The Yates family move to Drury Lane!

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126 Drury Lane, London WC2
126 Drury Lane, London WC2

Jumping ahead to 1851 for a minute, this is where Sophia Yates lived in Drury Lane! Well not exactly. This is the Sarastro Restaurant “the show after the show” which is opposite Drury Lane Theatre . It’s roughly the site of Sophia Yates’ home in 1851. Her husband had died and she was living with her two adult children Charlotte and Charles at 126 Drury Lane.

So, where did we get to in the last blog?

1815 and Georgianna Phebe had just been born in Sherrard Street, Piccadilly!

She was the first of George and Sophia Yates’ children to survive her childhood years. Not too surprisingly, she decided to drop her first name and become plain Pheobe as she grew up! 

Baptism of the Yates family from 1810 - 1815

Baptism of the Yates family from 1810 – 1815

Click the image for a larger view

As the table below shows, another daughter was born in 1817, Charlotte Frances, by which time the Yates family had moved to Princes Street, Drury Lane. The fact that the census records gives George’s full name, George Skinner Yates, at both the old address in Sherrard Street and the new address in Princes Street helps to confirm they are the same family.

Baptism of the Yates family from 1817 - 1831

Baptism of the Yates family from 1817 – 1831

Click the image for a larger view

Street name changes – Drury Lane, Princes Street & Kemble Street

At some stage prior to 1878, Princes Street and at least part of Drury Lane were one and the same. When the Princes Street stretch of road later became part of Drury Lane, Princes Street became the name of a new road leading east off Drury Lane.

Princes Street has now become the section of Kemble Street between Russell Street and Wild Street. Very confusing!

Because of the street name changes, it is unclear whether the Yates family lived in one place or moved to new accommodation in the same area over the next few years. Whether they moved or not the family either lived in what is now Drury Lane or in Princes Street (now Kemble Street) that led off it. It is possible that much later on in 1851 when we find the widowed Sophia Yates living at 126 Drury Lane,  she hasn’t actually moved from Princes Street (Drury Lane) – the name Princes Street could have moved to it’s new site. In other words the family may have moved around the Drury Lane area quite a bit or alternatively, once they had moved from Sherrard Street, they may always have lived in the same place – approximately the site of 126 Drury Lane today.

In 1821 Charles Skinner was born and for the first time his baptism record gives the Yates’ street number – 5 Princes Street, Drury Lane. Another daughter, Emily Rose, was  born in 1823 and her baptism record shows that the family have either moved up the road a few houses to number 10 Princes Street, Drury Lane, or there had been a change in the numbering system of the street (which was not unusual).

In 1825 Frances Mary Ann Yates was born and baptised at Piccadilly St James. It is likely that she was yet another of the Yates’ children who died in infancy because George and Sophia’s name their next child Frances as well. And this Frances is our Fanny – Frances Harriet Yates.

Born in 1828, her proper name Frances (she’s not Fanny until later) is used in the 1841 census. This is the census record I only recently discovered; I found the last of George and Sophia’s children –  Sophia Louisa, and got the important confirmation I needed that Fanny lived with her parents in Princes Street at least until she was 13.  The 1841 record had been hard to trace because the family’s surname had been transcribed as Gates instead of Yates.

Here are all the records (baptism and marriage) that I’ve referred to above.

I’ve also discovered a little about Fanny’s grandparents. Her parents, George and Sophia Yates (née Woodness) were both born in 1791 and baptised in the parish of St Marylebone. George’s parents were Thomas and Phebe Yates and Sophia’s were Ralph and Sarah Woodness née Smith.

That’s Fanny’s parents and siblings all accounted for and we know where they lived – so what next?

Having presented all the facts I can find, I still can’t prove that Frances Harriet Yates is the same Fanny Yates that gave birth to my great grandfather Edward Cavendish Yates in St Marylebone, although it does seem quite likely.

Before I leave this line of my family tree and move on to another, I think my next blog should tell the story of the Yates family I’ve discovered. From George Skinner Yates and his wife Sophia to the birth of possibly their illegitimate grandchild, Edward Cavendish Yates. No records – just the story!

