Being a bit obsessive, I decided to tidy things up by finding his date of death. Not a good idea! After many hours of searching over several days I'd managed to add quite a few details to his life story, but I still don't know his date of death for certain.
Previously I had only his baptismal record from St Leonard's church in Walton le Dale, and his presence with his parents in the 1841 and 1851 censuses. James was the fourth child of Richard and Mary and was baptised in June 1837. His next older brother, William, died in 1838, a fact that seems to have some relevance to James' later story. After 1851 James seemed to disappear.
I'd managed to find a James Ward, born in Walton le Dale, in the 1881 census before. He was a house painter, married to Alice, with children named Enoch (22) and Mary Alice (19). They were living in Salford. But I couldn't find any of them in the 1861 and 1871 censuses, despite Enoch's unusual name. Nor could I find a marriage to Alice that would fit in with the ages of the children (both born in Bury, Lancashire, according to the 1881 census). This was the point where I'd given up on James before.
|"Hundred of Salford" by John Speed - John Speed's Map of Lancashire (1610) |
The town of Salford ("Sauford") is just north of Manchester (near the bottom of the map).
Heywood ("Hawood") lies between Rochdale and Bury.
Preston and Walton le Dale are off to the north west of this map.
Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
This time I decided to widen my search, so I looked in the 1861 census for a house painter named Ward (leaving the first name blank) born Walton le Dale in a 20 year period around 1837. What came up, apart from all of James brothers and sisters, was a William Ward, a house painter living in Bury. He was a lodger in a house with a woman named Susan Harwood. She had a baby daughter, Mary A.
It seemed a long shot, but I did a bit of research on Susan and her daughter. It seemed that Susan, nee Barlow, was the (ex?)wife of Enoch Harwood, who was still living. They had a son named Enoch who was living with relatives at the time of the census. I couldn't find a Mary A Harwood born in Bury, but I did find a Mary Alice Ward, born in Bury in 1860, whose mother's maiden name, according to the lancashirebmd.org.uk site was Harwood. That seemed promising.
The problem was, why would James be calling himself William? Perhaps he adopted his dead brother's name because he was living with a married woman? Or maybe I was just joining too many dots together, and this wasn't really James at all.
Next I looked for Susan in the 1871 census - and found her living in Heap (near Heywood) with a lodger named James Ward, a house painter born in Preston. Preston is a large town close to the village of Walton le Dale. This time Mary A was gone (I still haven't found her in this census) but Susan had a daughter, Amelia Ann Harwood, aged 10, living with her. I couldn't find a birth for Amelia Harwood that fitted, but an Amelia A Ward was registered in Castleton, Rochdale in 1862.
Again it seemed intriguing, but I was worried that I was joining too many dots. So next I looked for Susan Harwood and Amelia in 1881. They were still living in Heap, but their lodger had disappeared.
To Salford, perhaps? If James was married to Alice in the 1881 census, they must have married between 1871 and 1881. One marriage that fit those dates was James William Ward's marriage to Alice Iddon (nee Alice Kirkham Hill) in Preston in 1876. The groom was a house painter, and his father, Richard Ward, was a gardener, which fit the facts from the 1871 census. Not only was Alice a widow, but James William claimed to be a widower too.
So it seems quite likely that at the time of the 1881 census James was living with his wife Alice, his stepson Enoch Harwood and his daughter Mary Alice.
By 1901 Alice Kirkham Ward was a widow again, living in Walton le Dale. I haven't been able to find her for sure in the 1891 census, so I don't know when she became a widow. It seems most likely that it was in 1882, when a James William Ward died in Salford. But I have no way to be certain of that.
Amelia Ann Harwood married Charles Frederick Falshaw Lupton in 1885. On the marriage record her father is named as "William Harwood, painter, deceased." Her mother, Susan Harwood, was living with the Lupton family in Oldham in 1891, along with Amelia and Charles' two sons, John and Enoch. Susan died in 1893.
Laid out like this, it all seems fairly straight forward. What took me hours of research was weeding out all the other possible James and William Wards born about the right time in Lancashire, many of whom also had fathers called Richard. One had a wife called Alice. I also needed to make sure that there wasn't a house painter named William Ward born in Walton le Dale in any other census. (I didn't find one.)
In the end, James William is just a side branch on my family tree. But tracking down his records has given me some insights into how tricky it can be to trace people who were trying not to be easily traced. It has also given me hope that I might one day be able to tie up some other loose ends that so far have been impossible to unravel.
As usual, I haven't given detailed references to the census records etc in order to keep things easy to read. But if you would like more detailed references to the records that I've mentioned please contact me (stella(dot)budrikis(at)gmail.com and I'll be happy to pass them on.