Thomas Stanley Mystery
No father is given for Mary
Elizabeth Stanley on her birth certificate dated 28
August 1860, about three weeks after her birth on 9 August.
However, when she married John
Alfred Prestwich in 1884, her marriage certificate gave
the name of Thomas Stanley (deceased), occupation Minder,
as her father. By this time, her mother, Elizabeth
had married Jonathan Walker
and had bore him a son of the same name. So the question
is; did Thomas Stanley exist or not?
census is not conclusive.Elizabeth
gives nothing away about her condition, neither maried nor
unmarried, even though the other people boarding at the
house did so. She also gave her age as 22 which from later
records was clearly at least 10 years too young. By 1871,
she had married Jonathan Walker
and they had a young son, also called Jonathan. However,
the real surpise is that she also has a son, Thomas
Stanley, who is five years older than Mary
Elizabeth. So where was this five year old boy in 1861?
Bolton was recorded as his place of birth, so is it possible
that he was still there, perhaps with his father or his
I originally worked on the theory
the child was illegitimate, but that a father was 'invented'
in the intervening years and that Mary gave this information
when she married believing it to be true. There are certainly
other examples in my research of illegitimate children giving
a father's name when they married. However, when I finally
tracked down Elizabeth's marriage to Jonathan in 1866 at
St John the Evangelist Church in Hurst, Ashton-under-Lyne,
she is described as a 38 year old widow, daughter of Thomas
Hiland. On checking The 1871
Census, I found this Thomas in Ashton with his wife,
two married daughters, their husbands and his grandchildren
living with them.
This seemed to confirm that Elizabeth
had indeed married someobe called Stanley, but the mystery
deepened further through a search of the IGI which gives
the marriage of Elizabeth HIGHLAND to James Stanley at Manchester
Cathedral on 30 June 1850. On checking the marriage
records at Manchester Central Library I discovered that
this was indeed the elusive wedding. Elizabeth gives her
father's name as Thomas and hatter as his occupation which
match the later census infomation. James was a brewer and
his father's name was also Thomas.
I was initially unable unable
to the couple on the 1851 Census in Manchester. Fortunately,
a kind soul on the LANCSGEN list was able to provide the
details. The couple had already moved to Great
Bolton and were lodging with fellow brewer, John Nuttall
and his family. They also had a two month old son called
Thomas. Assuming later dates given are correct, this was
not the same Thomas living with Elizabeth later in life.
The assumption at this stage is that the child must have
died and their second son was also christened Thomas.
It is still not clear whether
James was the father of Mary Elizabeth Stanley and the next
step is to discover where and how he died.
Stanley was born in Droylsden, but I have been unable
to find any record of her in that area in 1841 when he would
have been about 12 years old. There is a Stanley family
which originated in that area around 1600. About 1700, some
of the family moved to Dukinfield and began to worship at
the Old Chapel. One John Stanley became one of the chief
elders of Jonathan WROE's Christian Isrealites and funded
the building their 'santuary' on Church Street in Ashton-under-Lyne,
the chosen centre for the 'new Israel'.
More research to do, but
not helped by the fact that many of the baptism and marriage
records for the Christian Israelites between 1825 and 1850