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Posted in Cordwainer, Drury Lane St Giles, Edward Cavendish Yates, Fanny Yates, Frances Harriett Yates, George Skinner Yates, Occupations, Sarastro Restaurant, Sherrard Street Golden Square, Sophia Yates, St Martin in the Fields, Theatre Royal, UK locations, Yates | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

George Skinner Yates, b.1791, CORDWAINER of Drury Lane, St Giles in the Fields, Middlesex.

Frances Harriett Yates (Fanny) grew up in Drury Lane, London. She was one of the youngest of several brothers and sisters, some of whom didn’t survive childhood.

In 1817 the birth record of one of her older siblings describes their  father, George Skinner Yates, as a Cordwainer for the first time.

Cordwainer statue by Alma Boyes on Watling Street, in the Cordwainer ward of the City of London. Photo by Oxyman.

Cordwainer statue by Alma Boyes on Watling Street, in the Cordwainer ward of the City of London. Photo by Oxyman. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordwainer

The following description of a Cordwainer is from Wikipedia:

A cordwainer (or cordovan) is a shoemaker/cobbler who makes fine soft leather shoes and other luxury footwear articles. The word is derived from “cordwain”, or “cordovan”, the leather produced in Córdoba, Spain. The term cordwainer was used as early as 1100 in England. Historically, there was a distinction between a cordwainer, who made luxury shoes and boots out of the finest leathers, and a cobbler, who repaired them. This distinction gradually weakened, particularly during the twentieth century, when there was a predominance of shoe retailers who neither made nor repaired shoes.

In London, the occupation of cordwainers was historically controlled by the guild of the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers. There is a ward in the City of London named Cordwainer which is historically where most cordwainers lived and worked.

Further historical information about Cordwainers can be found at The Worshipful Company of Cordwainers website http://www.cordwainers.org/history.aspx

So who was Fanny’s mother?

Baptism records show that Frances Harriet Yates’ mother was called Sophia Yates.

In 1809 marriage records show that a George Yates married a Sophia Woodness. I know that our George and Sophia had their first child the following year in 1810, so it is highly likely, but not absolutely certain, that this is the right marriage record and the right Sophia.

London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921 Record for George Yates and Sophia Woodness

George and Sophia Yates Marriage 1809

George and Sophia Yates Marriage 1809. Source Citation: London Metropolitan Archives, Saint Marylebone, Register of marriages, P89/MRY1, Item 182.

You can also see this image on one of my Frances H Yates family tree at Ancestry.co.uk
St Martin in the Fields, London

St Martin in the Fields, London

Frances Harriet (Fanny) Yates, the youngest of several brothers and sisters, was born in 1828.

At this time George, Sophia and their family were recorded living in St Giles in the Fields so it is likely that their address (from baptism records of previous children) is still Princes Street, Drury Lane.

Frances was baptised a month or so after she was born on 21st December 1828 in the Parish of St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, Middlesex, England.

London, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906 Record for Frances Harriet Yates. Westminster St Martin in the Fields 1828.

Frances Harriet Yates Birth 1828

Frances Harriet Yates Birth 1828.
Source Citation: London Metropolitan Archives, Westminster St Martin in the Fields, Register of Baptism, DL/T/093, Item 051.

You can also see this image on one of my Frances H Yates family tree at Ancestry.co.uk

And who were Fanny’s brothers and sisters?

George and Sophia Yates had a number of children after they married and before their last daughter Frances/Fanny Harriet was born. Between 1810 and 1815 they baptised three children at Piccadilly St James. In two of the three records Sherrard Street (now Sherwood Street) in Piccadilly is given as their abode. It’s worth noting that at this time George was describing himself as a Shoemaker, not a Cordwainer.

Sadly, it is likely that their first two children, Charles W and Frances Sophia, died very young; George and Sophia baptise other children with the same first names later on. More research is needed here, but I have found burial records that could be theirs.

The table below compares the information provided by the baptism record of each individual in George Yates’ family from 1810 to 1815, before their move to Drury Lane. It shows the baptisms (and deaths) of the Yates family while they were living at Sherrard Street near Golden Square.

In 1815, just before the death of their second child and the birth of their third, I discovered something I hadn’t expected……..

George Skinner Yates, aged 23, was himself baptised in the parish of St. Marylebone.

For that reason the table below is laid out in order of baptisms and not births.

Please click on the image to enlarge it.

Yates baptism chart 1

George and Sophia’s third child, Georgianna Phebe, thankfully survived childhood, married, and lived to the age of 44.

Next: The Yates family move to Drury Lane. More children are born and survive before Fanny comes along.

N.B. I have several public family trees at http://www.ancestry.co.uk. Links to them on this blog will only work if you sign up to membership of the Ancestry website. Membership is free for 14days. If you would like free access to visit one or more of my family trees for a longer period, please use the Contact page to send me an email.
Posted in Cordwainer, Drury Lane St Giles, Fanny Yates, Frances Harriett Yates, George Skinner Yates, Occupations, Sherrard Street Golden Square, Sophia Yates, St Martin in the Fields, UK locations, Yates | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cordwainer’s Daughter to Costumière. Frances Harriett Yates 1828 – 1892.

I eventually found a Fanny Yates with a connection to my family living in Manor Street, Chelsea in 1861.

Would I be able to find records of her parents, her family and perhaps her Will, or anything that would further connect her to her illegitimate son Edward Cavendish Yates?

It was only this week that I finally found the 1841 census record for Fanny that had somehow eluded me for months – well actually years! The main reason being that the transcription of this census record had Fanny’s family listed as Gates (not Yates)!

I now had confirmation that the Fanny Yates I had found in Manor Street Chelsea in the 1861 census had been living with her parents in Drury Lane in 1841, four years before the birth of Edward C. Yates. Six years after his birth she had moved to her married sister’s home in Manor Street Chelsea. Ten years later, and until her death in 1892, she lived with relations (quite distant ones) of Edward’s wife, still in Manor Street Chelsea.  Her full name was Frances Harriett Yates, she was a dressmaker or costumière and she never married. When she died she left quite a large sum of money, £1742 5s 5d, with administration to the solicitor of the Treasury. I have no idea whether Fanny earned this money from her own business or whether it was a gift or an inheritance. She appears to have left no Will so it would be interesting to find out if anyone claimed to be her heir in the years following her death.

The records below were found online at ancestry.co.uk

Click on the images to see each record on it’s own. To magnify that image you will need to click on ‘view full image’ at the bottom right of each picture and then click a second time for magnification.

The important details to be found in each record.

Frances Harriett Yates was born in 1828 to parents George Skinner Yates and Sophia Yates née Woodness.

  • 1828 – Birth – St Giles in the Fields, Middlesex. (Probably Princes Street, Drury Lane, Middlesex. See later records)
  • 1828 – 21 Dec – Baptised in the Parish of St Martins in the Fields, Middlesex, England. Father’s occupation Cordwainer.
  • 1841 – Princes Street (Drury Lane), St Giles in The Fields, Middlesex, England. Father’s occupation Shoemaker. Fanny is living with parents George 45 and Sophia 50, one brother Charles 20 (plasterer) and two sisters Charlotte 20 (dressmaker) and Sophie 10. Fanny is 13.
  • 1845 – Fanny Yates gives birth to an illegitimate child named Edward Cavendish Yates at 6 Sherborne Street, Marylebone, Middlesex, England. No record of baptism found. (If we have the right Fanny her age would be 17).
  • 1847 – I believe Fanny’s father George Yates dies (though I cannot be absolutely certain that the death record I have found is the right George Yates).
  • 1851 – Fanny Yates is living with her sister (Georgianna) Pheobe Smith née Yates and her husband Thomas Smith at 27 Manor Street, Chelsea, Middlesex, England. Thomas’s occupation is a Conductor. There is a transcription error on the record as Fanny’s surname is given as Yeales. I think this is a poor transcription of an alternative spelling of her name Yeates. There is no child living with them. Fanny is 23.
  • 1861 – By now Fanny’s sister and husband have moved away from Manor Street Chelsea, but Fanny has moved in as lodger to a family down the road at number 29 Manor Street, Chelsea. This is the Tilling, Christie, Smart household that I spoke of in the last blog. They are to become relations (by marriage) of Fanny’s in the future. Fanny is now described as a dressmaker. She remains a dressmaker living in Manor Street for the rest of her life but it is only in 1891, the year before she dies, that she is recorded as a ‘retired costumiëre’. There is confusion over her age. She should be 33 but is recorded as 28.
  • 1871 – Fanny is now at number 32 Manor Street, Chelsea. This could be a street number change or an actual move. She is still single, a dressmaker and living with the same family as in 1861. William Christie has moved out and his brother Frederick has now married Sarah Tilling. They have a 2 year old child. Fanny Yates is described for the first time as Cousin to Ann Tilling, the Head of the household. Jane Derrick, Ann Tilling’s widowed sister has also moved in. Fanny is mistakenly aged at 50 when she is only 43!

Edward Cavendish Yates and Priscilla weren’t married until 1873. Despite this (unless they were relatives already – a fact I haven’t yet discovered) Fanny, Edward’s mother, seems to have been welcomed as a ‘cousin’ a couple of years prior to the marriage.

  • 1881 – Fanny or Frances is still living at 32 Manor Street Chelsea. Sarah Christie (Ann Tilling’s daughter) has taken over the occupation of House Agent from her deceased mother. She is now a widow and her daughter Sarah A. L. Christie is a scholar. Frances H Yates is living with them. She is an unmarried dressmaker. I think there is little doubt that this is the same person recorded as ‘Fanny Yates’ ten years before even though her age each year has been very changeable. (She should be 53 and is recorded as 52 in 1881). The fact that in later life she is using a more formal version of her name, ‘Frances’, and providing her middle initial, becomes incredibly helpful in finally establishing her birth and ancestry.
  • 1891 – Still at 32 Manor Street Chelsea, Frances H. Yates is 59 and back to being described as a Lodger, but her occupation has changed to “Retired Costumiëre”. Sarah Christie is 63, and still Head of the household but ‘Living on her own means’. Sarah A Louisa Christie her daughter is now 22 and working as a P.O Telegraphist. Ada Rhoda Leach is a Lodger and Domestic Servant by occupation.
  • 1892  – Frances Harriet Yates dies.  Her probate record shows her to be a spinster. She dies at 32 Manor Road Chelsea (road name change from Manor Street Chelsea or just an error?) on “24 January 1892 Administration London 5 December to the solicitor of the Treasury Effects £1742 5s 5d”.

No early records of Edward Cavendish Yates

I have found no records of Edward Cavendish Yates living with his mother (or away from her) from the time of his birth in 1845, to the time he married in 1873 at the age of 28. On that occasion he gave the name of a father (Edward Yates) on the marriage certificate. There is no mention of his mother.

I can find no evidence that E. C. Yates did have a father called Edward Yates. I think it’s also quite unlikely that a family would pass down the generations the story of one of it’s children being illegitimate if it weren’t true.

The only explanation I have is that for the sake of respectability on the occasion of his marriage, Edward gave his father’s name as his own first and last names.

Questions that remain

Frances Harriett Yates lived with relations of Priscilla Jane Yates née Mecham for most of her life. Is that enough for us to believe that she was the woman who gave birth to Edward Cavendish Yates at number 6 Sherborne Street, Marylebone in 1845?

The Will of Frances Harriett Yates might have helped to connect her to E.C. Yates and my family. Unfortunately probate records show that she died without one and her funds went to the Treasury! Did an heir ever claim them and how do I find out ?

Please leave a comment below or email me from the ‘Contact’ page if you have any information that could help me trace my ancestors.

Next: What’s a CORDWAINER? Meet George Skinner Yates (1791 – 1847) and his Family of Drury Lane, St Giles in the Fields, Middlesex.

N.B. I have several public family trees at http://www.ancestry.co.uk. Links to them on this blog will only work if you sign up to membership of the Ancestry website. Membership is free for 14days. If you would like free access to visit one or more of my family trees for a longer period, please use the Contact page to send me an email.
Posted in Edward Cavendish Yates, Fanny Yates, Frances Harriett Yates, Mecham, Priscilla Jane Mecham, Smart, Tilling, Yates | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Fanny Yates, Frances Harriet Yates of Manor Street, Chelsea?

Yes I think so, but in a way this blog is my way of getting my family and friends, or even other family history enthusiasts to look at the evidence I’ve found and help me decide. I’d love any feedback via the contact page or in the Comment/Reply box below.

I decided to try and find Fanny by simply looking for all the Fanny/Frances Yates who seemed the appropriate age to have had an illegitimate child in 1845. I was obviously looking for a woman with some sort of connection to my own family. I found a few possibilities in the censuses of 1851 and 1861 but none were living with a child named Edward and none, to my knowledge at that time, were connected to my family. I should also mention at this stage that I couldn’t find any records of Edward Cavendish Yates in these years either.

In the end I chose the most likely Fanny Yates from the 1861 census to investigate further. She was living in a house with a group of people with three other surnames, Christie, Smart and Tilling.

1861 England Census Record for Fanny Yates. London, Chelsea South.

1861 England Census Record for Fanny Yates. London, Chelsea South.

Fanny Yates 1861 census

Source Citation: Class: RG 9; Piece: 31; Folio: 4; Page: 4; GSU roll: 542560.
Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1871 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Original data: Census Returns of England and Wales, 1871. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1871. Data imaged from the National Archives, London, England. The National Archives gives no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided. Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education. Applications for any other use should be made to the National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU. http://trees.ancestry.co.uk/tree/32129888/person/18189594630/fact/62493407657/media/1?pg=32771&pgpl=pid

1861 – 29 Manor Street, Chelsea, Middlesex, England

There are 4 separate households listed as residents in the same property:

  1. Head – William Christie, Unmarried, 24, Shopman at a Bazaar.                                  Brother – Frederick Christie, Unmarried, Bookbinder.
  2. Lodger – Fanny Yates, Unmarried, 28, Dressmaker.
  3. Lodger – Lucy Smart, Widowed, 78, Funded Proprietor.
  4. Head – Ann Tilling, Widowed, 69, House Proprietor.                                                   Daughter – Sarah Tilling, Unmarried, 36.

I created yet another of my many family trees on Ancestry to see if any of these people were related to Fanny.

They weren’t in 1861, but they were by 1873 when Fanny’s son, Edward Cavendish Yates, married Priscilla Jane Mecham!

Marriage Certificate of Edward Cavendish Yates and Priscilla Jane Mecham

Marriage Cert of Edward C Yates and Priscilla J Mecham

Marriage solemnized at The Parish Church in the Parish of St John Thanet in the County of Kent. When Married: October 11th 1873. Name and Surname: Edward Cavendish Yates. Priscilla Jane Mecham. Age: 28 / 19. Condition: Bachelor / Spinster. Rank or Profession: Tutor. Residence at the time of Marriage: Margate. Father’s Name and Surname: Edward Yates / Thomas William Mecham. Rank or Profession of Father: Gentleman / Gentleman. Witnesses: Charles Q.(Quested) Baker, Jane Mecham, Jessie P. Last, Henry Powell Huggins.

The relationship between Priscilla Jane Mecham, Ann Tilling and Lucy Smart:

Priscilla Jane Mecham‘s first cousin was Julia Bowden. Julia Bowden’s husband was George Tilling. George Tilling’s great uncle was William Tilling and his wife was Ann Tilling née Read.

Lucy Smart was the aunt of Priscilla Jane Mecham‘s grandmother.

I think that’s enough excitement for one blog so I’ll leave you with a little moving gallery of more records I found for Fanny. I’ll explain them next time.

I’ve also added images of records described in this blog to the right column of the page. Clicking on them will bring up the image and magnifier.

Lastly, did anyone notice that our illegitimate Edward Cavendish Yates’ marriage certificate records a gentleman, Edward Yates, as his father?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Next: Cordwainer’s Daughter to Costumière. Frances Harriett Yates 1828 – 1892.

N.B. I have several public family trees at http://www.ancestry.co.uk. Links to them on this blog will only work if you sign up to membership of the Ancestry website. Membership is free for 14days. If you would like free access to visit one or more of my family trees please use the Contact page to send me an email.

Posted in Edward Cavendish Yates, Fanny Yates, Frances Harriett Yates, Mecham, Priscilla Jane Mecham, Smart, Tilling, Yates | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

More Facts Finding Fanny – a change of approach

The other half of the picture!

Great Aunt Connie's Wedding

So…..having been on a lovely ‘romantic novel’ of a journey to find Fanny Yates, it was now time to get back to the facts about my great great grandmother. What did I actually know for sure? Not very much!

The only factual information I had about Fanny was the information recorded on her son’s  birth certificate:

  • Registration District Marylebone.
  • Sub-district Christ Church. County of Middlesex.
  • When and where born: Twelfth of February 1845 at 6 Sherborne Street.
  • Name if any: Edward Cavendish.
  • Sex: Boy.
  • Name and surname of father: Blank
  • Name, surname and maiden name of mother: Fanny Yates.
  • Occupation of father: Blank
  • Signature, description and residence of informant: Fanny Yates, Mother, 6 Sherborne Street.
  • When registered: Twenty fifth of March 1845

I had no name or occupation given for the father of Edward Cavendish Yates and the husband, lover (or whatever he was) of Fanny, but I still had three options for research.

One: The birth address – 6 Sherborne Street, Marylebone, Middlesex.

This address took me on a fruitless search and I would still love to know how Fanny came to be giving birth there. Sadly the house  is now buried under Marylebone Station and any explanation may well have been buried with it.

For some time I researched someone called Abraham Bundey – what a wonderful name! He was a licensed victualler who lived with his family in Sherborne Street in 1841,  but in the end I could make no connections between his family and Fanny Yates as I had hoped. I did create a Bundey Family Tree to help with my research over at ancestry.co.uk if the name should be of interest to anyone.

Two: Searching for a mother and child living together – Fanny and Edward C. Yates (born about 1845) in the census records.

Looking through the census records I could find no evidence of a Fanny or Frances Yates of the right sort of age, living with a child of the right name and age. This suggested that the unmarried mother and her child were sadly separated.

On a very practical note, it also meant that identifying the right Fanny Yates and the right Edward C. Yates in records (particularly if his middle name was not listed) would be made much more difficult.

Three: Checking Marriages and Deaths for Fanny Yates.

I can’t even remember what happened with this search, but I know I found nothing that helped provide me with definite facts for ‘our’ Fanny Yates.

A whole forest of trees but still no facts about Fanny!

With masses of people in my various family trees that I was creating at Ancestry, I still had hardly any facts about the identity of the one person I was most interested in – my great great grandmother, Fanny Yates. I decided to try a new approach.

I would start afresh by looking for clues via the relatives of her own daughter-in-law, Edward Cavendish Yates’ wife, Priscilla Jane Mecham.

Priscilla Jane Yates née Mecham

Priscilla Jane Yates née Mecham, wife of Edward Cavendish Yates Snr.

You may have been wondering who the people in the picture were at the head and around the sides of this blog. Priscilla (pictured left), my great grandmother, is one of them.

The large photograph was taken in Ealing on the occasion of my great aunt Connie’s wedding. Priscilla is the mother of the bride. Her husband died before this picture was taken and my own grandmother May Ethel, great aunt Connie’s sister, had already left for Cape Town, South Africa.

But that’s another story…….

Did Priscilla Jane help me? 

Yes she did! Looking for clues to Fanny’s identity via her daughter-in-law led me to discover that there was definitely a Fanny Yates living with distant cousins of Priscilla’s, at the right time and in a location that would make some sense. Whether or not she is the Fanny Yates who is my ancestor I cannot yet prove, but it does seem quite likely.

If, when you’ve read what I’ve discovered, you’d like to comment, please do.

Next:  Is Fanny Yates, Frances Harriet Yates of Manor Street, Chelsea?

N.B. I have several public family trees at http://www.ancestry.co.uk. Links to them on this blog will only work if you sign up to membership of the Ancestry website. Membership is free for 14days. If you would like free access to visit one or more of my family trees please use the Contact page to send me an email.
Posted in Edward Cavendish Yates, Fanny Yates, Mecham, Priscilla Jane Mecham, Yates | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First Attempt Finding Fanny Yates

Some time ago I began researching all branches of my family tree on ancestry.co.uk

This blog is my attempt to describe what I’ve found out about my family history starting with the person whose ancestors and family are the most difficult to trace.

My mother’s grandfather was Edward Cavendish Yates and when I started this research my family believed him to be illegitimate and the son of a woman called Fanny. When I found Edward’s birth certificate, this information proved to be correct, but the circumstances leading up to his birth and his life before he married my great grandmother, Priscilla Jane Mecham, still remained a complete mystery.

The Birth Certificate of Edward Cavendish Yates (Snr.)

Registration District Marylebone. Sub-district Christ Church. County of Middlesex. When and where born: Twelfth of February 1845 at 6 Sherborne Street. Name if any: Edward Cavendish. Sex: Boy. Name, surname and maiden name of mother: Fanny Yates. Signature, description and residence of informant: Fanny Yates, Mother, 6 Sherborne Street. When registered: Twenty fifth of March 1845.

Some members of my family believed that Edward’s middle name, Cavendish, was given to him because he was the illegitimate son of one of the Dukes of Devonshire. I doubt this will ever be proved one way or the other, but what started to fascinate me more was the identity of his mother, Fanny Yates.

Fact or fiction ?

The story of Fanny Yates (Edward’s mother), dressed elegantly and traveling in a carriage to the races at Epsom, was passed from her son through the generations to her great grandchildren, one of them being my mother. Part of the same story has Edward Cavendish Yates attending Epsom College and watching this carriage go by the school gates.

Fact: There is a child recorded at Epsom College in the 1861 census called Ed Yates, but his birth is in 1850 and he has an older brother. Census records are notoriously inaccurate with regard to age, but a 5 year gap in 1861 would mean that the school recorded his age as 11 when he was in fact 16. This seems rather unlikely, coupled with the fact that this same Ed Yates seems to have a whole ‘other life’ with a Medical Doctor’ s family when you follow him through later census records.

A cousin of my mother’s knows another interesting, but rather different story about a carriage and Epsom College. Apparently Edward Cavendish Yates taught at Morden Hall boarding school for boys in Morden, Surrey and when it closed, he took up a post at Epsom College, traveling to work by carriage from his existing residence in the Morden area.

Fact: This is probably true and could be the real origins of the story above but unfortunately there seem to be no records of Edward teaching at either establishment. (Morden Hall boarding school for boys is supposed to have closed in 1869 but census records shows that boys were still attending in 1871).

“A great romantic novel”

Understandably, my first searches for Fanny Yates had in mind the possible connection with the Cavendish family and the story of an elegant woman going to the races in a carriage. Who I first came up with as a result was the very splendid Dame Frances Mary Musgrave (nee Yates), wife of Sir Richard Musgrave.

There are books written by this lady’s mother, Frances Mary Lovett Yates (aka Mrs Ashton Yates), and private correspondence written between herself and the 6th Duke of Devonshire in which both parties seem to make reference to Mrs. Ashton’s daughter Fanny. The two families, Yates and Cavendish, also share a connection with Lismore in Ireland. Having followed the two families back a few generations I discovered that the Yates line from Dame Frances goes back to Reverend John Yates 1755 – 1856 of Toxteth Park Chapel in Liverpool.

Books written by F. M. L. Yates include ‘A Winter in Italy, in a series of letters to a friend’ and ‘Letters Written During a Journey to Switzerland 1841 Volumes 1-2’.
You can read the former at http://hdl.handle.net/2027/hvd.32044012006961

“but no evidence!”

There were some well-known families and fascinating historical facts I found along the way and the Cavendish family history was easy to look up. The discovery of a ‘liason’ between these two would have made a great romantic novel, but happily for them and sadly for me, there is no real evidence to say that there would be any truth in it! Nor is there any evidence of either of them having a son named Edward Cavendish Yates.

Having said that, there is also no evidence as yet to say it is not true.

There are plenty of people researching these two families and no other member of ancestry.co.uk or any other genealogical research site has contacted me to either confirm or disprove the relationship.

Next time:  More Facts Finding Fanny – a change of approach.

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