Graham Story

Page 3. Anne and Matthias were married the following day, Wednesday 28 September 1814 in the parish church of Saxilby in the presence of John Dickins and William Metcalf (microfiche 022400901A). Both illiterate, they signed with a cross, their "mark".

St Botolph's Parish church, Saxilby

At this point we have one of those mysteries which crop up regularly in family history research. Record-taking was by word-of-mouth and spelling of names, especially when dealing with illiterate people, varied according to the literacy and phonetics of the parish priest. Parish burial record details, such as age and place of birth, depended on the knowledge and memory of whoever was reporting the death. My gt grandfather is William Henry Graham. According to the 1851 census he was aged 33 and born in "Thorpe Lincs". His death certificate shows him aged 74 in August 1888 and born in "Thorpe Lincoln". The birth certificate of his son, John George, shows him as being 44 in January 1861 and born at "Thorpe-on-the-hill, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England" and the birth certificate of his daughter, Sarah Ann shows him as 38 in September 1855 and born at "Duddingham, Lincolnshire". There is no Duddingham in England, let alone Lincolnshire and as, on the same certificate, Sarah’s mother is shown as being born in "Swinard" instead of "Swineshead", it is most likely that "Duddingham" is somebody’s attempt at remembering or spelling "Doddington". "Thorpe" is shown on old maps in the position of present day "Thorpe-on-the-hill", a town a couple of miles from Doddington. William’s father is shown as "Matthias Graham" on his marriage records.

Having researched the Graham (also Grayham/Grime) name extensively over several days in the Lincolnshire Archives in Lincoln for the early 19th century, I have found it to be an uncommon name in the area. I have searched in the records for Doddington, Thorpe-on-the-hill, Saxilby, Skellingthorpe, Eagle, Whisby, Swinderby and Lincoln and have found basically the one family and only one Matthias Graham, of Doddington. He is living at the right time and in the right place and I am quite confident that he is the father of William Graham.

According to the above-mentioned records, William was born in 1818 (1851 Census), 1814 (death certificate), 1817 (birth certificate of John George) and 1817 (birth certificate of Sarah Ann). As William would have been reporting his age directly himself in the Census and the births of his two children I would consider this more reliable than the reporting of his age at death by his son. I would say that somewhere between the birth of John in 1861 and William’s death in 1888, he has lost track of his age. He was probably 71, not 74 at death and born in 1817 or 1818.

Of course, one of my main aims in my research in Lincoln was to find the details of William’s birth in the Parish registers for the area. In this, however, I have been frustratingly foiled. According to the Latter Day Saints genealogical website and confirmed by my own enquiries, Matthias and Ann Graham had ten children as follows: John, 7/1/1815; Henry, 18/10/1818; Sarah, 30/3/1821; Isaac, 31/7/1823; Caroline, 30/7/1825; Job, 13/4/1827; Elizabeth, 11/1/1829; Ann, 26/12/1830 and Joseph and Job, 22/5/1836. John, born in 1815 and Henry, in 1818 appear on the same page of microfiche, both christened at St Peter’s church in Doddington. There is room between the births of John and Henry for William to be born in 1817 but he is not there. There are three possibilities: William was born between 1815 and 1818 in some other more distant parish; Henry is actually William Henry or William is not the son of this particular Matthias Graham. As previously stated, I am quite confident that this Matthias Graham is his father. It would be unusual to name a third child "Henry" when a previous child had been given that as a second name.

I am inclined strongly to the belief that William Henry is Henry, the second born son of Matthias and Anne born 18 October 1818 and who, for some reason, possibly even the forgetfulness of the parish priest, has been entered in the records under his second name. This theory is given further strength by the fact that, when Matthias was transported he is recorded as having just three sons. (At the time of transportation, John, Job and Isaac had died, leaving "Henry" and the twins, Joseph and Job.)

Saxilby church altar