribe it for myself. I promise to update you all in another blogpost once I have made more sense of it. I hope it will reveal more clues to life and identity of the mysterious Joseph Long. So far, I see that that he was also a “farrier”, i.e. a shoer of horses.

I am wondering if any of the Marlow descendants can detect the presence of veterinary surgeon genes in their blood. For example, how many of us have had careers related to horses, other animals, or to medicine? If the article is correct, Joseph Long Johnson did--he was a "groom or jockey". Interestingly, his was the only livelihood mentioned in the piece attached to any of the children.

No comments: